On the Reef

It wasn’t raining this morning, yes!, because today we were going to the Great Barrier Reef on a Sunlover Reef Cruises boat. We boarded a boat with about 220 other tourists, 200 of them Chinese, and started a two-hour ride to the reef. The part of town next to Shangri-La hotel is pretty, away from the de reguleur contemporary resort town – overbuilt with hotels and honky-tonk, but here, there is a lot of luscious greenery, gorgeous mountains across a lovely marina, and wispy clouds clinging to their tops.
But back to the boat, we tried to find a secluded spot to hide from the loud, pushy, and incessantly photographing mob, and befriended a couple from Mongolia trying to do the same. Now how often do you meet people from Mongolia?!
En route to the reef, we briefly stopped at Fitzroy island to exchange some of the load of passengers for the new one. From the boat, the island looked out of Lost: tropical, hilly, with light mist over its lush vegetation. In fact, we spotted the Smoke Monster closer to the top of the island.
From there, we headed into the open sea, and docked by a large platoon in the middle of the ocean. We decided against scuba diving. You know, I always hated scuba diving and Kenny hasn’t dove (dived?) in over 10 years. So we hopped off (as they say in Oz) the boat and went snorkeling with a guide, since I am a newbie snorkeler.
What we found under the surface was, surely, one of the wonders of the world. Once again, photos, beautiful as they are, don’t do justice. The coral forest here is beyond description! It’s a fairy-tale world down there!
I always hated diving, To me, once you’ve seen one fish, you’ve seen them all. The fish here are tropical and beautiful, but the coral forest is simply magical!
So I, the one who hates scuba, got out of the water and pronounced “let’s scuba,” and so we booked a diving trip for the day after tomorrow.
In the meanwhile, back on the platoon, we jumped into a glass-bottom boat. There was a guide on the boat, pointing out various underwater wonders, but we could not hear him. His voice was completely drowned by loud Chinese chatter. They screamed to each other, completely disregarding the fact that the guide was talking, well, they couldn’t understand him, and we didn’t matter. They were the 99%.
After a buffet lunch (one thing is good here, in touristy places: since most tourists are Asian, most of the food is Asian too) we did another activity. We went sea-walking. We were outfitted in wet suits and helmets, the kind that astronauts wear, and lowered onto an underwater platform. There, we took a little walk completely surrounded by fish. The staff here feeds fish, and the fish flock to the platform in droves. One huge and very handsome guy was so tame, that he let us pet him and posed for photographs. He was only a kid, about 4 feet long, and will double his size once he grows up.
Overall, this particular experience, fun as it was, was not really worth it, in my humble opinion. We were on a small platform under the platoon for a short period of time at a high cost.
There was also a semisubmersible offered, but we missed the last boat. 😦
We were going to snorkel some more, but the skies opened up, dumped buckets of rain water onto our platoon – another monsoon! But thankfully, we did get several hours of dry weather.
Today – at sea, tomorrow – into the woods.

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