Posted in travel

The Ganesan’s in the Orient 3

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Travelling is the part I don’t like about travelling.  I mean the packing and all the last minute running around and then finally the transit, especially if it is a long flight. To finally make that eye contact with our tour guide was such a great relief.

It had been a tumultuous couple of months personally and professionally for both hubby and me.  We were both looking forward for this holiday and at the end we thought it wasn’t really going to happen with all the uproar in Hong Kong.   It felt almost surreal to be on a foreign land and to think that, I had finally dragged my workaholic husband to switch off and relax for a fortnight.

Mmm… that belief lasted all of 24 hrs before I realised that “switch off and relax” was not part of the deal.   Another topic for another day.

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Shanghai

Shanghai was our first stop in China.  We met with our National Tour Guide Sophie and local tour guide Grace and the others of our tour group.  The first day was meant to be a day to take it easy until dinner time.  We met with Alan and Rosemary, Veronica and Robyn and after that most of the other names were a bit of a blur.  As days went by and the tour progressed we all got to know, not just the names but their quirks as well. So for the next fourteen odd days twenty one individuals from different parts of the world and from different walks of life, toured together with laughter, banter and mate ship.

Sophie our National tour guide was a pocket rocket, she was super efficient and worked tirelessly day and night for us to have the best time.  She was also impressed with my vocabulary of Mandarin words and phrases that I had picked up watching Chinese dramas on Netflix.  My regular vegetable purchases are from a Chinese/Vietnamese owned Market type shop.  I had made friends with one of the ladies there and I did practice my Chinese with her prior to my visit to China.

In my days of sailing with my husband, I used to read up about the country we are about to embark and learn at least a few phrases from their native tongue.  It makes a world of difference with the locals.  They appreciate our efforts, even when we make mistakes, they still love the fact that you had taken the time to learn about them.  In contrast, I feel that in English speaking countries, the foreigner is looked down upon for not pronouncing right or not getting it right.  Knowing this fact, it still didn’t stop me from taking photos of all the faux pas of where direct translation had gone wrong.

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I have a habit taking detours while writing.  I just realised other than a photo of Shanghai nothing else has been written about Shanghai so far.

If you require details of age, size, historical dates, population etc I suggest that you use  “Google”, since all of us outside of China have access to Google.  Yes, that is another fun fact about China, no Google or Facebook access.  They have their own social media and google type search engine.  But No Google.

We stayed 3 jam packed days in Shanghai.  This is – Shanghai through my eyes.

Day one – we arrived at the hotel around lunch time.  After settling into our room and a good yarn with Sophie where I sprung her with surprise when I bid her goodbye at the lift with “Zai Jian”.  She ended up following us to our room to finish the conversation and also to check if the room was good etc.

We then ventured out on our own to get some lunch.  We managed to order some dumplings by pointing to the pictures on the wall.  Then we saw the adjoining table eating something like wonton soup.  So we ordered that too.  It came with a lot side dishes, we had no idea what to do with them.  So we copied our neighbors.  It was delicious.  Just simple honest food.  Payment was by the vendor showing the numbers on the calculator.  The entire menu which is all of six items were on the wall with a barcode next to it.  We observed that most paid with their phone using this barcode.  Yes, they still practice Tai Chi but have embraced technology as well.

Day 2 – started with a long lecture/speech by Sophie and Grace of all the do’s and don’ts, and including some of the local cultures and customs.

So Grace explained that most Chinese used scotting toilets, hard beds and hard pillows before the introduction of tourism.  Some of the old folk still used a piece of hard wood or brick as their pillow.  They preferred hard beds as they feel that it is better for their back.  The jury is out on that for me as I prefer softer beds, on the contrary my husband prefers hard beds and blames the soft mattress for his bad back.  (obviously the pot belly is not to be blamed for the bad back).  So most public toilets used to be scotting toilets but now due to tourism they would have at least a few western toilets in most places.  Grace went on to tell us how in the villages the toilets were usually outside, one or two toilets to be shared among a few houses, some may not even have a door.  So it was a common practice for them to sing while in the toilet as a sign to say “I am here”.  Hence it also got dubbed as the “Happy house”.  This became our phrase too.

