Port Stephens

Previous entry: Sydney to Port Stephens

Date: 3rd June 2012


We headed towards the nearest town centre:


We arrived at a McDonald’s at Salamander Bay, and promptly ordered our breakfast:


That was the first McD that we came across that does NOT offer wi-fi services 🙁 .


We then went to the nearby shopping mall, and stock us up with some food. I was happy to find something familiar 🙂 :


We spotted some palm prints:


Oh, some charity work being  immortalised:



This place is a holiday town for sure:


Yachts and boats in abundance:


Nice beach:


A lot of proper signage like this one:


A nearby boat ramp:


Some guidelines on what can be caught and how many:


A bit about Port Stephens:


We went to another spot, known as Soldiers Point:


Admiring the water:


More signage:


Bigger and better ramp:


And we saw a boat being taken out of the water! First the trailer reversed towards the ramp:

Into the water:


And out the boat being pulled:


We then left the place, because our destination, Coffs Harbour was still very far way:


Our destination was not even on the signboard!


It’s between Kempsey and Brisbane 🙂








Sydney to Port Stephens

This is the first entry to my recent short trip Down Under..

Date: 2 June 2012


(We took a late night Air Asia flight bound for Sydney on 1st June 2012, arriving the following morning)


I woke up to a beautiful sunrise:


Just before landing:


Busy Sydney Airport:


A “Flying Kangaroo” was about to depart:


Waiting for DH to collect our car for the next 3 days:


Breakfast stop:


Our immediate destination (caught in a Sunday morning traffic jam):


Visiting my former student, Alma. Alma was my second batch of students when I was a teacher way back in the 1980s.  She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Statistics (oh, am I proud of her, or what!).We later found out that her hubby is my primary school friend’s  younger brother.

That day she cooked sumptuous lunch for us. Here’s a photo shot before we left them:


We arrived at our  cabin at Birubi Beach Holiday Park late at night. We only took a pic of it the following morning:

Like most cabins in holiday parks around Australia, the cabin has 2 rooms, and fully equipped with fridge, tv, stove and cooking/meal utensils! no, we didn’t cook. We just had some coffee with banana (that we bought the day before) for breakfast, before we checked out. We needed to get some proper breakfast soon.


A quick morning walk at Anna Bay:


Long sand dunes (the longest in Australia!):


Strange (to us) shaped clouds:


When we were about to leave, a young girl asked if she could jump-start her car using our car battery:


She said she went for a jog earlier without turning off the lights. We tried a few times but failed, so she had to call for help. We then left the place.



St Petersburg Again (Last Day in Russia)

Previous post: Goodbye Moscow


Date: 17th April 2012

By that day, we were very tired and had had enough of the cold weather. After breakfast, we contemplated, and eventually (heavy-heartedly) decided it would be a waste to just stay in the hotel room.

So, we started another walkabout in St Petersburg. This is a common view of Piter:


A statue of Peter The Great at Senatskaya Square:


A nearby (government?) building:



He sure looks majestic:


St Isaac’s of Dalmatia Cathedral:


St Petersburg is fulled of bronze statues:


Walking back to our hotel along another canal:


Regularly reading the big map (to get our bearing) whenever we found one:


Nice building:


We went to a nearby metro:


Since it was well-signed in English (and also with the previous experience in Moscow), we decided to take a ride to the Netro station closest to the Alexander Nevsky monastery:



Just outside it are the Tikhvin Cemetery and Lazarus Cemetery:


The cemeteries house tombs of many famous figures like Tchaikovsky and some renown Mathematicians too (including Leonard Euler ) :-


Some extra information on who’s there can be seen (read) here:

The Metro lines are very deep (to go under the rivers and canals, I guess) hence the escalators are long too:


We walked back to our hotel, waited for our cab, and in no time we were back at the airport, waiting for our flight to Dubai (see if you can find it here?) :


Final look at St Petersburg Airport:



Goodbye, Piter:


Arriving in Dubai:


We arrived at Dubai International airport at dawn, and it was already packed with people. Look at the scheduled flights:


Our arrival at KLIA concluded our trip. THE END 🙂


Goodbye Moscow

Previous entry: Moscow in an Afternoon


Date: 16th April 2012


We only spent one night in Moscow, staying at the Izmailovo Beta hotel:


It was part of the Moscow Olympic village in 1980:


Sunset as viewed from our hotel room:


The following morning view:


Checked out, and waiting for our “guides” (to come and take us to the Airport Express) at the lobby:


Our luggage were not big nor heavy, but Amzar and Afiq definitely helped a lot in carrying them, and guiding us to the right platform of the Metro and stopping at the right station.

