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.

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