Our final stop in Malaysia was George Town on the island of Penang, the journey from Tanah Rata to George Town took us down the mountains and joined the main road running up the west coast, we crossed to the island over a bridge stretching over 13km and drove into the city. George Town is a prosperous modern city with a flourishing tourist trade and a lot of high end apartments for foreigners who spend six months a year there. At the heart of the city is a UNESCO World heritage site covering the old town created by periods of, Portuguese, Dutch and English rule and extensive trading links with India and China; the old city blends buildings, cultures, religions and cuisines from all of these to create a wonderful vibrant town. We were staying at Muntri Mews, an old mews stable block which had housed the horses and carriages of the wealthy families living in townhouses in Muntri Street. The hotel had about 12 rooms arranged on two levels along one side of a courtyard, our room was upstairs, it was quite big with a sitting room area at one end, a bathroom in the middle and a bedroom area at the other end which was dominated by the biggest bed we had ever seen, it stretched from wall to wall and must have been 10 foot across. Sadly, the top sheet was only about 8 foot wide! Continue reading Georgetown
Next stop on out tour of Bali was Ubud inland from the capital Denpesar. Agung picked us up from the hotel in Sanur and provided a running commentary for the journey to Ubud he told us a lot about Balinese society and tradition which was very interesting. Ubud is described as the cultural centre of Bali and, although the town itself is very much focused on the tourist and back packer trade the villages around it are fascinating. Each village seems to have a speciality. We stopped at one which is famous for weaving and batik printing, we saw women creating intricately patterned fabrics on simple wooden looms and others applying wax to fabric prior to dying to create ‘printed’ patterns. Other villages we passed through specialised in woodcarving and stone masonry, all along the roads there were open workshops where we could see men at work and great stock piles of wooden sculptures and concrete and stone statues and architectural decorations. When we arrived in Ubud we checked into the Tepi Sawah hotel just outside the town, it was another small, locally owned hotel oozing with Balinese style. The rooms were located in fairly modern two story blocks situated in lush tropical gardens with paths winding through them to the restaurant, spa and two swimming pools. Our room was on the top floor with a large balcony over-looking the garden and, hidden within it, a rice field. We dropped of our bags and went for a swim, before we knew it it was time for complimentary afternoon tea served in the small restaurant by the pool – very civilised. We also had dinner in that restaurant before heading to bed to catch up after our late night on New Year’s Eve. Continue reading Ubud
Although we had flown from Alice Springs to Ayres Rock we made the return journey by coach. The trip from Ayres Rock direct to Alice is over 500km, and takes about 6 hours with a couple of stops, however our itinerary included a 500km detour for a night at the Kings Canyon Resort and a ‘scenic climb’ at the canyon. We caught the bus and drove for 2 hours along the Lassiter Highway stopping for coffee at Curtain Springs Station, a cattle station which has a simple service station offering food drink, fuel and toilets for people travelling through the outback. Along the way we got a view of Mount Connor, another huge rock rising out of the desert, equally as impressive as Uluru, it is very curious that everyone knows about Uluru but the other rock features never get a mention. At the junction with Luritja Road we rendezvoused with two other coaches for a passenger swap; people heading direct to Alice Springs joined another bus leaving just four of us on the 58-seater heading to Kings Canyon. We moved up to take the seats immediately behind the driver, Tony, who proceeded to entertain us with stories and information about the roads and local characters. One person he told us about was a guy called Len Beadell a surveyor and road builder appointed by the Australian Government to set up a series of rocket testing sites in the 50’s. Tony played a recording of an after-dinner speech Beadell Made in the 80’s, he had an amazing story to tell and a great sense of humour, the journey to Kings Canyon flew past. Continue reading Red Centre – Kings Canyon
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.
Apologies, once again we have been so busy enjoying ourselves we have gotten behind with the blog! We are in Melbourne for two weeks so we will update you from time to time rather than hitting you with one long report.
We were last in Melbourne about 10 years ago and really enjoyed our time here so, as we are now halfway through our trip, and have started heading back towards the UK this seemed like a good place to take a break from moving on every few days. We are staying in a studio apartment near to the city centre, in particular we are near Victoria Market, a fantastic market similar to the Boqueria Market we visited in Barcelona in April. Continue reading Melbourne Part 1
From Queenstown, we drove across to Dunedin on the east coast, taking a detour from the main road to visit a small, pretty, historic town called Clyde on the way. Dunedin, named after Edinburgh, is the oldest city in NZ, the drive was as scenic as ever, lakes, mountains, plains and vineyards, we are starting to get blasé about the wonderful scenery!! We stopped on our way to pick up some crisps and beer to enjoy while we watched the American election results come in, filled with hope and confidence Mark picked up a bottle of Sparkling wine to celebrate… more of that later! Continue reading Dunedin
The drive to Christchurch was once again very pretty, we drove south through farm land and started to see lots more sheep and some very large herds of cows. We didn’t stop for breakfast in Kaikoura, we decided to get on our way and keep a lookout for somewhere to stop en route, we were keen to get to Christchurch in time to have a look around. We passed through a couple of little towns but didn’t see anywhere interesting, then in what felt a bit like the middle of nowhere we saw a sign for the Mainline Station Café, we rounded the bend and there it was an historic wooden station building looking very welcoming. We stopped and went in to find a lovely, cosy old fashion station café still serving breakfast! The staff were friendly and the coffee and food excellent (as we are coming to expect in NZ) it was exactly what we were looking for and in just the right spot. We had a chance to look at a photo album showing how the station building had been moved from the railway line to its current location next to the main highway, it has been lovingly restored and a garden created alongside. Continue reading Christchurch