Once we reached the station for the Aeroexpress we bade goodbye to them, and settled in the ultra-modern train:


When we arrived at the Sheremetyevo airport:


This photo helps me remember the iarport name! 🙂


We were at Sheremetyevo Terminal D


to take an Aeroflot flight bound for St Petersburg:


A final look at part of Moscow:


I doubt if I will everr come back here 🙂


Moscow In An Afternoon

Previous post: Vilnius to Moscow


Date: 15th April 2012

Moscow Metro (underground trains) would be intimidating for people who do not read Russian (like us). We were lucky we had 2 Malaysian students, Amzar and Afiq, to help get around. They bought the tickets (at the machines which are all accompanied with instructions in Russian) for us, and read the directions for us too.

Missed the train but not too worry because soon after another one would come:

Some of the stations are quite beautiful, like the two shown in the previous blog entry, and this one too:


After taking 2 types (lines) of Metro trains  and walked for  can’t remember how long) arrived at the Kremlin:


Guards and The Tomb of The Unnamed Soldiers, in time for the change of guards:


I wish I can swing my legs that high (& straight!)!


I wanted a pose like this but that girl stood too long there that I couldn’t wait 🙁

(maybe the pic is better with her instead of me there?)


We moved on to the infamous Red Square:


Enjoyed watching the landmarks:


and  people-watching 🙂


Back to the buildings… The Kazan Cathedral:


A nearby shopping block that we never bothered to enter (though it’s a very nice building from outside):


It was Easter Sunday (The Russian Orthodox Easter is 1 week later than the rest) hence so many people;


The over-photographed St. Basil’s Cathedral:


The State Museum, right on the other end of the huge square:


A photo shot with our generous guides, Amzar and Afiq:


And a closure with what else but a jump!








Vilnius To Moskow

Previous entry: Trakai Walkabout and Back To Vilnius

Date: 15th April 2012

That morning we were to make this journey:


It was our first time on an Aeroflot flight 🙂 (heard so much about the airline since my varsity days!) :


Since it was not a budget airline, we were served some snacks:


The pastry contained chicken fillings, so we only consumed the cake, coffee and juice.


While airborne:


Just before we landed (And I thought it was supposed to be the beginning of Spring?):


We were lucky that two Malaysian medical students came to wait for us at the airport (will tell you why in the next entry). They did their secondary school at my alma-mater 🙂 (hence fellow alumni).

They helped to buy the express train tickets for us, and carried our luggage too (I am sure they pitied this aunt and uncle 🙂 ):


After the fast train we had to take 2 other metro (underground) trains. Here a pic of us waiting for one of the trains:


every Metro station is unique, and sometimes nice:


We went to our hotel, checked in and had some rest (we left our Vilnius hotel in the wee hours). The boys agreed to come back again a few hours later to take us to the famous placve in Moscow….



Trakai Walkabout and Back To Vilnius

Date: 14th April 2012


After the visit to the Trakai Castle, we still had some time before it was due to go back to Vilnius, so we decided to walk around the area.


A better  more informative signage:

An interesting group of people called the Karaites live here:


The place has houses with attractive paint colors, like this one:


and this:


Walking up the slope, admiring the houses:


The historical synagogue of the Karaites:


More houses like this one:


and this:


soon it was time to say goodbye to the castle:


A final look:


before we boarded the van:


Saw the Vilnius Telecom tower on our way back:


A glimpse of the Modern Vilnius too:


Saw this beautiful building when we were almost at the Cathedral Square;


Saw a smaller square too:


The locals were out to enjoy the beautiful Saturday afternoon:


Oh! Isn’t she cute?


