Archive for the ‘PACIFICS’ Category


14 Apr 2002: Perth, Australia

I am in Perth this week, on an assignment in Perth with a lovely Australian lady named Toula. On Sunday, Toula drives us to Fremantle, a port city located 19 kilometres southwest of Perth. The city is named after Captain Charles Howe Fremantle (1800 – 1869), the captain of the British Royal Navy, who claimed Western Australia for Great Britain.

Fremantle Town Hall

Fremantle has many well-preserved 19th-century heritage buildings, such as the Fremantle Town Hall, which was opened in 1887 and the Gothic-styled Wesley Uniting Church, built in 1889. Unfortunately, the pictures from my new Kodak “first generation” digital camera did not turn out well.

Fremantle Markets

Located at the corner of South Terrace and Henderson Street is a popular Fremantle tourist spot called the Fremantle Markets.

This public market was built in 1897 and houses over 150 shops for craftspeople, fashion designers, merchants, fresh food producers, vegetable growers and food retailers. The markets are typically open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only.

I am thrilled to find a portrait of Bruce Lee here; simply have to take a picture of him.

King’s Park

Our next destination is the Kings Park, located on the edge of Perth’s central business district. This park is over a thousand-acre in size, making it the largest inner city park in the world. The park has a mixture of grassed parkland, botanical gardens and natural, native bushland. It offers a panoramic views of the city, as well as the magnificant Swan River.

The Fremantle’s sea breeze is known as the “Fremantle Doctor” for its cooling effect in providing relief from the summer heat.

These trees with creamy white barks planted neatly along the Fraser Avenue are called the Ghost Gum trees.

Throughout the King’s Park, many memorials were set up to commemorate various battles, prisoners of war and royals. This is a statue of Queen Victoria.

But the most prominent memorial is the State War Memorial Precinct, which  comprises of a Cenotaph, Flame of Remembrance and Pool of Reflection.

Underneath the Cenotaph is the roll of honour with the names of all servicemen and women from Western Australia to die in the various wars.

Thank you, Toula, for taking the time to show me the Western Australia.


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12 Jan 2002: Sydney Bridge Climb@ Sydney, Australia

It was a bright and beautiful Saturday. The weather was perfect for scaling the summit of the Harbour Bridge, 134 metres above Sydney Harbour.  

At 9 am, my colleagues (Rob, Monique and her fiancee Brian) and I began the 3 ½ hour guided journey along the outer arch of the Bridge on catwalks and ladders. The great thing about the climb was its steady incline, making it easy even for the faint hearts. This gave us a free mind to enjoy the awesome 360-degree views of Sydney, including the Sydney Opera House in the east, the Blue Mountains in the west and the scenic Harbour city surrounds. 

For safety reasons, we could not bring along any personal items (including cameras) onto the Bridge. But at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the guide took pictures of us on the climb. At the end of the trip,  they gave us a complimentary group photograph and a personalized climber certificate. 

A reprise of this stunning iconic bridge…

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Day 1 | 22 Nov 2001: Christchurch, NZ

After close to 10 hours of travel, we reached Christchurch, slightly after noon.  Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island, sitting at the junction of the Canterbury Plains. The name of “Christchurch” was first suggested by John Robert Godley, an Irish statesman and bureaucrat who was the founder of Canterbury, New Zealand.

After our lunch at Northland Restaurants, we headed towards the Cathedral Square. This place is locally known simply as the “Square” and is the geographical city centre and heart of Christchurch where the beautiful gothic cathedral is located. Completed in 1904, the Anglican Cathedral has been the focal point of the city. 


On a pedestal stood a statue of John Robert Godley (1867), the city’s founder.


The rest of the evening was “free and easy”. But since it had been a long traveling day, we decided to turn in early at the Elms Hotel.  

Day 2 | 23 Nov 2001: Christchurch, NZ


After breakfast, the tour bus brought us into the Canterbury Plain region. There was a brisk stop at a town called Ashburton, where we took quick snaps at the Baring Square Methodist Church. 


The bus ventured further into the MacKenzie Country region, lined with beautiful, snowy mountains and dotted with fluffy white clouds amongst the clear blue lakes. 




Lake Tekapo  

Along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin lies Lake Tekapo, a summer time haven for boating and swimming.  Wavering silently among the plains filled with glowing yellow tussock grass were beautiful bunches of violet lavenders.


Church of the Good Shepherd 

On the shore of Lake Tekapo stood the unique stone church, Church of the Good Shepherd. It was built in 1935 as a memorial to the early settlers and shepherds. The church is arguably one of the most photographed in New Zealand, as it features an altar window that frames stunning views of the lake and mountains. Next to the church is a sheep dog monument. 

Goldfields Mining Centre 

After lunch, we visited the Cromwell Kiwi Orchard, where they showcased the premium golden kiwi. But the fun really set in at the Goldfields Mining Center, located on the banks of the spectacular Kawarau Gorge. Here, we had first hand experience gold fossicking, that is, recreational “gold panning”. 


After dinner, we traveled south towards Queenstown. We spent the night at Aspen Hotel, next to the famous Lake Wakatipu.

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Day 3 | 24 Nov 2001: Milford Sound, NZ

Our excitement grew as we approched Milford Sound. Afterall, this is New Zealand’s most acclaimed and scenic destination. British author and poet, Rudyard Kipling, had previously called Milford Sound the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Milford Sound is actually a fjord, carved from granite thousands of years ago, and then flooded with sea water. As we drove into the sound, splendid views of deep green forest, towering snow capped mountains and tumbling rivers came into our sights.






