September 26, 2016

Struth! ride the world's longest escalator

Longest escalator rises to the need

IF you want to add riding the world's longest outdoor escalator and moving footway system to your list of achievements, you'll need to go to Hong Kong to do so because the one there is without doubt the world's longest, and takes an extraordinary twenty minutes to ride from end to end.

Covering a whopping 800 metres (around 2,600 feet) and with a vertical rise of 135 metres (443 feet) between bottom and top, it joins the lower Central business district of the city with the higher residential Mid-Levels district by way of eighteen inter-connecting escalators and three inclined moving footways.

Opened in October 1993 at a cost of HK$240m (AU$41m) and more than 150% over-budget, the system was forecast to carry 27,000 people a day, but within ten years double this number were patronising it daily. And currently its closer to 90,000 daily – over three times more than the original forecasts.

Because the route that it follows is so narrow between Hong Kong's high-rises, it has only one "lane" and thus can run in only one direction at a time… so that's downhill from 6am to 10am to get people from the residential Mid-Levels to work and shopping, and then uphill from Central from 10am to midnight to get them home again.

And with locals and the millions of tourists who use it each year also having to get off and then back onto the system where it breaks for the roads it encounters, restaurants, bars and shops have flourished around each of these break points.

- David Ellis


[] HONG KONG boasts the world's longest escalator and moving footway running 800 metres down the side of this narrow pedestrian way between the Mid-Levels residential area and lower Central Business district. (Photo courtesy Maucaine)                                    

September 20, 2016

Mario's life at sea is his business

IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says that while most of us like talking about our week or two going cruising every year or so, businessman Mario Salcedo instead talks about the week or so he spends going ashore every year or so…

Because for the last twenty years, Mario has lived and run his investment advisory and management company year-round from aboard 5-star cruise ships, most of them the luxury liners of Royal Caribbean Lines.

And he reckons he's done nearly 1000 cruises in those 20 years, chalked-up around 6000 nights at sea, and spent in the vicinity of US$1,400,000 doing so. And all after being bitten by the cruise bug at age 45 when he "wanted to discover the world," and setting up his own company to do so.

Booking interior staterooms because he says he only uses them to sleep in, shower and dress, Mario eats only two meals a day for his weight's sake, and does a lot of walking and scuba diving when in port to keep fit… and loves socialising at night either dancing or while enjoying an after-dinner cigar and a cognac.

Mario spends 50 weeks a year at sea, with the other two made up of travel between ports to change ships – or to see his doctor or the bank.

And bizarrely he maintains a condominium in home-town Miami – complete with a maid he drops his laundry off to whenever a ship he is on visits town, and a car he likes to keep handy in the event he might need it on one of those ship visits.

[] MARIO Salcedo has lived and run his investment advisory business year-round from aboard cruise ships for the past twenty years. (Royal Caribbean Lines)

September 05, 2016

Struth! Southern Highlands tulip Wonderland


IN his continuing search for the more eye-catching in this world, David Ellis says that if you're a green thumb and into all things florally and Springtime, the place to head this month is the NSW Southern Highlands.

Because just an hour or so south of Sydney, one of Australia's oldest and most-visited floral festivals will attract something like 65,000 visitors for the 65th annual Tulip Time from September 13th to 25th.

Ablaze at Bowral's famed Corbett Gardens will be 75,000 tulips and 15,000 annuals, and with a theme of Alice in Wonderland, garden bed displays will cleverly depict such scenes as the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, the Cheshire Cat, Big Clock, Playing Cards and more.

And a further 40,000 tulips will add more rainbows of colour to parks and gardens across the Southern Highlands' other major towns of Mittagong and Moss Vale, and a score of surrounding picturesque villages.

On Saturday September 17th a Street Parade through Bowral will include marching bands, floats, vintage farm equipment, street performers, a procession of classic cars – and 140 cyclists who'll have just pedalled down from Sydney raising money for brain cancer research.

As well a heritage steam train will bring scores of other visitors from Sydney for not just the gardens, but the region's internationally-famed street dining and shopping, and a Tulip Time market-place crammed with local foodstuffs and beverages, home-wares, clothing and jewellery… while awaiting wine buffs will be the area's famed boutique wineries.

It's a long way from Bowral's first 500-bulb Tulip Time in 1960; for information and free assistance with booking accommodation call1300 657 559, or visit to book online.

[] 75,000 tulips and 15,000 flowering annuals in Bowral's Corbett Gardens will be the centre-piece for this month's 65th Southern Highlands Tulip Time festival. (Courtesy Southern Highlands News)

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