Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Impossible Orchestra

Last night (more like very early this morning) I attended the Impossible Orchestra's 24 hour concert.  In an attempt to raise awareness for CareAware, the orchestra continuously plays without stopping for 24 hours (as the title suggests...).

If you're wondering how, there is a pool of musicians that decides how long they will play.  After speaking with a musician after the show, she told us that she would be playing in three 'slots' (3x3hours).  The maximum that any member of the orchestra can play for is 4 slots.  As if three isn't tiring enough already...

The show itself is FREE, yes no catch, and will end at 5pm today afternoon (Sunday 28th October).  If you've got some free time, I highly recommend you check it out.  I attended the 11pm-2am performance, but I'm sure the ones today will be much easier to stay awake in...

A great sound and an opportunity to see the newly renovated Hamer Hall for FREE.  It certainly doesn't happen every day...

For more information, see the link below:

If you can't attend in time, here is a live stream:

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Review: PARKROYAL Hotel - Melbourne Airport

Formerly the 'Hilton Airport Hotel', the PARKROYAL boasts of an improved ambiance and service.  You wouldn't expect an orange theme to work throughout a hotel, but somehow it was pulled off very well.  The warmth of the colours ensure a cosy feel and the more neutral room colours are soothing.  

I was very pleased with the staff members, friendly smiles and attitude throughout.  Would highly recommend it to business travellers.  Convenient if you are catching a flight the next morning, but certainly quite a distance from the city.  Rooms are pleasant and airport views are impressive.

Bookings can be made via their website: 

A pleasant lobby area, easy access to the restaurant

The suite is spacious and inviting - big enough to relax or hold a small meeting

Spacious and clean bathroom

Large bed and 'open space' feel (suite)

Stunning views of aircraft departures

Nice and close with airlines that frequent Australian skies

The perfect hotel for plane spotters

Cleanliness - 9/10
Service - 9/10
Location (accessibility) - 10/10 (easy to access airport and city - taxis, buses)
Location (ambiance) - 7/10 
Amenities - 9/10
Technology (TV, internet connectivity, radios) - 9/10

How likely I will be revisiting: Highly Likely

Overall rating: 9/10

In a sentence:  The PARKROYAL hotel at Melbourne Airport is perfect for the business traveller.  If you don't mind waking up to the sight of planes, then this hotel is ideal for a quick stopover - only a few minutes walk to the check-in counters.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Melbourne opens itself to the public this weekend

It's not everyday that you get to visit some of Melbourne's most historic buildings or sites that are usually never accessible to the public.  It's a great initiative and speaking from past experience I cannot recommend it enough.

Here is a quick guide:

Official Website

Aussie-traveller's recommended visits
-Manchester Unity Building
-Melbourne Town Hall and Offices
-RMIT Building 113 Captiol Theatre
-Newman College
-University of Melbourne (University House)
-Parliament House
-Melbourne Recital Centre

Some highlights
-100 Buildings opened
-3 mystery buildings
-Royal Melbourne Hospital Tunnels and Towers
-Redevelopped Hamer Hall (photo below)

-BRING A CAMERA (most buildings encourage this but be careful if photography is forbidden...)
-Not all buildings are open on both Saturday and Sunday

Good luck and have fun! Take as many photos as you can as you'll have to wait another year for this opportunity to arise again.

Aussie-traveller welcomes people to share photos from the event on its Facebook page which you can access below.  Don't forget to 'LIKE' it and SHARE with friends!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Visiting One of the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’: Uluru

Guest Post

Rising from a now vanished sea to stand proud, demanding the attention of all who visit is Uluru, or Ayers Rock.

Situated in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia, this large sandstone rock formation seems misplaced surrounded by miles of flat expanse.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen anything quite as spectacular as Uluru, which is not surprising considering it also happens to be inscribed on the World Heritage list and is one of Australia’s most iconic symbols.

While here I stayed at Yulara, which is about 11 miles from Uluru. For those who are driving this is an option to consider instead of driving the distance back to Alice Springs which is about a 4-5 hour drive. At the Yulara Resort you can find budget accommodation for those camping to five star Uluru hotels. In the resort itself you can expect to find restaurants, an art gallery, a swimming pool, shops, a mini market and lush greenery, making it a pleasant stop over for a good night’s rest.

Known as an inselberg, which is a lone rock that rises from a flat or slightly sloping plain, the sheer size of Uluru takes a moment or two to take in. Combine that with the fact that surrounding it is a vastness of flat land it’s not hard to miss on the horizon. But, what we see is definitely not all of it.

