Wednesday, October 31, 2007
We asked for permission to sit in on the lesson and the Principal graciously obliged.
The furniture, building and set-up were as they existed in the old mining days. D2, a Principal herself, thoroughly enjoyed the session and exchanged views and later addresses with the Principal.
The school kids were very well behaved and extremely attentive.
They impressed both of us with their eagerness to learn.
D2....an overaged student in Shantytown School,Greymouth.
This is good proof that no matter what your age is, you can still ...LEARN!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The town developed as a result of the 1860's and 1880's Gold rush. Coal was also found here. From the town, you can see Mt Cook clearly to the south. The Midland line ( train ) runs through from here to Christchurch. The world famous train journey....the Tranz Alpine train begins and end in Christchurch.
We stayed the night at the Breeze Motel.
The next day we went on a special tour of Shantytown.
Monday, October 29, 2007
We enjoyed walking around the many shops and restaurants, went into some and bought some genuine "Arrowtown gold " in intricate gold-leafed black boxes and other stuff.
We bought DT and D4 some gifts from here to remind them of our love and of this unforgettable visit.
Wanaka [ Centre pic ]
From Queenstown, to Arrowtown, to Wanaka is about 112 km proceeding in a north-northeasterly direction. Wanaka is located on the south shores of Lake Wanaka, in west Otago.
Embraced by the Southern Alps, Wanaka is Otago's 2nd resort town after Queenstown. The crystal-clear water of Lake Wanaka, NZ's 4th largest lake, reflect the snow-capped peaks of Mt Aspiring National Park. Thus this town is a magnet for visitors who fancy outdoor adventure and indoor luxury.
D4 had made prior booking for us at the lovely Alpine Motel situated at 7, Ardmore Street. The lake was just across the road from where we were! So after checking into our suite, we made our way across the lake where some swans were coasting nearby. It was a very peaceful, scenic and tranquil town.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The dentist chair at the Albatross Inn, Dunedin.
You can see the words on the notice clearly ...just click
on the photo.
D2, D4 and myself enjoying the beauty and the sparkling freshness of flowers,ferns,pines and other exotic plants in the extensive grounds of Larnach Castle, even in winter.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Here are two more brochures which I've collected from the trip.
Dunedin holds the world record for the steepest street in the world.....Baldwin street.
Larnach Castle is a "must see" place on visitors to this region.
We rented this white Toyota Corolla for 5 days from NZ Rent a Car at 14, Harrow Street. It costs about 50 odd NZ dollars per day. The two certified drivers ....DT and myself. I took this snapshot of the car with DT, D2 and D4 while on the way to explore the Otago region. The vehicle Reg number is XA 1730.
At the very top of the Steepest Street in the world....Baldwin Street, Dunedin. In the background is a part of the city's skyline.( see my previous post ).
At Larnach Castle, New Zealand's only castle...overlooking the spectacular Otago Harbour, which is 1000 feet below.
This great castle was built by William Larnach in 1871 and completed in 1887. It took more than 200 workmen over 5 years to construct the main castle. Later, expert European craftsmen were imported to embellish the interior with the finest materials from around the world.
So who was William Larnach? He was one of New Zealand's most remarkable men. A successful landowner, Minister of the Crown, banker,financier and merchant baron, his lasting legacy was this beautiful castle and the lovely gardens covering 35 acres. Today, the Barker family owns it and they have lived there for over 3 decades. It is open to all visitors. There are admission charges. But it is a "must visit" site, IMO.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The base of his expeditions was nearby.
Christchurch is the largest city in South Island and has a population of about 345,000.
Centre picture: Dunedin
This is one place, one city that has captured our hearts. It is truly beautiful and breathtaking. The heart of the city lies on relatively flat land, west of Otago Harbour. In the late 19th century it was actually a swamp that was eventually drained off. The spectacular Dunedin skyline is dominated by a ring of 7 hills, remnants of a volcanic crater. In the city centre is the famous " Octagon", a popular draw for all visitors. Here, we noticed many students of the nearby University of Otago, hanging out amongst the cafes, eateries, quaint shops, malls,galleries etc. It is full of movement and life. DT and D4 proudly took us around the University where they both had studied in. It was a picture -book setting. If I could be young again and given a chance to study in a university, this would surely be my top choice. D2 and I just love the peace and lovely setting and everything within easy reach.
