Thursday, May 30, 2013

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona
During my 2012 visit to the United States, I spent five nights in Flagstaff, Arizona, which I used as my base while I explored some of the surrounding country. During my stay, one of the locations I happened upon―as I headed somewhat randomly, south―was the Montezuma Castle National Monument, a short distance off Interstate 17. Phoenix is approximately 140 km (87 mi) south of the monument, and Flagstaff, is about 80 km (50 mi) north.

I had never heard of the monument before my visit, nor therefore, had I seen images of the site. To say I was awestruck by the size and scale of what turns out to be some of the best preserved cliff-dwellings in the American Southwest, is an understatement.

The cliff-dwellings at Montezuma Castle were built and used by the Pre-Columbian Sinagua people around 700 AD. The Sinagua were northern cousins of the Hohokam, and the site was occupied from approximately 1125 to 1400 AD, with peak occupation thought to be around 1300 AD. By the way, when European Americans discovered the cliff-dwellings in the 1860s, they named them for the Mexican Aztec emperor, Montezuma II, due to mistaken belief that the emperor had been connected to their construction. In fact, neither part of the monument's name is correct. The site was abandoned by the Sinagua 100 years before Montezuma was born, and the dwellings were not a castle. The building was more like a prehistoric high rise apartment complex.

Exactly why the Sinagua abandoned the cliff-dwellings is not known, but warfare, drought, and clashes with the newly arrived Yavapai people have been suggested. The five-story stone and mortar dwellings contain 20 rooms and once housed about 50 people. Nearby are the remnants of Tuzigoot (Apache for “Crooked Water”), a Singuan Village built on the summit of a ridge. Tuzigoot was two stories high, with 77 ground floor rooms that were accessible via ladders through roof openings. Unfortunately, little of this site has remained.

Montezuma Castle information panel
Due to its isolated location, only about 350,000 tourists visit the site each year. Access to the ruins themselves has not been allowed since 1950 due to extensive damage of the dwelling, and the unstable nature of the limestone cliff face. However, there is a paved trail that leads from the visitor centre and skirts the base of the cliff containing the ruins, from which excellent views of the dwellings can be seen. In addition, numerous information panels (like the one seen at right) provide interesting historical and cultural facts about the cliff-dwellings, and the surrounding landscape.

The dwellings and the surrounding area were declared a U.S. National Monument on December 8, 1906 as a result of the American Antiquities Act, signed earlier in June of the same year. It was one of the four original sites designated National Monuments by President Theodore Roosevelt. The National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

If you are visiting Montezuma Castle, allow time to visit Montezuma Well several miles away. The well is a limestone sink created by the collapse of a large underground cavern, which is fed by permanent springs. There are also ruins located here from large pueblos to one-room houses.

What You Need To Know
> Operating Hours & Seasons
Open Daily: 8:00 AM-7:00 PM in summer, and 8 AM-5 PM in winter.
Closed on Christmas Day.
Phone: (928) 567-3322

Model depicting internal layout of cliff-dwellings
Montezuma Castle Entrance Fees
Adults (16 and over): $5.00 (good for seven days)
Children (under 16): FREE. Entrance fees for Montezuma Castle are collected inside the park Visitor Center during normal business hours.

Passes are available at a discounted rate of $8.00 for both Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments.

More Information

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TED on Tuesday: Philippe Petit, High-Wire Artist

Philippe Petit during his 1974 Twin Towers walk
Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, on 7 August 1974. Petit, who was born in France, discovered magic and juggling at an early age, and at 16, he took his first steps on the wire.

"Within one year," he told a reporter, "I taught myself to do all the things you could do on a wire. I learned the backward somersault, the front somersault, the unicycle, the bicycle, the chair on the wire, jumping through hoops. But I thought, 'What is the big deal here? It looks almost ugly.' So I started to discard those tricks and to reinvent my art."

World Trade Center walk
On August 7, 1974, Petit stepped onto a wire strung between the Twin Towers. Balancing 110 stories in the air, Petit played on the tightrope for 40 minutes to the wonder and amazement of the people watching on the ground. Petit was arrested as he left the wire, but as the police cuffed him, he had a huge grin across his face—for he had achieved a feat everyone, including himself at times, had thought impossible.

“The impossible — we are told — cannot be achieved,” Petit tells the TED blog in a Q&A about his new eBook. “To overcome the ‘impossible’ we need to use our wits and be fearless.”

The story of Petit’s walk was brilliantly told in the documentary film, Man On Wire, by UK director James Marsh. Petit has told the story in his own words, in his book To Reach The Clouds, also republished as Man on Wire.

In this TED talk, Philippe Petit recalls the walk, talks about finding your passion, and makes the case for confronting your fears and attempting the ‘impossible’.


