Sep 302011
 

I found this sign on a Dubai beach, and I immediately did a double take.  My first reaction was to be impressed by the volume of information that is packed onto one board.

My second reaction was to tally up how many stings and bites I’ve accumulated from this lineup of marine life.

Jellyfish – 3

Stingrays – 1

Sea Snakes – 0

Dolphins – n/a

For the beachgoers out there, what is your first reaction to this sign?

Sep 272011
 

Images from a recent jaunt to Dubai….

Dubai is a place of contrasts.  It’s both old and new.  It’s modern and conservative.  It’s a place where you’ll find high fashion and high tea.  And a place where the golden desert sands meet the white sands of the city’s beaches.

So why am I writing about Dubai?  This blog is, after all, called Reeftraveler.  Well, sometimes I travel to places unrelated to diving or snorkeling.  It doesn’t happen often, so I hope you’ll bear with me and allow me to veer off topic from time to time.

And for the record, Dubai has wreck diving, but the visibility is very poor.  Reef diving can be found in the emirate of Fujairah, a two hour drive from Dubai.

Where is the most unique place you’ve been diving?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Sep 252011
 

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost– A Book Review

First, a disclaimer.  Mom, if you are reading, this book is about neither sex nor cannibals.  Well, not really.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the story of Maarten Troost, as he moves with his girlfriend Sylvia to the remote equatorial island of Tarawa, in the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced kirr-i-bas).   What begins as a romantic notion to relocate to an idyllic island, quickly becomes less than ideal as the realities (and woes) of island life hit home.  From toxic fish, to polluted lagoons, to encounters with sharks, to food shortages; Troost proves that life on a remote equatorial atoll is not without its challenges.

So what distinguishes The Sex Lives of Cannibals from other travelogues?  Others have written about trips to exotic islands, so what makes Troost’s account stand out?  Well, let’s just say that you should be prepared for curious glimpses when people see you laughing hysterically to yourself while reading this book.  Troost’s vivid descriptions, which are coupled with a healthy dose of humor, will have you living out this adventure right along side of him (no plane ticket needed).

The Sex Lives of Cannibals is available at Amazon in paperback, on audio CD or for Kindle.

Sep 242011
 

This is the final post in a series of guest posts by Frank Gourley.

Terra de Diemens (Van Diemen’s Land) – Tasmania – Travelogue and Photos by Frank Gourley

The ten-mile drive from the airport to Hobart was pastoral, with a big mountain, Mt. Wellington, in the background as we came to Hobart.  The Hobart waterfront was an immediate draw.  There were several wharfs with almost all working boats with circular ‘crawfish baskets’ (lobster traps).  At one wharf there were three big two-masted wooden sail boats – two of them ready to sail.  We had a delightful lunch of well-prepared fresh fish at Mures Lower Deck Restaurant on the Victoria Dock.

I drove around the nearby Battery Point neighborhood to see what the area was like, winding up at Sandy Bay, which had lots of sail boats and waterfront scenes.

 Tasmania’s Western Wilderness

We left the motel in Hobart at 7:30a for the day’s road trip through the Western Wilderness and on to Devonport on the north coast.  We passed through our second Glenorchy of the trip just beyond Hobart and followed the Derwent River for a while, where we saw black swan families on the estuary

We had quickly left the concentrated population of Hobart and were now riding through a ‘large landscape’ of pastured, small, well-worn mountains, with bigger, craggy, forested mountains in the background.  Most of the pastured areas had eucalyptus trees here and there – some of them dead.  The further we went, the more large dead eucalyptus trees we saw.  We wondered if the koala had anything to do with it, because there were large pieces of metal strapped around many of the trees.  We began to see leaves turning on some of the other types of trees.

We gradually approached the forested mountains and left the open fields, with their scattered eucalyptus trees, behind

On the entire trip through the wilderness and farming area we saw no live wild animals.  We could tell that there were wild animals in the area because we saw evidence on the roads.  We saw at least 10-12 wallabies or pademelons, several bushtail possoms, one wombat, and one Tasmanian Devil; plus several smaller indistinguishable animals, such as bandicoots, echidnas, quolls, potoroos, or bettongs.  In most places, the crows were a signal that there was road-kill ahead.

