17:58 Sat.
11 Nov, 2017

Crocodile Hunter

Landsborough , Australia
23 °C
Mostly Sunny
6:10 am
12:00 am

On Tuesday morning the only trip we had planned well in advances was about to happen. First stop was local car dealership where we rented a car. I was quite nervous driving through such a big city on the opposite side of the road for the first time, but after an hour or so I got used to it. The car had automatic transmission which helped a lot, since I didn’t have to shift with my left hand. I did however turn on the wipers couple of times instead of the turn signal.

Driving on the left side for the first time.
Driving on the left side for the first time.

After about an hour and half of driving we reached our destination The Australian Zoo. The zoo was first created by legendary Steve Irwin – the crocodile hunter and is now run by his family.

The ZOO is quite large, about 2 or 3 times the size of the Koala sanctuary. The whole philosophy of the zoo is that you can book private encounters with most of the animals they have. This one is to some degree more traditional zoo as they also have animals not native to Australia, like giraffes, rhinos and so on. Speaking of foreign animals the first thing we had planned after coming, was encounter with lemurs.  We were very excited about it for quite some days already. ZOO keeper told us everything we needed to know on our way to the island where lemurs lived.  To reach the island we had to go on a small raft and as we were closing toward the island lemurs were already running around the landing port waiting eagerly for us. We brought food for them after all.

Lemur Island. Running toward us as we arrived.
Lemur Island. Running toward us as we arrived.

They were soon all over us and we had a chance to take some photos while they were standing on our shoulders. Despite their look they are quite heavy and having one on shoulders ruins ones posture. 🙂

After the photo shooting we  sat on a close by rock and zookeepers gave us some food that we could give them. By the looks of it they eat everything from vegetables to meat. They had great variety of food to choose from but they seemed to really like peas as they picked them out and ate them first.  We had the opportunity to touch/pet them meanwhile (especially on their tail). If the kangaroo’s fur was soft before, it was nothing compared to lemurs. It is hart to describe but their fur was softer than silk. It would be perfect pillow material.

Feeding Lemurs
Feeding Lemurs

Time flew and after about half an hour it was time for us to leave. We had high expectations about this encounter even before arriving to Australia and Veronika and I both agree that it was worth it. It is simply hard to express how cool it was, all I can say is if you ever happen to be in Australia, it’s worth taking a plane just to visit this zoo and have an encounter with lemurs.

After the lemurs we had to hurry to catch the show this zoo is most famous about – the crocodile show. The show is held in the arena and they demonstrate some tricks with a bunch of birds and of course the crocodile. Surprisingly I preferred the birds part compared to crocodile. They had great variety of birds from parrots, cockatoos to enormous condor. Seriously that thing was about 3-4m over the wings.  The funniest part was when they trained a cockatoo to go to a random visitor and take 5$ bill out of his hand (you can see this in the video below).

After the birds they brought out a giant crocodile which they fed and made jump a bit out of the water.

After the show we had a chance to visit the rest of the zoo. They had vast variety of animals, tons of crocodiles, koalas and of course the kangaroos. We also saw some giant lizards and very fun otters.

We also saw some gigantic turtles, cassowary and the most venomous snake in the world, safely behind the glass, of course.

When walking around the dingo’s enclosure we saw them attack one of the smaller lizards (who were again walking all over zoo). After the zookeepers saw that, they went in and the dingoes were running around them like dogs – expect the one who had the lizard in his mouth. He was running away from the zookeepers. After the zookeeper finally got the lizard from the dingo they took him to the animal hospital they have in front of the zoo.

Dingoes fetching some lizards
Dingoes fetching some lizards

Talking about walking a dog… you can actually walk a cheetah here.

Walking cheetah in Australian zoo.
Walking cheetah in Australian zoo.

In the late afternoon we had another encounter booked, this time with a native animal we did not see in nature yet – the wombat. The encounter was fun, but nothing compared to lemurs. Supposedly wombats get scared easily so we could only pet them from behind where they have some super protective ass area or something. Veronika did massaged one really nicely however, it went pancake flat on the plate of food.

