Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Sydney Bridge Walk

G'Day Poms!

Another hot, sunny day in Sydney, New South Wales! Arrived at Travellodge in centre of city, all relaxed and massaged, to find we'd arrived on the busiest day of the Australian calendar, Australia Day! Place was absolutely heaving!!!

Currently sitting in the shade of a bottle-brush tree in Watsons Bay overlooking Sydney Harbour. Foreground- seagulls, sailing boats and calm, blue water. Background- city skyscrapers and Harbour Bridge. Went on a sunset walk up to top of bridge last night. Sunset at about 7.30pm. Walked as far as Australian flags on top, whilst our guide gave us brief history of the construction of the bridge. 90% steel stucture came from Middlesborough U.K. Built in 1932 when there were only 11 cars northside, wanting to travel across the bridge. Even so they had the foresight to build it wide enough to accommodate 8 lanes of traffic and 2 rail lines today! Also been to Manly Beach, my favourite in the area- baysude and ocean-side. Ian compared it to Blackpool, but as far as I know you don't get the lifeguards warning you that a shark has been sighted in the vicinity and you should get out of the water. Some hard-core dudes are obviously used to such warnings and, much to the annoyance of the lifeguards, continued surfing!

Also been to Chinatown at night and ate one of our cheapest meals, sizzling chicken and noodles served on a greasy tray but tasted great. Washed down with my fav drink- ginger and lemon infusion sweetened with natural palm sugar.

Anyway off for something more upmarket- fish and chips and a glass of wine at the world-famous Doyles on Watsons Bay and then back to Circular Quay on the fantastic ferry, 20 minutes later you're back in heart of the city!

One more night and then off to pick up campervan in Adelaide, to visit the rellies and a brief trip to the Sniwy Mountains and Flinders Rangers of South Australia. Could be averaging 80-100 miles a day!!!

Sorry if there's spelling mistakes but no time to edit at $2 for 20 minutes!


Saturday, 26 January 2008

byeee from Langkawi

Last full day and evening here. Since we last wrote, we've seen much more of the island, learnt how to cook fried rice in a cookery lesson at the hotel (34deg outside and I'm back in the kitchen!), watched a traditional dancing and fire-eating show,explored Chenang beach (the "sunset strip" of Langkawi), where there were lots of restaurants, some chic and some shabby! The rule of thumb around here seems to be that the places to eat may vary a lot but the food's always good and if you stay away from the hotels, it can be extremely cheap. Yesterday we went up in a cable car to one of the highest mountains on Langkawi, with a high-tech walkway beween two mountains. Totally covered in jungle-like trees and unclimbable, even if you were mad enough to consider it! Looking down you could see all the 99+ islands off Langkawi, and a massive breakwater, built after the tsunami to protect the people who live at sea-level on the plains. Unfortunately though they seem to be regenerating with big shopping malls, selling the ubiquitous duty-free, which is apparently what the tourists come here to buy But not these two tourists!!

Now we've managed to buy ourselves a card-reader for the great price of 5pounds in one of these shops I've just said we dont go into, we can prove that we are actually where we say we are, for some of you doubting Thomass! So we're sending you some of our photos of our experiences in Langkawi and closer to home in the hotel! We'd definitely come back here, and in fact we are returning to this general area when we travel to Sabah and Sarawak (or Borneo for those using old money).

Last bit of Malay lesson for now---

Selamat datang--- Welcome

Selamat pagi----- Good Morning

Terima Kasih----- Thankyou

"Selimat kasit Madam bang bang"---- "How was your swim this morning, Madam?"

Goodbye from Langkawixxxxx

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Westin Hotel Langkawi Malaysia

Great hotel, beautiful scenery, really hot (34deg), but you can tell you're in a muslim country because the alcohol, particularly wine is very expensive, approx 40pounds per bottle! As you know, Ian and I like a drink or four, so in the interests of the budget spinning out a bit further, we've taken this opportunity to cut down, and even cut out !!! Good news is we both feel so much better for it!! Honestly!! We've even taken to returning to the gym for about an hour each day, and doing lengths of the pool!!

Today we went on a trip to see some of the natural wonders of Langkawi- saw thousands of stupified fruit bats, disturbed by flash lights in a 400 million year old cave, fed wild monkeys with the peanuts we had left!, saw limestone cliffs and mountains that tumbled down to dense mangrove swamps and zoomed up and down sea-water inlets in a high-powered long-tail boat. But the highlight had to be seeing beautiful sea-eagles and red-coloured eagles (Babu, the guide gave them a name but I couldn't make it out in his strong Indian-Malay accent). Soaring and diving near the boat, they were a wonderful sight. But even they were fed chicken skin by our guide. Later went to see sting-rays, massive groupers, archer fish(which spit at their prey to drop them into the water) and horseshoe crabs, all caught by local fisherman and kept in large fish farm style enclosures, so that tourists can come to pay and gawp at them. It seems like even in this Kilim Geopark they have no qualms about feeding wild animals, if a living has to be made.

Nevertheless an interesting tour with a small group of Chinese Malay, Indian Malay and South Africans, whose company only added to the interesting day. Travel certainly does broaden the mind.

Anyway off for a glass of wine- notice I said glass and not bottle!

More Malay- Seripatan na banda - Please move my sunshade a little more to the left.

No Gracian, ni dan bang bang - No,make mine a glass of water, thankyou!

Adios amigos, any chance of you tearing your poor little selves away from work to send a comment!!!!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Kuala Lumpur-Twin Towers

Hi everyone. Hope you're all well. 12 hours flight from Heathrow- although the BA plane had come off the runway that same day, miraculously only delayed by one hour! Hotel smack bang up against the Petronas Towers, until recently the tallest building in the world. Lovely arriving at night to the towers all lit up like silver rings. Woke up at 5am after little sleep to the muslim equivalent to church bells calling the faithful to worship. After a two hour queue, we went on the ten minute Petronas towers experience and walked across the sky-bridge between the two towers. Can't include a photo yet but hope to in next blog. The pre-tour advice told us to adopt "modest behaviour" during our visit! Mixture of cultures and religions- hindu, buddhist, muslim and christian, all seemingly living harmoniously together. Mind you, as we saw at the airport, with the death penalty for smuggling drugs, you get the impression that there's a zero tolerance of deviant behaviour. So I guess we'll have to wait till we get to good ol' Oz!!!

Learn Malay the "Marie"-way!
Keluar - Exit
Tandas di mana - Where are the toilets?

More invaluable phrases to follow!

Off to Langkawi tomorrow, one hour's flight north, up the coast, to soak up the sun and do a bit of snorkelling. If I can tear myself away from the sun-bed will send a note from there!

All my love

Monday, 14 January 2008

Australasia tour

Monday 14 Jan 2008
Getting ready for trip (without Blue Crush this time) with a mixture of waterproofs and t-shirts, pills for every form of problem, walking gear and "mincing"gear! I think we can safely say we completed our apprenticeship in "mincing" last autumn, and those who require further explanation of this peculiar condition should refer to Andrew Webster! Now read on...or back up actually!!