Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No pain, no gain

Posted by Dawn at Wednesday, November 10, 2010
This morning, we had breakfast at our private group room. There were different kinds of cereal with milk as well as juices and toast that my very kind student, Jude made for all of us!

After breakfast, we set off about 745am to the Jenolan Caves which was about an hour and a half journey.

I havent really slept in the bus yet as I enjoyed watching the sights and I did not want to miss anything. So in my quiet but excited little self, I kept my eyes wide opened throughout the entire journey.

Managed to capture all these during the ride..

The Explorer's marked tree that is a culturally significant landmark to Australians and our history. It symbolises the first successful crossing by whites over the Blue Mountains into Australia’s interior in 1813 by explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth. Its interesting how they build a fence around to protect it.

Then saw beautiful fields and clear blue skies along the way as well..

I am a sucker for nature and great scenery. Looking at it always reminds me of how great God, the creator is to have built all these! It just makes me in awe of Him even more!

When we were about to reach, the bus driver commented that you wont know that you have reached the place until you actually reached it and he was right. Amongst the trees, fields and rocks, all of a sudden, we have reached! Its amazing. Just like entering into the world of mystical.

Then the bus drove through the cave..

Its a very small tiny town, with the forest surrounding it. So from afar, you cant really spot this town at all.

Anyway, we did a guided tour into the caves which I probably could expect what I would see since I had been to caves like these in New Zealand as well as in Tennessee, America.

After the tour, we went exploring outside the cave. The turquoise waters were spectacular. But before that, I spotted a Eastern Water Dragon (I know its name because of the signboard along the river that showed a picture of it)

The waters was so enticing that I did wish I could just jump in and soak in it.

After visiting the caves, we went for lunch at a hotel which was famous for its pies. But we had seafood marinara pasta. So being a huge fan of pies, I had to order one, despite being so full! No regrets as the beef pie was out of this world! It was like beef stew in the pie. Its amazing how so much gravy and huge tender beef chunks could be kept inside the pastry!

After lunch, we went to Blue Mountains to work off what we just ate.

There were two guides who took us on a blue mountains private trail. Initially, I thought we were just going round the mountain. Wont be too tough.

But I was wrong...we actually went down, across and all the way up again to another cliff which you can see in this picture.

This was our goal...(In my mind, I thought we were crazy to even think of going to the other side. I did wish I could just fly over)

Anyway, to do that requires us to do the easy part first (that was going down the cliff) before we suffer by heading back up on the opposite cliff.

My group led in the trek and so, we just followed our guide closely. At times, I would look all around me and wonder which direction we would go now as there wasnt any marked path. It was a forest all around with no clear, defined path. Afterall, it was private tour of the public is not allowed to do what we are doing. Hmm..that is rather "assuring".

Anyway, though the climb down seemed impossible, I am thankful for the rewards that we had along the way as we admired the breathtaking sceneries.

That's our goal..the 3 sisters (on the right)! We would end this trek on the other side, right on top! Can you believe that? I couldnt!

During this rest stop, one of my students, Jude dropped his spectacles off the cliff as there was a fly that irritated him. So he used his hands and accidentally brushed away his specs down the cliff. So our guide tried to retrieve it as he climbed over the fence and went down, without any ropes or safety gear! Oh gosh!! So scary!

He didnt manage to get back the spectacles in the end. But his effort was definitely recognised and appreciated by all of us!

Anyway, as we walked, I kept looking at the view and thought," how am I going to make it over there?" Are we really going to go over there? It seems like it would take us a few days to get over..

Anyway, I always believe that slowly but surely, with hard work and consistent effort, we will definitely reach our goal.

It took us about 2 hours to get over to the other side..We just walked past the 3 sisters. We were under it!

And now was the toughest part-the way up!!! The numerous steps definitely looked uninviting.

More steps..It was steep steps all the way.

I didnt take many pictures during the climb as my priority was to stay alive.

There was a rest stop right at the 3 sisters cliff. We were both trying hard to smile but inside us, we were panting like crazy!

We finally made it to the top after climbing 970 steps! I approximate that to climbing a 60 storey (or more) building as my flat takes 16 steps to reach one storey. But do consider that the steps in Blue Mountains are probably twice as high!

I have to admit that I was seriously fighting to stay alive during our climb. At the same time, being a teacher, required me to act tough and at the same time, to motivate my students. So when my students gave up, I kept telling them that each step you take is a step closer to the keep taking the next step! So while I was motivating them, it was also a reminder to me to stay focused and not give up!

There's Sabrina making her way up..feeling super relieved and accomplished!

And here's putting into perspective.

We were below the 3 sisters while climbing up and now, we are higher up!

And its as if climbing for 4 hours was not enough, we actually had to walk our way back to our hostel!

Definitely aching real bad but thank God for great company! The journey was made easier as we talked and laughed.

Being so tired, I just wanted to jump onto my bed and rest my legs. But once we reached our hostel, I had to go out to buy groceries for our BBQ dinner cookout. So went with a few teachers and students to buy. Tired but enjoyable since I love to prepare and cook!

Sabrina and I delegated various tasks to the students- there was the garlic bread station, laying out the table station, cooking the soup, serving the soup, BBQing the food, serving the food, mixing the salad...etc etc..

Our chefs were actually BBQing the food in the cold! How fun!

That's my dinner! We had peri peri chicken (nando's style), chicken skewers, potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, cream of chicken soup, garlic bread)

And last but not least, we BBQed Kangaroo meat just to let the students try. Not many tried. As for me, I definitely jumped right in this opportunity to try! How could I miss it?

Verdict: Kangaroo meat tastes very similar to beef but tougher and probably stronger smelling.

What an eventful day and night! Was super tired. All of us, including the students, slept very well..


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