Just as the last zoo this one also had two enormous enclosures full of kangaroos you could pet and feed. It was just as fun as previous day and this time I also did some posing with them. We finally saw one with baby (joey) in the pouch.

Le Moustache.
Le Moustache.

We also saw some white kangaroos.

With this we concluded our visit to the zoo, it was fun day’s trip and we did see enormous amount of animals. It’s well worth visiting.

Koala close up.
Koala close up.

Since we had a car, we decided not to take the highway back to Brisbane but take a longer rout that goes more inland. Sadly it was soon dark but it was an interesting experience. Couple of minutes of driving toward the mainland the road went from asphalt to gravel and soon we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.  We stopped at the top of a small hill where there was no (city/house) light for as far as the eye could see and in between there were some pointy mountains growing from nowhere.

We arrived to Brisbane couple of minutes before midnight and prepared for next day when we were living for Gold Coast.

 

18:51 Sun.
5 Nov, 2017

I wonder what animal we will see?

Brisbane , Australia
19 °C
Partly Cloudy
4:53 am
6:10 pm

Monday morning we took an hour bus through the Brisbane’s suburbs to the Lone Pines Koala Sanctuary. Despite it’s name it is a normal zoo, with multiple species of Australian animals.

Sup homie?
Sup homie?

The zoo is of moderate size, maybe a bit smaller than Ljubljana’s. The main difference compared to the standard zoos elsewhere is that you can actually take a photo with a koala or go and feed a kangaroo. Yea, that’s right, kangaroos just roam large enclosure where you can enter or leave at your leisure. Moreover you can buy some kangaroo food for couple of $ and you can actually feed them.

Feeding a kangaroo
Feeding a kangaroo

We saw variety of sizes of kangaroos ranging from a small ones to the ones you could look straight into their eyes when they were standing in front of you. Despite being very muscular and large, we felt quite safe around them. They were mostly chilling, I guess being fed by the tourists whole days long gets them super lazy.

We were pretty excited about petting them, one thing that surprised me the most was how soft their fur was. It looks rough and dirty where in reality it was silky soft (even with the big ones) almost like a puppy.

Kangaroo
Kangaroo

Besides kangaroos we also watched a bird show where they flew some owls and eagles around and told us about them. It was interesting to see them fly just few centimetres in front of us.

Eagle
Eagle

And to see an owl gulp up whole mouse in a couple of seconds.

After the birds we went to see a sheep show, where they used 3 dogs to bring a group of ship from one side of the park to the other. It was fun watching the dogs run around the sheep while bringing them home alone. They also looked like they had a lot of fun, guess it beats fetching a stick.

After the shows we took the opportunity to hold a koala and take a photo with it. Again just like with kangaroos it’s fur was very soft, and it was surprisingly heavy.

Me and Veronika posing with a koala. One of my favourite photos from the trip.
Me and Veronika posing with a koala. One of my favourite photos from the trip.

Besides holding it we also had an opportunity to watch in several enclosures around the zoo. However they are not very active animals and sleep more than 20 hours per day. Luckily we were just in time for the zookeepers to change their food (eucalyptus) which made them a bit more active as they climbed around to get to the food.

All over the zoo we saw hundreds of large lizards. For some reason they weren’t enclosed but were freely running around the paths trying to find some sun rays.

Big lizard
Big lizard

Again we saw some dingoes, they were just remodelling their enclosure so they were in a smaller one but still seemed pretty happy. I think they were quite tamed and used to people. I think I saw some zookeepers walking one just like a dog.

So far most of the animals we saw we also saw in nature, or at least their close relatives. They did however have a couple of animals that are a bit more exotic that we didn’t see before.

And we also saw the strangest of all the animals – the platypus.

All in all we had a great day. We spent most of the time among kangaroos which were most fun to interact with and saw a couple of quite exotic animals for an European. However just next day we had a plan to visit something we knew since day one of our planning we will visit (hint: another zoo).

