Friday, November 30, 2012

Bangkok, Vietnam, Singapore - 5 days in

How many smiles:  3 so far

Whynot my normal 5 smiles? Well like most things that involve international travel its tiring, but generally its been great so far.  So a quick update on our adventures so far, given internet is a bit like gold when your on a boat so dont have much time but will do a full update on our return.

Sunday:  Brisbane to Bangkok

Pretty good flight overall flying Thai - only 8 hours so not too long, and I actually thought the food was the best I have ever had on any flight so good work Thai, but the rest of the service was just a bit ho hum.

Arrived in Bangkok at 8.30 Bangkok time (so 11.30 for us) and after being up at 4am it was seeming like a long day - got to the Pathawana Princess around 11.30 Bangkok timeand of course when you are only staying overnight dead tired they upgrade you a beautiful suite, but hey I will take it.

Breaky was great and before you knew it we were being picked up for our 3 hour car ride to the port (yes 3 hours), grrrrrr - must say didnt really like Bangkok all that much in the light of day and a few hours having a stroll around - so not ont he return list.

Monday:  Boarding the Diamond Princess

WOW what do I say about this boat - so much bigger on anything we have ever been on and opulance plus - very nice - but it was all pretty much chaos at the port but once on all good and of course a surge of excitment was there as we spent the first few hours before sailing exploring the ship.

Met our table buddies for the cruise and it looks like it was a match made in heaven, all are just like us - ie:  happy to have a great time a dinner and not needing to be in each others pockets.

Tuesday:  At Sea

Nice to sleep in, and have a bit of rest today - spent the day around the pool, doing a bit of baking (sun baking that is), eating, getting ready for the first Formal night (getting hair done, getting Tux ordered etc) it was a bit too early for me but hey - its done and over





Wednesday:  Vietnam

Big day but had lots of fun on the Meekong Delta Cruise excursion - the drive though was 3 hours there and 3 hours back, but generally saw a great amount of the country side, the boat ride up the Meekong in the Sampans was great, we visited a small village and had a some lovely food samples - then on another little boat ride but this one wasnt quite as comfortable.

Thursday:  At Sea

Wasnt feeling great today, I guess we had had a big week and after a few hours sunbaking, we actually had a 4 hour Nanna Nap and woke up had a light dinner and sat by the pool on the special blankies and watch Movies under the stars.

Friday:  Singapore
Wow loved Singapore - started out with a Breaky at the Zoo, and had a few great hours there with the animilas then got back, jumped in a cab and went to Raffles to go and suck down a Singapore Sling ($65 for 2 drinks but you know it was really worth it).  Great day

Sum Up:  great week all in all - more on our return



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Super Hornets Fly Over the GC

Such a fabulous feeling today to be able to go down to Main Beach and watch the Super Hornets fly over - another great thing about NINKERing, being able to partake in things that are going on around you.


Did you miss them over Brisbane and Goldy today, well don't worry here is a small video  and some pics - it was such a perfect day for this - up on the new Main Beach Jetty, water quality fantastic, skys as blue as.

For all the shots click on the link All Super Hornet Shots
video

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The endless Saturday week - Sun, Sand and Surf


As I write these blogs I often think to myself - WOW how fast has that week gone - and this week was no exception.  It seems like the week was just one endless Saturday - and I suppose that's what NINKERing is about - just one endless Saturday.  You know the feeling .....  wake up Saturday morning - perhaps after a little sleep in, take your time, no rushing, no traffic, nothing urgent needing to be done - just a day in front of you to do whatever you want.  Its hard to believe we have been NINKERing for 7 weeks now.

Summary of the week:

Relaxometer:  5 smiles - yes we are getting pretty slow now
Cost:  well just our standard grocery costs and a bit of petrol (nothing much) - 5 smiles



Sure you have to have some plans - otherwise NINKERing would get a little boring but the week of an endless Saturday is fantastic.

