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Benefits of GPSMyCity Travel Article Apps? 

Travel Article App GIVEAWAY (Limited Period ONLY) 

GPSMyCity is a company that publishes iOS and Android travel related app which includes self-guided city walks and even travel articles of specific places of interest written by passionate travellers all around the world! Featuring over more than 1000 cities, this mobile app is imperatively useful on the go!

GPSMyCity is basically for a community of like-minded independent travel explorers who love to saunter through cities and explore new places of sights of interest, without the hassle of a time constraint that one would face, if in a tour group.

Hence, with GPSMyCity’s self-guided city walks apps and travel article apps all downloaded into your mobile device, you would be your very own personal tour guide. Because in GPSMyCity… … You could always “Lose Yourself Without Getting Lost”… … Well unless your mobile device battery decides to fail on you. 😛

 

Benefits of GPSMyCity Travel Article Apps?

So what are the benefits of downloading GPSMyCity’s self-guided city walks apps and travel article apps?

1. SAVE function (It’s FREE!)

So to be honest, a few years ago, when buying prepaid data SIM cards in foreign countries were really not an option for me, I did the most obvious way to save a travel article or important information I found online: PRINTING.

Yes, good old fashion hardcopy! Hey, hardcopies never fail you, unlike unstable data connection… … Right? The downside to this, other than wasting paper and destroying the Earth, would be that they added extra baggage weight to lug with you all around whilst exploring new places. Furthermore, it gets crumpled easily especially when your bag is not waterproof and you get caught in the rain. #beentheredonethat

Then came screenshots. Screenshots of sections of travel articles I deemed important etc., and at the same time, ultimately increasing so many images in my Camera Roll on my phone that on the day that I actually want to use it? I have a hard time finding it! Yes, I have poor organisation skills… But…

Now… … With GPSMyCity’s travel apps, we all can have the luxury of reading travel articles without having to carry along extra baggage or piling up on images in Camera Roll. And the best part, we can all read it OFFLINE. Yes, no need for mobile data at all! You could read the articles you want on the plane en route to your lovely vacation destination, or even in the forest during your hikes, if you would like to confirm certain details about the hiking routes etc. Because to be honest, we all know, even with mobile data, the connection in the middle of nowhere can be pretty unstable. Hence, the SAVE function really does put one at ease! 😀

All you have to do is to click on the SAVE button on the top right corner of the app, and you would have downloaded the travel article you want under “Downloads” to be read OFFLINE. It is really that simple, and FREE!

2. AUDIO function (It’s FREE!)

And there’s this cute AUDIO function in GPSMyCity travel article app that allows you to listen to the travel article whenever you want! It’s basically an audiobook, but TRAVEL related! That’s kinda cool don’t you think so? Haha!

3. MAP function (Upgrade)

If you go for the upgrade version of GPSMyCity travel article app, at a small fee per article, you would be converting the travel article to a GPS-guided version. You would be getting travel routes (either by foot, car and bicycle) to your attraction of interest. This upgrade really does give you a peace of mind with great convenience.

Basically, with the upgrade MAP function, the map will display all the attractions mentioned by the author in the travel article you were reading. There is no need for the hassle of going through an extra step of looking up the directions on Google Maps to get there!

In addition, with build in GPS function, the travel app gives you the exact route from your current location to your selected attraction of interest! How hassle-free is that?! You could literally “Lose Yourself Without Getting Lost”!

Just hit the bottom 2nd button from the right, and you will be on your merry way to data-free exploration at the palm of your hands! Perfecto!

4. WALK Function (Upgrade)

The bottom right WALK function is a useful tool for you to create personalised self-guided walk; solely featuring attractions of your choice! You are your own travel planner.

There are times when we may not want all the itinerary stated in the travel article due to lack of time or even differences in interest. Hence, with this WALK function, you have the option to select some or all the sights mentioned in the travel article.

Now, you would have your own personalised travel itinerary at your fingertips; really easily for you to work with and manoeuvre around! Hence, making your travels so much leisurelier!

 

Travel Article App GIVEAWAY (Limited Period ONLY)

With this, I am happy to announce that I am partnering with GPSMyCity to convert my travel article “Sights & Sounds: Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai” on TravelWhenever, to a GPSMyCity travel article app that can be viewed offline!

To add on to this, for a limited period only, GPSMyCity will be giving away FREE upgrade of my travel article app for an entire week (3 July 2017 – 10 July 2017). During this period, my travel article on GPSMyCity can be upgraded to a GPS-guided travel article version which includes the MAP function and the WALK function (mentioned above); FREE!

So if you have no data, or wifi, or even unstable internet connection? No worries! This upgrade would give you the confidence and convenience of self-travel OFFLINE!

With thousands of travel articles at your fingertips when you download the FREE GPSMyCity app, what are you waiting for? You can access the travel article apps by first downloading the GPSMyCity app on your mobile device.

Once you have downloaded the app, you can browse by city to see which articles are available. You can download any travel articles for free using the SAVE function for offline reading, or for an upgrade to get the GPS-guided travel article version.

To find my travel article “Sights & Sounds: Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai” and get the FREE UPGRADE (3 July 2017 – 10 July 2017), click here.

With GPSMyCity in your pocket and all times, hopefully this will drive your passion a little deeper to head out and explore places with confidence!

And always remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

 

 

Route: Parking Lot –> Swing Bridge –> Series of Mini Waterfalls –> Elevated Track –> Lake Marian –> And Back
Total Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
Average Walk Time:

~ 4 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots, light snacking & a quick swim)

Seasonal Restrictions: Do not walk around the edge of the lake during the snow/avalanche season (winter and spring)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there? 

Highlights and Views 

TIPS? 

Well, I reckoned New Zealand needs no prelude whatsoever. Everything about it just never stops to inspire me in a frivolous way. And it was probably the first time I jaunted through trails and treks every other day for a month until my feet got sore and blistered. I would imagine this to be otherwise for anyone else. So yes, a weakling I was?

But it was all worth every drop of sweat to climb. It was all worth every minor or major slipups along the way. And it was all definitely worth (at times) sacrificing sleep for the enthralling views that time sleeping will never give. Lake Marian is imperatively impeccable, and I would recommend this trek to anyone, that is without a doubt!

The closest town to Lake Marian would be Te Anau. It is also the closest town to the famous Milford Sound attraction in the South Island of New Zealand. Te Anau is a quiet, humble little town, with quite a selection of restaurants and smaller eateries. A nice place to be away from the buzz of city life, and still be able to enjoy amenities of excellent food, accommodation and at the same time satisfying those basic grocery needs.

 

How to get there?

Though Te Anau township is the closest to Lake Marian, the drive was still quite a far bit long from our accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau near the town centre. A straightforward driving route on the main Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 would basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 20 mins.

Just remember to make a turn right soon after Pop’s View lookout, onto Hollyford Track when you see the signage ‘Lower Hollyford’, otherwise, you would be on your merry way to Milford Sound, which is also not a bad option. Haha!

Drive down about 1 km on the unsealed gravelled Hollyford Track a.k.a Hollyford Road and you would reach the Lake Marian carpark!

