These monuments mark the return of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China from the British on July 1st 1997.
This post is our response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal
One of Hong Kong’s “must do” tourist experiences is the Ngong Ping 360, which is a 5.7km ride on a cable car through outstanding scenery to the culturally-themed village and it’s surrounding attractions at Ngong Ping, located on a high plateau in the heart of the mountainous Lantau Island.
Most passengers start the ride from the Tung Chung terminus. The 25 minute ride begins with the short hop across a sea channel to the first angle station on Chek Lap Kok (the airport island). The ride changes direction here and slowly climbs steeply over Tung Chung Bay as the hills of Lantau North Country Park loom ahead.
Below are green forested slopes and valleys, whilst behind are stunning panoramic views over the airport and across the South China Sea to the New Territories.
We had almost completed the slow ascent of Nei Lak Shan, where the ride reaches it’s highest point some 560 metres above sea level, when all of a sudden, through the mist, the Giant Buddah came into view! What a majestic sight sitting there serenely surveying all around him.
On arrival, we climbed the 300 steps to the base of Giant Buddah, which is 34 metres (112 ft) tall, weighs 250 metric tons, and was the world’s tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha prior to 2007.
After which we battled our way through the mist to visit the nearby Po Lin Monastery.
The mountainside is frequently covered in swirling mist, and this day was no exception. As we took the cable car back down to Tung Chung, for the first two thirds of the journey we could see absolutely nothing!
I hope you have enjoyed our entry into this week´s WordPress Photo Challenge, the theme of which is BIG! It doesn´t come much bigger than this !
We enjoyed a couple of days in Abu Dhabi – the capital of the seven United Arab Emirates – on our way out to Australia.
Being petrolheads, we couldn´t miss the Ferrari World theme-park, home of the Formula Rossa – the fastest rollercoaster in the world. Formed in the shape of an elongated Ferrari F1 car, the roller coaster travels from 0-240 kms per hour in four seconds, which is meant to simulate the acceleration of a real Ferrari F1 car.
It is truly breathtaking!
There is a viewing platform for anyone in the park to see the ride and everyone has the same reaction when they see it for the first time – WOW! Sadly, Edward wasn´t tall enough to travel on roller-coaster, so he held onto our bags on the viewing platform whilst I queued up for the thrill. I wasn’t disappointed!
Ferrari World is a large site filled with various fast rides, experiences, showrooms full of cars and memorabilia, and is well worth a few hours of your time if you are in the area.
This post is my response to the Travel Theme photo challenge: RED
The Puffing Billy railway was one of four low-cost 762mm gauge lines constructed in Victoria state in the early 1900s to open up more remote areas.
The present line between Belgrave and Gembrook, running through forests, fern gullies and farmlands of the magnificent Dandenong Ranges, is the major part of the line which opened on 18th December 1900 and operated over 29 kms between Upper Ferntree Gully and Gembrook until 1953, when a landslide blocked the track and the line was closed.
Public interest resulted in the formation of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society, whose volunteers, with the blessings of the Victorian Railways and with the assistance of the Citizens’ Military Forces, by-passed the landslide and reopened the line to Menzies Creek in 1962, Emerald in 1965, Lakeside in 1975 and finally to Gembrook in October 1998.
Now the goods and livestock have gone, but the passengers have returned in greater numbers than ever. Today, Puffing Billy is Australia’s favourite steam train and one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world.
Lots of people sit with their legs through the open windows so they have an unrestricted view of the engine and carriages as they go round the curves of the track….but Edward couldn’t reach very well, and sat inside.
As you look ahead you can see smoke swirling up through the trees from the engine and, of course, as we approached the many level crossings the train-driver tooted the steam whistle and most people in their cars waved as the train passed by. Small pieces of grit and soot drift down from the smoke and, to ensure that there is no fire hazard, a small fire patrol follows the train, about two minutes behind with water and extinguishers.
The various noises are an essential part of the Puffing Billy experience with the clackity-clack of the wheels on the rails, the chuffing of the engine as it pulls up a gradient and the sound of the linkages between the carriages as they take up the slack.
All the staff including drivers, guards, conductors as well as engine maintenance workers are volunteers, mostly older chaps who all take their roles very seriously but with good grace and a friendly, warm manner.
Of course, the train driver insisted on posing for a photograph with Edward when we stopped at Lakeside.
The whole experience is a friendly, fun event and much different to modern day transport…..(though we did enjoy our speedy “hot laps” at Phillip Island recently!!)
Whilst we were staying in Melbourne, we wanted to motor down to Phillip Island, just off the south-eastern tip of the Mornington Peninsula. The island is famous for two things – firstly, the penguin parade (which we have seen on a previous visit) when the little Fairy penguins who have been out in the ocean all day, waddle back up the beaches each evening to their nests; and secondly….and much more interesting to us “petrol heads”, the Grand Prix circuit where the Moto GP of Australia is held.
No contest…sorry penguins!!
