Walk around Kershaw Gardens

March 29, 2016

After our breakfast at The 2 Professors, Michael and I went for a lovely stroll in Kershaw Gardens. Unfortunately, a large majority of the park remains closed since Cyclone Marcia came through last year.

Here are a few beauties from our short visit!

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Understandable if this is why the park is still not open!

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Ants feasting on a dead moth!

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Pond covered with water lilies

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Great little stroll in the park before going to home to sleep! πŸ™‚ Hopefully the full park reopens soon!

Our New Getaway – Great Keppel Island

November 20-21, 2015

We couldn’t believe we didn’t do this sooner – what an amazing place!

Less than an hour drive from Rockhampton to Keppel Bay Marina followed by a 30 minute ferry ride over – Great Keppel Island offers beautiful views and gorgeous beaches with soft white sand and calm, crystal clear waters.

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There are 2 main ferry operators: Larger ferry with Freedom Fast Cats ($55 return) and a smaller ride through Keppel Konnections ($45 return). Both ferries will drop you off on Fisherman’s Beach – the main beach and hub where accommodation and restaurants are located.

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There are two main accommodations: Great Keppel Island Hideaway and Great Keppel Island Holiday Village. Prices are extremely reasonable, especially during off season. Both offer a number of options for a variety of group sizes, including: camping sites, cabins, decked tents, bunk houses, and houses. Depends on your mood obviously, but check all the options available!

For our first visit, Michael and I decided to camp – so we packed up all our gear booked a plot at Holiday Village. Toilet and kitchen facilities provided, along with use of snorkel gear and paddle boards, which is great!

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Here is something we always do and highly recommend πŸ˜‰ Bring a no fuss meal to have your first evening on the island. Bring it to the beach and watch the beautiful sunset. Our favourite? A charcuterie dinner – lightweight, everything packs nicely in a small cooler bag, delicious variety, and goes perfect with a bottle of wine. A blanket, some crackers, bread, dips, olives, meats, cheese, fruit, a bottle of wine, some disposable cutlery and cups are all you need for a romantic, delicious sunset dinner.

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Look at how gorgeous it is!

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Our other food recommendation? Enjoy a filling hot buffet breakfast in the morning (available some days) at the GKI Hideaway Island Bar & Bistro before heading out. Bring lots of snacks and water and hike over to swim and enjoy the many other beautiful beaches! End your night back on the main beach enjoying cold drinks and a meal at one of the restaurants πŸ˜‰

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Yoga seagull

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Lots of opportunity for people watching (as you might have noticed already in this post)

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We have only explored some of the beaches on the South Eastern side of the island – but hope to explore others in the future!

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We definitely enjoyed hiking over to Long Beach, then back towards Monkey Beach and Shelving Beach. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel gear! There is some pretty decent coral reefs just a short swim from shore from Monkey and Shelving beaches! You will have to climb uphill so need to be in a little bit of shape!

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View of Fisherman’s Beach on our hike over to nearby beaches!

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And view of the nearby Keppel Islands

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Long Beach

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You know it, with views and peaceful scenery like that, we definitely have gone back. And plan to do so again many times as we can while we live in Rockhampton!

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Friends, come visit us! We will take you here! πŸ™‚

Hiking up Mt Archer

September 06, 2015

After our outing at Capricorn Caves the day prior, our weekend was not yet over. Instead of the suggested 14km Zamia Walk (Grade: Difficult) DOWN Mt Archer (604m above sea level), our locum consultant, Neil, suggested we should take on the challenge and hike UP.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Wonderful… and let me tell you, there were moments of regret! But we conquered!

To play it smart, you should do the following 5 things:

  1. Drive to Mt Archer in 2 vehicles. Whether you decide to hike up or down Mt Archer, park one vehicle at the top and one at the bottom. That way, you keep it a one-way 14km hike. Because trust me, you won’t want to double back.
  2. Bring enough water! It will take 3-5hrs depending on your speed and you want to stay well hydrated.
  3. Bring snacks. Because food makes everyone happy.
  4. Wear good shoes. And be sun smart of course!
  5. Don’t forget to bring a camera!

Neil has a very interesting background and is incredibly fit for his age. While Jess, Jin and I struggled to keep his pace, he powered on without seemingly breaking a sweat.

Some of our views along the way up!

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The trails vary in terrain as you go up but the tracks are well developed so you can’t get lost! This photo was taken at the bottom of the hill heading towards the start of the Zamia trail.

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Nearby views on the way up!

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There are always a few fires going on around Mt Archer πŸ˜›

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Neil, always ahead of us!

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Did I mention Jin was doing this hike on his birthday? Yep, how admirable! If anything, I would be as lazy as I could on my birthday!

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After much huffing and puffing, we finally made it to the summit around 4 hours!

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Woo hoo!

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Was it worth it? Yes! Even if only to say we did it πŸ˜‰ And surprisingly, we weren’t sore the following day!

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August 2, 2015

But what if you don’t want to hike that far? Don’t fret! Mt Archer offers something for everyone! You can drive to the top of Mt Archer and enjoy hanging out in the picnic areas. From there you can also choose the Walking Track Circuit (500m) or the Bracken Fern Way (1.4km return), both easy-grade with incredible views!

Here are some photos from our visit earlier in August with Jess, Jin and their dog Cookie!

The Walking Track Circuit – pretty easy as you can see!

