Not even a super hot, total-fire-ban weekend could stop us from our planned time away at Blackheath! We took the Friday off from work for this (you know it’s serious business) and some shopping plus driving later, we’re there!
Itinerary of the day: a quick trip to Govetts Leap Lookout before check-in at Redleaf Resort, then off to Megalong Valley Creek (not just a long valley; a Megalong Valley! tongue ), a quick dinner near the resort, and back at Govetts Leap for some sunset photos!
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: First stop was Govetts Leap
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Pretending to read the paper map at the resort carpark
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Someone’s happy wet dog at Megalong Valley
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Happy wet dog walks by
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Happy wet dog butt
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Richard trying to find a fossil
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Mega tadpole at Megalong Valley!
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Some eely thing swam by
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Solo shadow shot
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Cows hiding in the shade while humans enjoy their air-conditioning in the car
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Flight trail at Govetts Leap
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Setting up the camera gear for sunset shots back at Govetts Leap
Blackheath Weekend Day 1: Best sunset shot my phone could do at Govetts Leap
The sky didn’t turn that gorgeous twilight blue, and there were all sorts of bugs flying into my face and a mosquito or two feeding on me, but I don’t regret spending the evening out there. smile
22 Nov 2014 (Sat), Day 2
After our epic breakfast buffet at the resort, we went out to brave the heat and did the Grand Canyon Track. We actually got lucky because Saturday was the coolest day of the whole weekend.
The Grand Canyon Track isn’t as long a walk as the Coast Track that we did the other time, but there was a lot of climb. I kept thinking “We really have to stop going down!” during the first-half of the walk, but I survived the climb back up, mostly thanks to Richard knowing where best to take a break. (We didn’t get to stop at one place because a lady was enjoying hers in the nude in a very visible place.)
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Waratah
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Getting to the Grand Canyon Track
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Someone left a mysterious message!
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Now the tree is all safe with that hazard line. Also, graffiti. Sigh.
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Didn’t take any photos going down, but had plenty of time on our way back up
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: So lush and green!
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Super refreshing freshwater stream!
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Creek crossing made easy with these stepping blocks
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Richard: “Now this is the tricky part; we have to walk across the log.” We didn’t.
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: A shower here would be quite nice
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Sneaky sky and reflection
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Others on the track walking in the opposite direction
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Bright orange yabby in murky waters. We saw a trout or two, too
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Would suck if you walk all the way here to find yourself locked out
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Someone left a pony plushie here, which really amused Richard
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: They apparently didn’t use to have this here but figured people would abseil regardless, so might as well make it safe for them!
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Nope
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Almost back to the carpark! I can do it!
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Richard climbing all over the place trying to take a good photo of the lyrebird we heard moving about and saw among the bushes
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Mountain Devil; focus, phone!
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: I made it back to the carpark!
Blackheath Weekend Day 2: Richard setting up for fly fishing at Lake Lyell
After a nice and comfortable shower, we ventured out to Lake Lyell for some fly fishing for Richard and some fly swatting for Vickie. There was a convenient boat ramp at the lake so there were more boats and noise around than we’d like. Dinner was the restaurant inside the golf club across the resort.
23 Nov 2014 (Sun), Day 3
Woke up with sore quads and calves! The good kind of burn. smile We checked out of the resort after our second and last breakfast buffet. It’s scorching hot again but our day wasn’t over just yet! We drove to Echo Point for a quick touristy view of the Three Sisters before heading back to Sydney — with indigestion from overeating at breakfast for me. Oh first world problems.
Blackheath Weekend Day 3: Touristy
Blackheath Weekend Day 3: Terrible but obligatory shot of the Three Sisters
Blackheath Weekend Day 3: Sign vs real mountains
Blackheath Weekend Day 3: Touristy continued
Didn’t think I could enjoy my time as much as I did with all that heat and flies. Where should we go for our next weekend away?
