Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Ta Ta Taipai

Sadly, our Photographic Safari in Canada is over and now, we have to say goodbye to the beautiful people of Taipei as well. Our brief stay in Taipei was designed to give us a few days to wind down from our Canadian Safari and we did just that … however, we still couldn’t resist having a bit of a look around while we were there.
We thought it a must to visit the world famous tallest building (for a short time only in Taipei) the Taipei 101 Observatory, so we grabbed a Cab and with some assistance from Mina, our petite little helper from the Riviera Hotel … off we went. Taipei 101 has a magnificent and rather upmarket shopping mall, with everything from a huge food court, to stores from every major designer in the world, like ROLEX (yes, the genuine Rolex), Cartier, D&G, Gucci and Prada just to name a few. The elevator ride to the 89th floor took no more than a few seconds and didn’t feel like it even moved. To be honest, if we hadn’t got out of the elevator to see the view, we wouldn’t have believed we’d ever left the 5th floor we started from. Again, our scenery shots were dampened with wet weather, but we’ve included a few to show you just how high up we were anyway. There was also an amazing range of exquisite gifts and art on display for those with a bulging wallet and no other method of relief. Down one floor we saw the amazing Damper, which has been attractively dressed in gold paint and shiny stainless steel, to make it a feature, rather than just an amazing piece of engineering. So much so, that they have created an whole tourism mascot from it called the “Damper Baby” which you can of course purchase and take home with you. This damper controls the entire building sway and movement.

The next day we decided to see a little of the local landscape and experience some local culture, getting the chance to do some people watching, rounding off the day of Taipei absorption. So, we loaded the backpacks full of camera gear and headed off to the metro for a trip to Danshui where Peggy, our always helpful concierge from the Riviera Hotel recommended we go to see her home town, the sights, visit the Historical Fort, stroll along the river and finish up in the night markets. True to form, the rain started and although not heavy, dampened the scenery photography enough for us to admit when we’ve been beaten. We have been so lucky with weather throughout the whole trip for wildlife photography, but nearly every time we came to an anticipated scenery location, the weather left us positively uninspired.

We had a great day people watching and absorbing the locals evolving from scooter to pedestrian movement in what seemed like a migration of masses of happy smiling faces, all the time ready to try and communicate with a couple of stunned Australians. The sheer volume of people moving in any given square centimetre is amazing to watch as they all do it, without so much as a scuffle or harsh word to say to the scooters zipping in between their bodies. There is every conceivable product or food available in the markets and the temptation got the better of us after seeing a long queue waiting to buy three deep fried thingies on a stick, which we diligently basted with some goo with a brush sitting in a bowl, delicately balanced on the edge of the sidewalk cart. We still have no idea what they were, what delight filled their insides, or what we basted them with, but they tasted great and as at the time of writing the first half of this BLOG, sitting in the Dynasty Lounge in the Airport, we have no unpleasant side effects to tell you about. Lucky huh?
Only a block from the hotel, we felt adventurous enough to try a packed little local eating establishment, so in we went, where we were greeted by a Maltese Terrier with it’s tongue hanging out and a pair of ghostly eyeballs that I don’t think do a lot of visualising, which could be a good thing after seeing the buffet hot box. As many of you know, I’m all for trying new things and love to experience local foods, but when even I, can look at a huge array of hot boxes and have no idea what ANY of the foods on offer were, we decided to play it safe and move on. Sorry … but I do like to have at least some idea what animal, or part thereof I am about to inflict my stomach with.
The next day, we thought we’d see if we could pick up a bargain gadget or two, so again Mina wrote her suggestion in a language the Cab driver could understand and off we went. Harvey Norman eat your heart out … we got out of the Cab to see a six story Sony Ad with a welcoming double glass door at the bottom and after getting over the initial awe, in we went. The place was a computer market so to speak, with wait for it … 6 floors, with about 80 or 90 little computer, phone, sound, vision and gadget stores per floor, all packed to the eyeballs with enough stuff to see the gadget freak satisfied for the next millennium. Wow just isn’t a strong enough word. The depressing thing was that none of the prices, from Laptops to Cameras were particularly enticing at all. You can save about 10-20% on most things, but most items only come with a Taiwan warranty and to be honest, you can get the same sort of prices in Harvey Norman if you’re prepared to do a little haggling. Oh yes and across the road was a whole street of computer based stores for those who just didn’t get enough after leaving the 6 story I.T. extravaganza.
Another surprising thing was the lack of souvenir shops for the discerning tourist. Again, Mina came to the rescue with a card that got us to the ONLY souvenir shop we saw in Taipei. I really thought they’d be everywhere. This store did have 3 floors of everything from keyrings to fine art to choose from. So we picked up the few mandatory “I thought of you style” trinkets and it was back to the Hotel for the last supper. We decided to have dinner in the hotel and off to bed at a reasonable hour for the much dreaded bag packing before leaving for home. It took about 4 hours the next day, to reorganise the bags and distribute the weight within allowable limits, but we did it just right according to China Airlines with one bag having a comfortable 1kg buffer with the maximum limit. Nice!
Again, China Airlines’ check in service was fast, smooth, very friendly and efficient. I zipped outside for my last smoke before hitting the Duty Free store for some last minute alcohol and cigarettes, then into the Dynasty Lounge for an internet connection and a bite to eat. True to form, the China Airlines flight direct from Taipei to Brisbane was met with happy smiling faces and service comparable to the finest of 5 star restaurants, the seats were comfortable and the food was excellent. In all honesty, the flights we have had with China Airlines are the best we have experienced anywhere and I think QANTAS could do themselves a favour by sending their staff to the same attendant’s school. We’ve flown on many airlines, to many destinations around the world and China Airlines made QANTAS look like a very poor, second rate, budget airline in comparison, which is in stark contrast to their prices which were almost double that of China Airlines at the time we purchased. So, if you get the chance to fly China Airlines, both Dad and I highly recommend them.

