Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vote For My Photos


I was in Australia last month for 5 weeks holiday based in Melbourne. But I also managed side trips to Sydney and Tasmania. I took lots of photos when I was in Tassie and I sent some of them to the Spirit of Tasmania website for a competition. I hope I can win a free trip to Tasmania again next year with your help voting for my photos.

Pine Tree

If you guys have time, please click on the following link and choose RANKING. My photo is on the first 3 pages: just look for the Stanley Pine Tree photo under my name Tu Van Cong. Your time and effort is much appreciated.

Here is the link :

Saturday, November 14, 2009



Launceston is not my favorite place in Tasmania but that doesn't mean it's not interesting. The city is big and stretches quite a way so it took us a bit to drive around to discover it. After we found accommodation, we went to the port for lunch before taking a short cruise along the Tamar River. I couldn't believe that I had to pay $23 for a serve of fish and chips which was a bit of a rip-off compared to Stanley where it was only $6.5 and in Melbourne only$9.


Anyway, we took the cruise for 55 mintues and it was very interesting with lots of information from the old captian. It was a pleasant trip into Cataract Gorge along the Esk River and along the Tamar River to see some of the old boats even though the weather wasn't very good with rain at some points. After the cruise, we drove up into the expensive hillside suburbs where there were some great old Victorian and Edwardian houses mixed with some newer mansions. Most of these houses have great views to the river and over Launcestion and because it was spring, the gardens were in full bloom.

Tu - Launceston

We took a trip to the Launceston casino (lost!) and had a nice Vietnamese meal to end our day in that town.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Coles Bay

Emu - Coles Bay

As I mentioned in the last few posts, Tasmania in general including Coles Bay on the Freycinet peninsula has a cool climate especially in the evening. During the day, the weather is so nice with sunshine, blue skies but the air is a bit crisp. From 4pm, I feel as if I need to put more clothes on. Coles Bay is a pretty small town surrounded by beautiful beaches. It's not surprising that it's hard to find accommodation and we ended up driving around the town for a while. Finally, we decided to stay at the hotstel at the Illuka Holiday Park for 2 nights. Even though we had to share a bathroom and kitchen, it was a well-run place, clean and tidy.

Coles Bay

We stayed in a small room and cooked our own dinner before going to the Iluka Tavern for a drink. After not much luck with wifi access in Tasmania, I couldn't believe that they had free wifi here so I spent almost two hours emailing and updating photos. It is necessary to stay at least two nights in this area and will spend most of the day hours walking up the mountain to see Wineglass Bay then walk down to the beach. Everyone told me that is the most beautiful place in Tasmania that no-one should miss.

Coles Bay

Anyway, we started our day with a walk up to the Wineglass lookout then down to one of the most beautiful wild white sand beaches I've seen. Before we started our walk, we saw a Wallaby in the car park. These animals look like kangaroos but smaller. I was a bit worried at the beginning even though I really wanted to pat him. People say they could attack with their front feet but my friend came over and the wallaby was actually very friendly and licked her fingers. I did the same thing and he licked me too. I was so happy that I tried that and luckily my friends got some shots. Anyway, we started out trek up to the lookout point, the view was amazing. I couldn’t stop taking photos and when we finished our three hours walk, I realized that I'd taken more photos than I really needed. From the lookout, we walked down again and headed to the beach. This walk was quite steep and slippery. It was worth all our energy to see this beach and the colour of the water reminded me of the beaches in Greece, blue water and white sand. Just gorgeous!. Lucky though that I had been exercising a lot before so I didn’t feel too bad, but a bit stiff:).

Wallaby - Coles Bay

On our climb we saw quite a few terribly overweight people trying to walk up to the lookout. Many of them already felt exhausted and were leaning back on rocks or sitting down on the ground holding their knees. Some of them weren’t looking good at all but their families forced them to keep going. I am not sure they could make it up to the top or back down to the start. Anyway, we spent over two hours walking before going back to town for lunch. My friends went to the light house for a wander but I decided to take a rest at the restaurant in town which provided FREE Wifi to uploaded photos and email. I feel regret now after I saw their photos and I may go up to the light house before I leave. They may lend me their photos so I can show you.

Coles Bay

We will head to Launceston tomorrow for a night and hope to have enough time to visit some wineries, a chocolate factory and a cheese factory.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Lake St Clair

I felt so cold last night even though I had two blankets on. It was no wonder as my friends told me it was zero degree during the night. I have never ever been in such a cold situation before and I am a bit worried about my health as for the rest of the trip it could get even colder here in Tasmania. It took us over 6 hours to get to Hobart from Strahan as we stopped to visit Queens town and Lake St. Clair for a bit. Queenstown was not really interesting as it’s kind of a mining town with a few shops and pubs but with old fashioned and charming. Lake St. Clair is so beautiful and peaceful surrounded by huge green tall trees.


