Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The cheaper way to go to Gold Coast from Perth is to book a flight to Brisbane rather than book a flight directly to Gold Coast because this airport is very expensive. Rent a car and drive 42 kilometres from Brisbane CBD and you are in the coastal city in south eastern Queensland and largest concentration of themed attractions in the southern hemisphere. Originally known as the South Coast (because it was south of Brisbane) but in 1950 the moniker ‘Gold Coast’ due to  bloated prices for real estate and other goods and services, plus 70 kilometres of uninterrupted coastline making it the most popular surf breaks in Australia where along the busiest stretch of the Gold Coast is Surfers Paradise beach. In the 1980s the area boomed as a leading tourist destination.

We stumble upon Coolangatta by not minding what hotel I’m booking. Our aim is to visit the theme parks, surfer’s paradise and the Harbour town factory outlet for the long weekend of September for the Queen’s Birthday. Coolangatta is the nearest suburb to Gold Coast airport and southern end of the Gold Coast but has some of the Coast’s prettiest beaches so efforts of long drive to Surfer’s paradise was not wasted.

Surfers Paradise in pictures would display skyscrapers attached with a beach, joined by a shopping and entertainment district of Cavill Avenue – named after James Cavill the founder Surfer’s Paradise. Gold Coast experiences a humid subtropical climate with warm, wet summers and cool, moist winters although it was spring and the climate is transitioning from winter into summer when we visited the place so there’s lots of people swimming in the beach. This region is very vibrant and alive from morning til night. This is where we purchased tickets for the theme parks, it is much cheaper to buy in tourists outlets here than buying at the gate.

Theme park tickets is about 80 bucks a pop with 2 entrances combo i.e. Dreamworld and Sea World or Warner Brothers Movie World and Wet n Wild Water World. We opted for Dreamworld and Movie World and ditched the water parks and it was fun but technically sometimes I cannot point out what stands out for the rest. I have been to Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong’s Disney Land (and Disney Sea only in Tokyo), Osaka, Singapore, and Los Angeles’ Universal Studios, Seoul’s Ever land – You see one and you see them all.

Dreamworld is 30 hectares of fun from the parking lot you will hear lots people screaming as the Giant Drop – free-fall from 38 storeys will greet you near the entrance inside the ride variations are ‘The Claw’ – 9 storey adrenalin rush! Enjoy Wiggles World, The Australian Wildlife Experience, Tiger Island, V8 Supercars Redine, Zombie Evolution – combat zone Alien vs. Predator vs. YOU and Flow Rider – surfing, skateboarding and body boarding. Warner Brothers Movie World is more like the superheroes theme parks there’s a hall of justice building here that I only saw in cartoons every Saturday morning when I was a kid called Saturday Fun Machine. The structure also reminded me of the story of Maritess and the Super Friends – an animation based on a stand comedy-up act of Rex Navarrete.  Maritess is a story of young Filipina who hired by Wonder Woman to work as a maid in the Hall of Justice and relay accounts of how she tried to fit in with the super friends foretold her association with each of them or how Aqua Man loathe her when cooking fried fish for dinner. There’s a thrilling rollercoaster named Superman Escape and the adventure to the next dimension in the DreamWorks Shrek 4D Adventure and Looney Tunes Village. I enjoyed the theme parks but I think they should add more restaurants in both parks rather than serving fish and chips, pizza, donut, or Mexican all the time.

The Harbour Town Gold Coast is comparable to US outlets. Unlike the Harbour Town here in Perth there are more branded store like Tommy Hilfiger and that’s it! Esprit yeah a given but no CK or Coach, etc. mostly local brands but it is very cheap. Managed to purchase 10 bucks for a top that costs 39.99 in some shops here.

Advertisements

Perth

Posted: July 3, 2015 in Perth
Tags: , , ,

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.” – Charles M. Schulz

Perth founded by Captain James Stirling in 1829 named after the same city in Scotland. It is the most isolated capital city in the world, so isolated it was nominated by the original American astronauts as the ‘City of Lights’ — standing out as the bright spot on planet Earth. Perth is closer to Bali than Sydney. And it’s often cheaper to fly to Bali than to Sydney. Life in Perth is a beach and I mean that literally. The city prided itself of pristine beaches and being the sunniest capital in the world –the sun really shone here the brightest thus most people just head to the beach on weekend and holidays to jog, sail board, and wind surf. Perth experiences a Mediterranean Climate, with warm hot summers, and mild winters reminded me of the old Manila when I was young, when that crispy cold breeze greeted you in the morning. Also, the night sky are so starry looks bigger and brighter and I swear I have seen the biggest yellow full moon while driving towards the city my friends and I had a really good laugh in amazement it’s like s shot from the howling movie.

