Friday, January 18, 2013

Bridal High Tea

This is a little belated, but it was specially requested by Deli so here you go. 

Back in the busy week between Christmas and New Years, after somehow convincing Adele that she really wanted to participate in some very dodgy acting for TAFE assignment I'd long been procrastinating over, we got into our pretty dresses and headed for the Hilton Hotel in the city. Were soon joined by several other classy ladies and were escorted to our table to celebrate Maggie's Bridal High Tea.

Started off, of course, with a glass of champers, and lots of chatting and gossiping as we ladies are known to do. Had a browse of the tea bar which had samples of all the various teas available to order. I got a pot of cinnamon tea which was pretty darn tasty I must say.

Amid lots more chatting and gossiping (we do so love it!), the food came out. So much food! We all got a tower of delectable little treats to share between 3 of us, with goodies including salmon and cucumber sandwiches, prosciutto, spinach and cheese tarts, curried egg puffs, scones with jam and cream, walnut cake, various cupcakes, fruit custard tarts, and macaroons.

Stayed chatting away and struggling to fit more food in until well after the hotel's official tea time had ended (they were very nice and didn't boot us out...though they did eventually resort to turning lights off in our area. We rather failed to take that hint). Finally headed off armed with our little jars full of marshmallows from the Maid of Honour who also did a great job of organising a lovely afternoon. Thanks Nat!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pearl Land

With a big exciting weekend approaching (very long awaited wedding of some good friends is here at last!!), here is another nostalgic blog from China. This was from a few months into my time in Zhuhai when we all decided to check out the theme park outside the city. There was a really fancy looking roller coaster that could be seen from the road, but I'm still yet to find anyone that ever actually saw it in operation and so can only conclude it was used to lure people in. Anyway, it was a unique place, I have to give it that :P


So on Thursday after winning a small victory over a scheduling conflict with TPR admin, Hanne and I met Kim, Caris, Ashley, Brandy, Amanda, Anny and Kevin at the school and headed out to Pearl Land, an amusement park just out of town. Kind of reminded me of the end of National Lampoon's Vacation because there were hardly any people there (we actually had to stand around trying to round people up because they wouldn't run one of the rides with less than 15 people) but it meant no lines for anything so it was all good. 

Spent a while indulging in China's favourite national past time (posing for photos with the random collection of animal, cartoon character and old west statues scattered around the park) and then took a couple trips on the roller coaster (securely strapped in as we were with one old seatbelt looped around our shoulders). Took a spin on the worlds slowest (and hottest) ferris wheel from which we got a great view of the rest of the park and the rarely seen Chinese suburbia and then went on a couple kids rides and the carousel which ended abruptly when the ride operator got sick of all the pole dancing (not me for the record).
Went on a couple fast show rides that were pretty fun. Luckily we were properly strapped in this time and let me tell you, nothing makes you feel more confident about being thrown up in the air and spun upside down than looking down at your harness to see a giant "Made in China" label on it. The rides pretty much went downhill from there. There was a log ride on which I think i actually ended up drier than before i got on, the world’s most pathetic haunted house (the only scary part was that it was so dark you faced the very real danger of smacking into a wall) and a mirror maze.

A highlight was "Experience world" which took us from a Chinese speaking King Tut in ancient Egypt to a polar bear dropping from the ceiling, a replica of the Bocca della Verita (ancient roman  lie detector) - that was entertaining actually because Amanda tried it and jumped a mile when it pretended to bite her fingers off, a model of New York in which the Statue of Liberty was missing an arm and finally a volcano. Did a lap on the oddball cycles (Hanne and I spent most of the time trying to figure out how to steer ours since the handlebars didn't move and one wheel didn't quite reach the ground properly) and got queasy on the spinning tulips ride (or Flower Cupry if you will).

Can you feel the excitement?

Overwhelmed with all the excitement we eventually headed out of the park where we were all delighted to find a selection of fairy floss, BBQ and drinks being sold off the back of bicycles, which we gobbled up pretty quickly and headed for home.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hong Kong (the first time)

Happy new year to my awesome readers!! Hope 2013 is treating you all well so far. 

With a bit of a lull on the adventure front predicted while I wrap up my studies (finally) and get stuck into my volunteer interviewer position which I'm very excited to be starting this week, I thought I'd take this time to gather all my old, old, old travel updates together from before I started blogging so I have them all in the one spot. Luckily, since I haven't deleted any sent emails for the last...well ever really, this is proving easier than I first expected (hurray for copy & paste).

Starting off, my very first overseas trip which I was very busily preparing for at this time 6 years ago (eep!), Hong Kong!

22-26 Feb 2007

Greetings all. Just left Hong Kong after my 4 day stay on the way to China and I have to say, it was fantastic. The city is really nice, clean, easy to navigate and the whole place lights up and comes alive at night which is just amazing. I stayed in a guesthouse in Kowloon where the room was very, very tiny but quiet and comfortable (and most importantly, cheap!).