Anyway, we finally arrived in Hobart, and after consulting our accommodation magazines that I picked up from the laundry, I called the Welcome Stranger Hotel which is located right near the harbour and also in the city centre. They had several rooms left. We got a good deal and went down to have some dinner at Salamanca Place. I couldn’t find any internet cafés around and finally, we decided to have some pizza for our dinner. Surprisingly, the Cargo restaurant had wifi and it was free. I was so happy with that not because of the free internet, but because they served really nice pizza and French cheese. We had a margarita and a tandoori chicken pizza and they were really great plus the wine was cheaper compared to other shops nearby. Hobart seems a very busy city like other cities at 5pm in the afternoon. There are lots of interesting buildings around mixing old style and the new modern style.


On the second day, we walked along Salamanca street and Battery Point for an hour checking out the shops and beautiful old houses. This is the most expensive area in Hobart I think as it has great views to the harbour. Some houses are over a hundred years old but in good condition so that they are now used in business as hotels, restaurants and shops. We went into a small gift shop in front of the harbour and talked to the seller who sells ethnic minority products including stuff from Sapa in Vietnam. It was such an interesting conversation as she explained the history of the building and talked of her boss' trips to Vietnam. The building had been used to store gunpowder in the old days and had also been some kind of post office museum. We spent about an hour just talking about stuff from Vietnam and I was explaining to her where they are originally from and so on. Anyway, later on, we joined a boat cruise for over an hour up the Derwent River. The boat was nice and we got some education from the captain who explained most things of interest on both sides of the river. After that, we drove up to the top of Mt. Wellington for a great look down at the whole city of Hobart. It’s such a great place to look at the city and the beauty of Hobart and we were actually above the clouds which is even more amazing. I love that feeling that I am higher than everything and also like I am on the plane.


At the end of the day, we spent some time to relax and try our luck at the lobby of the hotel which has poker machines and the Keno bingo game. Surprisingly I won A$30 for the first time which paid for my beautiful dinner at Mure's seafood restaurant which is located on the harbour. My friends and I ordered some grilled fish, salad and seafood platters which included french fries and salad. The seafood was so fresh and tasty, just loved it so much.

Fisherman's basket - Hobart

We headed back to the hotel for an early night as it was pretty cold and also we wanted to wake up early in the morning for our drive to the Freycinet Peninsula. We wanted to spend more time in Hobart as there is other stuff to see and do. I hope the weather is going to get brighter with more sun and heat as I am struggling with the cool temperatures a bit so far.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

We spent almost 3 hours driving from Stanley to Cradle Mountain; the road was really windy in parts but mostly good so we had a good trip. We couldn’t find any cafés along the road so we ended up stopping at the resort on the way into the Cradle Mountain settlement. It was a bit expensive and I decided to have a glass of local Tasmanian wine, a nice Sauvignon Blanc which made me dizzy as I hadn't had any breakfast!

Tu - Cradle Mountain

We stayed at the Discovery Holiday Park suggested by the RACV accommodation guide. It was the cheapest accommodation in quite an expensive place. We went down to the tourist information centre to have something for lunch; we had some soup which was very nice. We bought the holiday ticket to enter all national parks around Tasmania. After that, we caught the park bus down to the walking spot and started our walk.

Cradle Mountain

We walked from Snake Hill to Dove Lake which took us about 2 hours for over 5kms. The scenery was so beautiful that we didn’t realize how far we walked or how much time had passed. We took so many photos of trees, wild animals, lakes and the beautiful mountain with snow on the top. This is the first time ever that I've seen snow and I think I may try to walk up near the top to touch the snow. It would be very cold but it's worth a go. We will come back here tomorrow to walk around the lake which will take about 3 hours. I hope the weather is warmer as today it was very cold especially in the afternoon.

Moutain Nachos

Unfortunately, we couldn’t do anything on the second day as it was raining and really cold. We missed the lake walk which has the best views of the snow on the top of the mountain. To fill time, we decided to get some education about the area from the information centre. After that, we went to Cradle Mountain Lodge Tavern for a coffee. As the rain got heavier and colder, we had lunch. We had had some pizzas for dinner there last night and the food was excellent even though it was a bit dear and over our budget. The lamb shrank looked amazing and I went for it today and it was just delicious. My friends had the trio of dips and mountain nachos, I tasted them all and they were damn good. This lodge is a cosy place on a rainy day with friendly staff, great food and good views from the restaurant. If I ever go back to Cradle Mountain again, I will definitely come here to have all my meals and stay in this place as well.

