My first day trip excursion was to Green Island and Norman Reef, both part of the Great Barrier Reef. The day started out rainy but by the time we got to Green Island the rain had stopped and there were high clouds mixed with sunshine. The island was quite interesting. It is home to a small resort and the island is protected by the Australian government. It was approximately 10 miles from the coast.
I walked around the island, checked out the beaches and snorkeling area. They had shops, restaurants, and a nice pool for hotel guests and those on the excursion I took. The snorkeling didn’t look that great so I didn’t go. I later found that one had to go much further from the coast of the island to see the reef. The island also had a lot of forestation, like a jungle with boardwalk paths through it.
After about two hours, on to Norman Reef, about an hour away. This reef was on the outer barrier. You could see the continental shelf in the distance where the water was a decidedly a dark blue. We puled up to a pontoon moored just before the reef. This became our base of operation for scuba diving, snorkeling, eating, and sun bathing. It was also the base to a semi-submersible submarine that took us around the reef. That was cool, but not nearly as great as snorkeling in the reef itself. I have been to many reefs in the Caribbean, but this had the most colorful coral and most fish.
The flight to Cairns was uneventful. I flew on Virgin Australia which was more like the US airlines. When I arrived at the Cairns airport, I took a shuttle bus to the hotel. It seemed exceptionally hot. My room was upgraded to a corner with a patio on one side and large window on the other. The bathroom had a jacuzzi tub with a glass wall on two sides, one opening to the bedroom and the other to a shower area – interesting. The room was great, but hot. I asked them to check it out and was told that the air conditioner for the entire hotel was down. Lucky me. I stayed awake as long as I could with the door open in the hall way and the patio door to create a breeze, but when I went to sleep I closed the hall door.
When I checked into my room, I changed in to summer clothes and walked around town. I found a Woolworth department store that contained a shopping market where I bought bottled water and some tings for breakfast. I got the lay of the land so to speak. When I got back to the hotel, I checked in at the travel desk and changed my itinerary. My first adventure will be the Great Barrier Reef.
The airport at Inchon was like walking down Michigan Avenue or Rodeo Drive, expensive stores everywhere. There were places to get a shower or message.
I stayed awake from Chicago to Inchon, South Korea, watching movies, reading, and walking around. This helped me transition to the next flight which brought me into Brisbane at about 6:00 am. On this second leg of the trip, I slept which greatly helped me in my transition to the new date and time in Australia. When I arrived at Brisbane, I had to pick up my luggage, go through customs and recheck my luggage onto a domestic flight from Brisbane to Cairns. This worked out well, as they say down under, ” No worries.”
At about noon central time, Korean Air Flight 38 left Chicago, Illinois and I left the Arctic Vortex covering Canada and most of North America. The temperature was 9 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. That was a warm up from the -13 degrees and -38 degree windchill from a few days ago.
This is my first international flight (economy) on a non US airline and it was so much better. Let me count the ways.
Plenty of leg room.
Nice size media device with lots of entertainment options, each seat
Garment hanger, each seat.
SUB part, each seat.
Complimentary head phones, pillow, blanket, tooth paste and brush and slippers.
Wine, soft drinks, two meals and snacks provided.
I had to fly first or business lass on US airlines to get that kind of service.
About five hours into the flight we left Canadian air space and crossed into Alaska. Next up is the International Date Line. We crossed it about six hours and 45 minutes into the flight. From here we entered Russian air space coming across the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. Then we followed the Russian coast line along the Pacific to South Korea. To avoid North Korea, we swung out into the ocean coming into South Korea.
We took off on time on the second leg of the trip, a nine hour flight from Inchon, South Korea to Brisbane, Australia. This flight was equivalent to the red eye from our east to west coast. This flight turned into day 3.
Today I began a three-year adventure to Australia, New Zealand, and a side trip to South Korea. I am going to attempt to summarize each day with feature articles to follow upon my return.
One lesson for travelers is to be prepared for anything or at least accepting of change. The first leg of my trip, a train to Chicago was canceled. I was at work and planned to leave in the evening. Well that plan changed, but I did make it to Chicago and my hotel room was ready. Yea. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.