Saturday, December 19, 2009
Cycled around the wine region near Perth called the Swan Valley today, resisted the temptation to go into any wineries for some tasting as you always feel you are obliged to buy a bottle and I am going to the bigger and better wine region Margaret river at the weekend, so just had a scenic 50km cycle round the back roads of the region, though unfortunately forgot to take my camera so heres a shot of Freemantle’s Markets taken the other day.
In Perth Sunday Afternoon drinking sessions (Sunday Sessions) are almost as big an event as a big Saturday night out, and where better to go than the Cotteslow beach hotel where we managed to grab a spot on their balcony and drink Stella Artois as the sun went down over the Indian Ocean!
Something a little different today for my photo of the day I’ve combined shots to create a panoramic photo, due to it’s width click on it to open the full size imag for more detail.
Went to Freo markets to for my supply of fruit and veggies and my weekly slab homemade Carrot Cake, which I challenge anyone to find a better Carrot Cake anywhere!
Anyway had to earn the right to eat it so had a good cycle home, this time on the very hilly north side of the river for the first time this trip.
Discovered this stunning lookout point which offered 360 degree views and from where you could see the Indian Ocean and Rottnest Island, Fremantle, the Swan River as it winds it’s way inland to Perth and in the distance you could even see the city of Perths skyline! I spend half an hour up there but if it wasn’t for the severe wind I could have spent hours!
Had lunch at an Alfresco food court, noticed the seagulls eating what I though was leftovers until an angry guy come running out with a glass of wine, spilling it everywhere and almost chucking it over the seagulls in disgust, at least his soup was protected by the plate!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Had a nice ride all around the Swan river, South of it into Perth and back via the North of the river, found a really nice spot for lunch, got joined by several Fat ducks who wouldn’t’ take their eyes off my tuna Sandwitch!
Went to the cinema again in the evening and watched Final Destination 3D again was a pretty poor movie although it had some decent 3D effects, that’s probably the first time I’ve ever been to the movies 2 days in the row and if I keep picking such poor movies it had better be the last!
Went to the cinema and watched Coupes Retreat, decided to see it as it was a rainy day and it was Filmed in Thaiti and Bora Bora where I’m thinking of stopping during my travels heading home, the movie itself was awful but there was some stunning scenery which was a good selling point for the Island.
Met up with a friend for Barramondays a pub fish (Barramundi) , chip and beer deal for $15 (About £8) I really miss the deals from back home where you can often get a decent meal and a pint for £5 or £6 but with eating and drinking out in Perth being expensive this sounded like a pretty good deal...
It wasn’t really as the beer included was only half a pint of some awful Aussie beer that was like having sex on a canoe (Too close to water) The fish and chips wasn’t even served on a plate and then they demanded an extra dollar for ketchup and tartar source, ok you would expect this at a takeaway fish shop, but for a pub meal no and it has put me off going back to that pub even for a drink.
No photos taken today so here is a pic of the unusual Mammal that lives on Rottnest Island, “The Quakka” along with a Joey in her pouch!
Took the train to Freemantle had a wander round the weekend Markets then discovered the San Churo Chocolate Café with its temping array of snacks and deserts, and amazing thick hot chocolate!
After that indulgence decided it was time for a beer and went to Little Creatures brewery that overlooks Freemantle Marina and had one of their Pale Ales, probably my favourite aussie beer sat in the beer Garden drinking it with its amazing views all over the marina.
Then watched an amazing Sunset, got this shot of the reflections on the beach which make it look like it was on fire!
Then went home to watch the Liverpool v Man U English football match this could have destroyed my nice day if we had lost but we didn’t and stormed to a deserved 2-0 win to complete a near perfect day!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Having jet boated around the island and flown over it, today was time to cycle all over it before getting the ferry back to the mainland in the afternoon.
Did about 40km exploring every road and seeing every bay, and other than the odd bus each hour and 1 snake sunbathing in the middle of the road, there was bikes only.
