A winter’s tale on North island

If you were to read the essay of our journey to North Island New Zealand, you would know that it is as far from our little red dot as it would be to the UK. This piece of geographical fact was lost on us when we first made this journey.

First, it is good to know that this was a piece of godsend. Mel had dined in a local chain restaurant and entered into a lucky dip. Of all of his colleagues who were with him, it was only he who won a free pair of air tickets to – you guessed it – New Zealand!

With this auspicious start, it made budgeting for this journey more palatable financially, given that Mel was still progressing to complete his part-time degree studies. Yup, it was work and study! So like younger folks today who yearn to get out there even with limited budget, Mel & Suan scrimped and saved for this…

And soon, we were in New Zealand. On the first of a lifetime of travels together.

It was the island of ice and fire that we had journeyed to. The steaming ground reminds us that the earth is still active beneath us. Very. In fact hot springs were quite common, which in hindsight now, we are surprised there aren’t more “Onsen” like places on the North Island then. Perhaps folks were not eager to have hot naked baths, though we did see a few nudists at one of them hot springs…What did Mel & Suan see and do on their maiden voyage together? Read here to find out!

Have you been to New Zealand’s north island?

Delightful Sydney

Ah yes Sydney…when one thinks about the city, what springs to mind would be the iconic images of the opera house and harbor bridge. Especially when they are lighted up for an festive explosion of lights and colors.

This post brings us back. Quite some time back. It harks back to a time when Mel & Suan had just gotten hitched (officially) and were busy enjoying the marital bliss, which by the way is still ongoing (we wrote about this).

Now you need to know that when we made this journey, there was little in the way of information available on the web, which was at its nascent stage. Thus the majority of planning for the journey was performed “offline” (hard to imagine now huh?), searching what we could from travel booths at travel fairs, or dropping in at the tourist office of the country one intended to visit – if one existed. Remember doing this?

Of course we had help. In the form of folks who lived in Australia. They gave lots of advise too and we gratefully lapped it up. But still, we have to say that we arrived in Sydney relatively unprepared for the details though big on ideas of what we wanted to see and do… being young and invincible… eager to just hit the city and make the itinerary up as we got along. Quite unlike how we are now inaundated with information on what to do/see/eat don’t you think?

There are certainly many reasons to keep returning to Sydney. Our reminisce (here) would tell you so. Have you been to Sydney? What did you like about it?

Well, this wraps up our Australian series. Next up, the land of the Kiwis…

Rockhampton, well…rocks!

Just to give you a clue, getting to Rockhampton was not a leisure journey. Well at least not on paper if you know what we mean. But the question we want to pose to you is : how would you like to be asked to go on an all expense paid excursion for 3 full weeks?

First, some geography.

Rockhampton is a city on the coast of Queensland, the state on the northeast corner of the continental sized island. It is known as the capital of beef. Normally not on the radar of most travelers, it is nevertheless a significant sized city. Now what in the world would one be there for?

Well, for one thing Mel was called up. Reserved, booked, whatever one calls it – by the army. You see before he can get his watch and end his reserve duties, he had to perform one more act of service for the country. And so he left Suan behind for the all-expense paid “vacation”. Read all about his little ‘time out’ here. Unfortunately there are other things which cannot be shared (otherwise we will have to “silence” you…heheh).

One thing though. The entire stretch of coast along Queensland is alluring. It beckons to you. Have you seen instagram photos of the islands and reefs? Incredible! While we have done the Great barrier reef from Cairns, we dream of doing a road trip that spans from Brisbane till well north of Cairns.

Have you done this drive? Do you have any tips to share?

Swim in the Great Barrier reef!

With our little red dot relatively close to Australia (proximity wise), it’s no wonder that it should be one of the top destinations not just for study but also for travel too. And especially with the Australian unit coming down to almost parity with the Singapore dollar, things have gotten “cheaper” by default, just like they have across the causeway.

But we digress.

Grea Barrier reef mapThis post is about the Great Barrier reef. We are sure you have heard about it. How can you not! While it is not a single contiguous reef, it is made up of many adjoining ones, said to be collectively the largest in the world.

For one thing we all should be concerned for the reefs. In recent years, quite a significant portion of it was affected by climate change leaading to warmer temperatures of the water. This caused bleaching – you know, corals turning white and dying since they are sensitive to the temperature.

And then there is the threat of pollution from both mineral extraction and agriculture. The runoff from land laden with chemical wastes poison the waters too!

The featured picture shows a leaping salt water crocodile. No, we did not snorkel with this fella. It would be too much excitement…Not only did we enjoyed the reefs from Cairns, we also explored the surrounding natural sights. Find out what we did in this essay.

Have you been to the reefs? Will you make plans to return soon?

Outback adventures

Heheh. Sounds like the name of a travel business the title of this post is…and though normally we write in jest (such as this one), this post is not one of them. Awe…we hear you, but we have to get serious sometimes right?

If one reads our about section, you’d know that we (Mel & Suan) have been travel buddies for more than 20 years. And if one reads the handprint stories we have shared thus far, one could think that these are two rather privileged travellers! But there was a time when we were on the lower rungs of society trying to navigate our way to a better life.

And we were once young and adventurous too…

So this reminisce is all about our little trek out of Perth made many years back. The Outback. Even to this day, this word might evoke visions of remoteness, vastness and perhaps emptiness. Well, we’ll show you! And we are pretty sure our Australian friends will agree. There is a lot out there! Aside from minerals that is.

In this handprint story, we want to remind you that it should not just be the beautiful cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide that one visit and write about. It’s also not just the coasts of Queensland that one should crow about too. The outback has its charms and deserves a lot more attention than it is currently getting.

What are your outback adventures like?

PS: Aussies may be excluded from the question on outback adventures. We assume you must had too many to tell! LOL…

Getting out of Perth

No, we are suggesting that you don’t go to Perth. It is a nice city. Perhaps it has grown a lot bigger, busier, more crowded since we last set foot there. We like to think about it as – taking a break that includes being outside of Perth.

Why?

Because there are simply so many things to see and do outside of the city. You know that already. But a word of warning. Being situated on the western coast of West Australia state, the distances will be long and the journeys could be a little stifling especially in the summer heat. So choose the time of your visit carefully…

This post is a link to a reminisce of our journey taken many years back. And in some ways we think it is still relevant to share. Because it was made in the early innings of our travel “career” together. Hmm…travel career…sounds catchy doesn’t it? Some people work all their lives building one – you know, a career in some trade or business function. But we seem to have built one out of traveling!

And you would also know that in work life there are some experiences or things one did that led to recognition (promotions, bonus, raises etc). So what got us ‘promoted’ in our travel career? We think it was this journey that provided the big break in our career, of traveling that is.

What was your travel career enhancing journey?