A Travellerspoint blog

Chapter ninety two - Hong Kong

Genuine copy Rolex, sir?

overcast 32 °C

Day 337: Hong Kong, Hong Kong 31/08/2012

Up early, a slap dash beard trim and a quick drink and we are out the door past the newly acquired antiques sourced last night and en route to the airport before our eyes even have time to focus properly. In need of a decent couple of hours sleep and a substantial breakfast after the beer took precedent over a decent dinner last night. Cue a trip to Duty Free and McDonald's for a camera and a couple of McMuffins. Just your standard Friday morning purchases really.

We are soon on the second last flight of the trip (sob) and the apprehension and excitement of the prospect of a new country - such a familiar feeling this year and one we shall miss - manifests itself in the pit of our stomach. Not only are we heading to another new territory, we are also heading into the unknown, with China being very much a place we have afforded little thought, due partly to its position at the very end of the itinerary and our denial that the final chapter would ever come...despite this the excitement and buzz of moving on to a new place is one of the great things we will remember from this year.

Some good treatment on our A380 flight and a welcome catnap sees us through the flight to Hong Kong and after a brief foray into the Business Class section of the cabin for some photos for the old man and his unhealthy Airbus obsession we are catching a bus into Kowloon in search of somewhere to stay. Forty minutes after boarding the bus to Kowloon, we pull up outside Chungking Mansions, a tried and tested centre of affordable backpacker accommodation, but a truly barmy set up to boot. Take one part 1960s high rise council block, one part Indian bazaar and a pinch of labyrinthine qualities and a multi-cultural melting pot and you get one overpriced, undersized bedroom, the sizer of a double bed and with a tiny en suite bathroom, ours with a genial and kindly old Chinese owner. Run out for some noodles and get our heads down for an earlyish night.

Day 338: Hong Kong, Hong Kong 01/09/2012

Awake refreshed in our attractive cell and despite the best efforts of the clunking, sputtering air conditioning unit and the paper thin pillow, we wake up feeling slightly less tired than we did yesterday. Our room in Chungking Mansions is situated on Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare through Kowloon and a beacon of absolute chaos, swathes of neon lights and a never ending snake of traffic. We take a stroll down to the waterside and after taking in the scale of the skyline, catch one of the ubiquitous Star Ferries across to Hong Kong Island (we are on the romantically named [i]Twinkling Star[i]) and at 30 pence an absolute bargain for one of Hong Kong's must do's.

Arrive at a damp Hong Kong Island and after getting our bearings we purchase ourselves a huge plate of noodles and gorge ourselves silly. The rest of the day is spent walking around Hong Kong Central, which seems a little disappointing given the buzz surrounding everything in Kowloon. We visit the very boring Western Market and see a graduate art exhibition at the HK Arts Centre before catching the ferry back and making our way back up the very busy Nathan Road to the Temple Street night market for a bit of retail therapy. A couple of bargains is followed by a very strange and overpriced dinner before we call it a night and make our way back to the Shoebox Inn, where the old man greets us with his customary 'welcome' and his wife makes an appearance to join in. Bed.

Day 339: Hong Kong, Hong Kong 02/09/2012

Another night's sleep that rates no more than 'satisfactory' in the Tommy Evs scale of sleep satisfaction sees us up and about in the shoebox reasonably early, trying to pack the bags in the ridiculous amount of available room. Leaving Chungking Mansions on a mission to buy some bus tickets to Guangzhou, I am offered 'has, marijuana, coke' twice in the space of approximately three seconds. Emerging triumphantly from the bus station and walking down Nathan Road with two bus tickets under my arm, I develop quite the sweat before we head out for another day in the big city. Our tour of Kowloon incorporates a very good lunch and a stroll through Kowloon Park. Here we sample the delights of the pensioners' trim trail (manage to hit the 'advanced' level of six chin-ups) and take in the laid back Sunday atmosphere. Amid hordes of domestic workers enjoying their day off gambling, gabbing and gobbling picnics we catch the rays and find ourselves sat watching a reasonably decent six-a-side tournament. Miss playing and make a note to self (get fit).