The flight home was uneventful, which is a good thing when talking airline flights and we arrived home pretty much exhausted. No matter how good your trip away is, it’s always nice to see the faces of your loved ones and feel your feet firmly on home soil. The long days in Canada, Jet Lag of loosing a day getting to Taipei and flying all night to arrive in Brisbane just in time to start the day have taken their toll on me. Dad is remarkable in this area and after just an hour or two of “Nana Naps” here and there, bounces back like a 20 year old … and as he’s fast approaching his 75th Birthday next month … this is a man I truly aspire too. I just hope you all don’t hammer me too hard with work on Friday as I am really not yet firing on all cylinders yet and have the feeling it is going to take a week to get back into the swing of things … hint hint!

Again, I would just like to say a special thank you to all the beautiful people who helped us along the Taipei journey, from our wonderful China Airlines Hostesses Sally and Nancy, the helpful and very beautiful young ladies at the Riviera Hotel ... Peggy thank you for the Pinapple Cake, we got it home and it was lovely, Mina, April, Clair and Linda, not to mention our Bellmen Gordon and Wilson, plus the many locals who were kind enough to let us take their photo's. Thank you for making our visit to Taipei a wonderful experience.

Next week, I’ll try and publish a summary BLOG which should complete the trip nicely. Until then, we’ve uploaded yet another Album 7 with lots more photo’s from Taipei for you to see.

If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!
Go To:

Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner

Taipei Tourists

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Farewell Canada

Sadly, it’s time to leave the beautiful scenery, friendly people and very photogenic wildlife of Canada in the early hours of tomorrow morning. To say we’ve had a wonderful trip would be the understatement of the year. With Paul from Canada Photo Safaris making it feel like the wildlife and scenery was “On Tap”, we felt a little spoiled talking to other guests over breakfast this morning, who haven’t managed to see a fraction of what we’ve been lucky enough to experience over the last few weeks. Again, thank you for showing us so much of what Canada has to offer Paul.
The last few days of the Canadian part of our safari involved a lot of travelling, but we still spent some time in Paul’s home town of Grand Forks, British Columbia where the Deer are as easy to find as driving through the suburbs and looking in back yards. The White Tail Deer really has a nice butt worth capturing, so we even have a nice bum shot for you in the latest album. Paul was even kind enough to introduce us to two of his wonderful children, Heather (Very Pretty Girl) and Jamie the budding fisherman. It was a pleasure to meet such nice kids, who were so well mannered and behaved … now we know why you’re so proud of them Paul.

Well we did it everyone … we managed to see and photograph the illusive Sasquatch who with very little coaxing, even posed for a nice happy snap with Dad and I, wasn’t that nice of him! So the myth can now be dispelled, he is real, we saw and touched him and although communication was a little difficult with this fellow, he seemed to be enjoying a cold beer when we arrive … but that’s another story.

Just so I could keep everyone happy, I finally put on the gloves and beanie I brought with me, which so far hadn’t been unpacked, just so Dad could get a shot of me pretending to be cold. Mind you, I’m only wearing a T Shirt, with a thin cotton shirt over the top, but it wasn’t cold enough to do up the buttons. This was more for the photo than for the cold, although … I think my fingers were a little cool before I put on the gloves. It’s going to be a hell of a temperature shock to go from Canada to Taipei in the low 30’s with high humidity and then back home to more warm days of high 20’s.Probably our biggest disappointment was the rather hard to find Bull Moose. Of all the wildlife I thought would have been on tap in Canada, the Moose was it. Their photo adorns magazines, postcards and blogs from this part of the world everywhere you look, and it’s one of the only animals we never managed to see. Well sort of … luckily, we found a decent statue of one, so here is the only Bull Moose we managed to see.
As I mentioned above, this will be the last BLOG from Canada as we’re off to see the bright and happy faces of the people in Taipei tomorrow flying China Airlines, who we’ve been very impressed with so far.

