Thursday, May 28, 2009

Busy Busy Busy in Uluru and Sydney

We have been so busy since the last post. We've only been in Uluru and Sydney but we packed so much in. We flew into Alice Spring where we met Fossie's parents. From there we drove to Uluru taking a short detour (300km round trip) to King's Canyon. It was amazing. So steep and high.

We did the Creek Walk there before we continued on our merry way to Uluru. We arrived just in time to see the clouds ruin the sunset, so no colour change on the rock itself but we were still impressed by the sight of it. We got up both mornings to try catch a sunset, one at Uluru and one at Kata Tjuta. Neither of them really made the rocks change colour but the second one at Kata Tjuta was beautiful in its own right.

You can even see Uluru in the corner here.
Besides the sunsets we also walked around the base of Uluru, did the Valley of the Winds walk at Kata Tjuta and went to the Sounds of Silence Dinner.
The Sound of Silence dinner was lovely. We were taken out to the outback/desert to watch the sunset over Uluru (spoiled by bloody cloudsagain) while we were fed canapés of crocodile, kangaroo and smoked salmon and given as much champagne as we could polish off.

The main course was next and it was a buffet selection that inlcuded crocodile ceasar salad, kangaroo fillet and delicious lamb chops. That was followed by a local star gazer/astronomer coming to tell us about the stars (non-existent due to cloud) and some of the Aboriginal stories behind the constellations. He made the best of a bad situation though and really entertained us.
Lastly we were serenaded by the digeridoo while we gorged on the scrumptious desserts.
We really enjoyed it but it was a pity it was so cloudy.

We only managed to spot one kangaroo out in Uluru

but spotted a few at the Telegraph Station back in Alice Springs.

After the long drive from Uluru to Alice Springs, (it's as long as drving London to Paris) we flew to Sydney where we met up with Mum and Dad again. Unfortunately the East Coast of Australia has been battered by some terrible storms over the last few days so the weather wasn't great. Despite that we still got to see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, both by day and night. They are both amazing structures. On our last night the Opera House was lit up spectacularly for some exhibition that's on.

We got out to Manly Beach but it was closed because of the weather but luckily enough the day stayed dry for us. The sea was quite rough for the ferry crossing though, the waves were huge and the ferry really got thrown around.

We spent a day out in the Blue Mountains too. We went to Govett's Leap, Katoomba for the 3 Sisters and Wentworth for the Falls there. Again it was cloudy but we did manage to admire the scenery during breaks in the cloud.

Darling Harbour was celebrating it 21st birthday so at the weekend they put on a fireworks show.

On our last day we went to Bondi Beach and were blessed with the weather at last. Both our dads, Foss and I went swimming, though the water was quite cold and there was a very strong pull.

We also managed to squeeze in a trip to the Aquarium, lunch in the fish markets and a few other touristy things.
And of course we couldn't leave Sydney a re-union of ex-Nathan's accountants.

So after those hectic few days we hired a campervan to head off up the coast. It's probably not quite what you'd imagine a camper van to be so have a look at this website and the video tour especially!

So far we've spent our first two nights in it. One at Hawk's Nest/Port Stephen's and one at Port Macquarie and we haven't killed each other yet so that's something.

BTW I have fixed the blog so that hopefully people will be able to leave comments now. Looking forward to them :)
Jan and Paul.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

KL, Singapore and Perth

Paul here, and as some of you may have guessed, this is my first entry on the blog, (so it probably won't be as detailed / good). Since the last post we've spent a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur.

That was a far as Fossie got and it's been over a week since he did that so I'm just going to finish off this post. We spent 2 days in KL. It was a fab city, really clean and modern with great public transport. We did a few of the touristy things there. The first morning Foss queued for ages for tickets to the Petronas Towers (he is good for something) so we could go up to the Skybridge and get a glimpse of  the view out over the city.

We went to the Lake Gardens too and visited the Orchid Gardens there. I spent ages taking loads of photos there while Foss sat and waited patiently.
They had a craft village there as well and I got to try my hand at some batik.
This was what I produced at the end.
The picture was traced but I had great fun doing the wax outline and painting with the dye .
After KL we got a bus to Singapore. It was similar to KL, being such a modern city. There were loads of shops there too. I don't think I've ever seen anywhere with such a high concentration of shops and shopping centres. Besides shopping, we visited to the zoo there. It was definitely the best zoo I've ever been to. Although I don't know how much competition Fota and Dublin Zoo really provide. We saw loads of different animals there and the whole set up seemed really good. We both loved it.

