Tag: Food Truck

Southern North

Southern North

Cape Palliser, New Zealand – January 29, 2018

Cape Palliser is another of our favorite spots in New Zealand. Located on the southernmost point of the North Island, it has a rugged beauty. Add to that beauty a spectacular red and white lighthouse and herds of seals and one has the recipe for a beautiful outdoor experience. There are very few trees at this location. That adds to the stark look.

Nearing the small village of Pirinoa, one passes the little Burnside Presbyterian Church. It was a beautiful day for photographs. The church dates from 1875 and has a small cemetery off to one side. Other than flowers and trees, there is nothing else around.

The Burnside Presbyterian Church. A sign out front noted the church dates from 1875.

The Cape Palliser Lighthouse is literally at the end of the road. For much of its length, the way hugs the beach, which allows storms can wreak havoc on the road. In places, only one vehicle may pass at a time. Not long after leaving the small fishing village of Ngawi, the sealed road ends. The remainder of the way is simply a dirt road.

At the end of the road is a parking lot and, thankfully, a toilet. Towering above the parking lot is a large, rugged hillside, at the top of which is the lighthouse. I wanted a photograph of the lighthouse with the ocean in the background. I was not able to get a decent picture in the past because of the lens I had. The issue is that one can only stand so far back from the lighthouse without risking a fall down the hillside.

Just like the first time Leslie and I visited, 261 stairs were separating the lighthouse from the parking lot. None of my traveling companions were interested in taking on that many stairs. Being not quite as bright as the others, I decided I must go up. The reward for my ascent was a spectacular view of the lighthouse and the ocean. As a bonus, I was there all by myself.

The Cape Palliser Lighthouse.

As I was ready to descend, I saw three people who had just begun their ascent. The stairs are very narrow and very steep. I decided to wait until they made it up to the lighthouse before I started down. It is hard to say which is more taxing; the journey up or the walk down. Regardless, I shan’t have to worry about ever making the trip again…been there, done that.

Also, it is 261 down!

While I had been on my little adventure, my traveling companions explored the beach near the parking lot. At that point, the beach is challenging to travel across. That is due to the fist-sized stones covering the beach. It is hard to get stable, proper footing. Regardless, they did locate a lone bull seal napping on rocks at the water’s edge.

A yawning bull seal.

We got back in the car and began the return trip, stopping to look at various seal herds along the way. Just before the tiny village of Mangatoetoe, there is a small piece of land that juts out into the sea. The little peninsula forms a small, protected bay and some tidepools. Every time we have visited, we have always seen seals there. This day was no different.

By far, my favorite seal of the day was “Cruiser.” I am not sure if the youngster was a male or female, but it was undoubtedly mobile. That seal cruised all over the area. It seemed not a centimeter of the area was left unexplored. Something is mesmerizing about watching seals in their natural habitat. I know that is one of the things about New Zealand that I shall miss when we depart.

“Cruiser,” the very energetic seal pup. He or she cruised all over the rocks.

On our way to the lighthouse, as we drove through Ngawi, I noticed the Captain’s Table food trailer was not open. That meant if we wanted lunch, we would need to drive to Lake Ferry. As we entered Ngawi on our return, it was open for business. That was great news!

Adjacent to the Captain’s Table is a small camping area.  We ordered our lunches and then waited at a picnic table.  That did not last long.  The sun was very intense, so we gathered our food and sat in the air-conditioned comfort of the car to eat.

The food trailer. This is the only food commercially available in Ngawi. When it is open, it is a must stop!

After lunch, it was a leisurely drive back home.

The Burnside Presbyterian Church near Pirinoa.
261!!!
View from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. This is part of the Matakitaki-a-kupe Reserve.
Truly in the rocks.
Just barely raising its head. Sorry to have disturbed you.
This must be how seals enjoy life.
Cruiser going up a “cliff.”
Ten seals.
One seal playing in the small inlet.
Life on the edge.
Two seals and a gull.
Cruiser and, maybe, mom.
That just cannot be comfortable…
Shortly after this shot, the seal had to abandon its post because of an incoming wave.
Cruiser checking out the photographer.
Another gull on the rocks. That sounds like a New Zealand cocktail…
“Cruiser,” the very energetic seal pup. He or she cruised all over the rocks.
Lounging seal. I guess the rock close to her head is a pillow??
A gull on the rocks.
Cape Palliser Lighthouse in the distance.
After a hard morning of swimming, this seal could not make it very far before a nap took over.
The nearby rocks must provide a sense of protection. Regardless, the flat rock seems much more comfortable than some of the other resting spots observed.
A female Paradise shelduck.
Gettin’ a little sun on the belly, ahhh!
Rocky beach near Mangatoetoe.
Awaiting lunch from the Captain’s Table food trailer in Ngawi.
In the backyard, waiting for the grill to heat up. This was after a hard day of seal watching.
Wats Everywhere!

Wats Everywhere!

Chiang Mai, Thailand – February 5, 2017

I arrived at the airport in Singapore with plenty of time to spare.  I cannot stand to be late.  I do not like the drama that comes with being late.  It was lunchtime.  I opted for Sweet and Sour Chicken at Central Thai.

With my belly full, I went through passport control and then sat down to wait for my flight to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was on my way to a training class. The seating area was in the concourse as opposed to at the gate. There was an unmanned security checkpoint at the gate. That meant no one could sit in the waiting area. Once the security team arrived, I went through and sat in the gate area.

While I was waiting for my Silkair flight, a woman wearing a non-descript uniform approached me to ask if I would participate in a survey.  I agreed.  She read the questions to me from her iPad.  In total, the survey took about five minutes.  At the conclusion, she gave me a box containing a very nice pen engraved with “Changi Airport,” the name of the airport in Singapore.

Onboard the plane, I found my exit row aisle seat had more legroom than I think I have ever experienced.  I did find it odd that those sitting in the exit row cannot place anything under the seat in front of them.  All carry-on items went into the overhead bins.  The second thing I found odd was one of the flight attendants sat in the exit row aisle seat across from me.  I think it is much more common to see the flight attendants sitting in jump seats.  Regardless, the three-hour flight was uneventful.

