Friday, July 27, 2012


Wild and Windy Wollongong

We are just back from a short trip to Kiama and Wollongong. The weather was not what we always hope it will be when we travel. In fact, it was wild. The wind was strong and it rained most of the time. The trip was not a waste of time though. Wild weather at the coast means rough seas and that makes for spectacular pictures. Here's one of the harbour at Wollongong. You can see waves coming in between the two breakwalls, and a big wave crashing over the one nearest to us. I could watch wild waves for hours.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012


Money, Money, Money!!!

The most important thing that you have to take overseas with you is lots of money, and it has to be money of the country you are staying in. So here I am, all set for shopping in SingyPaw and DoBuy. My stack of Aussie dollars has been turned into Singapore dollars and UAE dirhams. If you check back through the postings you can see my Aussie dollar pile and the results of my shopping. Overseas trips are great, you see lots of very different things and learn lots. Everybody should travel overseas sometime. Aussie is great and we do travel as much of it as we can, but overseas extends what you know and makes small bears even smarter.

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Friday, July 20, 2012


Fantastic Fountains

One of the most fantastic things that we saw in Dubai is the display put on by the Dubai Fountains. These are in a big (30 acre) shallow artificial lake near the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. Late every afternoon and the first half of the night they put on displays every half-hour. Not just fountains squirting up or out, these ones dance to music. There are hundreds of individual jets and they can all swivel and shoot water to heights up to 75 m. The displays are all set to music, and around 6,500 lights make the night shows really pretty. The fountains are spread out over a pattern that is 275 m long. You will see photos of the whole system later. Here's a couple of photos to start with. The top one was taken from a long way away, around one side of the lake. We were out walking and didn't realize that we could see the fountain from where we were, until it started. The bottom one was taken from the edge of the lake, just in front of the Burj Khalifa. You get a good view from there, but can't see the whole system. We liked the fountains so much that we saw several shows most nights of our stay, and it was different every time.


Monday, July 16, 2012


Dubai's Magic Metro

One afternoon we decided to ride the Dubai Metro from end to end. This is a great way to see most of the exciting buildings in the city, because for most of its length the Metro runs on elevated tracks. It only goes underground when it has to pass through the old city and the creek. I really liked the ride because I could sit on a ledge right at the front of the train and see everything. Think about that for a minute; if I am right at the front, where is the driver? Guess what, THERE IS NO DRIVER. The whole system is run by computers. There are two lines on the system at present, the Red line and the Green. It is the longest fully-automated metro in the world. It seems to work superbly. The trains are always on time. The trains and the stations are air-conditioned and when the trains arrive at stations the platform doors open and seal against the train doors. I thought that was great, no chance of small bears getting too hot.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012


Al Manzil

The top picture is one of the places we stayed in DoBuy. It is the Al Manzil hotel and it is in the district also called Al Manzil. It doesn't look as fancy as some of the hotels in Dubai, but it has the best rooms, the comfiest beds and the best staff of anywhere the Oldies have ever stayed. They felt sad to leave it to go on to a fancier resort that we stayed in for the last bit of our trip. Now just look at the road near the hotel. You might think that it is shiny because it is wet. You would be wrong. It is shiny because in lots of places, particularly near pedestrian crossings, the road surface is marble!! I liked to hear car tyres screech on the marble as they accelerated away when the traffic lights went green for them. I guess that if it ever rains the marble bits would be a bit slippery. As for the bottom photo, it is not a road. It is actually a footpath. We walked along this path a lot on our way from Al Manzil to the huge Dubai Mall. Because it is so hot in DoBuy most people are out and about after dark and it took a bit of waiting to get a photo without people in it. See how wide the path is, and notice the shiny marble strips along the edges. If you look carefully you can also see seats on the edge of the path for Oldies that need a short rest. All the trees along the path have little lights wrapped around them so it looks really pretty. I wish the footpaths in Canberra were a bit more like this.


Sunday, July 08, 2012


A Clam-shaped Building

One day during our visit to Dubai we hired the Al Manzil car and driver and visited Abu Dhabi. Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi has some strange and interesting buildings. This one is the headquarters of a company called Aldar. It is outside Abu Dhabi city at a place called Al Dana, which means "pearl" in Arabic, so the building is the shape of a pearl clam. The building is much bigger than it looks at first sight. It is 23 stories high, that's 124 m, but is only 36 m wide at the centre. Because it is surrounded by flat desert you can see it from miles away. You can get an idea of the size from the photo. Look for the window-cleaners in their carriage near the top of the building on the left of the cleaned area. You can also get an idea of the size of their job from the amount of dust on the right-hand side of the glass area. They must have one of those jobs where when you finish it once it is time to start all over again. No doubt about it, the Emirates are the place for spectacular architecture.

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Cool Spot In Hot Plaza

Just outside the hotel we stayed at in DoBuy is a small plaza with a club and a souk and houses around it. It gets really hot there because, as you can see, the plaza and buildings are all made of light coloured stone and concrete. It is hard to find much shade, but if you are a small bear there is a spot that is just the right size. Of course, if the statue suddenly showed signs of life, I would be out of there like a shot! You can see how close we were to the Burj Khalifa. From the door of the hotel Dad could just get it into the full frame of our big camera and Mum could just not fit it into the frame of her iPhone. It is a huge, spectacular, beautiful building. You can see it from kilometers around. And we were only 10 minutes stroll away from it. By the way, the hotel is the Al Manzil and it is far and away the best hotel that the Oldies have ever stayed in, anywhere. It's my recommendation if you are ever looking for accommodation in Dubai.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Meet the Merlion

This statue is the Merlion. The Merlion is a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. It is the mascot of Singapore. The statue was made in 1971/72 and originally stood at the mouth of the Singapore River. Construction work and dredging for the Marina Bay complex blocked the view of the Merlion and also moved the mouth of the river, so in 2002 it was moved to a new spot in a special park where it can be seen from most of Marina Bay. There are other Merlion statues in Singapore; a small cub behind this one, a 3 m one on Mt Faber and a huge one on Sentosa Island. The Oldies visited the Sentosa one in 2007. It has a viewing platform on top and they have promised to take me there next time we are in SingyPaw. I like the way that this Merlion spurts water out of his mouth into the river. It is supposed to bring luck to the city, and it seems to be doing its job rather well. And just in case you were wondering, the Merlion is male; small bears find out these things.


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