Today, Petit shares his time between New York City where he is an artist in residence at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and a home in the Catskills.

If you are unfamiliar with Philippe Petit and his walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, this YouTube video includes a number of images of Philippe taken during the event.


More Information
Philippe Petit on Wikipedia... [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe_Petit]
Buy the Man On Wire DVD at Amazon.Com... Man On Wire [DVD]
Buy the Man on Wire book at Amazon.Com... Man on Wire

Monday, May 27, 2013

Armchair Travel: Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road

Image courtesy of Peter Kvalvikfjellet [http://www.kvalvik.no]
The Atlantic Ocean Road is an 8.3-kilometer (5.2 mi) long section of County Road 64 which runs through an archipelago in Eide and Averøy in Møre og Romsdal, Norway.

The road traverses an unsheltered part of the Norwegian Sea, connecting the island of Averøy with the mainland and Romsdalshalvøya peninsula. The road is built on several small islands and skerries, which are connected by a number of causeways, viaducts and eight bridges—the most prominent being Storseisundet Bridge.

The route was originally proposed as a railway line in the early 20th century, but this was ultimately abandoned. Serious planning of the road started in the 1970s, and construction started on 1 August 1983. During construction, the area was hit by twelve hurricanes, but despite the hazards involved in completing the project, the road was opened in July 1989.

Today, the Atlantic Ocean Road is preserved as a cultural heritage site and is classified as a National Tourist Route. For reasons that will become clear as you watch the video below, the road is a popular site to film automotive commercials, and it has been declared the world's best road trip. There are four rest areas along the road from which stunning views of the surrounding landscape (or should that be seascape?) can be viewed.

The video below was filmed by Heine Schjølberg, who lives in Kristiansund, Norway, a city and municipality with a direct connection to the Atlantic Ocean Road. Schjølberg states on his YouTube page that the video was shot with a GoProHero 2 and a Sony XDCAM EX1 camera. He goes on to say that the footage was recorded the day after Cyclone Patrick (renamed Dagmar by the Norwegian Weather Service) hit the area on Christmas Day, 2011.


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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, America

~ The Memorial Day Weekend is considered the official start of summer in America, and I wish I was there to see the summer in. Since I’m not, I thought I might at least point lucky visitors and locals to a few of my favorite New York-centric websites and events.

Over the past 50 years, more than five million people have enjoyed free productions of plays by William Shakespeare at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This year The Comedy of Errors is the Public Theater’s choice for their free annual Shakespeare In The Park production. The play kicks off Tuesday, May 28 and runs through until Sunday, June 30, 2013. All shows begin at 8:30 PM.​​​, and there is no intermission during the 90 minute performance.

Among the actors featuring in this year’s production will be Jesse Tyler Ferguson, one of the stars of Modern Family, Hamish Linklater, and Becky Ann Baker.
If you want to join the audience, you are advised to line up early on the day of performance.
​Free tickets are distributed on each performance day from 12:00 PM (midday) via the free lines at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Tickets are for the daily performance only. You can not line up to get tickets for the following day, or for an upcoming performance.
Once The Comedy of Errors finishes its run it will be followed by Love's Labour's Lost, A New Musical​, which is of course, a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Love's Labour's Lost. This production will run from July 23 - August 18​, 2013.

More information: Shakespeare In The Park…

oo0oo

I have written about this website before here… This is my ‘go to’ site for cheap tickets to a whole range of events in New York City and beyond. Via Goldstar you can find tickets (many at half their box office price) to numerous theatre productions and major sporting events, as well as walking tours, harbor cruises and much more. The great thing about Goldstar is that discount tickets are available for similar events in more than 30 other cities across the United States.

oo0oo

SummerStage is another annual arts and music program of New York’s, City Parks Foundation. It schedules a host of free events throughout the summer months, and 2013 will be no exception. As in previous years, the artists chosen for the 2013 program represent a wide range of genres and cultures, and perform in outdoor settings accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. I was lucky to see one of my favourite performers, the late Gil Scott-Heron performing as part of the 2010 SummerStage concert series, and I am very grateful to the City Parks Foundation for giving me that opportunity.

SummerStage strives to develop a deep appreciation for contemporary, traditional, and emerging artists as well as the communities in which these artists originate. All SummerStage shows go on ‘rain or shine’, and are only cancelled if extreme weather events are forecasted.

You can follow SummerStage on Twitter and Like them on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest SummerStage fan content and contest opportunities.

