FIRST OFF, for media members in the San Antonio and Austin market wanting to contact me for interviews during this process, please contact email@example.com. There won’t be any problems and they do their best to meet your deadlines. Thanks.
So here’s the deal. They are changing up the game with this whole blogging thing. We are still free to run our own personal blogs, but we are now officially having a blogging task time slot at the end of our day where we submit our blog on a word document and submit it to the TQ staff. The rules:
1. With the start of our functions on the morning of May 4th, all the candidates were given identical Panasonic waterproof digital point & shoots to capture our moments.
2. We can’t change the settings, the only thing we can change is flash or no flash.
3. We are all given identical computers during our “blogging times” which is usually 1 hour but we got 1.5 hours today.
4. We are also limited to post only 8 images in our blogs.
5. TQ will no longer be assessing the personal blogs. (So I’m making this entry at 3:00AM, when I have a 6:30 wake up call tomorrow because it’s just something I want to do to keep all of you guys informed about the process.)
It depends on what kind of a blog you run & what your writing style is but I think it was pretty challenging for everyone. I submitted mine, which I’ll post at the end of this blog but I’m the type that usually needs to edit it a couple of times and take some of the unnecessary details and verbosity out. In just 1.5 hours, I barely had enough time to pick out the pictures and run a spell check. So please excuse any grammatical error that you might see.
As you guys know, I have my own style of blogging and I actually very much enjoy creating video blogs, but they can take some time. Following my CTV appearance on Canada AM at 11pm, I came straight home and started video editing for the activities that we did today. Here’s the TWO part video blog:
Oh, and I would also like to finally welcome the BIG TIME media, or the semi-big time media of South Korea to this whole process. They are finally coming around. Thanks for being fashionably late guys. Better late than never.
OKAY, so here’s the blog that I wrote during our 1.5 hour blogging task without any editing. Oh yeah, I think I accidently inserted 9 photos instead of 8 because I lost track as time was winding down. I have a feeling they are going to deduct heavily… kinda like the 60-second rule on the video applications. (hopefully not though)
The day started with a full agenda on the slate. Psychometric testing, boat ride out to the reef, snorkeling, sea plane/helicopter(for some) ride, getting the royalty treatment at Hayman Island and finally the luxury yacht ride back to Hamilton Island for the press conference.
The testing started off at 6:30AM, yes what other way would you start a day in absolute PARADISE other than answering 185 questions on things like: If you had to pick a sport to participate in, would you pick:
- Ballroom Dancing
- Wrestling, Baseball
Well, at least the croissant sandwiches were good. I had three of them, but I realized in about 2 hours that I probably should have taken it a little easier.
our ride to the GBR
First fun task of the day was getting on the Fantasea Vessel to head out to Reef World on the GBR. Fantasea is a tribute to the Aussie work ethic; a company that started 25 years ago with 1 boat now has 9 vessels that operate cruises to other islands like Daydream and Lindeman. Of course, Hamilton Island included.
Getting out to Reef World took I think about 2 hours, but don’t ask me the time because I was busy trying to keep my 3 croissant sandwiches down in my stomach. There was a heavy wind advisory in the morning and caused the open seas to be a bit, wait, a lot choppy. I can take a roller coaster with a best of ‘em and I don’t get motion sickness easily but trying keeping our focus on the Fantasea spokesperson and the Director of Tourism for the GBR Marine Park Authority was difficult as the ocean surprised us with sudden and unexpected drops that caused or stomachs to jump up into our chest. After a while, I started to feel pins and needles throughout my extremities and that’s when I called our trusty paramedic Rob. He graciously helped me to the upper deck, did a check up and got me some fresh air. Some body has to put him to work… Rob is not here on a free ride you know… that man has gotta EARN his money! (love ya Rob) I’m proud to say that I didn’t return my brekky back into the world and I have the sea sickness pill and Rob to thank for that (Fantasea hands out and recommends that you take motion sickness pills. They even have two choices: an all natural herbal remedy and actual medicine). I chose the strong stuff, but I only took 1 instead of 2 pills. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to as they say in Texas, “Cowboy Up” and taken both. I heard there were some casualties who were less fortunate than me though, but by the time we arrived at Reef World, I was feeling good. And it was all a ploy to get some extra media on my part as a photographer took advantage by clicking away at me while Rob was checking my blood pressure and pulse. Wonder what the caption would say on that… but I can say I was the only candidate to get a pic like that so HA!
Reef World is located 70km way from the main group of islands and they have a mascot Grouper named “George” who is about 3 meters long. It’s located on Hardy Reef, named after the Hardy Head Fish that is commonly found in the area. Reef World provides a variety of services included snorkeling, scuba diving and a glass-bottomed boat ride with an excellent and professional staff to guide anyone from the beginner all the way to the advanced level. But if you are looking to go the “off the beaten path” route, you can actually choose to stay overnight on Reef World. This service is capped at 6 guests, you get provided with 3 gourmet meals, private snorkeling, cruises to Whitehaven Beach and the chance to actually see the stars on all its glory as you lie in the peace and serenity of the night on the Great Barrier Reef.
yours truly with our version of Jacques Cousteau
The 16 were divided into groups of 4; my group was the last so we actually had a chance to go on the glass-bottomed boat to check out the reef before we jumped in. Due to noisy seas from the heavy wind, visibility was low but I learned some really interesting things from our guide. He told us that not all coral reefs are bright and colorful like we see in the movies or magazines and in fact, when coral reefs do start getting more colorful, a lot of the times, it’s a foretelling sign of coral bleaching. Kind of like a “finishing kick” for the reef. Funny thing… the group consisted of Greg, Anjaan, Clare and me, but Anjaan literally missed the boat and didn’t get to go.
