Monday, January 31, 2011

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year -  Saturday Jan. 29 - YEAR OF THE RABBIT
After Darby and I came back from getting groceries, we headed over to Tony and Gay's place for a barbie.  The kids played in their pool, while we drank & visited.  Had a delicious lunch/supper of steak, burgers, snags, salads, hot chips and Pavlova for dessert.

swimming, as if you couldn't guess

Feast time

Brody's creation
 Then we drove down to Cairns Esplanade again, this time to take in the Chinese New Years festivities.  We watched the lion dance, a martial arts display, other dances, the Silk Ladies play music and a dragon dance.  Hailey got her face painted and then we walked along the esplanade wharf.
Another full day of fun!

Lion dance

Dancers on stage

Dragon Dance

Year of the Rabbit

bananas Tony picked for us from his back yard

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Australia Day

Happy Australia Day !- Jan. 26
Started out up the road at Yorkeys Knob for breakfast, playing in the bouncing house, swimming in the Coral Sea, paddling an outrigger canoe, looking at the sand castles that were built for the competition and listening to music. 

waiting for our turn on the outrigger

music stage
 Then we headed to Cairns to the Esplanade for more celebrating.  Brody shot some hoops with the Taipan Basketball team, they jumped and slid in the bouncing castle, made sand pictures in the craft tent, ate snags from the free barbie and swam in the lagoon.  Scott had to watch the THONG THROWING COMPETITION!!  Yes we knew they were flip flops, but just the idea made us smile and drew us over to watch.  The girl in the photo is about to throw her thong!

Thong Throwing competition

Hailey creating with colored sand

Hailey on bouncy slide
 our Aussie Flag tattoos

lagoon fun

 Stopped by Woolies (grocery store) before stopping at Donna's house for supper.  I teach with Donna and she is Brody's teacher.  We had a lovely visit, while the kids swam in her pool.  Ate supper of prawns, chicken, salads, and fruit outside on her patio.   Then checked out the southern hemisphere stars before heading home with a tired car load.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weekend Fun Jan. 22-23

Sat. Jan. 22
It's been raining for 2 days straight and when I say raining, I mean POURING!  But that has never stopped us before!  Scott went out for a ride to try out all his new rain gear, then we went to the playground at the Esplanade.  We almost had the whole place to ourselves, imagine that!
Then we went across the street to the neighbours for a delicious barbie.  We had a traditional dessert of pavlova.  Sue and Jason have 3 children, Josh, Abby and Jessica.  The children are close to ours in age and have a great time playing.

Scott's new Yamaha XT 660R  

playground at Esplanade

playing in the rain

Sunday Jan. 23
The sun came out today so we went to explore the Barron Gorge.  This was just a short, but beautiful drive from our place.  The water was raging, due to all the rain.

Barron Gorge
waterfall along the drive to the gorge

waterfall near the gorge

We continued on to Lake Placid, but it we didn't go for a swim for 2 reasons.  One with all the rain it was flooded, if you look close enough you can see the picnic table under water and the stairs to the beach.  Second, there had been a crocodile sighting in the area. 
It was a beautiful sunny day so we continued to the Esplanade again to the playgrounds.  We met up with the other 2 exchange teachers that are here in Cairns.  One is from Ontario and one from the UK.  We had a great visit and will continue to stay in contact while we are here.

Read the signs first!

Stair railing on left & picnic table on right at Lake Placid.

I hogged the sun, but could still do some planning.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Wed. Jan. 19 - Friday Jan. 21
Holy Cross school definitely looks a lot different then it did last week when I went for a tour.  As usual with school systems the construction isn't finished on the new office, staffroom and library.  But they did have a temporary office and staffroom ready to go our first day.
-My classroom is on the second floor and all the classroom doors open up to outside.  Students eat outside under a covered area and have PE outside as well under a covered court.  Each room has an air conditioner and phone.
view from outside my classroom door

my classroom is on the top in the middle of the picture

my classroom

Day 1 consisted of  welcoming the 4 new teachers for the year, prayer for the flood victims and our school year, reviewing and discussing the school mission statement, as well as our roles and commitments for the year.  We took care of some house keeping items including, yard duty (supervision), committees, schedules, non-contact (preps) and the calendar for first and second term.  Even half way around the world, schools are still the same.  We have buddies, hymn practice, assemblies, staff prayer, and liturgies just like OLQP.  They do something different though, the school is divided into houses/colors and work towards collecting 'got-ya points'.  I guess it's similar to Harry Potter, will keep you posted on how it goes.  The school year is also divided into 4 terms with a break between each term.  The year runs from the end of January till the beginning of December.
Scott and the kids went to the neighbours to hang out and swim in their pool.

