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Monthly Archive: March 2018

Even more signs

We have LOTS of sign pictures!

Warning sign in Jodphur, India – selfies and the guard rail warnings are good.

Snake warning sign

Snake warning signs are everywhere in Australia! We never saw a snale, thank heavens.

Sun warning sign

Yes, this sign really exists. We’ll pass on the political thoughts that came to mind when we saw it in Western Australia.

Ladies out of order sign

Mark thinks there must be a joke in these signs somewhere.


More signs along the way

We spotted many long winded British signs.  Australia learned their sign making skills from the Brits in many locations.

Thanks to Darcy for starting us on the task of recording signs!

Icy path sign

Oxford had to explain that the paths might be slippery if it’s icy. Really??  This is the same country that cancels train service with the excuse “Leaves on the track.”

We found this sign in Oxford University at the Sheldonian Theatre.

The firefighters have to be told how many hoses to use in Port Macquarie?

slippery tiles warning sign

Yes, this sign was REALLY in one of our bathrooms!

These signs just made us smile!

Hobart uni no parking sign

University parking is a problem all around the world. This one is in Hobart; coincidentally across the street from the Hobart Brewery.

Perth train rules

All the rules about riding a train in Perth.  The sign creator had a sense of humor at least!

Perth Rail sign to give up seat

Students MUST give up their seats. How often does this work??

“Signs, signs, everywhere a sign” – apologies to Five Man Electrical Band

Signs are everywhere. Some we could read; others, not so much. Some are pictures giving directions and some are just bad translations. Some are written by the Brits; easy to recognize by their length – as in long. Here are some of the more amusing or puzzling or long signs we’ve seen along the way!

Spelling is a problem both in English and non-English as a first language countries.

This sign is in Fort Augustus, Scotland where English is the first language and they still can’t spell – or proofread!

missing a T in the word

No room for the “T”

Misspelled fruit shake sign

Spelling is not always perfect in signs. This one’s in Thailand.

Then there are the signs about phones and computers!

 coffee shop no laptops

A library coffee shop in Oxford wants to keep the tables free for patrons.

rome no cell phone sign

One of our favorite little pizza places in Rome has this sign.

No selfies with the penguins! We found this sign in South Africa while watching penguins.

Scot Rail sign

This sign was on the train between Edinburgh and Inverness.

Jodhpur hotel advertisement

We like the “etc” on the hotel advertisement on this Jodhpur hotel.

Jodhpur no smoking sign

The fort in Jodphur tried to discourage smoking.

closed coffee shop sign

The coffee shop at RMIT university was closed when we walked by.

No parking sign in middle of parking spot

This sign takes up a perfectly good parking spot and there were 3 or 4 of them in Porrt Macquarie.

Champagne sign

Advertising Tasmanian sparkling wine.

Rome – Cash only economy!

scotland hot water sign in a sink

Just in case you can’t figure out that water in a sink might be hot. This was in a Scottish toilet.

No feeding kangaroo sign

Don’t you dare feed the kangaroos!

Mark used the toilet in Terminal 21 in Bangkok. We saw many Japanese tourists there and we assume that’s why they had a Japanese style toilet with all the bells and whistles.  At least they posted these directions on what the functions of the various buttons are on the toilet – sort of!  It goes along with some signs we saw for how to use a western toilet – SIT on the seats!

sit on the toilet

Make sure you sit on the western toilet. We found this sign in Bangkok.