A trip back to the market to pick up a few bits and pieces is followed by a great noodle soup. We have the obligatory Sunday Night Skype and are well and truly stung for printing a few confirmation emails out...

Posted by tevs 13:19 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged food markets city busy hong_kong Comments (0)

Chapter ninety one - Sydney's Swansong

Last few days down under

sunny 15 °C

Day 335: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 29/08/2012

After a final morning and a nice breakfast in Queensland, we are kindly taken to the airport by Erin and Riley. In a bid to keep him entertained, we feed some dollars into a massage chair and enjoy the look on the big man's face as his back is pummeled by the rollers and mechanisms housed in this strange contraption. Riley soon jumps off and I take over from him in the hotseat. Duly get beaten up by the strange man that obviously lives in the leather armchair.

Our flight leaves early and Gemma mistimes a film in her seat. Thinking she will be able to resume where she left off (we swap planes in Brisbane), one can only imagine her dismay and shock as the second aircraft houses no television sets. Cue laughter all round, though when it gets too excessive I have to ask the pilot and the aircrew to get on with their jobs and stop brazenly mocking my fiancee.

Arrive nice and early in Sydney and being kindly welcomed back to John and Nele's flat for a second stint, we have to swing by the Women's Hospital and pick up Nele's keys. Gemma briefly has herself a job as a Vietnamese interpreter before anyone realises she cannot speak Vietnamese and is only there to pick something up off one of the doctors. Impromptu career change aside this key collection goes swimmingly and before long we have a chilli con carne on the hob. Cosy.

Day 336: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 30/08/2012

Our last day in Australia comes around a little too quickly to be believed. A spot of breakfast is followed by that favourite pastime of ours, packing the backpacks. We somehow seem to have grown/sprouted some more stuff, which has happened far too often this year. God knows how we manage it.

After sorting our stuff out and popping to the shops, we join John and Nele down at Bondi Beach for a spot of lunch, and surprise surprise a few drinks. A few obviously turns into quite a few and after a one too many we find ourselves in the back of a cab with the Scousers bringing a few trophies back to the flat. A few hours sleep to look forward to before tomorrow's flight out of here. Good times to remember in Oz and definitely a place to come back to...how many times have we thought that this year?

Posted by tevs 12:40 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney australia bondi nightlife Comments (0)

Chapter ninety - Townsville

Roos, stag do's and barbecues

sunny 28 °C

Day 326: Townsville, Queensland, Australia 21/08/2012

With our flight to Townsville in the evening, we have another lazy morning in Brisbane, successfully introducing Gavin and Stacey to the Australasian continent through Danny's PS3 and trying to tackle the gaping holes in the blog. Danny is off work today (thought he was working) so after a slap up lunch we say goodbye and head to Chelmer station. Noone here to help us top up our Go! Cards and with the machine not playing ball, Danny kindly drives us to the airport.

A nice easy flight - a nice time to fly - and before we know it we are in Townsville, being met at the station by Mark and Maria. We are then taken to our home for the next week at Erin and Gary's magnificent new home, located in masses of land and found right on the banks of the Black River. Cue a smiling Thomas as dinner is served. Roast beef, roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. A very comfortable night in the guest room and the brand new bed.

Day 327: Townsville, Queensland, Australia 22/08/2012

Wake up in this fantastic house with the huge garden and endless exploration potential of the Black River awaiting. We go for a walk down the banks of the river - huge sandy silt plateaus that are underwater during the wet season apparently. After losing a foot in a rather soft part of the river bed, we walk barefooted to mock the hoardes of snakes we expect to see (but don't) and head back to the house for a spot of lunch. It is much warmer up here than further south (especially Sydney) and the 'cold' winter we have heard so much about (apparently jackets have been worn at least twice this winter) seems to be a figment of everybody's imagination...

After some roast beef sandwiches we walk round to Mark and Maria's house, which is much further than it seemed in the car last night. The sun is beaming down now and the back of the neck starts to get a bit warm and pink. A quick drink at M&M's before we take Peggy and Riley - Erin and Gary's playful one year old son - on an exciting grocery shop, being shown the sights on the way. A great dinner of fish and chips is enjoyed down on the seafront at the Strand. Barramundi, calamari and cheesecake all go down a treat. Can see me coming home literally twice the man I was when we left. A quick trip up Castle Hill to see the twinkling lights of Townsville follows tea, which itself is followed by an early night.

