So much for promises! I sadly STILL haven’t updated this site since I last promised it waaaaay back in April 2009. I’ll blame it on the fact I’ve been a busy boy (as always), but I have to admit that I’ve become more likely to post photos on Facebook than here. I’ve now set things up so that any blogs published here will also be posted on Facebook, so that should incent me to continue my postings here.
Since I last wrote I’ve done a bunch more travel (again, as per usual), and hope to get some photos up from these adventures:
Afghanistan: Kabul city and surrounding area, Panjshir Valley, Salang Pass & Tunnel
My sister Marnie’s marriage to Matt Higgs got me back to Melbourne for the first time since I left to return to San Francisco a year ago. It was a whirlwind week-long trip but really lovely to see the family and catch up with my friends again after yet another (my ninth!) year living overseas.
The wedding itself was a small, intimate and elegant affair held at the Victorian-era Melbourne Town Hall in the city CBD. The ceremony was held in the plush old council chambers, folowed by some celebratory drinks out on the balcony overlooking Swanston St. The reception was held in one of the Town Hall’s beautiful ballrooms was lovely, with everyone seated around a long u-shaped table.
Marnie and Dad in the classic 1948 Jaguar saloon en route into the city.
In the Exhibition Gardens for some photos before the wedding.
In the anteroom. Marnie can’t help tinkle the ivories.
During the ceremony. The kiss!
Reception in the ballroom.
The following morning we met up in the hotel restaurant for a delightful brunch with the bride and groom.
I said my last goodbyes to Buenos Aires a few weeks ago and I’ve been back in Melbourne since then. I’ve been busy making arrangements for my imminent return to San Francisco (speaking to removalists, organising my US work visa etc.), but it’s also been great to see the family again and catch up with a whole bunch of friends. Here are a few pics of good ole Melbs…
The Shot Tower @ Melbourne Central. Melbourne Town Hall thru the trees.
Flinders Street Station. St. Kilda Foreshore.
Sunset @ St. Kilda Beach. Good food, good company!
The Shrine of Remembrance, one of my fave places in the city.
G’day again, and welcome back listeners. I’m in Australia for a couple of weeks right now and it’s fantastic to be home again. I definitely feel like it’s been a great chance to recharge my batteries. While backpacking the Silk Road was a unique and incredible experience, I definitely ran out of steam by the end of the end of it and was fed up with just about everything. I needed to get back here, put my feet up for a while and just chill, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. Aaaaah…
The trip home was timed to attend my good mate Colin and Bianca’s wedding here in Melbourne, and I’m so glad I could make it their big day. I also got across to Perth to see my sister Sally’s gorgeous baby Zoe for the first time- aint she a cutie?! Ohmygod I can’t believe I’m an uncle!!!
So what next you all ask? Well this world-weary traveler’s checked the gauge and has got one more left in the tank: I’m jetting off to South America this weekend. I booked the flights waaaaay back at the start of this Grand Tour of mine, although I recently started to doubt whether I had the energy for it. There’s still definitely a part of me that just wants to get back to San Francisco, find an apartment, unpack my boxes and get stuck into my new job. But I feel up for it now, I’m fired up and I’m gonna come out swingin’, and I’m really looking forward to getting across there. I’ve loved so much about South America on my two previous trips there, and I have some great plans this time around. I’m going to call Buenos Aires home for the next few months and kick it off by doing an intensive Spanish course. I plan to do a couple of backpacking trips to explore the rest of Argentina, and hopefully to the countries next door as well (Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia…). But, as usual, it’s all TBD!
Before I sign off, a HUGE thanks to those of you who poked and prodded me to kick-start this blog again (yes you know who you are!). After the Silk Road I was soooo sick of doing it and didn’t think I could give it another go. But here I am, pounding away at the keyboard again (with my two index fingers – I really should learn to ten finger type!) and I have to admit kinda enjoying it. This blogging thing sure is a good way to purge, and it’s nice to have my own private bit of the world wide web it fill with all my opinionated crap.
I’ve never had a surprise birthday party, and this one definitely came as a surprise! Just before we left for Samoa, I’d sent out an email to all my friends in Melbourne inviting them to Mum & Dad’s place on Saturday 14th January for some casual birthday drinks and a catch-up. What I didn’t know was that my Mum completely hijacked my email list! She sent another email out to everyone on my email list telling them to ignore my email because she had something else in mind – sneaky Mum!
