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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 8 – Big Island Day 2

Day 8 of Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program, Day 2 on Big Island, Hawaii. After an exciting Day 1 on Big Island, the boys and girls woke up in the chilly morning for a morning PT, running from the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) towards nearby areas in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I didn’t join them and stayed back taking photographs of the KMC, the surroundings, enjoying the morning breeze walk with Wayson and Sterling. I had a nice hot coffee with Wayson and Sterling, chatted at the staircase leading up to our accommodation. Thereafter, Wayson, Sterling and myself picked up breakfast and lunch packages from KMC admission office for the boys and girls later to have their breakfast.

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After the DSG boys and girls were back from the morning PT, it was rest time and breakfast time. We all had packed our daypacks, cleared our things from the bunks and got ready for our Big Island Day 2 adventure. Soon, we were on a road trip along Crater Rim Drive, heading towards the coastal area, the Chain of Craters Road. The Chain of Craters Road is a 38mile (62km) round trip that descends from 3700 feet (1128m) to the coast. Driving downhill towards the coast, what we saw were vast giant land of lava flow that were hardened/solidified since 1986. The road trip was very quiet and peaceful outside because there weren’t much traffic at all. However, during the road trip, my rental van was singing in the van while it was heading towards the end of Chain of Craters Road. We had our first stop at Kealakomo Overlook and Picnic Area (if I get my facts correctly). The view was special, vast open flat lava land, it never seemed to be ending anywhere that our eyes can view. I simply had to take a group photo of DSG here, we were going to leave our Dragon Scouting footprints here!

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Continuing our road trip downhill, the coastal and shoreline became more visible. Being a landscape and travel photographer myself, I just took photographs from our van tinted windows, the views were simply breathe-taking beyond words of description and composition here. The photographs that I took simply spoke for itself the beauty and aura of Mother Nature’s gorgeous natural artworks. Driving downwards and reaching the flat coastal plains, we soon reached the end of Chain of Craters Road because the road was closed and no longer accessible by vehicles due to the young 2003 lava flows. We disembarked after parking our vans and started trekking along the road. Passing by the huts and restrooms and barricade, we just trekked on the road, unable to really see what was ahead, the scene seemed never-ending. However, straight ahead, we saw something sticking out of the road, black and totally sealing the road off. This was the young 2003 lava flows, the youngest land on Earth being rewritten into the history books. Trekking on the uneven lava land, the adventurers from DSG continued their exploration, soon, we found a signboard that was placed there “Road Closed”, that suited the location perfectly 100%.

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After many photo taking by the boys and girls from DSG, we took a Group Photo there with the “Road Closed” signboard. It’s simply can’t be missed and I loved it how DSG had been leaving many Dragon Scouting footprints in Hawaii. We then begun to trek towards the coast line, where we can watch and enjoy the beautiful ocean waves and breeze. The views were simply gorgeous, yet it could be dangerous since there weren’t any barricades around the edge of the cliff and it was a vertical straight drop. Therefore, the teachers, along with Wayson and myself, being adults, had to ensure that the DSG boys and girls were kept a safety distance and being looked after carefully at all times while they were looking and enjoying the ocean breeze and waves splashing against the cliff. Although our plan to view the lava flow around this area wasn’t available, we still enjoyed ourselves a lot trekking and exploring the End of Craters Road.

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After many photographs were taken, we returned back to our rental vans and started our return journey uphill towards Kilauea Visitor Centre. We stopped by the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku) and this was a very popular tourist attraction with coaches, rental vans and private cars parking nearby and hordes of people walking towards the Lava Tube. Therefore, there was a bit of queuing up to enter the Lava Tube cave. This was a pretty short trek because the other half of the Lava Tube cave was closed to the public. This was an eye-opener on how lava once flowed this tube (given the size and height of the tube/cave). After finished trekking and exploring Lava Tube, we departed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, had our quick lunch nearby from Volcano Village. We drove back to Hilo, whereby the rental vans would be returned and getting ready to board our domestic flight from Big Island to Oahu. Before that, we visited Rainbow Falls Lookout, that had a nice pool of water below yet no waterfall due to the dry weather that day. We then drove toward Big Island Candies for shopping and rest, some of them bought cookies while I just bought ice cream and rested. Sterling and Wayson went to refuel the rental vans that were due to be returned.