 

Highlights and Views

1. Swing Bridge

The start of the trek to Lake Marian requires the crossing of the swing bridge which hovered above the Hollyford River (Whakatapu Ka Tuku). The river was in its clear refreshing blue and the sounds of the waters crashing against the rocks as it rushed down with gravity was invigoratingly welcoming! What an excellent way to start a morning! 😀

I recalled I was so tempted to go down to douse my hands in the refreshing and presumably cold waters. But as I made my way down gingerly across large rocks and boulders to the edge of the river and I squatted down, I realised my hands were too short to reach into the waters. Haha! Yup, woes of having short hands.

Looking to both of my sides along the river, it seemed very unlikely I could reach down into the waters unless I sat down on the rocks or something like that. Hence, I decided to give it a miss and head back up, for the waters at Lake Marian would definitely be as refreshing too right? And definitely easier to reach in…

2. Series of Mini Waterfalls

About a short 10 minute stroll on the boardwalk past the swing bridge was the next highlight of the Lake Marian trek: the exhilarating rush of the waterfalls. It was quite thunderously deafening when we walked deeper into the track; closer to the top of the waterfall. With the morning sun beaming all so strongly, the waters that flowed down glistened crystal white. Which really was not a bad sight for a morning!

There were some people who visited this place just for the mini waterfalls. Because it was a relatively easy paved short walk, some would decide to have a nice easy morning stroll and would give the slightly more advance tramping track a miss. That could be an option, but if you are more able-bodied, then continue on the elevated track to Lake Marian ‘cause the reward at the end is just mind-blowing! Period!

3. Elevated Track (through the forest)

After the end of the series of mini waterfalls, where the initial road underfoot was still well-paved and easy to walk on, came the start of the elevated tracks to Lake Marian! Which by then, consists of gravel roads, steep inclined and at times, wet and muddy pathways. From here on, it was approximately 1.5 hours to the beautiful Lake Marian as stated on the signage.

So into the native forest we ascended, starting with steady inclines up on uneven rocky road. It was still relatively manageable at the start, with very obvious reasons. It was enjoyable and exciting to wander through the amazing forest. Even the sweat and the panting from climbing up against gravity were all part of the package of adventure! Totally enrapturing!

But the climb soon became a little relentless as time passed. However, thinking about it now just made me missed manoeuvring through the dense forest like some explorer on a mission; a mission to find the hidden gem of a lake that is! Haha! 😀

After trotting through the rocky, and at times narrow paths, feeling all sweltering, we arrived to an area of openness. There weren’t any shelter from the sun by the trees like before, and if one would just have a quick glance at the entire peripheral view on its own without being meticulous in the details, one would totally missed out the orange beacon (which we all know is there for the very reason to guide trekkers in the right direction)!

And we decided, of all places, to take respite in an unshaded open piece of area surrounded by trees and huge logs. Hhhmmm… And the idea of respite is to dance silly as if the trees were the compelled audiences there to stay. Haha… You can see the embarrassing footage in the video linked below.

Click for Lake Marian video!

Following the orange beacon prudently along, we were on our merry way back into the forest under the cool shelter from the sun. But from this section on, the path was definitely way more exciting to manoeuvre through. Much more narrower pave, and even at times having to balance on thick tree trunks and all. I imperatively enjoyed my climb for this particular trek during my whole stay in the South Island of New Zealand. I found the zeal and passion just moving through the forest. Yes, it was tiring, but I found the joy in it. I felt so alive and just plain satisfied. I really don’t know how else to explain this feeling but it was pure simple happiness! 😀

I recalled we did asked other trekkers who were descending back from the lake, how much more distance we had to cover. And the answers to that were always, “Oh yeah yeah, soon, very soon.” And after a while, we figured, “… soon, very soon.” was but a mere sentence. Totally inaccurate. Well in their defence, probably the distance was short, but maybe we were already quite worn out that “… soon, very soon.” seemed “… far, all so very far.” Haha!

We just had to ramble through and press forward!

So trust me when I say that these huge pieces of logs that you have to cross over, is a pretty good indicator that the end is near. The end to eternal ethereal beauty of Lake Marian was just so close within our reach. Honest!

4. Lake Marian

Lake Marian is an alpine lake in a hanging valley formed by glacial action. This lake lies above the bush line and is surrounded by the amazing Darren Mountains. The Lake Marian region probably provides the most enticing setting of a hidden gem in the Fiordland National Park region. Perfect for photographers!

Albeit jaded, the breeze from the lake just doused the tiredness and rekindled a whole new feeling of enthusiasm and glow! When we first saw the sight of Lake Marian, we were awestricken. Speechless. Dumbfounded.

I needed a moment to soak in the wondrous beauty of it all. The distant partially white snow-capped Darren Mountains as backdrop and the undisturbed clear waters were just in a perfect cosmos. It was really impressive how incredible Mother Nature was. And time and again, she never failed to amaze and blow me away. It was like a wallpaper that I would only imagined and dreamed about, but there it was, sprawled right in front of me in my peripheral vision, unimpeded!

The hours of climb through the forest and all the pushing through was all worth it. Worth it to be in the moment as such, and to have that memory to have at least seen and felt it just once was bliss enough.

We spend quite a long time by the alpine lake. Having our packed lunch of sandwiches, admiring the beauty, and of course taking loads of photos. Haha!

It was so beautiful, we were quite reluctant to leave. But we did have quite a journey back to the parking lot. Alas, we had to leave to make up for the time before it turned dark.

 

TIPS?

(a) Start the trek EARLY

Before embarking on this Lake Marian trek, I already knew we had to start the trek early. But because we were beat out from previous nights, we decided that we would still get up early, but… just not so much earlier.

Hence, we missed out on the magnificent reflections of the Darren Mountains on the lake waters; which could be seen when the weather was calm making the waters in Lake Marian very much still. And that usually happened at dawn when the air would be crisp and the breeze at its minimal. When we were heading towards the lake, we stopped to have a conversation with a couple from Israel. They headed to the lake extremely early in the wee morning, and were already on their way back. We saw some of the shots they took of Lake Marian early in the morning, they were GORGEOUS! Words cannot describe.

So if you want to have amazing reflection shots of the mountains imprinted on the lake waters, a good timing to arrive at Lake Marian would be around 8 – 9 am? That was according to the Israeli couple.

If not, Lake Marian is still a gorgeous sight in the late morning early afternoon; which was what we got to see. Still ain’t half bad you know. 😀

(b) Go for a SWIM

Minor regrets in life comes when you thought you were all packed for a trek, but didn’t occur to you that you could actually bring your swimming gear. I didn’t know swimming was allowed at Lake Marian, well… apparently so it seemed. If I had a do over, I would make sure I pack my swimming essentials that’s for sure. I am positively sure the waters would be so refreshing after a long arduous climb up. Totally energising!

But because we were not prepared for a swim, we only doused our hands in the waters, which was extremely chilly!

(c) Beacon of SAFETY

The start of the tramping track on this Lake Marian trek would be after the series of mini waterfalls. The pathway started to get more uneven underfoot and the route was not at all straightforward. Hence, it would definitely be advisable that one should be of moderate to good level of fitness and also have a certain level of navigation and survival skills.

Getting to Lake Marian was still somewhat manageable. We just had to find orange beacon arrows mounted on tree trunks, or any form of track markers or indicators. Of which, some were very obviously spotted, while others required a wee bit more eye for details. But either way, it was still alright, coming from someone who really do not have much jungle experience.