Day 328: Townsville, Queensland, Australia 23/08/2012

A trip to Magnetic Island is in store today and we are joined on the 7.45 ferry by the geriatric brigade. Forced to sing to oneself to drown out their incessant and innane chatter. Immediately see a crew of rock wallabies when we arrive on the island - pretty much half ticks the box of seeing kangaroos. We then spend the morning on a walking trail, seeing an echidna (a kind of porcupine thing) in someone's garden. A stunning day on this beautiful island and things get interesting as we take another walking trail in search of Horseshoe Bay. The trail disappears abrubtly and we are forced to go cross-country...we traipse through sub-tropical rainforest in our flip flops, battling through the undergrowth and trying to avoid disturbing any poisonous snakes. This 'trail' then brings us out through someone's back garden onto the road we left at the start of this little episode, so an hour in the baking heat hacking through the home of the ominously named Death Adder in our 'thongs' brings us out approximately one minute further up the road than when we started. Progress I suppose.

A kindly old Mancunian by the name of Frank takes pity on his two bedraggled and sweaty compatriots and kindly gives us a lift to Horseshoe Bay, where we hire some snorkelling gear. Whilst walking to the best snorkelling point, an obnoxious Californian couple and an obnoxious Aussie couple are joined by an obnoxious British couple in cooing and photographing a wild koala. Full box ticked this time by this graceful and slow living marsupial. Much bigger than expected. A quick, very cold snorkelling expedition just about sees the day to an end and we are soon back on the ferry to the mainland. A good dinner round the campfire at Mark and Maria's is the perfect end to a perfect day.

Day 329: Townsville, Queensland, Australia 24/08/2012

Another early morning for us today as we are visiting the Billabong Sanctuary - with Erin, Riley, Maria and Peggy - to see some more of the Australian wildlife and learn more about it. An immediate sighting of a kangaroo ticks another box a great morning is spent living some dreams - stroke a wombat, hold a python, wrestle a crocodile and pet a dingo. Also see some more famous Australian residents in their natural habitat, Bogans - the Aussie equivalent of a serious chav or redneck - enjoying the crocodile show (amazing how high they can jump) and venomous snake show, though they wonder why they can't hold a deadly snake. After watching the croc show we see a small freshie in the park lake and when Maria asks the keeper about this, it turns out ot shouldn't be there. Worrying.

The bird show brings the day to a conclusion and the two babies (Riley and me) have a sleep in the back of Erin's car on the way home. We have a few drinks round at the house of one of Gary's colleagues in real man territory - a garage full of motorbikes, quad bikes and beer. Another campfire at M&M's, where Liam's dog destroys everyone's shoes. The birds here - particularly the Coolie birds and Barking Owl - make a right racket. One even sounds like a woman screaming..

Day 331: Townsville, Queensland, Australia 25/08/2012

Welcome to the weekend. An early start as we head to Ayr for dinner with Noel and Zarn and to drop Peggy home. North Queenland is a big place - lots of space, lots of farms (mainly sugar cane) and the fragile Bruce Highway, the only real road and one that is often flooded and made impossible to follow. Ayr on the other hand is tiny - a town of 8000 or so made up of one tiny high street and a few shops. Very quaint. We meet the other Anne and David.

A real Italian lasagne and some cold cuts at Noel and Zarn's go down a treat and we just have time to make sure Peggy is settled before heading back. Apprehension in the air as I am due to be going to an Aussie stag do with Gary. This proves to be well placed as I am forced into drinking Jaeger, playing beer pong and eating heaps of roast pork. We are picked up three hours later a right state.

Day 332: Townsville, Queensland, Australia 26/08/2012

Shame and hangover go hand in hand after last night's festivities and Gemma looks after me very well...the girls make a trip to the shops and return to find the boys all asleep, Gary and Riley in the boy's racing car bed and me on the trampoline in the sun. A phone call for Gary soon sees us two on the quad bike down the river to help his brother get his truck out of the river bed where he has managed to get stuck. Two hours in the baking sun as a very sore young man sees me regret offering to help...not really what was needed.

