penny and gary


penny and gary

Gary and Penny, from the beginning... Again. Round the world for a year in 07 and we've decided it's time once more. So packing up the house, the jobs, selling the cars and up up and away, this time with no return ticket and no fixed itinerary. A smidgin reckless, sure, but what the hell. May as well indulge in a few passions before the last great journey in who knows when.
Stay tuned and please stay in contact, cause whilst we love seeing what the rest of the world has to offer, we also love receiving news from home base.

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Mentawi March 8th 2015

Megan is one part of Pitstop Hill management, a 10 guest surf resort tucked into a niche of the Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra. I asked her if our particular group of 10 were collectively the oldest to have bunked down there in the resort's 8 year history. I had barely squeezed out the last word of the enquiry before; "Yes". "Would you like some more time to think about that Megan?" If you take out the 24 year old son of one of our crew and if my numbers are correct, the aggregate age of the other 9 hit the scales at around 540. That's over half a Millenia of prime Cronulla manhood trying to prove they can still dance the Funky Chicken. The purpose of these 11 days was ostensibly to ... read more
Beng Beng Beach
Your humble author

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Gion February 20th 2015

For Penny it was "The Blue Door". For myself, Richard Flanagan's 2014 Man Booker prize winning masterpiece "The Long Road to the Deep North". It would be easy to join the long queue ready to condemn Japan after reading either of those 2 books. While both are beacons of reference, they were equally counterproductive as a prequel to visiting Japan with the mind open. The atrocities committed during WWII have been extensively documented. I recall quotes from eloquent returned POWs who could "NEVER forgive the Japanese". You can hardly blame them. So how do you equate the Japan of that period with that of today? In a few short generations contemporary Japan is now the absolute antithesis of those anecdotes. After 3 brief weeks I hardly qualify as all things erudite on this nation but if ... read more
Higashiyama Geisha
Nishiki Market
Tough gig.

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Nagano February 14th 2015

Let's go back, way back to the early 90s at my local video hire. Blazing out from the wall-mounted TV was footage of a guy carving up knee deep Virgin powder. Mr Video Hire's hushed tones, winking and elbow nudging hinted that he was letting me in on his closet winter Nirvana. "That's Hokkaido in Japan, the next big thing in the skiing world". That whisper soon became a rumble and quicker than beer turns to piss the cat was out of the bag. Within a few short years the trickle of Australians had swelled into mobs. Containment lines have long since been broken. Japan, particularly Niseko on Hokkaido, reaches critical mass come the northern winter. Reports have been filtering back for seasons now that Niseko has become a veritable Kuta on snow. One saying doing ... read more
Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen
Pre powder day.

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Akasaka February 8th 2015

Our record was 16. It became something of a game after a while. Riding on any of Tokyo's train systems, we would count the number of passengers on the opposite side who were engrossed in their particular device of choice. It's a modern day syndrome of the west, people strolling around with a phone permanently clasped in their palm. Tokyo has taken the concept to a new dimension with locals of all ages sporting devices that have morphed into something appearing to be surgically attached to the hand. Tokyo is a veritable Planet of the Apps. This phenomenon is a metaphor for the techno society that is Tokyo. In the streets, neon is king. The colours, flashing lights and animated, uniformed efficiency made us feel like an extra in an Astro Boy cartoon. This post 21st ... read more
Asakusa biscuit maker
Tradition meets 21st Century
Tokyo from above

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Mentawi February 1st 2015

As the name suggests, Resort Latitude Zero sits within spitting distance of the equator. A hedonistic oasis, the resort is snuggled cosily amongst the Telo Island chain. The what chain? If you are not a surfer, it's an archipelago incognito. Even the good people of Sumatra, a couple of hundred kilometres to the west, would struggle to point it out on a map. That resonated of a decent enough reason to call in for a fortnight. This was my second visit to the ballpark but Telo Island Lodge, while upscale in a surfer kind of way, isn't the genre of place to drag the blushing bride. Not so RLZ. The brainchild of a group of Oz surfers, what they have created from the foundations up in this off the grid locale is a cocktail of vision, ... read more
Christian majority out here.
Another shitty day in Paradise
Who said Poms can't surf?