Day 2 was another pupil free day or professional development day.  We had a very interesting in-service on Autism in the morning and then the afternoon was on assessment and testing.  I really have to pay attention as they are using terminology I am unfamiliar with.  Usually after they have used it within the context, I understand it.  It's just the acronyms that I have to ask what they stand for.  I did get some time in my room to organize desks and put up a few posters.
Scott and the kids went to the lagoon down at the Esplanade for swimming and a picnic before coming to pick me up.

Day 3 was spent discussing curriculum for each subject area.  LA is called English and Social Studies is SOCE.  Students have HPE, which is gym and they are also taught Italian.  We finally got our class lists at 3:00 and I have 23 year 3 students, almost half & half for boys & girls.  I finally got my lock fixed so I could get into my own room from the front door.  All the classrooms are joined together by joining doors at the back of the rooms.
 It was raining all day so the Gale clan had a 'veg day"and did some house cleaning before picking me up.
benches to eat lunch on

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cable Park Fun Jan. 17

Jan. 17 Cable Park

Had to walk through our own flood to get to the cable park

Brody first on the water

Hailey making her way to the water

Darby strapping up


Brody taking a jump

We were up early to go to the Cable park, 10 minutes away.  The kids were signed up for Kid's Club from 8:30 - 10:00.  They all started on the knee boards and they each got up their first time.  A little tricky for Hailey on the corners, where the handle & cable jerk you.  She kept on going!  Then they all moved up to wakeboarding and were off again and up first time.  An hour into it Brody moved up to a kneeboard with a strap and started taking jumps off the ramps in the water.  Darby moved up to a wakeboard with boots and took one jump.  When they were finished it was MY turn to waterski and kneeboard.  The slalom ski was a little hurting, with ripped boots, no Obrien that's for sure!  Needless to say it was fun and I can check off skiing in JANUARY!  The corners were a little tricky especially holding on to a WOODEN handle!
Water ski mom
After some shopping we met the neighbours across the road, as they just got back from holidays yesterday.  They have 3 children the same sex and close to the same age as our three.  They started a water fight and then after came in doors to play games.   Scott was out buying his motorcycle, a brand new black 2009 Yamaha XT660R.  Having snags (hot dogs) on the barbie for tea tonight!  later mates.

Knee board fun for mom too!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cairns Tropical Zoo

Sunday Jan.16, 2011 - Zoo
We enjoyed a full day at the Cairns Tropical Zoo just north of us.  We receive the local rate for admissions now, saves a few dollars that's for sure.  We went to all the program sessions and learnt so much!  That included two on snakes, one on marsupials (koalas & wombats), a show on free flight birds,a demonstration on deadly crocodiles, and one on tamarin monkeys.  We now know how to treat snake bites, how to avoid being crocodile prey, and that pelicans can hold 15L of water in their bills.  We all touched a python and fed the wallabies and kangaroos!!!  We had our photo with either a koala, boa constrictor or a small crocodile.  Wait till you see the pictures.  We also saw a variety of birds and reptiles, as well as red pandas, dingoes, ring-tailed lemurs, emus, cassowaries and pelicans.  A definite must to take visitors to when they come.

feeding the wallaby

Darby and a koala

Almost too heavy for Hailey!

Soon to be Scott's new luggage!

What NOT to do to become his meal!

