A Travellerspoint blog

Weekend in Sihanoukville

Working in Cambodia for a couple of weeks so took off to the coast to get out of Phnom Penh for a couple of days . Caught the Mekong Express Bus Company 15 seater van service from Orissey Market. It was $22 return and took 4 hours but dropped you off at your guesthouse.

Leigh and I were at Serendipity Beach and were dropped off at the jetty and walked the couple of hundred meters around the headland to our bungalows. Bungalows cost $55 USD a night - were basic , had air con and were comfortable to just sleep in. They are high on the hill overlooking the beach with a restaurant below. I basically did not leave here for the next 3 days.

I was going to catch a boat over to one of the islands but the weather was not great so just parked myself on the timber balcony that sat on top of the water. Even though I ended up working the entire time I could not have worked in a nicer setting.

The sound of water lapping underneath, the tide coming in and out over the rocks in front, ordering their yummy food ( my favourite was the fish amok) local lightly spiced curry and then best of all having foot massages while working by the local ladies who come around and do this for $7 an hour. I even got my lip threaded ( waxed ) for $5.

Perfect work environment

Perfect work environment


Getting both feet massaged

Getting both feet massaged


On our balcony looking to the next bungalow

On our balcony looking to the next bungalow


In the restaurant

In the restaurant

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Cycling, Hiking, Hop on Hop off Bus and Air Show

Had a great day off by myself and did a lot of different activities. I walked to Union Square around 10.30am and jumped on the Big Bus and got off at Haight - Ashbury where I rented bike at $8 an hour.

I headed off in the direction of the ocean through Golden Gate Park along John F Kennedy Drive. It is a huge park and I can see why San Franciscans need large parks as they don't have any yards so this was built for them to use as their back yard. The Conservatory of Flowers was a lovely decorative white building , there were several small lakes, a bison park and 2 dutch windmills down at the Ocean Beach end of the park.

I road up the hill to Cliff house - a famous landmark restaurant from the 1800's overlooking ruined baths on the foreshore. This was a popular weekend place to get out of the city to the beach. I parked my bike at the National Park Visitor Centre at Land End where I did a 2.5 mile hike along the cliffs around to China Beach with the most incredible views over to the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headland. It was through some lovely Cypress forests with the trees all bent over.

I then cycled down the steep hill back to the other side of the Golden Gate Park to ride through on Martin Luther Drive. It was slightly uphill so a bit more work ! I rode around the Stow Lake which was very pretty with stone bridge, paddle boats and lots of ducks. I dropped my bike off and got on the next bus ( they come every 15 - 20 minutes) Went across the Golden Gate again to the other side - you can never get sick of the views and sights doing this. This was my 4th time crossing it ! The skies were blue and cloudless and theatres blue with the sunlight dancing on it and lots of white sails from boats in the bay. There was a large cruise ship in dock and 2 container ships going over to Oakland.

Finished off at Fishermans Wharf and wandered over to where they were selling Dungeness Crab. It was about $40 to buy a whole cooked crab and $20 to buy a lobster bread roll that looked delicious. I settled on a clam chowder in a bread roll. The bread was amazing and I enjoyed the chowder even though it was a bit creamy for my taste. While sitting by the bay eating this and listening to a nearby busker I was able to watch for the next hour the amazing airshow by the Blue Angel jets. They did vertical climbs and dives, flew upside down and were incredible . The noise as they flew past each time was so loud. I have never seen anything like this and it was spectacular.

I got back on the big bus to go back to Union Square, getting off at Washington Square and walked through Little Italy and Chinatown. In lIttle Italy I saw the church that Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg was filmed. These areas were so interesting each with a distinct feel and great seeing the different locals in each area.