Some more photos from the zoo.

 

 

10:53 Sun.
27 Dec, 2015

Panda time

Hong Kong , China
18 °C
Partly Cloudy
7:01 am
5:47 pm

Next day – Monday morning, Veronika and I embarked on our first adventure in Hong Kong alone, without Maggie or Jean. We decided to go to the amusement park called Ocean Park. Well it’s not exactly amusement park (alone) it’s a mixture of rides and a zoo. The idea is that they attract people with attractions and with the money they can take better care of the animals there.

After a bit of searching we took a bus to the park. The park is enormous it’s almost like 2 parks combined into one, and the location is quite good. Half of the park is situated near a sea level the other half is on a hill and you can take a lift or an underground tunnel ride to get to the top.

Well what is the first animal you think of when you say China? Panda!! Yea the first animal we saw were pandas. It looked almost unreal, they look so cuddly and nice. I later learned I had an honour of seeing the oldest panda in the world – around 43 years old.

Eating some bamboo.
Eating some bamboo.
Veronika trying to pose with panda.
Veronika trying to pose with panda.

Alongside “normal” pandas they also had red panda, which looks even cuter. I can definitely see myself having one as a pet. Would look so cool walking it around like a dog here in Slovenia :D.

Red panda
Red panda

The park was really nicely decorated and landscaped, sometimes you even got a feeling you are in the middle of the jungle. After pandas we went to see a sea lion show. After it we took underground ride to get to the upper plateau, where more of the amusement rides were located.

When you think of Hong Kong, you think of hot tropical weather, so what we saw next was a really surprise to us – Penguins. We entered one of the largest aquariums in the world, spanning multiple storeys, containing hundreds of aquariums with thousands of fishes – from sharks to small tropical fishes and of course some big sea mammals like seals, sea cows etc. It was also quite cold at least in the area of the penguins where they actually had snow / ice on the ground. You could actually borrow a jacket, but we as true Europeans used to cold didn’t bother.  😉

Penguins in Hong Kong
Penguins in Hong Kong

It was fun watching penguins as they were playing around jumping on the ice and swimming in water. The floor were made from glass so you could see them swimming beneath. We soon left the penguins to see some artic foxes and then shivering with cold left the building.

After that we went to see a show with dolphins in an arena nearby. As Europeans we really stood out in the crowd in the city and especially here. We quickly got used to people looking at us but here it actually paid off to be different. They chose us to be part of the show with the seals, we got a special seats in the front row and then when seals came we “made” them do some tricks and took photos with them. After the seals they did some tricks with dolphins. I think this was the first time I saw dolphins, they were quite big and jumped what must have been 3-4m high out of the water.

Later in the afternoon we spent more time on the rides, it was quite fun a lot of rides and because they were high on the plateau, they used the height to enhance the rides, which then took you few hundred meters above sea and over the cliffs.

All in all the park was really great and worth the time and money. We returned home to the island late in the evening where we had lunch in a local restaurant on the island and where I yet again ordered something extremely spicy that I couldn’t eat at all.

Jelly fish
Jelly fish

 

13:11 Sat.
26 Sep, 2015

Cebu

Cebu , Philippines
28 °C
Mostly Cloudy
5:33 am
5:37 pm

Early next morning we left hotel to get to the smallest airport I’ve ever been and took an hour long flight to Cebu. As soon as we left the airport we were swarmed by taxi drivers fighting over who will drive us to the hotel. It was still early in the morning so we had few spare hours before we could check in in the hotel. We decided to go to the “Zoo” at the edge of the city. The taxi driver took us on about an hour long ride to the zoo, through the city, where he told us few things about the city and the life there. The city is really big, second biggest in Philippines – around 1M people. And if Boracay was scary at first, it was nothing compared to Cebu.

