Perth: The Adventures of Day Three Travellers

Perth: The Adventures of Day Three Travellers

We woke up day three, with a plan to go and pick oranges. This time, we were in no rush at all to go out and we took our time and had a light munch. We knew where we are heading and at this place to pick orange and erroneously put ‘Orange’ and ‘Grove’ together.

So we punched in ‘Orange Grove’ into our GPS.

And started a whole new adventure!

You see, there is no ‘Oranges’ in Orange Grove, Perth Australia.

I vividly remembered, during my initial recon on Google Map in Singapore that the orange picking place was about 20 plus minutes drive ‘up’, and I totally forgotten about that when I punch in ‘Orange Grove’ and drove 30 plus minutes ‘down’, way down to a place called Kalamunda.

The plan was to head for Kalamunda to have our breakfast then head to ‘Orange Grove’ to pick oranges. So off we go!

It was like day two, a nice drive, and the trip to Kalamunda took us uphill, that is where the i20’s puny engines start to show strain, the pick up was slow going against gravity, but it was still manageable, I’m on holiday and there’s absolutely no rush. Except that we are all heading towards the wrong direction!

We found the ‘shopping belt’ in Kalamunda and parked our car, by then we were famished as we walked around hunting for a late breakfast, and we found Chatterbox Coffee and Juice Bar. It was a nice quaint cafe with a nice warm Perth service. We got our breakfast, although the wait was a little too long, well, any starving soul’s wait for food will be too long!

We got ourselves a nice platter of food, and this ‘Everything Burger’ which was everything you have on a breakfast on a burger, the harsh brown, egg, bacon and cheese, stacked in between a burger bun. Not bad actually. Your mum, on the other hand, learned a new dish called ‘Avocado Smash’ and it looks exactly like how it sounded. She came back to Singapore and did a dish like that, which tasted not bad.

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After breakfast, we settled in for a stroll, the day’s warming up nicely with a good chilly breeze. Kalamunda is a hilly place and there’s slopes everywhere, which makes a good hearty walk.

After our trip, I cam to realise that Perth isn’t too big on escalators, other than those we see in the Airport, the other one we traveled on was in Kalamunda. Well, perhaps, it is Singapore who is crazy over escalators!

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We went through the shopping area quickly and headed off towards Orange Grove, at the same time, stopping by a petrol station to get a top up for our little car. The drive around Kalamunda is quite a breeze, as it is off the main city area, we headed downhill, meandering down a slight gradient. It was a clear day and from that high point, we can even make out Perth City from that distance. It gave us a good sense of how vast the land is and we can never get this kind of view in Singapore, as the skyline is mostly peppered with buildings, antennas, bridges and other structures.

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View with Perth city in the horizon

We didn’t lost our way, while we enjoy the scenery, thanks to the ever-so-reliable GPS voice guiding us, we can never be lost! Or so we thought!

‘You have reach your destination.’

I look at your mum and she looked back at me. Right in front of us is a junction.

No oranges.

No nice farms.

No orchards.

Oh shit…

By then panic has set in a little but we simply cannot stop at the junction to find out what’s wrong. we drove ahead and found a little side road, park to figure out what went wrong.

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Trying to sort out what went wrong…

Finally, we realised, yes, the GPS brought us to Orange Grove, where we should be going to GOLDEN Grove, which is at Chittering Road, more than 40 minutes drive away.

What a way to start day three!

So without delay, we drove off! heading back towards Swan Valley, and towards Golden Grove.

It was a very different view compared to Kalamunda, we were heading back to Swan Valley and the familiar greenery filled our view, but with a long more rolling plains, cattles and magnificent views.

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Views from our car

It was a nice car-less drive, there was not car in sight as we head deeper towards Chittering Road, the whole landscape has changed as we head out and away from the more tourist centric main Swan Valley belt, where traffic was heavy with RoadTrains and other vehicles. But the drive into Chittering Road was scenic, relaxing and you can just cruise.

This time, with the help of the GPS lady, we found the right destination.

Collage_Fotor kalamunda 6.jpgWe all got so excited we get to ‘work’ immediately. The orchard was right behind and it is nest on a slope with an array of orange. The topographical map shows the range of oranges all over the farm. It was a climb and we didn’t made it to the top, where the creme ala creme, Berri Valencia 12 are planted. We realised that when we headed back, those top range oranges were already harvested. Heng ah!