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In the late afternoon, we reached Hilo Airport, the boys and girls rested, did their reflections and wrote down their thoughts and stories on their second day in Big Island while Wayson and Sterling returned the rental vans. Once they were back, we entered the immigration area, waited for our flight and returned back to Oahu. Our hosts were there to pick us up from Honolulu Airport and we were now headed for Waikiki, our hotel was the Aqua Aloha Surf Hotel, located at 444 Kanekapole Street, Honolulu, HI  96815. We collected our backpacks that were brought to us by our Hawaiian friends from their home, waited at the hotel lobby. Once rooms were assigned, we went to our rooms, dropped our bags and quickly went for dinner in their respective groups. I had a quick dinner at the nearby International Market Place and went back to my hotel room for a good sleep and rest after helping Janice and Guan Ying to prepare for the farewell dinner video. It had been an awesome 8 days in Hawaii and tomorrow would be our last night in Hawaii!


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 7 – Big Island

On the 3rd December 2012 (Hawaii Time), the day that we had been looking forward to in our Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange itinerary, it’s Day 7 and we would be flying over to Big Island from Oahu for a 2D1N adventure. Waking up early in the morning, leaving the DAV campsite and heading for Honolulu Airport, we checked in and waited for our domestic flight to Hilo, Big Island. It was a short flight around 45mins to 1hour and with the beautiful weather in the sky, we saw beautiful white clouds and saw the islands of Moloka’i and Maui below us.

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Soon we arrived at our destination, Hilo Airport. Sterling and Wayson went off first to pick up the 2 rental vans nearby Hilo Airport. Once they were back, we started our adventure in Big Island. First up, it was lunch at a nearby eatery, always fun to taste local food, their portion is always upsized according to our standards. I ordered a large meal and shared around. When we finished our lunch, we continued our journey and our first stop was the famous Mauna Loa Macdamia Nuts plantation and factory. It was shopping time for Macdamia Nuts, souvenirs, looking at the production/packing line of Macadmia Nuts factory from the glass windows. We didn’t take up too much time there and soon we were on our way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, something I was eagerly looking forward to during this whole trip! Do follow Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Facebook!

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As our rental vans traveled uphill towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the weather got cooler and we knew we were reaching soon. We reached the entrance of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the ticketing booths were located, continued driving in and we reached Kilauea Visitor Centre. At the Kilauea Visitor Centre, we learned about the geographical landscape on how Hawaii was formed, the flora and fauna on the islands of Hawaii. We watched a video presentation at the Kilauea Visitor Centre before starting our exploration around the Kilauea Visitor Centre area. Our first location was Volcano House, a short walk from Kilauea Visitor Centre, that was the start of our eye-opener adventure in Big Island. The vast open volcano land view was simply breathe-taking beyond words, it shows the beauty of Mother Nature and her creations. This was just a part of the viewing locations for the Kilauea Caldera, it’s really really big and vast!

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Continuing on, we trekked back to Kilauea Visitor Centre, hopped back into our rental vans and began our Crater Rim Drive adventure. We soon reached the Steam Vents (Wahinekapu) and spent some time there, exploring the steam vents. It’s really strong and hot, like a hot sauna into your face! I asked the DSG boys and girls to take a group photograph there in front of the steam vents and they had a “hot” time while we were photographing away! The Sulphur Banks (Ha’akulamanu) was nearby too and we started trekking towards there from the Steam Vents. The flora and fauna were unique, there were lush greenery with beautiful flowers from the road walking inwards towards the Sulphur Banks. However before moving closer towards the Sulphur Banks, it became dry and barren with strong sulphuric activities and smell. After photo taking and exploring around the Sulphur Banks area, the DSG boys and girls trekked back towards the rental vans and we drove towards Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

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I didn’t know much about this region at all, it’s very beautiful and I was mesmerised by the beautiful creations of Mother Nature, the vast land size, the geographical and geological nature of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It’s a hidden gem! From Hawaii Volcano Observatory, the views were so gorgeous and amazing. All the DSG boys and girls cameras went into overdrive mode and started photographing the sceneries, themselves and with their friends of this beautiful place. I also went a bit overdrive too, however, there were times I just paused, sitted down there, just silently viewed the entire Kilauea Caldera from left to right, like a panoramic eye. I haven’t had such an opportunity to sit down, relaxed and enjoy the gorgeous artworks of Mother Nature. The time there was very Zen, tranquil and peaceful for me, this was something very special inside my heart and soul (the Boy Scouting / Outdoor Adventurer / Traveler spirit) that had been missing from my life for quite a long time.

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Our DSG boys and girls visited Jagger Museum and learned more about the Kilauea Caldera, looked at the volcanic rocks and the history of this area. Wayson and Sterling spoke to the Park Rangers Office and one of their Park Rangers kindly brought DSG for a short tour/presentation of Kilauea Caldera. Our boys and girls were grateful, they were attentive when the Park Ranger was sharing his knowledge and stories of this area. His talk was very interesting, captivating our DSG boys and girls, listening attentively. Our Park Ranger host was so great that tourists also flocked behind our DSG boys and girls, and listened to his sharing together too! When he finished his sharing, we all had to take a photograph with our lovely Park Ranger host!

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It was dinner time and we left Hawaii Volcano Observatory for Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) for our dinner and accommodation. They are a pretty good place to stay while visiting Big Island especially for group tours and it’s definitely worth considering! Do check out their KMC website for more information! After dinner, we drove back towards Hawaii Volcano Observatory for another different view of Kilauea Caldera. It was pitch black darkness, except for 2 main things, the glowing fume from Kilauea Caldera and the many many beautiful star trails above the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. While we weren’t able to view a real life lava flow, we were quite close to the volcanic activities and right in the heart of volcanic land.  This time again, I was brought back to my heart and soul again, like it was earlier in the day. Taking photographs, enjoying the night Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sceneries, sitting down and relaxing, I wished I was able to spend more time there at night, photograph the star trails and concentrate on photographing the glowing fume. However, time was not on my side and I didn’t have my tripod, telephoto lens and remote control. Therefore, I want to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park again with my full gear of camera equipment.

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Due to time constraints, I couldn’t spend more time there during the night at Hawaii Volcano Observatory. We needed to head back to KMC for washing up, rest and recovery. The place was warm and cosy, nice beds with thick blankets. The dormitory was just like going back to Army Days for me except it was more relaxing! After a group debrief and personal reflection time for the boys and girls, we all had a good night’s rest before continuing with Day 8 adventure on Big Island, Hawaii.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Book, Kick and Earn @ Backick.com

I love to travel and visit many different places around the world, although till date, I haven’t travel as far away as I would love to! Armed with the power of social media channels and platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, I get to know many new friends around the world who are like-minded like me, into photography, travel, leisure and recreation. How do you like the idea of combining your love for travel and social networking on Facebook and the result is backick.com, the world’s first hotel booking website where friends help pay for your travel.

Source: Photo courtesy of backick.com

What exactly is backick.com ? I was invited to their official launch event for backick.com and here’s my sharing of backick.com with everybody here. backick.com is the world’s first socially driven hotel booking website where friends help pay for your travel. With backick.com, “It pays to be popular” – totally! Taking an innovative approach to hotel booking, backick.com is a fun and social experience that allows you to monetise your social media friendships and build a self-propagating network of unbeatable hotel discounts and cash rewards.

Here’s a video of how easy it is with backick.com

Visit www.backick.com or connect with them on:

Source: Photo courtesy of backick.com 

Using backick.com is an innovative and interesting method to book your travel holidays. Your friends in your social networks and yourself  both gain rewards when making your hotel booking. Go to their websites and explore them further, share it with your loved ones and friends – Book, Kick and Earn @ backick.com !

Type Here ! Travel HelpDesk to answer your questions !

Dear fellow traveler, backpacker, photographer,

Whenever you travel around the world, visiting many beautiful places, cities and sceneries, enjoying and immersing many different cultures, festivals and events all over the world, do you ever face burning questions on your travel and you are searching for something ?

Browsing through the Internet through search engines would definitely give you many results. Folks, take a look at the Travel HelpDesk to answer your burning questions !

Travel like a Local at Localyte.com

Type your travel queries and the locals would answer them ! They would be sharing with you many great travel tips and advice of their local area and country !

Let’s go travel !

My Parents Travel Photos to Haerbin 2009

During the period of the Chinese Lunar New Year Holidays, my parents would usually pack their bags for 1 week and visit different parts of China for the past many years. This year is no different and their destination is 哈尔滨, Haerbin, Helongjiang Province.

As you can see from the selected photos, it is a very cold region in China, with temperatures dropping to -20 degrees Celsius.

Hope you all enjoy viewing them, would be looking at uploading more photos up soon for your viewing pleasure !

Hello Everybody ! Welcome ! Come on inside !

Welcome to my new Photojournalist blog, with its history and origins from my old blog. 

7th October marks the dawn of a new era, A New Hope ……. in my journey, in my blogging and my photography and writing adventures, to a higher level of excellence, passion and professionalism.

There is still some work to be done before it would be broadcast for Official Launch !

Thank You and hope you all enjoy my first few test posts !

Mount Kinabalu DSG Trekkers

2007 is coming to an end, many things had happened in my 2007 calender. Some of the wonderful events that impacted me in 2007 were my involvement with the 85th Anniversary Celebrations, helping out in the planning and project management of the 85th Anniversary Campfire and Dinner.

Being part of the 85th Anniversary Mount Kinabalu expedition trip, I had lots of fun with all those who made the trek up together. Thanks for making it fun & exciting !

Keep a lookout for the 85th Anniversary Year Book…….

Onward Dragon Scout Group !

Day 5: Kota Kinabalu City – Senai – Singapore

Day 05

After reaching Kota Kinabalu City on Day 04 night, checking into King Park Hotel, I was busy bringing out my wet clothes to dry up in the hotel room, packing it only in the morning of Day 05, squeezing it into my backpack.

After breakfast in the hotel, all of us went to a nearby day market, known as Gaya Street Sunday Market, it was great to be walking around flea markets again, I always enjoy visiting such places, bringing back fond memories of my time in Brisbane and Sydney, visiting day and night flea markets. There were many interesting things on display, ideal location to find gifts back home for your friends, relatives and family members.

 

After shopping, I went back to the hotel to check out of my room, went with Mr Heng to find Yee Keat and Jovan. Thereafter, we went walking around Kota Kinabalu City, we walked straight along Jalan Sapuloh and Jalan Duapuloh, visiting Warisan Square, a modern shopping centre with nice restaurants. Crossing across the road, we arrived at a really beautiful marina promenade known as Waterfront, many cafes and restaurants occupy this location, making it an ideal location to sit down, chill out and relax while enjoying the peace, tranquility and beauty of South China Sea surrounding Kota Kinabalu City.

 

We went to explore around the area further, walking around Handicraft Market, Central Market and Wet Market. Many different trades and business operating around this region facing the sea, showcasing the modern and traditional business side by side in Kota Kinabalu City. When I was walking through the various markets, there were food stalls preparing and cooking their food (seafood, BBQ etc) and it looked really delicious !!!

After a while, we decided to sit down at Coffee Bean Cafe at the Waterfront, sit down to relax and enjoy coffee while chatting away, while waiting for the sunset to arrive, whereby we would get a good view from the Waterfront promenade.

1745 hrs – We proceed outside of Coffee Bean and looked out into the sea, the sun was setting down and we started taking photos of the sunset slowly coming through. We had a good 15 mins of photo taking before leaving at 1800hrs to head back to our hotel, joining the rest of the other guys for our coach to the airport for the flight back to Senai and taking a coach transfer to Johor Bahru and finally back to Singapore.

Day 4: Laban Rata – Low’s Peak – Laban Rata – Rose Cabin – Kota Kinabalu

Day 04

At 0145hrs, we woke up and prepare ourselves for our summit push from Gunting Lagadan to Low’s Peak. It was really cold in the early morning hours in the mountains but we were buzzing with excitement and eager for the climb to our ultimate objective.

0215 hrs – Falling in of entire contingent, roll call, final check and split into 3 groups for summit push.

0230 hrs – Commencement of our summit push !

Being an old boy + adult , there were responsibilities on our part to ensure the young boys and girl were taken care of during the summit push due to its technical and terrain difficulties. Yong Kok and myself took care of the Group 2, with the following crew, Wei Chuan, Wei Tian, Wen Li and Ai Xia.

The summit push was much more difficult due to climbing in total darkness, although we had head lamps attached to us. I have to thank Wen Li for helping me fix my maglite torch on my jungle recce hat because I didn’t bring a head lamp ! While climbing up the granite rocks, keeping close to the thick white rope, we could easily see lines of “christmas lights”. The night was very beautiful, once we trekked out of the temperate rainforest altitude, only the shiny granite rocks greeted us and looking up into the dark clear sky, were full of bright shining stars !!

As much as I would love to stop and take photos, the urgency and sensibility to be safe and taking care of the crew, supersedes my photography ambitions. Moreover, due to the terrain, we had to be a lot more careful and sometimes, we had to be on all four limbs.

It sounds dangerous here but I have to emphasis that, you must follow the white rope, don’t deviate away and always be mindful of your steps and people around you, the risks would be controlled considerably and under such circumstances, would you grow in strength and character of yourself in the aspects of risk taking and responsibility actions. Something that even an outdoors person like me, I find my summit push a humbling, enriching and learning experience.

 

Reaching the plateau, we slowed down significantly, due to fatigue and altitude sickness. I had to constantly motivate my people and it was a huge challenge for me, I had to thank Ms Aixia for helping me to push and motivate the guys up also because upon reaching the plateau, I was pretty drained out and took a bit longer to acclaimatise to the altitude of 4000m. Kudos to Ms Aixia for showing true leadership qualities, well done !

We all finally reached our destination ! Low’s Peak @ 4095.2m ………… Physically drained …… yet Full of pride, happiness, excitement in conquering Low’s Peak. We took a bit of time to enjoy the beauty of Mount Kinabalu summit and its surroundings, being so high up in the sky above the clouds, the feelings and emotions were very special and unique. To experience exactly what went through my mind, I strongly encourage you (reader) to climb Mount Kinabalu.

Climbing down, it started to rain heavily and we had to be extra careful, soaking wet and slipping many times, we finally made our way back to Gunting Lagadan, changed to dry clothes, packed our daypacks and head towards Laban Rata for warmth, food and water. Once everybody returned from the summit and gathered at Laban Rata, we gathered ourselves, bid goodbye to the mountains and trekked downhill to Timpohon Gate. With aching legs and sore knee caps, I couldn’t go too fast.

During our descent, it rained again heavily, soaking wet again, we returned to Rose Cabin, to collect our backpacks, changed to another set of dry clothings, tucked into dinner and headed towards Kota Kinabalu City……

A very memorable (& VERY WET) day…….