Category Archives: Trips

Stories from the more epic of my adventures.

Breakfast and First Tracks? Stay on Snow!

Surely, any day tripper will say a good breakfast and first tracks is too much to ask for!

There’s no better way to enjoy the snow than staying in on-mountain accommodation. It means a 7am wake-up  allows you to be first on the mountain after a leisurely breakfast and the only traffic to contend with is the enthusiastic skiers at the bottom of the first lifts to open.

First light on the mountain
First light on the mountain

We stay at Kahane Lodge in Perisher, which is a Southern Alps Ski Club lodge. It’s a beautiful lodge full of warm and friendly people.  The resident managers cook delicious breakfasts and dinners and the views from the windows are beautiful.

View from our room at Kahane
View from our room at Kahane

Kahane  lodge sits opposite the Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth T-Bars, and (with the amount of snow we’ve had this year) they’re just a short ski over the creek away.

Of course, it’s a bonus if there’s perfect weather and a day on the mountain when you don’t have to drive home in the afternoon lets you ski a little bit harder.

My favourite times on the mountain are early morning and late afternoon – beautiful light and no lines. I like to chase the lifts as they open and run from them as they close.

Sun going down after a great last run on Mount P.
Sun going down after a great last run on Mount P.

Once the sun drops over the back of the mountain, the lifts close and temperature drops, it’s time for Après-ski a.k.a schnapps (butterscotch and apple from the Wild Brumby Distillery).

beaten by snow
The mountain beat me, but it was a good fight
Glass of schnapps on the balcony after a huge day on the mountain
Glass of schnapps on the balcony after a huge day on the mountain

The best part of staying on snow? Getting to do it again the very next day!

There and back again: Perisher from Canberra

The snow is the best day trip from Canberra. We have made it 10 weeks in a row and have got it down to an art.

The day starts at 4:30am when Mark and I wake up to I just can’t wait to be king from the Lion King (trust me, it’s a great way to start the day in a good mood, I couldn’t stand waking up to a buzzing alarm).

We throw on our ski gear, make a coffee (frothed milk and all – I love our Aldi coffee machine) and take our gear down to the car.

I have my car fitted out with far more gear than I had at the start of the season and it makes the drive a lot easier (and safer). Ski racks on the roof give us plenty of room in the Rav4 and driving lights brighten the dark morning drive.

Light starts to break through the horizon about 1.5 hours into the drive at Cooma, and it’s beautiful.

Very heavy, but beautiful fog, on the Monaro Highway
Very heavy, but beautiful fog, on the Monaro Highway

I love the landscape at Cooma – it looks like a Fred Williams painting. The trees could be inky squiggles and the rocks ink blots.

Light breaking at Cooma
Light breaking at Cooma

Once the light is up over the beautiful landscape it doesn’t take long (pending any powder-day traffic) to get to the ski tube. We jump on that, and just before 8:30am, we’re on the snow. Everything going well, we can get from bed in Canberra to skis-on in Perisher in 4 hours.

This Saturday was supposed to have bad weather (rain/snow) come over during the day, so every moment of sunshine felt stolen. We got the absolute most out of every fair-weather run.

We started marking the perfect corduroy in Centre Valley. Since we’ve been skiing every weekend, my legs don’t hurt/get tired anymore, so I gave myself the challenge of making my muscles ache for Sunday. We headed over to Mount Perisher as soon as it opened and had some amazing runs. It’s so much easier to ski aggressively when you can see the snow in front of you (not the terrible visibility of last Sunday which made me feel like an
uncoordinated baby deer trying to stand up). With the confidence of sight, I surprised myself with how fast I was skiing and how good my turns felt.

My tracks on were the first down The Cleft off Leichardt on Saturday morning
My tracks on were the first down The Cleft off Leichardt on Saturday morning
My tracks on sun valley
My tracks are up there on Sun Valley

As soon as Olympic opened at 10am we were on the T-bar. When did they start grooming the side of Olympic? I don’t know who made this decision, but I want to give them a giant hug and buy them some chocolate. You’ve heard my enthusiasm for long, steep runs (i.e. Parachute, which is now unfortunately closed), and now I have another run to pine for all week. I don’t know what this run is called, and I don’t care. It’s seriously beautiful.

Excitement building on the Olympic t-bar
Excitement building on the Olympic T-bar

No time for a break, we headed over to North Perisher and then Blue Cow to make the most of the mountain. I love the runs off the Ridge Chair, but equally I love riding it and watching the mogul skiers. If doing the moguls isn’t impressive enough, they do flips! Check out this video.