The weather wasn’t so good today and in the afternoon it really clouded over and the winds got up making for rather a rough ferry ride back to the mainland
Today 3 of us from the hostel did a scenic flight over the Island and over the sea to Freemantle and then right over Perth City Center itself, was the perfect day for flying with not a cloud in the sky and the views were absolutely stunning, heres a shot of the city centre with King’s Park, and the Swan river in the background with it extending into the ocean in the distance.
After the flight we had a little cycle round a few bays and had to make a tough decision of just which beach to goto. We eventually settled on a stunning beach called the basin near to one of the Island’s lighthouse which had been awarded with the title of Australia's best beach, and spent the afternoon there.
It was Friday night and we went to the islands bar which was very lively tonight and after several beers rode our bikes the 2.5km back to the hostel with the knowledge we had no worries about any traffic, the only obstacles were having to dodge loads of Quakkas on the road and with myself being the only one with light had to stay in front and shout out Quakka warnings!
Today I was heading to Rottnest Island for a 3 day 2 night trip, It’s is a stunning Island that’s an A Class reserve with a lot of history just 18km off the coast of Freemantle which is itself 18km from Perth. There are no cars allowed on the Island and the only way to get around is by bus or as most people do cycle.
Upon arrival I checked into my accommodation Kingstown Barracks a former army barracks now converted to a hostel then went back to the jetty to board a jetboat for a wild ride around the Island with the promise of also seeing some wildlife and possibly Whales!
Met some other people also staying at the Hostel and we had a wet and wild time saw some sea lions but was no sign of any whales until just as we were about to give up and head back to the jetty someone saw one in the distance, we turn on the power and head towards it and indeed it was not just 1 but 2 whales that regularly breached they were a stunning sight and stayed around for about 15 minuets, it was very difficult to be quick enough with the camera to get any good photos but then I got very lucky and got a great shot of one of the whales tails lined up with the skyline of Perth which is over 30km away! After this photos we got a lot closer and I got many more great Whale shots, which I will post in a separate Gallery later.
That evening I cooked myself some Pasta, and took that and some Strawberry’s and cream to a beech which was only a 5 min walk from the hostel, while eating got joined by a local – Quokka which is a rare unique animal that’s been described as a cross between a kangaroo and a rat (The Islands name Rottnest is actually Dutch for Rat’s nest) They are very friendly though especially when there’s food about! After dinner I met up with some others from the hostel at a pub on the Island about a 2.5km bike ride away for a couple of beers to complete a fantastic day.
Friday, November 27, 2009
DAY 67 - A DAY AT THE RACES ON THE HOTTEST OCTOBER DAY EVER IN PERTH – BUT THE BEACH BALLS WERE ALL BACK IN THE UK CAUSING MY FOOTBALL TEAM TO LOSE!
Today the mercury reached 37.2 degrees C (99F) which depending on which source you read was either the hottest or perhaps 2nd hottest ever October day in Perth! It was also the first day of racing at the Ascot racecourse and was free entry so the place was packed, unfortunately I think all the horses I backed were feeling the heat and were not even close to getting me a win, so despite the free entry wasn’t a cheap day out. The day got even worse for me when I went out in the evening to watch Liverpool on TV and we lost after a beach ball intervened!
Another pic taken at Cottesloe beach yesterday this time of their new sign warning patrons that there is water! This has to go down as one of the most stupid signs anywhere!
The weather is really starting to warm up and today was the perfect day togo to the beech for a few hours, got this nice shot from Cottesloe beach jetty looking back on the beach with a kitesurfer in the foreground. I then cycled the 24km or so home.
Decided to go for a cycle near the airport again but this time went to the opposite end of the airport to my previous trip and found a great field near the end of the runway where the planes were taking off from, here a nice shot of a Thai airways Airbus A330 taking off for Bangkok
A quietish day, went into the city to do some shopping and struggled to get on the train due to a drunken aboriginal couple who had both passed out and fell asleep on the floor right by the door! After several passengers stepped over them to get on and off the train some security guys appeared and manged to get them semi conscious enough to get them to leave the train! By the way the picture is not an aboriginal but as alpaca taken at the previous weeks Royal Perth show!
