Margaret River Roadtrip: wine, wildflowers and woodsmoke (also beer)

A few weeks back we took a road trip around the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia.  AKA glutton’s paradise.  Seriously.

If your idea of fun is bouncing from winery to brewery to cheesery, by way of beautiful beaches, cute lighthouses, and pretty forests packed with wildflowers and wildlife, this is your place.

It’s definitely our place.

If you’re wondering what happened to China (industrial waste, mostly) I thought I’d spare you an unending torrent of China posts by going off the chronological rails a little.  I haven’t given up on China, but I’ll be punctuating tales from the world’s loudest nation with some other bits and pieces.

We had such a brilliant time stuffing our faces and soaking up nature in Margaret River, so sharing this trip seemed perfect for the first China palate cleanser.  Enjoy!

Day 1 — A crafty vineyard and beer by the bay

Our first stop on the glutton’s trail was Vineyard 28, just off the Forrest Highway, about half way between Mandurah and Bunbury.  We were drawn in by the promise of quilts (I’m into quilting), but really we were there to taste some wine.  Which scared the pants off me.

I was genuinely really nervous.  But it was totally worth it.  The owners at Vineyard 28 were very friendly and didn’t make me feel silly at all.  I’ve only been wine tasting a couple of times, and only ever in French, which makes it much less scary.  It’s less embarrassing for me to be bad at French, thus hiding my complete absence of wine knowledge, than to obviously be bad at wine.

vineyard-28-harvey

Anyway we had a lovely time admiring the wine, the home made quilts for sale, and the view onto the vineyard, and chatting about wildfires, climate change and Burmese politics.  We’re supposed to be traveling on a strict budget, but we caved (is that a pun?) and bought two bottles of wine.  It was really good.  When in Rome… Continue reading “Margaret River Roadtrip: wine, wildflowers and woodsmoke (also beer)”

For all the tea in China (how not to get a Chinese visa in Hanoi)

We arrived at the Chinese embassy in Hanoi bright and early on Monday morning, freshly scrubbed and with our best tourist smiles firmly fixed on our tired faces.  With a six week love-hate affair with China only a recent memory, we were unexpectedly going back for more.  Our cargo ship was leaving from Hong Kong in three weeks, and to get to it without flying we’d need to cross China.  We were even hoping to see some sights along the way.  So we needed another visa.

Armed with online assurances that getting a Chinese visa in Hanoi was pretty straightforward, we were feeling optimistic.  Confident that we could jump though the hoops, if a little nervous that they might move them.

I don’t know what we were thinking.  China.  Straightforward.  Ha.

They didn’t so much move the hoops as set fire to them, replace them with different hoops, then hide them, refuse to let us anywhere near them for several days, convince us that we’d successfully jumped through them, then tell us that actually there weren’t any hoops right now, and even if there were we weren’t going to jump through them in time so we might as well just leave.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Continue reading “For all the tea in China (how not to get a Chinese visa in Hanoi)”