Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Land Down Under: Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef

On Patio
Port Douglas (pop. 3,000) is a good base to explore tropical rainforest's and the Great Barrier Reef. Our lodgings, located just outside of Port Douglas, were just about perfect: a small bungalow tucked away in the rain forest overlooking the ocean.

High Points:

  • Scuba diving: Went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Now I understand why people love deep sea diving: it's like visiting another world. The diving experience was more fun than seeing the Reef itself. I was disappointed with the Reef. It wasn't as colorful as I expected. As a consolation prize, I decided to watch Disney's Finding Nemo, a movie that takes place in Australia and in particular, the Great Barrier Reef. Now, that's color!
  • Rain Forest: The only word that comes to mind is LUSH!
  • YOW Conference: I met a lot of nice and extremely intelligent people. I have a new appreciation for techies. What a difference compared to lawyers. 
  • Seeing spectacular lighting and thunder storms set against the rain forest canopy!

Low Points:
  • Price of Food: Food costs are at least double. I was talking to a person at the YOW conference who was from Denmark (a place where food costs are HIGH), and even he remarked on the high cost of food. For example, a "burrito" can cost $20-$31 dollars. BTW: The burritos range in taste from mediocre to revolting. Breakfast will cost between $15-$25 dollars, if you add coffee, tack on another $3.50-$5.50 per cup. A simple dinner will cost around $50 dollars per person, without beverages. 
  • Driving on the left side of the road is difficult, but what's more irritating are the rude and obnoxious Queensland drivers! 

If you decide to travel in the tropics here are some suggestions:
  • Stay in the shade and wear sunscreen. The sun is EXTREMELY intense.
  • Wear insect repellent. There are lots of stinging insects! Also, apply the repellent to the outside of your clothes. The insects can bite through clothing. I have the welts to prove it. Be aware that there have been reports of Dengue fever in northern Queensland. 
  • No matter how enticing, don't swim at the beach. This time of year there are poisonous jelly fish. 

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