We arrived back from Samoa on 11th January and I organized to go out for a few quiet drinks with my mate Colin on my birthday – Friday 13th January. Mum had collected quite a list of RSVPs for my party on Saturday while I’d been away, and I was looking forward to seeing everyone the next day. We drove down to a local pub called the Geebung Polo Club, which by chance is where I had my 21st birthday party (and I didn’t even join the dots then!). I grabbed a beer, walked around the corner, and there was EVERYONE!
It turned out to be a great night and a fantastic way to see some friends that I hadn’t seen since I left Australia way back in 1998. Thanks everyone for coming and making it such a memorable night!! Special thanks to Matty Farrell and Laura, who came down from Sydney for it!
Thanks for the pressie guys!! Now I have my very own Ken Duncan print!
Mum, Dad, Me, Marnie, Adriana
The family knife (a hand-me-down through the generations) celebrates another milestone!
My gorgeous sister Marnie gave Adriana and I a fantastic Christmas present: dinner on Melbourne’s restaurant tram! I’d seen it trundle around Melbourne’s streets for years and had always wanted to do it.
We climbed aboard the tram in near the Yarra river in the early evening. It traveled through South Melbourne and around Albert Park Lake to St. Kilda, and then back again with a quick loop through the city centre. We enjoyed a lovely three-course meal with some Victorian wines to go with it.
We returned to ‘Upolu and stayed in Apia another night before making our way to the best beach on the island at Lalomanu, on the south-east corner. The bus ride over took us across the rugged, mountainous and green interior of the island. Once we arrived we dumped our gear in our beach fale at Taufua Beach resort (don’t get too excited, a fale is nothing more than an open-sided wooden hut with palm frond "blinds") and went straight for a swim. The water was crystal clear and there was some good reef some 50 metres off the beach that we were able to snorkel.
Lalomanu beach on ‘Upolu.
We enjoyed a few lazy days at Lalomanu doing pretty much nothing. One day we organized a local tour and went snorkelling around some of the nearby Aleipata islands. We were lucky enough to see some of the largest turtles I’ve ever seen.
Our second and final destination on ‘Upolu was a beach resort we’d heard of along the south coast called Virgin Cove Beach Resort. It was quite an adventure getting there – we got a ride with some locals in their ute, it ran out of petrol, and when we finally got dropped off it was a 5km walk to the resort from the main road! But boy was it worth it!!! Secluded fales spread along a curving bay, lush tropical vegetation, golden sand and turquoise water.
We quickly found out why Savai’i is indeed the less touristy island. It was tough to get around the place, and difficult and expensive to make any travel or tour arrangements. The hard truth is that Savai’i really doesn’t have much to offer the tourist – or at least not as much as the island of ‘Upolu. If you’re pushed for time I’d suggest to travelers to stay on ‘Upolu.
A traditional Samoan wooden bus. They look like fun, but we never traveled in one with fewer than sixty people aboard… Yuk.
We stayed in Manase along the north coast and organized a taxi for the day with another couple to go around and see Savai’i. We spent the day doing a clockwise tour around the island, seeing all the sights (good and crap) along the way. Good was the lava field and underground lava tube. Crap was the "giant’s footprint", black sand beach and a piss-weak "canopy walk". Awesome was the waterfall swim and the chance to swim with sea turtles.
Beautiful Olemoe waterfall on Savai’i. It was a bit of a walk to get there and a scramble down the cliff, but definitely worth it for a refreshing swim!
Lava flowed through this church and destroyed it – a sure sign God isn’t a happee chappee! Plants are now just starting to reclaim the lava fields, 80 years after the eruption.
Adriana gets up close and personal with a huuuuge turtle.
Adriana and had I planned a mini-holiday within our Australian trip, and on New Year’s Day we flew from Melbourne to Apia, the capital of Independent Samoa (formerly Western Samoa, and yes that’s different to American Samoa). Because of the Date Time Line we actually arrived JUST after midnight on New Year’s Eve – almost got to do it all again! We made our way to our hotel and got to bed late. The next day we walked into town to explore Apia and found the place completely dead because of the public holiday and the fact it was also a Sunday.
Getting on our plane in Sydney – it was a stinking hot 45 degrees Celcius on New Years Day there!
There’s not much to see in Apia so we made plans to travel across to the larger (and less touristy)island of Savai’i the next day. We caught the ferry across and then crammed onto a Samoan bus to get to our destination: the beach town of Manase.