We start this edition of Cairns Capers with a trip to Melbourne. I met up with my friends who I worked with in London, Lisa, Jon and Jon's wife Liri.
I arrived in Melbourne on the Thursday afternoon. With Jon at a wedding and Lisa at work I decided what a great opportunity to head to the Casino and try and win a $1,000,000 dollars at the Aussie Millions poker tournament. As you would expect if I'd won anything you probably would have heard from me by now. However it was a learning experience, albeit an expensive one.
However it wasn't all bad news. I did manage to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Here's me getting refused a photo opportunity with Mark Philippoussis and the chick who played the hot foreign exchange student in "American Pie". I'd put her real name here, but I don't know it and I'm sure you don't either. But I spoke to the "Poo"!!!
Another perk of losing wads of cash in a poker tournament is you get invited to the after party. So a week later I dragged poor Adam Thomas along to have a drink with all the dodgey old poker playing dudes. We had several free drinks but that wasn't enough to keep us there. Even the Rhonda Birchmore tribute band was surprisingly disappointing. For those of you outside Australia and never had the opportunity to see Rhonda Birchmore belt out a few tunes each week on our classic variety show "Hey Hey it's Saturday" you'll have to trust me that this is a very amusing reference.
On the first day of the Australian open Jon, Liri and I headed to the tennis. I think we all agreed it was a nice experience and well worth it. However if we went back I think we'd do things a bit differently. We made the mistake of entering the tennis courts and watching tennis. We saw Croatian Mario Ancic beat Go Soeda in three sets. But the real action was just outside where the Serbians beat the Croatians 3 knuckle dusters and a switchblade to none. However we did get to see the flares being lit as we entered the grounds which was perhaps the highlight of the day.
I'm now back in Cairns and I've been spending some more time with Nguyen. I've discovered a few things about Nguyen, her name is actually Nhu, she makes a great spring roll, and she's not likely to break up with her boyfriend any time soon. Since she's heading to Viet Nam on Friday, and her boyfriend will be joining her, I think it's probably best we go on a break for a while. But just so you know she's real, here's a picture of her.
Tomorrow my friend Andrew Middleweek will be arriving. He's here for a week and no doubt we'll be having some whacky and zany adventures, just like we did in New Zealand. It's the wet season here and thunderstorms are predicted every day. But I have a back up plan, it involves a case of beer, Smokey and the Bandit 1 & 2 and the words "smokey" and "bandit". I'll let you join the dots.
On the 19th of December my parents arrived at the Cairns International Airport. I was able to pick them up and bring them home, where they slept for several hours. This pattern of afternoon naps continued for the next 10 days. My parents generally got up around 6am, had an afternoon nap and were in bed by 9pm. I however tend to get up around 10am and usually don't go to bed until around 1am. I guess this 4 hour difference is part of the generation gap.
The first night I had to leave them to go to my end of year party for my Japanese course. The one social event I've had in the last 4 months. But I made up for my neglect by taking them up to Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest the next day.
Mossman Gorge is a beautiful part of the Daintree Rainforest. People come from all over the world to see it's beauty and to swim in it's crystal clear waters. There's a 3km walk that you can do which I think Mum would have loved. Dad had his doubts that it would be much different from the first 500m from the carpark. After all if "you've seen one tree you've seen them all".
So the next day we went on the Catch a Crab tour. This Dad enjoyed a lot more. It was exactly as it says on the wrapper. We go out and Catch a Crab then eat it. The day was rounded out with some harmoica playing and a sing-a-long. It was the opposite to my experience in SE Asia. This time Westerners were singing and Asians were looking perplexed.
I then took them on a trip up to Kuranda and around the waterfall circuit. There are 4 very beautiful waterfalls on the circuit each with it's own unique beauty. But we only saw one of them this time. As Dad says, "You've seen one waterfall you've seen them all". I've discoverd a new photo upload site. This one allows you to map them onto Google Earth. So you can look at a map of far north Queensland, click on an icon and it shows you my photo of that place. Well I think it's pretty cool anyway even if you don't. Some of my nicer photos are here at panoramio.
By now it was Christmas. We celebrated it with a huge platter of seafood. Lobster, Crab, Bugs and Prawns. The lady at the seafood shop was a little surprised to learn it was to feed only 3 of us. So Dad explained that we'd be eating it all day.
Of course Boxing Day was set aside for the Boxing Day test match.
The next day we decided to head to Cooktown. We got up at the crazy time of 7am. I was a bit tired but luckily Dad was happy to do most of the driving. I woke up at one point to what I think is some amazing landscape. Maybe it's just because I'd never seen anything like it before.
Further up the road we spotted Black Mountain. It was formed by some volcano or something. Then it was on to Cooktown where we ate a hamburger and went home. After all, you've seen one Australian town of uniquely historical significance and natural beauty you've seen them all.
On their final full day at Mum's request and with some reluctance from Dad we spent the morning at Green Island. Most people come to Cairns, some from as far away as Tokyo or Stockholm, to see the Great Barrier Reef. So they figured they might as well check it out. After a bit of Snorkling Dad decided it wasn't as good as when we went to Fiji in 1982. After all you've seen one clownfish you've seen them all.
The next day I drove them to the airport.
Since then I've been spending some time with my next door neighbour Nguyen. We've been cooking each other dinner. Nguyen made me a nice stew. I was shocked to see how much MSG she was adding. I said you can't put that stuff in doesn't it give you cancer? She informed me no don't be stupid it causes brain dramage. So I stand corrected.
I've also been busy with my internet business. Finally got around to making a To Do list today and it has 20 things on it. Writing another Cairns Capers was not one of them.