More Information: Summerstage...

oo0oo

Good things are said to come in three’s, and the above three sections point to three of the best in my experience. If you are visiting New York City for the first time, you are in for a treat, and I can only wish I was there with you. All things being equal, I plan on visiting America and New York City again next year, so you can be sure the next twelve months will be filled with much anticipation, and forward planning. I can hardly wait.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Photos: Adelaide Central Market

Let them eat cake? Not when the bread is as fresh as this.
Originally known as the City Market, the facility was officially named the Central Market in August 1965, and continues to offer almost every variety of fresh fruit and vegetable available in South Australia.

The world comes to shop at the market.
Hot nuts! Once you start eating them, you can't stop.

Several tour operators offer tours of the Central Market.  For more information on tours of the Market, visit Top Food & Wine Tours… 

If it is available fresh, you will almost certainly find it at the market.
Processed meats to go.
A wide range of events and activities are scheduled each week at the market. Some traders offer product samples in ‘try before you buy’ promotions, while others present short classes, and product/produce demonstrations each week.

Ice on Mt. Brocoli.
How many varieties of Mettwurst can there possibly be? Ask here.
Mark Gleeson conducts Central Market Tours that provide participants with an exclusive experience interacting with suppliers, producers and retailers of South Australia’s vibrant food industry.

Watermelons by the ton.
Mid-eastern spices and processed foods.
More than 80 stalls offer a wide range of fresh and processed meats, cheese, seafood, nuts, confectionary, coffee and other specialty foods. And of course, let’s not overlook the bakeries, patisseries, and numerous cafés and restaurants.

There is always time for coffee and cake.

Trading Hours
Tuesday: 7am - 5.30pm
Wednesday: 9am - 5.30pm*
Thursday: 9am - 5.30pm
Friday: 7am - 9pm
Saturday: 7am - 3pm
*Optional trading day, not all stalls open

Closed Public Holidays

Here is a brief video of footage I shot during a visit to the Adelaide Central Market:


More Information

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My iPad 2 – One Year On


One year ago today, I bought a 64Gb iPad 2. I purchased the device in preparation for the three month visit I subsequently made to America between August and October, 2012.

I had two main purposes in mind when I bought it: one was that it made it easier to leave my 15 inch Toshiba laptop behind, and thereby reduce the amount of weight I was carrying; and the other was my desire to use the iPad as an eBook reader.

I have said it before, and I don’t mind saying it again―buying the iPad was the best pre-travel gift I have ever given myself. The convenience it offered in terms of size, weight, and functionality has proved its worth over and over again.

A year after my initial purchase, the device is rarely out of my sight or out of reach. The word I keep coming back to when I talk about the iPad is convenience. Couple convenience with ease of use, and you have a device that has helped to revolutionize the way we use technology to connect with each other, and tap into the vast resources of the internet. Making use of a basic WiFi service, I find I am forever reaching for my iPad to look for information online, research some small item of interest using Wikipedia, or translate a couple of lines of French or Latin that I have encountered in one of the many eBooks I now have saved to my iBooks app.

I maintain a daily journal with Pages, track my daily spending with Numbers, and keep in touch with family and friends via Facebook. Using a free app supplied by my bank I can move money between accounts, and to the delight of my creditors I can pay bills on time with Bpay. I have far more apps than I need or use on a daily basis, but then why not? Most of them were free to download, and if I need the space for more important or useful applications, they can be deleted with a couple of taps.

I have written before about my favorite iPad apps here… and here… so I won’t repeat myself in this entry, however, I do have plans to write about some other favorite applications not reviewed already.

After twelve months my iPad continues to work flawlessly, and I am more than happy with the physical size of the device, as well as its 64Gb capacity. The quality of the images I can get with the camera is one of my biggest frustrations, although video footage is actually quite good―as long as you are shooting in plenty of light. Although I have WordPress and Blogger apps, I prefer to use my laptop to write for and maintain The Compleat Traveller. Even though I have bought a keyboard to use with the iPad, I find writing with my laptop to be easier, faster, and generally more accurate. Personally, I find the iPad’s virtual keyboard good for short journal entries, and minor text entry work for things like email, Facebook, and other such tasks, but for long periods of typing it just doesn’t suit me.

Quite frankly, apart from my complaint with the camera and virtual keyboard, I am struggling to think of any other issue that has been the cause of major―or even minor concern. The biggest frustrations are caused by badly designed apps, not the iPad itself. Recently, I exchanged my old iPhone 3GS for a new Galaxy S4, and I remain very happy with that decision. However, I can’t see myself swapping my iPad for a rival tablet device any time soon.

I realise I have not written anything about using the iPad as an eReader, but I will leave that topic for another post. In conclusion, if you have been thinking about getting an iPad, or similar tablet device, I am more than happy to recommend this amazing technology to you. It is hard to believe that tablet devices were almost unheard of five years ago, given the way they have become pretty much ubiquitous today. They can only get better, faster and more ubiquitous over the next five years.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Ya Bike, New York!

