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. 

Help…Someone broke into our house!

There was a loud bang and Tracy screamed in the next room. Instinctively, I jolted out of my sleep instantly! “What’s going on?” I shouted across the hall.

“Joe! Someone is trying to break into our house!” Tracy yelled back. I sat on my bed and listened. There wasn’t anyone in the apartment. Tracy insisted I take a look at the door.

I grabbed my phone and prepared to call the police. As I walked towards the door, it was extremely silent. I looked at the clock. Damn, it was Sunday 8am! Tracy was leaving the house for her driving-refresher lesson when she claimed some one opened and banged our door. If this was some stupid joke of hers, I will surely torch her a**!

Fully prepared for a swift counter-attack, I swang the door wide open and saw my 2 darlings standing outside!

“Good morning and surprise!” Felicia and Elkan laughed. What a shocking surprise! I didn’t expect to see them in Hong Kong until September! In fact, I just saw them a week ago in Singapore. I was actually expecting my mother and auntie (who are flying in this week too!).

It was a very last-minute decision. Felicia and Elkan flew in to process some immigration documents. Felicia bought the air tickets at 11pm the night before and took the 2am-flight to Hong Kong. It was a very short 2-day trip as Elkan needed to fly back for school.

With no time to lose, Elkan wanted to play with his buddy, Harshad. He dragged the whole family to Wanchai to hunt for the new PS4 game, Unchartered 4. The duo spent 2 very productive days at home, completing 80% of the game. While the 2 boys were playing at home, Felicia, Tracy, Chowpo and I spent good time with another impromptu Singapore visitor, Ms Soo, at the local eatery.

This morning, we sent Felicia and Elkan to the Airport Express. It felt so unreal! They came with a bang and suddenly they left with a void of silence. It was such a short but a sweet reunion. In fact, I don’t mind having them flying in every weekend! After all, it is just only a 3-hour ride away!

What a great blog entry after a 7-week dry spell! Counting down to our next adventure!

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!

Best HK coastal hike ever – Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve

This is one of the most relaxing (easiest) and scenic HK coastal hikes! The Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve (鶴咀海岸保護區) is literally a natural charmer! Despite being located at the far south-eastern tip of Hong Kong Island, it is accessible by taxi and bus (Number 9 from Shau Kei Wan bus terminal). Hiking to the key coastal sites is a breeze. It is a short 20-minute walk from the bus stop and there isn’t any steep slope to tackle.

Thanks to my lovely colleague Celia who brought us here (accompanied by another 2 pretty friends!). Home to Hong Kong’s oldest lighthouse (Hok Tsui Beacon) and many scenic geological sites (the ocean arch, sea cave), the Cape was listed as Hong Kong’s first and only Marine Reserve 30 years ago. Unfortunately, some parts of the cape is littered with heaps of garbage today. It is important to keep the Marine Reserve clean. Hope the authority will do something about the trash.

Knowing Celia for almost 2 years, I just found out that she is a daredevil. On many occasions, she explored dangerously out to the edge of the cliffs and choppy shoreline. We were so worried for her. Earlier today while waiting for Tracy and I, she ventured out alone with 2 strangers (old men) into an unknown dark cave. She left her 2 worried female friends outside the cave. Her adventure inside the dark cave lasted 40 minutes! Fortunately, she was rewarded with some really stunning photos! I have asked her to bring me back to this unchartered cave the next time!

We spent about 2 hours at the Cape. It was extremely cold and windy. We only managed to explore 50% of the marine reserve. The tide was swelling with big waves. We had a close-call inside the sea cave. Just when we were leaving the cave, huge waves came crushing into the narrow channel. We were extremely lucky as coastal conditions can be very unpredictable and dangerous. We were just 10 seconds away from the disaster!

What a great day! Will come back with family, friends and my e-scooter the next time!

Hong Kong’s coldest winter since 1957

Back from sunny Bali, we have just experienced Hong Kong’s coldest winter in 60 years! Just 4 weeks ago (around Christmas week), I was grumbling about this year’s warm winter. I hate to admit this in front of my Hong Kong friends (who usually overdressed in winter), this is no ordinary cold spell, it is indeed freezing cold!

To experience this once-in-a-lifetime natural phenomenon, many Hong Kongers (frost chasers) went up to Tai Mo Shan (Hong Kong’s highest peak) last night and early this morning. It was so chaotic that it almost become a national crisis. Many people were injured and trapped at the icy peak. The jam was so bad that even the firemen and medics had to go on foot to retrieve the people. The rescue mission was hampered by poor condition as some of them slipped on the icy road too.

I have survived the harshest winter in Mongolia (at -45°C) and braved the coldest artic wind in Abisko, I thought this is not a big deal for me. I totally underestimated Hong Kong’s coldest winter. Donning my usual gear (a light jacket and t-shirt), I went up to the Victoria Peak to experience the cold. The combination of strong wind, rain and high humidity was a deadly one. I was seriously unprepared for this!

Overnight, the cold frozen everything in its path. Leaves coated with ice sheets and icicles hung along the branches (and concrete steps). The environment was so unreal. I have never seen a frozen tropical forest! To see icicles hanging on green vegetations was a rare sight! Lucky for us, there weren’t many frost chasers here at Victoria Peak. In fact, it was very quiet and we had all the space and time to experience this rare phenomenon.

Fun aside, I hope the cold spell will be over soon. Unlike the northern cities, most housings in Hong Kong are not well insulated against such cold weather. It was freezing cold inside my own apartment. My fingers were so cold that I couldn’t text properly on my smart phone.

The bad news is this will not be a one-time occurrence. Haven’t you read about this? We are in fact entering a ‘solar minimum’ or some call it a mini “ice age”. Winter is not just coming, it will be colder and longer. Global warming might not be a bad thing after all!

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