One thing I like about Perth is there’s no traffic, the road is practically yours after 7pm. It is so spacious that it’s the highest standard of housing in the world— five bedroom, two bathroom homes with swimming pools are very commonplace. Most of my colleagues and friends lived in this kind of commodious homes and resident with average or middle incomes can afford to have one easily. Perth has the largest inner city park in the world – Kings Park. It’s even bigger than New York’s Central Par. WA’s economy boomed because of the mining industry, the world’s top selling gold, silver and platinum coins can be seen in production at Perth Mint. It has the richest plot of land in the world for natural mineral wealth but it is the driest continent in the world. It is also the home of INXS and Heath Ledger.

I had major adjustment with communication as Australian have their uniquely slang usage of day to day terminologies and this is apart from the use of British and American slang like ‘arvo’ means afternoon, ‘maccas’ is McDonalds,  and the constant use of ‘no worries’, ‘cheers,’ and ‘no dramas (there)’ as expression of forgiveness or reassurance, and ‘Bob’s your uncle’ – It is often used immediately after a set of simple instructions and roughly means the same as ‘… and it’s as simple as that!’

I met a lot of Filipinos here in Perth and when meeting one I had to ask how they came here and get to know about Perth because prior to 2008 before joining my company I never knew that a city named Perth existed in Australia. By default when you talked about the land down under it’s always Sydney or Melbourne that is but this is where the main office is located. Fast forward to 2013 after 5 years in the company I got the chance to get relocated in this city. I moved smacked in the middle of winter of July 2013. Perth climate is lovely and the city is very laid back but having lived in Singapore for almost a decade I experienced some culture shocks like mall closes at 5pm, movie tickets costs 20 bucks and there’s no Starbucks. I am not a coffee person but I like sitting in this coffee shops catching up with friends. Although there’s some stuff unavailable in Perth there’s other stuff like Fremantle, Hillary’s, and San Churro Chocolateria it can offer and I guess that’s part of this Western Australian charm

SB

“For 24 hours a day, for 10 years, all I thought about was being in a band. That’s all I did. I had no other social life. I don’t want my life to be like that now. I’ve spent the past 10 years having a real life as well. But Spandau Ballet is such a difficult shadow to outrun.” -Gary Kemp

My age is showing liking this band but I don’t care! I remember an Aussie friend asking me how I knew all those brit acts of the 80’s, he seemed to be in awe that new wave music travel across the world and picked it up by a group of islands in the pacific and groove on it. It’s not enough reason to say I’m an 80’s child ‘cause I could have picked up crap from whatever is floating in that era. So I should say, I’m an 80’s child with teenager brothers that played new wave music – lots of it!

From all the artists back then I have a special liking for this group – Spandau Ballet mostly because of their music and apart from it they are all neat and tidy and slick dresser. The group started from as a nightclub scene in London and Birmingham at the beginning of the 80’s. The founding members Gary Kemp and Steve Norman attended the same high school with the rest of the members and this is how the group formed as they shared a similar interest in music and a common desire to form a band.  The band’s name evolved from The Cut in 1976, became The Makers in 1976, and Gentry in 1978 until a friend of the band saw the phrase ‘Spandau Ballet’ doodled on the wall of a club’s toilet during a visit in Berlin. ‘Spandau’ as per Dictionary.com means a district of Berlin, in East Germany: site of prison for Nazi war criminals. Spandau Prison in Europe housed many prisoners including World War II Nazi prisoners. When these prisoners were hanged the swinging of the dead body was called the ’Spandau Ballet’ – chilling and creepy really!

They released their third album, True, in March 1983 and hit major success with No. 1 single with the song “True”, a No. 2 single “Gold” and a No. 3 single “Only When You Leave” as the band’s last American hit. Around this time, US is experiencing British invasion because 30% of the US record sales were UK acts. They released a couple of albums until 1989 but nothing surpass the True Album in terms of popularity and sales. The last hit I have known of them was ‘Through the Barricades’ and then silence that succumb to the band’s to hiatus following a spiteful breakup that ended up in court in 1990.

If 1980 has its own soundtrack that would be Spandau Ballet’s True –I first heard it on John Hughes’ ‘Sixteen Candles’ (1984) If you are, have been or ever will be a teenager, you will able to relate to his work, and his movies derived much of their power from their soundtracks – where the script was sometimes lacking, a song could fill in the gaps.  It will be heard in 4 Drew Barrymore films; ‘Charlie’s Angels’, ‘The Wedding Singer’, ‘Duplex’ and ‘50 First Dates’. Sampled by PM Dawn in 1991 to create ‘Set adrift On Memory Bliss’ which became no. 1.

