January 28, 2008

Home and Away

This is Palm Beach North of Sydney and it is the beach where they shot Home and Away!!!

I remember watching Home and Away during breakfast before school on our tiny black and white TV in the kitchen and even in my wildest dreams I wouldn't have imagined that I'd be standing on the very same beach one day! It looked so amazing then, the scenes shot from helicopter flying over beautiful white sand spit with the ocean on both sides...

Little did I know that this beach is located an hours drive from Sydney and is actually quite built up, not some untouched paradise in the middle of nowhere at all!...

Kaj rented a surfboard and we both paddled out for a while. It was nice to be in the water without a wetsuit! We have to start surfing again, because I'm loosing my skills! I was breathless in 5 minutes and couldn't even really go past the whitewater, then got wiped out and that was the end of it...

Other than this, we still haven't found a permanent rental place to stay. Our hopes are really high for the next week, so please please keep fingers crossed! I hope our place will be in North Sydney... I don't mind views like that on my way to work...

Meanwhile Kaj has befriended a couple cheeky rainbow lorikeets that come for their share of toasted sandwich every morning! Birds are really weird and cool here. The sounds you hear from the trees can almost make your heart stop, if you walk through a park late at night...

We just had a long weekend because of Australia Day. It is kind of a national day, I think, with heaps of events (and people) in the city. I still can't get over this.. Isn't Sydney a truly stunning city?!?!

And by the way, the commenting works again, so you can leave a note for me! it will not show automatically, I'll have to approve it, but it will be there eventually, so be patient!

Posted by gkligyte at 11:39 PM | Comments (1)

January 21, 2008

Sydney is great!

It is 8 days since we arrived in Sydney and it is our 2nd week at work. So far we like almost everything about Sydney: beautiful harbour, heaps of white sand beaches, lively neighbourhoods full of restaurants and cafes. Although we go to work every day, it feels almost like holiday otherwise. We stay at beautiful apartments right on the Lavender Bay, I take a ferry and a bus to work, Kaj just walks up the hill. Unfortunately we have this accommodations for 30 days only, so meanwhile we're also going through an intense apartment hunt.

We had lots of space at our house in Auckland, so we're finding local apartments quite crammed and urban. Almost all the 2 bedroom apartments (even if they have a separate lounge and dining room that would equal to 4 room apartment by Helsinki standards) that we saw wouldn't be able to accommodate our surfboards and bicycles. We also have an opportunity to rent an apartment without ANY carpets this time, so we're discarding all places that have carpets... Add a quiet location and good public transport connections as the absolute must and our apartment hunting quest becomes nearly Mission Impossible?... I hope not... We still believe we might be lucky and find all of that in one place!

Oh yes, and what's the story with draught in Australia?!? Since we arrived, we had 2 sunny days out of 8... That makes it... 25% sunny? If this is "a draught", I don't want to see how "good rain" looks like! I guess Sydney is spared from the worst of it though... I just expected it to be constantly sunny and now it looks like Auckland weather has followed us!

Posted by gkligyte at 10:21 PM | Comments (131)

January 20, 2008

No more travelling!

If anyone is still hanging out there waiting for my blog entries... Sorry about this long delay. Meanwhile, as you may know, we packed up and left NZ, had a 3 week holiday. And right now we are trying to find our way in Sydney...

If we've been in touch with you during last few weeks, you may know that we were not very happy with our choice to spend our Xmas holidays in Vietnam. We bought the flights in the middle of winter in NZ when we lost all hope that it will ever get warm again. We had dreams about tropical nights on the beach, great coffee and delicious Vietnamese food.

We forgot about everything else, apparently... It seemed that Ho Chi Minh got MUCH worse since last time we were there. More traffic, more pollution, more people, more noisy, more expensive, etc...

We decided to seek refuge in the Phu Quoc island in the South of Vietnam at Cambodian border. We went through a bit of trouble getting there and we knew that we didn't like it from the minute we got there...

