Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: waterfall

February 2019

February was a fantastic month not only because I got to spend a couple of weeks at home with my loved ones, but also because I spent several days in Hong Kong and had good fun. The trip to Hong Kong was for work purposes, but I had ample time to explore and see old friends. And as is the case for every visit to Hong Kong, I discovered some unique, less touristy places…

First up: Garden Hill in Sham Shui Po. I had wanted to climb this small hill in Kowloon before but I ended up not staying at the hostel near it as planned, and so I never got around to doing it. It only took around 10 minutes to get to the top, but the view of Kowloon was amazing! What caught my attention were a few trees with these white-yellowish flowers – I don’t know their name (if you do, please let me know!) They were so pretty and smelled wonderful too!

Sunset on Garden Hill, overlooking the high-rise buildings in Kowloon. Hong Kong is so densely populated and smothered with high-rise buildings, and I can’t imagine how many people each one must house, all within ultra-small apartments/flats that are so typical of Hong Kong.

Whenever I take the bus in Hong Kong, if the front-row seats on the top deck are empty, I almost always take one of them. I love the feeling of sitting at the top and traversing through the city with a view in front of me, especially during the night when the roads are not so conested. One evening, I was lucky enough to get a top-deck front-row seat, and off I went into the night!

People like to leave their mark everywhere they go, and someone – probably a heartbroken person on September 23 2017 – wrote this on public property: (translated) “I will not love _______ again” (fill in the blank with the name that is scratched out).

A neat little man-made waterfall in the Nan Lian Garden near Diamond Hill MTR station, on a surprisingly clear and sunny day amidst the rainy days of mid-February. I had wanted to go see the Ng Tung Chai waterfalls, which would have been an actual hike in a natural settings, but decided against it because of the rain and my lack of proper attire. Next time…you’re top priority on my list, Ng Tung Chai!

I didn’t hesitate to eat at many cha chaan tengs (“tea restaurants” or “ice rooms”), and every morning I made sure I started off the day with a nice cup of hot Hong-Kong-style milk tea at a cha chaan teng. Every place makes it a bit differently but I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t taste amazing – or I just can’t tell the difference?!! It matters not, HK-style milk tea will undoubtedly remain one of my favourite beverages!

Time to see some friends! Annie met up with Sharon after a bit more than a year and had a great time catching up over delicious food (not shown unfortunately). Bordeaux days never fade!

Of course, a meeting with Mingming, Captain, and their kid V was in order. They’ve been in Hong Kong so long that sometimes I feel like they will stay there forever. These are people that I’ve known for over 15 years (well, not V…) and I cherish them dearly still today ❤

Finally…a photo taken in Wuhan! Yes, this is the only photo in this batch that was NOT taken in Hong Kong. The new year’s resolution of cooking more has been working out well so far, except it’s almost always J who cooks, and I’m totally cool with that. This meal might have been just a bit toooooo healthy/green, if that’s even possible? Still love my green veggies though!

March started off with promising weather as we’ve seen TWO days of sunshine out of four already – and before that, the sun must have been absent for three months. Let’s hope spring is here and STAYS for a bit before the summer inevitably takes over… >_<

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October 2018

Since August this year, I’ve been posting a series of photos on my WeChat Moments at the end of each month to sum up the month. Unfortunately I don’t have the original photos for August and September anymore, so I will begin by sharing the October series here. November series coming very soon…

Trip to the Three Gorges Waterfall in the Three Gorges scenic area near Yichang in Hubei province, China, during the National Day week-long holiday. This is not the actual waterfall (which is huge at 102 m) but a small cascade that was on the way to the main attraction itself.

Dew drops on a leaf on the morning after a rainy night – the beautiful wonders of nature never cease to amaze me and bring joy to my routine everyday commute!

Fresh morning air – perhaps the only time that the air could be fresh in this polluted city.

Night in the Optics Valley area.

A fancy fountain pen set that I saw at a new bookstore that opened close to home. Normally I would probably have bought it – and I was tempted – but it was way too pricey to be anything close to worthy.

A collection of doorplates and road signs plastered on a block in the corner of an intersection in the Hankou district of Wuhan.

A dark and foggy morning – drivers would not be able to see farther than 5 m in front of their cars.

Qiaokou Road station on subway line 1, in the Hanyang district. There’s a stretch of line 1 that is completely overground, and being able to see the city outside the windows made the usual subway rides a lot more interesting and bearable.

A walk around Yujia Lake, and as it’s close to where I live, I’ve become quite familiar with it. A rare sunny day – not too hot and not too cold – meant that many people were out and about enjoying the weather before winter truly settled in.