According to Wiki: The song came about from the group leader Gary Kemp who composed the song at his parents’ house in Islington. A slow pop-ballad love song that in part pays tribute to the Motown artist Marvin Gaye, who is mentioned in the lyrics. The song was also partly inspired by Kemp’s crush on Altered Images singer and Gregory’s Girl star Clare Grogan: “I was infatuated with Clare Grogan,” he told The Guardian. “I met her on Top of the Pops and, at one point, travelled up to Scotland to have tea with her and her mum and dad. Although my feelings were unrequited and the relationship was platonic, it was enough to trigger a song,” Some phrases in the lyrics were adapted from the novel Lolita, a copy of which Clare Grogan had given Gary Kemp. “The lyrics are full of coded messages to Clare,” Kemp told The Guardian. “I’m still berated for the line ‘Take your seaside arms’ but it’s straight out of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which she had given me as a present – although in the book, it’s ‘seaside limbs. The line ‘With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue’ is also a bastardisation of Nabokov.”

Beyond the timeless lyrics and a melody that mixed power ballad, techno, rock, and jazzy sax, Kemp was spot on uttering these words to sum about what true is all about “… It became a song about trying to write a love song to someone who didn’t know your true thoughts, but how difficult it is to spell out your feelings without seeming too foolish.”

Yes, they are not as young, they are not as flamboyant but of course Tony Hadley is as formal wearing his blazer on stage (I’m used to seeing artists on shirt nowadays) . I have waited to see them perform live and when I finally did I was not disappointed … they are as awesome as ever!

Dubai

Posted: February 12, 2015 in Dubai
Tags: , ,

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

“It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times”- Asian Proverb

Just because we chose to fly with Emirates A380 for our Euro tour we are given 2 nights’ accommodation stay at Dubai for free from Amsterdam before going back to Singapore. This is actually an exciting add-on to our trip and huge bonus as we have never been there. Upon reaching Dubai we are all exhausted and don’t have energy to do much activities like dessert tour we opted to just hang around the city and went mall-ing.  Dubai is known as the “shopping capital of the Middle East” and they have marvellous malls indeed!

Dubai is one of seven states and largest city that comprise the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country formed in 1971 from individual sheikdoms. The residents savoured the 0% on tax and crime rate as it is considered one of the safest cities on earth. The law is very strict and inhabitants are maintained with full of the morality. Dubai is considered one of the richest city ergo there are ATMs that dispense gold bars, the police fleet includes a Lamborghini, Ferrari and Bentley so as to catch speeders who can outrun other car makes.  Emiratis are provided with free education, free medical and free housing.  Before the oil was discovered in 1966, Dubai’s car registration number stopped at 13. As of 2012, there are now more than 1.13 million registered cars in Dubai. Even though the car industry has and still is going through hard times, companies like Ford, Volvo, Porsche, Hyundai, BMW and Toyota increased their sales in 2012 by between 7% and 40%.

The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall in terms of total area for some reasons we kept coming back there because it’s massive with fabulous range of designer shops. It has an indoor aquarium, skating rink, and Armani Café? This mall trumps all mall in terms of size and selection of shops you will not know where to start and It is very posh indeed. Movie buff as we are we catch up with the latest cinema there – Christopher Nolan’s Superman

Have a sight of the tallest man-made structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa. It holds the world records for most floors in a building (163), world’s highest restaurant (n the 122nd floor), world’s highest nightclub (on its 144th floor) and world’s longest elevator travel distance (504m). See the show the Fountain at the Burj Khalifa is the most powerful and biggest automated fountain in the world. It can shoot water 130 metres high — as high as a 50-storey building

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro

So all these time I thought Holland and Netherlands are two different countries. Today, I was made aware that Holland makes up two provinces which together make up the region (Noord Holland and Zuid Holland), out of twelve provinces in the country of Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used to informally refer to the whole of the country of the Netherland. Due to the maritime and economic power of these provinces in the 17th century, the Netherlands became known worldwide as Holland. This led to a widespread recognition of “Holland” all over the world, especially in Europe where it began to be used as a synonym for what we now know as the Netherlands. Thus, a single region overshadowed the entire Dutch Empire.

To make matters even more confusing the inhabitants of the Netherlands are called Dutch, the use of “Holland” oftentimes a substitute for “Netherlands”. To be clear, the Netherlands are commonly called Holland in English and are not two names for the same country. Most of us have heard someone referring to the Netherlands as “Holland,” and some of us have even done it ourselves. But some Dutch might be offended if you call their country Holland: It’s much like calling the United States of America “Washington” or Great Britain “England.”