Got invited back to the Lodge where I had previously stayed for a big BBQ, was a good night until we went to Northbridge the nightlife area of the city where some of the bars insist on ID’ing everybody no matter what age and only allow a passport or Australian driving license some then take it further by photographing you on entry.
I had found out about this policy the previous week so reluctantly carried my passport on me, got in the queue for the bar and waited for ages as several 30 and even 40 something’s argued with the door staff
A 40 year old British guy almost came to blows with the doorstaff after being told not only to produce ID to show his age, but then that a British driving license was not acceptable!
I’m all for combating underage drinking, ( mean after all I didn’t have my first drink in a pub till I was 14 :) But quite frankly demanding a passport or Australian driving license whatever you age (I guess they even turn pensioners away) then demanding big brother has to take a still picture of you before you can enter has all got rather ridiculous and stressful when you just want to chill out and have a good night out.The arguments in the queue show it is more likely to cause more problems than do good, decided myself, I’m not carrying my passport on me again for a night out again with the risk that if you lose it it’s difficult to replace easily so that’s that the last time I’m going to such a bar with that policy in place.
Anyway no new pics today (I wasn’t going to carry 2 valuable items) so heres another from the Royal Perth show last week, It was sunny day and I forgot to take my hat so ended up buying a hat to look like a Aussie bushman!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
No Pics taken today so heres another shot from the Royal Perth show, where before the fireworks display horses ran around in bright lights and the riders carried flares and the Aussie flag, the result was quite spectacular!
Cycled to Guildford a nice historic superb only about 8km from where I'm living. After having a look around the suburb I found a field that was on the approach path to Perth Airport’s runway, got this nice shot of an Emirates Boeing 777 coming in from Dubai. Was a nice afternoon combining 3 of my hobbies cycling, Aviation and photography!
Went to Cottesloe beach around lunchtime was a lovely morning but once I got to the beach it cooled down and started clouding over so what do people do in Australia when the beach weather turns not so ideal? Head to the pub of course! Went to a pub that was celebrating Octoberfest with some great German beer and a Bratwurst BBQ, my Flatmate joined me and we had a decent night out until Liverpool played football against Chelsea and a bouncer nearly chucked me out of the pub because he mistook my shirt for a Rangers one who’s fans were apparently banned from the pub, I think he was getting his beers mixed up as Carling sponsor Rangers while Carlsberg sponsor Liverpool, thankfully the boss realized his bouncers mix up and come rushing over to sort the situation out telling the bouncer he’s got his beers, sorry football teams mixed up and apologized to me, He could of have given me a free beer as an apology though!
Went to watch the Australian A League football (Soccer) game between Perth Glory and North Queensland fury. The away team was of more particular interest to me as Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler is now playing his football down under for them, He had a very poor game and just after being substituted Queensland scored a very dodgy equalizer when it was clear the goalkeeper had been shoved over the line, but the goal was given and the game finished 1-1
Went to the Royal Perth show an annual agriculture and entertainment show, was a stunning day for it with bright blue skies with even brighter skies in the evening when a spectacular fireworks display finished off the day.
Got so many great photos from today it’s hard to decide which one to use decided on this spectacular fireworks shot, expect to see some of the others soon when I don’t have a new photo of the day to post.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Amazingly for the 2nd time in 3 months I was to fly on a plane with my own initials as the last 2 characters of the registration 9V-TAB a Tiger Airways Airbus A320, at just over 5 hours flying time this is one of the longest flights carried out by such an aircraft and was pretty uncomfortable for such a flight. The highlight of the flight was a stunning sunset out of my window about 2 hours into the flight but annoyingly my camera battery had died so could not take my usual out of the window in flight shots, so as I couldn’t get a pic of or from my AB registered plane here a pic of my Church instead, St Andrew’s Church in Singapore.
After rather a late start after the night before dragged ourselves out of bed and went to Sentosa an island just a mile or so off the Singapore and connected by road, tram or cable car. After spending ages to find the entrance to the cable cars we found that they were closed due to refurbishment, so had to take the tram, which took us ages to find. Finally got to the island and chilled out on a beach for a while, then I noticed the luges looked fun, you took a cable car up a steep hill and came flying down the hillside on something that resembles a tea tray on wheels, we bought tickets for 2 goes and I won the first race quite easily.
