Sunday, February 12, 2012

How we lost our cherry tree

Not too long ago, our Tadika had two cherry trees, not just the lone one up near the front fence now. There used to be another one up towards the middle of the compound, nearer to where the sandpit is now. What happened to it?

During one windy weekend, it was uprooted, taking down all canopies with it.

Thank goodness there no one was around at that time, for someone could have gotten seriously injured. I would say it was quite timely too, as we could saw the branches and clear the debris during the weekend.

We decided to keep a portion of the trunk, which is still partly sitting in the garden today.

It provided a rich learning resource not just for the children, but for the educators, too. I, for one, have never had a close look at the insides (or should I say bottom?) of a tree trunk.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Two weddings on the same day

I made sure I flew home in time to attend my best friend's wedding at FGA the next morning. Jon, so happy to be a part of your special day. Really appreciated how you even texted me a few months ago to let me know that Ee Lane accepted the 'rock' you presented. :)

On the same day, I made sure I attended the wedding dinner at Crowne Plaza Mutiara of another classmate, the ever so sweet Yew Fon. Again, so happy to be a part of your special day, Yew Fon. Thank you for saving a seat for me.

Happy wedding and may your journey with your loved ones be a blissful, joyful and fruitful one!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef

A trip to Cairns is never complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, if you ask me. How could we miss out on the chance to snorkel or dive in the warm tropical waters of one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world? 

We marked the first day of the year with a day out at sea and this was made possible by the very enthusiastic and friendly people at Frankland Islands, whom we found through a random Google search for one-day snorkeling tours.

Our pre-booked shuttle bus came up to our doorstep and proceeded to other hotels for other tour participants. We were taken to board a ferry on Mulgrave River, where it drizzled for a bit. We were also asked to keep an eye out for crocs. Crikey!

We went out on deck for some fresh air when we were exiting the river mouth into the open waters of the ocean due to the choppiness of the water. We could even see the difference in water colour as it changed from fresh to salt water.

It was like a scene out of Shrek, as we kept asking, "Are we there yet?", when we clearly knew that we were not because we could not see any island in sight. But when we did see one, we were very thankful.

10km offshore and 45km south-east of Cairns, the Normanby Island is part of the Frankland Group National Park.

A short open water crossing later, we were on land again!

We changed and grabbed out snorkeling gear. My first time on a guided snorkeling tour - excited!

See that white float thingy? I was literally hugging that the entire time. It is not funny at all for someone who does not swim to be out in the ocean but I do not regret going on the tour. Despite the strong underwater current that made underwater visibility less than satisfactory, I still managed to see quite a wide variety of marine life. In the wild!

Thumbs up to our guide for pointing out all the different fishes, starfishes and corals. Apparently, it normally is a playground for giant turtles but we did not 'meet' any, unfortunately. The four giant clams made up for it, though. However, we did see one giant turtle on our way back, poking its head out every so often to say hello.

The island has a short 20-minute 1km return walking track. This circuit walking track passes through a range of environments, including rocky outcrops, dense rainforest, coastal vegetation and mangrove communities. 

Again, the tour guide brought us on the walk and introduced us to the different types of shells.

On the other side of the island, he picked up a shell from the waters and passed it around. "It's a horseshoe shell", he said. Oh, right and as Shriya passed it to me, I went, "Gosh, this is heavy!"

And, yes, he picked up a sea cucumber and as its protective mechanism, it spurted some white, slimy substance, which had us all go, "Ewwww.....". I still stepped forward to touch it, so that I would know what a live sea cucumber felt like. Xin Wen went, "You don't touch me ar!"

We were lucky to be in the presence of a flock of seabirds. Apparently, it was nesting season for them.

Do look them up if you are thinking of snorkeling or diving up in Cairns. I would recommend them just due to their exceptional service.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Mother India Restaurant

This restaurant is a family-owned business situated smack in the middle of Cairns town. Heeding the advice of the really tall and good-looking chap (we were guessing that he must be one of the sons), we started with some booze.

I kid you not when I say that the portions were actually quite huge. Do not be deceived by the photos.

And trust me, two bowls of briyani, a basket of garlic naan and a serving of palak paneer = way too much for three lean and mean girls.

We were very happy with their food. Everything we ordered were vegetarian dishes and were very flavoursome. They definitely did not stinge on their spices and herbs.

Mother India Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Mother India Restaurant
2/80 Sheridan Street, Cairns, QLD 4870
Tel: +61 7 4041 1000; Fax: +61 7 4041 1099