Sunday, December 18, 2011

Walking with the dinosaurs

It was the stupendous school holidays again. The Lim family embarked on a travel 250 million years back in time at Science Centre for a prehistoric adventure.

It was not everyday that one had the chance to walk with the dinosaurs. We did just that. Not with one but with almost 50 life-sizes dinosaurs, roamed their habitats and heard them roared.

We were reminded of civilisation with many other time travellers also with children in toll. My boys were excited to collect the dinosaurs stamps. There were also kiosks at the exhibition which allowed their creative juices to flow. They coloured, etched and drew dinosaurs the way they liked. They also played pretend to be palaeontologists at the Dig Pit, where they searched for fossil evidence, interpreted evidence and identified dinosaurs from bones.

At the end of the unforgettable prehistoric adventure, my boys each had a clay dino figurine and sheets of paper stamped with their proud collection of dinosaurs.

Ho, ho, holiday in Australia, 6

Day 7, 17 Dec 2011, Saturday

Beautiful Memories

Besides the usual themepark visits, we also enjoyed playing along the beach. Gold Coast boasts a long and beautiful coast line. Enjoy the pictureque views just a stone throw from our apartment.

Burleigh Heads - the place where we were putting up at.

Did you spot the double rainbow?

View from the park near our apartment

Mt Cootha, Brisbane

On the last day of our stay in Australia, we managed to drive up to Mt Cootha in Brisbane to take in the bird's eye'

Mt Cootha

Ho, ho, holiday in Australia, 5

Day 6, 16 Dec 2011, Friday


Yes, there were more thrill rides but what set Dreamworld apart from the other theme parks was its Australian Wildlife Experience. It consists of one of the largest, native, wildlife parks in South East Queensland, with more than 800 native animals including one of the largest koala populations in the world.

My boys particularly liked Bilby, also known as the rabbit-eared bandicoot. Bilby is a rabbit-like marsupial. It lives in deserts, dry forests, dry grasslands, and dry shrubby areas in Australia. The bilby's pouch faces backwards. These big-eared, burrowing mammals are in danger of extinction. The bilby, like all bandicoots, is a nocturnal animal (most active at night). Digging with its strong, clawed feet, this solitary mammal excavates long, complex burrows. Its underground dens are up to 5 feet (1.5 m) long.

Oh yes, on this last day at themepark, I managed to muster enough courage to take the "Wipeout" Ride - one of the Big 7 Thrill Rides. See if you can spot me screaming out loud.

Ho, ho, holiday in Australia, 4

Day 5, 15 Dec 2011, Thursday

WhiteWater World and Harbour Town

On Thursday, we checked on the rest of the theme parks which we had yet to visit, namely, Dreamworld and Whitewater World. These two themeparks were side-by-side and we could purchase the park tickets at a discounted price over the Internet.

As it turned out, dark clouds loomed throughout the day. Though it did not rain, the sky looked ominous and with temperature in the early 20 degree celius, it was not a good day for soaking good fun. Fortunately for us, Whitewater World was smaller compared to Wet n Wild, so we did not miss much of the action.

We managed to check out The Green Room - a key attraction of Whitewater World. Towering 20 metres above the ground, The Green Room was a massive, 1.5 million dollar funnel of fun. The specially designed 4 person cloverleaf tube accelerated riders from a 75 metre tunnel to a 15 metre funnel before literally dropping out! Riders were thrown into the upper hemisphere, off back-to-back “vertical” banks before a needle-nose splashdown that will give the most hardened of thrill seekers the chills. Cool!

In addition to The Green Room, we also took the Super Tubes HydroCoaster, a water-based rocket and the world’s very latest innovation in waterslide thrills and technology. This intense rollercoaster on water, complete with exhilarating drops and terrifying turns, propelling riders up the steepest of inclines at the highest speeds. One of only two of it’s kind in the whole world, it’s a 28 second, ‘magic carpet’ ride for three that would leave Aladdin begging for mercy.

Filled with open tubes and enclosed flumes, Super Tubes HydroCoaster’s back to back turns and loops are like nothing we had ever experienced before. We were seated one behind the other in a special Rocket Raft built for three before being blasted from the 18 metre tower down the 236 metre track of terror.