Shanghai is dubbed as the Paris of the East.  I have not been to Paris, but somehow I don’t think this is it.  However, it is a beautiful city where the old colonial Architecture and the modern sea of concrete apartments adorn the streets side by side.

As the first city to land on in China, we were amazed at the speed of development that has occurred  in a very short span of time.  And still going on.  The local joke is Shanghai’s famous bird is the “Crane”

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View from the Shanghai Tower – yes the air quality – not so great
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Yu Garden- A son’s gift to his father
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Man doing Tai Chi in the morning – view from our hotel room

Yes their air quality is bad.  China can see evidence of pollution and the need for change.  It may have been and might still be one of the great polluters, but they are working very hard to rectify this.

Time for some sleep now.  The rest about Shanghai tomorrow or when ever time permits next time.  I guess I am back at work now.

 

Posted in travel, True Story, Inspirational

The Ganesan’s in the Orient – 2

Cont from The Ganesan’s in the Orient – 1 …. https://uma197.wordpress.com/2019/08/31/the-ganesans-in-the-orient-1/

Adelaide airport was calm and no sign of cancelled flights, Cathy Pacific staff looked unmoved and it didn’t seem like the world was going to end any time soon, so we decided to board the plane and go to China.

After 9 long hours of discomfort and boredom we arrived in Hong Kong. The airport looked deserted. All shops and service counters were closed. And definitely no sign of protesters. Phew!!. We still spent a few more hours of apprehension as there was still no sign of gate allocation for our next flight. About 40 minutes to spare we finally get the gate allocation and we board the flight to Shanghai.

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The Ganesan’s touch down.

The earth roared and the sun emerged. A red carpet adorned the air bridge.

China was waiting for us. It could’ve been just turbulence and sun may have just risen as it was the morning, but we will never know if the show was for the benefit for the Ganesan’s. It was disappointing that Xi Jinping did not come to greet us, but we are not one to hold grudges, with everything that was on his plate we could certainly understand. Also we wanted to blend in, not bring attention to ourselves. Please, enough with the paparazzi.

But there was no chance of blending in, every turn there were big signs that blared out “FOREIGNER” and we were continually directed to those lines and queues. We see two tunnels – “To Declare” and the other “Nothing Declare”.  Just when we were going to head towards the “Nothing to Declare”, we were shooed off to “Declare”.  There was no time or opportunity to explain, we in fact had nothing to declare.  The guy (the officer) could see and comprehend what we were trying to say but he sternly pointed towards “Declare”.  Such a contrast to the Australian airports.  Over here in Aus you get the feeling they just want you to sod off, unless you are bringing in food, especially bananas or a dog, they just want you to get on with it.  The other difference is that, other than in Australia all other airport officials have a thing about smiling.  It is almost like if they smile or make eye contact somehow they might jeopardize the security system.  But honestly I feel more safe in our airports than anywhere else.  Pretty sure they catch all the real criminals, however they don’t feel the need to put the fear of god in every passenger for no reason. Every time I see that stern face I get the urge to tell “Just chill mate, just breath in and breath out”. 

I had gone off the tangent once again.  We slowly got through each section. I was alarmed when I realised that I was going to be finger printed. I had a choice, to argue that it was a violation of my privacy or just get on with it and enter China. Obviously I chose the latter. Losing all the money I had spent to come to China vs holding on to my rights, I realised holding on to one’s rights was so overrated. But on my return I heard from my son that he was finger printed in LA and Canada. I think it’s an argument/topic for another day.

Finally coming out to a sea of people at the arrival gate was such a relief. I skim through all the signs and posters from those who had come to pick up passengers and finally see the sign, “Wendy Wu Tours”.

WE ARE HERE, OUR HOLIDAY BEGINS.