When the word Holland comes to mind there’s always a clear picture of green green grass of hope, herd of patched cows of black and white. Tulips, clogs, cheese, chocolates, and of course windmills. Growing up in front of the TV in the eighties Holland for me tends to be associated with a particular image that Birch Tree milk powder commercial a lady on a traditional dress (klederdracht) milking the cows on the greenery country side and all that The stereotypical image of Holland.

A short drive away from Amsterdam is Zaanse Schans, a Dutch village dotted with windmills and cottages. This historic village offers a preserved glimpse of what it was like to live in the Netherlands in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the village’s characteristic houses are now museums, gift shops or workshops while others are still used as private residences. Some of the Zaanse Schans’ remaining windmills are also open to the public and functional. The windmills produced all sorts of items from paint, mustard, oil, etc., we visited a cheese farm where there’s various sampling of cheese to taste. In one of the workshop, we had the opportunity to watch wooden clog-making which is actually interesting because I don’t think it’s a foot healthy choice to go around but in the olden days I guess we don’t have many options but in our modern world, most clogs include design features that cause foot pain and problems as some research indicates that the loads on hip and knee joints are significantly higher in people who wear conventional footwear than in those who walk barefoot.

Anyways, I was happy to be here. I’ve come a long way from that kid in front of the TV watching that milk commercial to seeing the iconic part of the Dutch landscape – windmills!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.” – John Green, The Fault in our Stars

We then moved on to Netherlands’ capital – Amsterdam referred to as the Jerusalem of the North due to its large Jewish population. The Jews from Spain and French Protestants found a safe haven here centuries ago. The name Amsterdam is derived from the city’s origins: it grew around a dam in the river Amstel. Locals referred to as Amsterdammer but the slang term is ‘Mokummer’ derived from the Hebrew ‘makom,’ which means ‘place.’ The city has more canals (165) than Venice and they have a large number of houseboats (2.500) and moreover they have a million bikes for 700,000 inhabitants, which make the city bicycle capital of Europe.

The official, native language is Dutch, but most people in Amsterdam also speak quite a bit of English. Dutch were the first Europeans to discover Australia and New Zealand in the 17th century. Australia was then named “New Holland”. New Zealand was named after the province of Zeeland .Tasmania was named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman (1603-1659). Heineken and Gin was invented in the Netherlands and the latter was first sold as a medicine in the late 16th century.

It’s common knowledge that prostitution and drugs are legal in Amsterdam as the Dutch feel that it’s going to happen anyway  better to legalize and control it than to let it fester underground. Not all café are the same in this city so you better mind where you are going as ‘coffee shop’ is a place where you can legally buy soft drugs (marijuana or hashish), space cakes, coffee, tea, and sometimes freshly-squeezed juices and sandwiches and A ‘coffee house’ (koffie huis) is the same thing, minus the soft drugs and space cake.

Our local tour guide was a Filipino and he showed us around town by foot. He discussed that Amsterdam has the most museums in the world per square kilometer, i.e. total of 51 with the famous Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank house included. Amsterdam has beautiful churches and synagogues but most of them are no longer in service or no longer used as a place of worship, but now serve as concert venues, museums or even nightclubs or some churches held mass during Christmas day only.

We also explored Amsterdam’s underbelly Red Light District with our local guide or as the Dutch like to say it “De Wallen”, which literally means The Walls. It’s the oldest area in Amsterdam and the most famous prostitution area in the world. Amsterdam was founded around the year 1200 and soon after this the Red Light District was build.  In early days the Dutch build walls to protect the city against strangers. In later days, around 1850, these protective walls were broken down, since they became useless. He guided us through narrow cobblestone streets above wide canals and the ‘red light district’ of the city. I think this is one of the most vibrant and picturesque parts of Amsterdam being a liberal society.  A lot of people live and work in the Red Light District, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, museums, coffee shops, Chinatown, an old church, an arcade game room, restaurants, bars, clubs and smart shops are located in one place.

We went for a canal cruise inboard a glass-dome motor to have a good view of the city. You can see many narrow buildings; flanked gabled housed and charming houseboats line almost every canal.  You will see them with gardens on decks and roofs, with cushy upholstered chairs on deck, with tables and chairs for al fresco. We then visited a diamond factory called Gassan Diamond Factory for a tour where one can see how they are cut and allowed to see them up close and see more of the finished items for sale and much discounted price.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“NOT I – NOT ANYONE else, can travel that road for you, You must travel it for yourself.” – Walt Whitman

By default Belgium is a purveyor of waffles, chocolates and beer but having experienced Brussels there is actually more to this country than Godiva and Stella Artois.