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Bukittinggi January 17th 2015

"Excuse me mam. Excuse me sir. Would it be possible for me to speak with you please"?A question of that nature, right or wrong, immediately launches Penny and myself into defensive autopilot. There's an almost intrinsic assumption that the enquirer wants to procure something from us we don't want to hand over. Ever the foreign the diplomat, I'll always suspiciously oblige; "Sure. What is it you want to talk about"?" Excuse me sir. I am a student and just wish to practice my English". That usually translates to one of two things;(A) He wants to practice his English via a sales pitch, or(B) He actually is a student wanting to practice his English. Waddya know, this fellow was from group B. In fact this most respectful and polite young man, along with his 14 likeminded cohorts ... read more
Lake Maninjau
Lake Maninjau

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Bako National Park January 11th 2015

Divided into 3 countries, Borneo is something of a cult tourist hit. It's not so much the urban attractions, although there are obviously cities on this island, but rather the alternative that lures those tourists in. Welcome to the jungle. Borneo's jungle comes in 50 shades of green (there has to be a sequel book in there somewhere) that is clamorous and alive enough to evoke, perhaps falsely, a sense of immortality. We chose Kuching as our landing point partly because the city seemed exotic in its own right and partly because it is on the doorstep of forest that houses 2 tropical rainforest wildlife dignitaries. Borneo is Orangutang and Proboscis Monkey country and we had our eyes on a sitting with both. Turns out Kuching is a charming town with a languid riverside setting and ... read more
Bako NP
Bako NP

Asia » Malaysia » Wilayah Persekutuan » Kuala Lumpur January 6th 2015

Third world status is slippery to define. There's probably an official line of thinking centred around GDP, literacy rates and costs of living v average incomes. But as a layperson I run off a few more overt though less tangible stats. My last visit to Kuala Lumpur was way back in 1994. In that era I had Malaysia firmly planted in the third World. Yet simultaneously it boasted enough green shoots to suggest life was on the up and up. Fast forward to today and I'm fuddled as to where I might pigeon hole contemporary Malaysia. There is plenty to suggest it has morphed beyond 3rd world but is still hungover with sufficient earthy telltales to remind us 1st world brotherhood remains at arm's length. Let's take a peek at some of my sketchy criteria: RATS: ... read more
Chinatown reverence

Asia » Hong Kong » Hong Kong Island February 13th 2013

I'd like to superimpose one day onto another please. Day 1 - Shin deep rubbish by the side of roads. An omnipresent film of dust clouds the air. Roads are choked to the point of standstill by vehicles, half of which are 3 wheeled. The most integral part of those vehicles is the horn. The incessant noise has you wishing you were deaf. Every 10 metres an auto rickshaw driver will confront you for an inflated fare to somewhere you don't want to go. Crossing the road is a genuine health hazard. Beggars cohort for loose change. The background odour of stale urine a constant. Everyone spits and men use any spare wall space as a public latrine. Blackouts are the rule rather than the exception. In fact nothing works with regularity. Tourists are, love it ... read more
Junk superimposed.
Ubiquitous double decker trams

Asia » India » Karnataka » Hampi February 2nd 2013

There's nothing intimate about Indian cities. Surely it's here that that well worn cliche "assault on the senses" was spawned. Urban India is where the concept of a billion people in one nation resonates. The gamy odours of raw filth that overlay the spicy aromas of street cuisine. The incessant rhythmic honking of car horns. Mosque wake up calls (there may only be a 10% Muslim population here but that's still 100 million). Mainlining vegetarian curries. Cows knee deep in street rubbish somehow eking out an alternate food source to grass. It's dank, it's full throttle and maybe it's not the Indian romance of imaginations or from the pages of Rudyard Kipling, but the lurching excitement of Mysore, Bangalore and Hyderabad has left a thousand still-life images entrenched in the memory banks. No more so than ... read more
Mysore market
The Guru's guru! Hampi Bazaar.
Mysore market

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