The Silkair flight arrived in Chiang Mai at about 17:40 local time.  I quickly went through passport control and customs.  With my baggage in hand, I arranged for a taxi.  The taxi boss said the cost for the trip from the airport to the Le Meridien Hotel was 200 Baht (just under US$6).

The driver did not speak English. I certainly do not know the Thai language. Luckily, the driver had a translation app on his cell phone. He spoke into the phone in Thai, pressed a button, and I heard the question or statement in English. I responded in English, speaking into his phone. He played that back in Thai. We had quite a good conversation on the way to the hotel.

Elephants are a symbol of good luck in Thailand. These were in front of the Le Meridien Hotel.

About an hour after landing, I was at my hotel. Here comes the snobbish part…my room was lovely; but the room, bathroom, and entry area could have all fit within just the bedroom I had in Singapore.

The view from the room was generally to the west. The air quality was not good. Through the haze, I could make out Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep near the top of a mountain in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Periodically, various commercial jets rose diagonally across the face of the hill; ultimately rising above the horizon.

View of Chiang Mai, Thailand from the Le Meridien Hotel.

One afternoon, a group of us decided to walk to a Buddhist temple.  I thought we would walk to the temple, go to a restaurant, and then return to the hotel.  Little did I know the adventures that lay ahead.

A few blocks from the hotel, we arrived at the Tha Phae Gate that allows passage through the ancient wall that surrounds the old city of Chiang Mai. The wall provided protection, and the accompanying moat added to the level of security. This gate only allows for pedestrian traffic. Other portals allow vehicle passage.

This is one of several gates allowing entry to the ancient walled area of Chiang Mai. It is on the eastern wall.

We continued west along Rachadamnoen Road.  Although it was not our final destination, we stopped for a quick look at Wat Phan On.  A wat is a Buddhist temple.  In Chiang Mai, there are around 300 wats; literally wats everywhere.

Entering the wat compound, one immediately sees a gilded chedi.  A chedi is a burial structure.  Those buried in the chedis are in a seated position.  The chedis become a place for meditation.  The chedi at Wat Phan On is directly across from the main temple.  We took a quick look at the temple and left to continue our journey.

A gilded chedi at Wat Phan On.

Our 2.5 kilometer (1.5 miles) walk concluded at the wat we sought, Wat Phra Singh ( วัดพระสิงห์ ).  I included the Thai spelling because it is such a beautiful and unique alphabet.  The wat dates from the mid-14th Century.  It is one of the most revered wats in Chiang Mai.

The beauty of the wat is stunning. One of the things that immediately caught my attention was the gilded dragon (nāga) at the entry to the main temple (viharn luang). The level of detail and ornamentation are incredible. An interesting point about this dragon and others I saw during this trip; they emanate from the mouth of another dragon.

Another view of the dragon in front of the main temple at Wat Phra Singh.

In the main temple, the gilded Buddha was huge and imposing. I must admit I do not fully understand the Buddhist religion, so a lot of the items and décor in each wat left question marks above my head. Regardless, the beauty was such as I had never seen before.

The Buddha in the main temple at Wat Phra Singh.

When we left Wat Phra Singh, we began walking east. I thought we were heading to dinner. I was wrong. Along Arak 5 Road we found Wat Inthakhin Sadww Muang. The wat is very small. That did not deter the decoration. Although tiny, it was beautiful inside. At this wat as well as at many other locations in Chiang Mai, one saw portraits of Rama IX Bhumibol Adulyadej the King of Thailand. The King died on October 13, 2016. The country was still in mourning during my trip. I believe the period of mourning lasts for one year.

A woman on the floor in front of the Buddhas at Wat Inthakhin Sadww Muang.

At Ratvithi Road and Ratchapakhinai Road, we came to 48 Garage. It was like a German beer garden plopped in the middle of Chiang Mai. My mates and I ordered a beer. While we sat there, a woman came to the table holding dozens of woven fabric bracelets. Those on display were country names; like Canada, U. S. A., and Sweden. However, she also twisted by request. One could select nearly any word or phrase, and she would weave it into a bracelet. Her work was fascinating. She completed a bracelet in about ten minutes. I did not get one. Many others did get bracelets with words and phrases that I will not bother to list here.

A bracelet maker at a beer garden in Chiang Mai.

Besides 48 Garage, there were several other bars and street food vendors.  A couple of my favorite names were New York Pizza and Tacos Bell (yes, there is an “s”).  Some of the guys ate various fare from the food vendors.  I opted out.  I had no desire to have a run-in with a runny tummy.

This stand, at first look, may be a Taco Bell. Actually, it is TacoS Bell. The “s” is very important in differentiating.

We went into a bar across from New York Pizza.  What drew us in was the live band.  Of all things, it was a Reggae band.  The group consisted of three guitar players, a keyboardist, a trumpet player, and a drummer.  They played very well.

A reggae band performing in Chiang Mai.

Leaving the bar, several of my mates spotted a bar touting a “Shot Gun Beer Can Competition.” Much like the bracelet incident, I opted out. The bar employee willingly prepped beer cans for anyone wishing to compete. The preparation was putting a small hole on the side of the beer can, near the bottom. The competitor places their mouth over the small hole while holding the beer can upright. Then, pulling the tab open, the beer shotguns through the small hole and into the mouth in a matter of seconds. For those keeping score at home, the U.S.A. is in the lead with 322 cans downed. Several countries; such as Cyprus, Gambia, and Armenia, are tied for the last place with one can each. This is a popular sport. The leader-board tracks a total of 64 countries.

This tally board keeps track of the claimed national status of those that take on the shotgun beer can competition in Chiang Mai.

Continuing in the general direction of our hotel, we ended up at the Tha Phae Gate again.  This time, the plaza on the east side of the gate had a didgeridoo band playing.  Much like the Reggae band, they played very well.

About a half-block down the road from the plaza, we found the THC Rooftop Bar. THC is one of the chemical compounds in marijuana. I was a little worried that we might encounter a marijuana haven. We did not.