Spring begins at Spectacle E’e Falls

The arrival of the Scottish spring means that it’s finally time to go out and walk that list of trails that I’ve accumulated over the months! Last year, I began my venture into the Scottish landscape by visiting Kinnoull Hill near Perth, falling in love with the lush rolling hills in the unspoiled countryside. Now, with the sun brilliantly shining for such an unusually long time (2+ week!) it was almost a crime not to catch it before it leaves again. The target this time isn’t a big mountain and not even a small hill, but a circular trail hidden in the outskirts of an unnoticed town not too far from Glasgow – Strathaven. The destination is clear – Spectacle E’e Falls, a set of waterfalls along the Avon Water. Funny name, but there’s a story behind it that I will tell you about later on.

On Saturday morning, two of my buddies headed to Strathaven with me in couldn’t-be-better weather. To get to Strathaven, we had to take the train to Hamilton, a nearby town, and take a bus to Strathaven. It almost felt like a field trip, with food in our backpacks and the excitement of adventure in our hearts. Looks at the clouds! They were so spectacular that day as we headed away from Strathaven into the surrounding countryside in search of the waterfalls.

The sky did become slightly dark for a bit during our walk but at no moment did we think it was going to rain. I led us forward using a guide from WalkHighlands, a godsend for hiking enthusiasts who don’t want to get lost in the middle of nowhere. Despite having all the instructions with me, we missed a crucial part of the walk – a stile, whose definition I had to look up – and consequently did the walk backwards. No big deal though, we still knew where we were going most of the time…just that we had to reverse the directions!

My friends had quite a heated debate on whether these are ducks or geese. I don’t actually remember the conclusion of the debate but I think…they are geese?!

Before reaching the Spectacle E’e Falls, I told my friends to withhold their expectations because I had no idea how impressive these falls were supposed to be, nevermind not knowing what they thought would be “impressive”. Along the way, as we were looking for the main waterfall, we passed by a few small cascades that we THOUGHT were the actual falls, being quite disappointed several times. But when we reached the real Spectacle E’e Falls, there was no question that this was the real thing – the viewing deck gives it away! The drop and volume were quite large and rather exceeded my expectations, especially after seeing those deceiving little cascades. And here you could literally stand right next to the falls on slippery rocks – if not careful you might even fall into the water!

As a part of my “Food & the Scotland Hikes” photo series, I had to snap this one – Spectacle E’e Falls with my snack of the day, a strawberry (out of many). This might be my favourite photo of the series so far because the contrast between the strawberry and the waterfall is so striking, and what can I say – waterfalls are beautiful and so are strawberries!

Finally a photo of me and my companions of the day! (I am the one on the right 😛 ) Time to test our selfie skills as we had to stand in a small area on the slippery rocks that I had mentioned earlier, very close to the waterfall. In the midst of finding the best picture angle, we had to make sure none of us slipped, which was easier said than done! I had intended to do this walk on my own but these guys joined me when they found out that I was planning to sneak out during the weekend…oops! I didn’t mind them coming along – if I REALLY wanted to go somewhere alone, no one could convince me to tag along, ha! Such a fun day out with them 😉

Another view of the Spectacle E’e Falls, and I suppose I should finally explain the name, which allegedly came from a local tale. It was said that a young lad fell in love with the daughter of the owner of a mill nearby, but the father did not approve of the relationship and ended it. As revenge, the lad put his eyeglasses on the mill so that when the sun rays struck them, they caught on fire and destroyed the mill. Interesting story, and as someone who appreciates waterfalls immensely, I loved that the falls had history behind it.

After snapping a million photos at the waterfall, we continued on the path going back to Strathaven. And we had to hurry because we were hungry! The narrow trails along the Avon Water were quite lovely though. What an enjoyable walk!

I was actually quite glad that this walk turned out to be more relaxing and not as strenuous as some of the hills that I’ve hiked (even though none of the ones I’ve conquered so far were really THAT strenuous). At least there wasn’t any ascent and we were able to just enjoy the day as it was, almost like an afternoon stroll.

Behind us, an old man and his dog were fishing along the river, and I took this chance to practise taking some photos with my new 70-300 mm lens for Mr.Nikon. Ah, yes, I hadn’t mentioned this. This gentleman became a generous model for my trials of the day, but I definitely still need to get the hang of this lens with more shooting opportunities.

Eventually we reached an area of vast grassland without any defined trail or path, which was expected according to the guide (that I had to read backwards). A flock of sheep were chilling in the open grass and as if alerted, immediately turned away from us and began retreating as we approached. We joked around by quoting John 10:10, saying that our friend YX was the thief that came to take the sheep away. After all, the sheep know the voice of their shepherd, no?