What we’ve learned in Australia

We knew that Australia drives on the left side of the road, but we’ve learned a few new things about Australia while we’ve been here. (Random order)

  • Subway stores in Australia don’t have oil and vinegar to put on the sandwiches.
  • You don’t have to show any ID to fly on a domestic flight in Australia.
  • You can take whatever liquids you want through security for a domestic flight in Australia.
  • “Beetroot” in Aussie English = “Beets” in US English.
  • Seatbelts are mandatory in the back seat of a car.
  • Tasmanian Devils are now endangered.
  • You’ll need a dictionary to figure out what coffee to order!
  • Different pay rates apply on weekdays, Saturday, Sunday, and Public Holidays, explaining the surcharges applied in some restaurants!
  • Backsplash (US English) = Splashback (Aus English)
  • Pay by credit card and many places charge an extra 1% including hotels. Who has 5 days of hotel cash laying around?
  • Plasterer = Drywaller in US English
  • Grocery stores are closed on Good Friday! This calls for planning ahead.


15.5K steps and 47 flights of steps – all in a jeep

We both have a Garmin Fenix – Susan has the 5 and Mark has the 5X.  This watch is very accurate when it comes to distance.  When we first got them before we left Colorado, we did a 5K (3.1 miles) and the watch recorded it as 3.12 miles!

On our trip to India, we went Ranthambore National Park to look for tigers.  For all of you thinking “Didn’t you see Tigers is Africa?”. Nope!  Tigers are in Indian; lions are in Africa. To see tigers, you need to go on a safari either for 4 hours in the morning or 4 hours in the afternoon.  We were picked up at the hotel about 7 AM and the fun began. (We actually did 3 of these safaris, two in the morning and one afternoon safari.)  As noted in our blog, the roads are extremely bumpy and the drivers drive like maniacs.

About half way through the one of the safaris, both our fitness watches indicated we hit 10,000 steps and that we’d reached our step climbing goal of 10 flights.  When we finally got back to the hotel after being shaken like a can of paint, Mark’s watch said we walked 15,500 steps and climbed 47 flights of stairs and descended 31 flights.  Susan’s watch had an amazing 104 flights climbed and 132 flights descended.

19116 Steps all while sitting in a jeep

Susan’s 19116 Steps all while sitting in a jeep and bumping across India!

If you want to cheat your fitness tracker, just go on a tiger safari in Ranthambore National Park, India.

Margaret River visit

We rented a car for our expedition to Margaret River from Fremantle.  Mark drove and it didn’t take him long to remember that the turn signal is on the right side of the column!  He only turned on the windshield wipers once or twice.  BTW … European cars don’t reverse the controls on the columns in Australia but Japanese cars do.

Stopped at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and then drove the back roads to Margaret River past all the wineries.

Cape Naturaliste LIghthouse

Cape Naturaliste LIghthouse – Cape Naturaliste is the northernmost point of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge and separates Geographe Bay from the southern Indian Ocean.

snake sign

These snake signs were at both lighthouses we visited.

In Margaret River we needed to do the laundry and went off to find the laundromat. When we realized we needed the correct change for the washer and dryer, Mark asked at a bank if she would give us 10 $1 coins. “Are you a customer?” Mark said “No.” and she replied that she could only give change to customers. Really??? Mark left without comment and went to Liquorland next door where the lovely clerk, Mel, gave him change and told us where to find some good beer – Settlers Tavern up the street.

We booked a wine and food tour with Harvest Tours because no one wanted to be responsible for driving after wine tasting.  The tour was fun … coffee tasting, wine tasting, lunch and wine tasting at Brookland Valley Winery, chocolate tasting, cheese, olive oil, soap (no tasting), and finished off with a Brewery stop at BeerFarm.

House of Cards Winery

House of Cards Winery

McHenry Hohnen Winery -

McHenry Hohnen Winery – first stop on the wine tour. We tasted about 7 different wines here.

The BeerFarm is a brewery in an old barn with a milking shed. They built a water slide into a lake but after an adult broke his arm, the council forbid adults and only allow children on the water slide – Don’t ask!

Before driving back to Perth the next day, we headed south to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – the southwestern most point in Australia where the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet.  It’s a good whale watching spot but not in March.

Cape Leeuwin lighthouse

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse at the southwest most point of Australia.

The Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean collide at this point.

