Archive for February 2012

More images   Leave a comment

Hi folks,

I’ve today added 10 new images to my photography website at  They include  a stunning night time shot of the birds nest olympic stadium in beijing and the seemingly endless great wall of china.

Take a look.



Posted 29/02/2012 by Stefan Palmer in General Trip Blogs

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Where next?   Leave a comment

Kerry and I still have a huge list of places we still want to visit in the world.  The more you travel, you realise there so much more to see. Some places/countries we have already visited and either didn’t get to the place we wanted to visit, due to time or it not being on our itinerary. Some we didn’t have time in the place we did visit.  Here are a few locations on our list

  • China – The Three Gorges or Yangtze Gorges.  This is a scenic area along the Yangtze River stretching for 120 kilometres and offering amazing views. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu.  Beijing Zoo wasn’t the best environment to see pandas.  This research base seems a better bet.
  • Russia – St Petersburg. We have got to go back and spend more time there.  It was such a fabulous place.  We loved the atmosphere, the architecture and the people. We had a ridiculously short time there.
  • Japan – There is a dive site in Japan, off the coast of Yonaguni Jima, that appears to be an underwater city.   It is called Japans Atlantis.  The largest structure looks like a complicated, monolithic, stepped pyramid that rises from a depth of 25 meters. Some say it wasn’t man made but natural.  I really want to see it for myself, to make up my own mind of course.  Here’s more information about it.  I am keen to travel on a bullet train through some of the Japanese countryside.  We saw a bullet train at one of the stations while we were in China.  It looked so sleek and fast, even stationary!
  • Scotland – (yep you read that correctly) so much to see there.  We spend a weekend on The Isle of Lewis a couple of years ago and really want to return and see more of it.  Uig beach was spectacularly desolate and beautiful.  We discovered an abandoned church overlook the beach for sale.  We have so many discussions about what we would do to the place and the views from there all year round would be breaktaking.  Also in Scotland, Edinburgh is a favourite spot.  We got snowed in there in December 2010.  I also personally want to dive Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Islands.  It was UK’s chief naval base during World War I and World War II. Following the German defeat in the First World War, 74 ships of their were interned in Gutter Sound at Scapa Flow pending a decision on their future in the peace Treaty of Versailles. On 21 June 1919, after nine months of waiting, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, the German officer in command at Scapa Flow, made the decision to scuttle the fleet because the negotiation period for the treaty had lapsed with no word of a settlement (he was not kept informed that there had been a last-minute extension to finalise the details). After waiting for the bulk of the British fleet to leave on exercises, he gave the order to scuttle the ships to prevent their falling into British hands.  Many are still there to see.
  • It’s clichéd but I would like to see the 15th-century Inca site at Machu Picchu.    I don’t have any great desire to see any other parts of South American (maybe because I haven‘t read up about it)
  • Madagascar – Did you see the David Attenborough series about the island?  A company called Blue Ventures do a fish survey project on the island (loads of Diving) they also do some worthwhile work with the local community.  Kerry and I both want to take part in this project and see the island before it is spoilt by tourism.
  • America – A few years ago Kerry and I, with some friend and family, travelled through part of America.  Starting in San Francisco, then onto Death Valley, Yosemite Park, Las Vegas and ending in LA.  I would just like to say here that Las Vegas does live up to its sign….It is Fabulous.  I would like to do the whole trip again.  I also want to visit Washington DC, Boston, New York (I’ve often contemplated doing the New York Marathon) and Seattle.
  • Arctic Circle – Unfortunately we didn’t get this far north during our Russian Trans Siberian trip but I really want to go there.  I also want to ice dive, where a hole is cut in the ice with a chain saw.  You then jump in and have a bimble around and see what you can see. I’ve dived with seals in the UK, penguins in the Arctic would be cool (sorry no pun intended).  I’ve been looking at this company.  Better pack my dry suit and thermals for that trip!
  • New Zealand – Who wouldn’t want to visit Middle Earth? Especially with Kerry and I being so close to this green sheep filled Island at the moment.
  • Everest Base Camp.  I have long held a dream of trekking to this and after recently reading Bear Grylls account of his ascent of Everest called Facing Up Amazon store link it’s just made me more determined to do it.  There are a number of companies that do the trip, Intrepid, Exodus and the Bonington Treks. The peak of Everest would be an amazing experience, but not for me.  Too much of surviving that experience is down to fate and chance.  To put Base Camps height into perspective.  The peak of our very own Snowden is 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level.  Base camp is situated at 5,545 metres (18,192 ft) above sea level.  Up there, altitude sickness is a huge threat, so adequate acclimatisation is critical. Many ‘Pretend Trekkers’ (because that’s what I feel I would be) don’t make it.  A few sadly even die just going to Base Camp.  I found this great Base Camp diary the other day.
  • Some other places I’m considering and need further research for me are Indian and Pakistan.  I’m not sure my stomach will survive the likely germ onslaught.  The Middle Eastern Jordon and Medina, Jerusalem. Safety is a concern.