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And the views you can enjoy on the Walking Track Circuit

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Cookie, the fluff ball, enjoyed the walks as well!

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We also walked the Bracken Fern Way trail – definitely worth it! It’s a little bit more difficult in terms of terrain, but still pretty easy!

Lots of little things to see and enjoy on this trail πŸ™‚

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Don’t want to be bothering this!

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Numerous interesting plants I’ve never seen before

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If you stop to listen and look, you will see so many busy bees!

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Never seen this insect before… I imagine a type of wasp?

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Camouflage

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Doesn’t take long to reach the lookout πŸ™‚

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There’s even an area to sit, rest, and enjoy the view – which we did of course!

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Gorgeous views!

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Whether you’re in the mood for some nice walks with great views or up for a more challenging hike – Mt Archer is definitely worth visiting! And don’t forget to drive up at night to enjoy the pretty city views as well!

Camping at Blackdown Tableland National Park

May 30-31, 2015

Our first camping trip this year πŸ™‚

180km west of Rockhampton, it is an approximate 3 hour drive to Blackdown Tableland National Park. The mountainous terrain of the tablelands provides a unique landscape featuring gorges, waterfalls and diverse vegetation. It is also the traditional homeland of the Ghungalu people and they ask visitors to respect their land and take a moment to acknowledge their spiritual ancestors when visiting.

Beautiful drive up!

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Camping is only permitted at Munall campground, with nearby walking tracks that are incredibly peaceful and lead to amazingΒ lookouts. Entrance to the park is a 11km turn off from Capricorn Coast and a further 8km to Munall campground.

 

We managed our drive in a little Honda Jazz but a 4WD would certainly make the trip much MUCH easier. Have fun though!

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A map of the campground and surrounding trails

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Here is a short video of our time in Blackdown Tableland National Park!

And of course, some photos!

Our campsite at Munall. A very reasonable fee of $5.75/person/night.

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There are 3 main walking tracks.

We started with the 2.8km circuit Goon Goon Dhina track. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful, not another soul in sight. “An easy walk past old cattle yard ruins, then follows Mimosa Creek upstream to a Ghungalu art site. Signs along this track offer insights into the park’s history.Β Learn how Ghungalu people used plants for food and shelter.”

Constantly reminded how small you are in nature

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Saw sundews in nature for the first time!

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Lovely trails and plenty of still water. I’m sure it is quite pretty when water is flowing!

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We stopped to admire the Ghungalu art site

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We came across lots of prescribed burning in all areas of the park.

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A short drive away is the 4km (return) Gudda Gumoo trail that takes you a lookout and further to the gorge. Head down a flight of 240 steps to the base of the waterfalls and take in the rainbows cast over the falling waters.

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The water was frigid but I imagine this would be an amazingly refreshing place to swim and cool down in the summer!

Rainbow! But no pot of gold in sight… 😦

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We saved the Mook Mook trail (2.4km return) for last and so glad we did – best scenery!

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A zombie?

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So gorgeous and quiet

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Look at this incredible view! No words!

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On our drive down and back to Rockhampton, we stopped to enjoy the scenery from a different angle πŸ™‚

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Winning at the selfie game!

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See you next time!

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I should also mention… plenty of cows on the road! But they always look so grumpy and always covered in flies!

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SIN/KL 2014: Flower Dome & Cloud Forest

December 01, 2014

What is a great thing to do on a very hot summer day? Spending it admiring nature in glorious air conditioning of course!

Take the MRT to Bayfront station and take the short walk over toΒ Gardens by Bay for a few hours to enjoy the park’s peaceful greenery as well as the two domes.

On the walk to Gardens by the Bay, take some silly photos in the MRT tunnel! Lots of nature backdrops and mirrors to choose from πŸ˜›

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Once you exit to the walkway, you will see the Supertree Grove. From there, it is about a 15-20 minute walk to the domes. Or you can pay $2 for a shuttle ride in!

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For $28, you can visit both the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. As we have visited the domes once already, Michael opted to pay an additional $4 for an audio tour, which he thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommends!

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“The Flower Dome replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. Home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world, it showcases the adaptations of plants to arid environments. Stop and smell the flowers in the colourful changing displays of the Flower Field, which reflects different seasons, festivals and themes.”Β 

Enjoy some of our photos from the Flower Dome!

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The Cloud Forest houses “A 35-metre tall mountain covered in lush vegetation shrouding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall showcases plant life from tropical highlands up to 2,000-metres above sea level.”

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The Cloud Forest has an amazing selection of beautiful orchids, take a close look around!

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My favourite, Venus Flytraps

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A couple was doing a wedding photo shoot during our visit – very cute and wish I could get this photo to them!

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I recommend visiting Gardens by the Bay in the late afternoon after lunch. After your visit, you have time to check out the Supertree Grove while there’s still daylight. Grab some dinnerΒ at one of the restaurants on site, then check out the lit up Supertrees, take a walk on the OCBC skyway, “a 128-metre long walkway with a height of 22-metres that connects two Supertrees at the Supertree Grove, and take in a different view of the Gardens” and watch the Garden Rhapsody light show. A whole day of fun, especially if you love nature!

Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 02 & 03

Day 02: Sept 19

Woke up bright and early to birds chirping and the soothing sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore.

After breakfast, we decided that we would re-hike the same path as yesterday: East from Flinders Beach all the way to Main Beach and stop to swim along the way. Since we were walking through the same scenery as yesterday, I didn’t take as many photos!