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All sorts of oranges!!!!

 The deal was we can gather 2.5kg per adult,at AUD 4 per kg. We have 2 adults, so we must gather a minimum of 5kg, which makes AUD 20. Well piece of cake, or so we thought!

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Golden Grove is after all a kind of touristy place, and these tress are meant to be plucked by inexperienced hands, tourist hands. much of the oranges, the better ones has been plucked. And as with anything in nature, things are random, we really need to climb, clamber a bit to find the good ones, the nice ones. Some are taken by birds, others not ripe, or some too ripe, rotten. Overall, the quality of the fruits are still good. The nice cool weather helps as well, with a cool breeze cascading down the slope, there is really little to complain about the laborious work.

We went back after a good hike to only find out that we only did 3.2kg! WOW.

IMG_1794So the nice lady there took some from the stock and top it up to make up the rest of the 1.8kg. On top of that, we get taste some really nice, freshly juiced oranges. I also bought this very yummy bread spread called ‘Lemon Butter’. Your mum bought raw honey comb. Everyone left the place happy!

Mondo Nougats

Our next stop was a Nougat place, this is one of the more touristy place called Mondo Nougats. It was along the Swan Valley spot and we have rush there before they close for the day. Good thing we reach there 30 minutes shy from they closing time, 5pm.

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Sunset at Mondo Nougats

 We did a quick round of shopping and bought quite a few items (almost AUD300 worth to be exact!) as gifts for our friends and families. From there we need to know what we can get for dinner as Australia tends to close early for the day. The kind folks at Mondo directed us to Ellenbrook where there is a couple of large supermarkets where we can grab our dinner.

We did much better than the night before and managed to buy Sushi, a roasted chicken, a bunch of instant noodles. Going there also allow your mum to reprise her ‘aunty’ role, by shopping through the aisle, looking at the groceries and stuffs. We had our fill before sleeping, knowing that we had a fun-filled day.

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The good thing with free and easy holidays like this, is that we are completely unhindered by tour schedules and group timetables which we need to stick to. The error which brought us to Kalamunda, helps us explore other parts of Perth which we might not have went, as it was really off our tangent.

We look back and was glad to have gone there, learned a couple of things and now your mum came back with a new dish, Avocado Smash!

The Perth Dolphins

The Perth Dolphins

For all of our holidays, we never could, wake up early. Perth was no exception, even though we need to be at Mandurah by 11.30am to catch the boat out to see the dolphins we fly almost 4,000 km from Singapore to see.

Our Hotel

You see, we woke up late. And then we were delayed when we realised the kind of beautiful landscape that is outside of our hotel room. you see, our hotel is called The Vines Resort & Country Club. It is a couple of nice things put together, One; the hotel, accommodation, Two; a vineyard theme, which means there are some grapes kind of hanging on some vineyard thing. Actually not a big deal to us, but it does adds to the ambiance. Three; the golf course, afterall, it is a country club!

I don’t think the concept is anything new, as we have such offerings in Singapore, The Orchid Country Club, is one. but the Vines is special, as there are some residents staying at the golf course green… KANGAROOS!!!!!

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Lots of them!

So close we can almost touch them! (Of course we didn’t, these are wild Kangas and we don’t know how they would react. They instinctively kept their distance and we did our part to respect the gap.)

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They were just minding their own business, lying there, without a care in the world, and we Singaporeans, going crazy over every single one of them like they were this week’s ToTo winning ticket. But hey, how often do we get to go so up close and personal with these Kangas?

Hit the road Jack!

After our gaga over the Kangas, we hit the road, mindful that we need to be at a certain place by a certain time. Again we relied on the GPS to take us from The Vines to Mandurah, some 100 kilometers away, a good one hour’s drive. Today is yet going to be another first, your dad driving the longest at any given time! I know to some this is no big deal, but for your dad, it is any and every reason to celebrate!

So off we go!

We are on high spirits, for many reasons, we felt really, really happy to be able to come to Australia together, drive in such a wonderful weather. Being in the small i20 is great as we can all bond over the road trip and us parents listen to you kiddos’ usual banter and occasional quarrels. And you kiddos listen to us parents talk about adults stuffs.

We don’t drive nor have a car in Singapore, so driving in Australia gives us a rare intimacy, putting a family in a car can give. It is nice knowing that we don’t own the car and will return it once our trip is over.