Mark Susan Cape Leeuwin

We can prove we went to Cape Leeuwin.  The wind was howling when we visited here.

We wandered our way through the NP and ended up at Surfer’s Point, another great viewing spot.

Surfers Point surfers

The surfers were out in droves enjoying the big waves.

Surfers Point, Western Australia

tall trees

The trees in the National Park were tall. Do not ask me what kind of trees they are!

Adventures on the West Coast of Australia

After leaving India and Thailand, we flew to Perth, Australia to visit friends and check out the Margaret River wine region before we took the Indian Pacific to Sydney.  Dave Young joined us for the drive to Margaret River after a few days in Fremantle.

Wade and Robyn in Fremantle were kind enough to host us for a few days and show us the Fremantle scene.  It’s a suburb of Perth but certainly has its own unique vibe – beachy, boaty, lots of coffee shops, laidback like Hawaii in many ways – including the cost of housing!

Fremantle art project

An art project in Fremantle. It only makes sense from one spot in the city. Otherwise, it looks like someone is trying to figure out whether yellow looks good on the building.

Bon Scott ACDC statue

A statue of Bon Scott of ACDC fame and raised in Fremantle

coffee holder

One street in Fremantle is labelled “Cappuccino Row”. This was a latte holder.

After Dave showed up and we rescued him from the Perth Airport after his 30+ hour flight, we headed to Margaret River for sightseeing and wine tasting. One of the stops was Lake Clifton is in the Yalgorup Lakes National Park to see the thrombolites, some of the earliest living creatures on earth.

Dave Young at Lake Clifton

Dave Young at Lake Clifton

thrombolites in Lake Clifton

Some of the thrombolites in Lake Clifton

Twilight sailing was a special surprise!  We met Rob in Split while wandering around looking for a restaurant.  We had several meals together and shared a few bottles of wine, a few beers at sunset, and a splash of Croatian grappa while in Split.  He and Justin live in Melbourne but Rob happened to be in Fremantle doing some consulting at the same time we were in Fremantle.  Rob knows lots of people there and invited us along on a twilight sail. What a treat!

Rob Mark Susan on boat

Rob, Mark and Susan enjoying plastic cups of wine on the sail.

Saliing on the river

The boat won the casual race. Prize? A bottle of wine. We were NO help at all in the race. My goal was to not fall in the water.

Twilight sailing at the Fresh Water Yacht Club in Perth.

Twilight sailing at the Fresh Water Yacht Club in Perth.

The Indian Pacific across Australia

We each had one item on the RTW trip from our wish list. Mark wanted to trek with the gorillas – check!  Susan’s wish list item was a bit tamer – ride the Indian Pacific train across all of Australia.  We took it from Perth to Sydney – from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean for 4352 km or 2704 miles.  This trip takes about 4 days and we had the fun of sleeping on the train for 3 nights.

luggage to be stored

The compartments are small so all these bags went to a luggage car not to be seen for 4 days!


toilet and shower on the train

The toilet and shower compartment were very functional! Each compartment for 2 people has a little toilet room with a shower. The shower worked better than a few we encountered in hotels in India.

Train Compartment

The beds are stored during the day.

backpacks stored

We had our backpacks and one small cloth bag for our clothes. We had to buy the cloth bag in Bangkok!

Dave on train engine

Dave couldn’t wangle a visit to the engine compartment so he settled for climbing on the engine while we made a stop in Cook.

When Dave Young from Fort Collins heard about the train, he invited himself along since he’s a HUGE train buff and this one is on his bucket list.

The Indian Pacific left at 10 AM Sunday morning from Perth and climbed out of the suburbs into the hills.  The ticket prices include food, unlimited drinks including wine, champagne, beer, gin and tonic, coffee, soft drinks and tours at each stop.

The tour part is important because our first stop along the way was at 10 PM Sunday night in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.  The tour took 2 hours on the bus and showed us where the houses of prostitution were and where the huge gold mine is.  It’s a pit mine, about 1.5 kilometers deep and is worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We want to come back in the daytime for a real mine tour.

