Saturday, December 7, 2013

Jumping out of a Perfectly Good Plane

James' (son) birthday is very soon, Lisa (wife) bought him a sky dive. As she couldn't be here, we were minding the kids and recording the event.

So, what is it like - jumping out of a perfectly good plane?

 Here is the place to go ...

 ... and of course there are forms to fill in and sign.

And now his name is on the whiteboard - "James T14" because he is jumping out (in tandem with an instructor) at 14 000 feet.

Now we have quite a wait.

 There's a nice swing to play on,

 and Bethany enjoys playing in the old wingless plane.

There are lots of people waiting around, and getting ready.
Some people carry a video camera on their wrist - so there are videos of recent jumps to watch.

Some people practice their moves for when they sky dive.

There's an ambulance waiting around ...

... someone landed badly and injured an ankle.

People are very busy taking meticulous care of their parachutes.

James attends a training session.

This body shape is for when you are falling/flying.

This is for when you are landing (so you don't hurt your ankle).

Time to suit up!


Time to board the tiny plane.

It's going to be a full plane. Some of the other flyers are wearing wing-suits.

Here goes the plane along the runway - which is actually the road we all drove in on. Bethany (in pink, behind Peter) decides to try to run alongside the plane.

And they're up. We now have to wait quite a few minutes while they climb to 14 000 feet. It's really cloudy, and we can't see where they are. At one point we caught sight of the tiny white plane high above us in a patch of blue between the clouds.

Suddenly, the clouds are full of dots.

Is that him? How can we tell?

Oh, look! He's got his legs out like he was told to!

Down ...

All the way down!

 That's definitely a bit of a smile.

Time to deal with the equipment.

The little white dog is glad his master has once again returned safely. (This guy has to do several jumps a day.)

Carrying parachute and dog was a bit much, so James lends a hand. Still looking pleased!

Hi kids!

So ... was it fun?

Happy Birthday, James!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Our Home on Scarborough Beach (for now)

Australia has amazing beaches, and Scarborough is one of the favourites for Perth, Western Australia.

This is our big house. (Yeah, OK, it's really a hotel, and it's not actually ours. It's called the Rendezvous Grand Hotel.)

The big red 'o' isn't really there - I just put it there to show where our room is. It's on the 22nd floor, according to the numbers in the lift. In fact there is no level 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 13. Still, it's pretty high up, with great views.

Perth is quite flat - which might come as a surprise to those who haven't visited before.
The beach looks great from up here.

There are always people, and lots of activities happening.

With Peter's amazing camera, we can have a closer look at some of these activities:


 Beach Carnivals.

Surf Rescue - actual surf rescue, as well as training and practice for when they are needed.

Then there are para-gliders ... and kite surfers and all those. And, of course, lots of regular surfers.

With varying skill levels ... !

They even have a sound-shell where they play music and people can dance.

Something you can't see in the photos of the beach is the flies!! We had forgotten (as we generally do) about the flies in Australia ... so annoying! They are wanting to be in your eyes and ears, or (better still) up your nose.

So maybe a better option is this beautiful hotel pool, up on the roof of the '10th' (really only the 3rd - but the 2 lower floors are very very tall) floor.

The advertising says it's 'heated' but ... well, it's not.

That only momentarily deterred our visiting grandkids!

The Birds at the Beach

Something we noticed about the beaches in Malaysia is the lack of the birds which we Aussies are used to seeing as part of the whole beach experience.

Seagulls - always squawking and asking for food.

Cormorants (or 'shags')

 Sitting around, diving for fish - and really annoying if they take a fancy to your fishing bait.

Pelicans ...

Pretty at a distance ...

... quite a bit more scary when they come up on the land (and they are big!) demanding to be fed, or just stealing your food!

So ... we are enjoying being by the sea in Western Australia.

[And we are still waiting for definite news about our return to Malaysia - hopefully in January or so.]

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bali - Perth - Canberra ... gadding about

We had intended to move on from "Bali Palms" in Candidasa to another spot in Bali ... but it was just too nice.

 Well ... would you?
Every evening there were amazing sunsets ...

and night swims were anything but cold.

And there was this great little shop that delivered authentic Aussie meat pies right to our balcony.

Our new Aussie friends told us there was a place just down the way called "White Sandy Beach". They went there early one morning, and we said we would join them a little later. They said you could catch a boat down the coast - it would take 25 minutes - or a car - which would take 20 minutes. We decided to take a car.

We hadn't gone very far when we found ourselves stuck in traffic. After about 20 minutes, people started getting out of their cars and walking ahead to find out what was going on.

Yeah - those are the special ceremony police.

