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Birding in Invergordon, Scotland, Jul 23, 2016

Posted by on 04 Aug 2016 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Invergordon-13Maureen and I just returned from a 12 day cruise to Northern Europe with friends and family.  Bob and I are avid birders and Maureen is fast catching up. Bob is the father of Jeff, the husband on our younger daughter, Danielle. Jeff is the one who instigated the venture. Prior to the trip, on the recommendation of Ken Gunn, I organized a day of birding on shore with Dave Slater, owner of Birding-Ecosse.  The ship docked at Invergordon and it turns out to be near where Dave lives.

Invergorden is near Inverness, and near to the well-known Loch Ness with everyone’s favorite, elusive “monster”. Continue Reading »

Gardens by the Bay by Ken

Posted by on 09 May 2015 | Tagged as: Wandering Members

Beth and I decided to visit Gardens by the Bay before we left Singapore.  This exposition sits on 250 acres of reclaimed land near the Marina Bay Sands (Hotel).   First stage was opened in 2012 and the rest came onstream in 2013.  It is an amazing place.

I elected not to carry my binoculars, a mistake.  As we detaxied, we heard the call of a White-throated Kingfisher and soon saw him on a high branch.  We saw several other birds and I’m sure could have seen many more had I had my bins. Continue Reading »

Birding in Thailand by Ken

Posted by on 09 May 2015 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Beth and I went separate ways on our last day in Thailand.  Jim Thompson was a world renowned silk aficionado who disappeared in Malaysia in 1967.  Silk in his name still sells for more than their weight in gold however.  Beth planned to go to the Jim Thompson Museum, the Jim Thompson Factory and Outlet Store and the Jim Thompson Retail Store.  Not me!  I lined up a guide firm to go birding and elected to go to Kaeng Kratchan National Park, 125 miles south of Bangkok on the Myanmar border. Continue Reading »

Bangkok by Day by Ken

Posted by on 09 May 2015 | Tagged as: Wandering Members

Our first full, non-family, day in Bangkok was a Monday.  We made arrangements for a guide and at 8:00, Chanya, a thirtyish Buddhist lady, arrived with driver, to show us her city.

Our first stop was the Grand Palace, which we had driven by the night before, but which was even more magnificent in daylight.  Sixty-seven acres of fantastic, finely tiled temples – although a portion is the kings’ burial sites and off limits to commoners.  Several temples are tiled in glass, some in ceramic and the most spectacular in small gold tiles.  There are also fifteen foot tiled statues, council rooms and a weapons museum.  The focal point of the array, however, is Wat Phra Kaeo, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where a bright green Buddha sits.  Actually, the Buddha is jade or jasper but its composition is uncertain as no one is allowed near it save the king.  Robes are changed three times a year and we arrived only days after a changeout.  The inside of the bot or house is covered with ancient religious drawings depicting Buddha’s life and the principals of Buddhism.  A fitting center piece in an amazing setting.  Continue Reading »

Singapore 2015

Posted by on 28 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Granddaughter soccer playBeth and my month-long trip to the Far East, mainly Singapore visiting our grandkids, ended April 6.  The trip home was a killer as usual.  Thirty-two and a half hours from leaving our son’s house in Singapore at 3:30 AM, through Hong Kong, San Francisco and Orlando, to arriving home at midnight.

But it was worth it.

It’s always wonderful to visit the grandkids at their own home, plus we both love Singapore.  We attended soccer games, soccer training, track meets and school events.  Granddaughter played in a youth soccer tournament with teams from fifteen countries participating, coming from as far away as Japan, Sri Lanka, Australia and Oman.

Continue Reading »

Pulau Ubin by Ken

Posted by on 28 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

back view of birdingI wanted to visit Pulau Ubin, a 2500 acre island just off the northeast coast of Singapore, and I was running out of time.  We were down to Wednesday and Thursday before Easter.  Wednesday’s forecast was sixty percent chance of rain, Thursday’s eighty percent.  We elected to wait until Wednesday morning to decide go or no go.

Pulau Ubin is now mostly National Park and relatively unspoiled, with abandoned rubber plantations, old orchards, fish ponds and a fair bit of original mangrove forest.  There are few roads, several bike trails and a lot of hiking paths.  It is reached by bumboats from Changi Port.  Bumboats are not state-of-the-art vessels, don’t tie up to embark and disembark, don’t bother carrying life vests and have no set schedule. They are restricted to twelve passengers, so wait until twelve people show up, then quickly load and head out.

Continue Reading »

Close But Not Counters (Twice) by Ken

Posted by on 28 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

white-throated KingfisherWe all went separate ways our last day in Langkawi, Malaysia.  The younger generations went sightseeing together, Beth went to a craft center then chilled and I hired a guide and went birding.  For the morning session, I was accompanied by a Japanese couple who were photographers rather than birders –the guide even had to supply binoculars.  In the afternoon, I was alone with the guide.

Continue Reading »

Kilim Geopark by Ken

Posted by on 28 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

We booked a boat tour of Kilim Geopark for our second day in Langkawi, Malaysia.  We were joined by another couple and their young son, who were staying at the same hotel.  At 8:30 we were picked up and driven a half hour to the park boat ramp where we met our guide, Kiernian. Continue Reading »

The Andaman Hotel on Langkawi by Ken

Posted by on 28 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

coralOur grandkids’ spring break occurred while we were visiting them in Singapore.  The whole family took a short vacation and flew to the island of Langkawi, Malaysia, for three days, staying at the Andaman Hotel.  What a place!  The grandkids and Beth and I had adjoining rooms overlooking the sea at high tide and a coral bed, complete with reef egrets and heron, at low.  Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites soared overhead.  Beautiful!  Our son and wife were on the ground floor and had a suite complete with their own pool.

Continue Reading »

Sunday Evening on a Tuk Tuk by Ken

Posted by on 21 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: outreach, Wandering Members

Brazilians-in-a-Tuk-Tuk_webI apologize for the length to follow, but this was a blast.

Before we left home for our trip to Singapore and Bangkok, Beth booked us on a Sunday evening Tuk Tuk Tour of Bangkok.  A Tuk Tuk is a colorful version of an unstable, three-wheeled motorcycle.  It goes like the proverbial bat out of hades, turns on a dime, has no seat belts, is open sided and loud.  When we told our son of our intent, his reply was “Well you’ve both lived pretty full lives!”

We met our guide and the other tourists at 7:00 PM at one of the Skytrain stops.  We were the second couple there but the others soon trickled in.  There were nine of us plus the guide – six nationalities.  During the evening we got to know each other a little better and found that our fellow adventurers were really a great bunch.  Plus they all worried about us old folks. Continue Reading »

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