Just got back from a day on the Great Barrier Reef which was absolutely amazing. We took the bus to the boat early this morning and spent 90 minutes or so on the choppiest (smooth my arse) catamaran in existence. It docked with a pontoon in the outer reef (Agincourt if I remember correctly) and from there we could do pretty much what we wanted.
We took a helicopter ride around the general area and saw the reef extending as far as the eye could see, and also managed to spot a massive tiger shark in the water below. Absolutely breathtaking views.
Then my brother and I went scuba-diving on the reef. We’re not qualified divers or anything so we had to have some training and go down with an instructor, but that was just brilliant. It’s quite a strange experience until you get used to it, what with the breathing through the mouth and having to relieve pressure every few metres and was actually quite claustrophobic at first (it didn’t help that my always-dodgy ears were giving me grief with the pressure), but once I got adjusted it was definitely an experience that I want to try again. I’m actually thinking of getting qualified so that I can solo dive.
It was during this time that I found out the amazing news that if you vomit whilst wearing a scuba mask it gets ejected out the sides and all the fish will come and eat it. Unfortunately I couldn’t test the theory, but it made me laugh all the same.
Anyway, pipe dreams that are likely to remain unfulfilled aside, down in the reef we got to see the clownfish in the anenomes, giants clams which terrified Barney, and then sit in the middle of a minor feeding frenzy when the instructor let some fish food go. It didn’t seem as azure and clear as I expected, but then again it did on video when I watched it back later, so maybe it was just murky through my mask.
Just to top it all off, the boat stopped halfway through the return journey and the captain pointed out that there was a humpback whale on our port side. I couldn’t get any photos because we just saw it popping up for air a couple of times but still, it made 90 minutes on a boat more bearable and was, I think, my first sighting of a whale outside Sea World.
Right, so I’ve been in Australia for a few days now. I’ve managed to find an Internet cafe in Sydney where I could upload some photos onto Flickr, and while I haven’t been able to annotate them or anything you can take a look at Bondi Beach, the Sydney skyline, and various parts of the Blue Mountains. This one (that’s my brother) is a favourite shot of mine so far:
They have wild kangaroos here and everything.
Right now I’m up in the north in Cairns, where I’ll be staying for the next two days and visiting the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest which should make for plenty of nice photos. I’m using a paid terminal with an emasculated Internet at the moment (it wouldn’t even let me on my homepage due to the use of the ‘F’ word) so it might have to wait until I get back to Sydney, but either way enjoy what there is.
First of all let me apologise in advance for any weird spelling or punctuation in this post. I’m in a Japanese Internet cafe fighting against an alien keyboard layout and a laptop that wants to type everything in hiragana…
On days like this I wonder why I want to be a journalist when it seems that any story can be blown out of all proportion. As I’m sure you’re aware all British airports were in “chaos” because of the whole security threat thing so I was naturally all worried that all my plans would be disrupted. We got picked up by the airport car three hours early to account for any delays that the news was telling us were inevitable, and I had to leave my DS and PSP at home because I couldn’t carry them on and wasn’t risking them in the hold.
So…the two-hour drive to Heathrow ends up taking about 80 minutes because within a few miles of the airport there are hardly any cars on the road. Nothing. We wait for check-in to open and that goes smoothly and then queue for about 20 minutes longer than usual to go through security since everyone is being patted down.
Now what really had me fucked off is that I couldn’t carry on any games, my camera, my laptop, books, magazines, etc, but once I was through security as long as I wasn’t flying to the United States of Paranoia (they weren’t letting people carry on anything at all) I could have gone and bought any of the items in Dixons and carried them on. I wasn’t desperate enough to buy yet another DS so I just bought a couple of books from Borders (Roy Keane’s autobiography and the complete Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) which I breezed through a good chunk of on the way to Tokyo.
The flight got off on time and went without a hitch (MI3 and Ice Age 2 were the films; I watched most of MI3) and 12 hours later I now find myself at Narita Airport with four more hours to kill until my connecting flight to Sydney. Thankfully it has a free Internet cafe that I’m using now which also sells Pocky, successfully combining two of my favourite things in the world, so that eases the pain. Amusingly, it also has a mini cinema where, for £400 a time, you can watch such hits as “Batman Bigins” (sic). I wish I had my camera.