There are many things in Australia we can see that is not in Singapore. And one of them is…

R-O-A-D-T-R-A-I-N!!!

These are HUGE trucks that has not only just pull one wagon, but up to 3 wagons! These are powerful trucks that ply the entire Australia, delivering vital supplies and goods. They are a part of the Australian traffic and every time we see one on the road, I’d scream out ROADTRAIN! You boys picked it up and soon the whole car is screaming ROADTRAIN! This did not please your mum.

And your mum, snapping tonnes of photographs, simply didn’t snap any decent roadtrain photographs. Well, that gives us a reason to head back to Perth in the near future to snap these pictures!

The Animal Farm

We see animals of all sorts, horses, cows, sheep, dogs, chickens and of course, Kangas…they are everywhere! That said, I know the probability of a road kill is real, so everyone is belted up for the just-in-case.

There is also a lot of greenery and wide and wild open plains. It is a very refreshing change from the usual brick and mortar landscape we have in Singapore.

The Open Plains

Well, the road condition in Perth is really good and we get good signal from the GPS all the way to Mandurah, Traffic was light and we really enjoyed the road. It was quite stress-free, the drivers there are generally more courteous, and possess better road ethics. Sure there are some speeders and some clowns who don’t signal when they lane change, but generally, I drive like I’m driving, and not in a defensive manner, half the time expecting something bad to happen or some crazy nut cutting into my lane. It was a pleasant drive I would not have enjoyed if I am in Singapore.

Mandurah

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Dolphins, then and now

We reached Mandurah and for Ian, your mum and me, it was a revisit. We came here almost 10 years ago. Now we are back, looking back at some of the old photos, little has changed in Mandurah, other than a couple more condos up, and more developments and crowd, it is still a pleasant place to be.

The Han’s cafe was there in 2007, and it is still there. Reading Cinema was there and is still there. but I don’t really see a cinema crowd and I wonder how does it stay profitable? Mandurah seems too laid back for any business to stay profitable and given a competitive landscape in Singapore, they would have turned Reading Cinema into something more profitable and Han’s cafe might have been long gone, due to the changes in rental. But is is nice to be in Mandurah, knowing that somethings don’t change. That give a very familiar nostalgic feeling.

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We are not really in a rush but we are kind of hungry, so we ate what tourists comes to Mandurah to eat. Cicerellos!

@ Mandurah Cicerellos

Honestly, eating in Australia is what eats up our money. One meal can be as much as AUD15 bucks, something equivalent in Singapore would have cost S$5. A single meal for the 4 of us can easily set us back at least AUD 50 plus dollars. Nonetheless we are there to enjoy as tourists and we are quite willing to spend.

We had our meals in a jiffy so that we can catch our boat to see the dolphins. For

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Dolphin Cruise

the cruise, they also have meals included, Fish and Chips (what else?), but we already have our fill and politely declined.

There are 2 decks on the boat and the top deck can take only 11 people, an Indian family of 6 has already take the better part of the top deck, and with the 4 of us, we fill up the space nicely. It was a good decision to take the top deck.

We started the cruise easy, all excited about the potential marine mammals we flew so far over to Australia to meet. We were thankful our captain was very experienced with the waters around Mandurah, much more experienced compare to the 3 girls ( I called them Charlie’s Angels) who commandeered our boat trip back in 2007, our maiden trip to Mandurah.

It didn’t take us long to spot the Dolphins, swimming in the shallow waters hiding amongst the many boats parked along the Mandurah waterway. The Captain (who had more than 20 years of boating experience) skilfully maneuvered the large boat around, kicking up mud from the shallow water bed. It was our first sightings, and we almost certainly thought it was our last.Collage_Fotor dolphins

We head out to the waterways and cruise on in our bid to find more of these elusive dolphins. We went up as far as our 1 hour boat ride can take us, and we went under the Mandurah Estuary Bridge, before turning back, with an ominous feeling that that is all the dolphins we get to see.

We went back the same way we came and the Captain’s keen eye spotted some break in the water, hinting a pair of dolphins. We eagerly looked out and thanks to our vantage point and being just next to the Captain, we were able to get his views spontaneously. for the folks seated downstairs, they can only hear him if he used his microphone, and sometimes, he didn’t as he was basically thinking out loud.