First time flying with propeller  plane
First time flying with propeller plane

Traffic was all over the place, lots of motorbikes, people, tricycles, cars, driving all over the place where road rules were more of a guidance than an actual rules. After about an hour (I’m not sure if our taxi driver took the shortest path 🙁 ) we have reached the zoo, or something like that. Entrance fee was around 0.5€ per person, and we got a private guide to take us through the zoo. To our surprise, we could actually touch and take photos with some of the animals, which was pretty cool. On the other hand, the animals had such poor cages it was quite sad to see them there, I hope they are going to get better care in the future…

After the zoo the taxi drove us to the hotel, near city center. The hotel was quite far away from the water, besides I don’t think it’s possible to swim anywhere near Cebu city, because of pollution from such a big city. Because of this, I think, the hotel was more of a business type and even though it was from famous western chain we got the best room in the hotel for as little as 35€/night. And what a room it was, it was the nicest hotel I’ve ever been too. The room was almost bigger than our apartment in Ljubljana, around 40m2, with enormous bed and flat screen TV. But that’s not even the best part, the best part was enormous bathroom with shower and a bathtub with integrated TV in the mirror in front of the tub. That’s right, we had another TV in the bathroom. 😀 Since hotel was far away from sea, we had a pool on the rooftop.

After setting in our rooms we took a walk around the area, which in retrospect probably wasn’t the best idea, luckily nothing bad happened. Despite being in what I think was near city centre it was much different than what you expect in European cities. There was trash everywhere, in front of stores there were guards with shotguns (I’m not kidding). There was a particular situation that I found especially strange. While we were walking down really big (4 lane) street, there was big pile of rubble in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking the path so we had to actually go on the road and walk around it. Despite having zebra crossings, it was almost like playing a game to cross the street, no car slowed down let alone stopped when they saw us going over. We had to walk all over the street: up, down, left and right to get away from the cars and to cross the street. Well despite described, it wasn’t that bad. Streets were quite full of people, who were selling food at stalls or walking around. On few points we were swarmed by local kids, trying to beg some money off of us. We even went to a local store where we bought like 7 t-shirts for 3€ (all shirts combined). The strange thing was, that the shirts actually weren’t bad, the material felt quite good and I’m sure if I bought the same shirt here in Slovenia it would have cost around 15€ each.

View of the city from our room.
View of the city from our room.

In the afternoon we went to an enormous shopping mall with more than 700 shops. To my surprise the prices there weren’t much cheaper than in Europe. After getting through small portion of the mall we went to eat some weird Philippines’s fish dish, which too no one’s surprise I didn’t like. After returning to the hotel we went for a quick dive in the pool and then to bed.

The guy in the back is actually a conductor, taking admission  for bus ride.
The guy in the back is actually a conductor, taking admission for bus ride.

Really really early next morning (4AM) we had a trip arranged to the south of the island, where we would swim with the sharks. To our surprises when we came down in front of the hotel a driver was already waiting for us, and too even greater surprises the car was actually quite good. After sitting into a car I turned to get my seatbelt fastened and as soon as I did that Veronika was already sleeping beside me. I’m not sure how that’s even possible, she fell asleep in less than half a minute, I wish I could do that, but for some reason I can’t sleep on public (and private I guess) transports. On the bright side, because I couldn’t sleep I was able to watch scenery outside the windows. On our 4 hour drive to the south, we almost had 10 car accidents, 2 times we almost hit a motorbike, driving in the dark without a light, and for some reason (maybe because it was may the 1st) we almost run over 3 marching band, who were marching in total darkness in the middle of the road.

Rice fields beside the road.
Rice fields beside the road.

After arriving to the Oslob, the town in the south where the sharks were, another guide was already waiting for us (and by us I mean only me and Veronika). She took us to breakfast and told us some instruction for shark diving. Soon after we were in the boat with 2 Filipinos, driving the boat for few hundred meters off the shore, where sharks were. And there we saw them, whale sharks – the largest fish in the world.

Rowing toward the sharks. Veronika is scared.
Rowing toward the sharks. Veronika is scared.