That was the end of the South- East Asia leg of the trip. I can't believe it's over. Seems like absolutely ages ago that we were in India. We have seen and done so much since then.
Anyway we flew to Perth from Singapore  where we met up with Mum and Dad. It was great to see them. Siobhan and Mike have been spoiling us all since we arrived. It's great to have your own personal tour guides. They brought us to see so much that I don't think we would have gotten to otherwise.
One of the places they brought us to was the port town of Fremantle. It's only about half an hour away, but Mike took us the scenic route to show off some of the views out over the river so it took a bit longer but we loved getting to see so much.

Australian Mother's Day was last Sunday so we had a picnic in King's Park. It's amazing that they have such a huge park area in the middle of the city. It's very popular though and was absolutely jam packed for the day that was in it.The Australian idea of a picnic is a bit more upmarket that the Irish one. Not a ham sandwich in sight and I'd say we were the only ones drinking our flask of tea from tin cups, though I think our cake stand made up for that.
Siobhán and Mike took us on trip to the Swan Valley Winery area. We stopped in Sandalford Winery and sampled some of the wines there. Then in was on to the chocolate factory where we had a 'few' of the free samples, tried out some real hot chocolate and indulged in a chocolate fondue with all sorts of goodies for dipping.
After that we had a little stroll and came across a kids playground. Some of the 'ould wans' got a bit unruly on the spinny-around-thing.

And sure you couldn't go to the playground without getting some ice-cream so we made sure to drop into the the ice-creamery afterwards. On our way to the next winery we took a detour to Bell's Rapids and even though the river was low and there were no rapids there was some magnificent scenery there.
Going back into town we couldn't drive past the Feral Brewery without sampling some of their wares.
We never did make it to that second winery in the end. It was closed when we got there!

In between all of that we managed to get to Floreat, Cottesloe and Scarboro beaches. The 3 of them were beautiful but the water was a bit colder than we've become accustomed to.

Mum and Dad left Perth Tuesday night for Cairns. After we dropped them out to the airport we took a spin to South Perth to admire this beautiful view of the city all lit up at night.

Foss got lucky on the way back!

We reluctantly left Perth this morning for Alice Springs. Hopefully we'll get to go back there again. We really liked it. The whole lifestyle there seemed so nice, very active and outdoorsy, but I think the weather has a lot to with that.
Foss was delighted to meet up with his parents this evening and in the morning the 4 of us are setting off for Uluru.
Maybe Foss will write the next blog post about that!!!

Jan and Paul.

Friday, May 1, 2009


We left Thailand behind us a week ago and took a very long journey to Penang in Malaysia. It's an island but it's mostly city and very devloped. We spent 2 days there. The first day we did all the touristy things around the city (visited a Chinese clan house, went to Fort Cornwallis, saw the history Museum, went to the Chocolate Boutique and then vetured to a Batik Factory). The next day we went to Penang Hill, where they have an Old Funicular railway that brings you, very slowly, up the 800m to the top of the hill. From there you have a uninterrupted view out over the island. It was wierd to see that some parts of it were totally green and uninhabited whereas others were totally built up with skyscrapers.

Have to say we liked Penang and Georgetown (the city there). Not a bad place to spend 2 days.
We took a night bus over to the opposite side of the country to hit the Perhentian Islands.There are two islands there. We stayed on Puluan Kecil, which literally means Small Island. Yes, the other one is Big Island. It was absolutely beautiful there. Much nicer than any of the Thai Islands. The beach had white sand and crystal clear turqoise waters. It really was spectacular.
Apart from the two main beaches that have accommodation and
restaurants, the rest of the island is nearly untouched.
To walk from Long Beach, where we were staying to Coral Bay on
the other side, you had to walk along a track through the jungle.
It was totally unspoilt.
There were loads of creatures there though.
Lots of these monitor lizards, that can grow to 2m long.
This one was only 1.5m.

Then on the way through the jungle path to coral bay
there were loads of these HUGE spiders.

The sea was full of wonderful stuff too.
You could see these fish just standing waist deep in the sea.
It was brilliant.

We did 2 more scuba dives as well. They weren't as good as the ones we did on
Phi Phi but we did get to see some blue spotted stingray,
bamboo sharks, a coral cat shark and a  giant moray eel.
Other than that we just spent our time tanning up on the beach.
We were sorry to leave it behind yesterday.

Now we're in Kuala Lumpur. Just arrived this morning after catching a night bus. Have already sussed out an Irish bar for the big game tonight though! Just waiting around the guesthouse now because we can't check in until 12 o' clock. Have 2 days here, then it's Singapore for a day and then the flight to OZ. We're can't wait to meet our parents.

That's about it for now,
Jan and Paul.