After a terrible weather weekend last weekend, we awoke to a beautiful Monday and got out on the boat.  Over the last few years this so annoyed me, wet weekend, and then beautiful on Monday to go back to work - now its a bonus. Originally this is what we were going to do on a regular basis, but so many other things to be done,new things to explore and places to go.  I hate to say it I am a fair weather sailor so a boatie week it was.

What do we do out on the boat - to be honest not much but it is incredible how fast the days seem to pass, but with a bit of fishing here and there, a bit of exploring in the tender, chugging to a new spot each day, finding nice beaches to go for a walk on, reading, photography and of course taking Teddy out the days seem to fly past so quickly and before you know it, you are watching another beautiful sunset or sunrise.  The water isn't quite warm enough yet for me to swim, you know that just dive in temp, but its still nice to have a paddle. It seems though that during the week there are heaps of NINKERs out there doing just the same as us - loved this boats sail - probably sums up heaps of boaties out there during the week!  Its probably a good idea to have this sort of interest if you are contemplating being a NINKER , something you can do whenever, without much planning and that has no real cost to it, but something you love to do.



We had to admit after being the camper van the boat seemed so large, spacious and luxurious we kept saying it was like a penthouse lol, we slept like babies, because there is nothing like sun, sand and surf to tire you out.  Teddy has now worked out how to get into the cabin and seems to think the pack should all sleep together - funny little thing he is check out his day on the beach below.  When D1 gave us Teddy I did think, why would we want a dog now we have retired, but this is another thing I think has been good for us - a new interest, taking him for walks (so you have to exercise), and besides that he seems to make us laugh.  



Did some experimentation with a new camera though and took a few arty farty sunset shots - I picked up a camera a few years ago and I have to admit, I love the experience and while I am a pointer and clicker, photography really does open your eyes to your surroundings, you see things in a totally different light and it does make you take notice ..... and yes I probably take too many.

Standard Sunset Shot


Using features
Heaps of visitors this weekend so have to go and do some shopping - this is another thing I really enjoying - being able to do small loads of shopping during the day and buying what you feel like today and not needing to go and shop for the week on the weekend.  I have also really enjoyed cooking again when we are home - over the years you cook to feed in between all the other things that need to be done - but it is the simple pleasure of planning and taking your time to create something nice which  I am enjoying again - I have always loved cooking but like most things it got lost in fast lane of life and became a chore instead of a joy.

A good friend gave me a weekly subscription to BRW when I retired and finally caught up on reading these which was good to get the mind into the real world for a few hours - thank you Mandi, this is such a great pressy every week I get a little present from Mandi and every week it makes me think of her and smile - so if you are ever looking for a great gift for someone a yearly subscription to something like this is great!

Read a great saying this week and will leave you with this thought for the week!

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, helps you to grow or makes you happy.

Have a great week everyone, we will be starting to pack and get ready for our cruise next week so starting to get excited!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Teddy Vs Ducks and Gulls


Yes still continuing to video Teddy our chihuahuas adventures - check out his latest

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our little slice of paradise

After a wet, windy weekend, we woke up to a bit of blue sky with potential, and slight south easerlies,so decided to take the chance and get out on the boat for a few days.  Originally our plan was to spend most of our time boating, but other travel adventures have come our way - afterall this is all on our doorstep to enjoy whenever we want.

Started by going to the Surfers end something we don't do often, but windy and very choppy, so have ended up at old faithful Tipplers which is fab during the week (don't like it over weekends too many people).

Must go and do some sunbaking



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Our Cruise Excursions are now booked! Check out what we will be doing!

Check out our amazing excursions now booked for our up coming cruise

 Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Vietnam - - November 28, 2012

The Mekong Delta

Journey to My Tho Island and the heart of the Mekong Delta on a narrated cruise and a sampan ride down tranquil canals. You'll also visit a traditional Delta home and tour a coconut candy factory. A Delta-style lunch is included on this approximately 10 1/2-hour excursion. 