We jumped in the water and sharks swum around us. They were enormous, the tail alone was taller than me, or at least it seemed like that, because of magnifying effect of underwater goggles. We gave a camera to the Filipino on the boat and he took some photos of us. I’m mentioning this, because he held his breath underwater for what must have been 5 minutes. While I had to get up to the surface 3 times, and I can last more than 1 minute without air, he was still down under, taking photos of us. We weren’t allowed to touch the sharks, for their protection, and as they weren’t afraid of us, we actually had to swim away from them quite fast not to get in their way.

After about an hour we returned to the shore where a driver took us to a nearby waterfall and later lunch. In the afternoon we returned to our hotel. We went for a short walk around the area again, to buy some souvenirs and soon after retreated to a dinner in our hotel. We had a really nice dinner there, with surprisingly nice dessert.

Tropical waterfall and vegetation.
Tropical waterfall and vegetation.

Next morning, again in the middle of the night, we had to leave for the airport where we had a plane back to Hong Kong.

14:24 Tue.
18 Mar, 2014

Last day in Sweden

Day 222 , -76 remain
Lulea , Sweden
-4 °C
Fair
5:40 am
5:39 pm

I’m still wondering how Swedes always manage to fully book their trains. I mean we were traveling on January 1st from 8 PM to 9 AM next morning and the train didn’t have a free sit. I’m saying this because (again) we got seats with table, which wouldn’t be that bad if there weren’t people sitting on the opposite end. It’s impossible to fall asleep less than a meter away from a complete stranger, at least for me. So I spent most of the 13h ride awake, watching movies on computer. Thank god each sit was equipped with electricity socket.

We arrived to Stockholm main train station at around 9 AM next morning. Luckily we quickly found or way to the hotel, which was situated maybe 10m away of train station’s entrance in the very centre of Stockholm.

Despite official hours for check-in started in the afternoon, hotel staff was very friendly and allowed us to check-in right there in the morning. In retrospect I wish they hadn’t. Instead of a room with great view over the city, we got a room in 6th, floor with great view of office building, next to the hotel. They probably would have given us room with better view, if we asked, but I was so tired back then my brain only wanted something to sleep in.

After few hours of sleep, on bed that felt like sleeping on a cloud, we were ready to go explore the city. Firstly we went on a guided tour of the old city (the oldest island). We saw royal palace, parliament … and learned some history of Stockholm and how it became to be what it is today.

Stockholm city center
Stockholm city center

After the tour we explored the modern city centre. Predictably the whole city was still decorated from Christmas, so there were lights and ornaments everywhere. Streets were clean, there were lots of people, thousands of shops, I swear on one street there were 6 H&M shops, 10m from each other.

The narrowest street in Stockholm.
The narrowest street in Stockholm.
Parliament in Stockholm.
Parliament in Stockholm.

The sightseeing soon turned into hunting for food. We haven’t eaten anything since lunch in Luleå so we were starving. One might think it would be easy to find a place to eat in a city like Stockholm. Well yea, if you’re millionaire. All the restaurants were fully booked or prices way over our budget. To top it off in the whole city (extended) centre, we couldn’t find not one super-market like store. After hours of searching we gave up and settled for Max – Swedish McDonalds, although I think it’s better than latter.

After this we made our way to hotel to a warm shower and cosy bed. I think I slept for over 14 hours that day, finally woken up by Veronika nagging to go to the breakfast. Hah breakfast … I remember laughing how expensive it was (15€/person), when we booked hotel. But now it didn’t feel that expensive, at least compared to the rest of Stockholm.

The breakfast was a buffet, I don’t remember ever seeing so much different food in one place. There must have been 10 kinds of bread, thousands of salamis, hams, cheeses, even one really really smelly cheese which almost made me puke when I tried it. Really I don’t know if I ever ate something so disgusting, it smelled like feet and tasted like… old socks. There were a lot of sweets (pastry), homemade marmalades, honey, cereal, fruits… There were even different kind of sausages (although Swedish sausages all suck :P) and lots more. For beverages they had about 10 different kinds of tea, coffees, freshly squeezed fruit juices etc.

