Archive for March, 2007

by Jim
on Mar 30th, 2007

Friday News

I’ve nothing of interest to report. For the past 3 weeks I’ve basically just worked late, ate simply, and slept randomly. This has been my plan though, because things being turned upside down at work were scheduled perfectly to coincide with Angela’s trip, so I figured I might as well go flat out for a few weeks before returning to normalcy.

Since I have nothing to report, I’ll tell you what being reported, at least on talk radio. These are a few of the bigger stories in the past couple weeks:

  • Cricket World Cup, and not just the murders and corrupt side of the sport. Cricket is a distant second to rugby in NZ, but world cup action is still big news. NZ is doing well, BTW. Percentage of sports coverage devoted to the NCAA Tournament: 0%.
  • The proposed “Anti-Smacking” bill. Smacking is spanking, and if some have their way it might not be allowed in NZ. Take a controversial bill like that and then have the ruling Labour government trying to rush it through parliament under an urgency motion, and you’ve got a fine mess.
  • PM Helen Clark visits the U.S. Did you know she was just in town? She met with Bush for two hours, didn’t get her free trade agreement and was reminded that while not being in the “nuclear family”, NZ was still a very good friend of the US. And she got to meet the CEO of Microsoft, which was probably more fun. (She even took back some Maori heads from the Chicago Field Museum)
  • Ribena, a hugely popular drink in NZ, was absolutely pummeled this week after admitting that some of their juices have little or no vitamin C, despite their aggressive “this stuff is good for your kid because of all the vitamin C” campaign. Good Job, GlaxoSmithKline. The kicker: the finding came from a couple of varsity students working on a science project 😉 )

Ah, such a nice break from depressing war news and incessant campaign coverage. Have a good weekend.

by Angela
on Mar 21st, 2007


I must have planned my trip on the busiest time of the year for Australia. When I was in Melbourne, my trip coincided with Formula 1 Grand Prix and FINA World Swimming Championship. Now in Adelaide, it is the Police and Fire Games 2007 where participants (police or firemen) from all around the world meet up for the events. One of my room mate is with the Brisbane Fire Brigade and she was in the dragon boat race and the lawn bowling event (what a combination of events 🙂 ). She told me that her team lost the lawn bowling event to a bunch of old Malaysians who apparently have played the game for the past 20 years. She and her team only started 3 months ago ;-).

Well, today I took a bus to Handorf. It is a German Settlement in the early 19 century. It’s always in the travel books and brochures. I was not too impress by the town. It’s good for a lunch stop or a cup of coffee but not a place to spend the whole day. I had a “Berliner Custard” which is pretty much a donut filled with custard and it was good. Then I walked along the main street and stopped at Handorf Inn hotel for lunch. Beef and burgundy pie was on the menu and I remember reading about it in my Taste magazine. Unfortunately, the pie was not even close to the pies that are available in Christchurch, NZ. So I walked on after that and took a bus back into town.

Next stop was Port Adelaide. I like this town. It was an old working wharf and had a lot of character. It was easy to walk towards the town center since there is a light house at the edge of the town center. As I walked along the main street, there were a number of Victorian style buildings on both sides of the streets. They are now the town hall, tourist information center, little inns and cafes. There are also a couple of museums in town but I only patronized the maritime museum. Along the wharf are old sail boats, parked by the light house. The wharf here has essentially been replaced by the one called Outer Harbour. After walking around town, I took the train back to Adelaide.

The following day I took a tour called Coorong Adventure.  It is a boat cruise that goes around Coorong National Park and takes me to the mouth of Murray River.  I was picked from my YHA (Youth Hostel) at 9am.  The tour guide was an older gentlemen name “Barry”.  He was a good guide, both entertaining and knowledgeable.  He drove me and another older couple from California (who participated in the Police and Fire 2007 Games, won silver in golf) from Adelaide to Goolwa.  We then hopped on the boat and off we go.  It was a hot sunny day and as  a result of sitting on the top deck of the boat, I (the Malaysian who never ever get sunburn) got sun burn on my back.  I saw a lot of birds  (Australian Pelican, Cape Baron Geese, Siberian something something, ducks and other birds).  They were just at the sand bar sunning themselves. 

The boat took us up to the mouth of Murray River where it meets Southern Ocean.  There is a large dredger there pumping sand out of the enclosed bay.  Each time the waves hits, it brings in a lot of sand.  At one point the water was so salty and shallow there weren’t much alive in the area.  The Australian government is trying to preserve the eco system there and was said that birds and fishes are gradually coming back to the area.

Site Note:  I am waiting for my flight to Alice Springs at the Qantas Club.  It is nice not to have to pay for internet for a change!.  It was AUD$4 for 30 minutes at the Y.