Singapore - - November 30, 2012

Pay an early morning visit to the zoo for a breakfast with the orangutans. Have your photo taken with one of the shy but genial creatures. Watch the Asian elephants take their daily bath and help feed them. After a breakfast buffet, there's free time to explore on your own. 

Bangar Seri Begawan (Muara), Brunei - - December 02, 2012

Royal Regalia Museum, Kampong Ayer & Cruise

Enjoy a full-day, moderately active, narrated excursion via air-conditioned motorcoach to an exotic market. Cruise a mangrove forest in search of Proboscis monkeys. Explore a water village built on stilts and a museum featuring Brunei's Crown Jewels. View the world's largest residential palace and indulge in a delicious buffet lunch. 

Darwin, Australia - - December 07, 2012

Jumping Crocodiles Cruise

Take an adventure filled one-hour cruise along the Adelaide River for a real Outback experience. See the river's famous "jumping" crocodiles as they shoot out of the water in pursuit of their prey. Learn about the local wetlands, and enjoy stunning views of the Outback. 

Port Douglas, Australia - December 10, 2012

The Great Barrier Reef

Discover the kaleidoscope world of the Great Barrier Reef. An air-conditioned catamaran cruises to a pontoon anchored off the outer reef. Take a semi-sub boat tour, watch divers feed tropical fish, snorkel in the crystalline waters, enjoy a swim and catch some rays on the tanning deck. Lunch is included. 

Sydney, Australia - - December 13, 2012

Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb

What's the best way to experience the beauty of Sydney? Try climbing the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge for views that are out of this world. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Remembrance Day - Remember

I have long distributed this poem on Remembrance Day, because its soooo beautiful!

Don't forget folks!


A Poem for Remembrance Day
"The inquisitive mind of a child"
poppyWhy are they selling poppies, Mummy?
Selling poppies in town today.
The poppies, child, are flowers of love.
For the men who marched away.
But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because my child, men fought and died
In the fields where the poppies grow.
But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?
Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child.
The blood that our soldiers shed.
poppyThe heart of the poppy is black, Mummy.
Why does it have to be black?
Black, my child, is the symbol of grief.
For the men who never came back.
But why, Mummy are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child.
For the world is forgetting again.
Author Unknown



Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Lunchy Week

While we didn't have anything really planned for this week other than some catch up items, the week seemed to bolt past so quickly and its hard to think we have been home for a week now.



Knowing that the Gold Coast City Marina Boat Show was on GCCM we knew this would be on our agenda over the weekend as its a free event and every bit as good as the Sanctuary Cove one in May - the weather was fantastic and it's great to be able to walk around the marina looking and drooling over some of the best boats out there . It is a great day.  Lots of great stands, lots of great specials for all the boaties out there, but generally even if you are not into boating, boat shows are just a great day for being out and about in the fabulous sunshine.

One of the stands we just couldn't help but stop at was the Stephan Boating World stand - I have to say these are some sexy little razor cats and boats so click here for a sneak preview of whats new Stefan Boating World and pink - no not really but have to say these were my favorites.  We loved these when we were in Vanautu so thought we might price them out.


These shots were actually taken in their showroom on Wednesday when we went to get a quote on a few of their fantastic Rib Series. There's a lot of PINK isn't there!



Monday decided to do a lunch with my Mum  - this was lovely and it was nice to do something with her during the week - in the past it's been a weekend thing a when your weekends were already too short, it was one of those things we tended to do begrudgingly - but Monday we had a lovely afternoon, wine, seafood platter (hot and cold) and were able to chill out all in the comfort of home. $80.00 (fruit, bread, wine, seafood and all cooked and prepared at home with love from Julies Yummy Kitchen).
Tuesday - Melbourne Cup Day and Cup at the Cove - WOW what  a great day - check out my blog if you haven't already http://ninker.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/melbourne-cup-2012.html.  What a fantastic day it was.  Thank you Sanctuary Cove!  They always have good events on so click here to see whats on over the next month or so http://www.sanctuarycove.com/events. $220 for all 10 courses and all your wine, bubbles etc so GV (Good Value for a great days entertainment).  Oooh and don't forget I won a door prize as well (there was a cruise and other great prizes as well).