We all make a trip over to see some friends of Erin and Gary, who have a house right on the beach. Another huge plot to add to the list and another great location. A couple of beers makes everyone feel a little better and Riley and Nash endure a naked 'best friend' photoshoot in the sand. A film, a good tea and a skype end the day far better than it began...

Day 333: Townsville, Queensland, Australia 27/08/2012

Wake up a new man, enjoying just how pleasant the mornings here can be...and a very quiet morning it is too, spent playing with Riley and the dog and enjoying the sun. We visit the Reef HQ in Townsville this afternoon, where some of the very strange, eerie creatures of the deep can be seen. The strangest creature of all is the man on the desk, who asks where we are from for the benefit of the computer. When I say London (near enough) he says 'I'll put Madrid, it's pretty close'. Ok. And it goes on as he asks if we have senior citizen's cards or student cards or just about any other card that springs into his head. I think he even mentions Pokemon cards.

Learn about the Great Barrier Reef and the incredible wildlife it supports and watch the menacing sharks swim around the aquarium as though they own it. A small polystyrene boy freaks Riley right out, but he seems to say at least this is better than a naked beach photoshoot.

Day 334: Townsville, Queensland, Australia 28/08/2012

Our last day in Townie - we have loved it up here - and we start nice and early. Me and Gem are tasked with looking after Riley whilt Erin visits the doctor. We sit at a coffee shop - great salmon and brie bagel, chocolate brownie for Gemma and a vegemite biscuit for Riley. All to the supermarket, where we get some stuff for tea and a quiet afternoon is spent in the patio hammock. A nap may or may not have occurred. There is no way of telling. Play with Riley for the rest of the afternoon - it will be sad to say goodbye to someone on exactly my wavelength.

We take a stroll down to the river with Mark, Maria, Erin, Riley and Liam to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset. A great spot and one to remember that's for sure. The sky turns a deep pinky orange, the bats come out and the birds make a racket in the murky twilight. The Barking Owls give it some. A good dinner and time to say our goodbyes again. Have had a great time in Townsville and vow to return! Back to Sydney tomorrow.

Posted by tevs 02:57 Archived in Australia Tagged koala wildlife australia queensland kangaroo townsville magnetic_island billabong_sanctuary Comments (0)

Chapter eighty nine - Brisbane

Calamities, relations and nuptials

sunny 22 °C

Day 319: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 14/08/2012

Quite a morning! Our early morning start and trip to the airport not going quite as smoothly as intended...

With the trusty iPod alarm set for five past four to allow us time to get to Bondi Junction to catch the five am bus to the airport, you can imagine our panic as we both wake with a start to find it is one minute to five. Turns out the iPod was on silent. I run downstairs (as best my stiff legs will allow) to try and hail a cab and in my haste I trip over the steps to sprain an ankle. With Gemma trying in vain to ring a minicab we have a stroke of luck as a cab comes round the corner with its light on. We just make it to the airport in time, at a cost double that estimated by the cabbie! What a start to the day...

We take our place on the plane without even time for a drink and exactly one millisecond after sitting down we both duly fall asleep. Wake up in Brisbane. Now our next obstacle is to try and get ourselves to Danny and Jaye's flat, where we are staying and also get a message to them without the use of a mobile phone...using the instructions sent to us by Noel and Zarn, we soon find ourselves in the right place but with the added problem of nobody being home. Borrowing a neighbour's phone we get through to voicemail accounts and soon find ourselves meeting Jaye on her own doorstep. Cue much relief.

After a quick spruce up the two of us spend the afternoon in central Brisbane feeling tired but relieved we even got here today. A bite to eat at a cheap noodle joint addresses the pangs for Asian cuisine and after a few hours strolling round the city centre we make our way back to the flat to meet Danny and after a nice tea and a glass or two of wine, we hit the hay. Knackered.

