THE PLACES BEYOND THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES...
Leaving Singapore wasn't easy. The dense, intoxicating bustle of Chinatown - senses, noise, aromas of a hundred varieties of food, the babble of dozens of languages from all over the world....I don't think I've ever been inside such a melting pot of cultures and traditions.
The first four pictures here are of the Thian Hock Keng Temple at the foot of Chinatown - I visited it on my last morning in Singapore and was mesmerised by it. How can something so flamboyant and florid exude such auras of calm and tranquillity? And how can it subsist like this surrounded - as it is - by the high-rise wealth of one of the most powerful economies in Asia?
These lanterns adorned the Temple of the Buddha Tooth Relic - their gentle waving in the wind
was almost the last thing I saw in Chinatown before I trundled myself and my suitcase off to the airport...
...where this World War II propeller has been mounted as a rotating sculpture. I drank my last Singaporean cuppa looking at it (sweating profusely in the equatorial humidity) -
and then it was time for flight number three - to Perth
My Mam had a brother - my Uncle Deryck - and his daughter - my cousin Janice - emigrated to Perth almost ten years ago with her husband Brian and their children Kate (on the left) and Jon.
As you can imagine, the reunion at Perth airport was emotional, highly-charged - and utterly wonderful.
Janice and her family are now Australian citizens and, I'm glad to say, have acquired the splendid national enthusiasm for good wine - which they produce themselves in vast vineyards and drink happily into the night with their long-lost cousins. My first night there was the same as my second, third and fourth - remarkable for the fact that I can't remember much of what happened after about 0200.
(Except for the Grade 2 Cyclone that swept in off the Indian Ocean on Sunday night.)
The lass on the left, above, is Kate, who painted the left-hand picture.
And painting is only one of her many talents. She'll go far, that girl.
The street where they live. Extravagant spaciousness like this is far from uncommon.
As we drove from the airport, a kangaroo appeared from between the houses in a street just like this. Needless to say, I squealed with childish excitement
The Australian reputation for open friendliness is well-deserved; I chatted happily to these two in the local post office ( - the bloke is an emigre from Preston).
And this is Brian with Cheryl at the local wildlife centre. She was an absolute jewel.
One of the kangaroos in the wildlife park. As you can see, she has a joey in her pouch. I'm not kidding - I was absolutely THRILLED to see this - and to walk about freely amongst the kangaroos. Utterly and completely captivating - unforgettable...words fail me (for once).
These two splendid animals cuddled up together are quokkas. They're a highly endangered species almost entirely limited to Rottnest Island, just off the coast near Perth.
And they're LOVELY.
Once again, words fail me. This was one of those rare experiences that are almost designed to stay in your mind and in your heart for the rest of your life. This is what my journey is all about.
Me and Janice.
Isn't she GORGEOUS?
Distance travelled so far...10,317 m / 16,604 km
Watch this space...