July 20, 2006

Wednesday, 2007-07-19

At Coling, traditionally one day is reserved for an excursion to see the sites in the area. I think this is a nice idea. I'm fairly bad at planning sightseeing when I'm on my own, so it is nice to have a large group to go with.

Part I: The Zoo and Manly Beach

The large ACL/COLING group met up in Darling harbor and took a boat (The Captain Cook III) to Topanga Zoo (that name might not be correct.) The boat ride over was nice, a short 20 minute trip. I spent my time with Dekai Wu, Pascale Fung, their child Belen, and Kevin Knight. Belen was extremely cute. There was a very nice picture of her, when Dekai was holding her up to the window as we passed by the Sydney Opera house. A rainbow was ending on the Opera House resulting in a very cute picture.

The main things that I wanted to do were to take pictures of Kangaroos and Koalas. We had about an hour and a half there, with a buffet style breakfast. I went out pretty much on my own to find the Kangaroos. There was a "Kangaroo Encounter" that I walked through, and saw many Wallabys, which are a kind of smaller Kangaroo I think. They are very slow and awkward looking crawling on four legs with their tail dragging around, but once they start to hop, they move fast. It is really impressive.

After the Kangaroos, I went to the buffet breakfast and had two large glasses of orange juice. Afterwards I set out to find the Koalas. On the way I bumped into some Giraffes. They are huge. Amazingly huge. Very, very tall. I also went past some monkeys, and a Rhino. The Rhino was huge.

The Koala encounter was funny because of course, all the Koalas were just up in the tree sleeping. All of them. They looked super cute though.

I also had time to look at the reptile house, and was really impressed with the Kodomo dragon. It was really intimidating looking, and was very active moving around. I made my way back to the exit and just made the bus back to the boat.

The next stop on the boat was Manly Beach, a very nice touristy beach area. The beach itself looked amazing. Our group, Pascale Fung, Dekai Wu, Belen, Dekai Wu's student Marine Carpuat, Deepak Ravichandran (from ISI, now at Google), Kevin Knight, and myself, ate at a seafood restaurant on the beach. I had what I thought was a quite nice calamari with asian salad (no mandarin oranges, which is what I thought an asian salad was...) I also had a great brownie with some ice cream.


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