Sep 212017
 

The third full day in Sydney dawned with absolutely perfect weather – almost 20C – warm enough for another coastal hike in nothing but a t-shirt and shorts. Considering the average Sydney weather this time of year, I was getting super lucky! Caught the bus out to Coogee to start the Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk. The view was pretty spectacular right from the start:

The great thing about winter is, the beaches are empty and it’s a much more peaceful walk – especially on a weekday. Not saying that’s necessarily an advantage, but that combined with the cooler weather compared to summer did make it a much quicker hike.

Warning! Birds swooping! Australia! Fear Everything!

One of my favourite coves on the walk:

Ocean, hills, rocks, it was a gorgeous day to be out just walking and enjoying some nature.

Selfie along the coast.

The waves had really kicked up, and there were quite a few surfers out as well despite the super cool water.

Waverley Cemetery, right on the coast. Thousands of graves…

Tombstone, vegetation, and the Pacific Ocean:

Rounding Bronte Beach:

Bright blue water, smooth sand, perfect weather…

Last stop before Bondi is Tamarama Beach, and decided to stop for a coffee and cookie after a couple hours of walking and just enjoy the perfect day.

Coming around Mackenzies Point…

The waves were really going at this point, and the view was spectacular.

One last shot looking south to where the walk had begun. Crashing waves under the rocks:

The Bondi Icebergs Pool, right up against the ocean…

Stopped for lunch at Bondi Trattoria, after having such an amazing meal there a few months ago. They had changed chefs in the meantime and the meal was still amazing, but wasn’t quite the same as previously. The Angel hair with barely touched tuna, zucchini, rocket, chilli, lemon, and capers was still fantastic, however.

So what else did I do with my last two days? Not a whole lot other than relaxing and walking around. One evening, took the train out to Sydenham to go to Batch Brewing Company, which was fantastic. This might be one of the best tasting flights I’ve ever had:

Other than that, not a whole lot. Also went for tastings at Wayward Brewing Company another night, which was equally awesome. One of the best things about both Batch and Wayward was getting to see a part of the city that it looked like few tourists ever make it to. They both felt like they were in much more industrial neighbourhoods, and it was nice to see places off the tourist trail.

With that said, four days in Sydney came to a close way, way too quickly, and it was time to start the long trek home…with several fun stops in between, of course!

Feb 242017
 

It was already late when we landed in Hong Kong, and by the time I took the airport express into the city and checked into my hotel – the W Hong Kong – I was still full enough from eating on the plane that I wasn’t really feeling dinner. Decided instead to go have a good walk around to stretch out the legs and grab a few drinks before checking in for the night.

The W had upgraded to me to a nice suite with ice cold air conditioning, but even with this the jetlag was catching up to me and I was up nice and early in the morning. I went to bed telling myself I wasn’t going to set an alarm just to get up and see the sunrise, but jetlag conspired to wake me up early anyways, so off I went.

I had seen on FlyerTalk from someone who did a similar trip to mine just a couple weeks before that sunrise on The Peak could be awesome, so I caught an Uber up to the top to see if I could see it. Unfortunately, my Uber got slightly lost, so by the time I found the path, the first signs of sunrise were already out. Still was a very dark walk for the first part down to the observation point.

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Sun just moments away from breaking the horizon, with a great view of Hong Kong Harbour.

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Sunrise over Hong Kong, framed by a small tree.

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It’s a beautiful day….

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The sunrise cast a nice glow over some of the skyscrapers.

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Pro tip from Google – ask your taxi/Uber to take you to the top of Lugard Road, and follow it to the observation point.

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Rather than head back the way I came, I decided to walk down from the Peak. I would regret this the next day, with extremely sore calves and glutes from all the downhill.

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Part of the “Morning Trail” down from the Peak.

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Fortunately, we were heading downhill, because I was really starting to feel it in my legs. Just about when I was realizing I wasn’t 21 any more, we passed the Fitness Corner for the Elderly. All these flavours Hong Kong and you had to choose to be salty?!

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Trail eventually ended at the University of Hong Kong, where I had a nice wander through the campus.