The elusive pair disappeared again and we sailed on, going back to port. Then it all happened….

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The family of four swam right next to our boat and everyone on board was ecstatic about the sightings and how close they came next to the boat. For whatever speed we did, the dolphins swam easy, without much effort, making a few jumps as well. It really made our day and we felt that our trip was very much completed.

This was certainly the highlights of our trip and we came to see dolphins, we get to see dolphins. IMG_1564

We went back to Cicerellos again to grab our lunch and this time spend anotherIMG_1577bomb, ordering their famous, DSC_0106 but oily fish and chips, milk shake, and waffles. The chilly weather makes us burn up our energy real quickly and we were hungry, wolfing them down. Enjoying every bits of it.

After that we went exploring the vicinity of Mandurah, just walking and we came across this dog just lazing there, I think it’s a Labrador and friendly enough, I patted it and soon, both you boys followed the dad and started patting the dog. Bad move for Wayne.Collage_Fotor Boat and bike

The dog moved quickly and bit off one of your gloves, with no intention of giving it back to you, it will be its new play toy! The mutt’s owner was nowhere in sight and I had to half coax and half pull/drag the slob, wet mitten out of the dog’s mouth. thankfully, it decided to relent and let go. We all had a good laugh right there, and this certainly adds to the experience at Mandurah.

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Our Family Photo at Mandurah, Wayne without his mittens

We ended our fruitful day with another long drive back to The Vines, by now, you boys are dead tired and we were thankful we had the car as the both of you konk off almost immediately when we drove off.

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Dinner was fast food, we ordered drive through from Red Rooster, and went through the junk food without much fan fare.

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With that quick meal to fill our stomach, we hit the sack quickly, knowing that the next day will be filled with much excitement!

Road map to mandurah

 

Perth: Chapter One

Perth: Chapter One

It was the first time we fly scoot, and honestly we were a little apprehensive about it as last year, there was an incident about a Scoot flight to Perth (TZ8!) was delayed for almost a day! (Passengers unhappy after Scoot flight delayed for more than 21 hours) My friend Anny was on that flight and I asked her about it, she still gives Scoot the thumbs up. Nonetheless, we’ve already paid for it and out fate is sealed.

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Lil Ian, Surfing the luggage.

This Perth trip is quite unique, as this is our 3rd trip to Perth. The first, your mum, and I went, with your Ah Gong, Ah Ma, your Ah Gu and another of your mum’s cousins, HanJie Ah Gu. That was quite sometime ago, way before your mum and I was married. The second time was when Ian was about 18 months only. I also coincided that trip with your mum’s birthday.

What we didn’t know was, that your mum, at that point was pregnant as well, which explains a lot about her motion sickness, unfortunately, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Well, that’s another story for another time.

Scoot TZ8- 787 Dreamliner!

This time, 2016. We are going because your 弟弟 wants to see dolphins. Our flight for 28 May was in the afternoon, so we woke up excited about the trip. There was plenty of time for us to prepare and unlike our Bali Trip which was in the wee hours, this time we reach the airport easy, chill and took a bit of makan before heading for the check in.

Collage_Fotor scoot flightThe flight was a non-event, and I prepared some ‘in-flight’ entertainment for you boys by putting up some movies in the iPad2, and you boys end up watching Zootopia and Charlie Brown the movie. It was a budget flight, so the flight is a flight is a flight, we had to entertain ourselves. And one thing I noticed, we weren’t expected to turn off our mobile device unless specifically told to do so. Wow, it’s a
Dreamliner new! The window is electronically tinted, thus there is no physical shade, which you need to bring up during taking off and landing. You can press a button and the window will go from clear to opaque to totally dark, cool!

Perth! Touch down!!!

We reached Perth 5 minutes earlier than scheduled. The first thing we experience when we stepped out of the aircraft was the chill! And it is not from the building’s air-con!  We are indeed enjoying the winter like what we’ve wanted!

The customs was a breeze and we soon got out to the airport DSC_0097terminal. The first thing we got was a pre-paid SIM card. I bought 7 days’ worth of stored value for us to use for a 5 days trip, 2 spare days for the just in case. And each day we are allowed to use up to 500MB of data, easy and more than suffice for us to travel around, post stuff on FaceBook, using the GPS to get around and checking out some stuffs on the net.