Had I been by myself, I am confident I would not have gone in, but… The front door to the stairs had a low head height. Many of the flights of stairs were a long way from OSHA safety standards. Regardless, we made it to the level below the bar. There, we found something more akin to a ladder than stairs. Making this all the dicier was the nearby sign; “SHOES OFF PLEASE If you have expensive shoes, take them upstairs with you! We take no responsibility! THANK YOU.”
One is required to take off one’s shoes before reaching the rooftop THC bar.

In addition to the sign, there was some wild graffiti on the walls.  One of my mates and I stayed at that level for a few minutes.  One of our other mates came back to the top of the stairs/ladder and coaxed us up.  As I took off my shoes and climbed the very uncomfortable stairs/ladder, the horror of completing my walk to our hotel in my stocking feet continued to play over and over in my mind.

Graffiti at the THC Rooftop Bar.

Having risen those last few feet, we were at the bar level. Much to my chagrin, to get to the final level, we faced one more stair/ladder. As if that were not enough, once I reached the last level, I saw dozens of small tables about 18 inches above the floor. To use the tables, one sat on pillows on the floor. As I squatted down and left my fate to gravity, the next horror show played in my mind; wondering how would I possibly get back to my feet.

When we prepared to leave, somehow, I made it back to an upright position. My mind was not on the very uncomfortable rungs, but rather on the actual location of my shoes as I descended my favorite stair/ladder. I could not have been happier if I had won the lottery; my shoes were still there!

From the THC Rooftop Bar, we began our walk again. Surprise, we stopped at yet another bar; the Baba Bobo Music and Restaurant Bar. Luckily, I recognized the street was the same one on which our hotel was located. Since it was well past my regular bedtime of 20:30, the entertainment value of our trek was waning. I decided to hit the eject button and walk the final 800 meters (one-half mile) back to the hotel.

Later in the week, I decided to walk to Wat Chiang Man.  It is one of the oldest in the old city, dating from the late 13th Century.  My planned walk was about four kilometers (two and one-half miles).  On my way, I walked by Wat Mahawan.  I walked through the wat quickly and went on to Tha Phae Gate.

That day at the gate, there were many sights; tuk-tuks waiting for fares, a divey looking bar (probably one of the best places in town), and monks walking through the plaza.

Some tuk-tuks waiting for passengers.
Five Buddhist monks walking through the plaza at the Tha Phae Gate.

After passing through Tha Phae Gate, I walked to Wat Phan On. For those keeping track of what’s wat; Wat Phan On was the first wat I visited during this trip. It is the first wat I had ever seen. On my own, I had much more time to wander through the wat compound. It is beautiful. A few items I saw there that I had not seen in any other wat included small brass bells near a chedi, two large gongs near a chedi, and several inspirational signs. The signs are in both Thai and English. I think my favorite is “Self-winning is pretty good.”

Some additional inspirational signs at Wat Phan On. The sign on the left is a little difficult to read. It reads “Self-winning is pretty good.”

It was a warm afternoon, so I was hot when I arrived at Wat Chiang Man.  At the main temple, as was the case with all the other wats, one had to remove one’s shoes before entering.  At this temple, there was a guard dog of sorts.  Actually, “guard” may be a bit of a stretch.  The dog lay on the marble, not paying much attention to shoes or people.  Odd, but at the temple, I did not have the same feeling of dread with leaving my shoes behind as I had at the THC Rooftop Bar.

People are expected to remove their shoes before entering the Buddhist temples. This is at Wat Chiang Man. Note the sleeping dog on the marble floor.

I thought the Chedi Chang Lom was fascinating. It is the oldest structure at Wat Chiang Man. That means it was built in the late 1290s. The many elephants emerging from the chedi at the base are all full-size.

This chedi is the oldest structure on the Wat Chiang Man compound. It dates from the late 13th Century.

The small side of the temple had two very beautiful dragons alongside the stairs. They are every bit as ornate and beautiful as the dragons at Wat Phra Singh.

The golden dragons guarding the side entry to a smaller temple at Wat Chiang Man.

I walked back to my hotel and took a nap. Shortly after waking up, a friend and his wife invited me out for dinner. We went to a food court about two blocks away from the hotel. I did not do any of the ordering, but I certainly helped with eating. The main course was a huge seafood boil served on some new paper used for printing newspapers. Rubber gloves helped one stay somewhat clean while eating the boil by hand. It reminded me of the meals I have had in Louisiana. To say it was delicious does not do it enough justice.

While I sat at the table with my friend, his wife and her friend continued bringing different fare from the various food vendors at the food court.  If I had known the Thai street food was so good, I would have joined my buddies eating during the night of the “death march” and shotgun beer competition.  I enjoyed every morsel of food I tried that evening; and best of all, no runny tummy!

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for some shopping at one of the tourist bazaars. I found a wood-carved dragon that I had to have. I think it cost US$10. I bought several other gifts; such as embroidered bags, and various small, painted, ceramic elephants. My friend’s wife is Thai. That made it easy to “negotiate” with the vendors. They all spoke some English, but I am sure the back and forth in Thai helped make things easier.

Colorful entry to a tourist bazaar.

For my last afternoon in Chiang Mai, I decided I would see something different; the Flower Market.  I set out from the hotel on a sunny afternoon.  Before going too far, I walked by Wat Upakhut.  It was not “different,” but I am glad I decided to go in and explore.

In the main temple, two or three monks were wearing plastic gloves. They were mixing something in some large metal bowls. I am not sure what it was, but it must have been edible. From the ceiling hung what must have been donations. Ribbon-like holders were hanging from the ceiling. They each contained varying amounts of Thai baht. Each also had a card at the bottom with something written in Thai, possibly a prayer.

Monks at Wat Upakhut mixing something, apparently edible. Note the dozens of collections of Thai Baht hanging from the ceiling.

I took some interesting photographs in the compound.  I think one of my favorites was that of two men working on restoring one of the dragons at the entry to the main temple.  I enjoyed watching their handiwork in plaster.