Another selfie was warranted to showcase how blessed we were to have the weather on our side XD We didn’t have the “selfie master” with us that day, but with the combined power of three people who usually never take selfies, we did pretty well…I think? 😉

Toward the end of the trail, as we were leaving the flock of sheep, we met these three chatty fellows who I assumed were locals around the area. One of them insisted taking a photo of our group of three along with his two buddies, and we were only glad to oblige. Of course I had to do the same, so I took a photo of their group of three along with my two buddies. Heh, it’s always the cherry on top of the cake to meet some locals on a walk. This certainly reminded me of Mr. Andy Sharp in Callander and Chris in Perth 😉

At the end of a long hike (and it was long because we spent about 40 minutes wandering in a wrong direction), all we wanted was LOTS OF FOOD! A restaurant was serving all-day breakfast and as soon as we saw the menu I thought…I’m down! And this was no ordinary breakfast – this was the EXTRA LARGE breakfast. Two eggs, two lorne sausages, two slices of bacon, beans, grilled mushrooms, slices of toast, hashbrown, pancake, tattie scone…what an indulgent Scottish breakfast for lunch!

So spring began with a blast at Spectacle E’e Falls and Strathaven, accompanied by my lovely companions, who were almost like my little brother and sister. We’re already anticipating the next outing together – where would that be?

The hills are alive…at Bracklinn Falls and Callander Crags!

Now that the days are getting shorter after daylight savings time has come into effect, day hikes seem to require a bit more strategic planning. First of all, I pretty much can’t stay on a hill past 4 in the afternoon unless I am prepared to wander in the dark. Second, it got cold really fast within the past two weeks. If I even manage to get myself out of bed early on a Saturday, then I’d better make sure that wherever I go, the day is not wasted because of poor planning on my part.

Keeping this in mind, I went on my first hike after returning to Scotland from Canada. The Callander Crags hasn’t been on my list of places to go, but it caught my attention after I found out how easy (relatively) it was to access with public transportation from Glasgow. I would of course combine the trip with a visit to Bracklinn Falls, which was a convenient detour (in fact I first went to the falls, then up the crags). And I love love LOVE waterfalls, so there was no excuse not to go.

One problem was that it was forecasted to rain in Callander on Saturday, at least in the morning anyway. I had to make sure that I arrived in Callander just after it stopped raining, but not too late so that I wouldn’t be able to finish the entire hike before it got dark. I seriously contemplated cancelling the plan because rain in general was the biggest turn-off any trip, but I went for it anyway, fully anticipating slipper slopes and muddy tracks. Stupidity or adventure? You decide.

From Callander to Bracklinn Falls

As I was taking the bus from Stirling to Callander, it was raining mildly (I was praying hard that it would stop raining when I started hiking). I had my rain gear ready, knowing that it wouldn’t be a dry hike, but hoped that by the time I began walking, I didn’t have to deal with an umbrella when going uphill. On the other hand, with the rain, I did anticipate the waterfalls more than I initially did, as I speculated that a rainy morning would add a lot of volume to a waterfall. I got to Callander just before noon, which meant that I had around 4 hours to cover both Bracklinn Falls and the crags if I wanted to be back before it got too dark. From Callander, I followed a marked path uphill to the starting point of the Bracklinn Falls circuit and began the search for the waterfall.

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Incredible Iceland #2 – The Golden Circle

To illustrate why Iceland is my favourite place ever, this post is absolutely necessary. I loved Reykjavik already after one night of staying there, but I loved Iceland even more after immersing myself in the boundless realms of nature that it promised to offer. And it did not disappoint.

You see, when I planned my stay Iceland, I knew I wanted to see some nature. Maybe a lot of nature. A trip to such an exotic destination wouldn’t be complete without seeing its most defining features outside of the urban center – the waterfalls, the geysers, the national parks. I didn’t have a car to take me around the country, but that wasn’t an issue as there was a myriad of tour companies operating day-tours along the most popular tourist routes. One of the classic tours is the Golden Circle tour, a route that takes you around South Iceland and stops at several cultural and natural sites. The description seemed to suit me perfectly, and after signing up with one of the tours, I was on my way to see the other side of Iceland. And boy, that beauty…it was unfathomable.

We set out at around 8:30 in the morning, when the sky was still pitch black. The sun rises at around 10:30 in January, so that’d be another couple of hours before we’d see daylight 😛 On the bus, I saw some dedicated runners doing their morning runs in the dark, an interesting sight as I had never experienced a morning that was still dark at 8:30 am. The bus took us out of Reykjavik onto the “Ring Road”, beginning our tour around the Golden Circle, passing by the “greenhouse town” of Hveragerði. Yep, those rows of illuminated houses are indeed greenhouses, and they looked stunning in the dark, even from the bus, prompting a friend to say, “How can a greenhouse be this beautiful!”

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