We wanted to take a guided tour of the circuit, but when we arrived we had just missed the morning tour. We booked for the early afternoon tour and then left the circuit to have a look around the island for the rest of the morning.
At the far end of Phillip Island is a place known as The Nobbies Centre, which is part of the Phillip Island Nature Parks. Amazingly, over 20,000 Australian Fur Seals live approximately one and a half kilometres offshore on Seal Rocks. During the early 1800s this seal colony was almost hunted to extinction, with the numbers decimated to just over 100. Today, the seals are a protected species and thrive in this very special place. There are some amazing boarded walkways with terrific views towards Seal Rocks and along the coastline. It was such a beautiful day and the sunshine was sparkling on the deep blue ocean water.
We had a picnic lunch overlooking Shelley’s Beach before making our way back to the Grand Prix circuit for our guided tour. We were very pleased that there were only four of us taking the tour, so we were able to ask all of the questions we wanted! We were taken over to the infield, up the control tower, down the pit lane and briefly onto the track at the start/finish line, so Edward took the opportunity to pose on the pole position spot!
We also visited the corporate facilities which were being prepared for the next round of the World Surperbike Series which were taking place on the next weekend, and, impressively, were allowed onto the podium where the winners receive their trophies!
We discovered that there was an opportunity to take four “hot laps” with Australian racing driver, Garth Rainsbury in his V8 R8 Holden Commodore, around the actual Grand Prix Circuit….and, WE JUST HAD TO DO IT!!
After we had securely fastened our racing crash-helmets and seat belts we set off with such G-force our heads crashed backwards into the headrests! Garth gave us a commentary all the time, explaining what he was doing at each corner….how fast we were going….where the braking points were….where and how to overtake…as well as power-sliding around the corners…all at the same time!! The braking forces were tremendous as we approached some of the corners, and so too was the acceleration out of the corners.
During the first lap, he kept asking us if we were OK….but we egged him on to go faster and faster, whilst hanging on for dear life to the ceiling handles and bracing ourselves for each power slide. He soon got the idea that we were OK with the speed, so he really let rip.
The braking, acceleration and cornering could only be described as brutal, and afterwards he told us that the tyres on the vehicle are replaced after every 10 “hot lap” sessions as they are worn out!!
He also mentioned after our drive, that he had crashed during races at just about every corner on the circuit!! Gulp!!
Each time we passed the start/finish line there were people cheering us on from the open-top roof of the pit garages! All too soon, it was time for the cool-down lap, during which time I grabbed a photo of Edward and Garth.
Garth Rainsbury is a really friendly guy who is, as you might expect, very knowledgeable about cars, racing and speed in general. He was very interested to hear that we live only a couple of hours drive from Jerez in Spain….home of the Spanish Moto GP and where the out of season F1 testing takes place. We agreed that if he was ever in Europe, racing…he could come and visit us. We ended up chatting so much that by the time we made our way back to the visitor centre, all the staff had gone home, except for one girl who had to stay behind to let us back in.
We were presented with certificates to say how fast we had travelled during our hot laps..and suddenly it was all over.
This was not a day to forget in a hurry. Absolutely brilliant – Woohoo!
Edward´s advice to Misery Bear (with a little help from Bertrand Russell) ~
“Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery.”
Keep trying, mate!
As one of the most beautiful ocean drives in the world, the Great Ocean Road stretches from Torquay to Nelson, along the south coast of the state of Victoria, Australia, combining wonderful landscapes and seascapes with the bush of national parks and conservation reserves. Each year, 1.2 million vehicles pass under the Memorial Arch allowing millions of visitors to enjoy vistas and activities along the Great Ocean Road.
Last year, we got the chance to make a return journey along this wonderful coastline, eventually making our way to the Twelve Apostles – the giant rock stacks rising majestically from the Southern Ocean and the central feature of the rugged Port Campbell National Park.
The Twelve Apostles have been created by constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland that began 10–20 million years ago. The stormy Southern Ocean and blasting winds gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs. The caves eventually became arches and when they collapsed rock stacks up to 45 metres high were left isolated from the shore.
Further along the Great Ocean Road is the natural stone London Arch, formerly known as London Bridge (because of the similarity to its namesake) … which has indeed fallen down! Originally, this arch formed a complete double-span natural bridge, however on 15th January 1990 the arch closest to the shoreline collapsed unexpectedly, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part. They were rescued by helicopter and no one was injured in the event.
About five minutes drive west of the Twelve Apostles is Loch Ard Gorge. The gorge is named after the shipwreck of the clipper ship Loch Ard, which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island on 1 June 1878 approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne. Fifty-two people were killed, but two 18-year-old survivors were washed into the gorge and found shelter.
A stairwell allows visitors down to the beach and, on the day we were there, a wedding party were having their post-nuptial photos taken. AAwwww! The bride and groom were happy to pose, walking hand in hand along the beach with Edward….well, why wouldn’t they?