After a fantastic run of sun, sun and more sun, the weather came in a bit nasty by Wednesday- wet and windy and while we had anticipated going out on the boat for a few days - there is nothing worse than wet and windy for boating, so went and checked out the new range of boats by Stefan (see above) , had a nice Indian lunch at Randhawa's  at Hope Island on Thursday and had a nice Indian lunch (seems like forever since I had Indian and it really was nice, even though the service was a little lacking) $50.00 (2 mains, breads, rice and 2 wines so pretty good value) , checked out some 4WD's and even a few caravans over the rest of the week. Finishing in something I haven't done for at least 15 years and that was stopping at  Yatala Pies - OMG how good are these and I have to say their business model is one to be looked at - in the middle of no where these days it was full, full, full - I couldn't believe it - but have to say I never thought a Pie, Chips and Gravy would get the better of me but it did.  Need to taste good old fashion fast food, served with a smile (congratulations Yatala Pies  for having young people who serve with a smile and serve as if they care).  Even caught Dick Johnson having one while we were there.  Yatala Pies - YUMMY $23.00 - 2 pies with chips and gravy (Derek had peas as well) and 2 drinks GV.

Finishing off the week was picking up our tickets for our Cruise only 2 weeks away now, and how lovely of Harvey World Travel Hope Island - they gave me a fantastic bottle of bubbles with my tickets.  This time in 2 weeks we will be jetting over to Bangkok ready to enjoy 2 weeks of cruising around Asia and Darwin.  Thanks HWTHI!

Also started my trek into Volunteering in the NY - one of the things I really want to do is give back a bit to those in need - so many needs out there - but have started that journey by putting my name down on a few that I thought would be good as well as interesting.  

Besides slipping in a few afternoon naps, that's about a wrap from me for this week, not quite as exciting as other weeks - but you know sometimes its nice to be home, not much planned and able to just go where the wind takes you.  Have a great weekend everyone!



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Melbourne Cup 2012 - Cup at the Cove

So over the last 12 years or so I have had to organise the Corporate Melbourne Cup Day - Generally filled with a fancy dress theme, but this year being my first as a NINKER Derek and I could go to something a bit more refined.

Unfortunately though Derek had to go and urgently see a friend who was in hospital so Danni (child 2) came with me to a great cup day at Sanctuary Cove.  I will post more on later when I do a reivew of the week but .... here are a few of our great pics from today

Thanks to Liz from Sanctuary Cove Center Management who spent some time with us, Ridion who provided some great entertainment as usual, St Tropez for a great venue, food and drinks as well as prizes  and Frank, Cheryl and others at our table.

Here are just a few pics from the day!  Oh yea forgot  to say I while I didnt win anything on the race, was lucky enough to win a door prize.Anyway more next week on this great part of the week, but enjoy the few pics of the day











Friday, November 2, 2012

Brisbane to Cairns - Britz Motor Home Relocation

Relocating a Motor Home - Brisbane to Cairns - 6 Days 27th Oct-1 Nov - Chasing the Sun

Overview:  4  smiles - probably not long enough

Cost: 5 smiles - this is a great way of holidaying without breaking the bank and a great way to see our county (and other countries as well)

