Mid Autumn Reunion with my darlings!

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I have been away from my blog for almost 2 months. Work has been hectic and my personal life has nothing worthy or special to blog (except for Aaron Kwok’s super fancy and spectacular concert!). Time flies and it is already September! My mum, wife and son arrived separately for short mid-autumn reunion.


I took 2-week leave to accompany my family.
Unfortunately, my mum and me fell ill during the first 2 days of our vacation. The change of season and the awful wet weather worsen our sickness. I decided to postpone the original trip (to Guilin) and settled for something cozy nearby. I booked 2 very spacious and special accommodations for the family at Macau and Shenzhen.

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The weather was gloomy and it poured heavily everyday.
We stayed mostly indoor throughout the trip. We didn’t do a lot of shopping in Macau and Shenzhen. Couldn’t resist the temptation, Tracy and I bought the latest mobile-gimbal gadgets at DJI’s first Flagship Store located just right beside our villa. Mum wasn’t feeling well and slept throughout the vacation. (Guess she misses the company of Auntie Amy.) Thankfully, Tracy and Elkan lightened up the villas with their endless jokes and laughers.

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The rain finally stopped for a few hours and we resumed our “violent play” out by the private pool. Poor “Clumsy Tracy” slipped and took a nasty, painful fall into the cold water when she tried to kick water at us. It was such a comical and scary sight that got my sick mum up from her bed! Despite the gloomy and wet weather, we had so much fun playing by the pool (playing a new game Elkan taught us ~ Bottle Flip). Nothing fancy, this was a simply lazy, relaxing bonding trip.

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It was a very short 4N3D reunion for Felicia, Elkan and I.
 Felicia and Elkan flew back to Singapore this evening. Harshad came by to finish the 3 chapters of the Uncharted 4 game with Elkan. No teary goodbye at the airport station this afternoon – now that’s a first! My boy is finally a grown-up! Tracy and mum will be flying back to Singapore tomorrow too. My Dad will fly in to Hong Kong this Wednesday to fill up the void. For the least, I won’t be lonely this mid Autumn Festival. I pray for mum’s speedy recovery and hope for sunny weather when dad arrives.

Enjoy my vlog and photos. Till we meet again in the next 6 weeks!

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Last post from the DownUnder – VI/VI (Perth)

I am supposed to complete this blog in Perth 2 days ago but I have decided to spend the rest of free time with them at night. It takes a lot of time and effort to vlog and blog. I only do that during the wee-hours of the night when the family is asleep. Reunion time is precious to us and I try to stay away from my computer as much as I can.

Day 8 – After a night at the creepy foggy town at Hyden, we embarked our longest drive back to Perth City. It was super foggy and visibility was at only 100m. Unfamiliar with such road condition, Felicia took the wheel and drove cautiously.

We made a 20km detour to visit the Mulka Cave (thanks to Floyd’s recommendation) where we explored a tiny cave with many cave paintings. Elkan led the exploration and guided me to the top of the cave where we saw an enchanted forested garden. It was like walking on the surface of the moon except it was textured with colourful emerald and amber moss and with numerous sparkling pot-holes. The cold air and foggy forest mist made this place so refreshing calm. If we weren’t rushing for time, I would sit here for hours.

The drive to Perth took us 5 hours. Just outside the town Corrigin, we stopped by another unusual attraction – a cemetery solely for men’s best friends, dogs! It all started back in 1975 when a man by the name Paddy Wright buried his dog here. Soon after, more dog lovers came here to bury their deceased dogs. A cemetery care-taker by the name of Alan Henderson erected tombstones and decorated the site for a fee. This dog cemetery has then became the town’s most unusual tourist attraction.

Our final pitstop was at Fremantle where we rested for 2 days. I booked a 3-storey terrace house right at the doorstep of Fremantle Marina. It was our best stay in Western Australia so far. We had 2 really big balcony overseeing the marina and a 2-bedder attic on the top floor! Elkan was at first thrilled with such a big house but he has developed this fear for attic after 5 days of horror-movie watching on the road trip. He refused to sleep in the attic no matter how we hard we tried.

We spent the last 2 days (Day 9 – Day 10) walking around Fremantle. At Fremantle Markets, Felicia even bumped into her old friend whom we last met 20 years ago! What a small world indeed!

The weather was fantastic and I flew my drone around Fremantle Railway Station, the Round House, Fremantle Prison and Cottesloe Beach.

Later in the night, we visited the Fremantle Prison. This was Elkan’s most favourite activity of the entire trip. Geared with only a small torchlight, we followed a small group of tourists and explored the 161-year-old prison. The night tour was filled with lots of suspense and haunted tales. During the tour, Elkan was selected by the tour guide to lead the group into a small dark cell. Thankfully, he was brave and he did not panic. If not, his cries and mental breakdown will be too much for the poor tour guide to handle.