Wee, wee, wee! Riding my invisible broomstick around Home Beach

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Marking our presence!

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Morning stretches

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I found lunch! Different kinds of molluscs!

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While I was hunting for lunch, Mike decided to claim a secluded section of Deadman’s Beach as his own private beach. Just for the 2 of us!

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That is my head, sticking out of the ocean

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Closer look at the molluscs I found

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New friends! Tickling my palm as they tried to slither away

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Sand dune! Too bad we didn’t have anything to use to slide down with!

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Bird of prey swooped down and stole an angelfish caught by a fisherman

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Super calm fisherman

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Lots of little crabs on all the beaches

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Little critters all around if you stop to take a look!

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Thought these flowers were quite interesting!

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We finally made it down to Main Beach! The wind was crazy today and the waves were too large to safely go swimming… neither of us are surfers, haha!

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Since we couldn’t swim at Main Beach, we walked back (so much walking) to Deadman’s beach for more swimming… and more crabs

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We made it sure to make it back to our camp at Adder Rock in time to watch the sunset! And to not only enjoy but see our awesome astronaut (read: freeze dried) dinner!

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It was actually REALLY tasty! Yum yum!

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We took our dinner bag onto the beach to eat and watch the sunset together. Aww, how much more romantical can camping get? Haha

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The wind had picked up quite a bit after the sun went down so we hid out in our tent for the evening. Yay!

Day 03: Sept 20

Our last day on Straddie! We decided to have breakfast, pack up and head back early in order to enjoy a whole day back in Brisbane.

This little fella never failed to show up and laugh at us in the mornings!

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Our next door camping neighbour (took this with my telephoto lens). SHE HAS A FRUIT BOWL and containers with drawers!

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Someone tied their bracelet to the fence

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This bird greeted us on our first day and followed us everywhere around the camp ground. On the last day, it landed on my shoulder while we were having breakfast! Very cute, especially the way it wiggled it’s butt, I don’t know what kind of bird this is though, does anyone?

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And that’s it! Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!

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CLICK HERE IF YOU’D LIKE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE STRADDIE PHOTO ALBUM

Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 01

September 18, 2013

During this vacation, I did something I’ve never done before: I went camping!

Big thanks to Mike for the awesome first experience! Being an avid camper, he had everything we needed to make the trip as smooth as possible πŸ˜€

Our destination had long been recommended by numerous friends and boy were we glad we finally went! STRADBROKE ISLAND – definitely would visit again!

Getting to the island was incredibly easy and convenient, making us both really wished we’d gone earlier. Take the train out to Cleveland, hop on the complimentary bus out to the dock and on to the ferry! Ferry price is $15 return for students, pretty good! Once we arrived on the island (Dunwich), the island bus was waiting and it cost an additional $2.50 to get to our camping ground, too easy!

On the way there!

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Here is a map of Stradbroke Island so you can see the places I have mentioned and will be talking about in this post.

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We decided to camp at an unpowered site at Adder Rock for $28/night. Being low season, we got our pick of camping sites and decided to camp along Flinders Beach. Camping on the beach, what could be better right? They even had all the amenities we could need, including cooking and toilet facilities. From Adder Rock, we hiked East along the coast, scampering over rocks and walking through kilometers of pristine beaches all the way to Main Beach.

Setting up camp

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Done! Our home for the next 2 days

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… with the awesome beach view

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Settled in and having lunch! Yes, Mike has a portable stove, pots and pans, and everything! Sausages, hard boiled eggs, bread, strawberries… yum!

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First selfie of the trip!

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After lunch we headed out to explore North Stradbroke Island.

We started with walking along the roads where we passed by a skatepark.

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We sooned turned off the road to walk along the beach instead. First up, Home Beach (refer to map above!)

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Beaches were pretty much empty except for a few families scattered here and there

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We’ve reached Cylinder Beach! One of the few places to swim with lifeguards.

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Beautiful Cylinder Beach

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Leaving Cylinder Beach…

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Mike taking a break

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Looking back at Cylinder Beach

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Looking ahead to Deadman’s Beach

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We saw a manta ray cruising underwater while taking a break!

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Deadman’s Beach

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Really interesting to the see the variations in volcanic rock formations and colours as you go from beach to beach.

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Frenchman’s Bay!

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Heading up to the road because you couldn’t really continue onward by the beach

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Looking back down at Frenchman’s Bay

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As we walked along the road to the Gorge Walk, we saw humpback whales! Unfortunately, they were really far out!

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The beautiful Gorge Walk!

Breathtaking North Gorge

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We really kept our eye out for dolphins and sharks, but only saw sea turtles and manta rays unfortunately. Still amazing though!

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View of South Gorge and further ahead, Main Beach!

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Endless Main Beach as far as the eye can see!

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We didn’t swim at all today. Decided that we would hike the coast again tomorrow and go swimming and visit Main Beach then. With that we headed back, returning to Adder Rock just missing the sunset! Boo, but that’s okay, we’ll make sure to catch it tomorrow!

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Getting a fire going… just because πŸ™‚

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Smoked out a huntsman spider!

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Easy dinner! With wine, fruit and other snacks on the side.

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We retired to our tent early with our headlamps and spent the night playing Monopoly Deal Card Game (thanks for that Vy!) and reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Good end to our first day.

Hiking @ Noosa National Park (Part 2)

Following up with my previous post, we were halfway through our hike when we finally reached the gorgeous Alexandria Bay.

