Australia, 2009 – Day #17, Fraser Island to Surfers Paradise
Monday, October 24, 2009 –
It felt good to get a solid night’s sleep for a change, but getting up at 6:45am really hurts. We ate our buffet breakfast at the Dingo Bar, and then took the shuttle bus down to the dock to wait for the ferry. Kent & I sat outside on the top deck for the first little while, to take in the views, but it got too windy so we rolled back inside. When we got to the bus, I decided to sit at the front of bus and relax for ride into Surfers.
I sat beside Theresa from Austria – she hadn’t been feeling well for most of the trip, so I knew it was going to be a quiet ride. A little too late but there was WAY more legroom near the front of the bus. If only I had known about that sooner in the trip. Not to mention the views out the front window of the bus were quite scenic. Still freaks me out to be driving down the left side of the road.
We stopped in Noosa for lunch, which is a cool little beachside, glitzy type of town. I guess it would be similar to Malibu – more of an upscale town on the ocean, with some MASSIVE properties. A group of us rolled down the Hastings Street and grabbed some lunch, followed by some shopping. I bought a pair of Havianas (flip-flops) – it was about time to upgrade from my Nike flip-flops. We took the obligatory photos of the beach and then made our way back to the bus, since we only had a couple of hours to explore the town.
Our next stop was Brisbane, where we were dropped off at Quilpie Opals on George Street, which is apparently one of the top Opal shops in Brisbane. Salli explained that this shop deals with authentic opals, and offers a discount for Contiki travelers. The gentleman running the shop gave us some information about opals – 97% of the worlds opals are produced in Australia, and how to tell fake opal from the authentic. He had a little quiz for us, and I ended up guessing one of answers so I got a little Kangaroo opal pin. I was sold, this store was awesome! I spent some time with Debbie, Bex, Laura and Philippa, looking around at the different bracelets and necklaces, since I wanted to get Julia a little keepsake of the trip. I ended up finding a necklace that the girls all approved of, and made my purchase. I got the Contiki discount, and he even packaged it up with the duty-free documents – as long as I didn’t open the package before I left to come home, I wouldn’t have to declare it. Amazing! I highly suggest checking this place out, if you’re in the area or looking to buy opal.
Once we left the shop, we walked around Brisbane for a little bit and did some more shopping. I bought a few bracelets and a necklace in a little surf shop – they were bright yellow, I had to! We all met up later in the afternoon and caught up before the bus came to scoop us for the last bit of the ride into Surfers. It was only another hour or so before we got into Surfers, so I just listened to my iPod and organized my carry-on bag. The ride ended up being a little bit longer as there had been an A1GP race (similar to F1 or Indy, I suppose), so the streets were still in the midst of being opened. Traffic was a little hectic and we were all antsy to get out of the bus after the day of driving. We finally made it to the hotel and got our room pairings.
I was bunked up with Melbourne, Sam & Ulrich for the next two nights. Sam & I have had a good time hanging out, so that was a plus, and Ulrich seemed like a pretty good guy – that offset being stuck with Melbourne. Because it was a legitimate hotel and not a ‘bunkie’ or a dorm room, we actually had a suite! Since I was the first one in the room, I called dibs on the ‘room’, while the other guys fought over the two queen beds in the main room. With my trip ending after Surfers, Sam obliged to me having the main room. After we were settled, Sam & I rolled down to Travis & Kent’s room and started figuring out what we were gonna do for dinner – Salli recommended a great Thai spot a couple blocks from our hotel. We went with that, which scared me a little bit since I’d never had Thai food before, but I was up for trying it out. I’ll either die eating Thai food or die during my skydive the next day, so I was all game – besides, my nickname is Dangerous!
The group of 28 of us made our way to Chiangmai Thai Restaurant inside the Crown Towers Resort, with everyone dressed up for a good dinner. I went with the garlic beef and sticky rice and shared a bottle of wine with Travis. Dinner was pretty damn good, for my first Thai experience. We spent a few hours at the restaurant and talked a good deal of smack and even played the telephone game to find out that someone had slept with someone known as ‘the Walrus’ (must be a Northern Territory inside joke). After we left the restaurant, we stopped by a convenience store to get some mix for some cocktails back in Travis & Kent’s room. A handful of us had an early morning skydive planned the next day, so we weren’t looking to have a crazy night.