 

 

Posted in travel

An unusual destination for a holiday (Part 5)

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Point Lowly Light House

It has been many moons since my last post.  That lovely holiday is just a vague memory now.  How I wish I could be back there again leaving all this humdrum.


Our week long stay in Whyalla came to an end and it was time for our return drive back to Adelaide.  We left early so we could stop at a few places that was recommended to us.

First stop – Point Lowly Light House.  Spectacular views in abundance and all for free.  Mother Nature really asks for very little.  And it is sad that we take her for granted and fail to preserve her.

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Next stop was Port Augusta

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Interesting fact – Port Augusta does not have a Port.  Just a Jetty.

These were rather quick stops and the flies gave us the necessary nudge to get back on the road.

And then came Port Pirie.  It’s a bigger town than the other’s we had just passed.  We grabbed our first coffee and the toilet break.

Going into small ports and towns for work, hubby does meet many interesting characters.  One of them is Craig.  Craig is an avid fisherman.  One of his tales is now part of the Port Pirie Maritime Museum.

He accidentally caught a Shark

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An exact replica with all the scars, wounds etc

Well she wandered into his net. As always it happened on a weekend, when officials were scarce, and knowledge of what to do was even more scant.  Initially he was told he could have the shark and an interested party was ready to part with some good money for the teeth.

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Then the officials changed their minds.  By then Craig had brought the shark to Port Pirie spending money and elbow grease.  The shark story was a big hit in the town, and it even hit the news papers, but without any mention of the hard work by Craig.  Hubby related this story to me and took me to see the museum.  Like the officials I may have completely got the entire story wrong or at least some parts of it. But the long and short of it is that a big white shark got caught and Craig took it to Port Pirie.

Many a things have been learnt from the carcass.  She had a sting ray spine caught in her teeth.  And they believe that could have been one reason why she got caught in the net.  She was unwell and was trying to catch the fish from the net rather than go hunting.

Next visit was to “The bridge to nowhere”

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The bridge to nowhere takes you to a little island.  It may be the bridge to nowhere but once again, natures beauty is everywhere in this part of the nook.


Hubby wanted to catch up with Grant, a shipping agent who has his office based in Port Pirie.  It was going to be a quick hello and we were going to go on our way.  The quick hello turned into a big chinwag and then further extended to an invite to Brett’s new home.  We were talking about great places to retire.  And I think this was Brett’s subtle lobbying for Port Pirie for our retirement.  Definitely worth putting it on the list.

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I think around 150 acres of it

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And that’s the view from his veranda – The Flinders Rangers

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Thank you Brett for this treat.


The final verdict for Whyalla and it’s surrounds –

Simply spectacular.  This region is so misunderstood.  Well, it ain’t Paris or Hawaii. If you go Bali and you were looking for the Eiffel Tower,  you would be told that you are in the wrong country.  Same goes for Whyalla, don’t look for the Shangri la, if that’s what you want, then this isn’t the place for you.  But, let me just remind you that, there is no Shangri La on the summit of Mt Everest either.

Whyalla gets a big thumbs up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in travel

An unusual destination for a holiday (Part 4)

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Whyalla Locals’ Hang out

Sun is feeling shy to make it’s appearance. Dolphins feel the same way.  Of course I am disappointed.  But this is nature.  It is a stark reminder that we don’t control everything.  The water is choppy, wind is present.  The Beach Cafe has it’s entrance to the beach side closed and operating through the garden side door.  I find refugee inside the cafe and start my writing.

I have a 180 degree view of the beach and the Garden.  And of my favourite tree.  Met the gardener on the way to here.  Finally found out the name and the possible age of the tree.  It is a Fiscus Elastica, commonly known as a Fig Rubber tree.  Whyalla seems to host a few varieties of these trees. He believes the tree could be as old as 100 years. It had it’s first stay at the cemetery.  Due to it’s large root system and not wanting to disturb the residents they moved the tree to beach side location.  As per one of the locals, the council had wanted to cut this tree not long ago. Fortunately the locals put a stop to it.  I can never understand the logic behind these councils.  When you want to cut down an infected tree in your backyard, they will make all the fuss, but then they will want to cut down a perfectly good specimen such as this.  Anyway I am glad that this tree was saved from their ignorance.