Two men working to refurbish one of the dragons at Wat Upakhut.

I walked on to the north. As I approached the Flower Market, I found several gold shops. There was so much gold jewelry for sale; it was hard to see the individual pieces because of the bright glare.

The Flower Market was in a structure that one might liken to a department store. The flower vendors were on the Ping River side.

A portion of the flower market in Chiang Mai.

After all of my walking over the last few days, I was tired. I spent very little time in the Flower Market. When I emerged, I flagged down a tuk-tuk. I took my first ever ride back to the hotel. It was entertaining.

Riding back to the hotel in a tuk-tuk.

That night, I went back to the food court by myself for dinner. I arrived a little early, so I partook of a Thai foot massage. At times, it was much less than relaxing. A 30-minute foot massage was 120 baht (US$3.43). In Auckland, the only other place where I have seen Thai foot massages advertised, 30-minutes go for NZ$45 (US$32.64); ten times the price!

For dinner, I tried some of the grilled items.  The pork and chicken on a stick were delicious.  I had two of the pork on a stick and one of the chicken on a stick.  To wash it down, I had one liter of Leo beer (a Thai beer).  The total cost of my dinner came in at 220 baht (US$6.29).

Some of the available grilled items. The pricing is in Thai Baht. From the upper left 20 to the lower right 120, the U.S. equivalent is $0.60 to $3.53.

On Saturday, I caught my 200 Thai baht taxi back to the airport.  From there, it was back to Singapore for another rest stop before flying back to New Zealand.

Pedestrians waiting to cross the street.
A statue at Wat Upakhut.
A man sitting on his trike outside Wat Upakhut.
A family traveling through Chiang Mai.
Monks crossing a footbridge near the flower market.
Monks crossing a footbridge near the flower market.
Traffic maneuvering near the flower market.
The Ping River near the flower market.
Some of the traffic to the side of the flower market.
A very detailed bird at Wat Upakhut.
One serpent devouring another at Wat Upakhut.
Some of the intricate ornamentation at Wat Upakhut.
It was apparently laundry day when I visited Wat Upakhut.
Several praying statues at Wat Upakhut.
A niche at Wat Upakhut.
Several painted goddesses at Wat Upakhut.
A fully refurbished dragon at Wat Upakhut.
A line of praying statues at Wat Upakhut.
Additional ornamentation at Wat Upakhut.
The monks’ laundry hanging to dry at Wat Upakhut.
A VW van that doubles as a bar at the food court.
At night, the street fills with vendor booths for blocks and blocks.
The very detailed ornamentation at a small side temple at Wat Upakhut.
A carved wooden elephant was hidden out of the way at Wat Upakhut.
A closeup look at some of the intricate detail in front of the small side temple at Wat Upakhut.
Inside the small side temple at Wat Upakhut.
A double-decker bar at the food court.
Some of the hundreds of mini Buddhas on the walls of the small side temple. Each has something different written along the bottom.
The Buddha in the main temple at Chiang Man.
Looking along the side of the main temple at Wat Chiang Man.
Door detail at Wat Chiang Man.
Two young girls posing in front of the ancient chedi in the compound of the Wat Chiang Man.
A little gray elephant and some other elephants in front of Wat Chiang Man.
Purses for sale at a stand across the street from a Burger King franchise.
A man moving his refrigerated (iced) cart to a new location.
A beverage stand next to a grilling stand. For dinner, on this particular evening, I patronized both.
Some bells near the stupa at Wat Phan On.
A niche at a chedi at Wat Phan On.
A gong at Wat Phan On.
A bilingual inspirational sign at Wat Phan On.
An inspirational saying at Wat Phan On.
A gong at Wat Phan On.
The long temple at Wat Phan On.
The Buddhist temple of Wat Phan On.
A secluded area at Wat Phan On.
Inside the main temple at Wat Phan On.
Two guard-lions at Wat Phan On.
A guardian lion at Wat Phan On.
Detail of the door relief at Wat Phan On.
The golden Buddha at Wat Phan On.
Two Buddhist monks checking the price with a taxi driver before boarding for their destination.
A closed Buddhist temple at Wat Mahawan.
A chedi at Wat Mahawan.
A rather dilapidated bar, the Inter Bar. That means it must be a GREAT place.
A dragon at Wat Mahawan.
A worship niche at a chedi at Wat Mahawan.
A side temple at Wat Mahawan.
A statue in front of the main temple at Wat Phra Sing.
The gilded chedi at the rear of the main temple at Wat Phra Singh.
A golden elephant at the rear of the main temple at Wat Phra Singh.
A very ornate building near the front of the main temple at Wat Phra Singh.
A woman facing Buddhas at Wat Inthakhin Sadww Muang. The portrait is of the just-passed king.
The Tha Phae Gate at night.
A didgeridoo band performing near the Tha Phae Gate.
The very, very low entry to the stairs which lead to the THC Rooftop Bar.
It is not unusual to see motos for rent throughout Chiang Mai. However, by actually renting, I am certain one is really taking a chance with the crazy traffic.
Some typical businesses. I am not exactly sure what the Sexy Poompui Bar is all about…
A more detailed view of the town from the Le Meridien Hotel.
A small home in Chiang Mai.
The main temple at Wat Phra Singh in the old city of Chiang Mai.
A very ornate dragon at the entry to the main temple at Wat Phra Singh.
Two women in front of the Buddha in the main temple of Wat Phra Singh.
Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Cape Palliser, New Zealand – June 5, 2016

On the spur of the moment, we decided to drive to the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. The two-hour drive began by going over Rimutaka Pass, one of Leslie’s favorites…not. It is a very twisty-turny road, a two-lane highway with periodic passing lanes. The views are spectacular.
Just outside of Featherston, we turned south on Kahutara Road. Along the way, we drove across a bridge over the Ruamahanga River. It was very picturesque. I kept that in the back of my mind. Shortly after the crossing, we turned onto Lake Ferry Road and finally onto Cape Palliser Road. It was on Lake Ferry Road where we discovered the Burnside Presbyterian Church. A sign out front noted the church dates from 1875. The morning light made for a picturesque photo.