After the boat ride, we came back on Reef World, which you can think of as a huge permanent pontoon on the water, and got ready for some quality snorkeling. The water was actually warmer than the breezy conditions out of it and we were dropped off up the current so it didn’t take much of an effort for us to lazily float on down back while observing the life underwater. As I floated on by, tasting the salty waters of the Great Barrier Reef, I saw plants and fish with a mosaic of colors that not many human beings can think of. The Big Guy upstairs must have gotten bored one day and decided to use the organisms of the ocean to paint because that’s what it looked like.
The Panasonic Lumix waterproof camera was good, but I don’t think any lens could capture the beauty of the reef. Sometimes pictures just can NOT say a thousand words.
But the kicker of the snorkeling trip came just as I was about to head back up to the deck. As I made my final duck dive, from my blind side came a school of brightly yellow-tailed fish with bold blue streaks, encircling my body and twirling me up to the surface. Do you remember Disney’s “Little Mermaid” when Sebastian the Lobster is trying to convince Arial that living in the ocean is better and the tropical fish twirl Arial as they sing “under the sea…?” Yes, I had a “Little Mermaid Moment” and it was wonderful. It was like being wrapped up by a rainbow underwater, or have confetti of the brightest colors tossed all around you. It was magical.
Next up: Hayman Island by, wait for it, a sea plane provided by Whitsunday Air, the largest sea plane operating company in the entire Southern Hemisphere. Their credentials and safety record speak for themselves. When the Captain asked who wanted to ride “shotgun” or co-pilot, I beat James out in screaming “AHHH, ME!” James would have probably taken better pics, but I wasn’t going to let an opportunity like that pass up. I’ve never been in a light-weight airplane, let alone a sea plane and all the dials and buttons were mesmerizing. Soon we were off and flying over the reef, witnessing the wondrous shapes and formations of the corals that seemed to extend into infinity. The two sea planes and two choppers flying side by side in the sky was ABSOLUTELY EXHILARATING. We were so close that we could read the facial expressions of the passengers in the other aircraft. The best part? The perfectly timed simultaneous landing and the plane just goes right up on Hayman’s boat launching ramp so we can step off on dry land!!!
The EPITOME of getting treated like royalty
As soon as we got off the plane we were greeted by the Hayman Island Resort staff, including their GM Roger Wright. After a short golf cart ride, we arrived on the resort where the VERY PROFESSIONAL staff members greeted us one by one as we cat-walked our way through the ultra-exclusive and posh getaway spot. After a quick walk on the beach and some photo ops, they took us to a specially-catered luncheon in a beach side cabana where Hayman’s world-class chefs had cooked up finger food samplings representing each of the candidates’ countries. For me they made a batch of Bulgogi – which means “Fire Meat” in Korean but in Aussie, simply “Barbie.” Some of the other food samplings: Gourmet hot dogs for Cali, Fish & Chips minus the chips for Ben, Sushi for Mieko and Dumplings for Yi. On top of that, the desserts were literally to die for. The Chocolate Mousse cake was just PURE DECADENCE. OMG… I had 7. Yes, 7. That “TQ Diet” that caused me to lose 4kg… well, it’s officially over.
I don’t play the violin but I sure would like that one… it’s made entirely of CHOCOLATE!!!
Soon after the meal, Roger Wright took us through brief tour of the resort’s kitchen and restaurant facilities. I figured out why the chocolate mousse was my favorite. Hayman makes their OWN chocolate and when we got to the chocolate room, the entire tour was delayed as both the candidates and the media refused to leave the room for 5 minutes, stuffing their mouths with dark, sweet pieces of heaven.
Hayman Island is a private island and the resort is the only thing on the island. There are about 400 staff members who reside on the island and they are one of the best in giving people a one-of-a-kind exclusive package that you can’t experience anywhere else. For example: a private picnic for two on top of Mt. Hook, the best and most private place to witness the sunset on the Whitsundays. Mt. Hook used to have a big satellite, but they removed it a couple of years ago leaving behind a perfect flat and circular platform for choppers to land on and to provide the ultimate privacy surrounded by one of the most pristine environments the world has to offer.
Leaving Hayman, especially after Mr. Wright teased us with an introduction of the “Chef’s Table”
I’ve actually never seen Trump’s living room but I figure it can’t get better than this.
and “Chef’s Bench”(a dinner party in the actual kitchen with a customized menu for 24 and 4 people respectively) was very difficult, but that process was helped out by the “Sun Goddess,” a 109-foot super yacht that made Donald Trump’s living room look ordinary. More chocolate, more top-class finger food and an assortment of beverages awaited us on this luxury liner used to deliver Hayman guests daily from Hamo. With a top speed of 27 knots and an experienced Captain Hutchinson at the helm, the journey takes a very short 50 minutes.
Couple of words to describe my experience on Hayman: Exclusive, Decadent and Luxurious. To describe to food, I have one word: SINFUL – because it just tastes so good that it tricks your mind into thinking that you are doing something really really naughty.
Magali – our very own “Sun Goddess”
We had a press conference at 4:20 and we arrived on Hamo at 4:05. We were rushed over to the outrigger and put our best smiles on for the cameras. The only question of the night for the entire gang coming from a reporter from TBS – Japan: “What do you think of the current swine flu epidemic?” They are thinking of canceling the press conference all together for tomorrow.
Here’s a question for you guys. What do you guys think of our day today?
Till next time…