Monday, November 23, 2009

B18: Last Days


My days in Australian are winding down. I do not have time to make a blog in prose form but here is the condensed version.

- Melbourne Victory soccer game: Soccer players in Australia still cry and hold their leg for 15 mins when they get fouled then get up and play the rest of the game. The guy that did that even scored the game-wining goal.
- Finals: Good - SWOT VAC, very comprehensive tests (3hrs) organized, included reading period. Bad - testing took a month, it was hot, the libraries were too crowded and the libarian yelled at me.
- Tasmania: We underestimated distance and didn't have enough time (only 3 days). There was tons of roadkill and we saw the Tasman Peninsula National Park (where there are no Tasmanian Devils with face cancer), Port Arthur (old prison), Cadbury Chocolate Factory, Jam Farm, Bay of Fires, St Columbus Falls, The Dairy Factory, Narawntapu National Park (with pademellons).
- Swan Hill: In the Mallee Shrubland outback, it really was isolated. I visited Abdul's family and it couldn't have been more lovely... they made me feel super comfortable.
- Mildura: Outback town with red sands.

Here are some picture from the last two weeks. I'm coming home soon!

Until then,

Mikey Doo

(This is why many of the national parks were closed. [Wentworth, Victoria])

(The rugged cliffs of Tasmania. [Cape Huay, Tasmania])

(The Murray River, Australia's largest inland river. Luckily no crayfish grabbed my toes. [Apex Campground, Mildura])

(A Murray Cod. Australia also has a giant banana, shark, bug, etc. [Swan Hill, Victoria])

(Hanging out in the outback. [Perry Sandhills, Wentworth])

(The Melbourne Victory soccer club wasn't very victorious. [Etihad Stadium, Melbourne])

(The rocky headlands of the Bay of Fires and Aussie Paul. [St. Helens, Tasmania])

(The Tasmania gang after a non-stop weekend. [Narawntapu, Tasmania])

(Rock climbing. That was some kind of red algae stuff. [St. Helens, Tasmania])

(The Cadbury chocolate factory. [Hobart, Tasmania])

(It was windy. I thought I was going to be blown off the mountain. [Mt. Wellington, Tasmania])

(No Hormisira Banksii but there were Pan rocks. I will explain more later. [Tasmani Peninsula, Tasmania])

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

B17: Snorkelling, Surfing and the Melbourne Cup

(Shredding the gnar at the world famous Bells Beach. [Bells Beach, Torquay])


Last week was the last week of instruction and many of my classmates were stressed out about finals. I am now in SWOT Vac (Study Without Teaching Vacation) which is the time when Australians study. You see, Australians mess around the whole semester by handing out beer on campus every Tuesday, playing on multiple sports teams, running many clubs that drink all the time, bush-walking in their beautiful national parks, and partying their brains out on the weekend. They don't do the whole study thing until SWOT Vac (I saw so many people crawling around campus today when I was at the gym). They were surprised to hear us going out of town for our SWOT Vac… for once, they said "Wait… don't you have to study?"

(Wait, I'm supposed to study that? [Lowe Theatre, Melbourne Uni])

Saturday we went snorkeling at the Mornington Peninsula. Known for its extensive sea grass beds and its mostly endemic sea weeds (about 60%), the spots we snorkeled at were different than anything I'd ever seen. After a lot of searching, we saw wide-eyed pufferfish/globefish, crazy starfish with 15 legs, menacing crabs, little crayfish, tons of salmon, fluttering rays, and a weedy sea dragon. What looked like a piece of seaweed from above, turned out to be the weedy sea dragon I had come to the peninsula to find; the same creature they promise to show you on the $66 tour. Anyway, Dawit, the Cal marathon runner survived his first swim in the ocean (he learned to swim the day before coming to Australia) and we all had a great time.

(The weedy sea dragon. This seahorse was hard to find! [Portsea Pier, Mornington Peninsula])

(My favourite fish in the bay. I couldn't make him puff up, though. [Rye Pier, Mornington Peninsula])

I had to get my surf on again, so I planned another surfing trip for Monday. We rented from the surf club and brought Abdul down to Torquay for his first taste of the riding the motion of the ocean. The five of us (Brian, Mari, Abdul, Michele and I) carved up the waves at Torquay Point Beach and Bells Beach. Torquay was packed, but the bright spot was that Abdul stood up on his first wave! Bells Beach, home of the Rip Curl surf competition every year, was on a shallow rock reef littered with my friend Hormisira Banksii. I caught some pretty sweet waves that I would have to jump out of early lest I end up "surfing" on rocks. When we got home that night, Abdul wouldn't shut up about our trip. He asked questions ranging from where he can get a wetsuit to where he can sign up for surf club. Needless to say, I think I showed him a good time.

(Heading out. [Torquay Beach, Torquay])

I heard about the Melbourne Cup in America… that's how huge this race is.

"On the first Tuesday in November the nation stops for a horse race, the Melbourne Cup (www.racingvictoria, In Melbourne it's cause to have a day off - never mind that it is the only race in the world that has a public holiday…it's watched by some 700 million people in 170 countries."

It must have been huge if it caused me to dress up in a suit and to pay $58 to get into. Luckily it did not disappoint. What did disappoint were the horses that I chose. In the pooled bet we had with our friends, Abdul picked "Shocking" and I went with "Fiumicino", horse # 3 and jocky-ed by "Steven King". "Shocking" came in first; in other words, Abdul picked the winner of the Melbourne Cup! "Fiumicino placed 22nd in a 24 horse race (with one scratched before the race). I decided to place a real bet on the last race. Going with Maggie's lucky number 8, I threw $5 down on "Juggle the Books" which would have given me a $105 payout had I won. "Juggle the Books" didn't place in the top 10 of the 17 horse race.

(Here are our front row seats! [The Melbourne Cup, Flemington Racecourse])

What was more fun was seeing all the drunk Australians and the women with their funny hats. All the men had sunglasses and were coral ling their girlfriends around. We had many conversations with the older ladies who were so tipsy and made the funniest comments about how American we were. One of them even took a bite of Brian's sandwich that he was holding. What a country!

With that whirlwind of activity behind me, I can now concentrate on studying… not! I'm going to go play some FIFA and plan my trip to Tasmania. Why study today when I can study tomorrow?

Until then,

Mikey Doo

(We got some funny looks when we carried our foam boards into this territorial surf spot! [Bells Beach, Torquay])

(Abdul showing off his winnings. What a punk. [The Melbourne Cup, Flemington Racecourse])

(It was packed with funny hats galore! (The Melbourne Cup, Flemington Racecourse])

(Abdul bragging again. Geeze, I hate losing. [The Melbourne Cup, Flemington Racecourse])