The Burnside Church.

Soon, we were parallel to the coast, driving through some farms. We looked to the south and were surprised to see a snowcapped mountain on the south island. Researching after the fact, I found the peak is Mount Tapuae-O-Ueneku. It is nearly 9,500 feet tall. Surprisingly, the distance between the mountain and us was approximately 90 miles. We also saw Mount Franklyn. It is almost 7,700 feet tall. At nearly 140 miles, I am surprised we could see the peak.

Mount Tapuae-O-Ueneku is on the right. Mount Franklyn is on the left. They are both on the South Island.
Mount Tapuae-O-Ueneku.

That morning, the ocean was a fantastic shade of blue. From the farmland, the road descends several hundred feet to the coast. The way at that point is right beside the ocean. Imagining driving along that road during a strong southerly storm sent chills down my spine. I am sure the waves are treacherous during such a blast. With that idea in mind, a precariously situated house caught my eye. I stopped at the beach for some photos. We could see a blue beach home nearly ready to fall into the surf. It appeared the house was vacant for some time. I was a little surprised the home was still there as opposed to being razed and removed. The home was teetering, seemingly awaiting the next storm and its inevitable destiny with the ocean.

Precarious!!
Looking across Palliser Bay toward Turakirae Head.
Bird tracks.
Rock in the sand.
The southerly storms have obviously pounded this section of coastline.

We stopped at a rocky point less than a mile from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. The rocks seemed similar to those at the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki; although there were no blowholes there (see Greymouth). The ocean was relatively calm that morning. Regardless, at that particular point, the sea was quite agitated. The crashing waves mesmerized us.

Rocks near Mangatoetoe.
More of the jagged rocks near Mangatoetoe.
Surf at the rocks near Mangatoetoe.

The parking area at the end of the Cape Palliser Road is directly at the base of the stairs that lead to the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. From the parking area, the stairs looked more like an overgrown ladder than actual stairs. In continuous operation since October 27, 1897, the lighthouse is 60 feet tall. Ships as far as thirty miles from shore can spot the light. The red and white paint scheme makes the lighthouse very visible against the brownish-gray of the hillside on which it sits.

At the base of the stairs, we saw a sign with the sad note, “…261 steps it takes to reach it.” From our point of view, it indeed appeared it was the stairway to Heaven. I must admit I was shocked to hear Leslie declare she was game to climb the stairs. We enthusiastically began our ascent. In increments of 50, someone using a felt marker on the sides of the stairs reminded one of their progress to that point. We stopped frequently. Ultimately, we passed that 261st stair and stood on the concrete pad at the base of the lighthouse.

Cape Palliser lighthouse showing the Stairway to Heaven.
WARNING Please take care use these steps at your own risk.
Seashell at the base of the stairs.
The lighthouse as seen from about halfway up the stairs.
Tread number 200…
Kirikiri Bay.
Made it to the top!!
Straight up the side!
Cape Palliser lighthouse.
Some visitors.
A long way down!

The view from the lighthouse was commanding. A woman with some friends and a group of children pointed out to us where we might find fur seals when we descended from the lighthouse. None of her directions included the parking area below the lighthouse. We soon found out otherwise. Nevertheless, looking down the stairs, it again appeared as a stairway from heaven. Even though gravity was working well, going down was not easy. By the time we reached the base of the stairs, I had thought my knees would pop.
Back on level ground, we decided to walk the short distance to the beach. I stopped there to take some photographs. While I was taking a picture, the woman that gave seal directions to us at the lighthouse called out to the children, essentially saying no, no. The children had run in front of my shot, so I thought she was chastising them for that action. When I lowered my camera, I saw that she was commanding them to stop before they got too close to a seal. Sure enough, there within about fifty feet of me was a fur seal. The seal, lying on its back, raised its head and grunted toward the children. Once sure the children were no longer a threat, the seal lay down again, belly pointing to the sun.

The moment of a seal discovery.

We have seen seals before, but never in their natural habitat. I began channeling my inner David Attenborough, snapping photographs wildly. After several shots, I stepped more to my left, looking for a better angle, stopped and took several more photos. I repeated that motion several times, never getting closer to the seal, just looking for a better perspective. On my final shuffle, the snort of another seal startled me. My inner Attenborough nearly soiled my britches. This snorting seal was about fifteen feet away, hidden in a bedding area amongst several small bushes. As soon as I stopped, the snorting stopped. That seal went back to sunning itself too.

After the startling encounter, we walked back to our vehicle. We drove back along the Cape Palliser Road; we stopped at one of the locations that the woman at the lighthouse said held a fur seal colony. We parked the vehicle and walked down to the beach. Soon we spotted our first seal, lying on a rock. Then we saw several more lying on the grass. Suddenly, it seemed seals were everywhere. We stood there for quite a while, just watching. We also noticed the seals come with their colony odor. It is unmistakable. I am not sure which is worse; the seals’ odor or the Gannets’ odor (see Gannets Everywhere ).

The wake-up stretch.

Rousing from slumber.
It was like I was not even there.
A soft place for a nap.
Are you looking at us???
A perfect spot for a nap.
Seal colony near Mangatoetoe.
I interrupted at least one nap.
The eyes opened, but nothing else on her moved. She was very relaxed.
Seal colony near Mangatoetoe.
Not my idea of comfort.

When we tired of watching, we walked back to our vehicle. Once there, Leslie decided to sit down. I decided to walk to a rock formation. I hoped to get a different view of the sea. Instead, my inner Attenborough stumbled across several hidden seals, each providing a surprised grunt as I unwittingly stepped too close. They did provide me with some excellent photo opportunities. Deciding I could not get to my desired vantage point without ending up in the middle of the seal colony, I opted to return to the car.
As I noted earlier, our trip was spontaneous. That meant we had not packed a lunch. When I returned to the vehicle, Leslie suggested we stop at the small food trailer in the almost as small fishing village of Ngawi. That sounded like a great idea to me. On the way back to that village, we saw a sign warning of penguins crossing. We have seen several such signs on our New Zealand travels, but we have yet to see a penguin in the wild.