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How beautiful is this? And what was even more awesome, barely a soul in sight – especially compared to the Main Beach. Absolutely stunning!

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Group picture with Xuan and Mabel!

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Of course we had a dip in the ocean! The water was cool and super refreshing after the walk! The waves weren’t too bad although some sets definitely got salt water up my nose but hey, clear sinuses!

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After a snooze under the sun, we continued on with our journey! We proceeded back in the direction we came in via the Coastal Path (#4 in blue).

Noosa map

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Our first stop was at Hell’s Gate – amazing panoramic views of the great blue ocean!

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Pretty Mabel!

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Xuan… perhaps pondering the mysteries of life?

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We then continued down the Coastal Path back to the park entrance with great views of the coast along the way back.

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Before we knew it, we were on the road heading back to Brisbane with the sun quickly setting beside us… πŸ™‚

Hiking @ Noosa National Park (Part 1)

Finally went hiking at Noosa National Park yesterday!

After a long drive, we were greeted with such gorgeous weather that it was definitely going to an awesome day for hiking.

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We started with the Noosa Hill track (#3 in yellow), a 2.4 km that climbed steadily up through open eucalypt woodlands and shrublands to the top of Noosa Hill.

Pictures of course! πŸ™‚

Heading in!

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Once in a while you can glimpse the blue waters just through the thick vegetation

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Pretty remnants of once green leaves

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Colourful lichen

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Last bit of elevation before reaching the top of Noosa Hill

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Do you see a horse too?

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I think we added a good foot to the “official” height of Noosa Hill

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Then made our way back down…

Lots of interesting textures to see

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Xuan found his special place in a tree

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Markings made by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum moth! You see these tracks all over the Scribby Gums (Eucalyptus haemastoma) and according to Wiki: Eggs are laid between layers of old and new bark. The larvae burrow into the new bark and, as the old bark falls away, the trails are revealed. The diameters of the tunnels increase as the larvae grow, and the ends of the tracks are where the larvae stopped to pupate.

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Gorgeous red crystalized sap on the Scribbly Gums

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We eventually reached the end of the Noosa Hill track and continued on another 2.8km via the Tanglewood track (#2 in orange), a meandering trail through cool rainforest.

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Found a turkey! We unfortunately didn’t see much wildlife except for turkeys and birds!

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Found the Eye of Sauron

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The trail eventually gave way to woodlands…

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… as we reached our much anticipated destination: Alexandria Bay.

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One word: Stunning.

Stay tuned to see more of this gorgeous place!

Exploding seed pods!

These photos were taken so long ago, I can’t believe I haven’t posted them yet!

The pretty purple flower, Ruellia tuberosa, develop dry seed pods that explode on contact with water, in order to scatter their seeds.

Check out what happens in this video πŸ˜‰ Michael was smothering his laugh in the background, which made me giggle uncontrollably… sorry!

I was first introduced to this years ago in Vietnam when my mom insisted we put a pod in our mouth and see what happens. Needless to say, the explosion totally caught us by surprise but left a lot of giggles. The popping doesn’t hurt you at all, just an unexpected and funny sensation. They’re lots of fun to play with and even funnier when you can trick someone else to put some in their mouth πŸ˜‰

Let’s take a closer look…

Dry seed pods

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Split pod after it had exploded with some seeds landing in the water.

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What the seeds look like dry

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Once sitting in water for a bit, you can see the fuzzy texture of the seeds.

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And to end my random post, here is a picture of what the flowers look like in bloom πŸ™‚

Day 08: Singapore – Great fun at the zoo!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

After visiting River Safari, we went next door to visit the Singapore Zoo. At $39 SGD for both, how could we resist?

Since all of us had been to Singapore Zoo before and we were tight on time, it was decided that we would only visit the areas of interest to us.

Come on an animal-photo-adventure with us!

First up was the Frozen Tundra to see Inuka, the polar bear, give a show!

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Playing with an ice ball to get to the frozen meat treat inside

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Playful Orangutans!

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Mother orangutan nursing her baby, so lovely

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Young orangutan running around across tree branches

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White Rhino and his little bird friends

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The pretty Nyalas

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Almost like she’s giving us the evil eye for intruding on her and her boyfriend

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Pretty active Cheetah! Marching around and around

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Even trying to hunt little birds

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“When I was a young warthooooog!”

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Meerkat being lazy on duty πŸ˜›

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“Dig dig a tunnel!”

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Mufasa! Last time we visited, the lions were pathetically lazy. This time, he was roaming around non stop and looking (sort of) majestic for photos.

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A random lizard crossing our paths, is it a monitor lizard?

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Look, it’s Zaboomafoo! Okay, different species but I still love the Ring-Tailed Lemurs!

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Caught a Flying Fox waking up from its slumber…

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… he then proceeded to lick his penis… haha!

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Mike’s favourite… the Mouse-deer! They are so shy!

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I wish I had a video of Michael trying to pet him. He didn’t skirt away but kept shrinking lower and lower to the ground until he had no where else to go. πŸ˜›

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A lonely Mandrill

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Little clumsy-looking-but-cute African penguins

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I took amazing photos of the White Tigers last visit. This time, they were already fed and being lazy in a far corner. This was the best picture I got πŸ˜›

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Babirusa napping under the sun

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The pondering Banded Mongoose

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And lastly on our trip, the Hamadryas Baboons!