It was another super pleasant and gently breezy 24°C day so there’s no excuse to stay in whatsoever! We decided to head out to the Coast Track at the Royal National Park for a bushwalk, and we certainly planned it a lot better than our last walk to Winifred Falls. tongue
We started at around noon. Richard decided that Marley Beach shall be our halfway point so that we had enough time to do a short walk and back before it gets dark. We also brought our swimmers just in case.
Coast Track: The beginning
Coast Track: The sign reads “Don’t have fun” (paraphrased)
Coast Track: Look at how interesting the sand is! It’s white on the left and yellow on the right — which just occurred to me that it’s rather suiting, because Richard is white and on the left, and I’m the Asian on the right #racist
Coast Track: First views of the sea!
Coast Track: How did you people get down there? We’re going down there too?
Coast Track: Looking back at where I took the previous shot
Coast Track: There were other people on the track, too
Coast Track: Look at all these pretty little small white fallen petals
Coast Track Overlooking Marley Beach: Our halfway point is in sight!
Coast Track Overlooking Marley Beach: Just need to get down there
Coast Track: Check out all that sand dunes
Coast Track: Almost didn’t see the giant fissure and stepped right into the gap
Coast Track: Fissure and sea
Coast Track: Richard warned me about standing too close to the cliff edge, because it might just give way like what happened to one unfortunate English(?) bloke somewhere else in the world
We walked at a very comfortable speed and reached our halfway point on schedule, in about 2 hours. Walking back felt a lot easier.
Marley Beach: We’re there! But apparently it’s a very dangerous place according to this sign
Marley Beach: The sign reads: “Warning / Unpatrolled Beach / Dangerous Surf”; sounds fun
Marley Beach: Such gorgeous rock structure
Marley Beach: Was tempted to send this to my parents and freak them out by telling them this is where I was swimming
Marley Beach: The falling sign reads “Big Marley A Dharawal Place”
Coast Track: Check out that moon
Coast Track: The steel walkways were quite slippery even though it wasn’t a wet day
Coast Track: This is my view most of the time
Coast Track: This thing is meant to be.. erect. *snickers*
Richard first spotted a rainbow at another spot when we were walking back. We waited and waited but decided to give up, but finally, down here, rainbow!
Coast Track: Didn’t manage to capture the double rainbow
Coast Track: And of course, my favourite shadow shot
I saw all the wildlife and animal tracks on the walk!
Photographic evidence of Richard provoking an ant
Lizard totally chilling out on a rock; it was still there when we went back
Would have missed this if Richard didn’t point out the hoof tracks of probably a deer or a pig
Crows are cool
That bird was looking at Richard and posing for him the whole time
Would have missed this too if Richard didn’t point out there was the track of a marsupial of some kind
I spotted this grub; Richard said this may or may not be the grub that the Aboriginal used to eat. Mmm protein
Richard allegedly helping the grub get out of the path
The poor grub didn’t have a smooth landing
No idea what this is, but I spotted this beautiful green and gold shiny insect bug thing
We saw a photographer taking pictures in the middle of the track; he found this little guy. We stayed for a bit after everyone left and managed to capture him in action — feasting on all the bugs around!
No, I don’t think I have taken enough pictures. Why do you ask? tongue
After the walk, we took a bit of extra time to drive down to Jibbon Beach for a quick dip. The tide was a lot higher than our last visit and the water was still a little cool. The number of boats there was also far lower than what Richard expected to see for the long weekend.
Jibbon Beach: Nude swimming is totally okay. The sign says so!
Richard dragging a log out of the waters because it might hit some unfortunate person’s boat
Happy paw prints along the shore
Long shadow is long
Such a lovely day out! I can’t wait to explore the rest of Sydney and the world!
It was still dark when we got up for our flight from Sydney. I normally wouldn’t get ready so early, but Richard is one of those who prefer to get to the airport well ahead of time. A bit of friendly grumbling from me and some coffee from Macca’s at the airport later, we were on board a very empty and pleasant Qantas A380 for our trip to Hong Kong.
9 hours later, we met with Mum at the airport. Richard, Mum. Mum, Richard. Whew, that wasn’t too bad. Dad already prepared two Octopus cards (八達通) for us, so after I grabbed a phone card from the airport shops, we took a direct bus to our hotel.
