Sunday, November 30, 2008

port douglas

"are you sure you wont need motion sickness pills tomorrow?" simon asked me for the second time.

"aaah no need! i think im getting too dependent on those drugs anyway. maybe its all in my mind." i say confidently.

we were strolling along a charming street in port douglas lined with sidewalk cafes, small shops and a couple of holiday operators. the small town is a popular base for either diving in the great barrier reef or exploring the daintree rainforest. and we just signed up for a day trip dive the following day, i was too excited to give some thought to something as trivial as me getting seasick.

"if we enjoy the dive tomorrow, and of course we will! we can dive again the day after next?" i was still pumped up from all the pictures we've seen in the dive shop operator - whales, manta rays, sharks and excellent underwater visibility.

"we will see tomorrow ok?" simon likes to dive but he has limits like me unfortunately. we realized this when we went diving for 3 straight days in sipadan. we were exhausted from all that diving while jao and sym wanted to dive some more.

around port douglas

the next day...

"if you are prone to motion sickness, i hope you took some pills before getting on this boat. if you didnt, its too late to take them now. we will pass around ice cubes you can suck to help if youre dizzy and biodegradable paperbags in case you need to throw up." the marine biologist announced when we got on the very modern haba boat.

"it cant be that bad right?" i asked simon nervously.

30 minutes later, i was throwing up in my paperbag. the boat ride was so rough that if i try to stand up, i can easily be get thrown around the boat. and it took us 1 hour 30 minutes just to reach the first dive site. i was one of the few people who got out of the cabin to get some fresh air while desperately trying to look at the horizon because they say that helps. it didnt. neither did the ice cubes.

inside the haba boat

i wasnt in the mood for diving anymore but they said it might help since its calmer underwater. it didnt. and i was stupid to believe the divemaster when he said the water was warm. i just wore board shorts and a rashguard and i was shivering underwater. the dm was cold as well as i can see his arms got goosebumps while underwater.

corals of opal reef (bashful balmy dive site)

what can i say? our guidebook said "its the only living structure on earth visible from the moon; at 348,700 sq km, its bigger than the united kingdom; its 2,000 km long, its home to 1,500 kinds of fish, 400 species of corals, etc, etc, etc". you get the drift right? honestly we were not that impressed on our first dive. maybe it has something to do with me being dizzy but simon was in a good shape and he wasnt overwhelmed either. the corals were pretty but we didnt see a lot of fish. damselfish here and there, a couple of anemone with their resident clownfish, some colorful parrotfish, some sea cucumber.

there was only a 20 minute-break between the first and second dive, and i wasnt up to it yet so i just tried to sleep in the deck instead. im not sure if simon was trying to make me feel better but he said the second dive was pretty much the same as the first one so i didnt miss much. lunch was served but i didnt dare eat, later on the boat moved to the next dive site. i felt a lot better on the last dive, i wore a shorties wetsuit to battle the cold and finally i got to appreciate the corals. still not a lot of fish, we saw one small blue spotted stingray and one moray eel and the usual fusiliers. the hard corals were healthy though, there was this big patch wherein you could not see the sandy bottom anymore because of all the corals.

a small blue spotted stingray (at two tone dive site)

nice hard corals but where are the fish? (at two tone dive site)

simon with his funny mask. its a mask with built-in ear cups to help him equalize.

needless to say, no more diving for the rest of the australia trip for us after that.

where are you? im in a meeting. hehe

boats for rent in port douglas marina

our 2-bedroom apartment unit at nimrod resort

where to stay:
nimrod apartments
we got a 1 bedroom with personal laundry, kitchenette, living room, balcony for 83 aud.

where to rent a car:
203aud for 4 days rental of a hyundai getz

dive operator:
haba great barrier reef adventure
day trip dive in the outer reef for 242 aud. includes:
- coach transfer from our accomodation to the marina and back
- coffee/tea/muffins
- lunch buffet
- 2 dives
- equipment rental
- marine biologist to identify fish
- environmental fee
simon added 20aud for 1 more dive

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