Lots of grooming happening

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Oh look, the little one is picking another baboon’s butt.

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Oh gosh, full of poop!

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On another side, a baby looks like he’s having fun hitching a ride

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Haha, baby baboons look like old wrinkly men… but so cute at the same time!

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And to end the trip on a “inspirational” note: Two good friends sitting enjoying the view and having a nice chat about life…

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We walked out of Singapore Zoo and said farewell to Bing and Lihuan. So lovely to see them, even though only for a day! We’ll see Lihuan in September when she comes to visit Bing in Brisbane!

Xuan was kind enough to offer to take us to one more destination before we had to head back to the hotel and then to the airport… how could we say no?

Stay tuned to find out where!

FULL ALBUM OF SINGAPORE ZOO HERE!

Day 08: Singapore – River Safari

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bing, Lihuan, Mike, and I met up with Xuan to check out the recently opened River Safari! This attraction is the fourth zoo in Singapore, along with the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, and Night Safari, all of which are managed by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

At the front entrance, and excited to see the giant pandas of course! Kia Kia and Jia Jia!

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The entire park was not yet open (Amazon River Quest closed until later this year), but we still got to enjoy quite a bit!

Starting with the Mississippi River:

Smiling fish!

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Catfish

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Rare Mississippi paddlefish

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Onto the Congo River!

The African dwarf crocodile… so cute. Those huge beady eyes.

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World’s largest freshwater puffer fish

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The weird Giraffe Catfish

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Next, the Ganges River!

The best view I could get of the Indian Gharial, haha a little pathetic πŸ˜›

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The Crab-eating Macaque of the Mekong River... in action!

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Some fish I can’t remember the name of…

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And lastly, the Yangtze River

The Yangtze Alligator

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The huge ugly Giant Salamander

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Moving on to (in our opinion, the highlight of the River Safari) Giant Panda Forest.

Immediately greeted by the active and oh-so-cute Red Pandas!

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Seemed like we spent forever cooing over the Red Pandas but eventually we moved on to see the Giant Pandas!

We saw Kia Kia first. He was moving around but assumed quite lazy poses for pictures πŸ˜›

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On the other side was Jia Jia. Unfortunately, she was quite shy, so we didn’t get many pictures of her!

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More neat animals!

The ugly yet adorable Sloth

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Colourful Toucans!

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My first time seeing a Jaguarundi, looks like an otter/cat/weasel! Such a small wild cat, but what an amazing coat!

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One of the other highlights for me: Squirrel Monkey Forest. They are so tiny, but so cute! Great opportunities for photos but it was simply too hot to stay in the forest for very long.

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I saw this turtle randomly… but thought its face looked like a dog. Thoughts?

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We ended our visit at the Amazon Flooded Forest... where I got to see Manatees for the first time, even a calf! They are huge but so graceful, I wish I could’ve taken better pictures!

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Nope, this was not the end of our animal-time-adventure. Even though all five of us had been to the Singapore Zoo (next door) before, we decided to visit again! This is our favourite zoo because it provides such amazing photo opportunities, especially when nearly none of the animals are kept behind glass. So yes, we had all bought the Park Hopper 2-in-1 tickets.

Next up, Singapore Zoo!

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RIVER SAFARI ALBUM

Day 07: Singapore – Adventure Day on Pulau Ubin!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today was Mike and Sandra day, and we were going on an adventure to Pulau Ubin!

Pulau means Island and Ubin means Granite (in Malay). Pulau Ubin = Granite Island

Makes sense! “Granite quarrying supported a few thousand settlers on Pulau Ubin in the 1960s, but only about a hundred villagers live there today. It is one of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, preserved from urban development, concrete buildings and tarmac roads, with an abundance of natural flora and fauna.

We decided to visit Pulau Ubin for the day, to see a bit of nature and get away from the city.

To get there, take the MRT to Tenah Merah Station then transfer to Bus No. 02 to the Changi Bus Interchange. From there only a few minutes walk to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, where you can catch a short 10 minute bumboat ride ($2.50) over to Ubin Island.

The weather was great! We were excited to see blue skies and the sun out but also realized one thing… we didn’t have insect repellant. Knowing my luck and the fact that there was a Dengue outbreak in Singapore at the time, I was going to die… argh!

But it was too late, and we were already on the bumboat trip over and were docking…

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Welcome to Pulau Ubin!

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I had read that there was a fish spa available on the island, which is why we specifically decided to rent bikes from Celestial Resort: $10 for all day bike rental and a 1 hr fish spa. Unfortunately, the bike only had one gear… πŸ˜›

Heading in! As you can see, many shops offer bikes for hire at differing qualities and prices. You could definitely pay more and get a much better bike than we did. Actually, we recommend getting a better bike because otherwise you’ll be pushing it up the hills like we did!

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Just simple, quiet, serene views all around the island, untouched by industrialization and technology.

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Riding the bike through shaded trails, so tranquil!

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Zombie Sandra after Mike!

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It was REALLY hot. We bought a lot of water, but if you forget to bring some, there are a few places around the island you can purchase cold drinks from.

At one point during our ride, I wailed, “This is the worst part of our trip!” because of the 20+ mosquito bite welts that had appeared almost magically. For those who are sensitive like me, the suffering! The suffering is so bad!

There are a number of tame wild boars you might run into! We encountered them twice πŸ™‚

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I find the females quite dainty looking, does that even make sense?

