Asia 2019, Big Buddha, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Day Two

I repeated my 5 hours of sleep routine and was up at 3 again. Good grief. I was envious of Sal sleeping away. I just couldn’t fall back asleep, so I read while he snored contently.

Once again we had a cheap 7-11 breakfast. We also added money to our travel card. The woman at 7-11 didn’t speak English, really, but we learned pretty quickly that most people understand charades/pantomime. We had decided that we would go see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island that day, which meant an early start and a lot of travel to get there/back. We had a full day in store. We got to the Subway and I went through without issue, but Sal had a problem with his travel card and had to find someone and do the charade thing again. I waited for him on the other side of the turnstile since I had already paid. I had a pretty big epiphany while I waited, and that was that I would never want to go to a new-to-me large city (in a foreign country) by myself. I found it really intimidating and stressful. I was slightly worried Sal wouldn’t find me because of the crowds, but of course he did. I have new respect for the solo travelers beyond just having to deal with the loneliness that must be a part of that sort of travel. Thank goodness for Sal.

Continue reading “Hong Kong Day Two”

Asia 2019, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Day One

I had been up about 30+ hours straight with no sleep. You would have thought I would have slept like a log when we finally went to bed. You would have been wrong. I slept for 5 hours, and that wasn’t even straight. Oh jet lag. You’re cruel.

Something that I forgot to mention about the first night is when we went to get the egg waffles we got lost in the mall and couldn’t figure out how to exit and get outside. It will surprise absolutely nobody that knows me that I got lost, but hey Sal did, too! It was a comedy of errors. It should have been obvious. We followed exit signs, but they didn’t look like ‘real’ exits, but more like emergency exits and we were afraid of setting off some kind of alarm. We even asked a nice lady who was cleaning the floors, but she didn’t speak English. She pointed to one of the fake looking exit signs, so who knows? We eventually figured it out, but let’s just say it was a humbling experience because we got lost a few times in that mall.

Continue reading “Hong Kong Day One”

Flights, Hong Kong, Vacations

A Very Long Day

The Back Story…

The plan in 2018 was to visit Japan for a couple reasons:

  1. Everyone we knew who had ever been there had only great things to say about it.
  2. We already had the Japanese encephalitis shot, so why not go before we had to get it again? Especially since I got sick from it the last time.
  3. We love sushi.
  4. We love temples.

Then Sal found out about a conference he could speak at in Sydney, and he had a work meeting a few weeks later also in Sydney, so we switched our plans and went to Australia instead because:

  1. Work would pay for the Sydney portion and Sal’s flight.
  2. See #1. That was the only reason. It’s really expensive flying Business Class that far and there was no way I was going in Coach!

That took care of the big trip of 2018, but since Japan was still #1 on our list of places we wanted to go we made it top priority for 2019. Someone suggested combining Hong Kong with Japan, so that’s what we did because we could get a direct flight there, too, and we’d arrive at night, which is better than having to stay awake all day.

Continue reading “A Very Long Day”

General

Disclaimer: Skipping Ahead…

I know, I know. I never finished blogging about Australia. I’ve been procrastinating like crazy and other things have gotten in the way. Sorry! But I will get it done at some point – I’m just not going to say when!

So because I just got back from a trip and had two people the same day ask when the trip report was going to come up, and I think I might literally only have three people who read this blog (AND MY MOM WASN’T ONE OF THE TWO WHO ASKED!), we will fast forward to….

Australia, Katherine, Vacations

Katherine: Randall…I Love You. (Day Two)

I woke up to this:

 

So we decided to give my foot a break and not do any sort of climbing/heavy walking. I had read on Trip Advisor about Top Didj Aboriginal Cultural Experience — a place that also rescues wallabies. Sold! We were finally going to see wallabies!! I was so excited!

img_20180704_1425393133752263840340537.jpg
A sweet potato treat for the cutie.
img_20180704_1442568842719854733396406.jpg
Sal made a friend, too!
00000img_00000_burst20180704161749_cover8857026381131068894.jpg
They were so cute and gentle. And I low-key squealed when I saw them hopping around. Finally!