Thursday was also a shopping day for Australians with the shopping malls having extended shopping hours. The last time a few days back, we visited the Harbour Town in Gold Coast at around 5 pm, most of the shops were closed. Many good deals awaited the intrepid shopper here!

Oh yes, our tiring but fulfilling day was capped by the awesome dinner at Cav's Butchery and Steak Restaurant. The thought of their steak, Yahoo Pork Ribs and Whisky bread pudding with ice-cream still made my mouth water. Yummy.

Ho, ho, holiday in Australia, 3

Day 2-4, 12-14 Dec 2011, Monday-Wednesday Early in the morning, we mulled over our decision on where to head out for the day. We decided to visit the various theme parks as per our research prior to taking the airplane. The decision now was which one to go first.

We did more indepth internet searches and pinned it down to the three worlds - Movie World, Wet n Wild and SeaWorld. Apparently, the trios were under the same management and we could grab a special price to visit the three within a certain time period. Ticket prices were slightly cheaper over the internet than the counter. We checked with the receptionist who informed that we could use the internet counter at the lobby for printing. The basic cost was AUS$2. And this was what we did.

Movie World

Thereafter we sent forth for Warner Brothers' Movie World. There were quite a number of rides for thrill-seekers and family as well as shows. One of which was the fast cars and bikes. This reminded me of the "Lights, Camera and Action" which we had watched at the Disneyland theme park.

There were also special appearances by Batman and other Warner Brothers' cartoon characters. This being the Christmas season, my boys also had the opportunity to skate.

Wet n Wild and Infinity

The following day, we visited the "Wet n Wild" water theme which was touted as the biggest in Australia. My boys loved the wave pool also dubbed as "Dive n Movies". We also enjoyed the relaxing Calypso Beach where the gentle wave swept us around the park. As for the thrill rides, we did the Super Aqua 8 Racer as well as the Mammoth Falls. Basically, we each grabbed a mat and then slided with it. For the kids, there was also the Buccaneer Bay, somewhat like a water playground.

In the evening, we managed to squeeze in another tourist attraction - Infinity at Chervon Renaissance. Infinity was not for the faint-hearted, especially those with fear of darkness. It was somewhat like a futuristic maze using interesting play on lights and colours.


The most beautiful among the three worlds that we visited. We were wowed by the adorable penguins, dolphins, sea birds and the many lovely marine creatures.

Ho, Ho, Holiday in Australia, 2 - Beautiful Brisbane, Gorgeous Gold Coast

In the last post, I mentioned about the arduous planning involved in a DIY, self-drive holiday. However, for those who prefer not waking up in the early morning to catch the coach, the rushing around and your chosen of preferred food, it is all worth the effort.

In this blog post, I will do a brief write-up of the highlights of the first day of the self-drive holiday in Brisbane and Gold Coast. Sit back and enjoy!


Day 1, Sunday, 11 Dec 2011. It was a midnight flight from Singapore to Brisbane. As it was a direct flight, the journey was about 8 hours long. So we boarded the plane and had our good night sleep onboard.


We arrived at Brisbane airport at around 10 am - Brisbane being 2 hours ahead of Singapore's time. Thanks to the good advice of our colleague, we had applied for visa via the Internet beforehand. Not only did that save us money, it also made the crossing the immigration checkpoints seamless.

The first thing that we did was to look out for their local phone operator - Vodafone which had an outlet in the airport. We bought a pre-paid sim card for our iPad 2 which would help us to get around in Australia at a fraction of the mobile cost.

As it was still early to check into our accomodation in Gold Coast, we browsed a free copy of the guide around Brisbane and decided to head down to South bank. Thereafter, we proceeded to pick up our rental car, which I nicknamed "Must Be Very Sexy. We fidgeted with the GPS and our iPad before we embarked on our journey.

We explored the South bank on foot for about an hour before we headed to New Farm Park and had lunch at New Farm Fish Cafe. The seafood there was great. After lunch, we drove to Gold Coast which was about an hour or so drive.