Our guided tour finally ended when we were dropped off at the Cathedral Square. The cathedral again 🙂


More people obviously, and a family outing too:


It’s never too small to have fun:


This is his sister too:


Another shot of me:


Vilnius, since 1323!



On our way back to the hotel, we stopped briefly at “The Gate of Dawn


Sorry… I mean this one:


also the Church of Saint Anne:


I am too lazy to google for the name of this one:

Vilnius is definitely a holy place for the Christians 🙂


We went back to our hotel, and concluded our short stay in Vilnius. The following morning we took a flight to Moscow!



Trakai Castle

Previous blog entry: Day 2 in Vilnius (Morning Walk)


Date: 14th April 2012

After the morning walk, we went back to our hotel, and waited for the guided tour that we booked.

The vehicle came, and we joined several others in this little machine:


Trakai is 22km outside Vilnius, hence the highway journey:


The van dropped us here:


I felt like I was dreaming when I saw the castle:


We were told by our guide that when the lake freezes during winter, we could walk on the ice directly to the castle:


But for that day we had to use the wooden bridges:


As we looked back at the little shops we left behind:


Quite a lot of them too:


The second bridge:


Serene view, right?


Entering the castle ground:


Trying to capture as much as possible of the place in one shot:


We walked towards the staircase (at the back of the above pic), and cross a former moat to get to the main castle building:


What’s left of the inner part of the castle:

Most of the rooms are now used as exhibition areas, like this one:


Some torture gadgets on display and for visitors to “play” with:


This castle could not get World Heritage status because it was reconstructed the modern way (using new bricks and techniques) 🙁 :



Despite that, I still think it is a beautiful castle, so thumbs up, oops, legs up for it:





Day 2 in Vilnius (Morning Walk)

Previous post: Vilnius, here I come!

Date: 14th April 2012

We wanted to see the rest of the OId Vilnius, and we had to walk pass the square we visited the day before:


Vilnius has many well-preserved  old churches. One of them is the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church:


The description plague at the gate:


Another one is the Saint Paraskeva Orthodox Church:


We then walked around the university campus, which has been part of the designated UNESCO  World Heritage Site:


Trying to imagine me being a student there, walking down the narrow streets, on a Saturday morning:


Very academic, indeed 🙂 :


A must shot:


Found a sister to our old car parked in front of the library block:


Vilnius University, founded in 1579… Hmmm…. quite old…


Top half of one of the university buildings:


Next to the university is Vilnius Presidential Palace:


We kept on walking, and towards the Vilnius Cathedral Square, we came across another academic block:


Part of the square:


Voila La Cathedral:


Some academic reading:


Awesome ceiling!


Awesome pillars too:


Another angle:


The Church Tower:


Side view:

Next: Trakai Castle

Vilnius, Here I Come!

Previous post: Day 2 at Old Riga (Latvia)

Date: 13th April 2012


We took the morning flight from Rega (Latvia) to Vilnius (Lithuania). At the Vilnius Airport, we got ourselves some local money:


The airport was near the city, looked very “communist”. What do you expect, from a country that was once under the USSR rule…

Soon we checked into our little hotel.


Part of our hotel was the original wall of the city (will upload a related pic later if I remember):


The view from our hotel room:


We went to a nearby market to get some bread, got back to our hotel for some quick chow  and off to see the place:


Nice Radisson Hotel in Vilnius, though not within our budget:



Well preserved buidlings:



The grand Town Hall of Vilnius (and the cloud was coming in 🙁 ):


More nice buildings facing the square in front of the town hall;


If you stand near the Town Hall and look out, this is what you see:



Here I was, standing at the steps of the Town Hall, reading the map to get the orientation:


Before we could do much, the rain poured quite heavily that we had to take refuge:


The rain subsided but didn’t seem like it was going to stop:



Well illuminated blocks:


We managed to read this plague nearby:


We eventually gave in to the rain that had reduced to drizzles, and went back to our hotel. That was all for the day…