Brussels is the largest city of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union (‘de facto’ means it is a reality, a fact of life, even if not approved in law). As per my research I was amazed to find out that the Belgians are innovators of lottery (to raise money for the poor), electronic ID cards, electronic passports complying with the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, La Redoute i.e. first casino. Also, they invented oil painting, the saxophone; they had the first printed newspaper, the first plastic and the peace sign. Apart from Brussels sprout their world contributions are comic strip Tintin, The Smurf, Jean-Claude Van Damme and 2 Unlimited whom scored 16 charts.

A country without Government or had no official government and being run by a caretaker government. The name of the euro currency and the design of the € symbol were proposed by Belgians,  the first modern health resort was opened in Belgium in the 18th century,  the oldest shopping arcades, the Galeries St Hubert was opened in 1847. They have the lowest proportion of McDonald’s in the developed world. Voting and Education is compulsory and the latter is one of the highest in the world. Also, there are more castles per square kilometre in Belgium than in any other country.

The Atomium

We visited this landmark building in Brussels originally constructed for Expo ’58 for the 1958 Brussels World’s fair called The Atomium. It is a stainless steel clad spheres that are connected so that the whole forms shaped of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. In the 1950s, the atom was at the centre of attention as the almost inexhaustible symbol of energy and modernity. The building embodied the boldness of a time wanting to confront the fate of humanity with the scientific discoveries; the trust in the scientific progress gave the brand image to the World Fair. The idea was centred on an optimistic modernity intended to make people forget World War II.

Manneken Pis

After the Atomium we headed directly to the town to have a peek of the famed child statue known as Manneken Pis (Dutch for ‘little pee man’ or ‘Petit Julien’ in French) It’s a 61 centimetre (24-inch) bronze fountain sculpture of a naked boy urinating into the fountain’s basin. The statue was located in a little street with lots of souvenirs shops. Our tour manager told us the many legends of this little tyke that survived nearly 400 years of ordeals as it has been stolen, looted by invaders, hidden during war bombing raids but remains Belgium’s best-dressed lad with a wardrobe of more than 800 costumes including outfits giving nods to: Santa Claus, African farmer and ‘urinates’ milk, Hungarian hussar, or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 2006

According to legends…

…He was a little boy who tried to douse a fire in the city with the only weapon he had at hand, A young boy who was awoken by a fire and was able to put out the fire with his urine, in the end this helped stop the king’s castle from burning down…

… A wealthy merchant who, during a visit to the city with his family, had his beloved young son go missing. The merchant hastily formed a search party that scoured all corners of the city until the boy was found happily urinating in a small garden. The merchant, as a gift of gratitude to the locals who helped out during the search, had the fountain built.

… In the 14th century, Brussels was under siege by a foreign power. The city had held its ground for some time, so the attackers conceived of a plan to place explosive charges at the city walls. A little boy named Julianske happened to be spying on them as they were preparing. He urinated on the burning fuse and thus saved the city.

…Another famous legend is that the statue commemorates Duke Godfrey III of Leuven, a two-year-old lord who in 1142 had troops battling armies of the Berthouts, the lords of Grimbergen. It is said that the little two-year-old lord was placed in a basket hung in a tree to encourage the troops to fight for him. From there, he urinated on the troops of the Berthouts, who eventually lost the battle

La Grand-Place

 After shopping for chocolates we hanged out for some time in this the central square of Brussels and a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Grote Markt. Considered as “One of the most beautiful town squares in Europe” This cobbled rectangular market square displayed row of shops and emblematic structure that is woollen together to form an overall look of a striking middle-age town square. I was struck by the charisma of the market square with its beautiful setting not just by the shops but also the guild houses dominated by the gothic tower of the town hall pointing skywards. The square dates back 12th century and it exemplifies the vitality of this important political and commercial centre. Town hall always reminded of those periodic movies where people would gather in a mob with pitch forks and torches to lynch someone without due process of law, to witness public execution or basically to have a chance to stone someone to death… yep, too much brave Heart…

Our tour manager mentioned that in this very spot, the famous Biennial Flower Carpet unfurled every two years for the past 40 years when Belgians cover this square with almost a million of begonias. This large-scale short-term floral art is a gathering of artisans, architects, designers, urban planners and home-furnishing enthusiasts to hand craft the graphic and scented celebration to the glories of Belgian horticulture. Belgians are expert begonia growers. 90% of the world’s begonia production is grown in Belgium. Only 3% of this total production stays in Belgium, with a massive 97% exported. Wow! I want to witness this event maybe in my next travel.