Tag: photography

Singapore, once in a lifetime

Last month, I had a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Singapore.

I’m sure I’ll go back to Singapore again but not in the same circumstances. You see, last month, six families converged onto Singapore from Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia and England. It was a reunion of my father, his brothers and sister and their families.

We departed from Singapore on a 14-storey cruise ship, going to Penang and Phuket. It was my first time on a cruise. I admit that I felt a bit trapped, despite the theatre, amusement centre, bar, club, bar, disco, eight restaurants, library, swimming pool, gym, spa, hairdresser, basketball court, driving range, putting course, table tennis area, giant chess boards, karaoke rooms, casino, movie theatre, two souvenir shops, ice cream parlour and sports pub.

However, I was soon satiated by food. Early breakfast at 6am, proper breakfast at 8am, morning tea at 10am, lunch at 12pm, afternoon tea at 4pm, dinner at 6pm, midnight snack at, well, midnight.

I gained a kilogram and an inch around the waist. It was totally worth it.

Foyer of the Star Cruises Virgo
This is the first thing we saw on entering the ship. It's the atrium of the Star Cruises Virgo. It looks like Vegas but I was actually impressed with the quality of the finishes. No decor shortcuts here.
Top deck swimming pool on the Star Cruises Virgo
This is one of two swimming areas on the Star Cruises Virgo. Check out the huge water slide, which needs to be closed off when windy.
Cold treats at Penang
Look how excited I am! Cold treats at Penang. Mmm, chendol...
Ice Kacang
Oh my gawd, ice kacang. Me want it now. With green tea ice cream.
James Bond Island
At our Thailand stopover, we took a boat to James Bond Island. The island has a real name but it's been called James Bond Island ever since Hollywood came.
No durians
Poor smelly spiky durians. Discrimination is universal. This sign was at our hotel.
Joan on luge
Here I am, on the luge at Sentosa Island. It's one of the craziest things I've done in my life (and I actually have the brakes on slightly).
Joan on luge
There goes that madwoman, Joan.

Assault on Conwy Castle

Joel and I spent the long Easter weekend in and around Snowdonia National Park in Wales. We climbed the icy Mt Snowdon, ate three course meals every day, drank mead and watched medieval sword fighting.

Castles were on the agenda, Wales being the ‘land of the castles’ with 400 within its borders. The most magnificent one we visited was Conwy Castle.

Conwy Castle
From a tower of Conwy Castle, Wales

Joel is a keen rock climber. I could tell he was itching to scale the castle walls. He was always examining the stonework and looking up to plan his route.

Joel at Conwy Castle
The rocks call out to Joel.
Joel at Conwy Castle
He tests his footing...
Joel at Conwy Castle
...and begins his ascent.
Joel at Conwy Castle
For a moment he hangs.
Joel at Conwy Castle
Then he pulls himself up.
Joel at Conwy Castle
Smile for the camera, Joel.
Joel at Conwy Castle
Look how far you've come!
Joel at Conwy Castle
Time to come back down, Joel.
Sign at Conwy Castle
Oops! It's really time to come back down now.

Marazion and the Mount

On the last day of our seaside ‘mini-break’, we visited the town of Marazion for fish and chips.

The beach at Marazion

Marazion has something that I consider rare in the UK: a real sandy beach.

Marazion beach

These kids were riding on a stream that emptied in the ocean. I was bit concerned. There was a distinct smell of sewage about that stream. Either the stream was fed by geologically active groundwaters (doubtful) or it was carrying the outflow of some kind of water treatment plant (more likely).

Body surfing kids at Marazion

There must have once been volcanic activity in the area, though. There was slate and granite everywhere.

Wall at Marazion

Besides fish and chips, the other reason we came to Marazion was to see St Michael’s Mount. The Mount is its own parish with residents. The population peaked at 300 in the 1800s. Its castle is the official residence of Lord St Levan. He doesn’t live there anymore but his nephew supposedly does.

St Michael's Mount

When we arrived at the beach, we saw people being ferried to and from the island on small motorised boats.

St Michael's Mount

Some, though, came in on their own paddle power.

Canoes at Marazion beach

Around half an hour after we arrived, I spotted someone in the water, seemingly wading towards St Michael’s Mount!

Causeway to St Michael's Mount

It turns out that there is a man made causeway to the Mount, which can be crossed at mid to low tide.

Causeway to St Michael's Mount

Causeway to St Michael's Mount

Soon there was a highway of foot traffic between Marazion and the Mount.

Causeway to Marazion

From Lizard to Mousehole

Winter is here, my ankles can feel it. To escape, I’ve been going through my photos from a summer weekend near Penzance in Cornwall. Yes, that’s Penzance of Pirates fame.

There were all kinds of fun names associated with our mini-break. We stayed at in a village called Lizard and visited Land’s End.

Our weekend home was Nanceglos House, which is a National Trust cottage. It was the old laundry serving Trengwainton House (home to rich folk).