We’re staying at Courtyard by Marriott Hong Kong Sha Tin (沙田萬怡酒店) that Mum booked for us. This conversation happened as Mum was doing the online booking:
Mum: Twin beds or king size?
Me: King size, of course.
Awkward. tongue But thank you, Mum.
Dad and Jacky met us at the hotel lobby. Family, Richard. Richard, family. After we dumped our luggage in our gorgeous 17th floor hotel room (thank you so much again, Mum!) that we took a little while to admire, we headed down to the hotel restaurant, MoMo Cafe, for a dinner buffet — a thing the family always do for me each time I travel back.
There wasn’t a lot of food choices, but I didn’t have as big an appetite as usual for some reason, which led the brother to joke that I was pretending to eat very little. Oi, I’m all real me in front of my beau. tongue
The people dearest to me have finally met one another. It’s a bit strange for me to switch between languages, but I thank both parties for a pleasant night.
25 July 2014 (Fri) Day 2: The Photoshoot
Boy did we sleep last night! We couldn’t do much for today because it would be a full day of family functions from the afternoon on. After I managed to get Richard out of bed, we went down to the shops to grab a few things, had a coffee at the dangerously conveniently located Macca’s McDonald’s directly below our hotel, then went for a walk down Shing Mun River (城門河) nearby.
I’ve been near this river so many times in the past, but have never looked and paid attention to it until now. I remember it being much stinkier and dirtier than it is now, but I wondered if it’s just my memory playing tricks.
Shing Mun River; I’ve been near this river so many times in the past, but never really paid attention to it until now
Richard takes pictures of the Shing Mun River, and ponders what fishes are in the water
Photos really don’t translate the heat. July in Hong Kong is just unpleasantly humid.
It was family photoshoot time in the afternoon. We headed to a studio in San Po Kong (新蒲崗) that looked like a dodgy factory from the outside. There, Richard met the rest of my mother’s side of the family. All at once. My cousin from Canada brought her boyfriend along as well, which hopefully made things a little more bearable for him. Dinner was a several-course seafood family event at Super Star Seafood Restaurant (鴻星海鮮酒家) in Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀).
26 July 2014 (Sat) Day 3: Shopping for Him
The family didn’t want us to visit during the day so the morning and afternoon were ours. We took the MTR to these two fishing tackle shops that Richard found online. The first shop we tried apparently moved to some mysterious place that no-one could locate, but we managed to find the second one on Hitler Hillier Street (禧利街). We also shopped for camera lenses for him, then walked down to the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal (港澳碼頭) to take a few more shots, before we got the heads-up that we’re allowed to visit the family home.
Hitler Street in Hong Kong! Hillier Street sign vandalised; there’s even the Chinese version of the street name
We found the fishing tackle shop Richard wanted to go to!
Victoria Harbour view near the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal
Richard being all touristy taking pictures of the Victoria Harbour
Photos really, really don’t translate the heat.
The family has been out of a domestic helper for a while, so we had some idea what they were doing during the day. Despite our protest, but as expected, the parents were frantically tidying up the place so it’s more presentable to Richard. I really didn’t think he would have minded at all. They entertained him by showing them my mildly embarrassing childhood photos. We ordered pizza delivery that night and planned for the next big day out.
27 July 2014 (Sun) Day 4: Tung Ping Chau
Dad wanted to all do something together, and suggested doing a day trip to Tung Ping Chau (東坪洲). Despite growing up in Hong Kong, none of us has ever been to that little island off in the northeast corner; I never even knew it existed. In our defence, that island is probably closer to Mainland China than the central parts of Hong Kong itself.
We woke up quite early for this and took the train to University Station (大學站) for our ferry, which apparently only comes once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We were told that once we got to the island, we’d be out there for a while.
The weather continued to be hot and sunny. We slathered sunscreen on ourselves while on the thankfully air-conditioned ferry and off to the island we go!