The weirdest thing about all this was as it was buffet you went there and took whatever you wanted on your plate. But as soon as you ate or drank something a waiter almost ran to your table to take your plate/glass to make room for new one. I’m not sure why they did this, I think one day I drank 5 glasses of juice, and each time from a new glass.

All in all breakfast was great and almost worth the money. Veronika and I both got so full we couldn’t move, but somehow managed to venture into the town again. This time we went to see change of guards at the palace, and then walked to the island with ZOO and Vasa museum (one of the most famous museums in Sweden). For some reason everything (in Sweden?) closes really early in the afternoon so despite walking for hours to get there we didn’t have time to visit anything. We returned back to the centre.

In the evening we went to the cinema to see the Hobbit. I wanted to see how HFR movie looks like and just so I can see a cinema that’s not Kolosej in Ljubljana. As everything in Sweden, we paid around 25€/person per ticket + 5€ for 3D glasses. The cinema room was nice and cosy, it looked new and pristine, no torn sits or anything. At the beginning of the movie hostess came and spoke something in Swedish, I’m actually intrigued on what she was saying. All in all I think the movie was great. The picture was bright and sharp, probably because of HFR and the story was what I expected.

After the movie ended we slowly left the theatre but not before doing something that my friends today teas me every time I talk about Sweden. Paying 5€ for glasses I thought (and still do) that I bought them and not just borrowed them, so I just took them. Not only that, I saw other people leaving them on some trash-bin so I took two more from there. Just to make sure, I can faster earn their value back here in Slovenia. =)4

After the movie, Max burger followed and then hotel. Despite having bad view, hotel room was amazing. It was big, bright and modern. Weirdly the most astonishing thing for me was the bathroom. Shower alone must have been 6 square meters. Not only that, whole bathroom had floor heating, so your feet didn’t got cold when walking barefoot through it. We also got those hotel shampoos, conditioners etc… And they smelled amazing, I can still remember the faint lime and lavender smell if I close my eyes, and in case I ever forget it I have 3 bottles of it at home (what did you expect from me =) ). Main room consisted of one big and cosy bed, office table, TV, AC, minibar… The most amazing thing here, was the lighting. Swedes really know how to light up the place, probably because they live half of the year in dark. We had numerous lights of all shapes and colours to create romantic ambient, which would probably go great with the view over the city.

Our hotel room at Radisson Blu
Our hotel room at Radisson Blu

On Saturday we got up early and walked to the other side of the city to visit ZOO and Vasa museum.

Zoo was OK, although so far our ZOO Ljubljana is the best one I’ve seen. In the ZOO they had mostly Nordic animals that have natural habitat in Sweden. I finally had a chance to see a moose up and close. I already said how big it is and that was when I saw it from afar. Sadly I couldn’t get close enough to touch it, which was one of my main goals of what TODO in Sweden. In the ZOO we also saw (I think it’s called) sea cow. It’s the fattest thing I ever saw, that moves. It’s so funny how it looks like a barrel with a head and it looks so friendly with those big puppy eyes. This one just came up close to me and stared at me for minutes as in give me some food please.

After the ZOO we went to see Vasa museum. This is a museum build around an old ship. The story goes that Swedes made a ship which sunk on its maiden voyage, just after living harbour (boy they must have been a great shipbuilders =) ). Anyway few years ago they found the ship, which was surprisingly intact, which is even more amazing if you know that it’s made of wood and it’s around 200 years old. If I remember correctly for some reason there are no certain kind of bacteria in the water that would digest wood.
After they found the ship they then lifted it out of water and build a museum around it, so now you’re able to walk around this enormous ship, and learn about it. Sadly it’s not permitted to go on-board.

After the museum it was evening already so we went to the Max one last time. This was it, my last day in Sweden. Next morning we only had time to eat breakfast, pack up and board the bus to the airport. Shortly after I was sitting on plane counting down my last minutes of this great adventure…

Wind mill at Stockholm ZOO.
Wind mill at Stockholm ZOO.