Kangaroos were hungry too

Don't want to meet him in the wild!
 We stopped for another quick dip in the waters of the Crystal Cascade to cool off, as today was a rather hot and sticky day in the rain forest. 
Then to top off our day, on our way home we also saw mobs of wild kangaroos in the fields grazing...a WOW day all around for sure!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Australia arrival

Monday Jan. 10 - Arrival
We arrived in Cairns to lovely PLUS 30 degree weather!!  We didn't have any problems at immigration and all 9 pieces of luggage made it our last leg of the trip.  I guess we can put the pants and coats away for awhile!  A friend of Brendan & Carol picked us up at the airport.  Scott got a rental car there and followed Tony home.  Nothing like jumping right in traveling on the opposite side of the road.
We unpacked our luggage, ordered in pizza and then found the IGA for a few basic breakfast items to get us started.
Tues. Jan. 11 - Shopping
Did a couple of loads of laundry and got them on the line before we went to buy groceries...told you it would be exciting.  Went for a walk in our new neighbourhood and found a playground for the kids.  Had a BBQ for tea (supper) outside under the covered deck area at home.
outside covered deck with spa in the back

Wed. Jan. 12 -  Shopping again & Crystal Cascade
- drove into downtown Cairns to the mall to open a bank account.  Cairns is about the size of Red Deer, so not to big, just perfect.  We did a little shopping and bought the kids runners for school.  We then started looking for a vehicle.  Scott had done his homework and the first vehicle we looked at is the one we bought.  We now own a 2004 Toyota Kluger, it's bigger than a Rav and about the same size as an Explorer.  It has a lovely ROO BAR on the front, yes it's for if you hit a mob of kangaroos!
We did have some excitement in the mall parking lot as we witnessed a man trying to steal a dirt bike from the dealership across the road.  He lost his flip flops, which they call thongs, and almost his shorts as he tried to push the motorcycle passed us.  Serves him right, wearing his shorts so low like that, I wish they would have fallen down.  Scott was about to inquire what he was doing when 3 men from different directions got him and the bike.
On our way home we drove to Crystal Cascades and went for an impromptu swim in the river with our clothes on!  FUN!!  Oh yeah we did see a KANGAROO....sign!  LOL

swimming at Crystal Cascades

Thurs. Jan. 13 - Wharf
-we did some more work on securing our new vehicle.  Scott started on some yard work and I'm sure he lost 4 lbs in sweat.
We did have some fun again, we walked along the wharf and then went swimming at the Esplanade lagoon next to the ocean.  We didn't go in the ocean because of the crocodiles!

Fri. Jan. 14 - visit school & new vehicle
. Up early for me and went for a tour of my school, Holy Cross.  My principal Wendy picked me up and showed me around.  The school looks typical for most schools the week before it's due to open, STILL under construction, even half way around the world it's still the same thing!  Boxes everywhere and the library, office and staffroom are not ready to go yet.  My classroom is on the top of 2 floors, and there are no hallways.  All the room doors open to outside.  I did see some KANGAROO ...droppings!  LOL!  Scott and the kids picked me up and I showed them around and where their classrooms would be.  On the way home we stopped at the cable park to watch and sign the kids up for wake boarding on Monday morning.  Not sure it will be good for skiing as they had only one slalom ski and it looked like it had seen better days. Boo Hoo!

In the afternoon we picked up the new vehicle!  Thank goodness Scott did his homework and was well prepared.  The steps included: opening a bank account, transferring funds from Canada to our new account, (no problems), putting a deposit down on the Kluger, getting a registration number (RCN) from the transportation office, back to the bank for a certified cheque and then back to the dealership to finalize the purchase!  Then we returned the rental car to the airport, that meant it was my turn to drive.  Not to bad, I only turned the wipers on a 3 times instead of my turn signal!  LOL

2004 Toyota Kluger

 Sat. Jan. 15 - Great Barrier Reef After Scott did some more yard work and lost a few more pounds, we headed out for a spur of the moment trip to the Great Barrier Reef.  We took a boat out to Green Island and snorkeled with the fish for 2 hours!  A definite must to go back to, to enjoy some more.  We snorkeled from the beach and played in the sand.  The kids didn't like the salt water getting in their eyes.  This was their first salt water swim.  Yes we were wearing our stinger suits to protect us from the jellyfish.