The small food trailer is right on the beach at the edge of Ngawi. Several people stood at the front of the trailer when we arrived, waiting to order. Leslie chose the fish tortilla while I decided on the cheeseburger. We also each ordered chips (French fries) and fizzy drinks. The lunch cost us about US$16. Not bad, considering the number of chips they gave us could have fed Ngawi for two to three days!
We ate across the street from the trailer, sitting on a bench next to the Ngawi Community Hall. Leslie said the fish tortilla (essentially a soft-shelled fish taco) was the best in the world. My cheeseburger was perfect. Something different was the pickled red beet added to the burger. It took the place of a sweet pickle. As we walked back across the street, Leslie told the two women operating the trailer how much she enjoyed the fish tortilla. That thrilled them to no end.

CAUTION
The one and only lunch spot in Ngawi.
Ngawi Community Hall.
Taking a boat back home.

As Americans, I think our thought of a traditional fishing village includes a marina. In Ngawi, the “marina” was full of diesel bulldozers. The bulldozers and some tractors attach to boat trailers. The trailer tongues are extraordinarily long. The bulldozers back the trailers into the surf to launch and retrieve the fishing boats. It is fascinating to watch. This method of boat delivery to the ocean is the same as what we experienced when we visited Kapiti Island.
On the drive back toward home, I recalled the beautiful view on the bridge over the Ruamahanga River. This time, I parked just on the other side of the bridge. The bridge is a very narrow, two-lane bridge. There is no room for pedestrians. Luckily, there is not a lot of traffic. Leslie and I walked to the center of the bridge. I was able to take several good photographs. At one point, a car driving over the bridge slowed to a crawl to see precisely what I was photographing. Once they saw it was merely a landscape, the sped on across.
We drove back over Rimutaka Pass and arrived home around 16:00. It was a beautiful day trip.

The Ruamahanga River looking toward the Aorangi Forest Park.
Fisherman on the Ruamahanga River.
Cattle in the distance.
A fence with shoes for some reason.
The hillside facing the ocean.
View of the ocean from Cape Palliser Road.
The rocky beach at Ngawi.
This is how fishing boats are launched at Ngawi.
The Pacific Ocean just keeps rolling in.
A bay near Mangatoetoe.
Waves crash against the opposite side of the rocks.
Our magic carpet.
The green paddocks and hills of New Zealand.

Finished Cruising

Finished Cruising

Copenhagen, Zealand, Denmark – July 18, 2015

We departed Nynäshamn, Sweden, on July 16, at about 20:00. The cruise schedule had us at sea all day on July 17, arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark at about 05:00 on July 18.
At various times throughout our cruise, Leslie took time to practice with about a dozen other passengers as the ship’s choir. All of the practice culminated with a performance on our last night at sea. When we arrived in the piazza area of the vessel, there was a string quartet playing. The same quartet played every evening.

String quartet.
String quartet detail.

When the quartet finished, a talent show began. The first act was two young gymnasts, a girl, and her brother. I believe they were Dutch. The emcee said the girl was aiming to perform at the 2020 Summer Olympics. She was good. Next was a young woman singer who had an absolutely beautiful voice. She reminded me of a singer one might hear in an animated Walt Disney movie. The final act was a brother and two sisters. The brother played the piano, and the sisters sang. They needed a bit more polish, but it was nice to see they at least tried.

Brother and sister gymnasts.
First talent show singer.
The singer with the golden voice.
The brother and sisters singers.

Following the talent show was the choir which sang several songs from The Sound of Music. They sounded good, but of course, Leslie was the best!

The highlight of the talent show…at least for me. The Regal Princess Choir.
Leslie hitting that note.
Fun “drinking” tea.

After the concert, we, minus Lorraine, went to the dining room for dinner. Lorraine was not feeling well. During dinner, we heard the captain on the public address system announce we would pass under the Storebæltsbroen (Great Belt Bridge) at about 20:00. Sure enough, shortly before 20:00, we saw the bridge looming on the horizon. We watched the sight from our balcony. Below us, on one of the main decks, we saw several other passengers gathering to watch the passage and take photographs of the bridge. The bridge connects the Danish islands of Funen and Zealand. Zealand is the island on which we find Copenhagen. The span really was a fantastic sight.

Leslie watching the approach to the Storebæltsbroen (Great Belt Bridge).
A portion of the Storebæltsbroen.
A line of wind turbines is visible just beyond the Storebæltsbroen.
Several passengers gather on one of the decks to photograph the Storebæltsbroen.
Passing under the Storebæltsbroen.
Looking back to the Storebæltsbroen.

We docked right on time.  Once at the Marriott, Lorraine and Arlene waited for a room while Leslie and I walked to the tourist information center to get our Copenhagen tourist cards. The cards ended up not being worth the price only because we did not make much use of them.  We ultimately used them for only one bus ride, one church, and one museum.

While we stood in the tourist information center, my name caught my eye; the Vice and Vesterbro Tour. Vesterbro is a district in Copenhagen.  We all know what vice is, so maybe we will try that tour on our next visit to Copenhagen.

With our cards in hand, we decided we would do the Strøget (stroll). The Strøget is a mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare, encompassing the streets of Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet, Amagertorv, and Østergade. It winds from Town Hall Square to the Nyhavn area. Along the way, shopping is a mix of tourist shops and very high-end shops and boutiques. We did not buy anything.
On Strøget, the streets came to life as we walked along. The people made it a great walk. I enjoyed capturing photographs of many people as they walked together. Some that stand out in my mind is the couple walking two huge dogs; a young toddler running around; a woman pulling a sausage cart; a juggler; and a street performer.

A view of the crowded Strøget pedestrian street. This is shortly after departing the Rådhuspladsen.
Another view of the Frederiksberggade portion of Strøget Pedestrian Street.
Walking the dogs along Nygade, a portion of the Strøget Pedestrian Street.
A woman pulling a Jens Kurts sausage cart along the Strøget Pedestrian Street.
A street performer along the Strøget Pedestrian Street.
A juggler in the Stork Fountain Square.