However, on the way back, we had probably missed a beacon and sort of side tracked a little. The pathway did not seemed at all crossable. Hence, in such situation it would definitely be wise to trust your gut, retract your steps and find the orange beacon or any indicator that you might have missed, sometimes it could be a red ribbon or something like that.

Always remember to be safe. If you don’t feel that it is right, even the slightest bit, to move forward… don’t. Trust yourself.

The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawbai, a government agency in charge of conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage, placed Lake Marian Track to be in the ‘Advanced: Tramping track’ category.

In New Zealand, tracks that are listed in this government agency website, are placed in one of six categories. And to be placed under ‘Advanced: Tramping track’, indicates that the Lake Marian Track is considered to be the second most demanding track, with ‘Expert: Route’ being the most challenging one.

Click for more information about the six walking track categories.

Hence, it is always wise to stay safe and be mindful of the surroundings!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money! And I do hope to conquer more treks in the future.

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Parking Lot –> Elevated Track –> Summit –> And Back

Total Distance:

16 km (9.9 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 7 – 9 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Seasonal Restrictions:

Track closed for lambing between 1st October and 10th November each year.

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂 🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

The Wanaka region is still by far the most memorable part of my New Zealand trip. Weather in New Zealand can get pretty precarious; with moments of sunshine, and then moments of melancholy!

In hindsight, we were pretty much blessed during our visit to the Wanaka region with perfect skies, not too chilly temperature, and best of all, refreshingly cool breeze that fills every volume corner of our lungs as we inhaled in the best of nature!

 

How to get there?

The start of the Roys Peak Track is just a quick and simple approximately 5 km drive North West from Wanaka Township! Drive on Ardmore Street, which will lead you on Wanaka- Mount Aspiring Road.

Look out for the yellow signage (which is not as prominent) ‘Roys Peak Track’ on the right (if you are coming from Wanaka Township, that is). The car parking area is just there at the base of the peak!

 

Highlights and Views

There is a green donation box near the entrance of the Roys Peak Track. The donation is more for maintenance and upgrade of the walking track. It is not compulsory and you do not have to be compelled to donate if you do not want to.

The first section of the Roys Peak Track crosses private land, hence, it is sage to keep on the paved track, and respect landowner’s property! Since there would be approximately a month’s long of lambing between October and November, obviously we could get to see some, well… … many… … sheep and lambs up close and personal all throughout the track up!

And of course, you have to accept the animals in all their glory right?

By that, I meant the woolly fur balls’ poops and their glorious smell that accompanies with! Yup, poopies all over the track; especially the initial section! Here. There. EVERYWHERE! 😀 Glorious smell!

The view just keeps getting more amazing as you ascend. I couldn’t help but always take a glance back as I climbed up a few steps further!

First it was just the hills, the thin strip of Wanaka Township, and the partial view of Lake Wanaka, then slowly, the lake view just extents wider, and the town strip gets larger! Soon we could see the sprawling Wanaka Township on the right and the cerulean Lake Wanaka on the left- all within our peripheral vision; unimpeded!

The distant mountains and beyond were now visible as well! Partially shrouded by the clouds, some mountains were snow-capped. Hence, I kept my eyes peeled for the moment the mountains were less covered by the clouds to capture a shot or two or three!

I do know that the view is going to be even more awe-inspiring up at the summit of Roys Peak, but I just couldn’t help myself! I had to pause the trudge up (at intervals), snapped pictures and immersed in it all! It was just too beautiful, it was impeccable! Maybe that’s why when people say that they take a certain time to complete a trek; I probably take longer than what was mentioned! 🙂

Along the journey up Roys Peak Track, you will see an up sloping field of alpine tussocks, and from far it looks like fur balls of hair that sways so gently and in sync with the wind. The tussocks just remind me of the movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, where the colourful vibrant trees look like cotton candy and balls of hair!

There is a long narrow strip for respite just before you continue on the climb to the summit. You could stop here for a snack/lunch break and if you are really not up for it, you could slowly make your descend. Most people would stop here and have photos taken of them on the narrow strip with the blue hues of sky, lake and mountains as backdrop! Very Instagram-worthy! ;P

This is a nice spot to be ensorcelled by the beauty of the landscape in front of you. And by this time, you would be imperatively certain that the arduous trudge up earlier was definitely all worth it; every drop of sweat!

Comparing the long elevated way up from the base, to the climb from the respite area to the summit, the latter is really not that long a journey. You have reached the Roys Peak summit when you see the tall radio antenna tower!

So knowing this now, if you see it afar whilst climbing, maybe you would want to use this as your beacon of hope to spur you on? Haha!

I cannot explain how much satisfaction I had gain from conquering the Roys Peak Track. The amount of effort I vested in to get a view as gawkingly breath-taking as this was just very deserving in my opinion.

You know there are some treks where you don’t need to put much effort and still get awesome views? And there are some which make you cringe and grit your teeth, but yet you still press on, and are rewarded with the views to die for?

Well, though sometimes we all need treks which requires less effort in exchange for good view; ‘cause you know, we are all not made of steel; and we cannot always and every day be conquering challenging treks right?

But, in my opinion, it is good and healthy to challenge yourself every now and then to a trek that makes you work your ass for something deserving. I feel a greater sense of achievement as compared to a simpler and easier trek! Don’t you think so? 🙂

‘Cause the best memories will be deeply etched when you actually put an effort and work for it rather than just getting it on a silver platter! Though, I have to say, sometimes silver platters would be nice too! Haha! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Just keep swimming moving… … Just keep swimming moving… …

For someone who hasn’t done the Roys Peak Track before, you couldn’t really pinpoint where the final destination (a.k.a summit) really is. All you see is just a relentless elevated winding track to the heavens; which means against gravity! And well… … we all know, gravity ain’t exactly the best-est of friend sometimes right?

Definitely not the most benign track to be on, but you really need to rivet on the goal here; and that’s to reach the summit, because you presage that the view up there is going to be so swooning, and it’s just a pity if you were to miss it! Well… … at least that’s what I tell myself whilst on this track!

So don’t just stop at the narrow strip for respite! Have a break and continue to the summit! It’s really not that far! Honest!

(b) Start the trek EARLY

If you are someone who loves pausing to snap photos, or need multiple breaks to catch your breath (because, this is a massive elevated track), then you really need to start early. Take it from someone who had done this trek in the morning, and finished it close to evening.

(c) Sunscreen is a MUST; alongside windproof outer coat

Roys Peak Track gave me my first sunburn on my lower arms in over a decade! Usually I would use sunscreen and at most I would just tan up, but this time there was massive skin peeling. Why? ‘Cause I was lazy, that’s why.  And overly complacent! It was bad enough for me to get an aloe vera after sun lotion to soothe the burn.

This is an exposed track, with no trees to shelter you like most forest track. So do not be lazy like I was, and slap on sunscreen!

Windproof coat is much needed just in case the weather changes. You do not want to be freezing your ass at 1578 m above sea level, do you? Haha!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money!

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Gillespies Beach Car Park –> Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge) –> Gillespies Beach –> Gillespies Lagoon (bridge) –> Galway Beach Seal Colony –> Miners Tunnel (backtrack) –> Gillespies Lagoon –> Gillespies Beach –> Gillespies Beach Car Park

Total Distance:

6.8 km (4.2 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 6 – 7 hours (with plenty of time to get lost, take great shots and respites (lunch) when necessary)

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂
Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Trekking Route + What you might experience (getting lost)?

