Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Archive for May 2011

One Night in Sydney

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Proper travel advisers undoubtedly cringe when they read my travelogues and commentary. I just seem to do it all wrong and get amazing results. Of course I make the necessary bookings and comply with enforced regulations – I mean the thoroughly well planned and well thought out stuff – the lists of things you are supposed to do, that I mean to, but all to often I am rapt in something else. Fortunately the dramas that arise are often wonderful – getting bumped up to business class, discovering an amazing hotel for peanuts, sipping kava with a couple of locals or… flying to Sydney for a cruise around southeast Australia and then heading over the Tasman to NZ…

I am a notoriously cheap traveller and quite often book at the last minute, taking a punt on what’s available. Whilst I MUST have a window on a cruise ship (I will not sleep in a closet, I don’t care how roomy it is) generally a bit of natural light is all I require, not expansive sea views, which cost the earth. However, this particular cruise on the Diamond Princess departed Sydney 12 days before Christmas, arriving in Auckland on the 24th of December. Not a popular travel time and we discovered we could get a balcony room for a few hundred dollars more than a bog standard stateroom usually costs. I held my breath and coaxed my hubby into going for it. (The regular stateroom cost so little, it was cheaper than staying home!)

The flight to Sydney, was three and a half of the longest hours of my life. I had never flown Aerolingus before. An Argentinian friend had warned me, but I thought she was just being hard on her own. Oh no… it was rather like being in rattling collection of cans and nuts and bolts with cheerful staff that had never heard of the word service, but they did like to tell jokes. I can survive anything for three and a half hours (though I will probably find an alternative airline when I visit South America). It was raining hard when we landed. We had thought that we’d have a nosy around downtown Sydney before we got on the ship – but no, that was definitely a bad idea.

Check in was fine, the normal production of documents, signatures, searches and assignations. At last we boarded and made our way to our stateroom. How exciting! My first balcony! The rain was lightening as I stepped outside. And there she was, the Sydney Opera House in all her splendour – I hadn’t even noticed her since she was behind the ship! Sure enough, the rain soon faded and I spent the later afternoon and evening relishing the view and photographing.

The ship departed a couple of hours late – giving me the perfect opportunity to take this shot of the great lady as evening fell.

I still haven’t been to Sydney properly – I thought I might never do it, but some close friends recently shifted over the ditch, so I will have to go and visit them. Soon. Not sure I should try to outdo this pic, though.

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31/05/2011 at 1:47 am

Duck Duck Duck

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29/05/2011 at 10:07 pm

Hungry Hornbill

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29/05/2011 at 1:05 am

Blue Jade Vine

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When the tropics get the blues, they really have the blues. The rare blue jade vine, growing in the Cameron Highlands, known locally as the butterfly flower since two flowers placed back to back form a butterfly.

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28/05/2011 at 1:22 am

Busking for Riga Blues

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Rather fell in love with this boy and how he wailed his traditional Latvian folk-punk anthems at the passersby. Threw him a lot of coins – it takes a lot of beer to fuel that kind of passion.

I wonder if he’s still there or if he’s grown and gone, settled in a comfortable suburb with a nice wife and a new baby. He may have thrown away the boots, but I bet he’s still got that guitar.

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27/05/2011 at 1:12 am

RIPping in Penang

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I asked Dan, our driver in Penang, to take us to the local cemetery. As he was Chinese, he brought us to the Chinese cemetery. There had recently been a holiday honouring the dead, so many of the graves were festooned with blue and white flags and adorned with flowers and other honouring items. Dan was quite eager to point these out, guiding me to the enormous and very ornate grave of a wealthy couple, adorned with mythical creatures, statues of them and a wonderful view of the city before them. It really was quite spectacular, a deathstyle befitting their lifestyle. I took many photos.

As we were leaving and he got in the car, I asked for another moment – I wanted to look at the graves ‘over here.’  They were smaller, older, weedy and with an obstructed view. More my kind of place…

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25/05/2011 at 9:40 pm

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Hey buddy!

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25/05/2011 at 1:06 am

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