Ann cleans up my act.

We begrudgingly left Kruger National Park for it was a great time. We would wake up at 4:30 in the morning so we could be at the camp gate opening at 5:30. We would come back to the camp for an early afternoon breakfast then go back out for more game sightings until the gate closing at 6:00. We thought the gate closing was too early because the animals just were starting to get active after hiding from the day’s sun.

We were the only guests at the White River retreat just outside the park. This was a stopover on the way to Port Elizabeth for we spent all morning in KNP spotting a leopard. On the way were many Africans walking on the road. Mini buses were everywhere stopping for people and darting back into the traffic. As in Thailand on 2 lane roads, if you are driving slowly you are expected to ride on the road shoulder so the middle of the road can become available for passing. You have to also watch for this on oncoming traffic. This is new driving skill that has to be acquired in South Africa.


He just keeps on munching

We were the third car in the line waiting for the big bull elephant to get off the road so we could get back to the Satara camp before the camp gates were closed for the night.  As we have seen in previous days in the park, the bull is often the last family member to cross the road.  This one decided to walk up the road awhile and stop and graze on the roadside grass.  I think they like to do this to just show their superiority.  The park recommends to give elephants 30 meters of space.  To pass this one would leave about 3 meters max.  We had all turned our car engines off and were waiting for him to move on which they eventually do.  Out from behind came the quiet murmur of a car creeping along passing us all at a barely moving pace. It looked like he was moving as slowly and quietly as possible (more…)

The only way across the river in town is by ferry.

Port Campbell is about half way from Melbourne to Kangaroo Island. The Great Ocean Drive changed from twisting hilly roads hugging the coast to a flat straight away through remote salt flats and ponds along a sand dune shoreline. Gas stations at remote intersections had signs “last fuel for x amount of miles”. In four hours we reached a resort town of Robe, where all the tourists had gone home. There we changed our next stay from Adelaide to Normansville because of the distance to the Kangaroo Island ferry was 2 and half hours compared to 20 minutes for Normansville. Luckily we did for our stay was on a golf course condo where at sundown a pack of kangaroos grazed and hopped their way up the course to the condo. Golfers stopped (more…)

Federation Square at sunset

It was a good relaxing morning after watching the Federer/Murray final the night before.  We had the whole day to get ready for the trip out on the Great Ocean Drive. We slowly woke asking each other why Murray couldn’t bring his Nadal game against Federer? Why was he slowly working his way into giving Federer problems, we surmised that Federer had a lot to do with it. Perhaps if Murray could have converted a set point in the third set, it could have been a turning point for him. Ten days of the Australian Open tennis and it was time to switch gears to ocean life. We started listing things to get. We checked our reservations for our car to make sure it was an automatic, for shifting a manual with the left hand and clutching with the left foot (more…)

Downtown Melbourne skyline

After being in Tokyo, Beijing and Bangkok, when arriving in Melbourne we seriously wondered where everyone was. No scooters or bikes to be seen anywhere and as matter of fact there where not many cars. We crossed the 6 lanes of roadway outside the train station and for the first time in 3 months we could cross the road other than at the intersection and we did not have to weave through traffic, because there was none. On the sidewalk no bikes, no scooters, no people. Our hotel was across the road from the train station, where in the other cities the train station was full of hustle and bustle and confusion, not here. After checking in we took the recommended means of (more…)

We pretty much stayed here for 10 days to thaw out from our 5 weeks in the early China winter

It was hard to believe that 10 days of doing nothing more than sitting under an umbrella on a hot sandy beach can go by so fast, but it did. We hope our QI is charged for 30 more years. This Kata beach reminded us, at first, of Key West Florida because its always so warm, there is little need for windows, doors or walls on the sidewalk establishments. That’s the only resemblance because the beaches are much larger and its hotter. Since its so hot, most beaches in Phuket are lined with umbrellas. I do not think it is possible to stay in the sun too long with without seeking shade.

Phuket and Krabi seem to be winter getaways for Europeans, whose appearance stands out among the oriental look of the Thailand people. An obvious observation is the attraction of the European men to the young Thailand women. It is not (more…)

George waiting for lunch to arrive

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls the energy force that produces body heat Qi.  TCM believes body warmth  is real important for when it is gone  you are cold dead. It was 90 something degrees when we arrived in Bangkok. The heat gave us a shot of vigor and our Qi a rest, we were ready to go. We arrived in Thailand on the New Year Holiday week and many Europeans and Australians were here for the  holiday. We visited the Floating Market in Damnernsadiak. It is a town of canals and not many roads. A lot of everyday commerce occurs in the canals.  We took a ride in a longboat then  in a paddle boat around the canals.  It was congested.  A couple with us from LA in the paddle boat jokingly said he has not seen this much gridlock since being on the LA freeway. We walked around the canals a bit and watched the food preparation on some of the floating restaurants and got hungry for a Cobra show.  Our guide found one.  Apparently there are


Pandas enjoying some good bamboo at the Beijing Zoo

We are in Hong Kong ending the 2009 year, in the same hotel where we started the 5 week China journey.  We knew then that the next 5 weeks would be the toughest part of our trip because it was going to be the coldest.  It was cold.  We were lucky we did not have to buy snow boots only cold weather clothing.  At the Great Wall the wind was 20 mph and the temperature in the high 30’s.  Strangely on the wall for 3 hours we did not notice it because it was one of those moments where we said “Can you believe we are in China”.  Beijing left the impression of a really huge, wide city and it was our first encounter with the preservation of ancient thousand year old buildings along side the newer construction.  The city we were told is getting wider with the newer (more…)

Down by the Bund

Shanghai is a new city compared to other Chinese cities.  It is only 200 plus years old.  So there is not much of Chinese history here but it can be thought as a barometer of how far China has come in the last decade.  I have been told that China has progressed in the last 6 years what it took the west 16 years.  I can not vouch for that but I can say Shanghai is moving fast getting ready for its really big show in 2010, the World Expo.  Shanghai thinks of itself as China’s premier city, not Beijing.  So expect the World Expo to be somewhat more spectator than the 2008 Beijing  Olympics.

We comfortably settled into Shanghai ready to experience some modern Chinese urban living in our (more…)

Side street entrance off of city center Xian China

From Nanjing we flew to Xian, pulled our luggage through the airport, stopped at a information booth, they made a call, someone came, pulled our bags to a taxi, in 45 minutes we were in front of our apartment 1 block from what is called the city center.  We thought, this is too easy, this must be an extraordinary place.  The next morning we found out what city center meant. There was a large, ancient, worshiping bell tower surrounded by a 4 lane rotary with 3 car lanes and one bike lane coming in and 3 car lanes and bike lanes going out in the north,  south, east  and west directions.  There was a mixture of old ancient buildings mixed with newer buildings of traditional Chinese architecture. You can’t imagine this mixture because the city has (more…)