TIPS?

This was a much anticipated trek when in Fox Glacier township. With the description on Google saying that we could actually trek to see a colony of seals with beady black eyes, I voted ‘Why Not!’ instantly! With no fences or viewing glass that impedes, just pure wilderness and wild fur seals, it was an opportunity I wouldn’t want to miss- with great hope that nature would be on our side for us to spot them for afar of course.

 

How to get there?

An approximately 25 minutes drive from Fox Glacier Township, head on Cook Flat Road, and turn right onto the gravel- made Gillespies Beach Road. The journey could be slow and draggy due to the nature of the road, and the view, well… … isn’t that all awe-inspiring, but just bare with it!

Blast on music and enjoy the bumpy ride, because the corollary is just too sweet to not hold on to it! Just keep thinking of those fur seals; wild and untouched; that’s the main goal (gold) here. 😉

But of course, we were pretty lucky to see an amazingly tranquil sight when the weather changes and the sun starts to cuddle up for the night. On the journey back after the trek, we had views that were just inexplicably breath-taking that we had to stop the car and snap!

 

Trekking Route + What you might experience?

This route we took, well… took us a minuscule bit of time to figure out and to maneuver about because there is just so many routes you could actually take and things you could see all within the same vicinity. With a variety of route choices, and not enough time, we need to make wise decisions. So let me ease this out for you and you could totally skip certain routes that doesn’t interest you!

At the car park you will be first greeted by a massive rustic suction dredge machinery designed by Edward Von Schmidt in the 1800s. With parts of the machine gone, and rust flakes all over the entire dredge, it was time to step into the time capsule and take us back a few hundred years.

You have the options to take the ‘Gillespies Suction Dredge Walk’ which is a short 15 minutes loop or the 5 minutes ‘Miners Cemetery Walking Track’. However, we decided to head for the 1932 Gold Dredge a.ka. the Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk instead.

1. Gillespies Beach (detour appetizer before the main trek)

Before that, I was curious to where the route with the signage on the left labelled ‘Beach’ would take us. Obviously the beach… Duh! But I was just interested to see the beach first alright? That’s not a crime right? 😛

Gillespies beach is just perfect for anyone who wants solace. Placid; with only the waves crashing against the shore, and the late morning sea breeze howling, it was a cool way (literally) to start any day, any time!

The insanely many rocks that awash and shrouded the sand on the beach was definitely a unique sight for me. I have never seen so many pebbles and rocks on a beach that people actually could stack pebble-made sculptures; which I must add, do act as good photography pieces- not complaining here. 😛

2. Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge)

This is the start of the main trekking route towards the seal colony! Whoo hoo!

We started off with walking amongst the tall shrubs, bushes, certain animal poopies and friendly flies that always come along with the poopies. Not pointing fingers here but I reckon the culprit… … the sheep. I really do. We saw a few of them en route to the car park; just saying… … 😛

Soon we saw a few more rustic machineries that were half submerge in the pond; with a massive part of them still sticking out. I really cannot help but think of Tow Mater from the Disney movie Cars upon the sight of all of these!

Ambling along a very narrow walkway under some shade and admiring, these machineries are so rusted and ancient that it was just unbelievable that they were so close to reach (not that I actually touched them).

3. Gillespies Lagoon (bridge); getting lost?

Part 2 for the walk was to head towards Gillespies Lagoon. To do that, we had to head pass the shrubs and bushes towards the beach (just follow the signage).

Once you see the beach with huge chunks of dried logs sprawled on the sand at intervals with countless rocks and pebbles, head right towards the Lagoon. However, if you think that you have seen enough, you could head left, and you would be on your merry way back to the car park via Gillespies Beach.

Now here comes the hard part.

We got a little carried away with walking along the beach that we pass our turn to the right which will lead us to the bridge. We even thought we had to climb boulders and across waters to get across. But none of such difficult tasks were needed, not to worry.

We saw the lagoon but thought that the lagoon wasn’t the right one as we could not see the bridge. Well, it turns out that we had to turn right BEFORE passing the lagoon and walk along it. Because sooner enough there would be a signage on the right (amongst the bushes) that says… … Hey what do you know, ‘Bridge 3 minutes’. Feeling stupid then we were. Haha! A little setback here, but not to worry; the day was still long!

We spend more time by the bridge and the tannin lagoon taking massive photos, and of course, had some snacks for lunch and watched a couple of duckies roamed in the lagoon! It was a nice serene moment for respite.

4. Galway Beach Seal Colony

From here onwards, the route starts to be a little more rocky and challenging. So if you want to head back after seeing the bridge, DON’T. Push yourself a bit further through the forest, and at least make it to the Miners Tunnels. Anyway, it is only about 10 – 15 minutes (ish) from the bridge (with no muddy sections)! I’m sure with a slow walk, it would be fine! And after that, if you still feel you cannot carry on, then backtrack. 🙂

For us, we decided to leave the Miners Tunnel for when we come back from Galway Beach Seal Colony because we all know; once we got stuck at a place for photos, we would spend an ungodly amount of time at that one place. And at that moment, time was a factor. It was already long past noon (we probably spend too much time by the lagoon and lost track of time). This was great evidence for us to keep moving or we will never make it back before sundown! Haha! 😀

The gravel route in the dense forest soon turned muddy. I mean, real muddy. Too muddy that at times, your only option was to brave through it and sink yourself, close to ankle deep, into the mud. Hhhmmm… … What a way to get close to nature. But of course, I would try not succumb to such.

I would think of ways like hopping and leaping from one dry(ish) spot to the next and walked gingerly close to the edge if I had to, just to avoid the thick mud if it was possible. J would followed suit, but at times she decided to take another way across and got her shoes a tad bit closer to nature. There were also other times when she was faster at maneuvering through them than I was, and well… … when she sunk in, we both knew it was a danger zone, and I would then avoid it. So for the times when she sunk in, I really do have her to thank for that. Oops! Haha! :S

Sometimes, whoever was faster to cross over the more challenging mud section, that person would help pull the other over, or just communicate with the other on the next step of action if the other party was stuck in a muddy predicament. Sounds like we are in an obstacle course, and it did felt like it for awhile. But since there were so many muddy sections, soon we were immune to them, and maneuvering around them were quicker.

There were some logs at intervals in the muddy sections to help people cross over it, but sometimes, the logs aren’t at all stable, and stepping on them may cause you to slip and fall into the puddle of mud. So do be extra prudent.

There you have it, what you may experience on this trek!

I did however came out of this with minimal damage; though with some minor cuts from branches, and some form of sinking into the mud; which was surely unavoidable. And yes, I am proud of myself for that. Haha! 😀

I do not have pictures to show for the muddy routes as we pretty much had our hands filled (filth) from dodging around the mud. Haha! But trust me, it was muddy. We passed a friendly old couple who were on their way back to the car park, and his wife had accidentally sunk into the mud, kneecap down. Oh man, what a sight it was. But kudos to the couple, who did not allow age to get in their way for an experience of adventure. Salute!

After all the hard work which seems like an eternity of dense forest mud dodging, we were exhilarated when we saw a flight of metal stairway to paradise. We, I mean, I, climbed down the steep wet stairway hurriedly and hopped boulder to boulder to the beach.