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Haha, one of them chased after Mike and kept nudging him (getting snot and mud over his shorts) for the fried banana he was carrying. Eventually he had to loudly shoo her away.

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Took a rest by the water.

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So many mosquito bites! And lots of planes in the background πŸ™‚

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Mike pointing out Malaysia, which you can see in the distance!

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Lots of friendly dogs πŸ™‚

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We met a nice couple at the Visitor Centre who wanted a picture in front of it because the house is old and unique. In return, he offered to take one of us, how could we say no? Too bad they barely got the house in the shot…

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The house from further away

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Enjoying the nice views

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Look, a boat from Vietnam!

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We passed by a Muslim Cemetery, which I had never seen before. Don’t know if this is what they normally look like?

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We climbed up the Jejawi Tower to check out the view! Saw lots of planes (up close!) taking off and landing at Changi Airport across the water πŸ™‚

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Mike’s pretty face!

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By now, we had been biking for a couple of hours and we were hot (I was dying from itch) and sweaty. What better time to go for the fish spa?

Before heading in, we enjoyed a nice cold orange drink, included in the $10.

The fish spa was a long pond that wrapped around a corner in a shaded area to one side of the resort. There was another couple and a Vietnamese family that came in with us at the same time. The other 2 groups settled each at one end of the pond and Mike and I sat in the middle.

For the first 10 minutes, there were non-stop shrieks and giggles from the awful tickling sensation of the fish. We expected a pond with a couple fish nibbling here and there. NO. Not this place, this pond had enough fish to COMPLETELY BLANKET your feet. There were little fish that were ticklish enough and then there were bigger fish that were more ticklish.

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It was hilarious. Don’t worry, I took videos so you can partake in the laughter too!

After a while, everyone got used to the buzzing, vibrating sensation of the fish and settled down for a relaxing nibble.

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Mosquitos were still swarming me, but by now I had given up to the Dengue god and couldn’t care less. At least I had experience what it was like to have hundreds of little minion exfoliate my feet by eating my dead skin. πŸ˜›

And that marked the end of our Pulau Ubin adventure! After this, we headed back to Singapore and then back to our hotel.

But not before stopping for food! We stopped at Tekka Market in Little India close to our hotel to have some Briyani! Looks messy but I assure you it was tasty!

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We got back to the hotel in time to enjoy happy hour and of course, shower!

Tonight, we were on a mission: To have dinner at Tim Ho Wan, one of the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, known for their amazing dim sum.

It was 8pm by the time we got into the city and to Plaza Singapura, but the line was already closed! They are still so popular that even at 8pm, the queue was at its limits before closing. SAD FACE. Broken heart.

So, with heavy hearts, we walked around Orchard Rd and checked out a few of their endless shopping centres and even grabbed a tasty kebab to eat on the streets.

Eventually, we made it back to the hotel, but again, not before stopping for more food… naan bread in Little India, what do you expect?

Haha, we called it an earlier night than usual – 11pm bedtime, woo hoo!

And that’s the end of Day 07! Our last sleep in Singapore!

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL PULAU UBIN ALBUM

Day 06: Singapore – Oh boy, Supertrees and food!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I forgot to mention in earlier posts how to get to Gardens by the Bay! Very easy, just take the MRT, Circle Line, at get off at Bayfront Station. Then it’s just a short walk from the station to the garden entrance (by Meadow Bridge) where you can pay $2 for a shuttle ticket. The ticket includes a ride in to the either the Supertree Grove or the conservatories and then back out to the same entrance.

We caught the shuttle from the Supertree Grove to head back to the entrance!

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The creeper on the shuttle

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One of the most interesting sights at Gardens by the Bay. A giant white statue of a naked sleeping baby located at The Meadow called Planet. Created by internationally acclaimed British artist Marc Quinn, the sculpture is a depiction of his son and “appears to float above the ground and is a technical tour-de-force.”

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“To me,Β PlanetΒ is a paradox – hugely heavy, yet the bronze appears weightless; overwhelminglyΒ  big, yet also an image of vulnerability. It is both a reflection of ourselves and the earth upon which we live,” said Quinn.

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The view of the Marina Bay Sands and the Supertree Grove from the entrance

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It would be a few hours before the sun went down so we decided to head back to Moon Hotel in order to enjoy their happy hour! Cheers!

Free drinks and snacks, how could you say no?

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Selfie!

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It was soon back on the road to head back to Gardens by the Bay in order to capture photos of the Supertrees at dusk.

We also had the chance to enjoy the OCBC Garden Rhapsody – a light and sound show at the Supertree Grove that portrays how mankind and nature can come together and celebrate life together in a harmonious way. It was very lovely! My battery was running too low to shoot video, but if you’re interested to see what the show was like, click HERE!

At times like this, I really wish I had a tripod and a better lens than the kit one! But I think the pictures turned out alright, what do you think?

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As you can see in the pictures, you can take a stroll on the OCBC Skyway, a 128-metre long walkway with a height of 22-metres that connects two Supertrees at the Supertree Grove, and take in a different view of the Gardens. We decided not to do the walk and enjoy the view from below instead.

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Woo hoo!

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We then hurried over to meet up with Xuan for dinner at Maxwell Rd Hawker Centre! It’s too bad a number of the stalls were already closed, including the famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice that we wanted to try πŸ˜‰ Another time then!

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We had other dishes instead!

Like this fried hokkien prawn noodles…

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And this oyster omelette!