Back at Union Square I went in to Sephora where I had booked in for free mini facial before heading back to the hostel. Was a wonderful day and absolutely love San Francisco

Buildings around Union Square

Buildings around Union Square


City Hall

City Hall


Flower Conservatory in Golden Gate Park

Flower Conservatory in Golden Gate Park


Baths from the 1800's

Baths from the 1800's


Cypress trees

Cypress trees


View looking north to Golden Gate Bridge

View looking north to Golden Gate Bridge


Golden Gate Bridge from Lands End

Golden Gate Bridge from Lands End


Land End

Land End


Lovely coastal walk

Lovely coastal walk


China Beach and bridge

China Beach and bridge


Beautiful views

Beautiful views


The Bridge

The Bridge


The hike

The hike


Cypress trees

Cypress trees


Lands End Info Centre

Lands End Info Centre


Cliff House restaurant from the 1800's

Cliff House restaurant from the 1800's


Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach


Wide beach

Wide beach


One of the 2 Dutch windmills in Golden Gate Park

One of the 2 Dutch windmills in Golden Gate Park


Huge windmill

Huge windmill


View from top of the bus

View from top of the bus


Tanker heading to Oakland

Tanker heading to Oakland


On the bus

On the bus


Shimmering sunlight on the ocean

Shimmering sunlight on the ocean


Golden Gate

Golden Gate


Building designed for maximum window offices

Building designed for maximum window offices


Crab at Fishermans wharf

Crab at Fishermans wharf


City Hall Building

City Hall Building


Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury


City Hall Dome

City Hall Dome


Haight - Ashbury

Haight - Ashbury


Heading to the Golden Gate

Heading to the Golden Gate


Beautiful coastline

Beautiful coastline


North side of bridge

North side of bridge


Going over the bridge

Going over the bridge


Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge


Airshow of the Blue Angels

Airshow of the Blue Angels


Airshow

Airshow


One upside down!

One upside down!


Upside down flying past Alcatraz

Upside down flying past Alcatraz


Clam Chowder while watching the airshow

Clam Chowder while watching the airshow


Airshow

Airshow


Airshow

Airshow


Airshow

Airshow


Airshow over ships

Airshow over ships


Starting the vertical climb

Starting the vertical climb


Blue Angel

Blue Angel


Vertical climb

Vertical climb


Fly by

Fly by


Five

Five


Five

Five


Five doing the vertical climb

Five doing the vertical climb


And the loop

And the loop


Finishing the loop

Finishing the loop


Leaving Fishermans wharf

Leaving Fishermans wharf


Little yellow GPS vehicles

Little yellow GPS vehicles


Fishermans Wharf

Fishermans Wharf


Church where Sister Act with Whoopi was filmed

Church where Sister Act with Whoopi was filmed


Cool village suburb near Little Italy

Cool village suburb near Little Italy


Little Italy

Little Italy


Little Italy

Little Italy


Interesting building

Interesting building


Old and the new

Old and the new


Chinatown

Chinatown


Lanterns of Chinatown

Lanterns of Chinatown


Chinatown gates

Chinatown gates


Union Square

Union Square


Diner next to our hostel

Diner next to our hostel


Can rent this GPS controlled vehicle

Can rent this GPS controlled vehicle


Fly By

Fly By


Upside down past Alcatraz

Upside down past Alcatraz


Upside down fly by

Upside down fly by


Amazing airshow that went on for a couple of hours

Amazing airshow that went on for a couple of hours


Cable car ride

Cable car ride

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Boat ride to Alcatraz Prison

Another picture perfect day which is apparently not that common in San Francisco with fog usually even rolling in on Summer days. We walked down to Market Street where we caught the F tram heading to Fishermans Wharf for $2.25 (must have exact money).

We had pre- booked our tickets online, ( www.alcatrazcruises.com) after being advised by the Visitor Information Centre that this is the only way to get tickets and to do it quickly because they sell out well in advance. Our tickets cost $35.50. When we arrived at Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing there was a sign saying tickets were sold out until the 11th October!!!

Our boat was leaving at 11.30am and we had to be lining up at 11am. Once on the island we could just wander around and then catch any boat back as they left every 30 minutes. The "Rock is 1.5 miles from land but with swift currents and freezing cold waters it made escape treacherous .

Originally it was a civil war fort, then a military prison and finally one of the most notorious penitentiaries famous for having the very difficult prisoners sent here that were causing problems or escaping from other jails. Most well known is Al Capone and the Birdman. Today it is owned by the National Parks.