Just before we headed to the airport hotel, we met up with another old friend, Lambert and family. We spend a short afternoon with this fabulous family at their newly-built bungalow (where I took an aerial shot of his home!). Tracy and I had an embarrassing moment when we convinced Lambert that we spotted penguins along Mill Point Road. Despite being doubtful, Lambert was kind to lead us to the area where we had our sighting. The two families drove to that specific spot and we walked for 15 minutes before we realised our mistake. From the highway, it sure looked like penguins. From my super-zoom camera, those were normal birds (the colours and postures resembled the penguins) resting on a rock. What a laugh!

11 days and 12 nights of adventure finally ended yesterday. Time to wrap up all these happy moments and head back to office tomorrow. It is a short June reunion but full and complete.

Perth is indeed a very special place for both Felicia and I. It was in my first trip in Perth when I decided that Felicia was the one I wanted to marry. Felicia and I came back to Perth the second time to have our honeymoon and now we brought our son along to trace back the same route we took before 14 years ago. Who knows what happen in our 4th trip back in Perth?

Early Sunday morning, we took 2 separate flights out and we planned the departure time close to one another. Their flight was 30 minutes before ours. It was difficult to say goodbye, especially after so many days of intense fun, noise, chaos and love. At the departure gate, Elkan held back his tears and waved us goodbye. It was dawn and the sky glowed beautiful.

Distance and separation do bring us closer as a family. We treasure every reunion time.
I hope my son remembers and cherish all these adventures. He is becoming a teenager soon and by then, he won’t enjoy going out with his old folks. For me, my memory is fading off slowly but I have a rich vault of blogs and vlogs for us to enjoy later.

Time to plan our next reunion. 

Creepy Birthday Motel Surprise – V/VI (Wave Rock)

On the 7th Day of our tour, I celebrated my birthday at one of Australian’s most iconic natural landmarks – the Wave Rock. We left Albany early this morning and drove over 350km to Hyden, a distance equivalent between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Thankfully, I was blessed with blue sky sunny day! Finally, I can fly my drone once more!

Wave Rock is situated at one of the most remote corners in Western Australia, in a small town call Hyden. It is pretty far from the nearest tourist-friendly town. Basically, Hyden is like a small ghost town. There isn’t much to explore or see here except the legendary Wave Rock. Since I have never been to the Wave Rock (and Felicia mentioned many times it doesn’t worth the effort to visit this over-publicized landmark), I decided to detour and cross this check box off my list of “must-visit” places.

Is it worth it? It is no doubt one unique and majestic odd-looking rock formation. Considering we spent only 1 hour at the Wave Rock and over 8 hours making the detour, the numbers may not make much sense to many. However, this is a new experience for us. Elkan and Tracy walked on top of the 14m-tall ancient rock while I flew my drone over it; I am certain it does worth every second of our time to be here.

The other highlight of the day was our accommodation at the local motel. It may be the low-peak travel season and we couldn’t find other traveler-occupants here. Thanks to the successful cult-horror-movie, Psycho, I have a phobia staying in a motel; especially one that is remote and quiet. For a good 15 minutes, we walked around the compound and couldn’t find anyone. The brick-walled hallway and muddy driveway looked old and creepy. After watching 3 nights of horror movies, we spooked ourselves unnecessarily.

Other than the old scary outlook, I must say the Wave Rock Motel was distinctively new, clean and very well furnished! It was very comfortable and warm. Once inside the room, we forgot about the fear. Still, we met less than 2 souls around the big empty compound.

Just when I was going to spend the last 2 hours of my birthday writing this vlog and blog, my 3 darlings gave me another surprise! They walked into the room with a bigger cake and real birthday candles! I was so surprised!

What moved me so deeply wasn’t the surprise cake, it was the song they sang and played. Knowing I like listening to live piano, Elkan spent 2 months taking piano lessons and he played one of my favourite scores “Over the Rainbow” on his iPad keyboards. Felicia composed a new lyric narrating our journey; and Tracy and her sang along. I stood there, moved deeply by their performance and love. Trying to conceal my emotion, I broke into laughter and gave all of them a big hug and kiss.

As always, their presence is my greatest birthday gift. And there is no gift greater than to see us smile together. Thank you for giving me another priceless “handmade” gift. I will remember this piece forever in my heart. Love you all.

Raindrops keep falling on our heads – Part IV/VI (Albany WA)

It rained continuously for 3 days. Life was pretty gloomy and cold out here in Albany. The temperamental storm came and went every few minutes. The bad weather slowed down our journey as the heavy rain decreased visibility on the roads. My drone was grounded for 3 days and most of my camera equipments were wet. I had a difficult time to capture videos for my vlog as the raindrops kept blurring my lenses.