In Dunedin, we located Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world. In the Guinness Book of Records it says the gradient is 1 in 2: 9. Walking up that street makes you dizzy. It certainly requires much effort. Walking down is also peculiar and funny. So, many people try running down the street....quite effortlessly, if you can somehow keep your balance!
This street is close by to where our dear friends, the Turners DT, Nick and M live.
A snapshot of an old farm barrow in the countryside.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Back in year 2000 June, D2 and I headed that way to meet up with our daughter D4 who was working there after her graduation. We also visited the Turners who were close to D4.
Our flight took us to Christchurch before we boarded a local connecting flight to Dunedin. It was a small propeller driven plane that carried about 10 persons. Although very noisy inside, it afforded all of us spectacular views throughout the journey. We could even see revellers on some chartered boats waving at us....and we waved back! The pilot even asked whether we would like to see sheep grazing in the open fields.
Just imagine for a moment. We pay so much for international flights and get to see nothing!
Here, the fare was really cheap and it was the BEST plane ride we had in terms of the enjoyment factor.
Autumn was over and winter had begun. We rented a car for our self-exploratory adventure. After meeting up with D4 and DT, we began to enjoy the wide open space and the famed NZ outdoors especially the coastal regions.
The 1st picture shows the wild and rugged coastline of the Otago peninsular region, a region famed for its oceanic/coastal wildlife. The huge Royal albatross colony is centred at Taiaroa Head. And not forgetting the little quaint yellow-eyed penguins.
This whole region is teeming with wildlife and lots of outdoor activities. We took in some of the" must join "Eco-Tours after reading about them.
Quote from famous David Bellamy;
" In my opinion, the Otago Peninsular is the finest example of Eco-Tourism in the world."
The 2nd picture was at the 45th Parallel.
What is this whole thing about the 45th parallel?
Well, it is the theoretical halfway point between the equator and the south pole. So, this east -west line of the south latitude marks the point. In the southern hemisphere, it passes mostly over open ocean. Exceptions are where this same parallel crosses over the Aysen Region of Chile, and Chubut Province of Argentina.
In NZ, it crosses the South Island just north of Oamaru.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Last night, I had received some 10 horrific and most gruesome photos of some recent victims
of the Burma uprising. It had come with a warning....to take a few deep breaths before viewing.
It was good advice. Although I'm not squeamish nor easily terrified by most anything, it still took some getting use .....to see such inhumanity, cruelty beyond belief, butchery beyond comprehension in those pictures.
I have decided, for the moment, not to display them here openly for one simple reason.
And the reason is I do not wish to cause any severe discomfort to anyone's physical or mental state. They are that gory!
Nevertheless, the story of such depraved and evil brutality should not remain hidden.
The story should be brought to the attention of all civilised people everywhere.
If any of you visiting my site here wishes me to forward you the pictures, just send me your contact email address at the "comments" box and I will gladly oblige.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Everywhere I looked, I noticed the Sakura tree had long started to shred its leaves which had turned brown. Naturally, the beautiful Sakura flowers more popularly known as cherry blossoms ,were missing. Nonetheless, even in winter, I have a deep admiration for the sheer popularity of this tree...for it was the locals who asked, " do you know what a Sakura tree looks like in winter?" as they pointed excitedly to the surrounding trees.
It seems they are everywhere!
My first visit to Japan, the land of the cherry blossoms and the land of the samurais, was back in June and July 1972 ( exactly 35 years ago ) when I was then the Leader of the Singapore delegation to the 2nd ASIAN YOUTH VOYAGE and the 1st ASIAN YOUTH CONFERENCE at Naha, Okinawa. ( I will have a major post about that journey and adventure later ).
This sample of leaves was collected from a famous temple in Kyoto.
I often collect samples of fauna, flora and other interesting tidbits of geology, geography,history etc...and in my spare time, turn all the collected items, plus the photos,receipts,tickets, bills and other stuff, into a singular travel journal.
In upcoming posts, I shall delve into my collected journals and share the contents, pictures and recollections of many trips, over many,many years across many countries.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
The Strand Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar
Monks in thousands marching in peace
During our June visit, our host had highlighted certain sights and places we should not miss. Taking the cue, we made preliminary plans for our daily itinerary. It had to be a flexible plan as we were in the middle of the monsoon season with heavy downpour daily. We went through a few of such rain storms where poorly maintained roads, choked and broken drainage and sheer mass of vehicles, caused considerable jams and havoc on the roads. One afternoon, after having lunch in the city centre, we proceeded to the Yangon Port area as we wanted to go across the wide Yangon river on a ferry. The ferry, which can take hundreds at a time, takes about 15 minutes to get over to the other side. The locals pay the equivalent of our 10 cents ( kyat in Myanmar currency) but as foreigners/tourists we paid 2 US $ each! It is the same for the top pagodas like Shwedagon and Sule. Locals enter free, we paid 5 US $ each. When I asked to whom the fees go to. I was told ....."the military".