Cottage implies a small and quaint farm house. Well, Nanceglos House sleeps nine people so I wouldn’t call it small!

Nanceglos House

It had its own well, which I’m guessing was very important for a laundry in the 18th century.

Well at Nanceglos House

This beautiful living room was once the main laundry area. I wonder what it was like? Were there great vats of hot water and clothes? Were the workers constantly enveloped by steam?

Laundry room of Nanceglos House

It was a very tall space with wooden roof beams.

Laundry room at Nanceglos House

I love country kitchens! They make me want to cook (and eat). Damjan made a metre long pizza with onion confit. My mouth is watering just thinking of it.

Kitchen at Nanceglos House

Here are photos from the town of Penzance.

This is Jubilee Pool, safely buffered from the ocean.

Swimming pool at Penzance

The eateries reflect the seaside location.

Meadery at Penzance

Penzance eatery

We went on to a fishing village Mousehole (pronounced ‘Mowzel’), hoping for fish and chips. In the end, we saved our weekend fish-and-chip quota for the next day.

Mousehole harbour

Mousehole harbour

Boats at Mousehole harbour

The Mousehole harbour was clearly an attractive swimming spot for kids. The massive wooden gates at the head of the harbour were almost closed so the water was very calm.

Boy in Mousehole harbour

Swimming at Mousehole harbour

These kids were watching the others swimming. If you look carefully, you can see a wire cross on the rocky island to the left. At Christmas time, Cornwall residents and visitors converge on Mousehole to see its Christmas lights. Maybe that cross is part of the annual illuminations.

Looking out from Mousehole harbour

The keys to my love are on a mountain

When I was at Mount E’mei in my visit to China in September, I was drawn to the locks attached to the railings.

Mount E'mei lovers locks

Lovers come to Mount E’mei, place a lock on the a chain (or another lock, as all chain links are now well and truly colonised).

Mount E'mei lovers locks

They then throw the key off the side of the mountain.

Mount E'mei lovers locks

There really are thousands and thousands of locks. They climbed with us up the steps to the top of the mountain.

Mount E'mei lovers locks


Mount E'mei lovers locks

My love is made eternal with extra top security.

Mount E'mei lovers locks

I thought the locks were beautiful.


This week, I came back from two weeks in Hong Kong and China. My parents flew up from Melbourne to meet me for my first visit to the motherland.

We spent a week in the Sichuan province of China, visiting three of the six UNESCO world heritage sites in the province. One day, I will visit Beijing and Shanghai but on this trip, I saw China’s beautiful natural side.

Pearl Shoal Waterfall at Jiuzhaigou Valley.

A lake at Jiuzhaigou Valley. These lakes are amazing — they are crystal clear, even when the water is deep.

Tibetan flags at Juizhaigou Valley. About 1000 people live in the valley and most are Tibetan.

I paid 10 RMB (AUD1.70, £0.90) to dress up in traditional Tibetan dress.

Red panda at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. I used to think that red pandas were the plain cousin of black-and-white pandas. Now that I’ve seen them in person, I can assure you that they are very cute as well.

Pandas fighting — they don’t do kung fu, it’s more like basic whacking and thumping.

‘Get off me, you bully!’

We also saw baby pandas (one and three month old). The three month old panda was so cute, like a yawning flailing stuffed toy. The one month old panda was also cute, like a furry worm. We couldn’t take photos in the panda nursery.

At the sacred Buddhist mountain, Mount E’mei.

Incence at Mount E’mei.

China is full of bad English translations. I don’t know why. Even at our four and five star hotels and at UNESCO sites, it is clear that no one has employed the services of a fluent English speaker. I think this sign should say something like: ‘Value your life. Please do not climb over.’

Jinli Street in Chengdu has been an important market street for more than 2200 years. It was renovated a few years ago and is truly beautiful, everything stereotypically Chinese — except the prices, which have the stereotypical tourist premium. It is also uncharacteristically shiny and clean. Tourists flock here and are fleeced by pickpockets.

Puppets on Jinli Street.

At the end of Jinli Street, we watched Sichuan opera. This included the famous magic mask act, where the performers make lightning fast mask changes. The mask master was shaking my hand when he twitched and was suddenly wearing a different mask. I was astonished. I didn’t see it happen and he had been right in front of me.

Summer holidays

I’ve been in Serbia for the past 10 days.

1395Looking out from Kalemedgan, the ancient fortress of Belgrade.

1388Cruising the Sava River, one of two rivers running through Belgrade. The other is the famous Danube River.

1392I ate ice cream five times. Serbian summers are hot.

1398Cathedral of St Sava, patron saint of the Serbian Orthodox church. This church has been in construction for a hundred years and it’s in the final decade for completion.

I flew back and got home at 6pm. Tomorrow morning, I am flying out to Hong Kong for work, then China for fun. I’ll be back in two weeks.