Wombat - Cradle Mountain

We are going to Strahan tomorrow morning for a night before heading to Hobart. I hope we will have great weather so that we can spend sometime in the sun.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Tulip farm

It took us about two hours to drive from Devonport to Stanley as we stopped at many places on the way and we spent quite a lot of time at a tulip farm. I have never ever seen tulips in my life and they are so gorgeous especially the black queen of the night variety, which is really amazing. The multi-coloured flame of Paris is beautiful, too. They are all beautiful and this has been one of the highlights of my trip.

Fish and chips

Anyway, we arrived and stayed one night at Stanley on the way to Cradle Mountain, one of the prime tourist areas of Tasmania. I’m glad to be here because this is such a small lovely town. For lunch, we all had fish and chips. As this is a fishing town, the fish was so fresh and tasty but eating all those chips means I have to do more exercise. The weather was very beautiful with sunshine but as we expected in Tasmania, the temperature was cold and we used the heater for the whole night.


Stanley has only about 1000 people; everything seems in a really good condition from the houses to the roads. In fact, the town has been voted ‘tidiest town in Tasmania’. People here are very friendly. Accommodation, dining out and drinks are a bit dear compared to Melbourne. We stayed at Stanley Cabin Tourist Park which was budget but still quite expensive. The cabins are all self-contained and very comfortable and we just stayed for one night so we didn’t really shop around for other rooms. We cooked our dinner together and have some OZ wines which we brought with us. The Internet is not popular here as they only have one place in the tourist centre. Luckily the women at reception gave me a chance to use the hotel connection for free. I spent most of my time online downloading photos and updating the web blog. I better stop right now as we are driving up to the top of the mountain to have a quick look at the whole town from a distance to take a few photos. I want to publish this before the lady comes and kicks me out.


Anyway, see you on the next post about Cradle Mountain trip.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Happens

Bronte cafe

Today I felt like playing tennis and we took the car to get there. When we reversed the car, we didn't check carefully and backed into another car on the side of the road. Even though it was a minor accident, it costs a lot especially in Australia. It may not cost much in Hanoi but it's expensive here. Luckily, the Korean owner doesn't really care about the car and he wanted the cash instead of getting it fixed which suited us just fine. Unfortunately it cost $500 plus the cost of fixing my friend's car. I hope this is the end of my bad luck for this trip, especially as we are heading to Tasmania tomorrow evening by ferry.


I hope the weather will be warm there as I don't really like cold weather. Many people told me that it's quite cold there especially in the evening. But Tasmania is a beautiful place worth going to so I am really looking forward to discovering the island state. I will be there for 10 days and hoping I will be enjoy the beautiful scenery in Tasmania. Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Short Break


After a short flight(Jetstar) from Melbourne to Sydney, I realized that I had forgotten my Ipod on the plane. I couldn't get it back when I talked to the official at Sydney airport. I was a bit disappointed after calling them a few times and they kept telling me that they will call back but it never happened, which is pretty bad service. Anyway, as people say," Shit happens".

Freshly sucked oysters with soy and lemon shallot vinaigrette

However, we arrived in Melbourne and decided to take the skybus to the city then a train to my friend's house. It's unbelievable that the train system in Melbourne is so bad, with most of the trains running late and changes to the timetable without informing customers. We were waiting at Southern Cross station for a train which was delayed 10 to 15 mintues and when we got on the right one, after the first station, they announced that the train was going to a different destination. We had to get out to change trains with many other people and we were then late for my friend's birthday party. Most people seemed very upset about the hopeless system but what can we do?

Sumac rolled pork belly with roasted apple mash, onion proscuitto relish and jus

So we arrived at Sarah and Chris' birthday party 1 hour late. Anyway, their party was held at The Mill Bar and Restaurant which is located in the city centre. This is such a beautiful bar and they served delicious food. As it was quite busy after a big horse race, we had few drinks at the bar then went up to the second floor for dinner. Among other things, we ordered freshly shucked oysters with soy and lemon shallot vinaigrette, sumac rolled pork belly with roasted apple mash, onion proscuitto relish and jus, braised ham hock risotto with tomato, gruyere and parsley, Atlantic salmon fillet on steamed bok choi chilli and cumin pickled corrots, Black Angus eye fillet with horseradish mash, beetroot pickle and red wine jus and Roquette, roasted corn, grana padano and white balsamic vinaigrette for a side dish. For dessert, we had dark chocolate brownie with salted peanut caramel, hazelnut tuille and Swiss, orange and almond pudding with spiced syrup, vanilla anglaise and rhubarb ice cream. We had no complaints about food in this restaurant as it tasted so good, was beautifully presented and the staff made some great recommendations.