More on the tree, as per my Wikipedia search these trees are mainly in Asia also in US the state of Florida.

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The warm cup of tea comforts my frozen fingers.  I smile at the waitress while adjusting my disheveled hair.  No words spoken, but its understood that my hair looks terrible but she understands.  The long bushy grass looks like my hair or my hair looks like the grass.  It depends on which way you want to look at it.  Same outcome different out look.


The above was all written a few weeks ago while we were still in Whyalla.  Last day of our stay and the internet gave way and the post got drafted.  I am home and in the real world now.  As always writing took the backstage while I cleaned up and got back to the normal humdrum.


We stayed in Whyalla for almost a week.  It was an interesting kind of holiday as hubby was working till late everyday, almost like when we are home, but this was different. When he got back, we either went out for a meal or at least a drive.  There was just the one TV, so we had to watch what the other was watching.  Made way for more cuddles.  Somehow less was more.

During the day, I would roam around the town – taking pictures, and talking to the locals.  It was a quirky little town.  But so badly misunderstood by the rest of Australia.


Whyalla and was and is a town that was built by the Steel industry.  Ironically the same industry became the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.  Collapse of Arrium Mining nearly turned the town into a ghost town.  The town is slowly being revived thanks to Sanjeev Gupta of Simex.  Morale and outlook of the locals seem rather positive but none have forgotten the gloom days.

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The signs of the collapse is still evident throughout the town.  There is nothing other than iron ore in the region.  As a very arid land, no farming or winery either to support the town.  However, digging up iron ore and making them into steel was a very big industry.  Along with the locals many professionals worked on a ‘Fly in, fly out’  basis.  So with closure of Arrium Mining, many support businesses such accommodations, cafe’s and restaurants took a hit too.  It created a horrible chain reaction. Those who supplied to the restaurants and hotels, anyone who works at these places, everyone suffered… it must have been so hard.


Thanks to an entrepreneur with a vision and the locals resilience the town is reviving again.

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But there is more to Whyalla than just the steel industry.  And that was a total surprise for me.

A strong sense of doing their bit for the environment, local pride and local Comradery is very evident.  This is a shop I found on one of my outings.

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Inside the shop was even more interesting.  uma phone 6oct 015.jpg

You can bring your own container and fill up.  Whether it be Dish Washing liquid or Tea bring your own empty Jam bottle or any other bottle or container and fill up.

This is just a small country town, and in the big smoke Sydney and Melbourne there is resistance for just getting rid of shopping bags.  Who is backward now?

 

 

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I want to write more. However, real life is nudging me.  So I shall pen off now.  Promising to return soon, knowing very well, that I might break that promise too.  If not tomorrow, another day I will bring you more photos that would make you want to take a trip to Whyalla.

 

 

 

Posted in travel

An unusual destination for a holiday (Part 3)

 

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Sea Gull Musical Chairs

It’s a balmy day. It’s windy too. No sign of the boats nor the dolphins.  But it’s still beautiful. I sit myself on a seat overlooking the boat ramp. Still in hope for a returning boat and the dancing dolphins.

No ripples on the water, but my hair is being blown away to all directions.  Then I see the somersaults in the water and my heart leaps again. They weren’t interested in coming to the boat ramp today.  I am a tad bit disappointed.  I settle for watching their somersaults.

They were oblivious to the troubles outside.  They don’t have to stick to a clock, just fish and eat when they please.  No argument to do the dishes or to take the trash out.  Don’t even have to worry about paying for the roof over their heads.  Just keep swimming as much as they please. It’s not about ownership, it’s everyone’s to share.

The little one’s not as clingy today. She has got the confidence to roam on her own.  She still comes back to check on her mother now and then.  Mum too keeps an eye on her.  Mothers of any breed are a special breed.  Whether, it’s a dolphin, lion or an ape they all seem human.