  •  $25 booking fee
  • $1/night for the first 4 days (thats the relocation fee)
  • $75/night for 2 extra days (you can elect to take extra days at the time of booking for a reduced amount)
  • $170 insurances
  • $90 for petrol (we spent $340 but were reimbursed $250 as a part of the relocation - remember to keep your receipts)
  • $32-$37/night for powered van site ( so $175 )
  • $40 along the way for coffees, drinks etc (dont forget you have your own fridge etc but sometimes its nice to stop in a cofee shop)
  • $140 in groceries (steak, sausages, salad, fruit, cheese, biscuits, chocy etc)
  • $70 in drinks (wine, alcopops, water, softdrinks)
  • $10 for a cab ride to Cairns airport from the delivery point
  • $67 for car parking for the week at Gateway Airport Parking ( I have been using Gateway Airport Parking because they have 2 days free on the back of your Coles shopper docket - great service these guys give btw)
  • $0 for flights Cairns to Brisbane - we used 30,000 QANTAS points  (normally about $150 per person)
$941 in total (including food, drinks, petrol, accommodation)
 
This is an excellent holiday or anyone on a budget but looking for some good exploring adventures.  Not just NINKERS anyone looking to really get away and have no real bounderies on where and when then go. So dont forget to share with your friends.
 
Also if you didnt like the thought of staying in a Van, all of these parks had lovely Cabins for about $80-$120/night all airconed so if you are more a car person either hiring or driving your own this would still be a great value holiday.
 
Length of Time:

Saturday 27th October to Thursday 1st November

Probably could have done with at least 1 extra day - 2 would have been perfect especially if you dont like driving all day.  We had anticipated to stay the last night in Port Douglas but after the first 2 days driving all day we decided we could live without staying in Cairns given it was only a couple of years ago that we had a holiday there.

Weather:

The temprature was good arond the 30 degrees but without alot of humidity, so this is a good time to travel this road.  We did hit some rain but this is the good thing about this type of holiday you can chase the sun which we did.

Funometer:  4  smiles
Valueometer: 5 smiles
Accommodation:  Primarily using Big 4 - 4 Smiles

We had a 2 man van which was OK for this length of trip, but I was starting to get a little over it by the end a bigger van would be recommened for longer periods.

Booking etc: 4 Smiles

There are heaps of sites including the Motor Home site themselves that advertise relocations and other sites we used Standby Relocations

The van was a Britz which we picked up from Brisbane.  I will say that the check in and check out could have been a bit friendlier - they were very robotic and really they are like motel receptions in a way dealing with people going on holidays.  Also I would recommend they put a guide to your van in as I am sure this could be quite danting on how to use the loo and empty it, getting the gas connected etc but its all like a boat so we were ok.

Day 1 - Brisbane to Yeppoon


 
I did blog that day - nothing like 7 hours of driving to get your technology worked out Day 1 Brisbane to Yeppoon

The one thing I really noticed on this first day was the amount of creeks that had water in them, over the years I have driven this road many many times and dont ever recall the creeks with water in them, so I started a little game of taking photos of them as we drove over them.  Remember most of these were taken at 100 kms an hour.  Doing omething like this also is a bit of fun, it kept us on our toes and made the long driving times go faster.  What are the names, I dont know take your pick there must of been at least 5 of each of these along the way from Bris to Cairns:Creeks of Queensland - Brisbane to Cairns

  • 2 mile creek
  • 4 mile creek
  • 6 mile creek
  • 12 mile creek
  • Aligator creek (why not crocodile creek is something we would like to know)
Day 2 - Yeppoon to Mackay


Another long days driving some 400 kms today.  We decided today to get in a bit earlier so we had some time to relax and unwind a bit - which was better.  From here in we always tried to get to somewhere by 1-2pm.

We headed to Blacks Beach and this was the only park that wasnt a Big4 that we stayed at - but they didnt seem to have anything on the beach so we choose Seawinds Caravan & Holiday Park which was lovely.

Here are our shots from Seawinds Pics from Blacks Beach or view a short video below

It was also in this part of the trip I decided to try doing some small videos

Day 3 - Mackay to Bowen

Yes onwards to the home of Mangoes (we stopped at the Big Mango but no fresh Mangoes go figure).  The day was a much slower paced day now having gotten the big miles over so we were able to take our time, stop in a few more places along the way for a looksee.