Tung Ping Chau walk
Abandoned hut; I really liked how this random shot from the phone camera turned out
Tin Hau Temple on Tung Ping Chau
A wild pineapple appears!
Richard performs invisible fishing (stone-skippingtongue )
All the tourists stopped here at the Watchman’s Tower Rock (更樓石)
But of course the parents wanted pictures of the rock
If you showed me this picture, I wouldn’t guess it’s Hong Kong
The parents had to use umbrellas in the blazing sun
A wild coconut appears!
Our swimming spot, viewed from the ferry on the way back
From Mum’s camera: Dad, Mum, me and Richard at the Watchman’s Tower Rock, taken by Jacky
From Mum’s camera: Full group shot at the Tung Ping Chau rock sign (Richard was standing one step below; he’s a lot taller than the rest of us)
From Mum’s camera: Richard and me from afar (nice shot!)
I really need to sit up properly and suck in that bellytongue
Photos really, really, really don’t translate the heat.
There were quite a few other tourists on the island, but most stopped at the Watchman’s Tower Rock (更樓石). We continued further up the tracks. I didn’t expect to be doing any extensive walking during my Hong Kong visit so I didn’t pack proper shoes. By the end, my feet were a bit swollen and blistered; but this walk would probably have felt even harder if I hadn’t done the other bushwalks in Sydney previously.
I’m glad Richard convinced me to bring my swimmers. The waters around Tung Ping Chau wasn’t icy cool or crystal clear, but that dip we took really helped wash off some of the heat and sweat. We caught the ferry back afterwards.
After a much needed shower back at the hotel, we headed to New Tak Kee Seafood Restaurant (新德記漁村海鮮酒家) in Sai Kung (西貢) for another full family seafood dinner (my family loves their Hong Kong style seafood). Dessert was a trip to the first and original branch of the famous Honeymoon Dessert (滿記甜品) nearby.
28 July 2014 (Mon) Day 5: Sightseeing and Night Fishing
It’s Monday and everyone else was back at work, so it was a full day of just the two of us. We decided to do more sightseeing around town. We took the Star Ferry (天星小輪), went up to the 43rd floor Bank of China Tower (中銀大廈), tried some street foods, walked around, took a taxi up to the Peak (山頂) because of the epic queue at the Peak Tram (山頂纜車) station, and took pictures.
View near Star of Avenue, East Tsim Sha Tsui
Richard looking hot and flustered on the Star Ferry
View from the Star Ferry, looking at another ferry also approaching the Central Ferry Pier
View from Bank of China
View from Bank of China, directly down below
There’s water on the Water Lane (random shot, mostly)
Night view from the Peak
Photos really, really, really, really don’t translate the heat.
We walked by a “siu mei” (Hong Kong style roast meats) restaurant, Sun Yuen Hing Kee (新園興記燒臘飯店), and thought we should tick this off our list, too. We filled ourselves up with delicious crispy skin roast pork, barbecue pork and roast duck (roast goose was out!). Only when we were about to leave did we realise the place has apparently been in the Michelin Guide’s “Bib Gourmand” (cheap quality eats) list for years.
Richard wanted to see if he could catch anything from Shing Mun River tonight and I decided to tag along. The spot he had his eyes on was free. He taught me how to cast.
Shing Mun River at night
We went to the Shing Mun River spot Richard wanted to try to fish from
It was quite late when we went there, but our night was cut even shorter due to, cough, unforeseen circumstances. Let’s just say I probably shouldn’t have had that free soup they gave us at the siu mei place.
29 July 2014 (Tue) Day 6: Cheung Chau
Another weekday. We went out to the pier originally undecided whether to go to Lamma Island (南丫島) or Cheung Chau (長洲), but given our schedule, Cheung Chau was probably the better idea. We got there in the afternoon, walked around for a bit and headed for a swim. Most people stayed within the fenced and lifeguarded water, but we swam outside, away from the crowd. Unlike Tung Ping Chau, the water there at Cheung Chau was murky and gross, but it sure beat staying in the heat.