It was an hour before we could move again! (We should have taken the boat ride, even if the sea was a bit rough!)

Like everything in Bali, it's not free. You pay to enter the rough dirt access road to the beach. And those lounge chairs and shade all have to be paid for ... unless you buy some food from their restaurant.

 Beautiful though ... well, kinda looks like somewhere in Aus, ay?

 The sea is not as friendly as it looks, though. There were really dumping waves up and down the beach, and it took skill and some strength to stay upright.

Some people lost bits and pieces in the waves. (This is a picture of the wave, right?)

Back to Bali (Denpasar) Airport

When we arrived in Bali, we were amazed how open and efficient the brand new airport and its services were - 40 minutes after landing we had been through immigration, had our bags, and were out of there - despite APEC causing hassles for some people (the papers said some 70 000 had found their flights cancelled because the airport was closed for APEC!)

But the Departures section of the airport was still very unfinished.

 People were lying around all over the floor (this is all around 10pm to 1am, the place was packed), and there was nowhere to buy a decent bite to eat.

 The signs pointing to departure gates were wishful thinking. There were really only 2 or 3 gates operating, and it was a secret until the last moment who was going to which gate. And then - despite having already been through 2 security checks and scans - they opened and rummaged through every single bag before people could board.

And they loaded everyone onto buses to drive to the planes because the departure gates weren't really built yet.

To Perth (4am)

Nevertheless, our plane left on time, and our trip was uneventful.

We caught a taxi to Peter's sister's house - fairly close to the airport - to catch a few hours sleep before the next leg of our trip. After catching taxi's overseas, we were a bit horrified to pay $33 for a very short taxi trip (that's RM99 my Malaysian friends!)

I got up from my sleep and noticed a creature on the patio having a bit of a meal. No, not a big rat, but obviously an Australian native.

It's a quenda, also known as a Southern Brown Bandicoot. It can really wriggle that long supple nose, and it kind of hops along on those back legs.

On to Canberra

We are heading to Nowra, south of Sydney, and for a change decided to fly to Canberra and driving from there, rather than driving south from Sydney. As it turns out, it is a much better plan with all the bushfires presently burning around Sydney and Wollongong. Plus, we want to have a look at Canberra.

It was a nice change flying Qantas (after so many Air Asia trips) - feeling a little bit pampered, having a meal provided, movies all the way, and a steward to come and cover me up with a little blanket!

But when we arrived in Canberra we could see lightning in the distance. We were all off the plane and sitting in the terminal, but the ground crew were unwilling to unload luggage because of the lightning. (At least we were off the plane - not like when we landed in KL in a thunderstorm and they kept us on the plane for an hour because the ground crew would bring the metal steps to the plane.)

We arrived just after 7pm - except it was 3 hours later because of the time difference, so suddenly it was after 10pm. Late at night in Canberra the streets were pretty empty. Although we had checked up on the route to our hotel on Google maps - even 'driving' along the roads using street view (as you can in Australia, but not Malaysia) ... we still got lost.

Finally in our hotel fairly near the city centre we find Canberra city amazing in comparison to other cities we have been in recently! The air is so clear, crisp, and the sky is so blue, the streets are smooth and broad, the traffic is minimal, and everyone is so well behaved - staying in their lane, keeping to the speed limits, stopping at traffic lights ... yeah.

There are so many things to see in Canberra - museums, art galleries, historical buildings, monuments ...
We decided to start with a look at everything from a boat cruise on (the man-made) Lake Burley Griffin. We checked on the Internet for times and places - but when we got there we found no boat, and a chap running a segway hire business nearby told us that it was too windy and rough and they never run in these conditions ... well, the website didn't mention this! And it was hardly rough, a bit windy though.

So we wandered off to another jetty and found a different boat. It was already past departure time, but the skipper was happy to run a cruise just for us anyway.

 So we had our own private cruise of the lake for an hour.

 We got to see all the important places, like Parliament House.

 This wac supposed to be the big one that everyone goes to see - and the reason why the cruises all start at 1:30pm.

 The fountain is a Captain Cook memorial, and shoots high into the air "every" day at 2pm.

 But ... not today! The skipper had no idea why, but he said it happens sometimes.

Then there was the "Clarillon" - like a bell tower, but with someone 'playing' the bells using a keyboard inside there.

So, the blue skies had turned cloudy, and a fierce wind was blowing. It's quite cold - the forecast has the temperature going down to -2 degrees on Friday! But it doesn't feel particularly cold, we are told it's because the humidity is so low.

Couple more days here in pretty, green-leafy Canberra, then off to NSW.