Gold Coast

When we arrived at our accomodation, we were somewhat taken aback as there was no reception. It then dawned on us that it was a Sunday afternoon. So we pressed to talk through the intercom, who guided us to open up the safe to pick up the keys to our apartment. I knew I had booked a 2-bedroom apartment with ocean view. Still, I was blown away by the postcard perfect view from all vantage points in the apartment - from the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and the kids room. It was simply breaktaking complete with the sound of the waves crashing in. Welcome to Surfers' Paradise.

We lazed around for until evening time before we drove around and chanced upon Cav's Butchery and Steakhouse. The steak and Yahoo Pork Ribs were simply yummy. Thereafter, we hopped onto our car again and were on a lookout for a grocery store to buy some fresh milk, chocolate bars and cereal for our morning breakfast the next day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ho, ho, holiday in Australia,1

It is a holiday that the Lim family is looking forward - a self-drive, free and easy holiday in the surfers' paradise, Gold Coast.

That was a lot of planning amidst the day-to-day work challenge and juggling of family responsibility. Somehow we managed. How as life always throws at one surprises. So advanced and contingency planning is our best defence. We brought along our GPS alongside the Australian roadmap. We hunt for the local mobile service provider, Vodafone and bought a pre-paid card for our trustworthy iPad II. Yet when reached our destination, we were surprised that there was no reception desk. A classic case of cultural shock and misunderstanding. I did not realise that I had booked a holiday apartment not hotel accomodation. The difference? I had a fully functioning apartment with 2 bedrooms and equipped kitchen, a sheltered and secured carpark space. The minus? No room service. As my family does no fuss much over household messiness. This apartment concept is a godsend. No to mention the gorgeous view we enjoyed in the apartment.

We are enjoying ourselves here. And yes, I am using a tablet which is android- operated. Having just read I, Steve Jobs and also a user of Apple products. The latter is a clear winner. I have to stop now as I am taking ages to type this.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Make a difference

Just to share a meaningful story which I have read.
One day, a man was walking along the seashore. He noticed that many seashells and starfish had washed up on the shore during the night.

Far off in the distance, he saw a small figure dancing. The man was joyous that someone was celebrating life in such a grand and uninhibited manner. As he drew closer, however, it became apparent that the figure was not dancing, but repeatedly performing some act.

Approaching the small figure, the man noticed that it was a child. The girl was methodically picking up starfish from the shore and tossing them back into the surf. The man paused for a moment, puzzled, then asked, "Why are you throwing those starfish back into the ocean?"

"If I leave these starfish on the beach," she replied, "the sun will dry them, and they will die. I am throwing them back into the ocean because I want them to live."

The man then said, "There must be millions of starfish along here! How can you possibly expect to make a difference?"

The young girl pondered the man's words for a moment, then she slowly leaned over, reached down, and carefully picked up another starfish from the sand. With a gentle effort, she lobbed the starfish back out into the surf.

She turned to the man and smiled. "You may be right," she said, "but I made a difference for that one!“

Never worry about numbers.  Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.  ~Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Slow Hunch, Inspired from my readings

Historian, Robert Darnton has written the following to describe the tangled mix of writing and reading habit of the early modern Englishman:

"Unlike modern readers, who follow the flow of a narrative from beginning to end, early modern Englishmen read in fits and starts and jumped from book to book. They broke texts into fragments and assembled them into new patterns by transcribing them in different sections of their notebooks. Then they reread the copies and rearranged the patterns while adding more excerpts. Reading and writing were thereafore inseparable of things. They belonged to a continuous effort to make sense of things, for the world was full of signs that you could read your way through and by keeping an account of your readings, you made a book of your own. One stamped with your personality."

An epiphany moment hit me as I read Darnton's account as I too have been doing that for decades. To-date, I have a number of notebooks which were filled with notes of books I have read. Unlike the early modern Englishman, I am luckier. With the advent of technology, today, I also have word documents of my readings, my thoughts as well as a blog which shares the new knowledge which I have gleaned.

When I have the luxury of time, I love to reread my writings. Each rereading brings a new revelation. Each encounter holds the promise of that some long forgotten hunch that will connect in a new way with some emerging obsession. This is akin to some evolutionary path of one's past hunches.

My dear readers, I encourage you to also read, think, write and think again.