Measuring in at 348 metres high, about 863 metres above sea level, this massive iceberg shaped rock has most of its bulk underground. Standing near to Uluru you can only imagine the true extent to how much bigger it could be. If ever there was a time when I could appreciate how tiny and insignificant an ant might feel among us humans it was now looking up at the bulk of Uluru.

Notable for changing its colour to a glowing red during the hours of dawn and sunset this is the time when most people venture to catch the best glimpse of Uluru. Of course, even if you can’t make the time to visit at these hours simply seeing it when you can is still an awe inspiring experience.

Even though Uluru was named in 1873 by surveyor William Gosse as Ayers Rock after Sir Henry Ayers the then Chief Secretary of South Australia, Aboriginal culture and Uluru has been intertwined far longer than that. The rock is thought to have been created more than 600 million years ago, while the Aborigines have lived in the area for the past 10,000 years. Today, rituals are still held in many of the caves, but it’s important to note that photography of any kind is not permitted.

Before having the chance to visit Uluru I looked at pictures and read up on the history to understand more about it. While the pictures give you some sense of what to expect in terms of size, I felt that actually seeing it for real didn’t do it justice. Once again, it was easy for me to feel insignificant as I stood before it.

For those visiting Uluru walking around the base of it is highly recommended. Depending on your walking speed this can take several hours, but is definitely worth it considering the amount of flora and fauna that can be seen. It is believed that 21 native species live around Uluru.

However, in order to respect the wishes of the Aboriginal people it is not recommended to actually climb Uluru. Not only is it a strenuous and steep climb with plenty of strong summit winds, but the climbing track suggested trespasses through an Aboriginal sacred site.
The track itself is only one mile long, but depending on how fit you are this could take two hours to complete. Even if you don’t climb Uluru the experience you have will be hard to put into words, but is definitely a visit that will stay with you forever.

Rebecca Campbell is a freelance writer who loves travelling and experiencing the many wonders each country has to offer. Her latest travel experience has been to Australia where she has been looking into houses for rent with homesales.

If you would like to submit a guest post, please send your request to:

Friday, 6 July 2012

A freezing winter in Melbourne

Transitioning from a humid lifestyle back in Hong Kong to a freezing climate back home has proven to be more difficult than I had originally anticipated.  Having spent almost a year abroad, it's strange settling back but at the same time it is nice to meet up with old friends.

Melbourne hasn't changed much apart from the redevelopment of areas such as Swanston st and the inefficient MYKI (public transport smart-card) system.  Yes, it is improving but it's far from ready.  If you compare it with ones in other regions such as Hong Kong & Singapore, I always wonder why they didn't outsource the work and shamelessly ask for advice from already working systems.  In a future post, I will give you an example of what the Hong Kong octopus card can do and you'll understand why I am so bitter towards the MYKI.  Having spent a few weeks here, I can already pick out many faults in the system, but fingers crossed it will work out in the end.  The sad truth is that Melbourne has great potential for a superb system, it's just that it is not managed well.

No, I am entirely frustrated with Melbourne as I have missed it dearly.  This week it was sad to find out that Melbourne no longer tops the charts as the most liveable city in the World.  Vancouver too, has missed out on a place in the top 10, previously ranking very well, claiming #1 position for several years.  Hong Kong is now the most liveable city!  I think it's a sign: I have a feeling Hong Kong is dragging me back.  It's the perfect excuse right?  More information on the ratings below:

Within the first few days of arriving back to Melbourne, I couldn't help but roam around the city and explore my hometown.  After discovering many areas in Hong Kong at every free moment I had, I was inspired to do the same back home.  There is so much to see, so much to do... You just need to find time to discover what's around you.  And yes, we all do have a few spare minutes in our lives... 

Walking down Little Burke this week, I enjoyed taking in the street art.  I don't remember this particular artwork before, I'm not exactly sure if it's new or I genuinely never noticed it.  It's awkward but there is something cool about it.  The second photo I took is one that I personally like, the non-standing sign, the glistening garage doors and the brickwork on the left all adds to it.  For those who have never visited Melbourne, I highly recommend you check out the lanes and our famous graffiti!

The next set of photos are from Australia Arcade.  Apart from the fact that this mall feels rather dead and many business have change or left, it was a good idea to introduce this artwork.  The umbrellas are a nice contrast against our gloomy winter!

View from the food court seating below

And Grand Hyatt on Collins st.  I've always loved the design of this hotel, especially the colour of the glass windows which always shine :)

That's all for now.  Greetings from a seriously cold Melbourne!  Stick around for some final posts about my experience studying and living in Hong Kong!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A must see in China

Ok, after a recent trip to a more scenic place in China, I can't recommend it enough!  I am grateful to all of my friends that pushed me to go and gave me some advice here and there!

My time in Hong Kong is running out and I have one final exam this week.  It's a little scary how quickly time has passed, but I'm grateful that I had the chance to visit this place recently:  Yangshuo.

