How great is the Ocean road?

Did you know that the Apostles of the Great Ocean road fame could have been named “the sow and her piglets”?? Yep. Interesting ways the Aussies come up with names of places. Would that have made the road less “great”? You tell us.

Yippee! We are now onto our Australian series.

Not quite the “The flying doctors” or “Home and away”…heheh, but six (yes 6) handprint stories about the traipsing we have made in the land down under. How do we know about these Aussie drama serials? Well, they did broadcast some of them here in the little red dot long ago. Or as we’d say it here, when policemen wore shorts (they really did – khakis in the 50s & 60s). Heheh, that makes us sound vintage…but we digress. By  the way, it was our grandfathers who watched them and we, as children sneaked in for  peek.

So back to the road.

Why is it that they call it the Great Ocean Road. Because for us it seems strange when it is mostly single lane all along its 243km (well quote Wiki). At least that was the impression when we first got on the B100, aka – the road. What can you see along this great road? What can you do? Will you find anything nice to eat?

Why certainly!

Our little adventure (here) along this stretch of coastal road left us wishing to come back. Wouldn’t you?

Go road tripping in Japan

Mel had a conversation with a colleague one day. The topic was travel (of course) and invariably it veered into how we (ie Mel and Suan) explore the destinations that we journey to. For the most part, we do not drive in cities or in countries where self drive can be tricky due to the traffic etc or hard to rent (that’s only a few countries) – but…

For the rest, it’s fair game. Give Mel a rental and we will brave the open roads.

So it was a curious thing to hear : “my husband has a phobia of driving overseas” or “he feels it’s not safe to drive outside of Singapore”. As if it was ever that safe driving on the roads of the little red dot especially with recent incidents of folks driving in the wrong direction…consolation – well perhaps it’s kind of ‘safer’?

Getting a rental in Japan

In this day and age it is a surprise that many still do not consider this to be an option high on the list of choices – mode of transport that is in Japan outside the large cities. We are not advocating driving per se and are not paid by auto companies, but if one were to travel…

First up, it’s surprisingly affordable. At our favorite N*ssan, you can rent a compact for about ¥7,000 per day. This translates to a 1.4 litre N*ssan N*te. Enough horsepower to bring you to the mountains. And it comes with the GPS built into the car, so you don’t pay extra. There are other sites such as Toc*, but they carry additional charges and have a hold on your credit card unlike our favorite (no bias here).

Our first rental was in a city called Shirahama (read story here). It is true that for folks driving on the other side of the road it can be intimidating at first. Especially when most of the roadside signage (commercials etc) are not in English. But then you only need to focus on the road – other cars and pedestrians + the traffic lights. Within an hour of driving on the roads in Japan, you’d soon come to know its NO DIFFERENT from anywhere else.

Plan your trip

Obvious step.

There are now many sites on the web that offer advise to craft your own itinerary. It is plain obvious we are biased towards using Google maps. You will see references to embedded maps all over our pages and posts. This is just an example:

For example (above), Suan had mapped out her journeys and saved them, “printing” them into the cloud and referring to them along the way as we drove. Of course it helped that the cars in Japan usually come with in-built GPS devices which meant you can programme in the waypoints ahead of time. And if you are not sure how to do it, just ask the rental agency folks. They will be more than happy to help you find your way and return the car unscathed.

Don’t believe us that it’s fun? Read Traipsy Pixie’s road trip to Shirakawa, one of our to do destinations in Japan. They do the drive too!

Once you have the car and a plan, you’re on the way. Enjoy the fun and the freedom that comes with driving your own. It might be soon when driverless cars become mainstream and ‘take away’ the fun of driving!

We enjoy exploring Japan this way. Will you?


Phuket Journalog, here we go!

It has been almost a month since we did the fantastic road trip in Phuket. Well, more like daily drive excursions, cos’ we were not moving from one location to another. Oh how time flies!

We’ve been on the road since that time as well, thus the journalog has been slow in being completed. As you know, Mel does not like to cut up the journey into separate posts by the day! Besides, we do have a life aside from blogging which we can say is far from not exciting!

So in hindsight, would we have done our road trip any differently?

Yes indeed!! We would have rented the car from day one that we arived in Phuket and expanded our range well outside of the island to Phang-Nga and possibly even towards Krabi! Because all in, it’s within a 100km radius. Perhaps when we return to Phuket in a few years, we could consider that.

And now, we present out road trip to Phuket: here.

Enjoy! And give us your comments. May you have exceedingly good ideas on how to squeeze the most out of your time on this island that some may consider paradise!

The revered American road trip

In a combination of Google maps and his own algorithm, Randy Olson designed what could be the revered American road tripper of a life time. It is an epic drive of approximately 14,500 miles across the length and breadth of the lower 48 and takes ~2 months depending on how fast your drive and how long you stay. This is the same guy who plotted the best drives in Europe.

And that is if you decide to stay on the exact course that Randy has charted.

If you, like us are fond of tinkering with road trip plans, then it is simply a matter of making a copy of the map and reworking it in myMaps, adding or removing national parks or other waypoints as you wish. Could count as a wet dream.

We’ll sure be having lots of fun doing this. Will you?

Marken and Volendam, Zuidersee towns

Before the Zuidersee was closed from the north sea, the shores of the inland sea were already bustling with towns and fishing villages. Unfortunately the fishery industry has mostly moved away, though tourism has came in its wake. Which is probably all good.

Volendam and Marken are two such towns that have capitalized on this industry catering to the hordes of people eager to know what a Zuidersee town looks like. Unbelievable right?

Eventhough we lived in Holland, we are back in this town ever so often. Mostly to visit our favorite fish shop and fill up with ‘haring’ – fresh herring served raw or perhaps lightly smoked (rare). Served with pickle, it is simply heavenly…especially the new catch in the summer! We think this is an easily acquired taste. If we can, so can you!

Who says only the Japanese eat raw fish?

And watching the throngs of tourists come by is yet another activity we enjoy while strolling along the small harbour front. See them awkwardly try on traditional Dutch dress or bargain noisily with the shopkeepers over some souvenir purchase.

It’s all so funny to watch.

Drive the former Zuidersee

Being a large body of water, the Zuidersee has been renamed Ijselmeer and Markermeer referring to the two sections that were carved out with the construction of the Houtribdijk. Road tripping is so much fun with this ‘new’ route (Ok, so it first opened in 1975…) that saves the effort to drive a longer distance around the perimeter.

Especially on the Houtribdijk, you can drive for miles without another car if you are early enough. Stop along the way for a photo stop (redundant right?). It’s so serene and scenic to watch while having a cup of hot tea (Suan) or coffee (Mel). As the Dutch say, het verzicht hei mooi is! And then end up at Lelystad where the outlets could be offering the latest sale…combines sightseeing and shopping (aargh).

Circling around the Markermeer at different times of the year is definitely fun. During winter, the wind shear can really shift your car sideways. Risky? Yeah, but that’s a good driving experience to have under your belt.