Showing posts from November, 2014

Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand: Gannet Bird Safari

Safari It was only a bird safari! I had assumed I knew the drill, but I was wrong; I underestimated it. I went back to read the warning printed on the ticket: “Not recommended for people with back problems.” I don’t have a back problem, but I sure did suffer a sore back after the safari. But all the trouble on how we got there was well worth it. We traveled the Hawke's Bay coast to Cape Kidnappers Station where we found one of the two largest gannet bird colonies in the world. Leaving the coastline, we drove out onto overland. With a very clean white vehicle driving through a very narrow well-kept road, it seemed we were heading onto a Disney World safari, but the scenery was no doubt New Zealand, very green. It possessed a feeling of space and tranquility. Our driver/guide told us that we were traversing on a private property purchased by an American who built a lodge and a golf course there. We drove along what seemed to be riverbeds (it was dry at the time, but accordi

Otago Region, New Zealand: The Taieri Gorge Railway

T he Taieri Gorge Railway is hailed as one of the world's great train trips.  I have not been on many scenic rail trips in order to compare my experience on the Taieri Gorge Railway, but the combination of a historical railway, a hundred-year-old wooden carriage, artsy train station, and stunning scenery made my journey an experience that I would not soon forget. Our journey started at Dunedin Train Station, one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand. I had a chance to explore the artsy train station before our train trip. The building itself is an architectural delight. With an over-the-top decoration, it looks like a gingerbread house. The exterior is matched in decorations by its interior with stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings, and tiled floors. The train cruised along the Taieri River bounded by rock and pillar ranges. The train operator announced some points of interest as we passed them, like the Wingatui where the construction of the railway began. Th

Travels of a Lifetime, VBlog Series: Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

Series 3: Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia The air got colder as we started our ascent heading to the peak of the lower arch.  So I had to wear the fleece jacket attached to my belt. Aside from being suited in astronaut jumpsuit, I carried all the necessary gear like headphones, hats and a jacket provided by Bridge Climb.  Everything was attached to my belt.  We were only allowed to bring sunglasses, but the company provided a strap to secure them. Lockers were provided for all of our other personal belongings. At first, I was not happy at the rule of not being able to take even a phone camera with me to capture and Instagram a photo of my adventure. I thought it was another way of the Bridge Climb to make money from the photos because I had to add $54.00 to the actual cost for photos.  As we geared up, I began to understand that everything was for safety reason. The keyword there was to latch-on. Everything was attached to our belt latched on a wire rope all thr

Kata-Tjuta National Park: Walking the Valley of the Winds

I thought I would be happy just photographing the landscape: The large rock dome formations, the symmetrical desert oaks (kurkara) and grass that dot the red soil, and the play of light in the clouds. I had no intention of hiking under a 32-degree celsius desert heat, but the tour that we signed-up for included walking the Valley of the Winds in Kata-Tjuta. We were visiting Kata-Tjuta (also known as Mount Olgas) a group of large dome rock formations in the southern part of the Northern Territory in Central Australia. It is part of the Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, a world heritage site. After taking photos of the incredible landscape, we proceeded to the car park where we were to set off on our 2.8 kilometers walk or two-hour plus walk. (Just two hours and 2.8 kilometers, you say). This place would keep you on your toes and should never be underestimated. The undulating trail is uneven and consists of small hard rocks and pebbles. In addition, I had to contend with the p

The Skies of Uluru (Ayers Rock): Photo Essay

I’ve become obsessed with visiting Uluru since seeing the image of Oprah standing in front of it in awe. Oprah said, “It strikes awe in your soul when you see it." So I come to Uluru with great expectations. As the plane approached landing, we could see the iconic rock amidst a sprawling expanse of terracotta land, dotted by greens. The view itself was impressive, but not the awe-inspiring sight I have long imagined. I thought I would be disappointed when I saw a few white tourist buses in front of the Ayers Rock airport. A party town, I thought! We rode in one of those buses to take us to our campsite/resort. The mid-afternoon Northern Territory light was bright and scorching. Our bus continued on a two-lane road amid an expanse of terracotta earth between rows of symmetrical trees and grass. After checking into our campsite/resort, the busload of tourists seemed to be lost in the huge expanse of earth. I did not see them until the following day at a gathering place to se