Kalgorlie mine

The Kalgorlie mine is a gold mine operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Then it was back on the train for our first night of sleep in the little bunks. Mark got the top one!  Sleep was OK although at 3 AM, the tracks got a little rough!  Mark’s bunk had a rail he could put up just in case he might want to roll out.

SUsan and ladder into the top bunk

Mark got to use the ladder to crawl into the top bunk.

Day started with breakfast in Rawhinna about 6 AM outside on tables.  Rawhinna is on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain and is the start of 478 kilometres (297 miles) of perfectly straight rail – the longest in the world .  On Day 2 we stopped at Cook for a resupply of water for the train.  Cook is pretty much a ghost town after the Australian government privatized the rail.  The only things there are an airstrip for emergency commercial flight landings in the middle of the country (Never used), fuel and water for trains, and overnight accommodations for freight and passenger train crews.

Cook explanation sign

This explains exactly where Cook is in Australia – 1523 km to one coast and 1984 km. to the other coast.

nullarbor plain green

A tropical storm had just crossed Australia and the Nullarbor Plain was very green.

rawlinna train length

The train stretched fro about one mile.

Day 3 started with Adelaide at 7:30, Mark took the tour of the Adelaide Oval – cricket and Aussie Rules and Rugby – while Susan took a bus tour of the city. Dave left us here for 5 days in Adelaide before he flew home.

Adelaide Oval

Adelaide Oval. Mark didn’t get to go on the pitch since they were getting it ready for a cricket match

The train stopped in Broken Hill in the afternoon.  We saw the Main Drag show in the hotel that was used in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.

Broken Hill Susan

Proof we made it to Broken Hill

 Broken Hill drag show

One drag queen from the show in Broken Hill

On Day 4, the train wandered its way through the Blue Mountains and suburbs of Sydney before arriving about noon at Sydney Central Station.

Blue Moutains

By the time we reached the Blue Mountains, we’d entered a completely new climate area. Lots of trees and from here the train wanders into Sydney.

In between stops, we used our cabin for reading or naps or we wandered up to the Lounge Car and had a glass (or 2 or 3) of wine while we talked with other passengers.  We met Gayle and Mark from Sydney and even got invited to their house for dinner.  Another US couple we met, and there were not many of us, were from California and they’d been on a diving trip for about 2 months.  We had drinks with them in Sydney.

Overall, the trip was fun. There are miles and kilometers of nothing in the middle of Australia.  This trip drives home the point that Australia is about the size of the US but only has about 30 million people!  Lots of it are pretty uninhabitable in the middle of the desert.

The next train trip to do in Australia is the Ghan that goes from Darwin south through Alice Springs into Adelaide.  This train has been completely updated and we heard is quite posh.

Toilet paper

toilet paper size

A very small roll of toilet paper!

For whatever reason, toilet paper in India is quite thin but the rolls are also very small – as in not many sheets of paper. One was so small, it only lasted a day! And, no one had Delhi Belly!


Jaipur is a lovely – pretty clean, has a great flyover road to skip a bunch of traffic, lovely buildings with uniform signage.  The traffic chaos still exists but the architecture and city layout help.

The Amber Fort was the first stop and it’s lovely.

Amber Fort view through window

This is the view through the screen at the fort into the courtyard.

The fort wall seemed to go on forever.

Amber Fort

Mark and Susan at the Amber Fort

Our guide was good at taking pictures. This is us at the Amber Fort.

Ajay was a good tour guide – took us to the hot spots. We used the ramps a lot that were built for the queen’s wheeled chair when her dress and jewelry were too heavy for her to walk. He gave us options on what to see or skip and told us if we want to shop or see the local block printing, just tell him.  He’s been a guide for 22 years and definitely has the personality for it. We passed on the shopping.