Oh man, it was amazing to have finally arrived. And the hunt (not literally of course) for the fur seal begun once J ambled over! Whee…! I must say, it wasn’t easy to search for the colony. We had to walk a long way along the beach through the boulders slowly, and be consistently on alert mode as we do not want to be found in a situation where we were too close and trapped within the colony. The key is to espy the wild from a distance, yeah?

And we found them! Well, not a colony, but just a few sprawling on the sand. But I’ll take it! Better than nothing right? Maybe it was the time we arrived, it was already late afternoon by then.

Regardless, elated as we were, we tried to contain our excitement so as to not scare them. All the mud dodging in the forest earlier was worth it! 😀

The way back to the car park was backtracking; meaning another round of mud dodging through the dense forest. Whee… … … … … …. I cannot wait… …

5. Miners Tunnel (backtrack)

The Miners Tunnel was a nice checkpoint to assure us that we were out of the dense forest, and we could actually make it out in one piece by sundown. Melodramatic much? But yeah… … It was really getting late, and there weren’t a single soul trekking with us in the forest.

The view of the ocean was breath-taking. A nice aerial view of everything, and on good days I heard you may actually see the seals from way up here at the viewpoint! Alas we weren’t this lucky that day, but hey, seeing them at the beach earlier, that was good enough! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Good time to start the trek? EARLY!

How early is early? Well… … It’s really up to you. But I reckon, if I would do this again, 8 am (ish) is a nice time to work with.

This way you will imperatively have plenty of time to admire the scenery by Galway Beach where the seal colony is. I mean with all the hard work put into get there, the least you could do to reward yourself is to spend a little bit more time by the beach lunching (away from the seal colony of course) don’t you think so?

I recall we did not get enough time to soak in the beach at all, and was compelled to head back soon. 🙁 It was very close to sunset and we were still only halfway through the muddy sections on the trek back. This frightened us a little. Okay, a lot. Because this means we aren’t even close to the Miners Tunnels, which also meant that we were still in the dense forest, and light-less is definitely not the way to maneuver around in the forest; with no flashlight. I bet even Jessie J can’t help you here. #justsaying

Hence, it is always good to have ample day light to work with, no?

(b) Take photo of the signage with the trekking map printed on it!

Either with your mobile phone or camera, make it a habit to snap a photo of the signage with a map at the start of any trek.

First of all, you can always refer to it to remind yourself how long the journey would be, because sometimes the signage does indicate the duration of the trek; which I must add is not always accurate- speaking for many experiences. So back to the first TIP? Start your trek EARLY!

Secondly, the map on the signage would help you if you were to get lost and there ain’t a soul to ask for directions. We really relied on photos like these on quite a few occasions, so don’t underestimate these simple photographs- they can go a long way.

And lastly, a good photo to use as documentation for your trekking trip! Haha! 😀

(c) En route back to the car park; walk along Gillespies beach instead

When passing the bridge the second time on the way back to the car park, take a stroll along the beach instead! There is no need to literally backtrack unless you really do want to experience the Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge) one more time.

In my opinion, saunter along the beach when it is close to nightfall beats walking through the shrubs, bushes and animal poopies. Furthermore, you could have the opportunity to maybe spot one or two fur seals chillaxing by the beach too (speaking from experience)! So keep your eyes peeled like J did, because thanks to her we managed to have a second round of fur seal watching! This time it was by Gillespies Beach near the car park; so we have all the time in the world to admire it from afar without fear of being trapped in the forest without a flashlight! Yay! 😀

Hope this goads you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

1. Spring Clean, Decorations & Lion Dance

2. Get a NEW(ish) Outfit

3. Get a Haircut

4. The Reunion Dinner

5. Eating New Year Snacks

6. It WAS All About The Ang Paos a.k.a Red Packets

Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions

Travel TIPS: Sights & Sounds

Today is the fourth day of Chinese (Lunar) New Year. And for those who are wondering and are curious about how Singaporeans (or at least, my family and I) prepare for, and what we do during Chinese New Year, well this is the right article for you.

This is the year of the Goat, hence those born in 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979 etc. have their Chinese Zodiac sign to be Goat. The Chinese Zodiac is a recurring cycle of 12 years.

If you are interested in how the Chinese Zodiac come about and how the order of the animals are arranged, visit: http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/story.asp for an intriguing read.

There are a few variations to the story, and this is not what I was told by my Mum; who heard it as a kid from her uncle, but the idea and story plot is roughly the same.

Depending on how much you believe in the Zodiac sign, those born in the year of the Goat are generally polite, kind, and compassionate- basically attributes of a goat, when it is not terrorise that is. 😀

If you are interested in what are the lucky numbers, colours, etc. for those born in the year of the goat, visit: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/social_customs/zodiac/sheep.htm.

Hey, maybe this is the year you win the lottery? 😛

Here is a list of things and Traditional TIPS I find essential to my family and I during Chinese New Year, or whilst growing up. Whether this list is a good representation of the majority of Singaporeans or anyone around the world who celebrates Chinese New Year… Well… I leave the judgement to you.

So here goes.

 

1. Spring Clean, Decorations & Lion Dance

To many Chinese household in Singapore, spring cleaning and hanging of Chinese New Year decorations marks the start of  the preparation towards the New Year. According to my Mum, this is usually done about a month(ish) prior.

My family is rather, how should I put it… The Procrastinators? We are pretty last- minute in things like these. Haha…!

My Mum would clean the house and call out to us kids to help out. And usually to no avail; especially the boys- they will never budge.

I don’t remember about last year, and I cannot vouch for the subsequent years in the future, but this year, I did helped out a teeny tiny bit, after my Mum’s perpetual earnest  implore for help in the cleaning and decorations.

The reason why the general households here are serious about spring cleaning is due to the believe that when cleaning, we are ‘cleaning’ away any bad luck residue in the house, and welcoming good luck into the family for the year ahead.

My mum always say, “Even if it’s not a special occasion like New Year or Christmas, we should also keep the house clean and tidy, no?”

In response to her, I have no comments there. 😛

On a more serious note, there should not be any form of sweeping on the day of Chinese New Year.

Why?

Well… Scroll to the second last section of this article on ‘Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions’; all will be explained there

New Year decorations are usually in the colour red, pink, yellow, and gold. Mainly red.

Decorations like the display firecrackers, lanterns, and the ginormous display pineapples,  are in red. The Chinese New Year flowers however, the Plum Blossoms and Peach Blossoms, are in pastel pink. Super cute flowers in a nice vase as a table centre piece.

Basically, it’s the time of the year where red (or shades of red) is the new norm. #happycolours

Red symbolises good luck, while yellow and gold are traditionally used in regal services. As such the latter colours are emblems of wealth and happiness.

Red is also a salient colour, hence it is believed to be able to drive the bad luck and ill fortune away.

According to a Chinese myth, the Nian (which is a beast- like creature) attacked villagers during the period of Chinese New Year. Since the Nian’s weaknesses were loud noises and the colour red, villagers would don on this prominent colour and made loads of noise using drums, firecrackers, empty plates and bowls to ward off the evilness.

In modern day context, it has now become a tradition to have lion dance troupes invited to houses, companies and even schools or local community centres to perform. During such performances, heavy drumming can be heard blocks away as a symbol to chase off the Nian, and bring in prosperity.