At the top of the chair the beautiful views fill in for the entertainment, and then long, scenic, leg-burning runs take me down to the bottom.

Great shadow at the top of Outer Limits at Blue Cow
Great shadow at the top of Outer Limits at Blue Cow
Great view at the top of Outer Limits at Blue Cow
Great view at the top of Outer Limits at Blue Cow

Being human and all, Mark and I took a break for lunch. We met up with some friends and I suggested we eat at Guthega Pub. I had talked up the food and the view, but when ee went there at 1:30pm, the staff said the weren’t taking any more lunch orders. We didn’t want to miss out on the great view, so ordered some German beer and mulled wine instead. The liquid lunch filled the belly, and as usual, good company can make up for almost anything!

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They wouldn’t serve us any food, but the drinks, company and view were good

We skied until we got kicked off the mountain and jumped on the tube home. I met my challenge – my legs were sore. The long, dark drive home was broken up by a delicious dinner at Bredbo Woodfired Pizza. The pizzas were delicious, and being the first solid food we’d eaten since breakfast, they were demolished. We were home by 8:30pm and crashed on the bed. We get a lot out of our 16 hour day trips to the snow.

 

Long road home
Driving lights come in handy on the long road home to Canberra.

Hello New Zealand

After a long year of honours, and not doing much fun together outside of the occasional TV break, Mark and I decided to hire a wonderfully colourful campervan and drive around the South Island of New Zealand.

I’m going to keep my stories about this trip mainly explained by photos. Click on the photos to see the captions that elaborate on the visuals.

In essence, New Zealand is amazingly beautiful and we had a wonderful time. For example, we made a toilet stop at Kaikoura, where we stumbled across snow-capped mountains, pebbly beaches, turquoise water and seals. A toilet stop!

Chaos and Cows in Kathmandu

There is so much to say about my eye-opening trip around Nepal and India that I don’t know where to begin… and as I have since flown back into my wonderful but incredibly busy real life, I will need to keep my blogs brief if I ever want to get them done.  I plan on relying on the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and overloading you with my photos with just a bit of textual commentary.  So… recap: Mum and I went to Nepal and India on a Gecko’s tour.  It was amazing.  Now I’ll drop you right into the thick of it with a photographic explanation of our time in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu.  Actually, I should provide some introduction.  As we were flying into Kathmandu we were chatting to a lady from Australia who is currently working as a music therapist in Nepal.  She said that (and I really mean to cause no offense), “Kathmandu is a bit of a shithole, but it’s the nicest shithole you’ll ever find.  Something about it keeps bringing me back.”  When we landed, I got some idea of what she meant.  It was dirty.  There was garbage, mud and rubble everywhere (seriously, I have never seen so much unexplained rubble!).  Amoungst all this though were some wonderful smiling people who continually offered me tea and who genuinely love their country.  When i tripped on the uneven street outside a man’s shop and burst open my toe, he brought me in and bandaged my toe without asking me to buy anything from him (I did anyway, he made lovely pants).

In short: Nepal is amazing.  Photo time:

Just landed at Kathmandu airport
Just landed at Kathmandu airport
A street in Thamel
A street in Thamel (see all the rubble?!)
Bathing area
Bathing area near our hotel
Dinner on our first night in Nepal
Dinner on our first night in Nepal
Found a cow on our way to Durbar Squares
Found a cow on our way to Durbar Squares
Outside the temple of the living goddess
Outside the temple of the living goddess (there was a little girl in there who is a Kumari… look it up)
To an outsider, it seems like almost all animals are gods in Hinduism.  Rats are the vehicle of Lrd Ganesha.
To an outsider, it seems like almost all animals are gods in Hinduism. Rats are the vehicle of Lord Ganesha.
The "hippie temple"
The “hippie temple”

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So many pigeons!
So many pigeons!
Sitting outside the erotic temple.  Our guide told us that in some point in history Nepal had a problem with not enough population growth, so they started building erotic temples and the problem sorted itself out!
Sitting outside the erotic temple. Our guide told us that in some point in history Nepal had a problem with not enough population growth, so they started building erotic temples and the problem sorted itself out!