Chris, Sarah

Thanks to Sarah and Chris for inviting us to join their happy event and I look forward to many more events to come in the future. Happy belated birthday to you guys.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sydney City

Opera House Sydney

We took the number 378 bus to Sydney again for a big day of adventure to discover the Opera House, the Harbour and Manly. On the way into the city, we decided to take a look at Bondi Junction and have some something to eat at the food court (in the Harbour room!)on the 5th floor, which has a fantastic city view. The food wasn't bad there but quite dear, I think but we are starting to think in Aussie dollars now instead of converting everthing to VND which can make you crazy!

Tu - Manly Beach

We took a train to Circular Quay by the harbour to take a ferry heading to Manly Town. It's a small lovely beach suburb northeast of Sydney which has so many shops with great deals. Most of the stuff was on sale up to 70% off and I wonder how can they earn money if they offer such discounts? Most stuff of course, is made in China and I think that's the reason why it's so cheap. We walked toward the beach to have a wander then went into the pub on thebeach to have a schooner (big beer) and play a game of Keno. It was fun and we managed to play for a half hour on $10!

Sydney Harbour Bridge

About 2 hours later, we took another ferry back to Sydney to have a close look at the Opera House. It's a great piece of architecture with an amazing shape in the best location in Sydney. There are hundreds of people hanging around there taking photos and lots of them are from Japan, Korea and Europe. I think I was the only Vietnamese here. Also there are quite a few couples taking their wedding photos around and between that, their families and friends are having drinks at the Opera Bar. This bar has great views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and to the north shore. We decided to have a beer here to take a break and look at the great view in the afternoon. It's a shame that we couldn't make it till sunset as Australia has daylight saving at the moment which makes the day seem longer. Maybe next time.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney has so many festivals and functions almost everyday and we tried to go to the Asian noodles festival near Goerge street but it was too crowded and we didn't want to queue up for hours to get a delicious bowl of noodles as we didn't have as much time as other people. We changed our mind and took a train back to Bondi Junction to have dinner then another bus to Bronte. We kept changing our mind about food and we missed two buses by just half a minute. We walked into Chu Bay II, a Vietnamese restaurant to eat after a few kilometres walking. We ordered some fresh spring rolls, and chicken salad which was not very nice and quite salty. The main courses included stir fried beef with chilli and lemongrass and fried rice which wasn't too bad. I can't believe I paid so much for very average Vietnamese food!

Fresh spring rolls

We will take a flight back to Melbourne today for my friend's brother in law's birthday party then we head to Tasmania for 10 days od discovery. See you guys in the next post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sydney Here I am

Bronte Beach

Luckily enough through a connection in Hanoi, a friend of a friend, we were able to stay in Bronte Beach in Sydney. We hired her beautiful sea view apartment for 3 days for a very special price. We were so happy to have this place and even though it's not big it has a great view of Bronte Beach, from over the cafe and in front of the bus stop which was so convenient. Bronte is just a few minutes walk to Bondi beach which is the most famous beach in Sydney, around one of the most spectacular city coastal walks. It's such an amazing place with an amazing view. Just loved it!!!

Sydney - Darling Harbour

We took a bus trip to the city, which took us about 20 minutes with many stops but cost only $6.40 round trip. We walked from Central Station down to Darling Habour for a wander around and it's so so beautiful. We spent about 2 hours there walking around and taking photos. I realized that Sydney is totally different compared to Melbourne with a few more tall buildings and life here seems faster and it definitely has better weather. I am so glad to be here.

Sydney - Darling Harbour

I have to run now to meet up with my friend, Paula who used to live in Hanoi. We will meet her in Newtown for a drink but we will have dinner there beforehand. She's such a lovely woman and I am really looking forward to meeting her this time. I will get back to the city tomorrow again to visit Sydney Habour, the Opera House and Manly. I hope I can visit all of them in a day as I want to spend some more time on Bondi beach and have a good look around Bronte Town.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Australia, Welcome Back!!!