As a kid, I was extremely afraid of the lion dance performances and their loud drumming. I recall weeping and hiding behind my grandmother one night while strolling pass a community centre with my brother.

Those dances scared the daylights out of me. I actually thought the ‘dragon’- like- thing was going to eat me or something. Yup, a little wimpy as a child, it’s hilarious. No wonder my brother was in fits of laughter as he watched me cried myself silly in my grandmother’s warmth embrace. Haha…!

 

2. Get a NEW(ish) Outfit

To many, this is the best excuse to go on a shopping spree; taking it to the streets or online.

As for me, I do not have the habit of wearing something brand new on New Year’s day. As long as it is NEW(ish), I’m cool. My definition of ‘NEW(ish)’ would be outfits that I have worn probably a couple of times? As long as it looks presentable, it’s all alright. Oh, also, outfits (not worn) that were bought ancient months ago counts too, DUH… 😀

My outfit for Chinese New Year this year, fits the bill perfectly in the latter part of the definition. This cotton pasley dress from Valleygirl was bought last year. Seeing it hung on the rack required a few seconds to contemplate even trying it on.

It was the pasley and the patches of pink peach blossoms that caught my eye, as I instantly link the prints to Chinese New Year. After slipping it on in the dresser, I knew right away I had to get it. Pronto.

I love cotton material clothes, so soft and comfy, it doesn’t feel too sticky even after a long day’s wear under Singapore’s humid climate.

However, there is just ONE teeny tiny criteria one must follow when picking out an outfit. No black please.

Why?

Well… Scroll to the second last section of this article on ‘Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions’; all will be explained there.

Though this criteria is not that all adamant in some families, but in mine, my mother will unleash if I ever wear dark and dull colours, yet alone black- don’t even think about it.

So this dress from Valleygirl was definitely a thumbs up from my Mum. #mumapproveddress

I remember one year, years back, I wore some shade of grey, with a tinge of prints in yellow and pink, she unleashed. Oh man… We do not wanna’ go there.

On the flip side, my Mum is all cool for having accessories in black. Shoes and bags, she’s fine.

 

3. Get a Haircut

Hair salons are the busiest during this festive season. Ladies, especially, booked to get their hair done weeks prior; all having the aim to look fresh and well groomed for the big day during Chinese New Year.

So mentioning that my family are The Procrastinators right?

Well… My Mum and I got our hair done on the night before the eve of Chinese New Year. Yup, that’s how last-minute we were.

And, acting on impulse once more, I chopped off whatever inch of hair I had to be able tie it up. So right now, my hair is so short, I kinda, sort of, maybe, think I may have acted too rashly. Haha…

Also note that all hair cuts should be done BEFORE Chinese New Year.

Why?

Well… Scroll to the second last section of this article on ‘Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions’; all will be explained there.

 

4. The Reunion Dinner

Reunion dinner to me as a kid growing up, is a time when we would head down to my grandmother’s place and have a delectable feast of steamboat.

A steamboat dinner is basically having raw meat, seafood, vegetables, fish balls, crab flavoured sticks, alongside canned mushrooms, abalone, clams etc. on the table, with a big metal pot (containing soup of your choice) on top of a portable electrical stove/cooker as the centre piece.

And what you do is to basically just toss in all the raw food into the hot soup (at intervals), and cook it! Pretty simple and fun, especially for curious kids; since they love to play cooking and all.

You could have soup and all the cooked food with rice, noodles or bee hoon (rice vermicelli). Of course the sambal belacan chilli is definitely a must. It goes so well with the rice or bee hoon. It’s an amazing explosion in the mouth. Yum Yum!

In my family, instead of using the modern electrical cooker, we use the portable gas stove, where in order to work the machine, my Dad had to insert in a bottle of butane gas. Really old school.

I remember my grandmother would fry bee hoon for us, so we would have the luxury of choice. Rice or bee hoon, you pick! Definitely bee hoon for me. Her fried bee hoon is pretty awesome I must say. Love it!

So why is it a tradition for us to have steamboat? Why not eat something else?

Steamboat requires cooking to be done on the spot. There is no way one can fill up his plate with food and head to the sofa to watch The Big Bang Theory, or head to his laptop and play games while eating. You need to be around the table.

Hence, this sort of creates an environment for all to really sit down on this 1 special night on Chinese New Year’s Eve to have a decent meal together; hence the word ‘Reunion’. It’s something really exceptional to me.

This year however, was different. We did not head down to my grandmother’s place for a steamboat feast. Instead we booked a restaurant in town to have our gathering. We had it at Red House (Address: 68 Prinsep Street, Singapore 188661). It was an eight course Chinese dinner with steamed Goby fish, tiger prawns, braised duck etc.

Honestly, steamboat at grandma’s beats tiger prawns any time.

 

5. Eating New Year Snacks

Chinese New Year, is a Fatstival.

It is a time of feasting on good meals with family and friends, and also a time when you can get to visit relatives at their homes and eat New Year snacks while you’re at it!

It’s not every day you get to sink your teeth into the moist, soft buttery pineapple tarts, or the sweet, tender almond peanut sugar cookies or the hard- to-miss white sugary Kuey Bankit, or the king of all New Year snacks- Bak Kwa; a savoury sweet barbecued pork jerky so mouth-watering that once you had one, you have to finish the entire box. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…

So I cannot resist the urge to stop eating those delish little treats- so small, but totally deadly. Not only are they deadly for weight- conscious people (e.g. 1 teeny tiny pineapple tart = 82 calories), they are deadly to the throat as well. #noselfcontrol

About a month prior to Chinese New Year, my Dad bought back one of my favourite New Year treats- sambal shrimp rolls. Luckily he didn’t buy pineapple tarts, or that will be gone before Chinese New Year as well.

Don’t judge, pineapple tarts and sambal shrimp rolls are my 2 weaknesses. Love them, and hate them after.

I don’t know about other households, but we do not have the rule that says we cannot eat New Year treats before New Year.

So the bottle of Sambal Shrimp Rolls was opened and my little brother and I probably finished the entire bottle, in a week or so. And we both got real sick. Yup. So small and delish, but totally deadly.

I was on medical leave for the next week. Fever could go down, my throat was in bad shape, and I was coughing like mad, probably vomited a couple. We both definitely got lashed by Mummy Dearest for not drinking enough and being a glutton. Haha…!

Even up to now, my health isn’t completely 100%. My throat still hurts a little, but having no self-control, I still nibble on the snacks as I go from one house visit to the next.

Hey, when people offer you delish snacks, it’s impolite to reject their good intentions right? But this year, I am selective in my nibbling. I do not want to be on medical leave for another week again.

 

6. It WAS All About The Ang Paos a.k.a Red Packets

Chinese New Year is a time to visit relatives and friends near and far. It’s definitely a great time to catch up with friends whom you seldom see. And during those visitations, common traditional exchanges will be seen.

(a) Exchange of luck

Upon entering the home of the hosts, the guests will usually wish the hosts good luck, fortune, health, etc. and in the process, give 2 mandarin oranges to them. The act of giving the oranges is a gesture of giving luck and wealth to the hosts. Hence, in exchange, the hosts will give 2 mandarin oranges back to the guest.

