On the run in New York City

Looking back, the amount of ground you can cover on the run in New York City with a $31, seven day unlimited Metro pass, a sun hat, a good pair of walking shoes and an adventurous spirit, is amazing. It would be a mistake to think you could see it all in five days, and I think you would struggle to accomplish it in five years.

on the run in New York City

What we did manage to capture was a flavour of the culture, the recreation, the vista and the culinary. New York is such a culturally diverse city. I guess it’s the ultimate Continue reading

The Net Fairy – our very own genie in a bottle

I love the internet! Without it, I don’t know how I would have planned our six month adventure. Before the internet, if you wanted to travel, you needed the help of a specialist (a licensed travel agent) to make your bookings and guide you in your planning, but not anymore.

Nepal - the earthquake derailed our six month adventure
Nepal – before and after the Quake (Telegraph/Alamy/Barcroft)

Well, at least that’s what I thought, until on the 25th April, and then again on the 12th May, severe earthquakes hit Nepal and threw our plans into chaos. At the time, we were in China, and our internet contact with the rest of the world was restricted, thanks to the “Great Firewall of China”.

Before leaving Australia I had locked down our itinerary, which included Continue reading

A day in the desert

An unexpected day in Al Ain. 25 years ago, Anne and I packed our bags, and our children, and headed for an adventure in the tropics. Perhaps this was the start for a couple on the run? I’d taken a job in Papua New Guinea, and it was there, in Lae, where we met Geraldine. She was lecturing at UniTech, the same university where Anne had secured a job, and we became friends.

Dubai Skyline
Dubai Skyline

Much has changed in the 25 years since we last saw Geraldine.  We are all older, greyer, and hopefully wiser. Geraldine is living and teaching at the University in Al Ain, 120km south east into the desert from Dubai, and on the border with Oman. In the tourist literature, Al Ain is called the Garden City, because of its greenery, but to the locals, its referred to as Sand Pit City. A stopover in Dubai was not in our original plans, but the devastating earthquakes in Nepal caused us to amend our itinerary, and as a consequence, we spent 4 extremely hot days exploring some of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Sheikh Zayed's Palace Museum, Al Ain
Sheikh Zayed’s Palace Museum

Anne had reconnected with Geraldine through Facebook a few years ago, and on realising our Continue reading

From the dizzy heights of Tibet

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A view from the top of the world

They say that if you are in Tibet, you’re sitting on top of the world. After spending 8 days here, I understand why. Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres above sea level. In comparison, Brisbane, Australia, where we live, sits at 28.4m above sea level.

Tibet has the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest, which peaks at 8,848m, the world’s highest Palace complex (the Potala Palace), the highest railway and railway station, the Qinghai -Tibet Railway and Tanggula Station (5,068m), and many of the world’s highest lakes.

All this elevation brings Continue reading

A bit of Tibet’s history – The Potala Palace and The Jokhang Temple

When I first thought about travelling to Tibet, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It just sounded like an exciting, scenic, religious, and mystical country to visit, and that was before I began to do my research. Now that we are here, literally sitting on top of the world, I can say that I have not been disappointed.

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The “Travel China Guide” tells us that Tibet’s history “began about 4,000 years ago, when living was simpler. Lhasa is Tibet’s political, economic, cultural and religious centre with abundant cultural relics, including Continue reading

Tibet – A Breathtaking Rail Journey

We chose to travel on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as we made our way to Tibet. This special railway extends 1,956 km’s across the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and connects, Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. What an experience this 21 hour train journey provided us!

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The railway itself is an engineering marvel. For starters, the line holds the title of the world’s highest railway, peaking at 5,072m above sea level as it Continue reading

Off the tourist track – The Tang Dynasty Tombs

China’s history and culture is amazing, and it seems every Chinese person has a great depth of knowledge about their country’s past, so it was wonderful to have cousin Wei as our personal guide through some of China’s best sites. Coming from the West, I had previously only paid attention to the much publicised Chinese icons such as the Great Wall, the Giant Panda’s and the Terracotta Warriors. But after our visit, I am in awe of the vast array of heritage sites far beyond those we typically associate with China.

The Spirit Way
The Spirit Way

As a key historical region, Shaanxi rates at the top.  “It was here were it all started for China. As the heartland of Continue reading

Emperor Qin Shi Huang and his Teracotta Army

It’s been described as the greatest find of the 20th Century, and touted as the eighth Wonder of the World. I was only 15 in 1974, and it was in that same year when a group of peasant farmers in the Lintong District, Xi’an, digging a well, discovered the Terracotta Warriors (Terracotta Army).

Awe Inspiring
Awe Inspiring

We have all seen pictures of them, but the enormity of this discovery only becomes evident when you visit the site. Awe-inspiring, Gobsmacking, Amazing, and Incredible, are all words that immediately come to mind when you first see the Army lined up in formation in their pits, but these words don’t come close to describing  the sensation you have at first sight. It was much more.

P1100001The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. The sculptures were buried with the Emperor in 210-209 BC, and their purpose was to protect the Emperor in his afterlife. Estimates from 2007 suggest that Continue reading

The Artist – Meeting Mr Zhou

For some time now I have admired a stunning, and rather large piece of Chinese art that hangs above the dining table in Karin and Wei’s Melbourne home. They affectionately refer to it as “My Concubine”, but I now know it by the artist’s name “China Auspicious No. 2”. I think I prefer “My Concubine”.

She is gorgeous don’t you think?

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In Beijing we were privileged to meet the artist, Mr Zhou Yingchao, at his private studio in one of the City’s outer North Eastern suburbs. Wei and Karin have built a personal friendship with Mr Zhou, and he was Continue reading