About two-thirds of the way through the Strøget, we discovered the Royal Copenhagen building. That is the primary outlet for Royal Copenhagen china. We went into the store. Beautiful china was displayed everywhere. It was all lovely but incredibly expensive. The only thing I took from the building were some photographs.

The storefront of the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory faces the Stork Fountain Square.
Porcelain in various stages of hand-painting at the Royal Copenhagen flagship store on the Strøget Pedestrian Street. The brand was founded in 1775.
Teapots on display.
View from one of the open windows in the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory.
A closer view of the storefront.

The Strøget ultimately deposited us at the Kongens Nytorv Plaza. From there we walked the short distance to Nyhavn where we had lunch at a beautiful place, Nyhavns Frergekro. I tried a traditional Dutch open-faced sandwich known as Smørrebrød. It was roast beef with a remoulade sauce and gherkin pickles. I thought it tasted excellent. I also had the Nyhavn Dark Ale, which had a real smooth taste. Leslie ordered the Danish meatballs and some fried brie cheese.

Ready to enjoy our lunch in the Nyhavn district.
A family stopping to rest and enjoy a beer in the Nyhavn district.

When we finished lunch, we caught a bus, which took us near our hotel. We walked the last few blocks. All totaled, we put in about 3.5 miles that day.
Lorraine stayed in the room all day with Arlene. They were both getting sicker.
On this return trip to Copenhagen, I found it surprising once again how many swimmers, and sunbathers changed from clothing to swimwear and back again in public. I guess I am too shy to try such a stunt. Oh, and there is no way I am flexible enough to get dressed or undressed while covering up with a towel.

Bathers along Sydhavnen Canal.

The next day, Lorraine and Arlene were to depart. Leslie stayed with them while I went on a walk. I wandered into the Christianshavn area. It is a small island. The canal scenes and the colorful buildings were striking.
I took some stairs to get up to the street level of the drawbridge which crossed over the canal. It was easy to see how much this city favors bicycles. On every set of public stairs, there was a steel track installed. The track was wide enough to allow for any size of a bicycle tire. It will enable a bicyclist to walk up the stairs while rolling the bicycle up or down alongside.

A bicycle wheel rail on the stairs to Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard.
View from a bridge to bicycles parked below.

I ended up at the Our Savior Church. It dates from the 1680s, known for its massive spire with a winding staircase on the exterior. On a whim, I decided to go up. The climb inside the spire was impressive. One needed to be like a mountain goat to make it up some of the steeper sections. I did not count the stairs, but it had to be close to 200. Finally, one exits the interior stairs through a very narrow door. At that point, a narrow platform rings the spire. The views of Copenhagen were stunning.
On one side of the spire, copper-covered stairs began to ascend, winding around the spire to the very top. Supposedly, there are 150 steps there. Even though there is a sturdy railing, I had several mental battles about whether or not I should continue the assent or give in to my newfound fear of heights. Ultimately, I did not continue to the top.

A unicorn on the corner of the building housing the Christianshavn Apothocary seems to be pointing to the top of the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
Another view of the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
Detail of the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour). One can see the handrail spiraling around the steeple.
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the Marriott Hotel.
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the dome of Frederiks Kirke.
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the Christiansborg Palace.
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the cruise ship port area.
This sticker was on the handrail on the exterior of the steeple at the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour). It is German for “love for all.”
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the Øresund Bridge.

Getting back down was also an adventure. The stairs accommodate two-way traffic, even though they are only wide enough for one person at many points. I felt like kissing the ground when I finally made it down.
Back at the hotel, we got Lorraine and Arlene a taxi for the airport. Once they were gone, Leslie and I took a cab to the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark). We had lunch when we arrived. Then we spent a couple of hours touring the museum. I saw several paintings by Edvard Munch, an artist I am familiar with, but I have never personally seen any of his works. I was also happy to see a couple of works from my favorite Spanish artist, Picasso.

The main entrance to the Statens Museum for Kunst also known as SMK (State Museum for Art) in the City Center area.
The counter at the cafe in SMK.
A delicious lunch, and of course wine, at the cafe at SMK.
Seating in the cafe portion of SMK.
An art patron stopping for lunch at SMK.
In a Roman Osteria by Carl Bloch (1866).
A photographer among the sculptures at SMK.
The Shadow by Niels Hansen Jacobsen (1897-1898).
Evening Talk by Edvard Munch (1889).
Workers on Their Way Home by Edvard Munch (1914).
Lady in Black by Edvard Munch (1891).
Samson and the Philistines by Carl Bloch (1863).
A String of Horses Outside an Inn by Otto Bache (1878).
Sculpture of a woman.
Danish Landscape by Harald Slott-Meller (1891).
The Panther Hunter by Jens Adolf Jerichau (1845-46).
The photographer in the red shirt captured again four rooms away at SMK.
Alexander the Great on his Sickbed by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1806).
Mendel Levin Nathanson’s Elder Daughters, Bella, and Hanna by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1820).
Still Life with Door, Guitar, and Bottles by Pablo Picasso (1916).
Glass with Lemon Slice by Pablo Picasso (1913).
Two Nude Figures by Pablo Picasso (1909).
The Green Blouse by Henri Matisse (1936).
Interior with a Violin by Henri Matisse (1918).
Portrait of Madame Matisse, The Green Line by Henri Matisse (1905).
Woman with a Vase by Fernand Léger (1924).
Portrait of the Venetian Painter Giovanni Bellini (?) by Tizian (1511-12).
Calvary by Jan de Beer (1510).
The Archangel Michael with the Dragon by Unknown (1500).
Dominican Friar by Peter Paul Rubens (after 1628).
The Judgement of Solomon by Peter Paul Rubens (1617).
Matthaeus Yrsselius (1541-1629), Abbot of Saint Michael’s Abbey in Antwerp by Peter Paul Rubens (1624).
The Holy Women at the Sepulcher by Ferdinand Bol (1644).
Christ on the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens (1592-1633).
A perspective box by Unknown (1650).
A woman sitting on a bench outside the SMK.