We had an audio cell tour which was excellent with old guards and prisoners sharing stories, and most famously about the 3 that escaped. It still not known today if they survived or drowned. The cells were very small and 3 tiers high. The cell streets were called Michigan Avenue, Broadway and Times Square. There was an isolation cell for violent prisoners and they did not leave them at all. Well behaved prisoners were allowed to spend time in the recreation yard on Saturday and Sunday for 2 1/2 hours to play baseball, chess/bridge or just enjoy being outside.

The views from Alcatraz were amazing - the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco skyline and the Bay . Many of the guards and their families also lived on the island and children were bought up here.

We were back at the dock by 2.30pm - really enjoyed it and all very well done.

I then walked along the waterfront up to Ghiradelli Square where the cable car turnaround was to catch the famous cable cars that are unique to San Francisco back to Union Square. There are only a couple of lines remaining as many were destroyed in the 1989 earthquake and removed. I caught the Powell – Hyde Cable Car. I bought my 1 way ticket for $7 and waited in a very long line. I was really hoping I could get to stand on the outside running board at the front and was told by the hostel staff stand on the left hand side so you had views down Lombard street - the crookedest street in the world. I was still a fair way back in the line and a trolley had been loaded when they asked for people who wanted to stand on the outside. I was the only one in the line who said yes so I was able to get on and had the perfect position right at the front so I had the best view as we went down these incredibly steep hills. It was so much fun and you had to not hang out too far or you would get wiped out by passengers hanging off the cable cars coming form the other direction. It was a lot of fun!

I met Leigh for an early dinner at the Cheesecake Factory which is on the rooftop of Maceys across from Union Square.

We had bought tickets for $60 for one of the hop on off bus company - BIG BUS and jumped on to head to the main stop to do the Night tour. It took an hour and a half to get down there and we went through the Tenderloin which is the poorest area in San Francisco absolutely full of homeless people. This is where Will Smiths film "Pursuit of Happiness" was filmed. The Glide church works with them , providing childcare, meals and medical assistance. It also has the highest SOR ( Single Occupancy renters) where you rent room for $900 - $1300 a month and use a shared bathroom and kitchen on the same floor.

Past Astor Square historic district with the famous Queen Anne painted lady homes, to the 70's hippy area of Haight- Ashbury which has plenty of hippy shops. We drove through the middle of massive Golden Gate Park and then across the Golden Gate Bridge. As the sun was setting the views were stunning especially looking over the treeless Marin Heads. The view from the other side looking back to San Fran was stunning.

Sitting upstairs in the open it was absolutely freezing and I had to buy a hot chocolate to warm up before jumping on the 7pm Night tour bus. I missed out on a seat upstairs so although I ended up being warmer I missed the sights and a lot of the interesting commentary. Don't sit downstairs - not worth it!

Paradise Heights is known as Millionaire row and this is where Robin Williams lived and the Mrs Doubtfire House is as well . I really liked Union Street with its old home and very cool shops and restaurants. There is supposed to be over 3000 restaurants in San Fran enough to keep you eating out breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 years without returning to the same one.

We drove over the Bay Bridge that goes to Oakland and stopped on Treasure Island for views back to the San Francisco skyline - incredible!. The bay bridge is a 2 level bridge wit traffic on the lower level going to Oakland and the top deck back to the city. It is lit up with over 20 million LED Lights that are creating a show that s computerised and always changing. It is a beautiful bridge and definitely better lit up than the Golden Gate at night.

We were then driven back to Union Square arriving back at the hostel at 9.30pm. Our room is quite noisy from the interesting people that roam the streets at night from homeless to loud singing drunks, to very low screaming fighting . I have slept well despite that but have worn the free earplugs the hostel supplies!

