Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fun with Groupon

Australia, like the rest of the western world, has embraced Groupon and its many, many copycats.  Being an avid user of daily deals sites in Edinburgh out of necessity (when I was a po' grad student) I brought that habit with me to Brisbane.  I found a day tour of the nearby Mount Tamborine and was sold by the words "wine tasting included".

The day started us off at a historical village, which had old timey homes and shops staged as they were "back in the day" (1920's I think).  There were also plenty of old timey cars, which confirmed my suspicion that this is the most perfect place on earth for my dad.  Or any dad, really.  It was a place for dads.  The highlight for me was this sign nearby, outside of the village:

Honey Boo Boo has apparently made her way Down Under.

Then we got to Tamborine Mountain, which we have visited briefly before, and did some jungle walking to this amazing waterfall, Curtis Falls:

We then stopped at a little tourist mountain town for lunch.  It reminded me of Nimbin, without all the dirty, dirty hippies and availability of drugs for purchase.  The idea was the same, though: Rope in the day trippers and take their dolla dolla billz.

There were a million and one fudge shops in town (I shan't complain about that!) and this one had booze-inside-of-fudge.  Sounds like something I'd love, eh?  Well, no.  Bleh, not at all.  I hate sweets and booze together.  It's just an unholy union.  Sweets?  Good.  Booze?  Great.  Booze-in-sweets?  Nasty crap.  I showed the utmost restraint and bought a single piece of fudge to share - Jaffa flavoured (British spelling there because I don't imagine Americans will know what that is, those poor, poor bastards). 

After lunch we had the option to visit a glow worm cave.  Glow Worm, you say?

No, not that kind.  This kind:

Real bugs glow worms.  I had no idea these were a real thing until I moved to Australia.  Apparently they are quite endangered because of loss of habitat, so the cave we went into is an artificial habitat that grows glow worms to release them into the wild.  The ones we saw weren't on a string like this, but plastered all over the cave ceiling and walls.  It was pitch black in there and looked like a starry night sky.  Nature = very cool.

Once we put in our concerned-about-nature time it was time for our wine tasting.  Woo hoo!  Booze without sweets!  There's not much I can say besides Wine Kicks Ass, and we enjoyed tasting several different kinds that are grown right on site.  However I did learn one very disturbing fact during our wine tasting: Bailey's Irish Creme, perfect coffee mixer, breakfast of champions, is made of like half raw eggs.  Raw eggs.  Half.  Eew.  Keep that shit refrigerated, people.  I had no idea.

Sneaky geniuses they are, they fed us a little booze for free then took us to a bar with infinite booze available for purchase.  The guise was "look at these beautiful views off the mountain" (which it was) but this bar had one interesting catch: It used to be owned by Mel Gibson.  Crazy, Jew-hating, drunk driving Mel Gibson.  I often forget that he is Australian as I don't think I've ever heard him speak with an Aussie accent.  I feel the same way about Julian Assange, but mainly because I've never heard him speak.  Clandestine Australians are all around you, people, so hide yo' kids!

The Passion of the Douche hasn't lived at this place since his Mad Max days, but I think it rides on that legacy quite a bit.  The indoor bar area used to be his indoor pool:

Speaking of Mad Max, I've never seen it.  It's set in a post-apocalyptic time so I am guaranteed to like it.  This is just one of several Australian movies that I've never seen but really, really need to if I ever hope to fit in here.  The other movies include Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert (from what I understand an Aussie version of To Wong Foo, which happens to be one of my favorite movies ever) and The Castle, which my boss quotes from weekly.  Feel free to leave me names of other Aussie films I shouldn't miss!

The other Groupon-esque deal that I took advantage of was nothing short of an epic, epic fail.  Entirely my fault, not the fault of the deal site or the business.  I'm embarrassed to even admit this, but I feel like I have two choices: Make light of the situation or feel like a complete jackass.  Since I have some wine in me (to recover from the following incident), I shall choose the former.

In Brisbane there is a rock cliff that has been cleverly utilized by a company called Riverlife, which offers various outdoorsy activities like kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, roller blading, rock climbing, etc.  I found a deal for $19 for an activity and browsing through their list of activities I found "abseiling", which is what the Australians call rappelling.  In any language, this means climbing your ass down a 90° rock wall.

My up-for-any-adventure Canadian friends were down for some reverse-mountain climbing, so we bought the deal.  "I will abseil," I said to myself.  "I will be active and outdoorsy."

Spoiler alert: I did not abseil.

The day started really great.  Sporty clothes!  Helmets!  A harness you wear like a diaper!  It was perfection.

Until it was my turn to go.  I was the third of the four of us to go down, and the two before me went like champs.  But I made one fatal, fatal mistake.  I looked down.

The hardest part of abseiling/rappelling is getting over the edge.  Mainly because it's awkward and there's no defined place to put your feet.  I was all hooked up, with my butt hanging over the edge of the 55 foot cliff, and I as I was searching for a place to put my feet I saw how far down 55 feet actually is.

And I freaked.

Well, I didn't.  My body did.  My legs started shaking so hard that one of the girls who went before me could see them shaking from below.  I don't know how my legs even kept me up at that point, they were not functioning at all.  I knew then that I couldn't do it.  I physically couldn't do it.

My heart was beating out of my chest, and my hearing was fading rapidly, even though the instructor, a hilarious Crocodile Dundee-esque caricature, was right beside me.  Here is a shot of me publicly making a fool of myself:

Had I been brave/stupid enough to follow through I suspect I would have lost consciousness.  Please keep in mind this abseiling business was all my idea in the first place.

I am so ashamed.

I got unhooked and got to a safe distance from the edge, but my legs took forever to recover from the shock.  I couldn't stand up without leaning on something for a long time.  Hours later I could still feel something off with my legs.  It was so embarrassing.  There were over 20 people abseiling that day, and some of them went down slowly, but none of them made a scene (like me) and none of them chickened out (like me).

I bring shame and dishonor upon my family.  But at least I didn't pay full price!


Chicken Shit