It was just so incredibly boring place to be! The ocean was flat, lined by resorts, the water murky brown colour, the island full of aimlessly wondering westerners (and most of them were smoking like chimneys! We realised that while we lived in NZ we were not exposed to cigarette smoke at all! It is so annoying to breath somebody's 2nd hand stinky smoke - there was always somebody who would light up a cigarette at our table without even asking if we'd mind!). We couldn't believe that we're wasting our time there while we could have been surfing in NZ in its pristine beautiful beaches...

We ended up driving a motorcycle around the island for 2 days, but we didn't find much exciting stuff elsewhere either... Just got covered in red dust, eyelashes and all... Since it was impossible to get flights out of the island (as everyone else was trying to get out too), we were stuck there for 4 long days... That was enough to nearly finish our 5 book collection!

As soon as we got back to Ho Chi Minh, we decided to "explore" and went up to the highlands of Dalat, "the romance capital of Vietnam". Since it is so high up, the place has temperate climate and a lot of people seek refuge from scorching Ho Chi Minh there. There's a lot of produce grown there (since the climate allows it) and it is the main coffee / tea growing region of Vietnam.

But we were not ready for the weather that we found there at all! It was around +10-14C and windy. The city itself looked like 1990 somewhere in Soviet Union: people wearing puffer jackets and drinking in depressing, dark, drafty "cafes" with "Russian techno" type of music blasting away (as you try to quickly get back to the hotel before you get pneumonia after having your dinner in a smoky stinky restaurant...) Argh....

We rented a motorbike and set out to explore, but the hills were not green, the sky not blue, the forest not lush enough... It is hard to impress us after NZ.... Seriously, if you're into beautiful scenery and nature, don't go anywhere further (can you go anywhere further?), NZ is what you're looking for!

The highlight of our trip to Dalat was getting out of there on bicycles! It is possible to do a one day 120km cycling trip (downhill) from Dalat to Mui Ne beach. And this was one of the best things that we decided to do during this trip!

Going downhill the winding road with hardly any traffic was great fun! The views were magnificent and it took us only around 5-6 hours. It definitely beats sitting the same hours in a bus!

Mui Ne has changed a lot since last time we were there (scroll down). There were quite a few boats in the harbour, but not THIS many.

There were a few kitesurfers in the water, but not THIS many!

Since our holiday was going down the drain anyway, we decided to take kitesurfing classes, so that we'd have things to do and not fight for the last remaining book that we both were trying to read at the same time. It was fun to learn something new and maybe we'll continue this here in Sydney. During 7 hours beginner classes we basically tried flying the kite, but when it came to actually getting on the board, we ran out of time, I, for example, fell face down in the water, dropped the kite, couldn't get it up again and that was it...

Wave surfing is more fun anyhow. Kite surfing is so much about the gear and equipment, making sure that the lines are set up right, etc. But if there's no swell and some wind, it could be an alternative?!

Another major change about Mui Ne is the amount of Russian package tourists in the huge resorts that appear out of nowhere since 2 years ago. Apparently it is a very popular holiday destination for rich Russians. Restaurants have menus in Russian, kite surfing schools advertise that their instructors speak Russian, etc... Must be something about Vietnam still being a Soviet country?!!?

The last week in Mui Ne anyway saved our holiday. We bought fish sauce (that was nearly confiscated in the airport, ow no!), coffee, met up with Gary and Sean (Kaj's ex-colleagues) and learned some kite surfing. Well... It hardly could have been worse holiday apart from that...

And of course, stopping over and meeting (now enlarged) Guliano's + Joanne's family (and the cute new addition Dante!), Yong + Kitty + Ning and Fity( !), was the highlight of the trip, as always! Thanks for having us over!

Sydney adventures will follow, I promise! And no more "travelling" the way we used to... I guess, we just can't take it anymore?!?

Posted by gkligyte at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)