Day 320: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 15/08/2012

A public holiday in Brisbane today, as it is Queensland's state show day, known as the EKKA. Shannon, who I have met before during his time studying in the UK, comes to see us at Danny's and kindly brings some delicious breakfast pastries with him. He then kindly gives Gemma and me a lift into the town and we find ourselves at the trendy South Bank area of the city, not too dissimilar to London's South Bank. A lazy day - much contrasted to some of the mad dash of yesterday morning - then ensues as we find a nice sunny spot on the river bank and enjoy a rather nice picnic...we are entertained by a few young lads showing off their gymnastic/martial arts skills and Gemma soon finds a mischievious crawling baby is wearing her sunglasses.

Later in the afternoon we take a stroll through the rest of the South Bank area, taking in the artificial beaches and the general buzz of the place. Brisbane seems a much nicer city than we gave it credit for yesterday in our zombified stupor and see it is a very pleasant city to spend a few days in. Catch the train back to Chelmer with the racegoers (EKKA is traditionally a big race day) and find much like British punters they are all inebriated and munching on fast food. Shades of Aintree or Ascot...

Day 321: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 16/08/2012

A day seeing a bit more of Queensland today, and after Gemma puts together a nice packed lunch for us, we load up our Go! cards and jump on the train headed for the Gold Coast. The train passes through some places that definitely sound made up. Yeerongpilla and Moorooka spring to mind.

We eventually arrive at Surfers Paradise about three hours after leaving. Here are a few observations about Surfers Paradise: a) awful name - no waves; b) very built up; c) despite the sun it is pretty cold in August; d) the huge beachside buildings cast rather big shadows over the beach pretty early. Other than that though - and the resort's tackiness - we have a pretty good day dodging the shadows and avoiding the seagulls and watching a group of Korean tourists try to learn how to surf. Another destination ticked off the list and after a good dinner it is time to call it a day.

Day 322: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 17/08/2012

Up early today, with our hosts taking us out for the day to Mount Tambourine. Promptly fall asleep in the car ten minutes after leaving. Arrive at Mount Tambourine to take in the great views of the surrounding areas from the point the local hang gliders launch themselves, as you do, off the side of the hill. Not for me I don't think.

A delve into the sub-tropical rainforest follows and taking the Witches Falls trail we see and hear some incredible bird life. A pademelon - imagine a small, slightly deformed kangaroo - then shows himself to us in the undergrowth and keeps the trekking as silent as we can manage. Some of us were made for stealth, some of us were not. I'll leave you to decide which category me and G fall into. Hint: we are not in the same category.

Head back to the car and by half eleven we are sampling liquers at the Mount Tambourine distillery, with a sour faced woman from Nottingham and a caricature Aussie producing these tipples. The local cheese maker and brewery are then visited and a delightful lunch of cheese baguettes and local beer is gleefully consumed. Back in the car then (cue nap), to make a quick visit to Yatala to see their famous pie shop and are stared at curiously for not having a huge meat pie and sharing just a small apricot job...judging by the size of some of these pie snobs, the shop has a fairly regular client base...

Day 323: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 18/08/2012

Day of the Big Fat Aussie Wedding and we are soon meeting Luke - the groom - at Danny and Jaye's as he makes some last minute finalisations. A quiet lunch (sushi) is followed by a taxi to the venue - the Botanical Gardens - with a crazy Bhangra producing, very un-PC Indian cab driver who tries his hardest to sell us his album. Hmmm, maybe not.

We meet up with the rest of the Smarts and the Finns - good to meet all the extended family at last - and I am soon reunited with Great Aunt Peggy, who tells the story of her pushing my pram with such jubilation to anyone who will listen. A lovely wedding ceremony takes place in the exotic surroundings before we move on to the stunning mountain retreat for a wonderful reception, where the drinks flow at the same rate as the conversation and festivities get going. A funny night and we meet a lot of people I have heard of but never met, as well as some I have met long ago. Some of these were pretty drunk. Must be genetics!

Day 324: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 19/08/2012

Not too shabby this morning all things considered and a nice breakfast with Danny and Jaye starts the day well. We head back to the South Bank for the afternoon, where some more of the wedding goers are congregating and so a wander round Sunday market follows. A few sore heads and broken dreams amongst the crowd means that a pub lunch is called for to shake some life back into a few bodies.

A quick tea and a Sunday night film is followed by the obligatory Sunday Skype before exhaustion triumphs and we sleep like babies.

