It is now Monday and we are in Siem Reap, Cambodia, staying at the Grand Hotel
d'Angkor. We flew here today from Cairns, Australia on a seven hour flight. We
also went west three time zones. Let me recap the stay in Australia.
We flew into Cairns two days ago. It is pronounced "cans". As one of our
Australian guides told us "We are rather lazy with our Rs". Cairns is a city
of 140,000 and is in Queensland on the northeast coast. We are talking about
a tropical area here.
Our ultimate goal was the Sea Temple Resort in Port Douglas. It is an hour
bus ride north of Cairns. We took Route 44 up the coast. It was built during
the Great Depression. Apparently, Australia had the same economic problems
that we experienced and initiated similar public works products to stimulate
On the way, we saw some damage caused by the recent cyclone (hurricane).
Nothing serious though- mainly downed limbs. The eye of the cyclone acutally
struck south of Cairns.
The Sea Temple was quite an upgrade from the last two places where we stayed.
We had an appartment which was quite nicely decorated and furnished. If anyone
really wants to see the place, check it out at http://www.seatemple.com.au/. By far,
the nicest aspect of the place was the washer and dryer in each apartment.
This was our first place to do laundry. And with the baggage that we are
allowed, there is no way to pack enough clothes to last twenty four days.
Port Douglas is a town of 2800 that expands to many more during peak tourist
season. It was my impression that the major source of income around there
was tourism. This is the low season because it is also the rainy season.
On Sunday, we were taken to the main dock when we boarded a large powered
catamaran. It took us out into the Coral Sea twenty miles where we snorkeled
the Great Barrier Reef. In my opinion, this was a must do acitivity. The
Reef itself stretches 1300 miles down the Australian East Coast and is clearly
visible from space. The diversity of coral and marine life was impressive.
We have snorkeled in other places and the only place that comes close are the
British Virgin Islands. The water was quite warm and we had no problems with the
entire experience. Then they fed us a delicious lunch.
We came back to the resort and took a two hour nap. This is a very fast paced
trip and there is not enough opportunity for people like me to sleep. I slept
quite a bit last night also and today is really the first day that I feel
mentally alert. Also, it seems universal on this trip that people's
bodies are on their orginal American time. They tend to wake up at odd hours
like four o'clock in the morning even though they have not slept enough.
We went to Salsa in Port Douglas for dinner last night. No, it was not a
Mexican place. We ate nanigua, a local fish. It is sweet but was delicious
in the sauce they used.
On Monday morning, we went to a wildlife habitat which I would liken to a petting
zoo on steroids. They had all the Australian animals that you have heard about-
the kangaroos, wallabees, crocodiles, and many birds. I will post some pictures
later. I think the highlight for Deb was seeing a baby kangoroo peering out of
his mother's pouch. I really liked the Australian pelican which is about three
times the size of our brown pelican. I will post some photographs of these
We were then bussed back to Cairns for our long flight to Cambodia. We are now
entering a stage of the trip which I consider to be more exotic: Cambodia-
China-Tibet-India. I am not sure that I would have selected any of these places on
my own but I am excited to see cultures that are so radically different from
the American one.
When we were walking through the airport terminal a few minutes ago, we looked up at the
TV monitor and the Duke-Miami game was on. Small world.
Happy Valentine's day.