Thank you Whyalla for giving me this opportunity to watch and muse these beautiful creatures, your stunning landscape and the down to earth locals.

Having a salad and cake at ‘Whisk Away’.  Yes life is about fifty/fifty. Because I had the salad now I can spoil myself with a Choc Caramel Pecan Roulade.  Well I am saving half of it for later.  I am sure the Dolphins’ doing the same, work when they have to, eat what they should, but not denying themselves a treat when they could.  Life can be pretty simple when you don’t complicate it.  We think we are the superior animal just because we know about the moon and the stars.  The Dolphin fails to know about the moon and the stars but it happily dances under both. Why can’t we make our life simple and just dance under the moon and the star?


Walking around this place, you feel the camaraderie of the community.  The locals are a friendly bunch.  Most very ready for a yarn.

Very hard to go past without telling the story of Karen and Sam.  On one of my travels back from the Beach, I was aiming to get to the local supermarket Food Land.  My phone battery was on it’s last few bars.  Trying to evoke the Google Maps seemed a challenge.  That’s when I met Karen and Sam.  At that time they were not Karen and Sam they were just two strangers whom I felt comfortable to ask for directions.  After a few attempts at “turn left at the round about and after the Hospital” they both looked concerned that it was a fair walk away.  They were unaware that I was trying to dissolve the ‘salt and pepper squid’ I had for lunch. Karen offers to give me a lift to the Food Land and she insists.  So does Sam.  After my initial reluctance and feeling terrible about imposing on her generosity, I eventually agreed.  Even though it might have been an imposition I am glad I took her offer.  I truly met a gorgeous human being.  It is a set of bizarre coincidences and circumstances that makes us cross paths with certain individuals.  Well this was one of those circumstances.  Karen ended up staying till I finished shopping and dropped me back at my apartment.

We exchanged phone numbers and now we exchange text messages.  We have met up couple of times after that.  This couple have definitely made me believe in humanity. I like to share a video that popped in my Face book feed.

But sadly for Karen I am not Mrs Waldorf.  So she is not going to be coming into any good money or fortune because of me anytime soon.  Other than making a special request to ‘Karma’ to take care of her and her equally gorgeous husband, I have nothing more to offer.

Like most things in Whyalla I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to meet such a person in my life.


Signing off for today, more about the town of Whyalla to follow soon.

PS

Pecan and Quinea Salad and the chocolate Roulade was fab at Whisk Away.  Keeping up with the Whyalla theme, the staff were very friendly and helpful.  Fresh Food and Great Service never goes wrong.

Photos from this beautiful nook.  Once again my endorsements are voluntary and honest.

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Yes Life Doesn’t need to be Perfect to be wonderful

Sneak Peek – tomorrow’s blog

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Yes, interesting I know.  Well that is Whyalla.  It comes in all shapes and sizes

Whisk Away –  https://www.facebook.com/whiskawaywhyalla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in travel

An unusual destination for a holiday (Part 2)

Kangaroo sign

Starting from where I left off yesterday.


We had another hour or so on our drive.  Until now we were on major alert and on look out for any Roos that may jump in front of us.  Another hour to go the feeling of we are nearly there creeps in, giving us that relaxed feeling.  Just then..

We both at the very last minute see one big Roo on guard duty right on the edge of the road.  Thankfully, he had the sense not to jump in. Just before we could catch our hearts I see another on the other side of the road.  Once again we were lucky, he too didn’t see the need to cross the road.  Hearts in our mouth we continue our drive.  Hubby was driving very slowly.  We were doing 80kmph on a 110kmph road.  There was a car behind us, and he did  not hurry us either and I guess he was thankful that we were taking the brunt of the risk.

Another fifteen minutes into the drive we see another Four or more of them by the side of the road, having a good chin wag.  Finally we get to our apartment sweating buckets, just past 11.00 pm.