There you have it.  A few thoughts for more Little Adventures.  These should keep us out of mischief over the next few years.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at

Stefan Palmer

What I love about Melbourne.   Leave a comment

Kerry and I have been in Melbourne for 5 weeks now and we love it.   Here the atmosphere is laid back and relaxed, there are enough familiar brand names to make us feel at home like Zara, Gap, Vodafone, Subway and Woolworths and areas like Maidstone, Newport, Tottenham and Kensington,.  But there are enough to make us realise we are in a foreign country like Hungry Jacks (a rebranded Burger King with the same burger logo) Meyers department store, Pie Face (self explan)  and Telstra (mobile company).  Some brands I am having difficulty remembering that we haven’t always known and visited them, even back in the UK.  Since China there has been a gradual transition, with many companies being Asian/Australasian centric.

The diversity of cultures here is incredible.  Kerry and I felt extremely comfortable while travelling through China.  There is a massive Chinese community in Melbourne and even a Chinese district, full of  fine restaurants, a few of which we have visited.  It is great sitting in a restaurant again having no idea what anyone in the room is talking about.  The Chinese are such a gracious and friendly people.  We enjoy being around them.  There are also plenty of Vietnamese, Indians and Malaysians just to keep that diversity flowing.  I’ve even heard Russian (Impossible! Sorry that’s a private joke with Kerry) Just to make us feel almost back in Europe there are plenty of French, Germans and Italians.  Living, as we currently do, in the city centre everything is so close.  The library with its free wifi (even when closed people just loiter on the steps), Aldi for cheap food and wine, an amazing array of museums and art galleries (most of which are free) and even pubs which look from the outside and inside like British pubs complete with stale smoke smells and sticky carpets….ace!!!

So what isn’t to like.  Mmmmmm. Prices.  Everything here is so expensive.  A pair of Gap Jeans $110, equivalent to £75.  A standard pair of converse trainers $90, equivalent to £61 and a month’s home broadband $80 equal to £54!  We plan to buy most things in the UK or USA and get them shipped.

There we have it a brief review of Melbourne.  Come and visit.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at

Stefan Palmer

Posted 20/02/2012 by Stefan Palmer in Australia

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Kerry’s got a job!   Leave a comment

Just a quick post to keep everyone at home up to date.  Kerry’s got a job working as a Quality Assocate at a Plastics manufacturing company, just outside Melbourne.  It is initially a six month contract, so we will see what deveolops from there….. We can now beginning to recoup Bank of Kerry and Stef.

Well done Kerry.  I’m proud of you.

Next challenge….somewhere proper to live.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at

Stefan Palmer

Almost feels like home   Leave a comment

On the outskirts of Melbourne city centre these is the Botanical Gardens.  Opening in 1846 , there are plants and trees from all around the world. In fact 10,000 individual species spread over 38 hectares.  It is a tranquil and peaceful place.  Once you step through the lych gate entrance you think you have been magically transported to the English countryside.   Well apart from the odd palm tree anyway.  The gardens are wonderful with sweeping lakes, shaded fern areas, open park land for folks to chill out with a book and a tea shop for my coffee fix of the day.  The whole park reminded Kerry and I of a visit to a UK National Trust property.  Even the leaflets were in the same design and colour.  The area is so vast that we only managed to walk around half of it during our visit.  The contrast at certain points in the park is incredible.  With the modern Melbourne skyline poking out above the tree line.   At other times you felt you were miles and miles away from Melbourne in the middle of the countryside.  Ducks in the lakes were plentiful, a man with a mental detector looking for buried treasure and the now common site of people sitting tapping away on their iPhones.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at

Stefan Palmer

Street Art   Leave a comment

Apparently Melbourne is reknown for its street art.  Kerry and I first stumbled across some on Hosier Lane on our first night in Melbourne.  We had decided to go out for a tapas meal.   Turning in to the lane with the resturant on, we were blown away by the quality, diversity and amount of street art.  The walls in the lane was literally covered in it.  It looked fantastic.  Since then we have found more.  The trick with the street art is having the camera with me when we find it.  Generally it is down little side lanes and if you try and find them again it is something of a miracle.

Graffiti tends to bring out two extreme reactions in people.  personally I love it.  In Melbourne it is strictly regulated and you have to apply to the council to create any.

I was in two minds about these images below.  I initially started to process them in colour, then tried a couple in black and white and preferred them (needless to say Kerry didn’t).

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at

Stefan Palmer

Return to the Yongala   Leave a comment

Our first dive in Queensland was on the Yongala wreck (see this post).  Almost our last was a second trip to one of the best wrecks in the world.  On this occasion the trip out to the site was considerable more choppy.  In fact 75% of the folks on the boat suffered from sea sickness.  Thankfully, Kerry and I didn’t.  The benefit of the choppy sea was perfect conditions below the water.  There were no currents at all, making the dives fantastic.  Unfortunately, no sharks on this trip.  We did spot a sea turtles briefly just as we had descended onto the wreck, on the first dive.  The wreck was still teaming with life.  At the starboard bow were two huge groper fish easily the size of a small car.  They were no threat to us…they don’t eat divers.  Both Kerry and I had eyes popping out of our heads when we saw them.  Due to the depth of the wreck (30 metres) we had to do two safety stops to allow the nitrogen build up in our bodies to disperse.  2 minutes at 10 metres and 3 minutes at 5 metres.  Even at 10 metres we still had fish swimming around us.  It is such a good dive site.

What’s next?  The Yongala it going to be hard to beat throughout the rest of our diving careers

These pictures are courtesy of Kerry….again!

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at

Stefan Palmer