Two Savages in Southeast Asia

Shallow Sea Diver's Den

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Three full days in Cairns and we haven’t been to the reef yet! In order to fix that, we booked a snorkelling day trip with Deep Sea Diver’s Den, one of the local dive/snorkel outfits. (We later learned that they’ve hit the reef a couple of times over the last year – friendly, but maybe not the most professional. Hmm.)

So it’s on the 6:59 am bus into the Cairns Transit Mall, then a short walk over to Finger B at the marina where we hop onboard their catamaran. Some light paperwork and money exchange later, we’re rocketing out towards the Outer Reef at 22 knots (about 40 km/h.) It’s a long and bouncy trip out, about an hour and a half over waves several feet tall, but finally we’re out at a cluster of reefs where we can hop in the water and see some awesome stuff!

There’s loads of beautiful coral both soft and hard in every color and shape imaginable. Most of these have common names after the objects they look like: rock coral, needle coral, fan coral, etc. Not much vegetation around the reef, but what it lacks in kelp and the like it more than makes up for in other wildlife. We saw a bunch of parrot fish, some in brilliant RGB color palettes. We spotted some Nemos, or clownfish; the true ones are clown anemonefish, apparently, and we saw some in the anemones. There were triggerfish, sergeant majors, and a whole lot more – the coral really does hide an amazing diversity of life!

More personally, I’m relieved that I was able to hold myself together; after that episode a couple of days ago, I was worried we’d have to cancel the trip. Now that I’m mostly over the jet-lag and have returned to my previous treatments, though, it seems to be much better – not 100%, but enough to enjoy what we came here for.

Back in Cairns, we pop over to get our dive medicals. Pro tip: even if you’re not planning to dive, this is a fantastic and relatively cheap way to get a thorough physical. The medical runs AUD 50-60 and includes:

  • full medical history check;
  • urine test;
  • the usual height, weight, and blood pressure/heart rate check;
  • hearing range test;
  • Ishihara color-blindness test;
  • spirometry, or lung capacity/flow test.

Definitely more complete than the last checkup I got back home!

We pass the dive medical, so afterwards we head over to book our PADI Open Water Dive Course! Some places will offer discounted standby rates for last-minute bookings; we manage to get $100 knocked off the price for a 5-day course that includes a 3-day, 2-night liveaboard at the end, starting tomorrow at early o’clock. Super exciting!

After that, we sate our hunger at Happy 4 10, a cute Korean joint tucked away in a sort of courtyard lot between other buildings. They serve up delicious tteokbokki on one of those single-burner propane stoves with K-pop music videos blaring in the background, which is definitely surreal after a day out snorkelling. The tteokbokki is deliciously messy, and we leave full with our fronts well-sauced and some extra takeaway for breakfast.

So: snorkelling, dive medicals, booking the PADI course, and delicious Korean food. What a day!