Rue Rossini bike share rack in Paris, France

Well, it has been a long time coming, but New York City has finally caught up with many other major cities around the world with the recent introduction of the new Citi Bike, bicycle sharing program. The system will see 10,000 bicycles spread among 600 bike racks ― most of which will initially be located on Manhattan below 59th Street, and in Brooklyn in an area roughly bordered by the East River, Atlantic Avenue, Nostrad Avenue and up around the Williamsburg Bridge (see map here…).

Alta Bicycle Share, is the company running the program, while Citigroup has paid $41 million for naming rights over the next five years―hence the name, Citi Bike.

It may seem counter-intuitive to introduce bicycles onto New York City’s traffic clogged streets, but in fact since 2007, the city has added more than 250 miles of bike lanes, and the number of New Yorkers commuting to work by bike is now approaching 20,000 people, according to Department of Transportation statistics.

Recently, around 32,000 cyclists took part in the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, organised by Bike New York and the New York City Department of Transportation. The event gave participants the opportunity of riding along a 40 mile, car-free route through all five New York boroughs.

Current Citi Bike rental fees
Annual membership to use the Citi Bike system is US$95.00. So popular was the initial offering that it sold out all 5,000 “founding memberships” in less than 48 hours. Annual membership signups for Citi Bike have now passed 8,000 participants, and this number continues to increase slowly but steadily.

If you are planning to make use of the bike share program, I strongly advise you to read through the relevant sections of the City Bike New York website, especially the FrequentlyAsked Questions and the Pricing section.

The city's Department of Transportation has been pushing the bike share concept for years as an affordable commuting option, however the program stalled twice over the last year―once due to a programming glitch, and again after Superstorm Sandy damaged many of the bicycles and stands late in 2012. Despite this, the push to create bike lanes and rental programs has propelled New York into seventh place in Bicycle Magazine's list of bike friendly cities.

An Accident Waiting To Happen?
So much for the good news. The less than good news is that riding bicycles around city streets―any city street―can be a very dangerous enterprise, and riding on New York’s streets may be even more so. According to a Rutgers University study New York City had the highest fatality rate from bike accidents in North America (from 2004 to 2009). In 2010, there were 368 bicycle related crashes, 19 of which resulted in a fatality. The Department of Transportation reports that in 97 percent of fatal bicycle accidents in New York City, the rider was not wearing a helmet.

Clearly it is incumbent on all bike riders to exercise great caution while on the road, whether they use Citi Bike or have their own bicycles.

Citi Bike share station (Image: Nancy Borowick)
So how do you stay safe?
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Wear a well secured helmet.
  • Obey road signs and traffic laws.
  • Don’t try to beat changing traffic lights.
  • Be aware of other road users who may not notice your approach. Some of the worst offenders are people getting out of parked cars, and pedestrians talking or texting on cell phones.
  • Don’t wear headphones, you want to hear approaching vehicles―especially those behind you.
  • Use lights for night riding. I have a flashing white headlight, a flashing red tail-light, and always wear a bright yellow safety jacket fitted with reflective strips at night.
  • Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
  • Use bike lanes — that’s why they are there!
  • Make yourself visible and audible. Equip your bike with a bell and lights, and wear bright colors.

I know some of these safety tips may not make you look trendy or fashionable, but they will increase your visibility and ability to stay safe. And just because the use of bicycle helmets is not mandated by law in New York, does not mean it is safe to ride a bike without one. Do yourself a favor―be seen and be safe.

For a real world look at how bike share systems work, take a look at this video from Melbourne, Australia: How To Use Melbourne Bike Share

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TED on Tuesday: Wade Davis: Wilderness Worth Saving


Two great TED talks for you today―both from National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Wade Davis. The first is a short (6:35 min) talk called,
Gorgeous Photos Of A Backyard Wilderness Worth Saving, in which Davis urges us to save a stunning wilderness paradise in Northern Canada. Here, sacred headwaters are under threat because they hide rich tar sands. Apart from the tar sands, major energy corporations like Shell are targeting the area for the vast fields of oil and gas the region holds.

If the Keystone Pipeline, and other such developments go ahead, this stunning landscape is going to be changed in ways that are all too familiar. Wade Davis states in his talk that Imperial Metals, one of the largest mining companies in Canada “…has secured permits to establish an open pit copper and gold mine which will process 30,000 tons of rock a day for thirty years, generating hundreds of millions of tons of toxic waste that by the projects design, will simply be dumped in the lakes of the sacred headwaters.”

Davis goes on to say “…Shell Canada has plans to extract methane gas from coal seams that underlie a million acres, fracking the coal with hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic chemicals, establishing perhaps as many as 6000 wellheads, and eventually a network of roads and pipelines and flaring wellheads, all to generate methane gas that most likely will go east to fuel the expansion of the tar sands.”

It is a truly frightening prospect for one of the most beautiful places on the plant.

Wade Davis: Gorgeous Photos Of A Backyard Wilderness Worth Saving


In the following much longer (22 min) 2007 talk, Davis examines some of the worlds endangered cultures, and expresses his concern over the rate at which cultures and languages are disappearing. Fifty percent of the world's 7,000 languages, he says, are no longer taught to children. Further, he argues that indigenous cultures are not failed attempts at modernity, nor are they failed attempts to be us ― they are unique expressions of the human imagination and heart.

Wade Davis: Dreams From Endangered Cultures


In 2009 Davis received the Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for his contributions to anthropology and conservation, and he is the 2011 recipient of the Explorers Medal, the highest award of the Explorers’ Club, and the 2012 recipient of the Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Armchair Travel: Venice In A Day



Joerg Niggli's creative interests include producing time-lapse movies using his own video footage and photographs. The films on his Vimeo page provide stunning images of Jordan via his videos of Amman, Petra, and Wadi Rum, while other videos include a hot air balloon flight over the Swiss and French Alps, and today's Armchair Travel video documenting a day in Venice, Italy.

Venice is one of the most interesting and lovely places in the world. Visitors with a special interest in architecture will find much to delight and occupy them, with a seemingly endless array of stunning architecturally significant buildings on every narrow street or facing the many canals that make Venice such a special experience. The city is virtually the same as it was six hundred years ago, which adds to its fascinating character, and although Venice has decayed since its heyday, the city's romantic charm remains to fascinate and seduce millions of annual visitors.

The Republic of Venice dates back to 827, when a Byzantine Duke moved to what is now known as the Rialto, and for the following 970 years, the city prospered as a centre for trade under the rule of a Roman-style Senate headed by the Doge. In 1797, the city was conquered by Napoleon, a blow from which it never fully recovered. Today, Venice remains a monument to the glory days of the Renaissance, and Joerg Niggli has captured the city’s charm, beauty, and stunning buildings magnificently in his short film.

Joerg writes, “A day in Venice (Venezia) in Italy, from daybreak to sunset in time lapse. It's really a great place and I hope I can share some of its magic with this short video.” Rest assured Joerg, you have.

The video was part of the selection of Artfutura 2012 and will be shown in large cities around the world.

Music: «Heart of Champions», Chris Haigh, with a licence from premiumbeat.com. 

Joerg Niggli adds that the video was recorded mostly using a Canon G10, with some wide angle shots taken with a Canon 7D. Post production was completed in Motion, After Effects, and edited and graded in Final Cut Pro X.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Photos: Long Beach, California

The Ocean Center Building at 110 West Ocean Boulevard

On the penultimate day of my 2012 visit to America, I went to Long Beach, California. I had never been there before, and wanting to get out of downtown Los Angeles, a trip to the ocean seemed just the ticket before a long flight back to Australia. Here are some snapshots of my visit.

For Sale? Yes, please. Long Beach, California
I assumed Long Beach was part of Los Angeles, but it seems Long Beach is a city in its own right. In fact it qualifies as the 36th-largest city in the United States, and the seventh-largest in California. In addition, Long Beach is the second largest city within the Greater Los Angeles Area, after Los Angeles itself. As of 2010, its population was just over 462,000.

Parkers’ Lighthouse, Long Beach, California
Long Beach apparently suffers from some of the worst air pollution in Southern California and the United States. Thankfully, on the afternoon I visited, non of this pollution seemed to be in evidence judging by the mostly cloudless, and ever present bright blue sky.

Lighthouse, Long Beach, California
The Port of Long Beach is the United States' second busiest container port and one of the world's largest shipping ports. Trade valued annually at more than $140 billion moves through Long Beach, making it the second-busiest seaport in the United States.

Carnival Inspiration (left), and Queen Mary (right), Long Beach, California
The RMS Queen Mary is a 1936 art deco ocean liner which is permanently docked at Long Beach. Roughly 200 ft (61 m) longer than the RMS Titanic, the former Cunard Liner is famous for being the fastest in the world from 1936 to 1952; for its distinctive art deco design, and for its use during World War II as a troop transport. It was purchased by the city of Long Beach in 1967, and converted to a hotel and maritime museum. Unfortunately, I did not have time to get any closer than this view, which is a pity. As a former ship yard worker, I would have loved the opportunity to go on board and give the ship a closer inspection.

The Carnival Inspiration, Long Beach, California
With the Carnival Inspiration berthed so close to the Queen Mary, it was a perfect opportunity to make a visual comparison between the old and new cruise liners. One imagines vast differences between the layout and facilities of each ship, but both no doubt have their champions, even today. If you had a choice, which would you prefer to sail on?

Shopping outlet at Shoreline Village, Long Beach, California
I did not have time to check out other attractions around Long Beach, but the 5-acre (20,000 m2) Aquarium of the Pacific is located nearby, as is the Long Beach Convention Center, and the Shoreline Village, where these two images (above and below) were taken―as were the two photos above of Parker’s Lighthouse. 

Waiting for my ship to come in at Long Beach, California
Downtown Long Beach is located approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of Downtown Los Angeles. I got there by boarding a Metro train somewhere downtown, and riding it to Long Beach. I enjoyed my visit, although it was far too brief, and given the chance I would like an opportunity to spend several days in the area exploring further.

More Information
Thanks to Wikipedia for the background information used in this post. See the full Long Beach Wikipedia entry here...

P.S. Click on the images to view full size. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Adelaide Central Market


~ At 3.15am on Saturday, 23rd January 1869, a group of market gardeners made their way to a site between Gouger Street and Grote Street, Adelaide and started to sell their produce. Over 500 people are said to have attended that first market day with all stock selling out by 6.00am!

From such a successful beginning, it was not long before the Adelaide Central Market officially opened one year later in January 1870. Thirty years later, in 1900, the first stone was laid to build the Central Market façade, which still stands today.

I have been going to ‘the market’, as most people call it, for as long as I can remember. First, as a child, along with my parents who shopped there every week, and then as an adult, either on my own or with other family members. Currently, Friday evenings are my preferred visiting hours, and shopping is always preceded by a meal in the Asian food hall close to the main market.

Originally known as the City Market, the facility was officially named the Central Market in August 1965. Despite two major fires (one in 1925, and the other in 1977), the market continues to offer almost every variety of fresh fruit and vegetable available in South Australia.

Also available from more than 80 stalls are a wide range of fresh and processed meats, continental deli’s and cheese outlets, seafood stalls, and others specialising in nuts, confectionary, coffee and other specialty foods. And of course, let’s not overlook the bakeries, patisseries, and numerous cafés and restaurants,

For more than 140 years, the Central Market has been the food Mecca for multicultural cuisine and fresh produce in Adelaide, and today the Central Market is South Australia’s most visited tourist attraction.

For those of us who live in Adelaide and shop regularly there, the market is more than a tourist attraction, of course. This is the one place were all classes of people meet and greet each other, rub shoulders with celebrity chefs, indulge their love for fresh fruit and vegetables, and soak their senses in the myriad aromas that waft around the cheese stalls and coffee stalls, and the many other outlets. The market is also a great meeting place for families and friends. Getting together for a meal at Lucia’s, or a coffee and cake at Zuma’s Café, or maybe a cheap, freshly made Won Ton soup in the Asian food hall is a standard occurrence among regular market aficionado’s.

Events & Activities
A wide range of events and activities are scheduled each week at the market. Some traders offer product samples in ‘try before you buy’ promotions, while others present short classes, and product/produce demonstrations each week.

Central Market Tours
With a 30 year background as a chef and 20 years as a stall holder in the Market, Mark Gleeson conducts Central Market Tours that aim to provide participants with an exclusive experience interacting with suppliers, producers and retailers of South Australia’s vibrant food industry. Tour guests receive a level of history and product knowledge of the Adelaide Central Market, not available by others. For more information or to book your tour, visit Central Market Tour… 

Top Food & Wine Tour
There are several tour operators in South Australia that also offer tours of the Central Market for your enjoyment.  For more information on tours of the Market, visit Top Food & Wine Tours… www.topfoodandwinetours.com.au

Trading Hours
Tuesday: 7am - 5.30pm
Wednesday: 9am - 5.30pm*
Thursday: 9am - 5.30pm
Friday: 7am - 9pm
Saturday: 7am - 3pm
*Optional trading day, not all stalls open
Closed Public Holidays

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TED on Tuesday: How Bad Architecture Wrecks Cities


James Howard Kunstler is an American author, social critic, public speaker, and blogger. He is best known for his books The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape, a history of American suburbia and urban development, and the more recent The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes. In the latter book he argues that declining oil production is likely to result in the end of industrialized society as we know it and force Americans to live in smaller-scale, localized, agrarian (or semi-agrarian) communities.

Kunstler doesn’t hold back as he unloads on both these themes in this very entertaining but important TED talk, which he delivered in 2007. Kunstler also believes that public spaces should be inspired centres of civic life, and the physical manifestation of the common good. Unfortunately, America, he argues, is in danger of becoming a nation of places not worth caring about.

James Howard Kunstler calls suburban sprawl “the greatest misallocation of resources the world has ever known,” and his arguments focus directly on urban development, drawing clear connections between physical spaces and cultural vitality. His confrontational approach and propensity for doomsday scenarios make Kunstler a lightning rod for controversy and critics. But his magnificent rants are underscored with logic and his books are widely read, particularly by architectural critics and urban planners.

“The upside of Kunstler's anger is that he's getting people to sit up and take notice.”
~ Outside magazine

Note: This talk contains numerous ‘F’ bombs, so if you are offended by coarse language you may want to skip this weeks TED on Tuesday.


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Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Movie: International Space Station at Night


In today’s Monday Movie, we spend four minutes flying around the earth at a speed of 27,685 km/hr (17,500 mi/hr), enjoying views captured by a succession of astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit, and despite speeding its way through space at an altitude ranging between 330 km (205 mi) and 435 km (270 mi), its pressurised modules, external trusses, solar arrays and other components can often be seen with the naked eye from the earth.

Knate Myers has put together this video, View From the ISS at Night, from footage made freely available on various government space related sites, and it offers a unique view of the planet, that few humans have had the joy of experiencing for themselves.

Knate lives in Albuquerque, NM, and writes on his Vimeo profile, that he has a passion for photography. Knate adds:
I love living in the southwest. It's a thrill to capture the sky, the storms and the stars out here. I especially love staying up all night, photographing the night sky far away from the city lights. I try to photograph in such a way that the results have just a slight twist from the ordinary. I want my photos to look the way I see them in my head.
While Knate uses video from other sources in this film, his Vimeo page contains numerous short time-lapse films that he has captured himself, all of which are worth checking out.


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Music by John Murphy - Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)
Performed by the City Of Prague Philharmonic, available at Amazon…

Image Courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

In Review: Dara Reang Sey Hotel, Phnom Penh

Dara Reang Sey Hotel, Phnom Penh

~ My flight from Athens, Greece, got me into Phnom Penh, Cambodia (by way of a transit stop in Bangkok, Thailand), at 6:00am local time early in February 2011. The haze that hung over the country as the plane approached Phnom Penh, provided plenty of warning for the heat and humidity that assailed me as I left the plane at the modest Phnom Penh International Airport.

After passing quickly through Customs, and paying twenty American dollars cash for a Cambodian visa, I was ready to begin my month long visit.

Thankfully, the driver sent to pick me up from the airport (for a $10 fee), was ready and waiting, and in no time at all he was weaving his way through Phnom Penh’s teeming streets towards the first of my five nights at the Dara Reang Sey Hotel.

Phnom Penh was chaotic. There were few traffic lights, lots of uniformed police, military, and other official types standing around, but few of them seemed to be doing much of anything―other than keeping a watchful eye on the passing river of tuk-tuks, bicycles, trucks and buses, vans and pedestrians, and the multitude of motorcycle riders. What few automobiles I could see, appeared to belong mostly to international non-government agencies of one type or other.

Large, comfortable bed in air-conditioned room.
I had booked a ‘Superior Single Room’ at the hotel, at the princely sum of US$26.67 per night. This included taxes and service charges, although breakfast would cost me an average of three dollars extra per day.

While many new international hotels are appearing on the skyline around Phnom Penh, the majority of the city’s hotels are for the most part, ‘housed’ in old, generally run-down looking buildings that may not seem like much at first glance, but which turn out to be quite well appointed given the general poverty that surrounds them.

The Dara Reang Sey Hotel is no exception. My nightly room fee of $26.67 is more than most Cambodians make in a month, so I had no reason to complain as I settled into my accommodations. While writing this entry, I thought it wise to check current prices at the hotel, and to my amazement, there has been no change in pricing since my stay there more than two years ago.

Bathroom was clean and well stocked
The Dara Reang Sey offers rooms in two categories: Standard, and Superior Rooms. Standard rooms range in price from $20/night (single occupancy), to $40/night for three people. Superior rooms range in price from $26.67/night (single), to $43/night for three guests.

Room amenities across all categories appear to be exactly the same, namely, air conditioning, mini-bar, telephone, Cable-TV, and bathroom. However, you should check specifically that these facilities and room rates are correct.

Under the Facilities section of the hotel website they write:

“There are 3 triple rooms, 33 double rooms and 7 single rooms all with air conditioning and 6 fan rooms, most of the rooms have a bathroom with hot shower, cable TV, mini bar and some with balcony Prices range from US$15-$35 all with air-conditioning room.”

The bold emphasis in the above quote is mine. I suspect some things have been ‘lost in translation’, which may account for the discrepancy in prices and facilities, so again you are advised to check with the hotel when making your booking.

The hotel does not have WiFi, or even wired Internet access in the rooms, but access to the Internet was free via computers located near the reception area. Numerous Internet cafés can be found near the hotel, and these all seem to charge a very modest $1.00 per hour.

Restaurant
Image courtesy of hotel website
The hotel has its own restaurant, which is open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. The restaurant serves inexpensive Khmer, Chinese, Vegetarian, Western and Thai dishes. I ate breakfast here each morning, and rarely paid more than $3-$4 for a very generous meal.

The restaurant is at street level and has plenty of seating arranged on the sidewalk, from where you can watch the unfolding tapestry of street life in Phnom Penh. One of the drawbacks of sitting this close to the public however, are the beggars that will inevitably approach you while you are relaxing or eating. These unwelcome approaches are not confined to this hotel of course, but are a daily fact of life for western visitors wherever they may be in Cambodia―which is, after all, one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia.

Most of my evening meals were also taken here and I can certainly vouch for the ‘inexpensive’ claim. One of my journal entries notes: Dinner tonight was chicken salad, beef and noodle stir fry, two Heineken beers, a bowl of free peanuts, and some papaya fruit slices – all for just $10.00.

Modest facilities in my Dara Reang Sey hotel room
I rarely spent more than $10-$12 for an evening meal, and often spent less. As for the chicken salad and fresh fruit slices: I know, I know, don’t eat fresh fruit or salads while travelling in Asia―let alone other strange and exotic meals.

To heck with that, though. Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and immerse yourself as much as possible in the local culture, and if you do end up suffering from the local equivalent of Delhi Belly or Montezuma’s Revenge (which I did), put it down to experience―and have another fried grasshopper!

Finally, most of the staff at the hotel spoke English, with their proficiency ranging from basic to very good. All staff worked hard to ensure that my stay at the hotel was pleasant, safe and incident free―which it was, and I will conclude by stating that I would have no hesitation staying at the Dara Reang Sey Hotel again.

Note: There are two Dara Reang Sey hotels in Cambodia, with information about both available from the same website. The one reviewed here is in Phnom Penh, and the other is in Seam Reap. To book either of the hotels, select ‘Seam Reap’ or ‘Phnom Penh’ from the drop down menu under the Hotel label on the website’s main page.

More Information
Dara Reang Sey Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Skype: dara.reangsey.hotel.pp
Email: booking @ darareangsey.com 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5?


Way back in June 2011, in a piece called My Smartphone – My Life (about the uptake and use of smart phones like the iPhone, Blackberry and other devices), I mentioned some of the problems I had been having with my iPhone 3GS unit.

Despite its many limitations―that have only grown worse after each major iOS update―I still have that phone. I have been ‘making do’ with it for the past two years while I waited to see how the device, and its many imitators would evolve.

Yesterday, I finally made the move to replace the iPhone 3GS. But instead of purchasing the latest iteration of this groundbreaking Apple device, I made the move to the latest Galaxy S4.

Yes, dear reader, I am officially over the iPhone. There, I said it. And the sky didn’t fall in.

I have had the Galaxy less than twenty-four hours, so don’t expect an in depth review of the phone here. However, I will certainly write more about the device once I familiarise myself with its design, user interface and standard applications.

While I have moved on from the iPhone (at least for the next two years), I am still firmly attached to my iPad 2. I have looked at Samsung’s flagship tablet device, the 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab 2, and see no reason to upgrade to either that or the latest iPad. At least, not yet. As someone who is not wedded to one particular company and their products, it will be fascinating to watch how tablet devices evolve over the next couple of years.

In my final paragraph for My Smartphone – My Life, I wrote, “…these are the early days of smart phone development and use, and I for one, am quite sure that these ubiquitous devices will only get smaller, faster, cheaper and more powerful over the next five years. I am also sure that … there is no turning back to the ‘old days’ to embrace anything less than state of the art, when it comes to modern phone technology.”

Today, I feel like I have embraced what I consider to be the latest ‘state of the art’ smart phone technology with my purchase of the Galaxy S4. Only time and practical experience will confirm whether I have made the right choice. I console myself with the knowledge that by the time I am ready to upgrade to a newer smart phone in a couple of years, the technology will have progressed exponentially to… who knows what? There is one thing I am sure of: it was way past time I upgraded from the iPhone 3GS, and whatever I ultimately think of the Galaxy S4, it already looks and feels light years ahead of my old 3GS unit.

I would love to hear your opinions regarding the relative merits of my decision. What do you think? Did I make the right choice? Over to you, folks, iPhone 5 or Galaxy S4 - or should I have changed to something else entirely?
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