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Sun Yat Sen meditation pond.

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Seniors doing Tai Chi in the middle of campus.

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…and I found Starbucks. Perfect end to a nice hike, sitting outside in the cool weather enjoying some coffee.

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After this decided a bit more walking was in order, so walked for another hour or so all the way to the Star Ferry pier. I hadn’t taken the Star Ferry in years, so figured since I was out playing tourist I might as well make the most of it.

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After the ferry docked I ended up taking a short nap while the iDevices recharged, and then it was off for some lunch. I wanted to go back to the Island for lunch, and debated taking the train, but it was so nice out that I decided another ride on the Star Ferry was in order. Heading back to Tsim Sha Tsui:

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Grabbed lunch a fun little brewpub I like called The Roundhouse which serves amazing brisket, then, a bit of wandering the chaotic streets of Hong Kong:

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Taking the mid-levels elevators:

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Typical Hong Kong street scene:

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After a couple more hours of walking, it was back on the crammed rush hour subway to my hotel:

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Met up with a friend for dinner near the hotel before crashing relatively early. It had been a really early morning, and I had to be up very early again the next morning to catch my flight to Singapore. It had been a wonderfully active day, and I forgot how much I’ve missed visiting destinations where you can just spend the entire day walking around. You can’t really do that in Afghanistan, Congo, etc…

Next up, Singapore First Class to Australia!

Sep 122012
 

My guide/driver picked me up right on time the next morning for the roughly two hour drive into the interior of Suriname (around 120-150 km or so) and into the edges of the Amazon Rainforest. My company for the day was a Dutch lady who had been born in Suriname and her two young sons. The plan was to stop along the way to get lunch at a small roadside Surinamees/Indonesian snack joint and then head into the park where we’d lunch before starting a several hour hike into the park.

The drive to the park wasn’t too bad, except for the last 20km or so, which took well over an hour to cover. It was a nasty potholed dirt road, and when I say potholes, we’re talking 1-2 feet deep and filled with mud and water most of the time! However, we made it to the park just fine and were ready for lunch.

I still don’t remember the name of what I ordered for lunch, but it was a soup with pulled chicken in it along with lots of spices and a bag of rice and other condiments…including a hard boiled egg, to mix in. Quite tasty! While eating at some tables in the park, we were rewarded with some fantastic views.

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Jul 172012
 

Landed in Dominica, and that’s where the drama started. Immigration was a snap, and soon found the small shack/hut that housed the rental car companies. Went over to the Avis “desk” (which, seriously, is an overstatement. It’s a small wooden podium, with a rather nice, but disinterested man who may or may not be behind it.) Nope, no reservation. Showed it to him. “Oh, how interesting. Can’t help you.” He had no car, and while he could get me one from another agency, no matching the rate, etc etc. Chatted with the (much more) helpful lady from the other agency, and she told me for what I was doing in Dominica, I would be much better with her “friend’s” taxi. He would take me round-trip to my resort, and make sure things were happy….all for the same price as my rental car. Since I only planned to hike and chill here, I went with it.

I’d chosen to stay at the Hotel Beau Rive – and in summary – it was an awesome choice.  I normally prefer locations much more in the middle of it all.  Places to go out to eat, walking distance to cool things to see, etc etc.  You get the idea.  Beau Rive?  Well, it was absolutely none of this.  What it was, however, was set in the middle of Dominica’s awesome natural beauty with the most amazing hosts and staff you could ask for.  This is all made very clear on their website, online reviews, etc.  If you’re not ready for an “at home” atmosphere, pets on premesis who are quite friendly, and a home away from home…this isn’t the place for you.  Yet, despite being from from my normal “style” I absolutely loved it here.  I’ll go into more details, but the pics will do much more talking here.

My taxi driver was awesome….on the approximately one hour drive to Beau Rive he told me all about his island, the people, the locations…it was like a mini guided tour.  Plus, the roads were seriously harpin and pretty tricky.  Much less stressful not to drive on them!  Got to the hotel, checked in (I was one of two rooms occupied!) and immediately took this awesome shot from my room’s balcony:

Another shot from the hotel’s veranda:

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