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In Sicily we hired a Jeep to get from Palermo around the island.

I had my doubts about this steed. Our two big bags wouldn't fit in the boot. One had to be strapped in on the back seat - a bit disappointing.

At above 130, the speed limit, there's something odd about the steering – so much so that I stopped quite soon to check the tyre pressures. I was regretting my choice.

Reassured about the tyres we set off again.

On the plus side the fuel consumption seemed OK and the zoned climate control worked well.

After two days of me complaining about the odd steering we got to Toarmina.

On entering we discovered that there was no parking in the old town, with roads one car wide and unbelievable traffic snarls – cars and tourist coaches moving around each other like tiles in a puzzle. We wound up and up then down and down, when at last a big blue P appeared. Hooray! - maybe we could actually stop and get out and maybe get something to eat!

Down a narrow street we went. Then up a one-way ally. Mistake! Someone's driveway. Jeep's GPS is suggesting the way. Then suddenly we are on dirt - but still a named road on the GPS.We pass two old codgers who look surprised to see us but don't offer any warning.  More like sharing a sly grin. We are climbing upwards again. This time out of town in the countryside. The dirt road begins winding crazily between tall gum trees. But GPS insists that this' the way.  Now along the cliffside 2.5 metres of width, Bushes scraping the side. No way to turn around now. Then a potholed and eroded 30 degree incline appeared.  A car wrecking drop to one side. This is the back of nowhere but there is some kind of dwelling up ahead.  Even Jeep needs to take a run at it. I doubt my car could do this!

Thank goodness we have a Jeep.

Back on proper roads again we have completely by-passed the tourist road blocks.  We get out and admire the view.

 

Jeep

Wendy n Jeep

 

Still in one piece.  Shaken but not stirred. But Jeep is unconcerned.

As we recover it starts to pour - big rain drops. Spectacular lightening streaks in the distance.

 

 

Storm aproaches

Town

 

On the slippy winding roads Jeep's traction control comes into play.

Now we're back on the expressway. The rain is getting heavier. Soon there is running water on the road and some big puddles. Now it's a shallow river. Cars ahead throw water high up to their sides.  So do we. Some slow to a crawl. Jeep doesn't mind. No need to slow below 100. No aquaplaning for us and the steering is rock solid. Jeep is teaching me a lesson. It's OK! I should never have doubted it.

Say sorry:  "Sorry!"

 

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Travel

Hong Kong and Shenzhen China

 

 

 

 

 

Following our Japan trip in May 2017 we all returned to Hong Kong, after which Craig and Sonia headed home and Wendy and I headed to Shenzhen in China. 

I have mentioned both these locations as a result of previous travels.  They form what is effectively a single conurbation divided by the Hong Kong/Mainland border and this line also divides the population economically and in terms of population density.

These days there is a great deal of two way traffic between the two.  It's very easy if one has the appropriate passes; and just a little less so for foreign tourists like us.  Australians don't need a visa to Hong Kong but do need one to go into China unless flying through and stopping at certain locations for less than 72 hours.  Getting a visa requires a visit to the Chinese consulate at home or sitting around in a reception room on the Hong Kong side of the border, for about an hour in a ticket-queue, waiting for a (less expensive) temporary visa to be issued.

With documents in hand it's no more difficult than walking from one metro platform to the next, a five minute walk, interrupted in this case by queues at the immigration desks.  Both metros are world class and very similar, with the metro on the Chinese side a little more modern. It's also considerably less expensive. From here you can also take a very fast train to Guangzhou (see our recent visit there on this website) and from there to other major cities in China. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Writer

 

 

The fellow sitting beside me slammed his book closed and sat looking pensive. 

The bus was approaching Cremorne junction.  I like the M30.  It starts where I get on so I’m assured of a seat and it goes all the way to Sydenham in the inner West, past Sydney University.  Part of the trip is particularly scenic, approaching and crossing the Harbour Bridge.  We’d be in The City soon.

My fellow passenger sat there just staring blankly into space.  I was intrigued.   So I asked what he had been reading that evoked such deep thought.  He smiled broadly, aroused from his reverie.  “Oh it’s just Inferno the latest Dan Brown,” he said.   

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Opinions and Philosophy

A modern fairytale - in a Parallel Universe

 

I've dusted off this little satirical parable that I wrote in response to the The Garnaut Climate Change Review (2008).  It's not entirely fair but then satire never is.

 


 

 

In a parallel universe, in 1920† Sidney, the place where Sydney is in ours, had need of a harbour crossing.

An engineer, Dr Roadfield, was engaged to look at the practicalities; including the geology and geography and required property resumptions, in the context of contemporary technical options. 

After considering the options he reported that most advanced countries solve the harbour crossing problem with a bridge.  He proposed that they make the decision to have a bridge; call for tenders for an engineering design; raise the finance; and build it.  We'll call it the 'Sidney Harbour Bridge' he said; then less modestly: 'and the new crossing will be called the Roadfield Highway'. 

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