We arrived in Devonport about dusk.  When we arrived at the harbor, the ferry, Spirit of Tasmania I, was docked across the harbor.  It was almost as big as a cruise ship!  We were staying in East Devonport, just down from where it was docked, in the Edgewater Motel.  We checked in and went to eat in Devonport, on the harbor.  While we were eating the ferry left for Melbourne.  It was quite a sight, practically filling up the harbor!

Our first stop after leaving Devonport was Latrobe, the Platypus Capitol of the World.  We followed signs out to a designated platypus viewing area about 3-4 miles from town on the Mersey River, but they didn’t oblige us.  There was discussion regarding what we would be seeing if we saw more that one of them – platypi or platypussies.  Apparently they feed in early morning and late evening.  A resident said they were seen quite often in the river right in the town.  We learned later that there was also a chocolate factory in town (House of Anvers) with free ‘tastings’, but it eluded us also.

It is 100 kilometers from Devonport to Launceston, the second largest city in Tasmania.  It is Tasmania’s only inland port.  The countryside was similar to what we saw leaving Hobart the previous day – large rolling hills with pastures and scattered eucalyptus trees – lovely.  The roads were all two-lane, with ‘overtaking lanes’ every few kilometers.  They had signs along the way encouraging drivers to rest if they felt tired.  JoAnn suggested that they put up a sign saying: “Be careful where you overtake, or the undertaker may come for you.”

Apparently some of the more highly evolved sheep make it into town occasionally looking for their lost- sheep family and friends.  We found proof of that in Launcheston

Along the way we saw birds on the back of sheep, apparently eating bugs on their backs.  We decided they must be ‘backpeckers’ – very appropriate, as we have seen many backpackers in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.

We soon came into an area with lots of netting over some sort of vegetation.  We quickly realized they were grape vineyards.  We were passing through an area with lots of wineries.

We passed through the historic town of Richmond and arrived at the Hobart airport without further incident.  We had traveled 883 kilometers (about 575 miles) in the past two days, and what a ‘long, strange’ trip it was!  (Not really strange, but it was long.)  What a delight!  We caught the return flight to Sydney without incident.

Frank Gourley retired in 2006 as an administrator of engineering technology education programs at the university level, and now pursues his interests in Travel, Photography, Architecture, Woodworking, Music, Singing, Guitar, Watercolor, Art, Crafts, Gardening, Railroading, Beaching, Boats, Canoeing, Outdoors & Wildlife, Construction, Alternative Health, Yoga, Maps, Cooking, Oriental Landscaping, Chronicling, and Genealogy, in addition to enjoying activities with family and friends.  He and Genene, his wife, live in Charleston, WV.

Sep 212011
 

This is Part V in a series of guest posts by Frank Gourley.

Where the Koala Bears Aren’t Bears and the Wombats Aren’t Bats – Travelogue and Photos by Frank Gourley

The two destinations this day were the Ferndale Wildlife Park at Blacktown and The Blue Mountains at Katoomba.  Having been here long enough to know not to trust signage to get us where we want to go, I exited the ‘interstate’ at Blacktown and asked for directions at a pet store.  A sign on the front said: ‘Frozen mice and rats for sale.’

The Ferndale Wildlife Park has a quite extensive collection of Australian wildlife – birds, mammals, and reptiles.  They, in general, have them housed by where they are found – mountains, grasslands, and coastal.  However, many of the animals run free, so there are kangaroos, emus, wallabies, and some birds that mix with the people, particularly if there is food involved.  We spent several hours there!

From there we drove on to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains.  On the way we kept seeing signs that said “Refuge Island”; we finally realized that it meant the median strip where people could stand between the two lanes of traffic.

It was about 4:00p when we arrived at Katoomba.  The views just outside of town were quite impressive – a little like the Grand Canyon, but with trees.  There was a slight haze, caused by the eucalyptus trees, but you could see for miles.  We drove a loop road that gave us several different views.

Stay Tuned for the final installment of this guest post series from Frank Gourley – Terra de Diemens (Van Diemen’s Land) – Tasmania…

Frank Gourley retired in 2006 as an administrator of engineering technology education programs at the university level, and now pursues his interests in Travel, Photography, Architecture, Woodworking, Music, Singing, Guitar, Watercolor, Art, Crafts, Gardening, Railroading, Beaching, Boats, Canoeing, Outdoors & Wildlife, Construction, Alternative Health, Yoga, Maps, Cooking, Oriental Landscaping, Chronicling, and Genealogy, in addition to enjoying activities with family and friends.  He and Genene, his wife, live in Charleston, WV.