Travel


Recently I had to travel to Atyrau, Kazakhstan for work. I wasn’t really keen on doing so, especially since my darling couldn’t accompany me. The trip was arranged in a rush to coincide with everyone’s schedules. So tickets were booked on a Thursday and I flew out on the Friday. The trip there was long Perth – Singapore – Istanbul (14 hour layover) – Astana – Atyrau. I left home at 330pm Perth time Friday and arrived at my hotel at 5pm Perth time Sunday.

At Astana I had to get a visa on arrival. The form was confusing, most people didn’t speak English and I was unsure about the whole process. Fortunately I encountered an English gentleman (who was in international import export auditor) who confirmed I was doing the right thing. The immigration agent looked very ill, like she was going to collapse at any moment. Maybe that increased the speed of my processing? So after being processed through immigration I had a 4 hour wait for my Atyrau flight. Finally arrived in Atyrau airport, which is very small. Waited an age for my bags and then was taken to my hotel, or what I thought was my hotel.

The Chagala chain has two hotels in the Asia side of Atyrau, the old and the new, from the outside you would be hard pressed to discern the difference. So I had to call the taxi back to then get to the new Chagala. I found out on my return home that the area both hotels are is not very safe! Fortunately I chose to wait for the taxi to come. I finally checked in to my home for the next two weeks. Very basic and relatively old. It was at least somewhere to sleep and it did have wifi so I could FaceTime with my darling, so all was not too bad. After showering and changing I headed down to get some food at 6pm, only to find the restaurant only opened after 7pm. So back to the room and fell straight asleep. The trip home was much better, 26 hours door to door.

I didn’t get much chance to explore or take photo’s with my camera. Though I did take some pictures with my phone. Though I did travel from Asia to Europe every day. If you travel to Atyrau be sure to use taxis as even the most skilful drivers would find it a challenge driving here. The climate is fairly mild in Autumn, though there is a hint of the biting cold that is to come in winter.

It is an interesting place that I would like to learn more about, though I am not sure if I would have ever gone there by choice.

A filling station

A filling station

The Asia Side of the River

The Asia Side of the River

Part of the New Chagala Atyrau

Part of the New Chagala Atyrau

A meat lovers paradise

A meat lovers paradise

Caucasus mountains from the plane

Caucasus mountains from the plane

The airport

The airport

The city skyline

The city skyline

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

The Europe Side of the River

The Europe Side of the River

A hotel on the Asia side

A hotel on the Asia side

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11 years ago yesterday we shared our vows. Our love continues to grow as we grow together. We have had some amazing experiences in the 13 years we have been together, and been many places. On our special day we have often done something extra special, like our 5th Anniversary in Paris. Last night we had a wonderful dinner together at the Red Cabbage, South Perth. This was a tasting menu or degustation as some call it, whatever you call it, every dish was delicious. This will go alongside the many treasured memories we have shared and many more to come…

 

The Full Monty

The Full Monty

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

Scallops Bonito and Apple

Scallops Bonito and Apple

South West marron, salmon pastrami, wasabi and soy

South West marron, salmon pastrami, wasabi and soy

Garden

Garden

Trout, cauliflower and hazelnut

Trout, cauliflower and hazelnut

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cashel Blue and Cheddar

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cashel Blue and Cheddar

Chocolate Coffee and Wattle Seed

Chocolate Coffee and Wattle Seed

Burnt Honey Parfait and Mango

Burnt Honey Parfait and Mango

From January 2007 to May 2008 we lived in outer London. There were a few highlights, the centre of London and the museums, the close proximity to Europe and the snow. Growing up in Perth we didn’t get snow, though I did experience a white Christmas when we went back to England in 1976. My darling grew up in Brunei and had never experienced snow, so the times it did snow was a special treat for her. Here are some of those pictures, still portrays the magic for us.

Snow in the back garden at Sudbury Hill

Snow in the back garden at Sudbury Hill

Our back garden full of snow

Our back garden full of snow

Catching up on missed childhood fun

Catching up on missed childhood fun

Ice skating in Hyde Park

Ice skating in Hyde Park

Having lived in a number of different places this challenge is a good one for me. Though Brunei doesn’t really have any seasons being only 6 degrees North of the equator. So I will be posting two entries to the challenge. This is the first, Australia. Here in Perth, Christmas day is typically around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). So having a white Christmas is out of the question, and even in winter it is not cold enough to enjoy snow, though I know if it is too much snow it isn’t enjoyable. The life in Australia typically revolves around the ocean as most of the population lives close to the coast. Here are some photo’s from different times of the year.

West Coast Eagles at Subiaco oval - Winter

West Coast Eagles at Subiaco oval – Winter

A summer picnic at Kings Park overlooking the city

A summer picnic at Kings Park overlooking the city

A winter's trip down south.

A winter’s trip down south.