My first full day there I caught a ferry to the beautiful nearby island of Lantau. Immediately on leaving the ferry I was greeted by the sight of hundreds of bikes parked together. Took a bus along a steep windy road (which was clearly not designed with buses in mind) up into the mountains to Nong Ping which houses the Po Lin monastary (lots of beautiful architecture, incense burning, monks etc, very atmospheric) and giant Buddha which you have to climb 260 steps to reach but its well worth the climb as the statue really is huge and the views are spectacular. Spent the rest of the afternoon exploring a few areas on Hong Kong island and rode the 800m long escalator through the Soho district (which you would really understand if you saw how steep the streets are), then headed back to Kowloon. Visited the Avenue of Stars which is a Walk of Fame for Cantonese cinema on the waterfront. Found stars for Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. The city then puts on a very impressive light show on all the skyscrapers across Victoria Harbour.

The next day travelled to Sha Tin and climbed another 400 steps, these through a bamboo grove and lined with golden Buddha statues (and monkeys allegedly but I didn’t spot any) to the 10 000 Buddha Monastery which was really beautiful as the main temple is filled with over 12 000 tiny gold Buddhas and there were pagodas, statues and shrines everywhere. Next visited the Tsuen Lung Wishing tree and got to have a go at lighting incense and making a few wishes of my own by writing them on scrolls which are then hung on a wall next to the tree. Also visited some interesting street markets and the Man Mo temple in Tai Po.

ok I look a bit weird in this was the first time I tried using the timer on my camera :P
Next day I took the historic Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour then stumbled across the Stanley Markets accidentally after I missed my bus stop. Woohoo because the markets were great and I got to see a dragon dance being performed in front of a roast pig to celebrate Chinese New Year so that was a pretty lucky mistake. After a good long wander through the labyrinth of tiny shops, I backtracked to my original destination of Repulse Bay and added 12 days to my life by making a couple passes over the Bridge of Longevity at a fascinating shrine dedicated to assorted deities for protection, marriage, fortune etc., all covered in bright tile mosaics and perched on the edge of the beach. Back in the city I took a very steep tram ride up to Victoria Peak and enjoyed a great view of the city from the top of the Peak Tower. Went for a walk on a circuit of the summit before returning to the tower to see more of Hong Kong lit up at night, including a lantern festival on the harbour. Spent a little while walking around the city at night one more time before returning to my room to pack.

Checked out the next day and headed to the China ferry terminal via Kowloon Park to await my ferry into Zhuhai. Really great start to my trip and I can't wait to return.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas in Adelaide

Greetings all! Hope you all had a lovely festive season. 

It having been pointed out to me yesterday that I've been growing increasingly slack on the blogging front, I thought I'd do a quick recap of how we do Christmas down in SA.

Things kick off early around here, with the Credit Union Christmas Pageant heralding the start of the Christmas season at the beginning of November. This year was the 80th Anniversary of the Pageant (one of my personal favourite Adelaide events I must admit) and I was lucky enough to be with me nieces as they experienced it for the very first time. Which of us was more excited its difficult to say (ok, it was me). Joining the thousands of people who arrive hours early to secure a spot along the route, I met up with the family who had got us a primo bit of road about half way along. A lot of sitting in the sunshine, watching the kids cover the roads in chalk drawings, chatting to the people around us and losing count of how many balloons were floating off into the distance later, it finally began, being led not by the Police Greys as we expected (though they weren't far behind), but by 4 bicycle cops in their spunky new dark blue uniforms. And then it was waiting for the 80 floats including marching girls, bag pipers and drum bands, clowns, fairy tales, monsters, pirates, toys and of course the old favourites, Nellie the Elephant, Nipper and Nimble to pass by until Father Christmas finally arrived and was safely escorted into the Magic Cave. 


With 99% of the population putting up their Christmas trees on Pageant day as is mandatory, you know face a month and a half of walking around the Mall in shorts listening to White Christmas blasting from every shop. The suburbs also light up (to the great joy of the electricity companies) with clusters of fantastically decorated houses now springing up everywhere, thus eliminating the need for the delightful pilgrimage to see the Christmas lights at Lobethal (which is good cos I don't think I could pedal that far).

The big Christmas tree in Victoria Square gets lit up at the start of December, and just to make sure that no one has missed out on the Christmas spirit, everyone descends on Elder park for Carols by Candlelight on the last Sunday before Christmas (which I missed this year, boo).

Last but not least you have the Brewery Lights. These decorations have been brightening up the riverbank below West End for over 50 years now, and I strongly suspect that was the last time they got any new ones in. This year it was joined by the Christmas Tree Festival where groups came together to decorate Christmas trees in the park land to raise money for various charity organisations. But back to the brewery lights. Once again joined my nieces to wander along and look at all the old favourites; the jack in the box (now covered in channel 7 advertising, hmmm), the ferris wheel, the nativity scene, the black smith working away in his volcano and, of course, the blue whale, now extra secured in the river after his escape attempt during the floods a few years ago. Oh, also there are donuts :)

So there you have it, just a few of the Christmas traditions we have around Adelaide. When you have Christmas in the middle of a sweltering summer, you can't exactly go out building snow men and ice skating but I think ours is more fun anyway (not that I'm at all biased or anything). Hope where ever you were in the world your Holidays were just as much fun!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yarn bombing in Victoria Square

This is a bit of a quickie post because I sadly didn't get the time to participate (mostly because I kind of forgot it was coming up, hence not having time to whip something up) but spotted the finished installation today and thought I would share how great it looks. 

