It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about Australia, but Easter holiday is approaching, and I think Australia would be an ideal destination for this festive period!
To be honest, I think Brisbane is an under rated city of Australia. People always say it’s boring, it’s got nothing there, it’s slow etc… but as a person who grew up in Brisbane, I can tell you otherwise. Especially in the last few years, the city has evolved from a very quiet second tier city, to a more sophisticated stylish town!
However, today, instead of showing you the busy stylish side of Brisbane, I’d like to take you out to Sandgate, a park that’s approximately an hour drive away from the city.
The Arthur Davis Park may look very ordinary, just like most of the other parks, it’s filled with greeneries, children facility, some picnic area. But here, you also have a walkaway built along the water, and you can view one of the most magnificent sunset here!
BUT!! Although the sunset is good, it’s not the reason why I wrote this post, it’s the little creatures that you can see here! During low tides, you can walk out to the sandy beaches, and see hundreds and thousands of the cute little crabs!! The view is spectacular!
I remembered when I first saw it, my jaws nearly dropped! It’s kind of surreal! If you want to see this natural phenomenon, be sure to visit during low tides time and try your luck!
Here’s a video of it! It’s very shaky, but it’ll give you an idea of how it looks like! I hope you guys will get to witness this too! It’s truly amazing!
As our itinerary at Lake Naivasha was quite chilled, so we ended up spending quite some time at where we stay. The lodge was suggested by our tour operator due to it’s convenient location to the lake, though we did not think much about it before we arrived, but we left the place with a big smile on our face looking forward to our next visit here.
The lodge is situated at the edge of Lake Naivasha, so guests can freely take a stroll along the lake any time. There are boat operators there as well so making the boat ride very easy and convenient. The whole lodge is surround by lush green trees, with a lovely garden in the middle, you can hear the birds sing during the day, and the whole place is just very tranquil and relaxing.
There are a total of 20 well furnished tent cabins in total, each comes with wooden flooring , en-suit bathrooms with hot and cold running water with flushing toilets. Each tent cabin is nicely decorated to give them the African traditional tent look with all the comforts of a home. The tents are so big that you can literally throw a party in each one of them!
The thing that I loved most about this place is the people. Every single one of the staffs we have met here are amazing. They always have a smile on their face, and will go out of their ways to help you. The dining was also another highlight of this place. Whether it be a set menu, or the buffet, the dishes are so nicely cooked that I can’t seem to have enough of. I understand that taste may be subjective, but at least I’ve really enjoyed them.
There aren’t any special dance nor performance here at night, though the staffs will set up a camp fire out on the filed, where guests can mingle and have a great night.
Overall, I would highly recommend anyone in the Lake Naivasha are, who wants to experience great hospitality in a tranquil and peaceful environment to stay here, you will not be disappointed.
After departing Lake Nakuru, we drove about 2 hours to another famous spot of the Great Rift Valley – Lake Naivasha. Situated at a high altitude of 1,884m above sea level, this place is home to hundreds different species of birds, and of course, the famous Hippos!
Usually there are a few activity options for those who travel here:
Hell’s Gate National Park – You can hike, bike, walk along the crater, and get close to the wild animals here
Crescent Island – A privately owned sanctuary, where you can freely roam around, and get close with the giraffes
Lake Naivasha Boat Ride – Go on a boat ride around the lake, where the local tour guide can show you the different species of birds and of course, get close to the hippos
Private Safari nearby
As my aunty and I wanted to have a relax day, so we have decided to do something that doesn’t need too much energy – we booked a tour where they will take us on a boat ride along the lake, and then drop us off at Crescent Island where we can walk at our own pace.
The total cost of the boat ride and the transfer to and from Crescent Island, including entrance admission is at US$50, which is relatively reasonable. We weren’t so lucky that day, as we were not able to see much of the hippo, even though our guide did try his best to attract their attention, but the hippos are just so very relaxed and couldn’t care less about our existence… very shy hippos maybe…
The birds here are truly amazing! We saw pelicans, fish eagles, and lots of other birds which I have never seen before, nor heard of.
One of the ones that made a special impression to me is this cute small bright yellow bird, where their nest are as colourful as they are! Impressive!
The walk at Crescent Island was quite a pleasant one. When we got off the boat, our guide walked up the hill with us, showed us the approximate location of where each species of animals are, and then we are free to roam around. We were allowed to walk to anywhere on the island, except we were warned NOT to get close to the buffalo, as they can get very very aggressive.
I got so very excited getting so close to the giraffes!!
If you are looking for a chill relax day in-between all your safaris, a visit to Lake Naivasha and the Crescent Island isn’t a bad choice at all.
There are just so many safaris and national park within Kenya, we were only able to visit a few during our short trip. After departing from Amboseli, we drove (well, our amazing driver and guide Franics drove, not us) over 8 hours to reach our second safari destination – Lake Nakuru.
Technically, the drive from Amboseli to Lake Nakuru should be around 6+ hours plus rest inbetween. However, we were stopped 3 times on the road by corrupted police asking for money, thus causing a lot of delays on the way. By the time we reached our hotel, it was already 2pm. Initially we were going to have a brief stop at the Great Rift Valley, which we couldn’t due to the delayed we had.
Nevertheless, we were able to check in to the hotel before our game drive at 3pm. Lake Nakuru is situated at the Great Rift Valley, and thanks to this special type of blue green algae in the lake water, it is renowned to be the home of the huge flocks of flamingos and other water birds. However, due to the rising water level in year 2014, it caused most of the flamingos population to flee, and also left the park surrounded by drowned trees.
Lake Nakuru is also a great park for wildlife spotting of the many water loving animals, such as hippos and waterbucks. Another highlight of the park must be the black and white rhinos.
We were only able to spot the white rhinos here this time round, well, I guess better luck next time! Fun fact: To tell the differences between the black and white rhinos, all you need to focus on is their mouth. White rhinos have a flat mouth for eating grass, and black rhinos have a pointy mouth for picking fruits and leaves from the tree branches.
A must visit spot of the park would be the Baboon Cliff, just like its name, it’s supposedly a spot where all the baboon gathers. Though the day we visited, we did not see a single one there, though we were greeted with a very pretty orange and blue agama lizard, and this fluffy guinea pig like cutie! (If anyone knows the name of it, please tell me)
Something interesting happened during our game drive with the baboons. As most of you know, all the safari cars have open roof top, and we usually leave it open during the game drive, so we can stand up and look around whenever we want. So on the way back to the hotel from the game drive, we saw many baboons on the road, which is quite a normal sight in these national parks. Little did we know, these were a different type of baboon (they all look the same!!). Francis our tour guide was telling us to stay alert of them, and before he even finished his sentence, one jumped into the back seat of the car, and within a blink of a second, took our bag of apples and jumped back out. We were so horrid all I could do was cover my head and scream…
Later we were advised by our Francis that this type of incident happen quite often here, and there are guests who lost their cameras, phones etc, as the baboons are attracted to anything that’s shiny/reflective. We were quite lucky that only our bag of apples were gone, otherwise, it would have been a painful experience.
Other wildlife spotted here during our game drive includes the road crossing giraffe, impalas, zebras, real life Poomba, and the cute jakals.
If you ever visit Kenya, be sure not to miss the chance to visit the amazing Lake Nakuru National Park!
If spending a day chilling on a white sandy beach, or diving into the amazing blue cave are the best things to do in Okinawa during Summer time, then hopping on a boat to go on whale watching tours is a must during the winter.
Humpback whales migrate seasonally, traveling to cold polar waters during summer seasons and to warmer waters during winter seasons, and thanks for the warmth of the Okinawa waters during January to March each year, it makes it a great place for us to watch these gigantic mammals in action.
The humpback whales do not feed during the winter months, but breed, and the Okinawa waters is their ideal breeding grounds. During this season, whale breaching is seen often, showing dominance and power. (Though I did not see it myself)
There are many Whale Watching tours that operate in Okinawa, majority of them leaves from Naha or Chatan. However, as my hotel is in Onna area, I didn’t want to spend so much time driving back and forth, so I decided to join this smaller company called the “Onna Whale Watching Association” (恩納ホエールウオッチング協会). They are the one and only company that leaves from the area.
Our tour starts at 8:30am in the morning, and to my surprise, it was quite a small group, there was only about 11 people in total, which made the boat very spacious. We were handed out a flyer when we board the boat, which is a little introduction of the whales, and what behaviors are we expected to see. And because they are the only operator in the area, we pretty much had the whole water by ourselves, no need to fight with other boats.
It took us about an hour before we reached the breeding area. We waited for around 5 minutes, before we had our first encounter with the humpback whales. They were so close to us!!
We stayed and watch the whales for a bit over and hour, we were lucky enough to be able to spotted the whales many times, although we did not see them breach (I REALLY WANT TO!!), we did see two whales coming up at the same time, so that’s pretty awesome too!
If you are considering to visit Okinawa during January to March, be sure to book yourself a whale watching tour, it’s something you will not regret!
– You can ask the hotel front desk to help you book
– The waves tend to be very big during this time of the season, remember to take the sea sick pills before boarding (Even if you don’t usually need it)
Moving from Hokkaido (the North-est part of Japan), to Okinawa (the South-est part of Japan), I’d like to share with you my recent trip to Okinawa a few weeks back.
A lot of people think of Okinawa as a summer destination, all the beautiful white sandy beaches, blue cave diving, sun bathing and reading a book etc… but a lot of you didn’t know, there are still quite some places and things you can do in Okinawa during winter time! I’d like to show you a few of them in my next few entries.