On Thursday night I decided to join Renee (the Aussie lady fire fighter) to the Games Village.  I was interested to see what the Games Village was about.  So we walked there from the Y, it’s only 5 minutes away.  There is a concert everynight since the games started.  Some of the police/fire fighters mentioned that “The Angels” were playing the night before.  Well,  as far as rock/pop music vocabulary goes,  i have no clue who the Angels were (i presume some old band,.. will google it soon).  Anyway the village is pretty much a socializing place for the participants of the games.  The concert was ongoing until past midnight and beer seem to be flowing everywhere.  I don’t know whether it makes a difference when a bunch of police/fire fighters gets drunk.  The aussies are really friendly and relax (with a little help from alcohol ;-)).  I had a good time chatting, felt a little out of place but still fun.  I was in the catergory of tag along room mate which is probably 1% out of the hundreds of participants there.  I stayed until a little before midnight, lost my roommate in the crowd and started looking for her.  After looking around, I decided it was impossible to pick her out of the hundreds of people and decided to leave.  I walked back to the Y and fell asleep almost instantly.  I woke up the next morning and found Renee in the other bunk bed.  We had a good laugh since neither of us could find each other among the crowd.  That was a nice experience, I have not been amoung so many fire fighters and police in my life.  One thing I notice is none of them, talked about their work……. 

Visited: Handorf, Glenelg Beach, Coorong, Goolwa, Murray River, Chinatown, Port Adelaide.

by Angela
on Mar 20th, 2007


Photos of Sydney and Melbourne posted on Flickr.

by Jim
on Mar 19th, 2007

Word of the Day: lahar

300h.jpgI didn’t know what a lahar was until I came to New Zealand, but in the last couple of months I’ve been hearing a lot about the Mt. Ruapehu lahar. In the case of Mt. Ruapehu, part of a lake wall was formed during a recent (12 years ago) eruption. The wall had been stable enough to allow a lot a water to accumulate, but geologists knew it was going to burst sooner or later.

Now it has. The scientists’ predictions were for the Feb-Mar time frame, so they get full points for accuracy (unlike their meteorological brothers). No one was hurt, and the monitoring equipment installed to deliver warnings of the impending breach apparently worked. Aside from being an interesting natural phenomenon, the Mt. Ruapehu lahar got/gets a lot of attention because it caused one of New Zealand’s world disasters. The 1953 Tangiwai disaster left 151 people dead when the lahar damaged a railway bridge, resulting in an express train plummeting to the river below. Today’s lahar caused only some flooding and a lot of media coverage.

by Angela
on Mar 18th, 2007

OExp: Melbourne (2nd Stop)

Well, I haven’t had a chance to write a blog for the past two days.  Lena and I have had a marathon tour of Melbourne.  We spent most of the time walking in the city and going “oooh!!” and “aaahhh” of how fantastic the sights along Yarra river in the middle of the city looks like and the twelve apostle along the Great Ocean Road.  The view from both areas were just amazing during sun set.  I have a couple of pictures that I shall post soon.  Lena left for Sydney this morning and will head back to Penang tomorrow.  Jim will be with me for the next day or so.  I also had the opportunity to meet up with Jan Ning (childhood friend) whom I have not seen for almost 12 years.  I had the most wonderful time catching up with her.  Ooops running out of internet time again.  To be continued….

When we first arrived at Melbourne Avalon Airport,  the Sun bus dropped us of at the Southern Cross station (formerly known as spencer station).  I then had to enquire on how to get a tram or train to the Magnolia Court Boutique Hotel.  I stopped at the ticket counter for directions on how to pick up a tram.  I asked the ticket sales person how one would wait for the tram and the answer was ” Just stand in the middle of the street!!” .  Without knowing how the tram works… standing in the middle of a busy city street wasn’t my idea of getting anywhere fast.  I asked again.. are you sure… and got the same answer again.  Nevertheless, Lena and I walked along the streets and attempted to stand at a little stop sign in the middle of the road.  It was the right place to flag the tram but unfortunately with the Formula 1 Grand prix in town, some of the trams downtown were rerouted.  So… after dinking around we decided the subway was the way to go, no more standing in the middle of the street with 30C beating on us and lugging our luggage all over.  So we walked back to Southern Cross station, hopped on a train and took it to Jolimont station.  In 5 minutes we were  at our stop.  Lena gave me the classic look of “I told you so” 😉

On my final day in Melbourne, I bought a ticket to the FINA World Swimming Championship at Rod Laver Arena.  I really wanted to watch the swimming heats but it does not begin until April 25th and I would not be around until then.  Being adamant and wanting to watch a world class competition, I bought the tickets for synchronize swimming.  I only got to watch the preliminary session and as usual Russia came up on top, followed by Japan, Spain and then USA.    The Rod Laver Arena is the stadium used for Australian Open Tennis Championship.  The stadium can actually be converted into a world class swimming pool.  Sitting in the arena, I could hardly tell it was a tennis court.