(b) Giving/ Receiving Ang Paos

Ang Paos usually come in the colour red. However, pink, yellow and gold are sometimes seen as well.

If you are married, this is a tradition you cannot run away from. Giving red packets (with money inside, usually in EVEN amounts) to kids, teenagers, and basically anyone not yet married. In this process, the receiver would wish the giver good luck, fortune, health, etc.

I remember my Mum would teach us as kids on what to say to the elders, and we would recite simple mandarin phrases to them when the elders gave us the Ang Paos.

Up till today, we are still struggling with the simple phrases (we don’t use such phrases on a daily basis, so pardon us :P), and the boys would just invent funny rhyming Chinese phrases along the way; some totally makes no sense. -.-‘

I recall as kids, my brother and I would be so excited about the Ang Paos we collected. And upon arriving home, we would immediately count all the money we had received for that day of home visitations. And, at the end of it all, we would see who received more. Most of the time my brother will have more than I, as he’s the eldest. What a bummer.

There was one year, ancient years ago, when we both gotten the same amount, but my little brother had a few dollars more than us. Apparently, his cute toddler face got him an extra Ang Pao. He was very proud of himself that night. Haha…

In recent years, collection of Ang Paos wasn’t as exciting as when we were younger. I mean, we were happy to receive the Ang Paos, just not as hysterical as before.

Guess, it WAS all about the Ang Paos as a kid, but not now.

Now… it’s probably all about the New Year snacks. Haha!

 

Traditional New Year TIPS/ Superstitions

Traditional TIP #1: Sweeping during Chinese New Year?

Note that there should NOT be any form of spring cleaning done on the actual day of Chinese New Year. That’s a BIG NO-NO! I remember as a kid, my Mum would remind us not use a broom to sweep the floor during the day Chinese New Year as it will sweep away the luck and good fortune. I remember asking her about the use of the vacuum cleaner, and she mentioned, apparently using the vacuum cleaner and mopping is still alright? Haha…! Guess we’re all not that stringent in this traditional custom?

Traditional TIP #2: Donning on black during Chinese New Year?

Black is usually associated with mourning. Hence, on a joyous occasion, one should avoid such a colour tone. Don on bright colours to welcome the festive cheer.

Wearing black also shows that one has no respect for the host during home visitations. It may seem like you are bringing bad luck to the host.

So yeah… No black, ya?

Traditional TIP #3: Cutting hair during Chinese New Year?

People usually get their hair in tiptop condition before the New Year. And if you really need a haircut, you should do it after the New Year.

The saying goes, if you cut your hair during Chinese New Year, it is considered bad luck.  This is due to the pronunciation of the word ‘hair’ in mandarin, which is pronounce as ‘发’ (fa) which is homonymic to the word ‘prosperity’ in mandarin.

In a nutshell, cutting your hair is like ‘cutting your prosperity’. Hence, people deem that as bad luck.

BAM! So now we know…

Traditional TIP #4: Accidental breaking of glass during Chinese New Year?

I’m sure you have heard that if you break a mirror you get 7 years of bad luck. Well, likewise for glass of any sort, try your best not to break them within these 15 days of Chinese New Year.

However, when accidents happen, it’s just unavoidable- Not like we love going around breaking glass for no apparent reason right?

So when this happens, say something good to shroud the unavoidable.

Hey, make the best out of a ‘bad’ situation right? Think positive!

My grandmother told my Mum that when this happens just shout,” 落 地 开 花   富 贵 荣 华” (luò dì kāi huā   fù guì róng huá)!

It will clear away the omen. 😀

There are so many traditions and superstitions (I am sure there are more which I may have never heard of before), you cannot possibly adhere to all of them religiously. Things like no washing of hair during the first day of Chinese New Year (that’s a big No No for me), or being vegetarian during the first day of Chinese New Year (our family doesn’t follow this) etc.

I reckon that we should just follow the traditions our family has already set precedent. This defines us all as Chinese households, yet within each household there could have a tinge of difference in our traditions and customs – SAME but DIFFERENT in subtle ways.

 

Travel TIPS: Sights & Sounds

Wondering what activities to do during the long New Year’s break?

Well… For those who do not celebrate Chinese New Year, or those in Singapore on a short vacation, then you are in great luck!

There are really quite a lot of happening events held in place to spread the festive cheer! And some of these events are held annually.

Those who do celebrate Chinese New Year can also take a stroll to these places with your family and friends. It can be memorable as well. We can all be a tourist in our own country, why not? I am sure there are bound to have a few instagram-worthy shots to take!

(a) Chinatown

Event

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Chinatown Street Light Up Pagoda Street

New Bridge Road

Eu Tong Sen Street

Nearest Train Station: Chinatown

Feb 21, 19 00 – 02 00

Feb 22 – Feb 26, 19 00 – 00 00

Feb 27 – Feb 28, 19 00 – 02 00

FOC

The timings for the street light up in March are roughly the same as in February.

http://www.eventfinda.sg/2015/chinatown-street-light-up/singapore/chinatown

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Chinese New Year, I think of the hordes of people all doing their intense shopping in preparation for the New Year. In addition, I think of the massive decorations put up along the streets of Chinatown. It’s Red Red Red all over. The hanging of bright red lanterns and the blast of Chinese New Year songs can really light up the mood of anyone.

Since this is the year of the Goat, massive goat structures were put up near Hotel 81, along New Bridge Road. This is a great hot spot for many to take shots with. And it’s especially awe-worthy at night when everywhere is all lighted up with pretty fairy lights and lanterns!

(b) The Float @ Marina Bay- Singapore River Hongbao

The Singapore River Hongbao is an annual event held at the iconic Floating Platform @ Marina Bay. This mega event ushers in the New Year with all things Chinese. A vibrant festival that assures locals and tourists the best Chinese cultural experience here in Singapore. With live entertainment, and local favourite street foods (e.g. Bak Kut Teh (Herbal Pork Bone Soup)), this is definitely the place to be during Chinese New Year!

For a mind-blowing New Year experience, and if you don’t mind the crowd, head on down during its Opening Night (2 days before Chinese New Year), or attend the Chinese New Year Countdown Party! Fireworks display could also be seen during these 2 days!

Event #1

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Lantern Display and God of Fortune 20 Raffles Avenue

Nearest Train Station:

Promenade

Personal TIP?

If you are not pressed for time, alight at City Hall station and walk through CityLink Mall- Singapore’s first underground mall, with lots of shopping options along the way. This leads you to The Float as well, just follow the signage! 🙂

 

Feb 21 – Feb 28, 14 00 – 23 00

FOC

In my opinion, this event is best visited at night- when all the lanterns are glistening, together with the 18- meter tall God of Fortune. More than 60 ensorcelling lanterns at this event were meticulously hand-crafted by professional craftsmen on- site. Not to mention, the twelve Zodiac animals are on display as well.

It’s imperatively always much livelier at night for such events!

Event #2

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Tightrope Walking by Guinness World Record Holders 20 Raffles Avenue

Nearest Train Station:

Promenade

Feb 21, 19 15

Feb 21, 21 15

Feb 22, 19 15

Feb 22, 21 15

FOC

The gravity-defying stunt by 2 acrobats from The Acrobatic Troupe of Xin Jiang, China will make you heart skip several beats in fear for their safety. It is definitely worth a head down to witness their incredible skills and bravery!