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Sitting in a rickshaw in 100% humidity and 30-something degrees, negotiating the crazy streets of Thamel
Sitting in a rickshaw in 100% humidity and 30-something degrees, negotiating the crazy streets of Thamel
Everyone carried things with their heads...
Everyone carried things with their heads…
Ghats at Pashupatinath Temple
Ghats at Pashupatinath Temple
Wood ready for a cremation at Ghats at Pashupatinath Temple
Wood ready for a cremation at Ghats at Pashupatinath Temple
As we stood there a cremation began, it was so moving to see the rituals of another culture dealing with their dead
As we stood there a cremation began, it was so moving to see the rituals of another culture dealing with their dead

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More cows...
More cows…
I saw a monkey breastfeeding!
I saw a monkey breastfeeding!
Smoke from a cremation
Smoke from a cremation

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This man was trying to sell me a prayer bowl for a good hour.  We got to chatting about everything from Australian politics to his family.  I eventually bought the bowl.
This man was trying to sell me a prayer bowl for a good hour. We got to chatting about everything from Australian politics to his family. I eventually bought the bowl.

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Prayer flags at Boudhanath Stupa
Prayer flags at Boudhanath Stupa
Mum enjoying the breeze at the beautiful Boudhanath Stupa
Mum enjoying the breeze at the beautiful Boudhanath Stupa

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This was the first time we were asked by a random group of Indians to have our photo with them... but it was not the last.
This was the first time we were asked by a random group of Indians to have our photo with them… but it was not the last.

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It was very hot an I wanted an iced tea.  I ordered a basil ice-tea to go with my momos to be adventurous.  It tasted like pesto.  I drank the whole thing.
It was very hot an I wanted an iced tea. I ordered a basil ice-tea to go with my momos to be adventurous. It tasted like pesto. I drank the whole thing.
we need to figure out how to get bins to be a common thing in Nepal.  it's sch a beautiful country and the garbage does not match.
we need to figure out how to get bins to be a common thing in Nepal. it’s sch a beautiful country and the garbage does not match.

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Did you know Nepal had Rhinos? Welcome to Chitwan

The windy road to Chtiwan
The windy road to Chtiwan
Our elephants having a drink whie a crocodile chils out nearby
Our elephants having a drink whie a crocodile chils out nearby
Warthog and it's adorable stripey babies
Warthog and it’s adorable stripey babies
Taking an elephant for a swim
Taking an elephant for a swim
Showering with the elephants
Showering with the elephants
The mahour started saying something to the elephant, and the elephant started to rollover!  We stayed on though - all good fun!
The mahour started saying something to the elephant, and the elephant started to rollover! We stayed on though – all good fun!
I was very careful to drink only bottled water in Nepal... but then had river water sprayed all over me via elephant trunk!
I was very careful to drink only bottled water in Nepal… but then had river water sprayed all over me via elephant trunk!
Just one photo of the crazy world out the bus window
Just one photo of the crazy world out the bus window
Mum and I dancing on the edge of the Trishuli River
Mum and I dancing on the edge of the Trishuli River
Light traffic in Nepal
Light traffic in Nepal
The air was thick with mosquitoes and out come the repellant
The air was thick with mosquitoes and out come the repellant
Village tour in Tharu village in Sauraha
Village tour in Tharu village in Sauraha
Getting my balance on
Getting my balance on
We were walking through the jungle on an elephant and within about 10 minutes saw a rhino!
We were walking through the jungle on an elephant and within about 10 minutes saw a rhino!
We also saw a spotted dear (just like bambi) hanging out with a bunch of monkeys!
We also saw a spotted dear (just like bambi) hanging out with a bunch of monkeys!

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Our mahout took my camera off me and proceeded to take selfies, all whilst driving the elephant!
Our mahout took my camera off me and proceeded to take selfies, all whilst driving the elephant!
Our elephant was lovely.
Our elephant was lovely.
Our mahout took this photo of his feet...
Our mahout took this photo of his feet…
Walking toward to river, elephants are so much better than a 4x4 or ATV!
Walking toward to river, elephants are so much better than a 4×4 or ATV!
Mum smiling with her new friend
Mum smiling with her new friend
Wooden canoes for our river cruise
Wooden canoes for our river cruise
Mum smiling and hoping the crocodiles in the river were well-fed
Mum smiling and hoping the crocodiles in the river were well-fed

sdsdvdv

Landed in KLIA

Mum and I just landed in Kuala Lumpar International Airport after an 8.5 hour flight from Sydney. the flight was good and I actually managed to sleep for a couple of hours… which is good because the flight time did include normal sleeping time! As soon as we walked off the plane we found free internet kiosks, and walked a little further to find free ipads on a big stand thing, which is what I’m on now.  I think I should go though, as in the short time I’ve been typing this blog, mum has managed to put her phone number in whilst trying to log into gmail and subsequently ended up in someone elses email account, or been scammed. Wish us luck!

