October 18, 2000:
At the time of our last message we were in Bangkok, recharging and catching up on lots of life maintenance. After a few short days we were off again.
The beaches of magical Bali lived up to all expectations. Upon arrival we drove to the thatch hut village of Amed on the northwestern shore for two days of diving. The wreck of the Liberty houses colorful tropical fish, just off the shore and 30 meters down. On our second day, we dove from jukungs (outrigger canoes) on coral walls that spanned the range of pastel colors. We spent our last few days on Bali in Ubud, driving a motorbike along the narrow roads to attend cremations... and shop for furniture.
Australia began with a dive boat trip along the Great Barrier Reef. The only shark we saw swam out of the darkness towards Tom during a night dive. Otherwise, the reef showed us a multitude of new marine life such as giant potato cod, tiny leaf frogfish and nature's own version of Vegas, the neon flickering flame filefish.
One thing that struck us on arrival was the incredible friendliness of the Australians. Our host in Sydney, Brian, exemplified this, taking wonderful care of us during our stay. We were surprised and impressed by the Olympics - the logistics were great and the sporting events fantastic! The home-town crowd cheered for their athletes with their roar of "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!" The USA fans couldn't compete, although we tried, especially at the gold medal women's basketball match, which was USA vs Australia. We cheered for Venus Williams in her one-sided gold medal tennis match. We also attended volleyball, more basketball, diving, hockey, and track and field, where we watched Marion Jones win the 200m. We even got quoted in an AP article about the Olympics, printed in US newspapers. We are about to book flights to Salt Lake City for more!
More of Australia is what we wanted, so we rescheduled our plane tickets and rented a car. In over 4400km (on the "wrong" side of the road no less) we explored the coast from north of Sydney to Melbourne and almost to Adelaide. Highlights were fields of kangaroos with joeys (baby 'roos) poking their heads out of pouches, wonderful hikes in national parks, and delicious wine from their many vineyards.
We are off to India to learn about another culture and civilization as we celebrate one year of marriage - it's gone so fast! After that we're trekking in Nepal, then capping our year off with a kayak trip to Antarctica.
Next summary: The Roof of the World
Revised: February 12, 2001 on