After the bustle and unfamiliarity of Indonesia it was nice to touch down in Singapore which is much more westernised than Yogyakarta and Surabaya, cleaner, and more familiar as we have been there before. We were looking forward to a chance to catch up on some domestic chores; laundry, haircuts, travel arrangements for our trip across Europe; and also, to catching up with our friends Mark and Jennifer who live in Singapore. At their suggestion we had booked into the One 15⁰ Marina Club on Sentosa Cove just west of downtown Singapore and very close to where they live. We had a very comfortable room with a balcony overlooking the marina. Continue reading Singapore
Our flight from Bali to Yogyakarta was uneventful and we were met at the airport by our local guide Kodar and his driver Anton who whisked us of to our hotel, The Phoenix a colonial, heritage oasis in a hectic city. We were served drinks and sweet cakes and pastries while we checked in and then shown to our room overlooking the pool. That evening we ate in the hotels courtyard restaurant which proved to be very good and very cheap! I’m sure if we had gone out to a local restaurant it would have been even cheaper but how could we resist 5* luxury and food at £5 for a main course? We decided to order a Phoenix Sling, their version of the gin sling, the house cocktail (£6), to our surprise the bar tender was despatched to our table where she set up a temporary bar to mix the drinks in front of us, so we got a floor show with the cocktail – bargain! The food was excellent and we rounded of the meal with a scoop of coffee ice cream (me) and a sample selection of seven deserts (Mark). Yogya was looking good. Continue reading Yogyakarta, Central Java
Our evening flight to Bali was delayed so we didn’t arrive until late on Wednesday night. Our travel agent had arranged a VIP Meet and Greet service to guide us through immigration on arrival. Sure enough there was a woman waiting for us as we entered the airport, she took us to a pleasant waiting room and went off to collect our luggage then she steered us through customs and immigration with barely a pause for checks; we could still see other passengers from our plane waiting at the luggage carousel! Outside the airport it was mayhem, cars, buses, taxis and people everywhere but our woman knew exactly where our car was waiting and before we knew it we had been introduced to our Guide Agung, and his driver whose name we never caught, and we were on pour way to our hotel. Continue reading Bali
We flew from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then straight on to Ayres Rock, a bus took us to the Desert Gardens Hotel part of the Ayres Rock Resort. There is no town of any sort near the Kata Tjuta and Uluru National Park, just an airport and the resort which have been built to serve the thousands of tourists that visit every year. The resort has two hotels, apartments and a campsite and a ‘town square’ with a bank, café, supermarket and souvenir shop. There is a very efficient system of buses and mini buses which link the different parts of the resort and ferry visitors on an extensive range of excursions into the desert. As we drove from the airport we were surprised how green everywhere looked, we had expected parched red dirt, apparently after 11 years of drought there has been a very wet winter here and there was unseasonal heavy rain last week (72mm in 36 hours in some places) so the desert has burst to life, this is a very rare site so we are lucky to have timed our visit to coincide. One guide told us that when it rains hard waterfalls run from the top of Uluru, one of her colleagues had seen this happen four times in fifteen years, she has seen it eight times in six months.
Our trip to Kangaroo Island started early with a 0600 pick-up from our hotel. The drive to Cape Jervis took about an hour and a half, during which we saw lots of wild kangaroos, and from there we caught a ferry for the 45-minute crossing to Penneshaw where we met up with the rest of our 12-strong tour group. During the crossing we spotted a pod of dolphins playing at the bow of the ferry. Kangaroo Island is the third largest island off the coast of Australia, it is about 165km long and is renown as a pristine wilderness landscape; industry on the island is mainly agriculture, tourism, and fishing. Our two-day tour would take us to see several local businesses, wildlife sites, and natural wonders. Continue reading Kangaroo Island
We enjoyed our few days in Adelaide, it reminded us of Melbourne, the same friendly relaxed atmosphere, pretty parks, great shopping, free buses, and trams and plenty of nice cafés and restaurants. We have gotten in to a routine when we visit new cities, we walk a lot, it is a great way to get a feel for a place and to see some of the sights. One up shot of this has been Marks shoes wearing out!! We had to set aside a morning to visit Rundall Mall, a pedestrianised shopping street currently festooned with Christmas decorations and pop up Christmas shops, to buy a new pair. While out shopping we spotted a branch of Koko Black the lovely chocolate shop we visited in Melbourne, we couldn’t resist dropping in for a mug of their excellent hot chocolate but it still didn’t feel like Christmas. Continue reading Adelaide 1
After Terry and Jenny left we had another week in Melbourne. We enjoyed the luxury of being in one place for an extended period and got in to a routine of going to the market to shop for supper and stopping for coffee in one of the many cafes nearby (we particularly enjoyed an Italian café that served homemade cake made with chestnut flour and flavoured with rosemary and pinenuts). We did two more city walks; one took us through the parks and around Treasury Place where all the state government offices are based, another took us along the river to Docklands and back along the opposite bank with spectacular views of the city skyline. We took a tram out to Waterfront City, a new dockland development which is going to be very impressive but which is still under development, still it was nice to see it.