Event #3

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Dance Performance by Xin Jiang & Taiwan Troupes 20 Raffles Avenue

Nearest Train Station:

Promenade

Feb 21 – Feb 22, 19 45

FOC

There is seriously way too much going on along Singapore River. And all these events starts just 2 days before the Chinese New Year! So if you missed some events this year, fret not, there’s always Singapore River Hongbao 2016 to usher in the year of the Monkey!

(c) F1 Pit Building (Next to the Singapore Flyer)

Event

Location Date, Time Admission Fee
Chingay 2015 1 Republic Boulevard

Singapore 038975

 

Nearest Train Station:

Promenade

Feb 27 – Feb 28, 20 00

Feb 27

Category 1: SGD $50

Category 2: SGD $40

Category 3: SGD $28.50

Feb 28

Category 1: SGD $60

Category 2: SGD $50

Category 3: SGD $28.50

https://chingay.org.sg/chingay2015/ticketing-details

This is grandest parade in Singapore, as part of the Chinese New Year celebration. Since it’s Singapore’s 50th Birthday (SG 50), the theme for this year’s parade is ‘We Love SG’. It is said to be the biggest most spectacular parade ever organised with 11k performers from different cultures, and many jaw-dropping displays of flowers made out of used plastic bags- definitely environmental conscious! #goinggreen

Hope you now have a better insight on how Chinese New Year is celebrated here in Singapore (or at least celebrated by my family), the DOs (Traditions) and DON’Ts (Superstitions), and the Sights & Sounds during this festive period!

For those who celebrates Chinese New Year, how did you spend your first few days of it? If I did miss out on any essential do let me know; love to hear it! 😀

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed Goat’s Year 2015.

Remember to cherish your family and friends.

Dee

 

To Marions Lookout via Lake Lilla & Wombat Pool

Route: Dove Lake car park–> Boat Shed Track–> Lake Lilla–> Wombat Pool–> Crater Lake–> Marions Lookout
Average Walk Time: ~ 4 hours; inclusive of time back down (with plenty of time to take great shots and rest)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Marions Lookout via Overland Track (Ronny Creek)

Route: Ronny Creek–> Crater Falls –> Boat Shed on Crater Lake –> Marions Lookout
Average Walk Time: ~ 4 hours; inclusive of time back down (with plenty of time to take great shots and rest)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

TIPS (The PERFECT route to take)

Walks in the Cradle Mountain region are very walkers’ friendly I would say. With so many route options available leading to the same destination (as the saying goes, “All roads lead to Rome”, well in this case, “All tracks lead to a virtually impeccable landscape”), it’s no wonder we found ourselves revisiting the same spot again, just via a different trail each time.

You can choose your route base on your level of fitness and endurance, hence you will not be missing out on the spectacular vista and feeling all despondent because of the lack of fitness profiency.

You will be amaze by what each trail has to offer! Every trail opens up to a whole new world of alpine scrubs, meadows and tannin stained streams and lakes.

 

To Marions Lookout via Lake Lilla & Wombat Pool

Going via this route was sort unplanned as it was a wrong turn made on our part. However, it was definitely a mistake well made. It was also this route where I saw cute “Christopher Columnus” and his family.

This route passing by Lake Lilla has many uneven rocky sections. But definitely a trail to stumble across with many tiny streams of tannin waters that really looked so refreshing as it glistens under the Summer sky. Totally sparkly gorgeous!

I remember a really long and arduous flight of steps we had to surmount as we journeied towards Wombat Pool (or was it passing by Wombat Pool-I cannot remember vividly.). A rest platform is avaiable at Wombat Pool before a steeper incline- probably a good spot to recharge and hydrate before a round of heavy duty up slope.

Travelling up the rocky incline was actually one of the best parts of the hike. I always feel so invigorated when I enconunter such sections of a hike. Reminiscing the time at Cape Raoul in Port Arthur, Hobart, where I had to cross a moss- filled slippery tree log on four limps, and climbing at the edge of the cliff.

In this case, I wasn’t climbing on four limbs, nor was I anywhere near the very edge, but this activity had about the same level of fun and excietment ! 😀

The good thing about this route up is that there will be mini sections of somewhat flat (hmmmm… … not exactly flat per se) and saf(er) grounds for us to take a breather and enjoy the beauty that came with.

We could just stand many feet above sea level and enjoy the inundating landscape. The cloudless sky and the unobstructed view of Wombat Pool down below, with Lake Lilla and a partial Dove Lake view all within my peripheral version! Just awesome!

Climbing further up on partial boarded stairs and inclined gravels led us to a rest spot for people to take pictures of the magnificent Crater Lake down below. How blue and calm the lake looks, and from the top, we could see the boat shed too! This was definitely one of the highlights.

 

To Marions Lookout via Overland Track (Ronny Creek)

In my opinion, the route from Ronny Creek is much gentler as compared to the one via Lake Lilla. Yes, there is no running away from many flights of boarded stairs, but I just feel safer as I ascended amongst the tall alphines.

Maybe I have registered internallly that if I fall to my death, the bushes would somehow miraculously cushion the impact. I know, how silly of me to think that, but I just do. Haha…

Besides, the inital journey from Ronny Creek has all flat boarded platforms. How very welcoming it was. This is the same area where we saw many fluffy wombats!

After languorously trotting upwards, we finally reached a much cooler section of the hike- Crater Falls, where we entered the rainforest. We could really feel the temperature drop a few degrees as we entered the rainforest; so much cooler as compared to the Summer’s heat. Of course we had to spend some time inside the rainforest to cool ourselves down, hydrate, slump in the bench and listen to the waterfall crashing down.

Once we were out of the cool rainforest and into the heat, we had another round of stairs climbing and walking on unevenness before we arrived at the boat shed on Crater Lake.

From here onwards, the route is basically the same as the route via Lake Lilla.

 

TIPS (The PERFECT route to take)

Combining BOTH routes in one?

Because the earlier route wasn’t part of the plan (as mentioned), in order to cover Crater Falls, and having already covered Lake Lilla and Wombat Pool, we decided to get to the Falls via Ronny Creek- which was much easier. And since we were already at the Falls, so why not just continue on since the Crater Lake isn’t that far away. This was our, then, rationale.

As I have been through both routes, I reckon I have enough “qualification” to make a suggestion on how to improve/modify and make the hike more experiential?

Hence, my suggestion for the route to Marions Lookout would be to COMBINE BOTH:

Route: Dove Lake car park–> Boat Shed Track–> Lake Lilla–> Wombat Pool–> Crater Lake–> Marions Lookout–> Boat Shed on Crater Lake –> Crater Falls–> Ronny Creek
Average Walk Time: I can’t vouch the duration as I have not done this route in unison. But if I would gauge… Probably 5(ish) hours? But don’t take my word for it, give amble time to rest, hydrate, lunch and snap (photos).
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

My philosophy? After some hard work (climbing), a sweet reward (cool rainforest) will come.

Turn around and ENJOY

The key to get the most out of any walks/ hikes is to not rush through it. Take a moment or two to turn back and immerse the view behind. You will be surprise what the backdrop offers. Of course don’t take too long a pause, if not a 3 hours hike may actually take 6 hours? 😀

Hope this inspires you to do more walks in Lake St Clair National Park. Travel whenever and enjoy the hike!

Dee