 
This was a great part of the trip - Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour some of my favorite places, beautiful views, and now you are in the Whitsundays.  We stopped in Airlie but it was raining and remember we are chasing the sun, so had a cuppa, did a walk through town and then to Shute Harbour for lunch at the viewing spot in the Van - thats whats so good you dont need tables or picnic areas.

We stayed at BIG4 Bowen Coral Coast Beachfront Holiday Park, these parks seem to be getting better - this one right on the beach.  We did however make our first Van Park naughty given we had a site right on the beach and these vans open from the back, we reversed in - within a few minutes we were told to move the van around so that our driving compartment got the best view - what a waste and what a shame - it really didnt make sense to me but they did have lots of beach front seats and tables.  The beach was great though and again went for a big long walk (Ladies North Qld Beaches are great for getting your feet buffed for free), these walks are great after a car trip, and the weather was lovely, the beach pretty good quality. 

One of the things I noticed on this walk and started taking photos of was the crab holes everywhere so have a look at my photos here and let me know what you think Sand Art by CRABS

Also there where heaps of seagulls and I got some really great shots The Seagull Collection

So here are the pics we took of the day Mackay to Bowen

So where to next we thought??? Can it get better than this and thanks to a guy we spoke to here he recommened Rollingstone 40 kms north of Townsville (total beach front he said, even better than this he said)  THANK YOU KIND STRANGER for that tip.

Day 4 - Bowen to Rollingstone

So we spent the first few hours of the day at the local Bowen Auto Electricans - after the aircon died the day before we had rung the service department and off we went.  We got there at 9am as requested by the assist team.  So funny the guy says to us well I cant fit you in until Friday (remember its Wednesday now) is there somewhere we can drive you to?  Derek "Yes mate to Cairns with 2 overnighters please" - yep that got it fixed in 2 hours didnt it.

So a nice slow drive stopping in Home Hill, going through Ayr and past Townsville (wow hasnt this place changed - even though I lived there for a few years, didnt have a clue where we were). 

On to Rollingstone - 40 K's past townsville, and 4 k's past the Rollingstone turnoff (so we found out).

Well this place is about as close to heavenly that there is and all for $37 a night - I assume during school holidays it would be packed, but for us only a few vans in and take your pick.  I am not going to say too much more as I will let the video and pics tell this story.

Pics of Rollingstone




While we were walking along the beach I noticed these shells moving - here you go you watch the attack of the shells .




Well like everything all good things must come to an end.

Day 5 - Rollingstone to Mission Beach - the land of the Cassowary

So getting to Mission Beach requires going through Cardwell (another of my favorite towns on this road) unfortunately it was still suffering from Yasi, but it is still a beautiful place.  We stopped herehad a coffee and the main coffee shop come pub come restuarant had some beautiful food.
 
After a good stop here and a drive through Port Hinchinbrook we next stopped at Tully - I didnt know it was the wettest town in Australia and had a giant gumboot to mark this notority but it does and now so do you if you didnt before.
 
 
 
 
Mission Beach is so beautiful as well and again we were lucky enough to get a beach front and were able to go for a great walk and a swim (our first for this trip).  We did a beach and pool swim again most these places had incredible pools and this one had a water slide which ourselves and some other NINKERS decided was too good just for kids.



For all the great shots of this part of the journey click here Rollingstone to Mission Beach
And for a few more Windscreen Cams click below


 
 
 
 
 
 
But like all good things they eventually have to come to an end
 
Day 6 - Mission Beach to Cairns
 
So into Cairns we headed - must say its hard parking one of these things in standard city streets, got the van washed and then headed to the Esplande for a walk, lunch and to get changed back into real clothes ready to take the Van back and head to Cairns airport for our trip home.
 
 
 
All Albums can be accessed here: