November 29, 2016

Exploring the colonial heritage buildings of old Rangoon

When the British finally left Burma in 1948, they left behind 124 years of colonial heritage in the form of buildings, landmarks and history.

Many of the fine architectural examples were damaged by bombing in WWII and fell into further disrepair after neglect by the military regime who took control of the country in 1962.

Today these buildings, many more than 100 years old, exist in a mixed state of repair. Some appear to be derelict but are still inhabited by a motley assortment of tenants comprising families and small business operators.

Others are nominally occupied by government agencies or restored for use by more ambitious enterprises such as the immaculate The Strand Hotel.

In the meantime, NGOs like the non-profit, Yangon Heritage Trust aim to "protect and promote Yangon's urban heritage through the development of a cohesive urban plan for the city."

Unknown building off the Strand.

Some buildings seem to be derelict but still sustain life

Eerie cobwebs in an empty elevator shaft

The former Irrawaddy Flotilla Company Building

The former police commissioner's building now being restored as a 229-room luxury hotel

November 14, 2016

Aussie Pubs that are movie stars

Silverton Hotel has featured in many movies.
Photos from the Mad Max shoot near Silverton.
The Daly Waters Hotel is famous for its bra collection.
The legendary Daly Waters Hotel
The ancient tourist truck driven by Crocodile Dundee.

Words and Images by Dallas Sherringham

Virtually every movie made in Outback Australia has had a pub as part of the plot.

The bush abounds with pubs that have enjoyed movie stardom and some continue to be used in movies.

Everything from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to Welcome to Whoop Whoop and Red Dog have had pubs as a central theme for the action.

I recently visited three of the most famous and enjoyed cleansing ale or two along the way.

The first, and most famous of all, was the Silverton Hotel west of Broken Hill. This hotel first became famous because Mad Max was made there.

It can now boast having hosted 200 plus movie crews down through the years. The walls of the pub are covered in snapshots of the stars and the casts and crew at work and relaxing.

There is a Mad Max museum in Silverton and the town now features several renowned artists. The latest movie Mad Max: Fury Road was due to be filmed at Silverton, but unseasonal rains made the landscape too green for the production and it was made in Namibia.

The Walkabout Creek Hotel in McKinlay.

Back in the 1980s, the Crocodile Dundee movie producers chose a hotel at the remote west Queensland town of McKinlay and turned it into the Walkabout Creek Hotel.

All the locals from around the district excitedly turned up to watch Paul Hogan perform in his first major movie role. They soon grew disillusioned with the movie making process as endless short takes were filmed over and over.

The hotel inevitably became a tourist attraction and it was decided to move it lock stock and barrel to the Landsborough Hwy that passes along the eastern side of town.

Today, a continual flow of travelers stops in to have a look at the legendary hotel. Parked out the front is the ancient old truck driven by Crocodile Dundee in the movie. It was donated to the hotel by John "Strop" Cornell who produced the film.

Parked to one side is the Valiant ute driven by John Mellion who played "Wally" in the movie.

An interesting fact is that only the exterior of the hotel was used in making the movie. For the interior shots, a hotel bar was built in a movie studio.

The Northern Territory has many fascinating pubs, but none is better known than the one at Daly Waters.

Daly Waters Hotel sits just off the Stuart Hwy in the centre of the Northern Territory. It has been featured in a number of movies and TV shows and the most recent was Last Cab to Darwin starring Michael Caton..

Both the exterior and interior of the hotel are amazing. The first thing that strikes you is the vast collection of ladies bras hanging from the ceiling. There is also an equally vast collection of guys' undies hanging from the rafters.

It apparently all started with bet years ago and kind of grew…and grew. Now the ceiling and walls are covered with every imaginable kind of clothing, photos, messages and hats.

The exterior of the hotel looks like it is about to fall down and is propped up by a massive bougainvillea. People come from all around the world to see the hotel. In the beer garden I heard American, Asian and Irish accents.

The pub came about because of the nearby airfield which was used by Qantas and other airlines as a refueling stop on flights to London in the 1930s. The Qantas hangar and the well preserved airstrip are still there.

During WWII, it became an air force base, principally used to refuel bombers on their way north.

November 07, 2016

World's shortest ferry ride

No need for a seat on this ferry

IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says that when it comes to ferry rides, the Canadian city of Toronto takes the cake for having the world's shortest.

Because the distance from Downtown to the city's Toronto Island with its City Centre Airport, is all of 121 metres (that's less than 400 feet) and takes the ferry a mere 90 seconds to complete.

Until July of 2015 when an underground pedestrian tunnel was opened, the ferry was the only means of public transport to the Airport in Lake Ontario, and which sees 2.5 million passenger movements a year on flights to and from 22 centres in Canada and the USA.

Free for passengers and with a small charge for a limited number of cars, the ferry operates every 15 minutes, nineteen hours a day. But with often long queues of waiting passengers during peak periods, it was decided to supplement it last year with the pedestrian tunnel 30 metres underground, and with two moving footways in each direction.

Including descent and ascent by lifts or escalators, and travel on the 240m long footways, that whole tunnel journey takes around six minutes… and overhead the ferry continues to operate unaffected on its unique 121 metre, 90 second journeys.

[] YOU won't get a shorter ferry ride than this – a mere 90 seconds to cover all of 121 metres. (PortsToronto)

November 06, 2016

See the historic wonders of Hội An, Vietnam

by Roderick Eime

In all of Vietnam, the historic city of Hội An is one of the favourite places for Australians.

It might be the exquisite old town centre of this fabled city with its traditional Chinese style shophouses, the great artisan craft shopping or the overwhelming choice of dining options from traditional Vietnamese street food to magnificent fine dining.

Historically, the region began as an international commerce centre as early as the 7th Century when the Cham culture dominated this part of Vietnam. Spices, in particular, were an important trade item.

Over the years, Hội An lost its prominence as a trading port and commerce hub to nearby Danang. Historians believe this might have been because the river became silted up, making entrance of vessels difficult. The result being that Hội An was allowed to retain its historic charm and architecture, leading to its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999 and is described by the convention as “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site.”

Hội An’s famous centrepiece is certainly the centuries-old Japanese Bridge, so-called because it lead to the Japanese settlement that once existed in the once divided town, known as Hai Pho in the 16th Century.

Today the bridge is the hub of tourist activity with stalls, shops and street vendors stretching out from both sides. Vehicles are no longer permitted across the bridge, so all traffic jams are of the pedestrian sort.

For astute shoppers, Hội An is best known for quality, hand-crafted leather goods. Clothing, luggage and shoes are the most sought after. Textiles and ceramics also rate highly with discerning buyers.

Ceramics on sale in Hoi An

The Vietnamese take their food and cooking seriously and you can get an authentic insight into the native cuisine with a half or full day class at the Red Bridge Cooking School, run by Aussie ex-pat, Nick Hatton. It’s located just out of town in a delightfully secluded location that can also be reached by river boat.

While visiting the UNESCO World Heritage old town and all its wonders, staying in Hội An presents many options but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more relaxing and culturally appropriate location than the Anantara Hoi An Resort. Ideally positioned on the banks of the Thu Bon River, it's just a short distance to main attractions.

A discreetly low-rise and tasteful resort, the architectural style incorporates the French, Dutch, Chinese and Japanese influences that define the multi-faceted history of Hội An. The 93 suites are roomy with a split level internal design that also allows for an external daybed, perfect for a balmy afternoon snooze. Choose from either garden or river view.

Riverside Anantara Hoi An Resort 

Australian GM, Noel Cameron, exemplifies the congenial hands-on approach that is evident throughout the resort from the exquisite dining options (there are five to choose from) right through to The Spa, where you can luxuriate with a mud wrap, salt scrub or four-hand massage. Noel, however, leaves these specialised tactile treatments to his expert therapists.

Excursions and river cruises can be organised directly for your convenience or do as so many guests do and take a complimentary pushbike for an energetic peddle around the flat streets of the neighbourhood. If the sky looks dark and gloomy, there are Vietnamese cooking lessons with Anantara’s signature Spice Spoons concept, as well as language, painting and lantern making classes.

Even if you are staying elsewhere, why not stop by for a memorable meal at Lanterns Restaurant, a refreshing drink at O’Malley’s Irish Pub (yes, true) or the more authentic heritage-themed garden bar, a perfect complement to the special atmosphere of this ancient city.

  • The Museum of History and Culture 
  • The Hoi An Folklore Museum 
  • The Museum of Trade Ceramics 
  • The Museum of Sa Huỳnh Culture 
Lantern Festival:

On full moon (the 14th day of every lunar month) the streets come alive with colourful lanterns, candles and traditional music.

When to Visit:

While the city’s location on the Thu Bon River enhances much of its appeal, weather can be a challenge and the waterfront is known to flood during prolonged heavy rain. Visitors are best advised to time their travel to the drier months between February and April, when rainfall is low and temperatures are comfortable.

Stay: (TripAdvisor 4.5)


The writer stayed at Anantara Hoi An Resort as a guest of the Minor Hotel Group


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