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Great Barrier Reef

The Reef, my first scuba dive and the most incredible traveller I have ever met: Filo

I booked an appointment in a car service for Thursday for oil exchange and to have the car checked before crossing the desert, and left Helen with duty to take it to the service as me, the bourgeois one, left to the Great Barrier Reef. This was the whole point of going north along the East Coast. To see the Reef! “The largest living system in the world”. Cairns is specialized for reef trips, being it snorkeling, diving, glass-bottom-boating or helicopter flights. I obviously wanted to see the legendary reef as closely as possible and so I went for a 2 days/1 night trip on a boat where you can snorkel but also do introductory scuba dives. Which means, that even without any PADI certificate or scuba diving experience you can scuba dive, down to 12 meters and with constant supervision of a dive instructor, who basically takes care of everything (you cannot get more than 3 meters away from him), so you can just enjoy the underworld. We visited 2 reefs and I did 2 introductory dives and 4 snorkeling sessions. One of them at 6:20 in the morning, when it was still partially dark and you could see how the reef comes to life. Now that’s a way how to start a new day, ain’t it?
The coral and fishes of all colors and sizes were beautiful, but honestly, after all the snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean and especially Indonesia which I had done before, there was nothing shockingly new or different. It’s amazing reef, but honestly, given the hefty bill for the trip it wouldn’t be really worth it, if not for “wow, I saw the Great Barrier Reef” factor and the introductory scuba dives. The dives were amazing, it was great experience and definitely worth the money. But as nice as it was, I didn’t get the feeling of “oh my god, what I’ve been doing all my life, how could I live without this?”. I’m still pretty happy with my snorkeling and things which I saw and while I would love to scuba dive again, and I hope I will, it was not a life-altering experience. But really good one!

As I was cruising back to Cairns (the reef is 2-3 hours away from Cairns on a fast boat) I was thinking “OK, I saw the greatest gathering of people in the history of mankind - Kumbha Mela, I trekked to basecamp of the world’s highest mountain – Mt. Everest, and now I saw the largest living system on this planet – Great Barrier Reef… so what’s next? Crossing Sahara, venturing to the South Pole or maybe Amazonia? Or maybe I should stop collecting stupid ticks and go and do something useful instead…”. After my arrival to Cairns, my satisfaction with my journey suddenly dropped to zero, when Helen introduced me to a guy she met while I was on the boat. Filo, 31 years old German guy. 4 years ago he quit his job and bough a one-way ticket to India (so far this sounds familiar, right?) and ever since then, wait for it… he WALKS around the world. He practically never uses any transport (obviously expect when crossing the sea or when legally required), he’s been simply WALKING for 4 years. And what a walking that was! He walked around southern India, walked to northern India, into Nepal, walked all the way up to Mt. Everest Base Camp (in flip-flops! he walks only either barefoot or in flip-flops), from there he walked to Bangladesh, from there he had to fly Thailand because he could not enter Burma, walked through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam Cambodia back to Thailand, made it to Burma and then walked across Malaysia to Singapore from where he flew to Bali and then to Australia. He crossed more than 1000km of Australian desert between Perth and Darwin, now he’s here in Cairns and getting ready to walk to Alice Springs, 2500km across the desert! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!? This is one of the stories that everyone would think is impossible, even the toughest travelers would find this unthinkable to just walk around the world and across Australia, but here he is, living and breathing! When we walks across the desert he pulls trailer with 12 days supplies of water and food, but as he said, the water is never enough, because Australian settlements in the Outback are so sparse that it takes longer than 12 days of walking between them, but jeeps passing by always supply him some water, so this is how we survives. He carries his huge bamboo didgeridoo and he told me that by playing it in Asia (especially Kathmandu) he earned a lot of money so this is how he supports himself. Holy Jesus, Shiva and Zeus, this man is just unbelievable. Now, anytime you feel like “I can’t do this, that’s impossible” think about this guy!

PS: Did I mention that all the time, even when snorkeling or hiking though jungle I miss Irene like crazy? :-)

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak