A Travellerspoint blog

Singapore where we're comforted from above

sunny 36 °C

So our brief sojourn in Singapore is over and we have escaped a few pounds lighter (mostly sweated off through walking and walking and walking). We saw some of the sights, and experienced the beauty and cleanliness of the city. Extraordinary really that there is so much to offer in such a small area. No Durians allowed signs and the 'happy happy' announcement onto the platform on the MTR were noteworthy. The architecture is outstanding and my only wish is that the creativity shown here can come to Christchurch. We loved that the greening project that has been underway since the 60s provided shelter on our 35+ degree days. The Museum stories told us a great deal about the history of the island and this gave us a greater understanding of the city. That 5.5M live within the city boundaries is extraordinary. Outside our apartment balcony were trees over 6m tall, filled with wildlife and sound. The complex had a swimming pool which became our thrice daily saviour in the humidity and heat, a big thanks to Tony and Ursula for their let of the apartment during our stay. The new cars were everywhere, but then all cars over 10 years old are crushed (not sure whether this includes vintage), but the house (well it's a house to him) across from the apartment had parking out front for his 5 Ferrari, his two Rollers, the Lambo and the Porsche and others.

So many new and beautiful cars everywhere and some real stunners zooming past on the road outside,the opulence was easy to see with many nannies looking after the spawn of the colonial classes still.

The people must feel comforted by the constant flyover's of the air force jets, and also by the political messages on taxis from the wives, mothers and girlfriends who support their men in uniform.

We had a great experience of Gardens by the Bay evening show of music and lights, and a visit to The Cloud (which I described as a crashed spaceship because of its design), and the canopy of super trees provided the environmental resources required to drive the light show and parts of the cultivation programme.

On our last day Sharon introduced me to a fish spa, where fish eat away at your feet. A fascinating experience and hopefully no dead fish left there after our feet were nibbled.

So much to see that we think that another trip may be in order at some other time but we'll stay at the Hotel with the infinity pool on the 57th floor - on a building that looks as if a boat has docked on the roof.

Now to Dublin for a potato.

Posted by claptonisgod 06:40 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Time fly's

sunny 12 °C

Time fly's (my Dad would have followed up with "so does blow..............)

Where have the last four years gone? We always knew that our youngest would graduate from her University, but it seemed so far away (in a time sense as a four year degree as well as a logistical sense - being that the University is in Newcastle Upon Tyne). But here we are, late May 2016 and a trip planned to take off on the 25th June. Time enough to get to the ceremony. Time enough to plan a little extra around the edges of the trip. Time enough to consider again, where have the last four years gone?

She headed overseas to play Netball for Northumbria in the UK Superleague, received assistance to study, and after four years of unbelievable time management (training, playing, studying, earning, and living) she will have a file of life experiences for future reference, a host of new colleagues and a second degree. What more could one ask for?

Travelling to the graduation also gives us a great excuse to see the eldest and her husband in their new environment of an 'owned' property in London. Recently moved in, it'll be great to see them on the next rung up on life's ladder.

So after thinking that our 'Latestage OE' would actually be the once in a lifetime trip, we are dusting off our enchanted shoelaces yet again for an adventure of the UK kind (with a couple of stop off adventures which will be brief but packed with activity). Driving seems to be the favoured mode of transport and we will cover many miles on two driving trips, one around Ireland and the other in the UK. We will be mostly using Air BnB accommodation and have booked places in some remote but interesting places, big cities and coastal retreats. We'll tell you about all of them and the people we encounter.

A month to go and we both have mountains of things to do before we go, so expect the first blog to come from Singapore in late June. Till then....

Posted by claptonisgod 15:03 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Here we go again???????????????????

overcast 10 °C

A trip to the travel agent this afternoon has resulted in all those discussions about another trip to Europe in 2016.

Why, you might ask? Well because Emma is graduating from her four years in Newcastle with her Law Degree, and a parent(s) should be there for that sort of thing, now shouldn't they? So after a recent flurry of airlines emailing me their 'early bird specials' it was time to see what was available.

Needless to say, I was advised that there are still some specials to come out and I should wait a little while. I have booked another visit to the travel agent on the 7th October and in the meantime have brought home a few brochures to, both scan for possible travel routes, and drool over beautiful scenery (luckily now, both of places we are yet to visit and a few places we have been).

So.

All we need is a few more artwork sales, the god of Lotto to smile graciously upon us, or some other act of fortune to bestow us with the necessaries (of life) and a jetting we will go again.

Enchanted shoelaces away.......................

Posted by claptonisgod 22:41 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Segway Rome

sunny 16 °C

Rome is a true ‘outdoor museum’ making the Segway the perfect vehicle from which to experience it! The historic center of the Eternal City is a treasure trove of stunning monuments, bustling piazzas and fountain masterpieces – all of which you can discover on our half-day Segway tour of the Best of Rome.

Your experience begins at our comfortable office, just a five-minute walk from the Colosseum. From here your expert Tour Leader will start with a 30 minute Segway training session. Within minutes you’ll be gliding around like a pro; our Segways are easy and intuitive to use.

The advertisement read:

Once you have your bearings – we’ll roll through Rome’s medieval streets on a quest to discover its most famous architectural and artistic wonders. To reach the heart of the historic center, we’ll ride along the famous Imperial Forum to the Campidoglio square, designed by the master Michelangelo himself. From here we’ll head towards Campo de’ Fiori, known for its daily street market and nightlife. Famous Piazza Navona is a short glide away. Here, we’ll experience Bernini’s incredible Fountain of the Four Rivers, which has recently been restored to it’s full glory. Navona Square is home to talented street performers and is always filled with a lively crowd.

A sure highlight of the day is a visit to the impressive Pantheon, one of Rome’s best- preserved ancient temples – now a consecrated basilica boasting a stunning 142 foot freestanding dome. We’ll even stop in Sant’Ignazio, one of Rome’s most impressive and lesser-known churches. Our last two stops need no introduction: you’ll toss a coin and make a wish to return to Rome at the one and only Trevi Fountain before culminating at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

At each of Rome’s famous sights you’ll enjoy a presentation on a personal iPod, which you’ll be provided with at the beginning of the tour. You’ll discover fascinating facts and curiosities about each of the spots you’ll visit in a modern and entertaining audio-visual presentation – created uniquely for this tour!

If you want to visit all of the famous sights that Rome is known for – we’re sure you’ll love our eco-friendly Best of Rome Segway Tour! You’ll cover more ground and see more without the effort it would take the cover the same route on foot. All tours depart from and end at our office near the Colosseum where a bathroom, free Wifi, water and caffé are available to all of our guests.

And we said "Let's do it!"

We had already been in Rome for a few days, but this was the most wonderful way of seeing the sights. As we had booked on-line we had missed a couple of the important details when we turned up, like that the tour we had booked was an individual tour, so it was just Sharon and I with a guide. This proved to be the best part as we went at our own pace and were able to quiz our guide along the route as to the history and geography of certain areas of the city we were passing through. We stopped at plenty of places for a history lesson and our chance to take photographs. We even felt comfortable at the end to wend our way through the crowds outside the Colosseum at a slow pace.

The Segway is fun and a bit of training about how to lean 'with' the Segway we were able to (with a couple of 'moments') keep up with the instructions of our guide and travel across the very uneven surfaces of the streets without too much difficulty. Climbing hills was probably the most difficult as it required leaning beyond what was comfortable, but what the hell, it was a blast and well worth the price for both enjoyment and seeing the sights of Rome in just over 3 and a half hours.

If you get an opportunity to Segway, have a go. I'd like one in the garage to get to meetings on now that I am home................

Posted by claptonisgod 19:16 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Chapels. And not one fell down......

overcast 11 °C
View To the shoe factory on claptonisgod's travel map.

We cannot by any means say that we dented the list of churches and chapels in the countries we visited. However we have a view created from our experiences for those of you who are happy to read the ramblings of Woodings…these are our observations.

In Taipei there were little temples everywhere and some amazingly big spaces with shrines. These wide spaces with manicured gardens, beautiful pots and pure white orchids seemed in contrast to the lives that many of the local 5 million residents. These shrines and temples were grand and massive in scale with every piece of shiny paint in place. We even observed an old gentleman picking out the grime around the gates with a tooth pick. At the temple to Chang Kai-Shek we were amazed at the reverence given to someone who had arguably harmed so many people. As an aside David marvelled that while in this shrine watching the changing of the guards (which was almost balletic) that although many people pushed in front of him to watch this event he had no trouble seeing …the joys of having a little height.

We came across a massive temple within walking distance of our accommodation [The Rich Garden ..which we would recommend for its proximity to some parts of the city, but is 45 minutes from the airport]. It was Buddhist in the front and Tao in the back. As with much of our trip we luckily turned up at a time of prayer and as the chanting started we were mesmerised and just sat and watched. People came from all walks of life and stood beside each other with incense and candles, bowing and reading from thick books. This chanting went on for well over an hour that we were there, with each chant honouring different gods. The last chant we waited to end before leaving took over 30 minutes in duration. There was ringing of bells and at one point two little birds sat on each end of the temple roof. It seemed if everything was at one with the world at that place and time. We didn’t realise but we must have stuck out like sore thumbs sitting there quietly, not contributing but enjoying the cacophony of noise as we had people coming up and blessing us, our lives and our babies. Quite a lovely experience; one that will stay with us always. The Chinese were in our experience always humble and very willing to help struggling travellers.

The hugeness of the cathedrals in UK was the thing that first hit us. It was amusing to find that the definition of city in the UK was whether or not you had a Cathedral so even the smaller areas like Canterbury were cities. But I digress. In the Tower of London we saw the Royal Chapel which was amazing in its humbleness. The Queen still visits regularly ( and in fact had been there only the previous weekend) and it made me very aware that there were many layers of religion, beliefs and ways of celebrating. Canterbury Cathedral however was at the other extreme. We arrived at its gates at about 3.30 pm which of course was close to sunset. Again we were so lucky to be there at this time as we saw the setting sun through the wonderful lead light windows. No matter what religion you believe in or even if you do not believe this Cathedral is a must see. The spaces within this cathedral to sit and contemplate in complete silence were most reverential. We both wandered finding joy in separate things but getting an overall feeling that this was a pretty cool place to be. We were greeted by volunteers and clergy who seemed happy to see us and obviously proud of their little corner of the world. We marvelled at the intricate carving and architecture and wondered of the stories behind the building of such structures and the lives lost and changed in the buildings creation. Locals have cards which mean this visit is free so thanks Rae for your ticket it was an awesome help.

In Oxford and York we found chapels that were smaller (although there were others) and extremely quaint. One such place in York was very old and locals had dressed the inside with ivy and candles. It was dark and we loved the stalls where families would have (and still) sit. The wealthier the families the closer to the front you got. Again arriving at 4pm it was almost pitch dark when we arrived and the local person looking after the chapel let us in when he found out we were from NZ. (A good to card to play we found.) We thanked him as we left, walking past the little grave yard now almost invisible in the dark. This was just one of those places that you look down an alley and find…never under estimate the joys of going off the beaten track.

Some of these sacred places cost to visit and some were free. Size and fame of the building is irrelevant. All communities are finding it more difficult to fund restoration projects, and in some cases just the upkeep. The little chapel in York is now open only 3 days a year. If you think it is too expensive still try to go and see it if you can, as we found that cathedrals as big and St Peters at the Vatican were free, and the treasures inside (as well as the person experience) should not be missed. Again, if there is an audio tour available this will add significantly to your overall experience.

Tony and Jo took us to Winston Churchill’s family chapel…what a delight. It was a really a little patch of quaint small town UK….special

Posted by claptonisgod 15:59 Archived in England Comments (0)

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