After stepping onto a ferry, the cruise brought us intot the sound surrounded by vertical rock cliff and lush rain forests on either side. The ride was pretty chilly and along the way, we were told to watch out for seals, sea birds, and dolphins..






“Seal! Seal!” Finally, we spotted two resting on the rock.

After the Milford Sound trip, we did some shopping in Queenstown before going back to Aspen Hotel.

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Day 4 | 25 Nov 2001: Queenstown, NZ

We finally get a chance to explore Queenstown today. Reputed as the “Adventure Capital of the World”, Queenstown has the answers to all requests from thrill seekers – bungy jumping, jet boating, helicopter flight-seeing, mountain biking, horse riding, skiing, white water rafting, parachuting and many more popular activities

Kawarau Bridge

Home to the bungy jump, it was where commercial bungee jumping started by New Zealander, A.J. Hackett. at the Kawarau Bridge. “Any taker?” asked our tour leader Daisy. I was keen to take the dive alone but JL resisted. “How about both of us jumping down together?” I proposed. JL shuttered at the thought of the height. Well, at least, let me take a picture…

While traveling along the Lake Wakatipu, we saw this unusual house made of bottles… 

Lake Wakatipu

Queenstown was given the name as it was thought to be a magnificent area “fit for a queen”. The stunning views of the native forest and high mountain peaks are complimented by the scenic beauty of Lake Wakatipu. This “finger” lake is 80 km long and is the longest lake in New Zealand. One of Wakatipu’s mysteries is the rise and fall of the lake by about 12cm every five minutes. The scientists explain that it is due to changing atmospheric pressure but the legend accounts for the fluctuation as follows: Long time ago, a demon abducted the daughter of a local Maori chief and took her to his home in the heights of the ice mountains. After the long climb he became tired and lay down to sleep. However, the girl’s lover had followed close behind them and set the giant on fire as he lay sleeping. His burning flesh carved into the ice and snow and created a huge lake but his heart remained indestructible, causing the rising and falling of the water level to this day.

Daisy suggested that we do a different lunch today. She brought us to the Salmon Fish farm to pack smoke salmon sandwich for a picnic. The weather was sunny with cool breeze; it was a relaxing meal.

On the way back to Christchurch, we passed by some sheep farms…

After our Thai dinner and shopping at Regency DFS, we took to bed at Copthorne Durtham CHC.

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Day 5 | 26 Nov 2001: Christchurch, NZ

They claimed: “There is no other place in the world where it is possible to fly from the centre of the city, in view of the sun rising out of the ocean, toward snow-capped mountains.” 

And this viewing comes with a hefty price; it means waking up at 4 am, rolling up our sleeves to prepare the hot-air balloon with empty stomach. Finally, after one hour or so, the hotair balloon was ready to sail… 




Well, all the efforts were not wasted at all. Imagine the beautiful horizon with the rising sun as the hotair balloon passed by the parks, rivers and buildings into the Canterbury Plains with views of the Southern Alps. 




After an hour long of flight, we landed on a farmer’s field and celebrated our virgin voyage with a glass of chilled champagne. 





In the late morning, we had a relaxing dip at the Hanmer Spring Thermal Pool. 


After lunch, we bid goodbye to our coach driver. We are taking an afternoon flight to Auckland to continue the NZ tour in the north. 

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Day 6 | 27 Nov 2001: Waikato, NZ

In the morning, we traveled from Auckland to Hamilton, a city with striving farming and is the main centre of the Waikato region.

Gails of Tamahere

Gails of Tamahere is a 15-acre property built in 1981 to grow, dry, market and export dried flowers. Advanced heat-freeze drying is utilised to give a wider range of product and stronger colour coordination. There was a friendly dog that followed us closely. I need a hug, he seemed to say.

Gail built a church building, walkways, gardens, pools for wedding, tour group and functions. The 1860’s Church was restored for use in displaying and storing bunches of dried flowers.  




 Shearing Shed: Angora Rabbits

Next stop is the the shearing shed for the Angora rabbits. Angora rabbits are gentle pets whose long hair can be used to spin into yarn for knitting. According to the ladies, the rabbits do not feel any pain at all; in fact, they enjoy shearing off the excess and heavy hair.



Day 6 | 27 Nov 2001: Waitomo, NZ

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

After lunch, we reached the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. In Maori, “Waitomo” can be translated as the “stream which flows into the hole in the ground”. These caves were first discovered by the local Maori in 1887. Like these ancestors, as we glided through the caves on the raft, we marvelled at the galaxy of tiny living lights in the serene ambience. The ceilings were dotted with the lights of thousands of glowworms. Naturally, photography was prohibited inside the caves.


Day 6 | 27 Nov 2001: Rotorua, NZ

The Maori Concert

Soon after dinner, we reached Rotorua’s Lake Plaza Hotel. Just before the Maori concert, we were chasing after the seagulls along the shore.

The Maori are the Polynesian of New Zealand, who arrived from East Polynesia at some time before the year 1300. The Maori society was destabilised from the late 18th century by the weapons and diseases introduced by Europeans. Soon after 1840, they lost an increasing amount of their land, and went into a cultural and numerical decline.

This how they greeted each other; by showing the whites of the eyes and the sticking out of the tongue

Haka is the traditional dance of the Maori performed in a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet rhythmically.




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