James was really up for the 2nd race desperate for revenge, and I made a really bad start giving him a huge lead, but I picked up some momentum and started closing the gap by taking some corners very fast, on the last corner I somehow avoided crashing by millimeters and the momentum gave me enough speed to attempt to overtake which James tried to block but at the last minute before the finish line I pulled off a fantastic manover that even Michael Schumacher would have admired, to overtake and win again! It was amazing how something so simple could be so much fun, who needs an expensive powerful car to race when you can just put wheels on a tea tray and coast down a hill!
For our last evening in Singapore we went on the Singapore Flyer Ferris wheel which is 165m (541ft) tall making it the tallest Ferris wheel in the world 30m (98ft) taller than the London Eye the previous record holder, it was difficult to get to as was inside where the grand prix track was and they were currently dismantling, we got there in the end after a quite a walk and it was worth it as it was so quiet we even got our own private capsule, and the views over Singapore all lit up was fantastic as this pic shows!
We finished off with a nice meal at an American themed bar and had a good chat with the friendly local barman.
Woke up feeling much better than the previous few days, I went out in the morning to have a walk around Little India that was very interesting place to see.
Then it was time to head to the circuit for the main event the Singapore F1 Grand Prix!
The race wasn’t quite as fast or exciting as previous races I’ve been to but it was quite an atmosphere with it being at night in the middle of a city, the atmosphere was great and was a great result for the Brits with Lewis Hamilton won while the other British driver Jenson Button and world championship favorite drove a great race to finish 5th after starting only 12th which improved his chances of winning the championship.
We were allowed to walk on the track after the race and I picked up a souvenir, a little piece of rubber off someones tyres.
We then headed to Singapore’s main nightlife district Clark Quay right by the river and had a great night out, found a good microbrewery bar with a fantastic Pale Ale which reminded me of Minnesota's Summit Pale Ale.
Spent another quite morning and early afternoon at the hotel then we went to the circuit for the qualifying
Decided to just go straight to our grandstand seats today got there while it was quiet and got this pic taken of us with the circuit, marina bay and the stunning Singapore skyline in the background.
Once it came to Qualifying just as it was hotting up in the final session we were denied the grand finale due to Baracello crashing just as everyone was starting their last flying laps so the current standings stood as the final qualifying result, it was great in some ways for us as it was British driver Lewis Hamilton on pole, but was also rather an anticlimax.
Scottish band Travis were playing live after the qualifying so we wondered over to where the stage was and saw them play, they finishing off with their best know song “Why does it always rain on me” but amazingly the rain stayed away!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I still wasn’t feeling well so had a quiet morning and early afternoon at the hotel while James went out to do some sightseeing of Chinatown and little India,
After a good rest I felt well enough to goto the 1st day of the Grand Prix.
We had a good walk around the track during the 1st practice, but for the 2nd Practice took our seats in the grandstand. The seats didn’t offer us a huge view of the track, nor were they of the fastest part but what it did offer was a great view of the cars as they were charging toward a sharp bend entering a tunnel that went under the grandstand below where we were sitting all with the stunning backdrop of the Singapore skyline in the background.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen got it all wrong on the corner ran wide and hit the tyre wall by the tunnel. It was perfect timing as I had just got a spot up front to snap some quick pics and got this great close up shot, you can see the lights from the dashboard reflecting in his visor along with the lights from the floodlights reflecting off the cars bodywork
We both had at least 11 hours much needed sleep although I woke up with rather a dodgy stomach.
We had a little walk around outside where the F1 circuit was set up before going to collect our tickets, near the ticket collection was a Haagen Dazs and not feeling like eating much for lunch just decided to have an Ice Cream. I forgot my dodgy stomach and went for an ice cream sundae while James settled on a single scoop, the single scoop ending up arriving looking ridiculous and rather lonely in a huge bowl not to mention overpriced at $12 and that didn’t include the bowl To keep!