The experience was run by Manuel. Manuel is an aboriginal man who told us stories about growing up in the outback, sang a song for us, played the didgeridoo, taught us how to paint the way his people do (it’s hard!), taught us how to make a fire and how to hunt by throwing a spear. It was all really interesting, and sometimes a little goofy. In other words, it was right up my alley; I could have listened to him all day.

img_20180704_1531106052995371271829766.jpg
I took my painting very seriously to make up for my very serious lack of talent.

img_20180704_1447444660871381789295766.jpg

img_20180704_1633488409828632466903679.jpg

img_20180704_1513008329020246396792491.jpg
Telling us a random story while a wallaby hopped by.
img_20180704_1500582387462199069304716.jpg
Manuel singing a song

Our last activity was Manuel taking us outside to ‘hunt’ kangaroo. Guess who is the only one that actually hit the kangaroo?

img_20180704_1704519188088909629066433.jpg
He even got a certificate for hitting the ‘roo. hahaha. To date, this was the only kangaroo we saw.

While we were learning how to throw a spear, two of the kids in the group got to hold wallabies. Was I jealous? Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Eventually, the young European woman who was working there and is an ‘influencer’ on Instagram (already forgot her name – oops) got one of the wallabies away from the kid that was neglecting it. And by neglecting I mean not petting it constantly or talking to it, like I was prepared to do. And then the best part of the day happened and I got to hold Randall.

img_20180704_1715547462446004115603130.jpg
I loved him so much.

I’m not going to lie and say that for a hot second I wasn’t trying to figure out how I could get him back to Jersey. Look how cute he is here in this video! I was totally in love with him. He’d lick my fingers and even licked and nibbled on my nose. He was rescued when he was only two months old. The sad thing about the wallabies is that they come out at night and a lot are hit by cars. The car will kill the mom and sometimes the babies are left to die. Other times when the babies are found they would be brought to the rescue. Manuel told us about how he liked to eat wallaby and when one was dead by the side of the road he considered it a free meal. I just blinked at that and clarified with him at one point that he didn’t eat any of the rescues. He confirmed he didn’t eat any that had names. “We don’t eat our friends.” Shew.

That night we went to Marksie’s Stockman’s Camp Tucker Night, which was dinner and stories. The dinner was made on the campfire and it was delicious. The stories were long and funny. Australians like to tell stories, whether they are true or not. We had a fun table – there was a man from South Africa there with his niece – and he was hilarious. One of the best parts of travel is the people you meet from all over the globe.

mvimg_20180704_190031-13610327076599194139.jpg
One of the influencers cooking the dinner.
img_20180704_2016466699265177147934477.jpg
The one and only Marksie!
mvimg_20180704_194812-13279331128542985922.jpg
Be careful, dude. You could be tomorrow’s dinner…

 

The food was a lot better than I expected and actually one of the best meals we had in the Northern Territory. Marksie definitely knows what he’s doing. He uses all local spices and everything was very tasty and it was neat to try new flavors.

All in all it was a really fun, interesting day that didn’t involve hiking or additional injuries. Huzzah. Sometimes you need the slower days…

Australia, Katherine, Northern Territory, Vacations

Katherine: Waterfalls and Sunset Cruises (Day One)

I thought I’d already posted this, but it was in my drafts. Oops. Enjoy!

It was about a four hour drive to get from Kakadu National Park to our hotel in Katherine. Sal is the driver on our team (he got stuck with a really crappy driving partner as I don’t drive.). The people at the hotel in Katherine had recommended stopping by Edith Falls on the way, so that’s what we decided to do.

Edith Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls and pools on the Edith River in the Nitmiluk National Park, located approximately 60 kilometres north of Katherine, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

After we’d parked, we tried to decide which pool to swim in. Of course, my preference was the lower one because that meant no hiking. Then I saw this sign:

img_20180703_1116537471838811099572732.jpg
Someone please explain to me how the crocs know to stop eating at 7 am if tasty legs are dangling at them? TYVM.

