Journalling Down Under – Part 1

I recommend keeping a journal alongside your holiday photos. It really helps to keep alive those memories that otherwise can just disappear into “the cloud”. I think it’s a shame we don’t print so many of our photos these days – what will happen to those digital snaps when you are no longer around?

The great thing about having a freelance job is that if you choose to, you can take your work with you on holiday. (Or not!) So I decided to log what we got up to on our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, but came unstuck when I was out of wi-fi. Next time I think I’m going to take a notebook and pen. If I can use wi-fi while I’m still away, I plan to send my best pictures to Free Photo Books and have them waiting on the doormat when I finally get home!

Three weeks really wasn’t long enough to be honest, and it wasn’t till I saw the picture of Europe super-imposed onto the map of Australia that I truly realised just how much we have yet to see in the world!

Read the first part of our Trip of a Lifetime below!

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Leaving Our Little Island for Three Weeks!

Our travel companion for the 13-hour journey from Heathrow to Singapore is a Philippino lady on her way to her wedding! She has the window seat, but I don’t mind too much as we are right over the wing – the biggest wing I’ve ever seen!

An hour into the flight, (smooth take off and all very comfortable even in Economy in this Singapore Airways flight), the drinks trolley comes around and Singapore slings are on the menu! I think Pete’s glad I talked him out of a fried breakfast at overpriced Heathrow because the in-flight menu is delectable (and free, which I like 😏). No way I’m going to eat English grub when I can have lemon pepper chicken (ACTUAL Singapore-style!) and fried fish in sweet vinegar sauce with Chinese veg for lunch!

I’m watching the new Mary Poppins film to pass the time. Loving it because I saw the original when I was about the same age as little Jane (Michelle Dotrice). Back at school then, everyone thought it was me who’d played her … true, there was some resemblance!

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Four hours down, nine to go! We’ve wined and dined and now many of our travel companions have headphones on, watching the free movies or box sets, or getting some sleep, maybe half listening to chillout music. Finding I can’t sleep though – baby crying a few rows in front, and they started serving breakfast at silly o’clock – about 11pm by my body clock!!!

 

Singapore stopover

Our stay in Singapore was way too short and just whetted our appetite for a return one day. We had a day and a night and another day before our next flight.

We checked in to a hotel just inside the city centre, one of hundreds that soar high out of the hot concrete through humid air, each trying to out-do the next in its glamour and style. Singapore is a superior version of Canary Wharf in London: clean, sunny, manicured – which could be something to do with the fact that it’s illegal to chew gum! It’s interesting, spacious, and doesn’t ignore its origins but makes Chinatown a place to go. It’s somewhere you can mingle with the Singaporeans where they go about their work in the markets, unintimidated by the West, creating sumptuous food of the freshest fish, vegetables that you can really taste, and not just for the tourists but for themselves, in places where they socialise and love where they live.

We spent an hour or two orientating ourselves in the hotel locality. It was on a wide main road of 5 lanes each way but crossed at intervals by attractive footbridges, some planted with tropical plants and succulents. Not far across the road we found ourselves in quiet pedestrian pathways that followed a river or canal, winding its way behind and around new hotels and old colonial buildings being renovated. All along, it has been landscaped and the path is sheltered from the hot sun by established trees, some in flower and most of which I didn’t recognise. People on their way to work as well as tourists like us use these paths, many on fabulous little motorised scooters. They go at some speed but the drivers are considerate and slow for us jaywalkers. We stop to look at things, or to swallow some water, and eventually retrace our steps to get into our hotel and get some sleep before the evening.

 

Clarke Quay

A trip to Clarke Quay has been recommended, so with a map in hand and simple directions from the friendly hotel Concierge, we walk about a kilometre towards the trendy part of the capital. We find ourselves in a river taxi as it gets dark with the promise of seeing spectacular lofty hotels and a sound and light show that takes place at 8.30 every evening. Warm spots of rain begin to fall as we take our places along the polished wooden benches in the boat which is open to the sides but with a welcome roof above us. All around us are couples and even solo travellers who have come to see this nighttime spectacle.

As we leave the jetty, we are soon looking up on each side of the river at colourful bars and restaurants, some with banquette tables literally hanging from the quayside over the water. No one is concerned by the rumbles of thunder and the plops of rain, it seems to evaporate in the evening warmth in minutes anyway. The sounds of people enjoying themselves are everywhere, and delicious flavours waft our way: Vietnamese, South American, Thai… we’re saving ourselves – we both fancy noodles tonight. The boat leaves the gaiety behind and the engines go quiet as we find ourselves practically in the centre of a wide body of water. Conversations seem to hush as if waiting for something. We have time to take it all in: The Bay Sands Hotel is the oddest looking hotel I’ve ever seen. Its 3 futuristic towers reach high into the sky, and resting quite ethereally on the top is something resembling the keel of a long boat. You can just make out people milling about at its edges, and someone tells us it’s an infinity pool! Bizarre!

Suddenly, there are low notes of music starting, and beams of blue, red and green lasers illuminate the hotel. To the left of us there are some flower-shaped odd constructions which seem to be another focus of the light show; everything in sight shows that this is a country that’s very proud of its heritage and wants us to come and enjoy it.

Finally, we return to the quay and find food. (I have seconds to Pete’s horror!) and we make our way back to the hotel for a much-needed sleep. Plans for the next day are a trip to an amazing thing called The Gardens by the Bay before making our way back to the airport for the next leg of this marathon to Brisbane on the east coast of Australia.

 

Gardens by the Bay

This was a treat we didn’t really have time to take in completely, two huge glass canopies with an incredible array of tropical flora beneath, each and every part of it constructed and planted and maintained beautifully by expert horticulturists.

One of my favourite things was these sculptures, depicting a travelling family who visit Gardens by the Bay before their flight. As they leave the garden, they take with them beautiful memories. This is a better picture than mine below, and here’s a link to what else there is to see at Gardens by the Bay, but unfortunately we had no more time to spend as we had a flight to Australia to catch!

Check back here for our experiences snorkelling over the Great Barrier Reef, and ninety minutes in a cable car over the rain forest, and spending a week in a camper van in New Zealand!

 

Do let me know what you think!

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