My Icecream sundae was better value but it certainly didn’t help my stomach, we went to walk around the famous Raffles hotel public areas and while I don’t look to bad here 15 minutes later it was a different story as we were wondering around I turned very white and came so close to being sick all over the famous hotels plush courtyard, thankfully I wasn’t and after rushing to the toilet still wasn’t, I guess there was no way I was going to allow myself to bring up an Icecream I’d just paid $15 for!!
After a few minutes I felt a bit better so we walked onwards past the old part of Singapore and then reaching the river, which we walked alongside for a while before doing a rivercruise.
After only about 3 hours sleep I somehow managed to stagger out of bed, snapped some shots of the view from my room get checked out and make it to the bus station in time for my bus to Singapore.
The fare was again only about £3.50 and was amazed to get on the coach and find that it was a luxury coach with only 30 seats in 1 by 2 configuration giving a wide comfortable seat. It took nearly 4 hours to get to the Singapore border where we had to get off and take our luggage to clear immigration & Customs, remembering to bin any chewing gum as it’s strictly not allowed into the country! I rejoined the coach on the Singapore side of the border and it wasn’t long before we were underway for the final 40 minuets into the city of Singapore.
After checking into the hotel and getting some lunch I went out to the airport to meet James who was flying in from England on a Singapore Airlines A380 superjumbo, I found a viewing mall to watch it land and taxi in.
After dinner we both needed an early night James was jetlagged while I was just beerlagged from the previous night!
DAY 42 – MALAYSIAN TRADITIONS AND CULTURES
Today was one of the best days I’ve ever had travelling anywhere, met so many people and did and saw so much or various different cultures.
It started with going for a traditional Malaysian Dim sum breakfast with the owner of the bar down the road and other drinkers from the bar the previous night. It was certainly a very different breakfast to what I’d ever had before some of the items I liked, some not so much but was a fun time and great experience.
Then the bar owners taxi driver friend offered to drive me around Malacca and show me the sights for only £8 per hour, This was a great idea as I had my own personal tour guide and got to see so much more than I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, first off we went to the Portuguese settlement, then onto Arab & Chinese settlements including a traditional Chinese cemetery where they use giant semi circular stones as gravestones.
Then it was onto the Eye on Malaysia a 60 meter tall Ferris wheel, which offered great views all over the city and straights of Malacca, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world as ships head to and depart out of Singapore to all over Asia and Europe.
Got to meet a lot of locals as he took me to a public Malaysian house where the family show you around their home and tell you all about Malaysian traditions including the marriage tradition that they insisted we had to act out while they took a photo! Then had the owner put on a lunch of Malay pasties and cakes!
Then did an afternoon cruse up and down the river on traditional old Asian rickshaw boat.
Was planning to have a quite night ahead of an early start to travel to Singapore the next day, but there wasn’t much chance of that as had a great night back at the bar meeting a lot of people from different places in the world and also some friendly Malaysians, I eventually staggered back to my hotel sometime after 2am.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I took a coach down to the Historical city of Malacca from KL airport, which took about 2 hours and cost me just £3.50. I had got an amazing deal on a Hotel paying just approx £36 per night for a 5 star Renaissance hotel. Arriving at my room on the 18th floor was greeted by stunning views all over Malacca and to the mountains beyond. After a couple of hours in the comfort of my air conditioned room I had to really force myself to go out sightseeing as it was so humid outside. I walked around the Dutch quarter and Chinatown areas for a couple of hours before taking refuge in a huge shopping centre. I bought 2 smart new shirts for just £8 had a meal before heading back outside where it was now dark and the Dutch quarter was all lit up so. Stopped off at a bar on the way back to my hotel planning to have a quick drink but ended up staying a while and having several after meeting some great people including the owner who arranged for a few of us to meet up for a traditional Malaysian Dim Sum Breakfast the following morning.
Today I left Perth for 10 days for a side trip to asia.
Having never flown out of Perth’s international terminal before I never realised there superb viewing deck, all be it behind glass, Here’s the arrival of my bird 9M-MRH a Malaysian airlines Boeing 777 with Perth city in the background, sadly the weather was yet again overcast with showers, but now I’ve found this viewing deck will make sure I make some more visits on a clear blue skies day and get some fantastic shots of planes with the city in the background!