Continue reading “Katherine: Waterfalls and Sunset Cruises (Day One)”

Australia, Kakadu National Park, Vacations

Kakadu: Hiking, Hotel Shenanigans, And Crocs (Day 2)

We woke up early, grabbed breakfast, and headed off for our first adventure of the day: a free guided Burrungkuy Art Walk Talk (basically one of the trails you could do any time, but with guide(s) explanation. The nice thing about these tours is you get to learn more about the art and the indigenous people. The bad part is there were tons of people there and it made hearing difficult sometimes. The rangers did their best, though. The indigenous ranger was the first indigenous person we’d had any real interaction with. He explained some of their laws and traditions. It was very interesting. A lot of this rock art had been restored not all that long ago.

img_20180702_1030251068904746162179469.jpg

img_20180702_103023489436502861273071.jpg

Continue reading “Kakadu: Hiking, Hotel Shenanigans, And Crocs (Day 2)”

Australia, Kakadu National Park, Vacations

Kakadu: Beware of Crocs! (Day One)

We got up early, and checked out without any issues. I tasked Sal with finding a breakfast place, and boy did he hit the jackpot. This place was delicious. We got there about 5 or 10 minutes after it opened, and it was almost full already! Laneway Specialty Coffee was everything you needed in a breakfast place: good selection, yummy food, and fast service. If we ever go back that way again, I’m sure we’ll check it out again.

img_20180701_0818537724427957216371786.jpgimg_20180701_0823478081556932343140548.jpgimg_20180701_0823561548795195469076549.jpgAfter a filling breakfast, we got on the road. We stopped at a grocery store to get a cooler and some foods for hiking/lunch breaks. We also picked up a couple of dorky hats. We stopped at Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve on the way, as there was supposed to be some good walks there. We saw this sign:

img_20180701_1028398516203475777668511.jpg
OK, Never mind.

I made Sal take that pic from inside the car. We actually saw one of the croc-catching cages there, too. It was empty. Needless to say, we immediately turned around and drove on. While I appreciate these signs, they made me nervous. We had one more stop at some wetlands. Of course there was a warning sign about staying on the path because of crocs. As you can probably guess, I wasn’t so interested in walking around after I saw that sign. There were some nice views in the lookout, though.

pano_20180701_1256314594571437957969852.jpgimg_20180701_125812820392584901412041.jpgimg_20180701_1057174102447122558771026.jpgAnother thing I didn’t know I’d see in Australia:

img_20180701_1108223646332652199282848.jpg
Termite mounds are all over the place there. This was one of the first small ones we saw.

Continue reading “Kakadu: Beware of Crocs! (Day One)”

Australia, Darwin, Vacations

Darwin: Holy Crap, It’s Hot! (Day One)

We checked in at something like 1:30 a.m or 2:00 a.m. Sal had driven us from the airport to our hotel. It was very dark there, obviously, was no traffic. It was a good way to get used to driving on the wrong side, especially with the gazillion roundabouts that AU has. We stayed at the Palm City Resort and our room was OK. It didn’t look like the picture, but it was clean and we were tired and it would do. When we checked in, the woman warned us about Territory Day noise, which was happening on that Sunday night. It’s the one day that people in the Northern Territory can set off fireworks legally, and the local workers absolutely hate it. Every single person that lived there and mentioned it sighed or groaned. Luckily we were leaving the Sunday morning for Kakadu National Park, so we figured it wouldn’t be a problem there. We said it shouldn’t be a problem because we were leaving Sunday morning.  We slept in because we went to bed extremely late and we were both tired. It had been a long day between all that bike riding/walking and travel. Also: old.

I had read about the Parap Village Markets on Trip Advisor. They are only on Saturdays and that was when we were there, so we decided to check them out for lunch. We drove around a little bit and finally found parking. As we were walking to the location, we enjoyed the sun. It was a dry heat and was nice after cool/cold Sydney. Well, it was nice until it hit 11 or so and someone flipped a switch and it was hot, hot, hot. Like a torch. Like you need to be in the shade because you will noticeably wilt. It was a doozy.

It was impressive how many food stalls there were! I don’t think I’d ever seen that many options in the relatively small area that made up the market. It was impressive as there was food from several different countries.

mvimg_20180630_1139528924765395213916819.jpgThis is the only picture we got from the market, and thanks to Sal for at least getting this. I think we were jet-lagged; there’s a 30 minute time difference between New South Wales and The Northern Territory, after all! Excuses, excuses…

I got a savory crepe and Sal got Pho for lunch. Told you that had a big assortment of food! And yes, we don’t have pics of it. We spent our time trying to hide in the slivers of shade and eat quickly before the sun moved. After our quick meal we wandered around a little bit and did a tiny bit of shopping, then drove around aimlessly. Amazing what a 30 minute time difference can do to a body. Ahem.