‘Good thinking ninety nine’ due to her past experiences luckily had brought a few items such as home cooked fried rice, Chinese BBQ roast pork etc, which became our makeshift dinner.  Our Apartment was very spacious and comfortable.  A major shout out to Whyalla Playford Apartments (more on the apartment later).  Soon after, we went to bed as Hubby had an early start.


 

Day 2 – Whyalla

I heard hubby leaving, but decided to continue my sleep, or more like start my sleep.

Early morning Epiphany – Whether I am in Whyalla or Paris, Whether we have rose petals on our pillows or not, what happens in the bedroom will remain the same.  Yes, I did not get a wink of sleep.  My very virile man kept me up all night…

SNORING


 

After a few failed attempts at sleeping in, I decided to start the day.  I slowly emerged out of the apartment and started to venture out into the nearby streets.  I checked out a clothing outlet and ended up buying a top.  So much for not wanting to do shopping in Whyalla, shopping ended up being my first activity.  Had a good chat to the ladies there, the sales assistant as well as a fellow customer.  Then I headed to the Beach.

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It was just simply stunning.  I do live near beach. However, I was once again in awe.  Australia on the whole being the largest Island in the world (it is not considered the largest Island as it is considered a continent, but technically this would be the largest Island in my books) we are spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches.  Each one unique in it’s own way and this was no exception.  I slowly walked around, taking it all in and just soaking in the beauty and calmness of this paradise.


I was caught breathless again by this beauty.

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How could you have such an amazing tree, right next to the beach?  But there she was.  I have asked many locals, including the Whyalla Council about the age and name of this beauty, but unfortunately not much is known about her.


It was time for lunch, and I was told that I couldn’t go wrong at the ‘Beach Cafe’ for a spot of seafood.  Recovering from Acid Reflux I dared to have some Salt and Pepper Squid with Salad, accompanied with a pot of tea.  It was just perfect.  On my way out, I thought the chef deserves a compliment, so I approached the guy at the coffee machine to convey my message.  Turns out he was the chef and the owner.  Lovely guy, who was very proud to let me in the secret that he learnt his skills from his mother.  I mentioned that it was the best Salt and Pepper Squid I’ve ever had and the Tartare sauce was to die for.  He also parted with the secrets of the salad.  This is not a cash for comments section, I am giving credit where it’s due and maybe it will help the next visitor to chose his or her dietary destinations wisely.  Fresh Ingredients,  homemade sauces, pride in what they plate out, accompanied with friendly service, you really cannot go wrong with that kind of business ethos.  Well done to Nick and the crew.  Needless to say I have become a regular at the Beach Cafe now.  ‘


After my nice meal, wanting to unload some of the calories, I start exploring the rest of the beach.

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I was walking on the left side of that archway, the entrance, when heaven just opened up and showered me a preview.  From up there I see six or seven Dolphins frolicking in the water below.  I excitedly followed them to the tip of this arch. There were two local girls siting on the point and watching both the dolphins and me with interest.  They told me that it was a pretty common occurrence and they come up to the boat ramp below, each time a boat comes back in. They follow the boat in hope of receiving a treat or two.

Armed with this information I headed back, keeping an eye on the boat ramp below.  Heaven was now prepared to air the main event.  A boat was heading back and was surrounded by a few Dolphins.  This is when I wished I was a bird with a pair of wings.  The young lad on the boat could understand my anxiety and was enticing the dolphins  wanting to keep them there until I arrived.

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Words cannot describe what I was feeling.  I was surrounded by these adorable creatures.  This experience is like none other, when you see them in the wild like this, it far exceeds any Sea World type experience. I am rather surprised that this town hasn’t capitalised on this well kept secret.  I guess that in itself becomes the uniqueness and beauty of the place.

Wyalla is so misunderstood.

Rest for tomorrow. Yes there is  more to this town.

Beach Cafe – http://www.whyallabeachcafe.com.au

Whyalla Playford Apartments – https://www.whyallaplayfordapartments.com.au/