Cindy snorkeling

Great Barrier Reef fish

Brody having fun

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hong Kong Adventure

Giant Panda eating!!

Rhino bird in Kowloon Park

down town Hong Kong

riding the sampan through the fishing village

Captain Morgan?!?! or Scott?!

vegetarian lunch in monastery

South China Sea

Big Buddha statue

drying shark at the market

flying over Australia
DAY 1  After a slight delay in flights to Vancouver we made it to our destination, Hong Kong, with all 9 pieces of luggage.  13.5 hours plus 1.5 hours of flying is a long time, so once we got our room at BP International Hotel, we were off to bed.  Good thing it was early evening in HK.  Those interested, BP stands for Lord Baden Powell, the scouting head quarters were right in the hotel with a history display and a shop.  Very neat!  The kids traveled excellent and were well entertained by the individual entertainment centers they each had to watch movies, TV, listen to music or play games.

DAY 2  We took 2 tours, one of the city and the other of Lantau Island.  We rode the tram up to Victoria Peak, wow what a view of the city!  We could see where the old airport was, termed the crazy airport, and where the new one was built on reclaimed land in 1998.  Recycling at it's finest I'd say! 7 million people in only 400,000 sq. km., they use every inch of space, and then some, way too full for me to ever live!  We shopped at Stanley Market (yes named after Lord Stanley), touched the South China Sea and took a Sampan boat through the floating community in Aberdeen Fishing Village. 

DAY 3 The next tour started with taking the ferry through Sulpher Channel to Lantau Island.  We stopped and played at Cheung Sha Beach, running from the waves of the South China Sea.  We took a small tour boat through Tai O Village, another fishing village, this time houses were on stilts.  They still live and work from here, they prefer their peaceful life compared to the city!  Don't blame them.  We walked around the market and saw all the drying fish, oysters,shark, puffer fish, fish bladders, shrimp and much more.  There were lots of live seafood, such as eel and squid.  Scott was in heaven!  We made our way up to the Po Lin Monastery and went inside the Big Buddha Statue.  We had a very delicious vegetarian lunch in the monastery with the monks.  We took the Ngong Ping Cable Car down 5.7 km across the terrain of Lantau.  Beautiful!

DAY 4  We had a free day to explore on our own.  We stopped at Kowloon Park which is just beside our hotel.  A huge park with gardens, playground, beautiful cockatoos, & parrots, floral and fauna, and stage areas for performances.  We found our way to the MTV (subway) and figured out how to get tickets out of the machine to the correct destination.  We made our way across and then found a connecting double decker bus to Ocean Park.  Our main focus at the park was to see the Giant Pandas, so we headed there first.  Perfect timing as they were putting out fresh food for Jia Jia.  It was amazing to watch her eat and SO close!  We saw other Asian animals and enjoyed a few rides.  A beautiful day about 12-15 degrees.  Brody & Darby loved the Dragon and Mine Train roller coasters.  Hailey enjoyed the Ferris wheel and we all took the cable car back to the waterfront side.  This amusement park is on 2 sides of a mountain, very steep, so lots of escalators up and down to different rides, crazy!  We made the return trip back on the bus and on the subway.  Brody & I were very proud of our accomplishments riding the local transit and coming out exactly where we wanted to!  We went for supper at Ming Garden, and selected 5 dishes to share, everyone tried each dish and used their chopsticks.  Not much was left when we finished!

DAY 5 One thing we noticed is that most of the people were staring at us.  There were three reasons, one we were wearing t-shirts and capri's (not Scott & Brody) while everyone else were wearing winter coats, boots and toques!  Second, our blond hair, especially Darby's long hair!  Thirdly happened more in the elevator, as they stared at the kids long eye lashes!  Anyways we spent our last day shopping in the local streets, playing at the playground in Kowloon park, watching a short dragon dance performance and a few more demonstrations on martial arts, and vegging before our flight out at 11:50 pm.  Got to the airport with lots of time, had a bite to eat and relaxed.  Fell asleep right away on the plane and woke up a few hours before we were to land in Brisbane.