Friday, July 30, 2010

Pacific rankings

Great places for vacations: Ease of travel & affordability/availability of choices of actitites are as more important as sights. (1 as the best and 5 the worst)
1) Norfolk Island, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu
2) Samoa, American Samoa, New Caledonia
3) Solomon Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu
4) Wallis & Futuna
5) Port Moresby of Papua New Guinea (PNG is a large country; hence not fair to compare the whole country with tiny Pacific island states): crime situation spoils experiences.

TWC's overall experiences: Based on personal experiences, may be affected by weather, luck & factors that may not affect other people.
1) Norfolk Island, Cook Islands, 
2) Tonga, American Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Fiji
3) Samoa, New Caledonia, Wallis & Futuna, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Nauru
4) Port Moresby of Papua New Guinea

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sydney - Last day of the Pacific Odyssey 2010

I hopped onto a bus for Sydney and spent one night here, before flying back home, after 7 weeks of adventure in the South Pacific.  It is good to be back in Sydney again after 5 years.  I had a relaxing time here, hardly rushing to visit any tourist sights. 

One observation: Everywhere in the major Australian and New Zealand cities, I have heard Mandarin spoken.  Both countries seemed to have experienced a dramatic increase of Mainland Chinese, either as immigrants or students.  Mandarin is steadily emerging as the second language of these nations, just like Spanish is for the United States.  It is certainly not an aggressive exaggeration to say one can even travel around both countries speaking only Mandarin. This is an interesting development to watch.

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Canberra - War Memorial

This is the one of the best war museums in the world.  I enjoyed the exhibits on the Gallipoli campaign during WWI.  Australian and New Zealand troops were sent to this harsh mountainous peninsula in Turkey to fight a war that had little to do with their country.  Although the episode was a military failure, it was here that Australians and New Zealanders, through the enormous death toll and sacrifices, realised that they are a separate people from their British "mother country" and only they themselves should determine their own destiny.  No wonder an AUstralian prime minister said that the AUstralian nation was founded on the battlegrounds of Gallipoli.

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Canberra - Capital & Museum Hub of Australia

On my 2005 trip to Australia, I visited Sydney, Melbourne and Alice Springs. I've always felt guilty about missing a country's capital city.  Hence, I decided to do a side-trip to Canberra this time.  This was the height of winter and it rained a fair bit during my days in Canberra, but I managed to visit some of the city's key attractions, such as the Parliament House and the amazing War Memorial, the latter one of the finest war museums in the world.  On the leafy streets of Canberra, one also come across many exotic and colourful birds.  In other countries, these wildlife would have long disppeared onto dinner plates.

At the YHA hostel, I also got to know some interesting travellers - including a rare example of a Bohemian ex-radio deejay-now-backpacker in Australia & Asia (hope to see more of such people in a current over-materialistic China) - and we chatted to the wee hours of the night.

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