The ladies took turns to drive from Margaret River to Albany. It was a long 400km drive and we made 2 stops to visit the giant trees. Elkan and I were planning to climb up the 52m-tall Gloucester Tree. However, the wet slippery tree rods were too dangerous and risky for my little boy. Elkan was disappointed when I decided to call off the climb at mid-point. Safety is more important than fun.

Thankfully, the rain stopped when we arrived at the Valley of the Giant Trees. We ascent to the top of the giant trees by walking up a gentle 40m-tall ramped bridge. It was an eye-opener for Elkan and Tracy. At least, this was much easier (and safer) than climbing vertically up the Gloucester Tree. As the sun was setting, we quickly made our way down to Albany. We didn’t want to drive into the night, especially when the weather was so foggy and wet.

We arrived in Albany just in time before dusk. Tracy bought a vege-meal at Hungry Jack while the rest of us dined at Red Rooster. It was pouring all night and we went back to our cottage and watch the classic Matrix Trilogy via my protector. (Yes, I brought a protector along just in case I couldn’t connect my iPad with the TV). 

Day 6 – It was still pouring and we lazed in the cottage until late morning. Most of the attractions were just 20km away. Despite the heavy downpour, we went ahead to visit the Wind Farm, the Gap, the Natural Bridge, the BlowHole and the Wildlife Park. The wind was so strong along the coastal tracks. We struggled with our steps at the top of the ocean cliffs. It was one terrifying and exciting experience.

When we were exploring the massive rock-formations, we witnessed another magical natural wonderdouble rainbows arching out in the stormy sea! It was such a rare beautiful sight!

We came back early to pack for tomorrow’s long drive to Hyden (WaveRock). At midnight, I foiled Elkan and Tracy’s surprise birthday attempt! They tried to surprise me but I was always one step faster than them! Can’t blame them for failing, I am the Master of Pranks at home. Nonetheless, they tried again and succeeded in luring me to the kitchen in the name of “supper”.  There, I blew a digital candle (via Tracy’s iPad) and four of us shared a very very small chocolate cake. Thanks for the surprise but daddy is just too witty for all of you. Hahaha.

Speaking about birthdayI wish I will not lose a drone tomorrow. Last year’s loss was too painful for me. Before I end this blog, I want to convey a big big THANK YOU to all my lovely family and friends who sent their greetings via Wechat and Facebook! Thanks for all your warm birthday wishes and blessings! And yes, I live, I laugh, I love and I am truly very very happy! Thanks for all your love, friendship and kinship!

 

Wine, Chocolate & Caves – Part III/VI (Margaret River)

Taking a road trip with our son, Elkan, and reenacting some of those familiar 2002-shots with our boy standing in front of us was quite a surreal experience. After all, Felicia and I just got married 14 years ago when we had our belated honeymoon in Perth. While many of these attractions remain unchanged, our 12-year-old boy reminds us the passing of time. While age takes a slow toll on my appearance and body, I still feel like 25 deep inside.

Yesterday afternoon, we arrived safely at our 3rd pitstop – Margaret River. It was like a Little Singapore, there were so many Singaporean-travelers here! We bumped into them everywhere – from chocolate factory to caves to Coles supermarket! Singapore should open an embassy here!

We stayed 2 nights at a big cozy 2-bedroom cottage at Margaret River. It consisted of 2 warm bedrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen and a very spacious living room. It was very well-maintained, warm and comfortable.

Day 1 – we visited the wineries and local-food (chocolate, nuts and nougat) “factories” yesterday. Do not expect to see any food production in those “factory” or “farm”, they are actually tourist retail outlets where shoppers get to enjoy lots of generous samplings. Too bad, all of us aren’t wine lovers. Most of these factories closed at 5pm. The sun set early in winter and by 530pm, it was nightfall. The only place to loiter after 5pm was at Coles Supermarket (our favourite evening hangout place) where we bought groceries for our meals.

By 8pm, we finished dinner and we got nothing to do. We were so bored that we played hide-and-seek in complete darkness. The cottage was only big enough for us to play 5 rounds. By 9pm, I worked on my vlog and blog while the three of them watched a horror movie via the large LCD TV through my iPad Netflix.

Day 2 – We decided to drive down south to Augusta and Leeuwin to visit the cape and caves. It started drizzling the minute we arrived at the Leeuwin Lighthouse.

We did so much stairs-climbing today. We took 176 steps x 2 up and down the lighthouse at Leeuwin, 500 steps at Western Australia’s largest cave, Jewel Cave and 320-step staircase x 2 at majestic Lake Cave. Thankfully, all these attractions are naturally indoor. The rain didn’t really dampen our tour.

