Page 4 of GregCath Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Mudumalai January 14th 2014

14 Jan We were loaded into two seven-seater vehicles which arrived a bit late - on Indian time. Smaller vehicles were handy because the roads became quite tortuous. Thirty six really tight switch-backs to be exact, coming down off the plateau after Ooty and towards Masinagudi. The terrain changed from lush rolling hills to dry open savannah. Between those we dropped perhaps 1000 metres down a steep ravine. Looked a bit like Africa except for the eucalypts and low undergrowth like lantana. The heat increased as well. The switch-backs were numbered and many turns showed announcements for free ambulance services, discouraging excessive speed. Even a sign advertising a free mortician van! At the bottom we were following narrow bitumen roads and dodging traffic. The savannah opened out a bit more. Outside Masinagudi village the forest thickened ... read more

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Coonoor January 14th 2014

12 Jan We made an early start with a nice breakfast of "dosa" and headed to the station for a train headed to Incombatore. Ugly station but livened up by a group of black dressed pilgrims like we had seen a few days earlier. Noted the work of the guy putting drying powder on the poos between the rails of the platform beside ours. We had second class seats which at least meant we had reserved seating. Third class you might need to fight off a chook or goat. As is customary the Wallahs walk up and down the aisles selling Chai tea, or deep fried snacks. Love the sing-song way they advertise their product. "Chai Chai Chai" sung in a baritone voice. Our backpacks needed to come to the racks above our seats so there ... read more
In the tea plantation
Lunch is served
Dawn over the tea plantation

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Ooty January 13th 2014

Jan 13 We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise from the balcony of our room. One of those where one is looking down on the mist and smog of the villages down below, and the air is crystal clear above that layer. The green shades of the tea plantations were lovely, and the patterns of the tea plots, interspersed with White Oak trees, symmetrical without being manufactured. We enjoyed a late western style breakfast: Omelettes, pancakes, toast and vegemite provided by Stephanie from the group. We piled into the minibus and took the somewhat serpentine route to Swamy & Swamy tea plantations and processors. Hairpin bends like never before. The guide took us for an uncomplicated but enjoyable walk through the plantation, the factory and of course the store. A simple and clean operation that harvests, cuts, dries, ... read more
Ghandi's philosophies
Climbing to Coonoor
Guide 'DJ'

Asia » India » Kerala » Kochi » Maradu January 8th 2014

8-10 January 2014 8 January Other than enjoying the facilities of a major hotel, we started to head out and around. Tuk Tuks are easily picked up right outside, and one can ignore the sideways glances of the uniformed security guards of the hotel. We were told we could access the Kochi ferry network by getting to “bowjerry”, said with a head wobble. Bowjerry? Boajelly? Ahh, boat jetty! One has to tune one’s ears into the local dialect and intonations. A quick ride through the back streets to the ferry terminal, and onto the diesel-scented waterways. Kochi is obviously a seaport and I can’t recall one that is not a bit dirty. Certainly Kochi is cleaner than Alexandria – not a high bar. We got off at Mattancherry and walked into the shopping district there. This ... read more
Diesel-scented ferry to Mattacherry
Snake boat
Traders street, beside the water front

Asia » India » Kerala » Kochi January 5th 2014

5-9 January 2014 It's great to be back in India; this time for a mix of work and private travel. I arrived ahead of Catherine so that I could do a bit of work. Given my work with CSIRO in the Animal, Food and Health Division, it was a great opportunity to exchange ideas with some rapidly growing companies. Home base was the Crowne Plaza hotel in Maradu for a few days. Well above our normal standard but... I travelled by taxi or private car to see the facilities of several natural product and biotech companies: Synthite; Camson; Arjuna; and Stirling. Each has their own story to tell, and I'll let them tell it through their websites, but I was very impressed by the scientific sophistication and sense of bigger purpose of these science-based companies. My ... read more

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Caloundra April 26th 2013

You know some people travel for food, some for festivals. Photography is a key part of our adventures. Something that has always intrigued me in our travels, has been the diversity of doors and porticoes that people have crafted to separate themselves from the crowd, from their subjects, or from the elements. Alternatively to glorify the occupants of the dwelling, palace or graveyard. Here are some of the photos I have collected over years of travel, along with some from my family's archive. This is sent from Caloundra, because that is where we are holidaying prior to our next adventure in Southern India. Basically more time than normal for blogging and uploading. The collection is likely to grow!... read more
Sucre, Bolivia
Wrecked ferry, Tangalooma, Queensland
Don Khong, Lao PDR

Oceania » Australia » Victoria » Melbourne » City Centre March 30th 2013

Thanks to Queensland Premier Newman's decision to shift the May Day long weekend to October, our travelling group gathered at Easter this year. In between wonderful meals and full-bodied coffees, we actually saw some sites! Fitzroy Gardens; Abbotsford Convent; Smith Street. Its all good. Dinner last night at Chin Chin was memorable modern Asian, washed down of course with our favourite: BeerLao.... read more
The crew in Fitzroy Gardens
Alex and Jill at Abbotsford Convent
Alex, Catherine and Andrew Smith

Europe » Belgium » Brussels-Capital Region » Brussels January 13th 2013

It was wonderful to see Bill, who we had travelled with in South America in 2012, at the exit gate at Brussels airport after having flown through from Vienna. He looked well and happy and so European in his long black woollen coat. We drove to he and wife Wendell's house in inner Brussells. Old friends reminiscing and planning. Wendell had to work for the three days that I had planned to be in Brussells, but Bill had graciously taken the time off work. First things first. We had to stock their fridge and pantry. Apparently mundane acts like visiting a supermarket can be interesting in a different county. I was intrigued by fact that Belgians record their own grocery purchases with an electronic scanner - no check-out chicks - completely honesty based. You buy your ... read more
Beautiful Gent

Europe » Slovenia » Upper Carniola » Bled January 10th 2013

We took a break from skiing in Rauris and headed south into Slovenia. The roads were clear and so we took the back blocks. Without really planning it, we ended up a dead-end valley where the only path through the mountains was via a rail motor. The car was loaded onto a carriage and passengers off-loaded into carriages. Great scenary, though I was constantly concerned whether I had secured the handbrake. My imagination ran wild, and of course all was fine. Into Slovenia through the frontier, and somehow we missed the instruction that said get a permit to drive on the roads. Careering confidently down the highway towards Bled, our car was joined by two quasi-military looking vans. They followed us for perhaps a kilometer when they turned on the persuit lights and directed me into ... read more
The girls wondering where we were headed
Passenger accommodation
Loading the van in southern Austria

Europe » Austria » Salzburg » Rauris January 6th 2013

After Epernay it was back to Paris for the day. We had decided for the sake of adventure, to take the overnight train through to Salzburg. Embarked relatively late in the evening and then into a carriage cabin no larger than a bathroom. The bunks were stacked three high. Its not that we were carrying a lot of gear but we felt like sardines once finally ensconced in our room. The steward was particularly germanic in providing us with the manditory briefing prior to departure. We were confident that morning coffee would arrive exactly on time. We sped through the stations in France during the evening, but dawdled to meet the schedules once in Germany. We arrived in Austria and through to Salzburg station. There we met up with Magda - once our exchange student, now ... read more
Coming into Munich
Meeting Magda at Salzburg station

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