Spring flowers

Spring flowers in the hills of Perth

Summer at Rottnest

Swimming at the basin, Rottnest Island Perth

 

When I saw this challenge I thought there could be two meanings to the challenge. Reflections that are mirror images or reflections of the past. I reread the challenge and it was clear the challenge is about mirror image type reflections. Here are a few reflections taken with my trusty PowerShot in a place called Pemberton in Western Australia. I wrote about this here https://lplk.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/karri-valley-resort/. They were taken from the back of a kayak, enjoy.

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To celebrate the year that has been, especially after completing my final Bachelor of Psychology and Addiction studies exam on Friday, we decided to have a nice breakfast in Northbridge, Perth. The venue we chose is The Tuck Shop. The reason we chose this was the number of positive reviews on the eatery websites, over 1000 people had reviewed and the rating was high.
So to beat the rush we left home at 740am, yes I know early for a Sunday but we get up early so no problem. We arrived just after 8am and it was already busy.
The cafe is quite small, with lots of tables, so you can imagine it is quite noisy, but that was the only negative. The service was top-notch, very attentive and not pushing us to get out of the place. The coffee, whilst reasonably strong, was very nice. The food was great and good value for money. We left at 940am, so it was a long and enjoyable breakfast, normally I want to get in, eat, then get out. So if you are in the neighbourhood, do check out this cafe for your breakfast, you won’t be disappointed.

Ger, Mongolia

Ger, Mongolia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2002 we saw a story on National Geographic about a foundation started by Christina Noble – CNCF. This foundation has helped children and families in Vietnam and Mongolia out of poverty and off of the streets. One campaign they have is the “Give a Ger” campaign for Mongolia.

Mongolian winters are extremely harsh and cold, there are many families who have insufficient funds for good housing. Also many families are still nomadic in nature and move from place to place. Their house is a Ger. Which is like a big round tent, housing the entire family and their needs. So the CNCF foundation has this campaign every year to donate a Ger to a family in need. The cost is $1500 US dollars, but this is buying a house for an entire family that will last them for some years. This was a little too much for us alone, so we raised some money from some others and were able to get enough together to give a Ger.

This is the site for the foundation Рwww.cncf.org and this is for the campaign http://cncf.org/en/our_projects/community_mongolia.php

The internet seems awash with daily deals from a variety of places these days. We keep an eye out for something different as well as something of value. One such deal came our way and we are so glad we took it.

We live in Perth, Western Australia, which has an island some 18 ¬†kilometres from the city called Rottnest (named after the rat like marsupials – quokkas). This island is a place frequented by Perthites who like the beach and the booze, neither of which are high on our list of likes. I hadn’t been there since year 10 high school, and frankly really didn’t want to go there. Anyway, this deal came up for a scenic flight for two across to Rottnest which included snorkelling gear to keep. So we were up for the adventure.

The flight was exhilarating and enjoyable, especially coming in to land with a strong cross wind that turned the plane sideways. Once we landed we had six hours to explore the island and have some fun. So we headed on over to see if we could get a tandem bicycle for the day, but unfortunately they were all hired, so it was shanks pony for us. Fortunately the island is quite small so it didn’t really matter.

We headed out to the basin to swim and have some fun. It was quite a warm day, so it was lucky we found a shady spot to sit and enjoy the day. I walked back to the town to grab lunch, which cost an arm and a leg and took forever to get! So hopping back on my one leg with one arm I took our lunch and coffees, nearly losing my arms with the weight of it all. Got back and had a nice lunch looking out over the basin and the tranquil sea. Then a friendly quokka came for a visit and stayed for a while.

We had a bit of a swim and a snorkel and then decided it was time to head on back to the airport for the flight home. This was as enjoyable as the flight there. Frankly the flight was really the best part of the journey, Rottnest is a nice place, but there are way too many people there and everything is way too expensive even though it is only 18k from the city. So we won’t be going back there in a hurry. Though this is not to put visitors off, you may enjoy it, it’s just not our thing.

While we were on a business trip we took the opportunity to experience High Tea at the St Regis Hotel. This is a very classy hotel with a small room set aside for the High Tea. An elegant setting with a Harpist playing and an intimate ambiance really made the experience worthwhile.
There were a variety of teas on offer and the food was more than enough for two of us. Very well done and something nice and different to treat yourselves to.

On a recent business trip to The Woodlands, Texas, my darling and I had the pleasure of dining at a New Orleans style restaurant. Growing up I loved, and still do, the music of the Carpenters. Stay with me folks, I know their music is squeaky clean pop like, but Karen’s voice was immaculate. Anyway they sang a version of Jambalaya, and I looked what that was one time, and since then have always wanted to try it. Now growing up in Australia we don’t get the opportunity to sample Southern cuisine at all.
So when we were looking for somewhere to dine one night this place stood out. Boy am I glad we went there, the food was sensational, the venue had a great ambience with no pretentiousness and the waiter was fabulous. So if you are ever in The Woodlands I would recommend checking out this place, Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen.

 

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