It will be another 4-hour long drive tomorrow. We will be heading to our 4th pitstop, Albany. The weather forecast doesn’t look very good for now. Hopefully we get sunny weather tomorrow as all the attractions are outdoor. Rain or shine, it will be a wonderful and relaxing road trip for all of us.

Enjoy the vlog and photos. 

The Road Trip Begins – Part II/VI (Evedon Park)

We left Perth City yesterday morning. We were extremely excited and nervous. It was pouring heavily and my 2 lady-drivers were feeling a little worried about the long drive down-south. We will be taking a long 11-day drive looping the western and southern coast of Australia. Being super kiasu, I planned a very relaxing itinerary with no more than 3-4 hour-drive a day. In total, we will cover a distance over 1400km in the next 11 days with 6 pitstops.


The 1999 horrific car accident in Margaret River haunts both Felicia and I till today.
It serves as a reminder to us not to take anything for granted. Whenever and where ever we drive on foreign roads,  we remind ourselves to take extra care. Many traveler-drivers lost their lives overseas because they were unfamiliar with the local driving conditions. Since 1999, we never drive overnight and in bad weather. It is just not worth the risk.

So far so good, the weather has been really kind to us. Tracy and Felicia drove smooth and well. The ladies took turns to drive. I played “Vehicle Commander” and guided them on the direction. Thanks to the advancement of GPS-road guiding technology, navigating the roads is such a breeze! Compared to what we experienced 14 years ago, I had to bookmark all the pages in the thick street directory and flipped pages as we crossed from one county to another. Looking back, I was impressed how amazing we were. We were so young and daring!

Our 1st Stop – Serpentine Falls

Felicia and I were here 14 years ago! Thankfully, I just got my first digital camera back then (the 2002-photo was taken by Mannc). Luckily, I managed to retrieve the old photo from my iPhone and candidly replicated a similar shot at the very same spot! Tracy was our photographer and I must say she directed the shot very well! Our 2016-photo looks fantastic!

Next came my drone-therapy. After losing my DJI Inspire 1 mysteriously in New Zealand last June, I suffered from acute drone-phobia (a fear of flying + losing the damn expensive drone). Tracy strongly advised me not to take the drone to Perth. With recent successful flights in my last 3 trips (Xiamen, Bali and Bintan), I decided to tempt fate again in Perth. Honestly, till this day, I still believe the lost-drone incident was due to DJI’s hardware failure. Never my error.

Anyway, I flew in full confidence and ….. it was the smoothest ride ever! The new Phantom 4 is so responsive and good. I did had a very small accident though, I forgot to calibrate my 4th flight and it crashed into our rented car. Hahah. No damage, fly on!

 At 4pm, we arrived at our first pitstop at Evedon Park. We had a duplex lakeside cabin and it was beautiful. Tracy and Elkan loved the place so much. They dropped everything and headed out to the lake. It was so cold, there wasn’t any heater in the cabin and Elkan lighted up his first fireplace with dry woods. Later the evening, Felicia, Tracy and Elkan prepared a very nice home-cooked dinner. Overlooking sunset by the lake, it was just so cozy and peaceful. Sitting by the fireplace, we spent the rest of the night watching Zootopia projected from my Apple iTune.

This is life and I am loving it every second! Always make time for your loved ones. Live, discover, laugh and love! Next stop – Margaret River!

Sucks on Solo-Wheel!

I have been away from my blog and vlog for 3 long weeks. I was overwhelmed with lots of meetings and new exciting projects at the agency. I am looking forward to end of March when I will clear many of my unused annual leaves.

Shot this Vlog at Shenzhen last Sunday and didn’t have any free time to edit the video until now. One of my brand new e-scooters was faulty (the charging port was damaged) and I had to carry it across the border to the seller to repair. I could not use any Hong Kong local courier company to ship this across as there will be tax and other import issues at the Chinese custom. What a hassle!

Despite the inconvenience, I made new friends at the shop. The staff was extremely friendly and he allowed me to try on all the fancy toys in the shop. While the technician was inspecting my e-scooter, I took the solo-wheel out to try. Being quite an expert on the hoverboard, I thought I can easily handle this little monster. Man, I totally suck in this! I tripped a couple of times while making turns. All I did was going forward and backward. The experience was so bad that I gave up buying one. What a rare occasion when I walked away from temptation. (Usually when I try a new toy, there is a high 90% that I will buy it!) Okay, here is the real confession: I didn’t get the solo-wheel, I bought the world’s lightest e-scooter instead!

I left the shop and headed out to the OCT Art District. With so much time to spare, I managed to comb the entire Art District for the first time! I discovered more shops and lanes that I missed out in my previous visits.

Later that evening, I went to DJI shop to check out another new toy I just purchased – the new Phantom 4. Man, that machine is aerodynamically sexy! The build feels solid and powerful! Can’t wait to test-fly it next week! Enjoy the short Vlog!

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