After our river crossing, we headed across the port area for one of Yangon's most famous landmark....The STRAND hotel, located at 92 Strand Road. This is in the main commercial and diplomatic district. It is little surprise that an obligatory Yangon tradition is to have afternoon tea, a quintessential English distraction, at this opulent stop. The Strand, built in 1901 by the Sarkies brothers reminds us of our very own Raffles Hotel...gracious,elegant, with its high colonial columns, high teas and starched linen. Restored to its former glory, this Victorian-style regal gem of Yangon sits on the waterfront, displaying all the charms of the 20's and 30's in lavish fashion. No need to ask if it is 5 star quality. Those who have sampled her offerings may even give her a 6 rating!
We settled ourselves down at the Strand Cafe. Believe it or not, there were no other visitors save us. A lone musician was playing the Myanmese harp and xylophone and we tipped him generously as we were the only audience! The music was strange and haunting. It could be echoes of the past. Sitting under the archaic whirring ceiling fans and in such a redolent setting, I could never have imagined nor conjured up the images and horrors of such as we have witnessed in recent days. At least not that ....soon! What D2 and I had seen and experienced was nothing compared to what is taking place right now in Myanmar.
The tea or drink at the Strand cost 4 US $ each. A plate of noodles 9 US$. The suite is about 500 US$ ++ per night ( cheapest ). There are only 32 suites, no rooms at all. Why are there so few tourists at the Strand or even elsewhere? If you visit the Lonely Planet website or read their latest guidebook on Myanmar the answer is pretty clear. The country has been labelled as a "pariah" state by the west and Europe. No, not referring to the local people but the military regime in power. And Madam Aung San Suu Kyi made repeated calls for tourists and others not to visit Myanmar as an anti-junta stance. As a result, most westerners, Europeans and others in the Asian-Pacific region skip Burma in their travel plans. In a country where most people are poor and where even those who work for the government earn less than 1 US dollar a day, it does not come as a big surprise that life in Burma is very hard. Even well-qualified doctors in their dilapidated hospitals earn 80 US dollars a month only. Many have to moonlight to survive.
The Strand is by far the best Yangon luxury hotel offering a vintage experience.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Owlet is a former student of mine who was unlike most students. He was never content to simply learn things from the syllabus or between the books. He much preferred the experiential aspects of education, active learning and absorbing bits and pieces of acquired wisdom rather than chunks and more chunks of book knowledge. He always asked lots of questions of me. He is still asking lots of questions today.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
According to the latest Daily Mail (UK ) News, 2nd Oct 2007, a senior Intelligence officer working with the Ruling Junta has decided to defect after he refused to be involved in the clandestine dirty work, now going on deep inside Burma's jungle in the north. According to HLA WIN ( his name ) he was to accompany thousands of detained monks and other protesters taken into the deep jungle and there shoot and bury or dump them. He could not bring himself to do so and taking his son with him, fled to the refugee border of Thailand to escape and seek refuge. He reported that all the monks and protesters had been shackled and dragged deep into the jungle. There they were all killed and their bodies dumped.
It does not come as a surprise to me that the evil regime has chosen the deep jungle as the new "Killing Field "for those who oppose them. The jungle's canopy provide the perfect cover against any spy satellites overhead. Some satellites have already captured clear images of their fortress-like bunker Hqrs at Naypyidaw. Obviously they wouldn't want such mass killings to be recorded and shown to the outside world. Brutal killing, heinous torture and state -sponsored terrorism against their very own people is the signature trademark of Than Shwe and his murderous clowns.
Many more horrific and brutal stories are posted on the internet. I am reminded of the "mad and murderous" reign of Idi Amin of Uganda after he deposed President Milton Obote while the latter was in Singapore for the Commonwealth Heads of Govt Conference.
A BBC team visited 7 monasteries and found no monks in any. Now, at least we know where they could have ended up. But they won't kill all monks. Those released were defrocked and sent home to their villages or communes. Others will remain locked up and languish in the regime's jails for a long time as punishment and warning to all in Burma.Latest Update: