This is the second time I’ve visited China in the past year. Last autumn I enjoyed snuggling the affectionate kitties at Chengdu’s Peekaboo Cat Cafe, so I decided to see what Beijing has to offer too.
I’m stopping over in Chengdu China on my way back from visiting the “Stans” of Central Asia. Chengdu is famous as the home of the endangered Giant Panda. The weather here is perfect for them – warm and wet – just what you want for growing lots of bamboo. I’m very lucky that it’s actually clear and sunny! A rare occurrence, especially in winter, and a great opportunity to capture some photos of people enjoying themselves outside.
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I’ve just completed my 100th scuba dive! I got into scuba four years ago on a trip to Cuba and I’ve been lucky enough to explore the underwater world in some fantastic places since. Learning to dive was a big challenge for me. I’ve always felt a little uneasy around water, having grown up in a landlocked city where the only lakes and rivers are freezing cold. I remember how nervous I was the first time I strapped on all that complicated scuba gear and sunk below the surface of the water. Something inside of you yells out “but I can’t breathe under water!”. It’s a real leap of faith to suppress that sense of panic. Once I started to overcome it, I began to love diving. There’s a real sense of freedom that comes with floating weightlessly. The marine world is so vibrant and distinct from what we see in our everyday lives.
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The Great Ocean Road stretches for 250 km along Australia’s rugged southern coast. Built by soldiers returning from World War I and dedicated to their fallen comrades, it’s the world’s largest war memorial. It also has some of the best scenery in all of Australia. After having such a good time cycling in Tasmania, I was keen to tackle the tight turns and steep climbs of the Great Ocean Road but I hadn’t counted on the intense traffic (thousands of tourists came during Chinese New Year). After my first day, I decided to leave the bike behind and simply enjoy this stunning place as a road trip.
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I’ve just finished a month-long, 1,500-km cycle tour around Tasmania. This remote island is a pleasure to travel by bike with long winding roads that pass through incredible scenery with little traffic. Its diversity is striking. There are vast temperate rain forests, tropical white sandy beaches with turquoise water, rugged coastlines with towering sea cliffs, and peaceful sheep pastures and lavender farms. Tasmania’s history is equally rich. From its notorious convict beginnings to hardy miners who struggled to make a life in the remote corners of this island, there’s so much to learn. Whether you stay in campgrounds or treat yourself to character-rich B&Bs and historic hotels, you’re sure to discover some real gems along the way.
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We stayed with Simon & Stuart last night and got along so well that they asked us to come back for another night to look after their pets while they’re away. I’d planned on continuing my cycle tour but these opportunities don’t come up everyday. I’m a huge animal lover. That’s one of the wonderful things about spontaneous travel – unique experiences that just seem to pop up.
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