Central-Cheung Chau Ordinary and Fast Ferry Schedule
Boats in Cheung Chau
Ferry leaving Cheung Chau
A street on Cheung Chau
Photos really, really, really, really, really don’t translate the heat.
As a semi-farewell dinner, the maternal grandparents, paternal aunt and my family took us to Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) for dinner. Dumplings is one of my favourite foods so I really ordered and ate up. We discovered from the printed paper placemat that they had branches in Sydney. Richard said he knew where we should go for our 6-month anniversary dinner.
30 July 2014 (Wed) Day 7: Last Day
It’s our last day. We had breakfast, Sausage McMuffin with Egg (豬柳蛋漢堡) served all day at promotional price HK$9 (~A$1.25), at the McDonald’s downstairs for the last time. We didn’t want to be stinky and sweaty for our longish flight back to Sydney and work immediately after, so after we checked out of the hotel, we just hang out in the lobby and used the free wifi until it was time to head to the airport. The whole family left work early to see us off.
We had a lot more planned for this trip. We wanted to visit Lamma Island. We wanted to visit various other touristy spots. We wanted to spend a bit more time fishing. We wanted to go to Macau for one day. I guess this will all have to be done in our next trip.
I never thought travelling back to Hong Kong could possibly be a pleasant experience. It feels really silly of me to spend so much time stressing over this trip now.
Last low-quality selfie of the trip at the Hong Kong airport boarding gate for our flight
It’s ANZAC Day and another long weekend! It’s been wet so we stayed in for the morning and did a “The Wire” marathon (Season 4 now), but as soon as the weather cleared up, we headed out for another walk. This time, Richard armed me with a walking stick and took me to the Winifred Falls track at the Royal National Park, but I was still in horrible shoes not made for walking on slippery terrains.
We didn’t actually get there until 3:30 pm, and given how much of a beginner I am, paired with sunset at 5:20 pm, we probably should have started just a little bit earlier. What worried me more was the fact that I didn’t even notice the track, or any track for that matter, when Richard told me we’d arrived. Things did get slightly easier for me once we got over the initial harder climbing part, where he had to pretty much tell me where to place my foot in each step.
We eventually made it to Winifred Falls. The waterfall wasn’t at its best and looked even crappier in my pictures, but it was a pretty sight nonetheless.
On the way to Winifred Falls; I like to take pictures of people taking picturestongue
We got there! Winifred Falls not at its best, but still very pretty
Winifred Falls: vertical shot
Richard said he would take some off path and go down there to take some pictures of the waterfall. Hmm, down there where?
Richard taking a picture from below of me taking a picture of him from above; I should grab the picture he took
I stayed up on the rocks while Richard went down to get a better angle for his pictures. We sat and rested for a bit, chatted and had a snack. When the weather warms up, we plan to revisit and have a dip in the water.
And then it was the way back, doing everything in reverse, half of it in the dark and only one torch between the two of us. He let me wear the torch and walked ahead in the dark, warning me of puddles I wouldn’t otherwise see even with the light. Yep. We definitely should have started earlier.
It would have been quite a daunting experience and he thought it would scar me for life, but with the ridiculously patient and encouraging Richard there, I felt safe. I really enjoyed the experience.
It’s the Easter long weekend. I joined Richard and his friends in the Spit Bridge to Manly walk — my first ever bushwalk! Or I guess more accurately, my first hike where I use the term “bushwalk”, because this is only my first in Australia despite having been here for almost 8 years. Actually, no, this is quite possibly the first proper hiking I’ve ever done in my life. Anyway.
Spit Bridge to Manly was meant to be a short and comfortable walk. Even though the weather wasn’t particularly hot today and I thought I was pretty fit, I still sweat buckets and ended up being the slowest in the group. I lagged far, far behind, and being the slowest, never got to rest. The scenery was nice when we stopped and I finally had time to look — most of the time I was just staring at my feet trying to find my path. I have much bushwalking training to do!
Spit Bridge to Manly: the only picture I took of the view, a lizard and our shadows
We watched the Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC game over pizza at the friend’s place at night. I was quite desperate for a shower, but who could say no to football plus pizza?