Onboard the plane a hilarious occurrence happened while taxing out to the runway as an overhead locker kept popping open. A passenger kept trying to shut it and was soon joined by a member of the cabin crew, they still couldn’t secure it and were soon joined by 2 and then eventually 4 more cabin crew all franticly trying to secure the locker before we moved onto the runway for takeoff, they finally realised it was broken and they weren’t going to secure it so they started running up and down the aisles desperately looking for space in other lockers the main stumbling block was finding space for 2 oddly shaped walking sticks and many of the passengers burst into laugher as these cabin crew were franticly running round the place armed with the sticks to find some space to stow them!
They just made it and rushed to their seats just as we pulled onto the runway many of the passengers applauded and let out a big cheer, which almost drowned out the noise of our huge engines throttling up for takeoff, I’m sure many passengers were praying the engines were more reliable than the lockers!
They were and 5 and a half hours later we landed in Kuala Lumpur.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
DAY 39 – MORE KAYAKING AND MORE DOLPHINS
Despite my last kayaking adventures a few weeks ago not going entirely to plan I gave it another go this time a group of us hired single kayaks and the winds and currents were nowhere near as strong, However I had a minor rib injury and found it difficult to paddle with my right arm so once again I found myself on Herrison island this time of my own choosing I had a rest and a did a few stretches and started paddling gently back when suddenly just meters in front of me 2 dolphins surfaced, a minute later there was 4 dolphins ahead then loads of birdlife joined the area, there was obviously loads of fish there and there was a good feed be had. Was amazing to see dolphins up close while on the water myself.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any decent photos of the dolphins so you have to make do with one of me in my kayak with the Perth City skyline in the background on yet another overcast day. I’m leaving Australia for 10 days tomorrow I just hope the weather gods get out of their system what they’ve got against me by the time I get back!
Another sharp warning about the dangers of Australia today, although thankfully I didn’t see any snakes, there’s just not enough sun about. Once it warms up and the sun does stay out snakes will occasionally sunbath on the paths round here so caution will be required when cycling as you try not to run one over and they won’t like that and could turn aggressive!
Got caught out in some heavy rain on my bike and having forgotten to take my rainjacket arrived back at the lodge rather soaked!
One of the most famous Australian signs is the yellow kangaroo sign warning motorists that a roo might be about to chuck it’s self over your bonnet and windscreen at any moment! However being near Ascot racecourse (Yes they steal all our British names) there was more likely to be horses about. By the looks of it could also do with a dog warning sign as well!
I was cycling towards a suburb called Bayswater where I went to have a look at a room in a potential house to live for a while, of course I had to check out the local pub as well as that had to be acceptable as well as the room, got talking to several friendly locals and the beer was cheaper than the city pubs so it passed the test with flying colours!
Went cycling with a kiwi (Someone from New Zealand by the way though I did also have a kiwi fruit in my picnic lunch!) The highlight of the ride was when we stopped for a picnic lunch by the Canning river and we spotted several dolphins Unfortunately I couldn’t get a real close up clear pic but here’s my effort.
We did 36km in good time but it made me realise that despite having done 550km (approx 350 miles) in 4 weeks I’m still nowhere near fit enough as the kiwi guy I was twice my age and looked as if he could have cycled faster and further than me if his bike hadn’t malfunctioned towards the end!
Went out for a good cycle around the swan river towards the Swan valley wine region. On the way back I stopped for a break at this nice spot overlooking the river in the valley with the Perth hills in the background. I noticed the Ferry from the daily wine cruises heading my way on it’s way back to Perth, I decided it would be a good challenge to race it the 15km or so back to Perth therefore motivating me to keep up a good pace, I had to take the long way round going around the outside of the river and round inlets, but kept a good pace and always kept ahead of the ferry arriving back in Perth a good 5 minuets ahead of the cruise.
Why pay $140 to do a wine cruise when you can get fit and do it for free on the bike and make it back faster - providing you don’t have too much wine!