Day 325: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 20/08/2012

After a lazy morning and a lie in we think that we are home alone, before we realise that we're not, and we are soon enjoying a cup of tea with Noel and Zarn. To say thanks for their hospitality, we decide to cook Danny and Jaye as nice a dinner as we're capable of and a trip to the supermarket follows. Swinging by a Sri Lankan/Indian food store we are immediately transported back to the start of the trip by the sights and smells on offer - time travel through the olfactory glands!

We rustle up a storm in the kitchen, overcook some rice and say our thank you and goodbyes (they are both at work tomorrow) and prepare to head north to Townsville. Travelling through Oz with just hand luggage (our backpacks are in Sydney) packing proves to be a breeze. If only we could do the whole trip like this...

Posted by tevs 01:18 Archived in Australia Tagged australia queensland brisbane south_bank Comments (0)

Chapter eighty eight - Sydney

all seasons in one day 12 °C

Day 312: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 07/08/2012

After a refreshing two hours' sleep we touch down in Sydney, breeze fairly easily through customs and are kindly met at the terminal by Gemma's cousin John. Amazingly, the Pakistani woman who tried to board the plane without a ticket is one of the first at the baggage carousel to claim her stuff. To say the eight degrees celcius outside feels a bit chilly given the last ten months is an understatement and we are happily soon in the back of John's car on our way to the first 'proper' cup of tea of the trip. A quick shower at John and Nele's lovely flat soon blows the cobwebs of the flight away and before long we are on our way out to see the sights.

First impressions of Sydney - and Australia - are very, very positive, with the area in which J&N live being home to countless terraces of beautiful houses, all cast iron balconies and bay windows. The 'normality' of the roads after ten months in Asia is a big shock to the system (as are the prices...) but all is good as we board the ferry at Double Bay and head for Circular Quay, home to the postcard shots of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour bridge. My perceptions of these buildings/structures being cliched are blown apart, and as we sip a couple of beers in the shadow of the Opera House, any misconceptions we had about Australia and what we should expect from our time here, are laid to rest. With friends and family here, we could not ask for better hosts and we start to look forward to the next three and a half weeks and what it will bring.

After a quick lunch - and some welcome 'home' food (who'd have thought a pie would be so good?) - Nele heads back to the flat to sort some things out and John shows us some of the local pubs. A more pleasant, cleaner and more relaxing environment in which to have a few bevvies could not be found and before long we have whiled the afternoon away. Over a good dinner I am somehow roped into running the world's biggest fun run on Sunday, the 14km City 2 Surf event. Great! I am very well prepared for this...We manage to stay up until 2am somehow before hitting the hay.

Day 313: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 08/08/2012

A great sleep and a well deserved lie in (we have had a tough time of it this year!) is followed by a nice cup of Rosie Lee. Given the beautiful weather outside - unusual for this time of year apparently - our hosts take us down to Bondi Beach and beyond. Another cliche blown apart by actually visiting it, Bondi is actually a really great place to spend some time - the beach is long and wide, the sea is clear and blue and the surf is up. The skatepark on the beachside further compounds my admiration for the place.

We then take the Bondi to Coogee walk over the clifftops, with some stunning views and some rather nice properties overlooking the sea. The traditional end of hike Aussie meal (McDonald's) further sells Sydney to us and the bus back to their flat passes some big parks and cricket grounds. A trip care of John and Nele to a quiet spot overlooking Sydney harbour at sunset introduces me to Heartbreak Hill, a half mile piece of hell that makes Gladiators' travelator look friendly, which is part of the City 2 Surf route. John rustles up some meatballs for dinner and after some Olympic action from a faraway land we head to bed.

Day 314: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 09/08/2012

After another great night's sleep John takes us for a brisk walk around the local park, which has lots of public facilities including playing fields, an equestrian centre and a heap of public barbecues for use for a nominal fee. Nice. A spot of lunch at the Sailing Club at Double Bay is followed by a trip to see all the nearby sights, including 'The Gap' - a suicide hotspot but also a beautiful part of the city - Shark Beach and Camp Cove, which has some dream properties on it. We then take a quick stroll up the cliff towards Lady Bay Beach. This involves taking in some more sights than we originally hoped for, as John 'remembers' that it is a nudist beach. 'There won't be anyone there on a blustery day like this...'Oh. We have to tell one of the men on the beach that it's rude to point. Ahem.