The car rental stall folks were also very friendly, and despite of Wayne being 7 years old, which technically waive him from the use of a child booster seat, but due to his small build, the chap at the counter was kind enough to lend us one, which was a good idea, as it will at least prop 弟弟 up and he can better look out of the car and enjoy the scenery.

The car we had was a small, but cozy Hyundai i20. When we stepped out of the airport, it was drizzling lightly. It was a delight as it really pushed the temperature down a couple notches more! S-h-i-o-k!!! To the max!

I went through the usual check for the rental vehicle and make sure that everything that is there is there, and anything that is not, is not. Then I tried to fix the phone holder to the windscreen, but it didn’t quite work; either the angle was wrong, or the suction on the holder won’t; well suck.

No GPS, no holiday

So we ended up having your mum hold the phone,and give directions off the GPS. She is the only co-driver your dad ever wanted.

And the GPS worked flawlessly. And without it, we would have been lost in Australia.

We made our way to the hotel, taking every turn and advise given by the GPS and reached there without any fanfare. But it was! We’ve never done a self drive, never solely relied on GPS for driving, and we have never driven in Australia! Lotsa firsts to celebrate!

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day 1 at room 155

Upon reaching the hotel, the good people at the concierge checked us in with no problem and we snaked our way from the hotel lobby to room 155. It was quite dark by then and we didn’t know what to expect from the exterior of our room. We knew the weather was fabulous and the facilities in the hotel are great. the only let down was, there’s no toothbrush. Other than that, the room is clean, sheets are nice, everything works, and most importantly, the heater works! Otherwise, it would be long cold four nights.

With that we came to the end of Day One, going to sleep knowing the next day would be a great one, watching dolphins.

 

Our Perth Trip-Prologue

Dear Boys,

We decided to go to Perth, because your 弟弟 looked at us one day and say, ‘can we go to the place where kor kor saw the dolphins?

Every now and then when we look through the photographs of our Perth trip with Ian back in March 2007. Ian will regale those memories (honestly, he was 18 months then, I don;t really think he remembered anything in Perth!) he had, and Wayne will always have to see Perth through his big brother’s memories.

So this time we decided to make it to Perth, again, because our youngest son wants to have the same experience as his elder brother.

I think this year is a particularly good year to go, well, we have 2 excuses to splurge on this:

  1. The Exchange Rate
  2. The Perth Winter

The Exchange Rate

The Singapore dollar has been doing great against the Aussie. Typically the Aussie dollar is the stronger of the 2 currencies and we will always have to pay a bit more to spend in Australia, but this time around the currency rate has been in our favour!

SGD vs AUD

So effectively, we can spend a lot more over there, as there are things cheaper in Australia compared to Singapore. Well, there are also a lot of things, a heck a lot more expensive too! More about that later.

The Perth Winter

Well, this one, pure excuse. Winter in Perth is usually a respectable 20°C. So it is akin to our air-con room temperature, and your mum loved and remembered fondly the Perth weather when we were there back in March 2007. Ironically, in March, it is usually a warm Perth, but during our stay there in 2007, it was a freakish 20°C too! We learned over the radio back then, it was a cold spell that lasted our entire stay there. Cool! (Pun intended!)

So we wanted to go back there for the winter, cool air, frosty weather, we can only get in Singapore if we go to a shopping centre. But this time, we get Air-con, even when we are out in the open, how awesome is that?

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The secret’s out!

We did our bookings through Expedia, as we have done so for many of our trips, even to Bali last year. The cost savings is unbeatable, when they combined flight with hotel. Perhaps they are so huge on the Online Travel Agency sphere, they can get massive economies of scale. Whatever. We usually get a good deal out of it. This time is was no difference, we went in checked and happily realised that we can get flight and room for about S$1,400 for a 5 night trip. So we casually plotted and planned, in a non-committal manner, unbeknownst to us, the price went up the next day!

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as at 18 April

Your mum Whatsapped me the piece of shocking news. S$2,877.80. S-H-I-T.

We missed the boat!

So we sat up and paid attention to Expedia like how we are supposed to play the stock market. Everyday we will check for the best deal, and hoped that we can get back the S$1,400++ we saw days ago. Thankfully, we did.

So we book and confirmed it pronto. Final damage?

S$1,354.40 for a trip Saturday May 28 to Wednesday 1 June for 4 happy travelers.

 

So with our trip confirmed, we look forward to it excitedly!