During my recent trip, I visited this really cute tree house cafe called the Beach Rock Cafe. It’s nestled and hidden in the deep forest of the Nakajin area, indeed it was so hidden that Google, nor the car GPS can take you there. I had to ask around a couple of times for direction before I manager to find this narrow entry leading onto the bumpy mountain road, but, it’s all worth it!
Beach Rock Cafe is actually ran by the Beach Rock Theater Group. This place is their stage where they do performances, as well as providing camping/glamping, different activities, as well as a cafe. As my trip was short, so I did not have time to join their performances nor activities, but I did spend a chilled afternoon relaxing on their tree terrace, browsing at the amazing forest scene.
It’s been over 2 months since I last updated my blog, and it’s quite a contrast that my last post was something that happened in Okinawa (the South-est part of Japan), while this post is going to talk about Hokkaido (the North-est part of Japan).
So during my month long’s business trip in Japan last month, I decided to try to take a 4 hours bullet train ride from Tokyo to Hakodate City of Hokkaido. As Hokkaido is the North-est part of Japan, it also means that it gets cold the quickest, which leads to the earliest viewing of maple leaves/red leaves in the whole of Japan. I visited in mid October, and the leaves were already 80% red!
Although you can view the beauty of red leaves nearly in all part of the city, there are a few spots which are highly recommended, one being the Goryokaku Tower and Park (五稜郭). The original site was a pentagonal shaped fortress with inspiration from the French architect Vauban, the design allows for greater numbers of gun emplacements on its walls than a traditional Japanese fortress, and reduced the number of blind spots where a cannon could not fire.
Just imagine yourself sitting in an open air hot bathtub, having a glass of hot sake, and right in front of your eyes is the Mount Fuji sunset view surrounded by maple leaves?
It’s the maple leaves season in Japan again, and one of the best place to see the leaves is at the Fuji Five Lake, which is about 2 hours drive from Tokyo. The five lakes are Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakaka, Shojiko, and Motosuko. It is one of the best places to view Mount Fuji from a close distance, and a great base for climbing the mountains.
There are many hotels around the areas of the Fuji Five Lakes, especially near Kawaguchiko, which is the biggest and the most touristic one. However, if you prefer something quieter, this hotel I’m going to talk about may just be the one for you!
This hotel is right in-front of Shojiko, which is the smallest lake out of the five. Comfortable rooms with Japanese traditional bedding, view of Mount Fuji in your room, private open air hot spring, and amazingly delicious meals all in one place. Better yet, you can get all these for under USD$100/persons! This is one you sure can’t miss.
Each year during the months of September/October, there are two big tulip festivals. One is in the Wynyard Tulip festival in Tasmania, and the other one is the Tesselaar Tulip Festival in Victoria. The later is only 40km East of Melbourne, which makes it easily accessible by car. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to drive, you could also get there easily by a train which departs from Melbourne, then board a shuttle/bus to get you to your destination.
This year, the Tesselaar Tulip Festival was from the 8th September till the 4th October. I arrived Melbourne on the 3rd afternoon, which means the only day I could go was on their last day. During the 4 weeks of the festival, they have different events on every weekend. I would highly recommend you to check out their schedule before your visit.
According to Google Map, the journey shall only take approximately 45 minutes. Since it’s not a long ride, I have decided to have lunch at Melbourne first before we head over to the festival.
Well, a 45 minutes journey ended up being a 2 hours ride! Instead of using my Google map on the phone, I was using a GPS which I borrowed when I rented my car. For some strange reason, this GPS keeps directing me to roads that either did not exist, or was too narrow for my 4WD to get thru… Ok, it may also have to do with my bad sense of directions, and lack of skills in driving too. BUT, thanks to the GPS, we went on a route thru the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which was an extremely bumpy, yet fun ride – I encountered a wild deer in the middle of nowhere!! I have no idea where it came from, but it was there, starring at us. So sometimes, a little detour on a journey aren’t so bad at all.
Finally, I arrived the Tesselaar Tulip Festival at around 3:30pm. The weather was super nice when we got there.
About 10 minutes after entering the festival, it started pouring, and it was so windy and cold and wet, all I could do (and most of the others as well) was to hide in the shelter to wait for the rain to past by. The weather was not very nice that day, it keeps raining, then sunshine, then raining, then sunshine… but it made the flowers look very pretty, with the rain dew drops on the flowers.
Are you ready to be drown in purple-ness? Because this is what this post is all about!! Be surrounded by pretty purple flowers.
In the Southern Hemisphere, we are stepping into Summer, and one of the must do in Summer for Brisbanians are to go and see the jacaranda trees! Basically, these purple pretty flowers could be seen in every corner of Brisbane, but of course, there are places which I would highly recommend you to go and visit, such as The University of Queensland, New Farm Park, Kangaroo Point etc. But my favorite jacaranda viewing place must be at Goodna. Each year, they have a festival just to celebrate this beautiful season！
(Where to see Jacaranda in Brisbane – http://blog.queensland.com/2016/10/12/jacarandas-south-east-queensland/)