Alcatraz Ferry station with Coit Tower behind

Alcatraz Ferry station with Coit Tower behind


Cruise ship in port

Cruise ship in port


Heading to Alcatraz Island

Heading to Alcatraz Island


Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge


Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island


Arriving on the "rock"

Arriving on the "rock"


US Penitentiary

US Penitentiary


Guard Tower

Guard Tower


Open Shower area

Open Shower area


Tiers of cells

Tiers of cells


Cells

Cells


They were very small cells - no privacy

They were very small cells - no privacy


Library info

Library info


Cell of an inmate who loved art

Cell of an inmate who loved art


View of the city they had

View of the city they had


You saw visitors through these small windows

You saw visitors through these small windows


View to city from  admin area

View to city from admin area


Ruined warden building

Ruined warden building


Michigan avenue

Michigan avenue


The escape

The escape


escape route

escape route


Dummy head and hole they escaped through

Dummy head and hole they escaped through


Kitchen

Kitchen


Knife board to show if knives were missing

Knife board to show if knives were missing


Meal plan

Meal plan


Dining hallway most dangerous part of the prison

Dining hallway most dangerous part of the prison


Families and kids lived here

Families and kids lived here


Towers the Rock

Towers the Rock


Exercise yard

Exercise yard


Ferry Terminal

Ferry Terminal


Restaurants at Fishermans Wharf

Restaurants at Fishermans Wharf


Cable car turnaround

Cable car turnaround


The long line

The long line


View from the cable car line

View from the cable car line


Cable Car turnaround

Cable Car turnaround


Cable car

Cable car


Getting ready to go

Getting ready to go


Going down a hill

Going down a hill


Up a hill

Up a hill


Passing another cable car

Passing another cable car


Heading to Union Square

Heading to Union Square


Cable car ride

Cable car ride


Union Square

Union Square


Cable Car ticket $7

Cable Car ticket $7


Cable car

Cable car

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Cycled over the Golden Gate Bridge

Arrived into San Francisco yesterday afternoon from San Diego and arrived at the HI Downtown Hostel near Union Square at 5pm. In a 4 bed girls dorm - great room and overlooks the busy Mason Street below. It is not cheap at $65 USD each plus taxes a night!!! We are right in the heart of shops and restaurants and grabbed some veggie rolls from a nearby Walgreens food supermarket.

Union Square is a great area, very safe despite its closeness to theTenderloin area and the many homeless people. It is the central shopping, hotel, and theater district that surrounds the plaza for several blocks. The area got its name because it was once used for rallies and support for the Union Army during the Civil War.

We put out names down to go on the Golden Gate Bridge Cycle in the morning and left from the hostel at 9am to walk 1 block to collect our bikes. It was a great value day and cost $33USD - $23 for the bike hire wth insurance and $10 for our return ferry ticket from Sausalito. Our lovely guide Elle is employed by the hostel and took us and it was a nice small group of 8 of us . We rode 20km on a mixture of busy streets and paths.

The day started out overcast with some drizzle but quickly improved and was a beautiful sunny day with a ice cool nip in the air.

We managed to miss all the VERY steep hills San Francisco is famous for...well on the organised bit... I did some later in the day on my own!

We went straight down to the waterfront to Pier 1 and past all the piers - stopping at Pier 39 to watch the sea lions who are noisy and hilarious as they climb over each other lying on these floating platforms to stop them climbing onto peoples boats!!!

It use to be a freeway along here but it was badly damaged in the1989 earthquake and was pulled done and refurbished as a lovely waterfront area.

There were 2 large cruises ships in dock snd Fishermans Wharf had so many restaurants. We rode past Coit Tower on the left and the steep hills running up behind Fishermans wharf. Then on to the expensive neighbourhood of Marina to the Palace of Fine Arts built in the early 1900's for an expo - felt like I could have been in Europe with Greek columns and sculptures around a pretty man made lake. The homes in this area are 3- 4 million each - very small and have no earthquake insurance!! No homes in San Fran have yards and most houses are joined

The Presidio is an old Military area turned into museums and there is a large military cemetery with row upon row of white tombstones. We stopped at several viewpoints of the bridge and by now the day was stunning and quite warm but the breeze was cool if you were in the shade. The bridge itself is 3km long and was built in 1935.