After a long flight which stopped in Kuala Lumpur, I finally have arrived in Melbourne to start my 5 weeks holiday. This is my second time in Australia but I feel like it's the first time as I haven't been back here since 2005. Everything looks familiar but I need to restart my brain again to make sure which places I've been to. I don't think I will have any trouble here as Australia is such a multi-cultural country and people seem very friendly and easy going. I spent half a day shopping for winter clothes today in Melbourne as it's a bit too cold for me. Shopping here in Melbourne is not really expensive as they have many options plus spring is almost over so tthe warm clothes prices are down quite low but some brands are still very expensive such as Kathmandu...


In the afternoon, I went to my friend's sister's house for dinner. She cooked beautiful pasta and stired fried asparagus with lemon and pepper. It was so yummy but I need to behave myself so I didn't eat alot :). I was very surprised that the food in OZ is not that expensive, veggies and meat as well are cheap. There are many things much cheaper than in Vietnam especially WINE!!!!! I love wine and a decent bottle ranges from AU$6 up to Au$15. If you buy 6 bottles you can get 30% off and of course, we bought 6 bottles on the first day. It sounds like I am an alcoholic! I think that because there are lots of wineries in Australia, they need to be competitive in price which is good for the local people including me:).


Anyway, I better stop here and get into bed for my 3 day trip to Sydney tomorrow morning. I hope I have enough time to make my noodles for breakfast before I leave. I also will try to spend some time in between to publish some photos and ideas about my trip.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Travel With Air Asia


Most of my friends have been using Air Asia for a long time. I was a bit worried about cheap airlines but I think why don't I give it a go when I can save almost a thousand dollars compared to Thai Airways or Vietnam Airlines.

Chiken rice- airasia

Even though the connections are not always great as we had to stop over at Kuala Lumpur for almost a whole day but it's a good chance for my friend to discover Malaysia, one of the places that I always love. Airline food is not always great but it was actually not so bad this time especially from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne. I had a great flight and I think I will keep using this airline for many more years.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Truc Bach Lake

Dredging Truc Bach Lake

There is no doubt about the beauty of Truc Bach Lake is but it not always a pleasant place to be because of the pollution and waste in the lake and the craziness on the street in the evening. Almost every single house opens a hotpot restaurant and their staff keep annoying people who drive past. The problem is that they are not supposed to do business on the foot path around the lake. When the police come, they try to move their tables, mats... and leave all the rubbish behind. Besides that, Hanoian don't seem to care about the environment as they throw eveything possible into the lake including plastic bags, bottles and food scraps.

Dredging Truc Bach Lake

Today, I talked to one of the staff of the Hanoi water company on the side of the lake while they were trying to dredge Truc Bach Lake. According to him, " Hanoi water company dredges Truc Bach Lake every two years but they have changed the routine now, as it's getting polluted very quickly due to the habits of the people who live around the lake and their customers. From this year, they will clean up the lake every year to maintain the clean water and the environment for not only the lake but for Hanoi as well". From what I've seen today, these workers are working so hard. Some of them even have to stay overnight in a small floating boat to keep an eye on their machinery. I personally think that the best idea is to educate people about the environment and encourage them to keep the area around their properties tidy.

Dredging Truc Bach Lake

I hope people pay more attention to the environment to keep Hanoi clean and green, particularly as Hanoi's 1000 year anniversary is not too far away. Please keep the world alive!!!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mid Autumn Festival

Mid autumn festival market

Yet another mid autumn festival is coming and it makes me feel older. I went to Hang Ma street to try to take some photos last night and I could feel the great atmosphere of it. Many parents had taken their children to shop as the festval is tonight.

Mid autumn festival market

I always enjoy going down there to watch people shopping for cakes, lanterns, fake money and many other things. In the old days, I had to make my own lantern with bamboo chop sticks and rubber bands to hold them together. I also used colored paper or notebook paper or newspapers to put around the sticks and glued them on with glue or rice. It was a fun thing to do with friends. Nowadays, parents buy beautiful lanterns which need batteries for music and light. The whole festival has become quite commercial and I personally think that children should do something special for themselve instead of buying from the market. I must be getting old?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Accidents Avoidable!!!!!

Cau Vuot

This is not my photo

To reduce traffic accidents in Hanoi, the local council has been investing money in local road infrastructure. Underground tunnels and overpasses are being built to ease traffic congestion and safety for crossing the street but local people don't use these useful and safe ways. It seems they prefer to walk across the chaotic streets even though the dangers are always great.

Cau Vuot

This is not my photo

I'm glad to see the fast and positive changes in Hanoi in the fast few years. But also I wish people would pay more attention to rules as it not only affects them but other people as well. It's tragic and disappointing to see people die everyday on the roads here for mostly avoidable reasons.