I also had the pleasure to visit Guilin which is a larger neighbouring city and it was equally interesting.  Much busier but it had its own feel to it.  If you want to relax, head over to Yangshuo!

Here is a photo from a 6am river cruise.  I thought I'd give you a sneak peak before I write up about this trip in greater length.

Another photo below from a different river cruise which was also spectacular!

Finally, if you're an exchange student still in HK and wondering what to do with your time, you MUST visit this place.  This applies to tourists who are also here for a little longer.  Also, if you do, be sure to travel through Guangzhou which is another LARGE city on the way to Yangshuo and Guilin.

Believe me, you won't regret it!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Tiger Airways SINGAPORE-MACAU - Most memorable flight

Hello everyone, I'm back!  I apologise for the lack of posts over the last few weeks, it has been a busy period of time - finalising my semester of study here in Hong Kong as well as finding the time to travel around Asia! Hopefully, I'll be able to squeeze in a few more trips before it's time to depart...

I had a really interesting conversation with someone recently about my blog.  Ok, I've had many but there was one that I really found interesting.  I was asked how many more photos great photos I had 'hidden' or 'archived' in my hard drive.  This sort of got me thinking a little and it inspired me to upload a few from a flight I experienced late last year.  This was the flight from Singapore to Macau that was my arrival into Hong Kong for what would turn out to be a whole year of study at HKU.  Most of you probably know that I originally set out to study for a semester only, but after staying here and experiencing everything Hong Kong has on offer, I couldn't resist indulging in another semester abroad.  This is not only about my travels around Asia, my University experience has been something I'll treasure for a very long time.  I've met many fantastic people and have been exposed to countless opportunities - which I don't think i'll ever have the time to write about!  If you want to find out more, the only was would be to chat over a coffee... :)

Ok, you may have noticed that my title claims this to be my most memorable flights.  This is quite a strong statement to make after travelling quite a lot over the last few years, in Europe, the US and Asia.  When I initially boarded this flight, I was excited about arriving in Macau and then Hong Kong - where I would spend the next few months studying abroad as I mentioned above.  From the the first photo below, this flight seemed just like any other.  Tiger Airways once again performed very well, no complaints with service, spot-on as usual.  Read my other blog about my general impressions of Tiger Airways in Asia:  HERE

Love this photo as it gave a nice size comparison.

Almost there, waiting a few moments until it was our time to take-off.

A nice overview after departing moments ago...  Great to have a sunny day also.  Funny though, how it's always sunny whenever I am departing a city for elsewhere...  I always seem to leave during the best weather of the week! :(

Everything after this photo was seriously cloudy. The weather was not as pleasant as expected, though the captain did warn us we may get turbulence. So, it was pointless taking out my camera.  However, around 3/4 of the way to Macau, I saw a gap within the clouds.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing...   From absolutely nothing, this is what lay before our eyes.

It may sound strange - but this is honestly the most amazing cloud formation I have seen in my entire life. It was GIGANTIC!  Photos still don't do it justice... 

Formations below were intriguing also!

It's sights like these that you don't always notice at first.  This is why photography is such an important part of my life.  It allows me to appreciate things that may seem obvious or would otherwise be ignored...

The photos below - I just can't put words to them.  Interpret them as you wish.  I was speechless for not only the rest of the flight, but for about a week.  And looking back at them now, I still am!

The sign that we were moments from touching down in Macau!

Literally 2 seconds to go!
  Hello Macau!  and a big hello to Hong Kong in a few days :) 

Arriving back in Macau was a great feeling after visiting it several years ago.  I couldn't wait to see Hong Kong again also, as I had many fond memories of my time spent there previously.  

Returning back to the conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago, I'm sitting down with a bit of a smile while writing this.  How many photos I still have archived is something I don't want to scare people with, let alone myself.  The more I think about it, thousands of blog posts spring to mind, asking to be written.  Sometimes, I guess I too ignore the treasure trove I have hidden away.  For me, yes, photographs are memories and 'evidence' of the amazing journey I've had throughout my life.  However, there is one thing that remains much more powerful; and that's memory.  Often, it's not the finished product that is the most satisfying experience of all.  It's the process and the people and places I've met along the way. 

That's why I want to make the most of my last few moments in Hong Kong.  I'll miss it no doubt, but one must keep moving forward...   I hope I'll find the time to spend photographing Hong Kong over the next few weeks.  If you're up for it, let me know.  I'm always happy to meet up and go photo-shooting.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos that accompanied it.  My next post (which is coming very soon) will be my touchdown in Hong Kong and a bit of a rundown of how I felt settling in, preparing to live here for some time.
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