Cairns in 5 Days

Cairns have been on my ‘To Go’ list since 2014 and with some good resolution this year to tick things off my list, I booked myself a flight in January and before I knew it, March came and I found myself on a plane towards the tropics. I can already feel this year is flying by and I really need to, as I like to put it, grab life by its horn, the horns you want, and ride it high, ride it wild.

Day 1 : Cairns City

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Slept throughout the 3 hours plane ride and woke up to sunshine, little mountains & heat. The warm heat that I so love and grew up with 🙂

I was going to visit Cairns alone but a friend decided to join last minute, which was great as well, to have company and to see if we could be future traveling buddies.
Happy to say, we survived, we are still friends 🙂
Big plus – we both were able to get ready within 10 minutes each day. High five!

I find that travels do bring out another side of a person, usually the side where they are outside their comfort zone. That side that makes us a little nutty. I sometimes find myself thinking, if you want marry a person, travel together first. If you make it – fantastic, you found yourself someone significant and also a travel mate.
If you don’t, then maybe it is just not meant to be.
A little extreme? Maybe.

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I digress.
After a little roam around, we discovered that the city was actually quite small and walk-able basically from point to point.
Not much to do, more of a place for a day stay or two, before hitting the rain forest further up north or other beach side towns down south.

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We walked along the coast. It was low tide and we couldn’t swim in there due to jellyfishes.
I think it’s a first for me visiting a beach where people were not allowed to swim in.20170328_120107

Still, it was a nice stroll.

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View from our hostel.
I do like the mountains or little hills that dotted and circled the city centre.
Reminded me of Guatemala strangely, maybe it was the colours of the city.

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During the evening, we cooled off at the man-made lagoon near the beach.
I guess it was the local council’s way of making up for the lack of a beach that was safe to swim in.
It was a great way to end off a hot day, watching the sun set, the sky with shades of orange and pink.

STAY : We wanted to go budget and stayed at the dorms at Caravella Hostel. Approximately $20 per night along with a free 1-way airport transfer.
Basic hostel with fan and air conditioning, good if you are just looking for a place to sleep at night.
http://www.caravella.com.au/

DO #1 : Walk along the beach / coast.
DO #2: Enjoy a cuppa in the many quaint cafes, browse fresh produce at the weekend market, visit the night markets and lastly, seek shelter from the heat in Cairns Central Shopping mall and enjoy the air-conditioning.
The heat in mid-day can get quite unbearable.
DO #3 : Cool off and have a dip in a man-made lagoon at sunset. Water is warm, clean and with the orange-pink sky as the backdrop, it is really quite beautiful and calming.

Day 2 & 3 : Daintree Forest & Cape Tribulation

We decided not to self drive this time as we were lazy to plan the routes and signed up with Sight Seeing Tours Australia for an overnight trip to the Daintree forest and Cape Tribulation.

If you do have time for road planning & research, I definitely recommend self drive as there is more flexibility in terms of your own schedule, what you want to do and timings. It is not that hard at all since it is one main winding road up north to Daintree forest / Cape Tribulation.
You will need a physical GPS however, if you were thinking to rely on your phone for GPS directions, as there are no signal or connectivity once you enter the national rainforest.
If you are like me and just want to switch off, kick back and leave it to someone else to drive, and mostly are not fussed with someone else dictating what you see, when you see it etc – the tour will be the way to go.

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Got up bright and early for the tour. Was excited to see this national park and stay overnight in the forest by the beach!

First Cuppa of the day – needed my tea-caffine fix by 10am.
Morning tea was included in the price which included Daintree forest tea, coffee, milk & tim tams. Good filler for that morning munch.IMG-20170330-WA0003

We rested at this lake where they had a “Beware of crocodiles” sign.
I still wasn’t that worried at this stage about the crocs.
By the time we got to Cape Tribulation, that was a different story.20170329_103956

We crossed the daintree river and stopped in one of the national parks and spotted this lizard. When angered, this lizard will spread its hands up and reveal those beautiful wings. “Can someone make him angry please so I can see his wings?:)”

Tour guide pointed out a few plants that were poisonous despite looking very harmless. One was even in a heart shaped – a touch or rub will cause your skin to burn and itch for days / months.

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Finally got to Cape Tribulation around mid day where we were dropped off at our humble abode for the night – The Beach Front Hostel.
Again, simple hut-like accommodation, suitable to rest for a night or two.

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The tour guide sat those who were staying overnight down before we got off and told us to stay away from the waters to avoid the jelly fishes and possible crocodile attacks – a kiwi girl was recently dragged away at night when she decided it was a good idea to skinny dip at 10pm and a dog who was again taken by the same 3m crocodile just 10 days before we got there.
These stories were enough to make me turn at every noise I heard and fearful that a 3m long crocodile was lurking somewhere near me.

So much so that during the night when I went to the toilet which was a short distance away from our huts, I was petrified that that very same crocodile was somewhere around, in the dark. What was worse – he could see me, but I can’t see him.
Quite similar to the time when I was in the amazon, peeing in the middle of the night, in pitch black darkness.
I had to force myself to stop thinking that a puma was going bite my ass.

Anyhoos, I survived.
I’m glad you were hiding somewhere else. I really did not want to see you Mr Crocodile.

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Cape Tribulation was really beautiful . Mountains and beach. I’ve always wanted to be in a place where there were mountains in the background, lined with long sandy beaches and warm weather, all in one.
This was pretty close, except for those crocodiles.IMG_20170402_120313_232IMG-20170330-WA0012

The entire stretch of beach was deserted. Private paradise. I felt like I was on the movie set of “Lost”. We walked for about an hour to the swimming lagoon, a pretty walk except the over bearing mid day heat and sweat.20170329_141346
Almost there!

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A sign telling us to be wary of the cassowary – their feet is powerful enough to kill.

Like what our guide said on the bus – “Every animal in Australia is out to kill you here, and even if they don’t, the plants will. Welcome to the real Australia.”

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Finally here !
Swimming lagoon was just behind this cafe, make a gold coin donation before jumping in. Helps in maintaining the place.
Food and drinks are expensive here in Cape Tribulation as they have to transport everything from the main city, plus electricity runs on diesel here so everything is priced up to cover these costs. Internet ? Go without for a few days. It’s really nice to be go offline sometimes and you really just don’t want to pay for the exorbitant internet fees here.

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The cool water was a refreshing change, great to wash off our sweat.
No crocodiles since it was a swimming lagoon and there were other people around.
If I were alone here, I probably will not jump in. Again, I was really worried about the crocodiles.20170329_151852

Other travelers seeking respite from the heat20170329_162322

After our dip, we walked back to our hostel.
By 4pm, the sun was less intense.
It hid behind the clouds and the walk back became very comfortable. 20170329_162631

We saw other people lying around and found ourselves a spot and lied down for a while.20170329_162641

It was really calming to just lay there, cool breeze, endless ocean and beach that seems to go on and on with little mountains dotting the backdrop.20170329_162707

I fell asleep while my friend read her book. Great way to end off the evening.20170329_162810

Was woken up as other people started leaving and we decided to leave too, again, in fear of the crocodiles and also it was getting dark.20170329_162916

STAY : Cape Tribulation Beach House (About $29-$35 per night for a 3 bedroom – 5 bedroom dorm)
https://www.capetribbeach.com.au/daintree-rainforest-accommodation/bungalows/

Tour Website :
https://sightseeingtoursaustralia.com.au/

DO #1 : Walk along Cape Tribulation Beach
DO #2 : Have a dip in the swimming lagoons to cool off
DO #3 : Lie around the sandy white beach with the misty mountains in the background, read a book, fall asleep, watch out for the Crocs.
DO #4 : If you do have a full day at Cape Tribulation to spare, check out the Mount Sorrow hike. It takes about 7 hours return and you will need proper walking shoes for this. Apparently the look out at the end is worth the scale up- We didn’t have time for the entire trail and only walked about 500m of it, decided it might not be a good idea to continue the trail in flipflops and headed back to the beautiful white beach.

Day 4 : Daintree River Cruise / Morssom Gorge / Back to Cairns City

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Walked around the rainforest before the bus came to pick us up at 12pm20170330_122422

IMG-20170330-WA0021Discovered any stretch of sandy beach with no one around, our private paradise – too beautiful really.
A few weeks up here, with no connectivity and a purpose like helping out a team assisting the ecosystem sounds ideal.

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We left Cape Tribulation and stopped by a lookout along the way.
Again, tranquil and beautiful.20170330_135809

We hit the Daintree River to spot some crocs! 20170330_135839

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Excited to see some crocs!

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Someone on the boat had really a good eye!
Spotted a croc from far and we cruised closer to it.
I would never have seen it unless if we were about 500m away and it moved.

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A baby croc!20170330_142811

Learnt quite a bit about them on the cruise.
-If Mama and Papa croc mated in approximately 32 degrees weather and above, the baby croc will be a male. Anything below will be female.
-Papa croc can tell if other eggs aren’t his and will proceed to destroy them. Hence Mama crocs always have her eggs well hidden.
-Crocs don’t eat their prize right away. They wait for it to rot, usually hiding them away for weeks and then feast on the decayed rotten meat.
-Baby crocs are at danger of being eaten by a certain bird flying around this river and are usually safe after the ages of 1.5 – 2.

IMG-20170330-WA0017Us + That Croc in the background!
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Continued cruising down the river, felt a little like the time I was back in the Amazon basin of Bolivia…except this time it was on a fancier speed boat.20170330_144516

Ended the cruise and felt happy we had spotted a few crocs and also birds.

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We continued to Morssom Gorge and I wished we had a bit more time to do the entire trail. If you self drive, definitely stop here for a few more hours to complete the entire trail and then end it off with a dip in the swimming lagoon!

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It started raining all of a sudden and the guide said this was the real weather of a tropical rainforest.
The last few days with all that intense heat and sunshine was due to Cyclone Debbie who sucked away all the clouds and rain with her.
The rain was very welcomed, cooled everything down.

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“It’s raining but our hair still looks good” – Well said Jeanette 😉
#ThingsGirlsSay

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On the windy drive back, we stopped along yet another lookout, close to Port Douglas. Was really beautiful here, I wished I could sit here longer, at least half an hour, just staring out and taking all these scenery in.
Again, this will be possible if you self drive.IMG-20170330-WA0029

Happy Campers, after a cool off by the rain & a dip in the gorge/lagoon.IMG-20170330-WA0031IMG-20170330-WA0038Last We-fie to end off a relaxing day.

STAY : Caravella Hostel where we stayed on Day 1http://www.caravella.com.au/

DO #1 : Daintree Forest River Cruise
DO #2 : Morssom Gorge – Highly recommend to self drive here and to spend a few hours here and also a dip in the lagoon after
DO #3 : Drive down the coast and enjoy the scenery.

Day 5 : Great Barrier Reef

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Last Day – Off we went to check out the Great Barrier Reef!
We went with Compass Tour, a local Family owned tour company.
It was professionally ran, friendly instructors, safety checks in place with morning tea, lunch and cheese/crackers/wine provided to end off the adventure.
Highly recommend!

You can find out more on their Facebook page –
https://www.facebook.com/CompassCruise/

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Took about 2 hours to get out to the reefs, was calming just being out in the open sea with misty mountains in the distance 🙂

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Nearly there!
All suit up and ready to jump in.

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Ninja looking, much?

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Verdict – Saw a great variety of fishes and baby reef sharks which was amazing!
The corals were mostly bleached,with some a few still brightly coloured in yellow and orange hues.
It must have been really beautiful 10 years ago where all corals were alive, richly coloured along with all the fishes and marine life.
Worth a visit and a ride out, for the large variety of fishes you will see.
I think I saw more fishes here compared to Indonesia and Philippines, although the corals/water were prettier in the latter two countries.

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Pop some seasickness pills if you are prone to motion sickness.
I took two and still vomited a little at the second dive site, especially when the boat wasn’t moving and was bobbing along with the waves.
If you do suffer from this annoying sickness, try to eat a smaller lunch, laugh it off and tell those who asked if you were ok that you will survive and it tasted like pizza 😉

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We covered two reef sites and I felt that was good enough. I was ready to get back to cruising and steadiness.

Enjoyed the slow cruise back with cheese, crackers and wine.
Made a few new friends on board and had a good time laughing.
I love people who love to laugh at everything and themselves, life is already hard enough, we should all laugh more.
Including myself.

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Was a great trip all in all, relaxing getaway for a few days.

2017 – it feels like time is really flying by, and I can’t make it slow down.
I open and close my palms, as if I could grasp time.
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Reflecting on my trip and life in general, I am very thankful for my time here.

The discomfort and uncertainty of the last 2.5 years especially being away from family, has made me remember again to seek out life’s meaning, made me want to reach out and step closer to what I feel I should be doing.
Made me choose to not  ‘settle’ but to keep going and trying, until I am proud of myself.

When I was living alone for 6 years back in my early 20s, I strongly believed we should all be at a place in life where we are a little outside of our comfort zone.
Only there, would we grow.
Those years, I grew so much and my ‘knife’ only grew sharper year after year.

I moved back to be with family for 2 years and I remember feeling a tad worried.
I felt I was quickly  forgetting what those 6 years have taught me, the familiarity of everything, the comfort zone, I was losing my vision and sharpness fast.
I did ask myself a few times then but dismissed it.
Maybe it was fine, I was contented and comfortable.
After all, we can’t have it all.
We always have to give up something in order to have another thing.

This last move in 2014 till present day has slowly made me recall why I said what I said – about wanting to be a little out of my comfort zone.
Although I did whinge intensely, blamed the universe, kicked and cried like a little brat the first 1.5 years, thinking I must have been mad to say those sort of things back then.
I wanted to be comfortable, I wanted to fit in, I desperately wanted to stop struggling.

Now that things have settled down a little, I recall all those things again. And I am thankful to be able to.
In life, we have to actively participate, not sit back and coast.
Some people are incredibly talented because they get involved with their life.
I want it for myself too.

I sincerely hope I will not forget again.
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B’oakman says it best

‘Do not wish for time to pass quickly, time will do that on its own.
Instead, wish for deeper moments, and wider perspectives.
Have the courage to say Yes, and the wisdom to say No.
Abandon Beliefs that weigh you down, and embrace beliefs that are life giving.
You are worthy of a life that holds great meaning and joy – and you are capable of creating it.
One Heartbeat at a time.’

Till next time, stay gold 🙂

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