We were going to go to a couple of places, but one was closed and the other one we drove by and decided against. We both had headaches and needed caffeine. We found a place where I could get a Diet Coke. It’s called a ‘grocery store’. Anyway, this little store was in a complex that happened to be right by the water.  It was very pretty, with a little restaurant there, too. We ordered drinks from the restaurant, too, so we wouldn’t get in trouble. Nobody cared.

mvimg_20180630_1439392033712806441427830.jpg
Pretty little harbor that not many know about.

What you can’t see from the pics is that each of these homes were gated in. I was sure it was to keep the crocs out. We were in croc territory now, after all!

Didn’t see any crocs.

We spent some time there relaxing and enjoying a) the light breeze, b) the shade, c) the views. We decided to go back to the hotel and take a little siesta. At first we went to the pool, but all of a sudden this very loud music started. And it was bad. We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, but think it was from some festival that was happening that weekend. Needless to say, we didn’t stay there that long. We ended up Sal napped. I know there was more to see in Darwin, but frankly we were pooped and we knew we had a lot of driving and walks/hiking/hot weather coming up so we wanted to be rested. They don’t have Uber in Darwin, so we had to have reception call a taxi for us. How quaint! We didn’t want to drive because we wanted to enjoy cocktails.

I had read that the sunsets at the beaches, and in particular at the Darwin Sailing Club, were awesome, so that was our destination. We got there and the place was much bigger than expected. There was a wedding reception going on in one section, and a party in another, and tons of people everywhere else. We had to have our license’s scanned (it’s the law for clubs there), then try to find a seat. We ended up sharing a table with two cousins from Melbourne and had a nice chat with them. I am turning into my mother, as my ability to chat with total strangers improves. That sunset was pretty awesome, though…

img_20180630_1829503359336709435262219.jpgimg_20180630_1853251739913573815022504.jpgimg_20180630_180323116193074391813232.jpgWe grabbed a taxi outside the club and went back to the hotel. It was an early night, but that was good because we had an early start the next day. Thank goodness the music had stopped eventually. We slept like rocks, again.

Australia, Manly, Sydney, Vacations

Sydney: Sick And Manly Beach (Days Seven & Eight)

Sorry this is so late. I finally have a connection that is good enough to upload photos without timing out. Huzzah!

I’m combining the next two days because almost nothing happened on day seven except doing laundry and working out on a rowing machine for the first time. That’s literally it. I was definitely fighting something off, and never even left the hotel. It’s OK. My body needed rest. I had a sore throat and upset stomach and sleep was my self-prescribed remedy as I needed to be healthy, because day eight was the day I had purchased an e-bike tour. Manly Beach is a beach situated among the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia in Manly, New South Wales and is a place that Sydneysiders recommended seeing.

We got up early on day eight and finished packing and checked out. We had the hotel hold our bags, and they kindly gave us a key to use the gym area later on if we needed to (showers, etc.) as our flight was later at night. I would definitely recommend staying at The Grace Hotel in Sydney; our room was huge and the people were very friendly and helpful. We again went to the French cafe for breakfast, because my theory is when you find something good, you stick with it (see: marriage). They again only had one chocolate croissant, though. How is this even possible? We were there even earlier than the last time when they only had one left! Come to find out the chocolate croissants are not in high demand in Sydney. I was dumbfounded, and the waitress agreed with me that it was crazy they weren’t in higher demand. Those croissants are the bomb. I told Sal he could the lone pastry, since I needed a healthy breakfast before my adventure. He did end up sharing, because he’s a good hubby. And because he was full and still had half left Throwing any portion of that out should be a crime!

The trip to Manly required a ferry ride, which had great views, but it was cold in the morning so I sat indoors and decided on the way back I’d take some photos. I was supposed to meet at the information hut at the wharf, but I was early so I looked around a bit. When it eventually was closer to the meeting time, I asked the young woman at the information desk if she knew about the tour company Blue Bananas. She didn’t. I fleetingly wondered if I had been scammed, as it seemed like a name you’d remember. Ha. I needn’t have worried as I saw a man with a bike standing outside the terminal area, scanning the crowd. Sure enough, it was my guide Richard. I quickly discovered I was the only person on the tour. Sweet! We walked a bit to get to the other (my) bike and ran into a bunch of wild cockatoos.

img_20180629_092836-22699634574387682857.jpg
Nic: this place is bird city. I think you’d sort of hate it.

Continue reading “Sydney: Sick And Manly Beach (Days Seven & Eight)”