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Xuan suggested we didn’t eat to capacity because he wanted to introduce us to a nice cafe he liked… that had yummy truffle fries. Never need to think twice when someone makes a suggestion like that, so off we went!

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PS. Cafe had a lovely atmosphere that was great for a romantic date or a gathering with friends and a super enticing menu! Even on a Thursday night, the place was crowded and buzzing!

We settled on sharing a slice of chocolate pecan pie (with ice cream) and a plate of truffle fries.

I’ve never had chocolate pecan, my only wish was that it was a sugar pecan pie because that would’ve been heaven! But still, delicious warmed up… molten chocolate!

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The plate of truffle fries was… enormous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a serving of fries that huge before at a restaurant. Not complaining though! Although they weren’t the best truffle fries we’ve had, they were pretty darn good!

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Thanks Xuan for the treat! Another fun night in Singapore! Woo hoo!

Finally… end of Day 06!

FULL SUPERTREE ALBUM HERE!

Day 06: Singapore – Gardens by the Bay – Cloud Forest

Thursday, July 18, 2013

We headed back after lunch to visit the second conservatory, the Cloud Forest.

“The Cloud Forest is higher but slightly smaller than the Flower Dome. It replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions of South-East Asia, Middle- and South America. A 35-metre tall mountain covered in lush vegetation shrouding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall showcases plant life from tropical highlands up to 2,000-metres above sea level.”

A huge dome with a single massive mountain that greets you at the door. Mist from the waterfall envelopes you as you make your way inside.

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Looking up from the bottom: You can see the lower Tree Top Walk where you can get a bird’s eye view of the treetops. Then there is the higher Cloud Walk where you can get a closer look at all the epiphytes (plants that grow on on other plants (non-parasitically) or objects) growing on the side of the mountain.

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More views of the mountain and the walkways

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Right along the base of the mountain, you can immediately find all sorts of wonderful plant life.

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Lots of interestingly textured and wonderfully designed leaves I’ve never seen before…

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Tons of beautiful flowers, especially orchids of all types and colours

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Some hidden views

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My favourite part of visiting Cloud Forest: seeing the carnivorous Drosera (aka Sundews) and Venus Flytrap and Pitcher Plants in real life!

The Sundews and Venus Flytraps we saw were tiny though, I always imagined they would be monstrous for some reason.

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Had fun tickling some of the Venus Flytraps to see them snap shut! Hopefully we didn’t starve them…

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So many Pitcher Plants of all sizes

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The Waterfall View!

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Inside there is the Crystal Mountain Cave where you can see the many interesting shapes of real stalactites and stalagmites.

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On the Cloud Walk!

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Taking a picture of us taking a picture of us…

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We left via an escalator… that had fun lighting…

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And that marks the end of our visit to both conservatories of Gardens by the Bay!

We would be coming back for the night views of the Supertrees later tonight!

FULL CLOUD FOREST ALBUM HERE

Day 06: Singapore – Gardens by the Bay – Flower Dome

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yawn! It took some effort to get up this morning after getting back late last night, but eventually we were up and showered. The breakfast provided by Vintage Inn was simple but filling and soon we were checking out and walking over to Moon Hotel, our home for the next 2 nights.

We chose to stay at a hotel for our last 2 days rather than a hostel for privacy and freedom to come and go as we please πŸ™‚ Since our stay at Moon Hotel last time was really nice, we decided to stay there again. And even though we arrived hours before check in time (with the expectation of just leaving our luggage in the lobby), we were given our room, no problem!

After dropping off our stuff, we decided to head down to Gardens by the Bay to specifically visit the conservatories. Oh, the excitement, especially when we could only see them from afar last time!

The conservatory complex consists of 2 columnless glasshouses – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. TheΒ  Flower Dome is actually the world’s largest columnless glasshouse!

“The construction of the glasshouses is special in two ways. First of all by being able to have such large a glass-roof without additional interior support (such as columns). Secondly because the constructions aims strongly at minimizing the environmental footprint.”

Tickets were $28 to visit both conservatories.

We decided to start with the Flower Dome which “replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. Home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world, it showcases the adaptations of plants to arid environments.”

“The Flower Dome features 7 different “gardens” as well as an olive grove with a bistro and a central changing display field has also been incorporated to enable flower shows and displays to be held within the conservatory.” Read more about them HERE.

Mike and I spent a few hours in here and loved it. So many beautiful subjects of photography!

Here are some of my favourites:

Stepping into the Flower Dome…

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Lots of different kinds of cacti

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Baobab!

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One of the most interesting plants I saw for the first time: Golden Rat-tailed Cactus.

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Smile!

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Pretty succulents!

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The Dessert Rose

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Stones or plants? These are stone plants (Lithops spp) – Fooling their predators by looking like rocks, these plants are soft and juicy, adapted to store water!

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A single beauty

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Field of purple!

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This plant was super pretty and interesting looking! Unfortunately, I can’t remember its name… and helpers?

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Bright red plane

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Some more pretty flowers!

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This flower was quite odd. Can you see the way the stem is oriented from this picture?

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Bi-coloured flower plant

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Loved the pink and purple hues

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Lots of pretty sights to take in, you wouldn’t believe how many photos I actually took!

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The corny, child-like, couple picture

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Hope you enjoyed the pictures! We could’ve spent forever in the Flower Dome if not for our rumbling stomachs.

Which means, next up, lunch!