A trip to the supermarket for tea is followed by some decathlon pole vaulting action - who invented this event? - and bed.

Day 315: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 10/08/2012

A very short entry today. We are left to our own devices as John and Nele are at work today. The weather outside is positively Novemberish Manchesterish - rain, wind and cold - so we have a day in front of the tv enjoying a few brews. Our big day out eventually sees us venture into the nearby Westfield centre at about four and after braving the gale and getting some supermarket produce we return to the flat over an hour later. Roast chicken, mash and veg lifts the spirits.

Day 316: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 11/08/2012

A marginally more eventful day than yesterday and after dragging ourselves out of the very comfortable bed we decide to do something with the day ahead. We head out on the bus, with Circular Quay in mind, and find ourselves alighting slightly earlier than expected in the trendy Paddington district of the city. Here we visit the Saturday Paddington Market, where there are lots of bargains on offer at ten to fifteen times the price of those in the Bangkok markets. Still, some nice stuff available.

After visiting some nice shops, getting some trousers for next week's wedding and passing some nice looking bars and restaurants, we visit a rather cool coffee shop/second hand bookshop and get a Lonely Planet for the China leg of the journey. We then find ourselves back at the harbour, which looks completely different lit up at night and get some nice photos.

We get the bus back to the flat and embark on a carb load for tomorrow's 'fun' run. After months of (delicious) Asian food, pasta is a nice return to the diet and after a quick skype it is time for bed and a rest before the day of reckoning.

Day 317: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 12/08/2012

So then, the day has come for the City 2 Surf. Up at six to don my shorts and trainers and with me nervously glancing at the clock, Gemma kindly makes me some breakfast. Soon on the bus and seemingly sooner still find myself at the start line. There is an enormous crowd here - allegedly there are over eighty thousand people running (the biggest fun run in the world I am reliably informed) - and before I know it...we're off!

Start the race at a blistering pace, thinking this is a bit of a breeze. Soon flag however, with the hedonism of the past few months catching up with me with a vengeance. An attempted murder by Heartbreak Hill does little to dampen my spirits, and despite nearly throwing up when a cup of Gatorade goes down a bit wrong, I start to think we must be getting close. Then the 8km marker rears its ugly head and the realisation that we are only just over halfway dawns on a few of us runners I think! Anyway, ignoring the stunning scenery of the route the run takes due simply to the lack of oxygen reaching my brain I am at the finish line before I know it and an enormous sense of relief and joy sweeps over me. A time (I later learn) of seventy six minutes is not too bad all things considering and I am reasonably proud of myself. If only I was fitter...one to work on when we get back I think.

After forty five minutes spent finding Gemma and braving the biting wind blowing onshore from Bondi, we are soon in a VIP hospitality tent care of Jon, our friend from the Gili islands. Some great food, some unsuitable recovery drinks and a good massage later, we bid goodbye to him again and thank him for the invite! With bags of freebies in tow, we sit down for a drink in Bondi, where we meet an older Brummie couple and during Happy Hour the day catches up with me and I doze off in my chair. A quick dinner and a well earned early night follow. Exhausted! Gemma tells me how proud she is! If only I was fitter...If only I was fitter...zzzzz.

Day 318: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 13/08/2012

Arise ever so slightly sore today and with the sun back in the sky we decide to make a day of it. A bus to Circular Quay opens a world of possibility and after watching an Aborigine play his didgeridoo we catch the ferry across to Manly. A very choppy crossing is compensated for by yet more fantastic views and after arriving we spend a very windy afternoon on the beach. Glad to be wearing a hoody!

The lactic acid builds up progressively during the day and soon my legs are giving way underneath me. A touch of the green eye as we spy people running out of their front doors and straight into the sea with their wetsuits and their surfboards. A bit nice for them really. We grab a great steak for dinner and prepare for tomorrow's early morning flight.

Posted by tevs 02:29 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches opera_house sydney food harbour city run bars Comments (0)

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