It’s a small world! The guide’s nephew is at CSU. I looked him up in the Student Directory and he’s majoring in Engineering.

parking lot chaos

The parking lot at the Amber Fort was mass chaos when we left and tried to find Sonu.

Palace of the Wind

The Wind Palace. It’s only one room deep and the ladies used it to watch what was going on in the streets. It’s very lacy and airy.

The Jantar Mantar Observatory was fascinating and measures time in India Local time which is not used any more. India Standard Time was started by the British when they needed uniform schedule times for the trains.  The offset is shown every day at the Observatory.  There’s an astrology clock too.

ticket prices

This is a good example of the difference in ticket prices paid by Indian nationals and non-Indian tourist. The exchange rate was about 62 rupees to the US dollar.

We went on the food and market walk in the afternoon from about 3:30 – 6:30 AND we even crossed the streets about 6 times with the guide.  The street crossing rivaled Hanoi! The guide was quite good and we can now find the wedding dress section and the metal pan section in Jaipur.  Had some samosas that were great. People bought them by the big bags full!  The stand sells several thousand a day.

Chilis fried

I’m not sure the name if these but they were tasty chilis.

Samosas along the street

Samosas cooked in front of us.

Fried food in the market

People bought these by the bag full. They sell several thousand a day.

Food tour spices

Some of the spices at the Spice market we saw during the Food tour in Jaipur.


Paneer – it’s fresh cheese and was yummy in all the veggie Indian dishes we tried.

Monkey eating food

He munched on the food he found along the street.

Gin and tonic

Proper gin and tonic by the Samode Havelli – lovely hotel in a historic building that was a palace for a ruler from Samode.


First stop was the Jaswant Thada Memorial to the Maharajas where they are cremated and then a memorial is built over the ashes.


More mausoleums on the same site.

memorial to Maharaja

Jaswant Thada. It has translucent marble walls. They are beautiful when the sun shines through them.

Jodhpur has a current maharaja but he has no power.  It was all given up in 1971. The maharajahs could keep their land and holdings by paying a tax to the government. This maharajah kept the palace (Now a Taj hotel is on the property.) and deeded the Mehrangarh Fort and other palaces to a trust in the same form as in England. He became King at age 4 and was educated in England so likes the UK form of trusts for national monuments.

Amber fort and walls

Mehrangarh Fort from across the lake. We could walk, take an elephant, or have Sonu take us to the top!

Amber Fort

Mehrangarh Fort  Jodhpur

After we finished at the fort, we walked down through the blue city – home to Brahmin caste and jewelry smiths, historically – through the temple area, past the public kitchens, bangle market, wholesale spice market and grain markets.  We ended up at the clock tower where the clock was built using the same type of mechanism as Big Ben.  It was a block from the hotel!

Yes, potato chips can be bought loose. I have no idea what a kilo of these costs. I stuck to finding strange flavors of Lay’s potato chips!


A bangle bracelet vendor. Pick your favorite color!

The country people buy the bangles in wholesale and mark them up a bit, selling them in small quantities.  They come to the same location every day to sell them.  The sari section sells used saris. The people buy old ones and then resell them here for uses as curtains and other items that need large quantities of fabric.

fireworks stand

One section of the market had fireworks stands everywhere.

Michael, tour guide, was great! He’s from around Goa and earned a MS in Tourism Mgmt.  Told us good info and answered questions about India. He’s Catholic so no long weddings for him but he did have receptions on different days from wedding – one for his veggie friends and one for his non-veggie friends.

building scaffolding

Makeshift scaffolding for carrying bricks and mortar from one level to another.

We watched construction across the street – ramps used from one story to the other to move cement and bricks!

We could see this groom on a horse from the rooftop restaurant where we ate dinner. He was accompanied by friends and a very loud music truck!

A procession for the groom came by the hotel so everyone was watching from the roof.  The groom-to-be is on a white horse.