Update: crisis averted. Mum just had to identify herself in some way as we are in Malaysia, the same way I had to identify photos of friends in Facebook to prove o was me. Mum even figuredhow to lLPG out, better than tjebfuu whose account she accidentally got into… and according to his emails he was applying for a PhD scholarship! We logged him out too. Now to hang around for another 3 hours at 5am with no money…

100th Post: Announcing Nepal & India

This is my 100th post – what a milestone!  When I started this blog in August 2011, I did not expect it would become such a big part of my life! I also never expected that after a huge trip to Canada and the U.S. would I be able to keep such a large amount of travel.  I wonder if having a travel blog has in some way actually encouraged me to go on more trips than I would have otherwise.  If it has, I recommend you all get one!  I think it is fitting to use my 100th post to announce that in June-July I will be travelling around Nepal and India for two weeks!

india and nepal map

Mum and I are going on a tour called “There’s Nothing Sub about this Continent” with Gecko.  It’s a small group tour of 10-15 people, and our itinerary is:

Day 1-2 – Kathmandu

Embrace your inner hippy in Kathmandu. Order a plate of fried momo, practice some yoga, get a massage, marvel at the Bodhnath Stupa and use this time to reset your body clock

Day 1

  • Pre-departure meeting for the Nepalese part of the trip takes place this evening, as well as an optional group dinner

Day 2

  • Visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world
  • Swing by the most famous Hindu temple in the country – Pashupatinath
  • Enjoy free time for sightseeing, more temple-hopping or just plain relaxing

Day 3-4 – Chitwan National Park

Explore the jungle on elephant-back, searching for Bengal tigers and the Indian rhinoceros. It’s basically The Jungle Book come to life.

  • Catch a morning bus up the rim of the Kathmandu Valley
  • Ride elephants into the jungle
  • Try and spot Indian rhinoceros, sloth bear, deer, a multitude of different birds and rare tigers
  • Stay in a lodge overnight

Day 5 – Lumbini

Buddha lived here until he was 29. In that time he founded Buddhism. What have you done lately?

  • Pay a visit to a multitude of temple complexes, constructed by Buddhists from Japan, China and Myanmar
  • View the Ashoka Pillar and Maya Devi Temple
  • Sleep overnight in a jungle camp

Day 6-8 – Varanasi

Watch thousands of Hindu pilgrims cleanse their sins in the Ganges as you take a boat ride at sunrise. We won’t lie, it’s pretty moving stuff.

  • Experience an early morning boat ride on the Ganges
  • Explore Varanasi’s back lanes and crowded alleyways on a guided tour
  • Board an overnight sleeper train bound for Agra

Day 9 – Agra – Taj Mahal

Boyfriends take note: Emperor Shah Jahan spent over 20 years building this shrine to his second wife. How long has it been since you’ve bought anyone girlfriend flowers?

  • Visit the renowned Taj Mahal
  • Perhaps take an optional trip to Agra Fort

Day 10 – Tordi Garh

We stumbled across this tiny village years ago, and everyone loved it so much we put it on the itinerary. The kids will adore you, the locals will feed you and you’ll go to sleep in a 16th century palace.

  • Get to know the locals in Tordi Garh – a remote village that few travellers make it to
  • Visit the fortress and ruined temples that lie slightly further afield
  • Spend the night at the palace in Tordi, with it’s owner as your host

Day 11-12 – Jaipur

Haggle to your heart’s content in the bazaars and backstreets of the Pink City. Jaipur is famous for textiles (think table runners and made-to-measure suits), precious and semi-precious gems and blue pottery.

Day 11

  • Travel to and become acquainted with Jaipur’s colourful streets

Day 12

  • Visit the medieval Amber Fort
  • Explore the Old Bazaar and The Palace of the Winds
  • Enjoy plenty of free time to explore Jaipur at your own pace

Day 13-14 – Delhi

Watch one of the world’s greatest shows unfold as people, traffic, cows and kids all work together in a kind of organised chaos. Grab a chai, put your feet up and let it all soak in.

Day 13

  • Visit the old city’s market area – Chandni Chowk as well as Connaught Place
  • Perhaps view the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid and the Raj Ghat during free time
  • Enjoy a final optional meal with the group

Day 14

  • The trip ends today after breakfast