CLICK HERE FOR FULL FLOWER DOME ALBUM

Meaghan is in town!

Mike’s sister, Meaghan, is visiting us in Brisbane from Canada! She arrived the morning of March 22nd and will be here until next Sunday. πŸ™‚

Even though our GP rotation is pretty busy, we are trying to do as many things as possible – and I think we’ve been successful!

We’ve eaten… a lot. But those excursions will get their own related posts πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, we’ve went up to Sunshine Coast to Noosa Heads Beach (March 23)

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And we’ve gone down to the Gold Coast to Burleigh Beach (March 29)

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Yesterday (March 30), we climbed Mt Ngungun. It was hot and sweaty so thank god for the cool misty breeze. Got to the top just as the fog was lifting, very rewarding!

The face in the tree trunk reminds me of a sloth… am I the only one? Mike thinks it looks like the “Forever Alone” guy… what do you think?

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Slowly making our way up!

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A dead tree trunk along the path

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Very misty when we first got to the summit

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But slowly started to clear up!

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Panoramic view!

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Enjoying crunchy, juicy plums at the top of Mt Ngungun

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Oh my god, so Asian lah

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These are Squiggly Gum trees. The squiggly lines are from insect larvae burrowing underneath the bark

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These reminded me of “bong mai”

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During the walk to Mt Ngungun, there is a house that sells home grown Cavendish bananas for $2.50/kg.

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Yep, we bought some. Delicious and we support the locals!

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Honour system payment πŸ™‚

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Nov 14: Visiting Byron Bay for the 1st time

I have to dedicate this post to Fiona – for being so lovely and planning this little road trip for us to Byron Bay. Not only was it a great time hanging out with her, Christine, James and Andrew (too bad Kristen couldn’t make it) – Mike and I also got to visit a part of Australia we’ve never been and always wanted to see. πŸ˜€ Thank you dear!

Couldn’t have asked for better weather or better company! πŸ˜€

On the road bright and early! It was also during the solar eclipse, which we could sort of see with our naked eyes πŸ˜›

We arrived shortly after 10am (NSW time) and first stop? Enjoying the sun and a dip in the ocean (at Main Beach or Clarkes Beach I believe), what else!

We also drove up to see the Cape Byron Lighthouse – Australia’s not only most powerful but also most easterly light! During the walk up to the lighthouse, you can see Tallow Beach – absolutely gorgeous!

A beautiful day with hot weather demands an ice cream break

Will never understand why James prefers to go barefeet

Most easterly point of the Australian mainland

Chilling for lunch

There were dolphins!

A stop at Wategos Beach on the way down

And finally, a drink at Beach Hotel to end a great day before heading back to Brisbane! Love you guys!

Full album HERE!

Photo #228: Splashes of Purple

October 13, 2012

After an incredibly windy day yesterday, the jacaranda trees were looking less lively than we had hoped, although they’re not yet in full bloom. With the lack of rain and hot sun, there was also no luscious green grass in sight. Doesn’t make for the prettiest picture but it was the best I could do! We’ll try to scout for a better location sometime soon.

 

A beautiful present

As mentioned in my photo-of-the-day post earlier, Yoni was over today for an art date.

He completed this awesome painting in 1.5 hours and I received it as a gift, yay! After asking for so long, I’m happy to have one of his pieces to display in our home – thanks Yoni!

Finished product πŸ˜€

 

FADU: Climbing Mt Ngungun

July 21, 2012

Tan, Christine and Yoni joined us for a hike up Mt Ngungun (Glasshouse Mountains). Great weather! I’m glad it was nice and cool because I was still sweating like a cow πŸ˜› Beautiful view up top and definitely worth the trip.

Finally there and ready to head up!

Slowly heading up!

Amazing view!

Noooo!

Family picture… hahahaha!

Made it back down safely! πŸ˜‰

Update to my photoblog

Hey everyone!

Hope you are all doing well πŸ™‚ I’m about to buckle down and do some studying but just wanted to let you know that I finally made an update to my photoblog, yay! Nearly 50 pictures were added, although many are probably familiar – please take a look!

http://nguyphotos.wordpress.com/

Hope you enjoy, would love to hear any feedback you might have πŸ˜€

Singapore Day 2: Botanical Gardens

June 19, 2012

Moon Hotel was great! Located in Little India with wonderful buffet breakfasts every morning, free mini bar that’s restocked daily, free wifi and free happy hour (5-7pm) with up to 5 drinks from a great selection. Nice modern room with everything provided. The only thing we lacked in our room was a window! We had curtains but no windows which made our room always feel like 6pm – the mood of being in the ‘moon’ hotel? Staff were friendly and courteous – would definitely come back again!

Tuesday morning started after breakfast with a short walk to Mustafa Centre to exchange money. Thanks to Bing and Lihuan for the recommendation because we received a great exchange rate. We then headed over to Farrer Park MRT (Mass Rapid Transit – train) station to get our EZ-Link cards (similar to Brisbane’s Go cards) and headed over to the Singapore Botanic Gardens!

The garden was easy to find with the great MRT system, such a beautiful place!

The Reflexology Footpath – felt great on bare feet!

A woman practicing Tai Chi in the morning

A squirrel and his spoils!

Entry to the garden is free, but $5 SGD allows you to visit The National Orchid Garden inside – worth it!

Only a very few of the very beautiful orchids in the garden

A ginger flower!

Sun-basking turtles

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ‘SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS’ ALBUM