Happy (Belated) Australia Day!

This past Wednesday was Australia Day and I went into downtown Perth to check out the “Skyworks.”  Basically lots of stuff blowing up all around you– from pontoons on the river to the tops of 4 different skyscrapers.

The vibe of the day very much felt like America’s Fourth of July to me — Middle of the summer, everyone off work, BBQ, fireworks, and flag waving (Although Australia day has nothing to do with independence.  It actually celebrates the day the “First Fleet” arrived in Sydney Cove from Britain in the late 1700’s to establish the first European colony in Australia).

Australia day fireworks in Perth, Australia

20 Hours in Singapore

Unfortunately, while I was out in Laverton last week, I got the very bad news that my grandfather (PaJack as we called him) passed away back in the States.  I always knew I was far from home, but nothing solidifies that idea more than receiving a phone call like that.  Luckily I was flying home from Laverton that day and I went to work trying to find the cheapest airfare back to the States at the last minute.  Turns out, the cheapest way home was a 52-hour trip that involved 6 flights that meandered through various Asian and American cities before getting home.  One of those stops was in Singapore where I had to layover for more than 20 hours.

Trying to get my mind off of things and trying to make best of a bad situation, I went and explored the city a bit.  If you have ever watched one of those traveling food shows on the Discovery or Travel Channel, you know that the hosts always go completely ape shit when they get to Singapore because, really, Singapore’s main attraction is its food.  From Chinese to Indian to Malay, you can find it all in the various food stands, hawker centres, and food courts.

So, I set out to eat (and drink of course).  I started with lunch at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Hawker Centre in downtown Singapore.  They apparently have some of the best chicken rice in Singapore, and if my unrefined pallet has anything to say about it, I would completely agree with that statement.  The place even appeared on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel:

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken RiceTian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice stand at the Maxwell Hawker Centre in downtown Singapore.

Chicken Rice– Pretty damn good meal for about US$2.50

I also headed to Chinatown for dinner…

And of course, had to drink a Tiger beer… or two, or three, or four… Even though I guess Tiger is technically a Malaysian beer.

Thankfully, my return trip back to Australia only took 30-something hours and only involved an 8-hour layover in Singapore and one less flight….

Another Pool Shot

But a different kind of pool this time.  This shot is from the “Healing Pools” near Mt. Margaret, Western Australia.  These pools of water are HIGHLY concentrated with salt.  In fact, there is so much salt in these pools that you get hardened salt crystals on the bottom.  When I got out of the pool and my shorts eventually dried, it was like I had sprayed a can of starch on them.  They were almost rock hard because of the salt.

I was told that these ponds have healing properties and that Aboriginals have been using them for thousands of years.  The salt is supposed to be good for your skin and can help heal cuts.  As I had a few cuts on my hands that day, I tested this theory out and it sure as hell made them sting.

Healing Ponds near Mt. Margaret, Western Australia

Summer is Coming…Cue the Pool Photos

Well, I guess it is not coming if you are stuck in the Northern Hemisphere… But things are starting to heat up in Laverton.  Tomorrow, it is supposed to reach 41ºC (105.8ºF) in Laverton… That is damn hot.  I really need to get this project done before it starts to hit 50ºC (122ºF)… And yes, it really does get that hot out here I am told.  I still don’t believe it, but I guess I will find out.  Thankfully Laverton has a nice pool to swim in which I took advantage of this past weekend.

Astronomy Night

This weekend, volunteers from Curtin University in Perth are in town.  Among the volunteers, two of them are astrophysicists and they happened to bring a big ass telescope up with them for Astronomy Night.  It was nice to look at the night sky and actually know what I was looking at for once.  I probably learned more about Magellanic Clouds, Nebulas, Pulsars, and the Andromeda Galaxy than I ever cared to, but it was pretty cool having somebody who knows what to look for in the night sky.  If you ever wanted to look at a clear night sky through a telescope, Laverton is certainly a good place to do it.

Day Off on Rottnest Island

I swear I actually do work down here… I swear…

Chelsea and I headed over to Rottnest Island which is just off the coast of Perth and only a 25 minute ferry ride away.  We look at Rottnest island every single day, but have yet to visit it.  It is amazing how different it is out there.  Crystal-clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and little animals known as Quokkas (which you can only find on Rottnest Island and nowhere else in the world…).  They are kind of a combination of a kangaroo and a large rat.

I still can’t believe that we live only a short ferry ride away from paradise…  No excuses!  Come visit!

Ricey Beach, Rottnest Island, Western Australia.