On the other side were the barren treeless hills of Marlin Head and views to the Pacific Ocean and south to Ocean Beach. It was an easy downhill ride to the cute little bay town of Sausalito where we had an hour to chill and ate a lunch of fish and chips. We were booked in on the 2pm ferry back and it was a very pleasant 30 minute journey with great views of the bridge, Alcatraz and the San Franciso skyline, ending back at Pier 1 at the Port of San Francisco clock Tower !

The others went back to drop off the bikes and I rode back along the waterfront back to Polk St to the end of all the piers and then some gruelling uphill to get to Lombard Street , the famous crookedest street in the world seen in many movies. These hill were so steep I was puffing and panting just walking my bike up them and had to stop for several rests!

I then rode through the Russian Hill neighbourhood, seeing several cable car with people hanging out them, through Japantown to Alamo Square where the famous Victorian houses called the Painted Ladies are. I got back at 4.30pm and my legs felt like jelly. Such a great day and love where we are staying - has the cool city vibe going on

Sea Lions at Pier 39

Sea Lions at Pier 39


Noisy Sea Lions

Noisy Sea Lions


Crawling over each other

Crawling over each other


Behind are the Hills of San Fran

Behind are the Hills of San Fran


Waterfront docks

Waterfront docks


Lovey trees in front of another HI Hostel

Lovey trees in front of another HI Hostel


Military building and heading to that bridge

Military building and heading to that bridge


View back to Alcatraz

View back to Alcatraz


These houses cost  3 - 4 million each

These houses cost 3 - 4 million each


Marina

Marina


Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts


Presidio area

Presidio area


National Cemetery

National Cemetery


3km Bridge

3km Bridge


Cycling the Golden Gate Bridge

Cycling the Golden Gate Bridge


View to city from bridge

View to city from bridge


Leigh at Sausalito

Leigh at Sausalito


Sausalito

Sausalito


Lombard Street - worlds crookedest street

Lombard Street - worlds crookedest street


Lombard Street

Lombard Street


Steep hills looking to Coit Tower

Steep hills looking to Coit Tower


City Hall in the Civic Centre area

City Hall in the Civic Centre area


Japantown

Japantown


Pier 1 Port of San Francisco

Pier 1 Port of San Francisco


Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts


Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts


Entry to Palace of Fine Arts

Entry to Palace of Fine Arts


Chrissy Field to City

Chrissy Field to City


Dome of Palace of Fine Arts with city behind

Dome of Palace of Fine Arts with city behind


Bridge viewpoint

Bridge viewpoint


Leigh

Leigh


In front of the Golden Gate Bridge

In front of the Golden Gate Bridge


Another one of me

Another one of me


Leigh and I with our bikes

Leigh and I with our bikes


Clouds are clearing over the bridge

Clouds are clearing over the bridge


Selfie stick fail - can't see the bridge!

Selfie stick fail - can't see the bridge!


Leaving Sausalito

Leaving Sausalito


Sun shining on the water

Sun shining on the water


Shipping container heading out to sea

Shipping container heading out to sea


Cruise ships in port

Cruise ships in port


Alcatraz

Alcatraz


Coit Tower on the hill

Coit Tower on the hill

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sightseeing the local area around Rotorua

After conference end church Leanne and her hubby took me around the local Rotorua area. We drove around the entire lake past Redwood Forests to Blue Lake and Green Lake. They are right next to each other and totally different colours!

On the west side of Rotorua, we visited the natural springs of Te Puna-a-Hangurua. It was a lovely walk around past giant Redwoods. The main spring is the biggest in New Zealand’s North Island and flows 4,500,00 litres of water each hour, after taking around 70 years to surface! Everywhere is incredibly beautiful.

We had dinner at Eat street right behind the Novotel Hotel

The next morning it was a beautiful drive back to Auckland airport through Hamiiton - rolling green hills, rivers and sheep and then back home

Giant Redwoods

Giant Redwoods


Crystal clear pools

Crystal clear pools


No swimming allowed

No swimming allowed


Looking down at the source of the spring

Looking down at the source of the spring


Spring facts

Spring facts


So pretty

So pretty


Natural spring

Natural spring


view of spring

view of spring

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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