Saturday, 9 February 2008

green green green - back in australia

I love a sunburnt country
A land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges
Of drought and flooding rains
I love her far horizons
I love her jewel sea
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me

(from a poem which every Aussie child learns in primary school – written by Dorothy McKellar 100 years ago.)

Strangely my first impression on going back to Aus and the Gold Coast is of green trees, green grass and beautiful skies. It’s lovely to smell the fresh sea breeze and to walk around the Broadbeach restaurants and beaches. There’s been a lot of rain. The dams are full, but the water restrictions are still in place and may become a permanent feature of life in Aus.

(On the road to Moura)

Our travels took us up to Moura; two hours inland from Rockhampton. Rocky was flooded with the Fitzroy river having burst its banks leaving some houses with wet feet. Floods are not an uncommon phenomenon though and the typical house in the area is built 2 metres above the ground. So no major damage was caused.

(Bathing boxes on the beach at MtMartha - just outside Melbourne)

We traipsed 3000 kms south down to Melbourne which is gorgeous; so green. We’re thinking that when we move back to Aus we might buy an apartment in St.Kilda; the suburb we both grew up in. It has wonderful restaurants, coffee shops and the beach, and it’s just a short tram ride to the city.

(Shots of the city centre. Melb is a great mix of old and new and has lots of greenery even in the CBD.

We spent a few days in Bangkok with which we quickly developed a love / hate relationship. Frankly, it reeks. The stench on the streets is unbelievable; quite overwhelming at times. I gave up smoking more than 25 years ago but during one short stroll from the river to the station I felt like I’d inhaled 25 years worth of cigarettes (that’s over 180,000 cigarettes!). The pollution just seemed to hang there and the air had a black pall to it. In addition to the pollution there’s an ever present stench of rotting food, mingled with sewer and intensified by the heat, which attacks the olefactory nerves! (The river banks are a constant contrast of old and new of wealth and squalor.)
(This was one of the nicer street markets we saw.)

However, a lot of time is spent above street level. We were introduced to some sensational places including a Jazz bar with the all time coolest band. They played largely favourites from the American song book. Two of the band were from Chicago, one from New York. The bass player was from Aus. She was fantastic. I’ve never appreciated that instrument so much.
The drummer was wonderfully sparse. He used brushes most of the night. The sax player was great as was the singer / pianist. The venue was just wonderful with comfy arm chairs, no overcrowding and good food and drink. Our friends also urged us to see the Moon Bar, but hadn’t told us much about it. We were blown away! Sensational; a must-see on any Bangkok trip.


nzm said...

Humph - you didn't tell me that you were coming to Melbourne!

The St. Kilda Beach tram route (#96) is about to get some fancy-schmancy French light rail carriages to ease the congestion on that line.

My parents also thought the same about Bangkok - my mother was not impressed!

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