As part of the Christmas tree lighting celebrations this year, anyone in the community was invited to knit or crochet something to be included in the yarn bombing of Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga. With the project being wrapped up (haha, get it?) last week, the Square is not much more colourful with all the trees left of the fountain wrapped in bright Christmassy blankets, complete with teddy bears, knitted baubles and, for some reason, a rat on one. Some ingenious person even knitted up a set of stripped (and by now very soggy) wing covers for one of the birds in the fountain. 

And I must say, it's been a long time since I've seen Queen Victoria looking quite so snazzy!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mud Run

Bit of a short one today as I've been slacking off on my adventures around Adelaide with the warm weather starting in earnest this week. But what better way to combat a bit of a temperature increase than by running a 4 km obstacle course through the mud?

Arrived at Urbrae and found the other guys I was running with nice and early (because it said to get there an hour before our 10am wave time), got all registered (which involved being handed a t-shirt, white of course, and having my number scibbled on my arm in not-quite-permanent-enough-to-last-through-the-race-texta), checked our bags....and that left us with a good 45 minutes of standing around and waiting time. Went for a wander with the Biz to suss out the what we could see of the course and evaluate the food situation for afterwards. Rejoined the team back at the start line for more standing around waiting while our action sports photographer extraordinaire went off to find a good spot.

Before shot, all nice and clean

We finally made it to the start line and set off around the oval, through the hay bales, over the tyres (yay, didn't stack it) and into the paddock for 2 laps of very, very muddy obstacles. We crawled through mud under flags and cargo nets, waded through waist deep canals of mud, climbed over stacks of hay bales, over barrels and through concrete pipes, all culminating in a face first slide into a pool of mud, then (after the second time around), back around the oval and across the finish line.

Got ourselves hosed down (which mostly just served to make us all look like we'd recently gotten dodgy fake tans) and enjoyed some tasty post-run hot jam donuts as a reward while watching others go down the mud slide. Seriously fun event!

After shot...less clean

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A very bikey weekend indeed

All weekends should be like this. My muscles may not agree but whatever. 

Saturday JB and I rode to town, picked up some lunch (which took foreverrrrrr) and did the traditional mad dash for the train with the added bonus of dragging our bikes along as well, and eventually arrived at Noarlunga. Spent a little while trying to find the Coast to Vines trail as it was largely diverted due to the roadworks along the Southern Expressway, but soon enough we were underway. Followed the bike path along the side of the Expressway, through the burbs and past the airstrip for the little old biplanes, until just before Seaford. Veered off to do a spot of impromptu shopping and then tackled the last big big hill before Maslins (and thanks to the very observant car full of teenagers that slowed down near the top to yell "You're on a bike" at me, cos until then I thought I was floating up on a fluffy white cloud. Darn kids).

Recharged with iceblocks (thanks Robbie!) and spent a lovely afternoon catching up with Robyn and being wowed by Lachie's mad drumming and bike riding skills (I think its safe to say Uncle JB has a new number one fan). And then we did it all in reverse. May have slightly dozed off on the train (once they shut off the ticket machine alarm anyway) and then, just as a bonus, threw in a ride up the hill up to North Adelaide to get some dinner before hitting the couch, hard.

Today, having been reprieved from helping drain brake fluid (or something) I decided to continue my search for convenient walking spots for the tragically car deprived, i.e. me. Of the many things that continue to make Adelaide my favourite city to come home to, Linear Park is way up there. I love that you can ride all the way from the hills to the beach without going on or across any roads, and I especially love that within minutes of leaving the CBD you could easily be riding through bushland (if you ignore the OBahn buses zipping past anyway). Having only realised at Trailblazer exactly where Linear park finished in the hills, I headed out that way, arriving at Black Hill Conservation Park an hour later with a flourish as I hit a patch of gravel in the car park and mildly fell off my bike to the general amusement of picnicking retirees nearby.  

Passed a jogger on his way out just as I headed in and after that, not another person the whole time I was there (sorry Stephanie and Seek, no sexy Australian men for you this time). Left my bike behind and hiked up the Main Ridge Track, pausing to enjoy the views over Adelaide from time to time (not at all an excuse to rest on some of the hills, nope nope nope) but mostly just soaking up the solitude and thinking how lucky we are to have such perfect little spots of tranquility so close to the city. Made my way up to the ridge, and eventually met up with the Yurrebilla Trail for the rocky climb back down to Amber's Gully, keeping a watchful eye out in the warmer weather for any innocent looking sticks along the track that might suddenly decide to move (luckily all those that did had legs), and was I was back at my bike but with plenty of plans to return to explore all the other trails that caught my eye along the way. All the witnesses to my very elegant arrival luckily having departed, I climbed back on the bike and enjoyed the much swifter ride home for a well earned beer to round off an excellent weekend (trying not to think about how sore I'm going to be tomorrow :s).