I am writting this blog from Melbourne Airport,  next stop is Adelaide.

by Angela
on Mar 14th, 2007

OExp:Sydney (1st stop:Day 3,4)

Day 3

First stop on Day 3 is Sydney Fish Market.  I was keen on going to see the Fish Auction.  The website for SFM, says the auction starts at 7am.  We arrived (my sister Lena and I) at 9:30am, but the auction was over.   Nevertheless, the shops in SFM had almost all the fresh catch of the day.  I am sure the best/pricest fish probably went to top notch restaurants but all the same, I can’t tell which is really the best.  All of the fish, lobster, crabs, oysters, scallops, prawns, and etc looks really fresh.  One of the store owner shocked an oyster for us to see. 

Sydney Fish Market

Next stop, Sydney Aquarium.  It was just ok compared to the ones I’ve seen before so nothing to shout about.

Day 4

It was a rainy day, it drizzled from morning till evening.  Our first stop was the Blue Mountains at Katoomba.  We stopped at Scenic World and took the steepest rail into the valley.  We rode on a cable car back up.  The cable car took us right past the Three Sister Rock formation but we could not see it at all.  It was so misty up in the mountains we only had about 50m of visibility.  I resorted to buying a postcard of the Three sisters and then checking it off my checklist!…. “Been there, Done that, Didn’t see it!!”  So don’t expect any pictures of Three Sisters.

Next stop Jenolan Caves.  This was a brilliant stop.  About six months ago, scientist redated the Lucas Cave and found that it was formed at least 350million years ago.  So I visited the oldest cave system in the world (until another scientist says otherwise).  The cave is all above ground.  We have to walk a long series of staircases up into the Dividing Range.  We saw the usual stalactite and stalacmite,  a river flowing below the chambers,  a large cathedral (high unsupported ceiling).  The guide told us that this is not the largest cave system with the biggest unsupported ceiling.  The largest one is in Malaysia 😉 in Borneo.  Funny,  came all the way to Australia to see one of the biggest caves only to find out that the one back home is the greatest!.  Oh well, it was still very impressive and I thoroughly enjoyed walking through each chambers. I will post a picture of it soon!

by Angela
on Mar 11th, 2007

OExp: Sydney (1st Stop)

Day 1:
I arrived at Sydney about 8am and by the time I got my luggage and subway ticket to King Cross, it was almost 9am. The metro rail as they call it in Sydney is pretty nice, not as clean as Singapore’s but still very comfortable and efficient. I popped out from the subway at KingCross station. King Cross has been known to be the more shady sort of town. True to its reputation, I appeared from the subway station standing right in front of a strip club “Striptease” (how original ;-)). There were more along the street, with names such as Ba-da-Bing, Porky’s…(why?…). I stopped at the Formula 1 hotel to check in and off I go. I spent the whole day just walking around King Cross, Woolloomooloo, and Potts Point. Had the most delicious lunch (“Hot dog on de wheels” was the name). I’ll post a picture of it later. There are only 3 mins left to the internet service (it’s 2AUD for 20mins). I’ll complete this blog later…. to be.. continued.


dscn0090.JPG King Cross suburb.

Attractions visited: Botanical Garden, New South Wales Art Gallery, Hyde Park, Woolloomoolloo wharf.

Hot Dog On De Wheels

Lunch: Hotdog $AUD4.95 from Harry’s Cafe on De Wheels.
The hot dog had chilli, grilled onions, smash peas (i know .. must be an aussie thing), hot dog, bun and hot sauce. I only had 2 bites of the hot dog before the meat fell onto the ground!. Well, the rest that’s left still tasted pretty good 😉

Day 2:
Visited: Paddington market, Chinatown Market, Sydney Aquarium, The Rocks.
Lunch: Dim Sum, Dinner: Fried Chicken and Chips.

by Jim
on Mar 10th, 2007

A reason to pause, and then buy

Guide BiscuitsHooray! It’s Girl Scout cookie time in NZ. Of course the first time around I was clueless to this since the sign hanging on the horse paddock fence, “Guide Biscuits Next Sat. “, was completely misunderstood by me. Fortunately Angela, herself a former Girl Guide, provided translation. (And I thought ‘Biscuits’ was the name of the horse. Darn.)

The Guide Biscuits only come in a couple of flavors, and none are as good as thin mints (mmmm, thin mints), but they’re still tasty. And ubiquitous, with little sales tents blanketing the nation on weekends. That they’re gone in a few days makes them pretty much irresistible, just like back home.

Yes, finally the pictures of Agra, Jaipur and the Bandipur National Park in Mysore, India are on Flickr. So those places are some of my weekend stopovers. I had a great time in India and met a couple of really good friends. They traveled with me and their company will be missed on my travels to Australia. Enjoy the pictures and lookout for blogs from Australia.

Taj Mahal, Agra and Jaipur, Rajasthan

Bandipur National Park, Mysore

Next »

visitors from:

Locations of visitors to this page