This is the last post you’re going to get from me that’s been written in the UK for a while, since tomorrow I start on my epic voyage to Australia. It’s hardly Jules Verne but it might as well be, since I’ll be in transit for around 27 hours and find it physically impossible to sleep on a plane. When I land in some kind of sleepless and aggressive stupor it’ll be like we’re exporting our murderers and bridge vandalisers again.
Like I did in Japan last year, I’ll be blogging occasionally and posting photos to Flickr both while I’m in Australia for a fortnight and when I’m back in Japan for a week. I will, of course, be on the lookout for crazy geek stuff like Engrish 24 since that’s what Japan is there for. I’ll be doing more historical sightseeing when I go to places like Kamakura for people who like a bit of culture as well.
In Australia I’ll be based in Sydney for most of the time but will also be spending a few days up in Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef and such. That’s assuming I haven’t been locked up for an assault on airport staff. Wish me luck and check back for updates on what I’m up to.
My hatred of the summer is reaching fever pitch what with the influx of tourists down here and weather than ranges from tropical heat to tropical storm (last Saturday was nuts), but also because there’s nothing to play. There are a few games out in August but I’m going all antipodean for most of that month and then, as I complain about every…single…year there’s a torrent of games due towards the end of the year. It’s even worse when there are two new consoles out and another just hitting its stride.
So in the meantime I’ve been playing some older stuff that I’ve either not played for a while or never got around to finishing. My Dreamcast has been restored to my desk (it’s gone all yellow like an old SNES which is annoying) and I’ve been hammering on Shenmue, Jet Set Radio, Crazy Taxi, Soul Calibur, and Marvel vs Capcom 2. Still an amazing system.
I bought LocoRoco after I liked the demo but have been fairly disappointed in it because it gets very repetitive and isn’t exactly challenging. On the PS2 I’m still enjoying SFA Anthology and I’ve got preview code of King of Fighters 2006 which is OK as far as 3D fighting adaptations go. Call of Duty 2 and Battlefield 2 multiplayer are where I’m at on the 360.
The Game Boy Micro has been getting a lot of playtime over the last few days, especially when it comes to the SNES ports – I finally finished Zelda: Link to the Past (only took me 15 years) and now I’m working on completing Super Mario World. Final Fantasy IV is on the to-do list.
So I guess I should be thankful that I buy far too many games to actually play properly. It makes these long summer days easier to bear.
In other news I passed my second year of uni! Now only another year before I can get a real job! Yay!
The summer isn’t all bad, of course. Girls wear fewer clothes (not a good thing in every case, admittedly) and from Friday we have the World Cup as an excuse to watch three football matches a day, but I can’t wait for autumn to roll around.
- Hayfever – I always know when summer’s here because I start uncontrollably sneezing and resisting the need to scratch my eyes out, and start to spend the next few months on pills. What’s more, the non-drowsy pills don’t really work on me anymore so I have to choose between being grumpy because I’m sneezing and my eyes are watering or grumpy because I’m drowsy. Great.
- No Games – Apparently during the summer some people like to go to this place called “outside” so we’re usually lucky to get one decent game every summer. I would have thought that no competition would have meant a great opening in the market to bring out at least a couple of big ones, but no…
- Too Damn Hot – Would you rather freeze to death or burn to death? I’d rather freeze, and hence I can’t handle it being 30-40 degrees every day. I don’t know how I’d survive somewhere where it was like that every day. More than likely I wouldn’t. Sunburn probably falls into this category as well.
- Kids – Children are like farts: you can’t stand anybody’s but your own. I get lulled into a false sense of security every summer since I finish in May and schools don’t kick out until the end of July, but until then I actually start to enjoy my time off. Then everyone decides to make my life as difficult as possible for a couple of months by – I’m sure – deliberately leaving their screaming and uncontrollable kids as close to me as possible.
- Holidaymakers – Around the same time that the kids start appearing my quiet little seaside town is invaded by caravans and holidaymakers who descend on the town centre with their usual asinine question (“why aren’t these drinks cold?”/”because you just watched me put them in the chiller ten seconds ago, retard”) shtick. Being right on the south coast, I’m also apparently required to speak every language in Europe so that tourists don’t act surprised when I don’t.
Rant over. When people say that global warming is going to cause another ice age I don’t see it as a bad thing. Humanity survived it more than once, right?