We departed Copenhagen on July 20. At the Copenhagen airport, we decided to get a wheelchair for Leslie. Once we made it through security, we sat in a very comfortable waiting area set aside expressly for those passengers needing additional help. Everyone who helped us was extremely friendly.
When we arrived in Dubai, we also had a wheelchair waiting. However, they took us to the land-of-broken-people. It was not nearly as courteous or friendly as what we experienced in Copenhagen. Regardless, we only had a three-hour flight ahead of us.
As we approached Islamabad, it was cloudy and rainy. I do not believe Islamabad has a precision approach capability, so I began to get nervous as we circled. I was hoping we would not be diverted to Karachi or Lahore. I did not feel like dealing with that. However, nearly 30-minutes late, we landed in Islamabad. We were at home.

A building on the street side of the Rosenborg Castle.
Bicycles are everywhere in the City Center.
A bridal store in the City Center.
Bicycles across from the entry to the Tivoli Amusement Park.
The underside of the over-the-ocean observation deck.
A mural at a beer garden near the Tivoli Amusement Park.
Jazz Jazz.
North entrance to the Tivoli Amusement Park on Vesterbrogade.
Approaching the north side of the Town Hall.
Pedestrians crossing the road from the Rådhuspladsen (Town Hall Square).
The north facade of the Town Hall.
Goodbye Serious.
The Zero Kilometer Stone is in the middle of the city center of Copenhagen. All distances are measured from that point.
The Copenhagen Town Hall.
The Lego Store on Vimmelskaftet, part of the Strøget Pedestrian Street. Legos are a Danish product.
Buildings facing Gammeltorv Square. It is the oldest square in Copenhagen.
The fountain in Gammeltorv Square.
Looking along the Amagertorv portion of the Strøget Pedestrian Street. The steeple in the distance is the Nikolaj Kunsthal Contemporary Art Center.
Part of the Strøget Pedestrian Street across from the Helligaandskirken, a church dating from the 13th Century.
Final Sale
A man monitoring his young son along Strøget Pedestrian Street.
Run like the wind!
People listening to some musicians along Strøget Pedestrian Street.
A busy mom with her children on Strøget Pedestrian Street.
Approaching the Stork Fountain Square on Strøget Pedestrian Street.
People at the Stork Fountain in the square.
The Stork Fountain dates from 1894.
Patek Philipe and pedestrians along the Strøget Pedestrian Street.
Antique shopping in front of a wonky mirror at Kongens Nytorv (Kings New Square).
A building across from Kongens Nytorv (The Kings New Square).
Artwork at buses at Kongens Nytorv.
The Thott Palace in Kongens Nytorv dates from 1683. It is now the French Embassy.
Storefronts and chairs in the Nyhavn district.
The Royal Danish Theater dates from 1874. It is across from Kongens Nytorv.
The flagship store of Magasin du Nord, a chain of Danish department stores.
Walking along Bernstorffsgade Street.
A family walking along Bernstorffsgade Street.
The queue at the Bernstorffsgade Street entry to Tivoli Amusement Park.
Birdhouses along Bernstorffsgade Street.
Birdhouses and bicycles along Bernstorffsgade Street.
A very red Porsche.
Boat traffic on Sydhavnen Canal.
Looking across the Sydhavnen Canal along Njalsgade Street.
Kayakers playing in the Sydhavnen Canal.
The Cultural Center fronts onto the Sydhavnen Canal.
Sign for Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard.
Entry to the Langebro drawbridge control tower. The metal is copper.
The Søren Kierkegaards Plads and the Black Diamond Library.
The Langebro drawbridge control tower.
The Stadsgraven Canal with the Radisson Hotel in the background.
Flowers beside the Stadsgraven Canal.
Buildings across Stadsgraven Canal.
View of Christians Kirke across a canal.
View across Kobenhavns Canal. The Black Diamond Library extends to the left. The steeple of the Christiansborg Palace is visible in the background.
A canal tour boat in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
This is not an entry point for vehicles in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
A Jupiter bicycle secured to a park fence.
The Cafe Rabes Have building looks a little worn.
Graffiti on a transformer.
A sculpture in a small park in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Looking northeast along a canal in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Brøste’s Gaard is known as the Potter House after Thomas Potter. It was completed in 1785. It is located in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Some colorful buildings in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
A wooden boat in a canal in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
An office building facing a canal at Overgaden Neden Vandet 11 in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Boats lined up along a canal in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
View to the northwest along Torvegade Street. The tall steeple in the background is the Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center.
Some graffiti behind the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
The tomb of Pastor Hans Peter Borresen in the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
A very small car outside the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
A very busy canal in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
View back to the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) along Sankt Annæ Gade.
Bicyclists spin by at breakfast time at the Café Oven Vande at the corner of Sankt Annæ Gade and Overgaden Oven Vandet.
An old home at Overgaden Neden Vandet 37 in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
View southwest along Overgaden Neden Vandet in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
A row of colorful buildings along Torvegade in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Another view of the row of colorful buildings along Torvegade in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
This building along Torvegade in the Christianshavn and Holmen area is the least plumb, yet still occupied, building I think I have ever seen.
A parting view of the row of colorful buildings along Torvegade in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Looking southwest along Strandgade toward Christians Kirke.
The Christians Kirke is visible behind some buildings fronting onto a canal.
Stairs lead to the roof of the Universitets-Jubilæets Danske Samfund building.
A red boat on a canal in desperate need of paint. The steeple of the Town Hall is in the background.
The red boat.
A boat on a canal in the City Center area.
Waiting for the dog in the City Center area.
A tour boat passes by the Horse Guard barracks in the City Center area.
Looking northwest along a canal toward the buildings on Nybrogade. It appears the tour boat will barely fit under the bridge.
This yellow house at Ny Kongensgade 5 in the City Center area also seems to be a bit out of plumb.
Detail of the yellow house.
A few issues with this white house too.
A woman riding along Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard.
An Aston Martin outside the hotel.