Again, thank you to all the wonderful people we’ve met along the way, for allowing me to take your photo and publish it in the album for all who read this to see. From the lovely waitress at our Vancouver hotel Eva and Teddy cleaning up after the trashy visitors, to the very sexy Mexican tourists Liliana and Erika who tried to ask us for directions in Stanley Park … sorry we couldn’t be more helpful girls.

If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!
Go To:

Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner
Aussie Canucks

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Our Inukshuk

Our Inukshuk (Trail Marker) originally used by the Inuit (Eskimo) marks the point where our trail is fast coming to an end. Sadly, although the days have been long and hard, they have flown by faster than an Eskimo on his way to the Ice Shop. We are genuinely tired and a little fatigued from our efforts to capture the shots we were looking for, but Paul has made every minute count with his keen spotting ability plus a vast knowledge and experience of the animals themselves, their habits, habitats, behaviour and even where to start looking in the first place.
After leaving Elk Island, we took a Helicopter flight with Jamie from the Icefield Helicopter Tours base at Cline River over the Columbia Ice Fields which just helped enforce the sheer size and scope of these incredible Rocky Mountains. These ice fields are the head waters for all the fresh water rivers in Canada that flow East and West off the Continental Divide which is the highest ridge in Canada. In the days of the Ice Age, even the highest peak was covered in ice … sadly this ice is melting at an incredible rate.
The next major event on our rather busy calendar was a lunch date with a handsome Grey Wolf. I know, looking at this photo, it appears that we were to be his lunch, but this is character trait instilled in us by Hollywood, not how it really is in the wild. To say it is special to spend time with these magnificent animals is an understatement and words simply cannot describe their beauty … so have a look at the photos instead. We had the ultimate privilege of spending a little quality time observing a wild wolf in his natural environment and this experience will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Again, Paul surprised us with his spotting ability and managed to get us up close and personal with a usually rather difficult to see Canadian Porcupine. Although many metres up, clinging to a tree in the dark, with a harsh back light in the rain, we still managed to get a couple of shots of this interesting fellow gazing down on us from his vantage point. We didn’t ask Paul to climb up and bring him down to ground level for us … wasn’t that thoughtful of us?
There has been some pretty spectacular scenery along the way, which I haven’t talked much about I know, but it’s only because there has been so much else going on and so many animals in front of our shutters, sometimes it’s hard to take time to stop and smell the roses … so to speak. We’ve kind of been in the wrong place at the wrong time for some of the scenery shoots, with rain inevitably dampening the spirit, not to mention the lens on many occasions.

We also shouldn’t forget to mention all the wonderful people we’ve met along the way who were kind enough to let us take their photos and include them in the BLOG … thank you very much Lisa, Fiona, Jamie, Michelle, Meaghyn, Casey, Shelly and the skinnydipping girls we busted coming out of the sub freezing water too!

If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!
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Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner
Glacier Googlers

Friday, 3 October 2008

All About The BEAVER!

From Jasper to Elk Island, things got a little chilly visiting the Angel Glacier at Mt Edith Cavel in Alberta Canada, but we soon warmed up with a lovely, friendly and homey welcome from our hosts at the Chipmunk B&B, Jean-Claude and Liliane Bonjour. Their warm and friendly log home was just a treat with Liliane’s fantastic cooking and spotlessly clean rooms. What a fantastic place to stay for a few days while stalking the wildlife in Elk Island Park.

Now it’s time to get a little more serious about getting those all important photos of Canada’s creatures that can be very difficult to spot, let alone photograph, but Paul was at the ready with his camouflage blind, allowing us to sit quietly and hidden while awaiting the activity of some of Elk Island’s more shy inhabitants.
Anyone who knows me, will know just how important it was for me to get those all important Beaver shots and with Paul’s keen eye and knowledge of this rather private animal’s habits, we lay in wait. After little more than an hour thumb twiddling and butt shifting in the swampy grass, sure enough … Benny the Beaver as we nicknamed him, clocked on for another hard day’s work. The old saying of “Busy as a Beaver” is more true than I imagined. These little guys work so hard building their impressive lodges, digging trenches, making dams, collecting branches for food and levelling huge areas of forest, all with those big teeth and tiny hands. Let’s just say, I’ve gained a new respect for Beaver!

Another bonus we hadn’t expected was just how beautiful some of Canada’s wildlife can be, we had an unexpected and very rare “Blonde Beaver” sighting, very close to one of the park’s rest areas. This particular species can be hard to spot in the wild with a camouflage coat, but the long flowing blonde hair makes them a little easier to spot with a trained eye. With a little coaxing, we even managed a smile. Who’d of thought Canada had such attractive wildlife … but so far, Paul has not been able to identify the specific name for this lovely creature.
We’ve been up close and personal with so many of the amazing animals Canada has to offer, it’s hard to keep track, but I do know that without Paul spotting them in their natural habitat, we wouldn’t have seen a fraction of what we have been so privileged to witness so far. I’ve had a Gold Mantle Ground Squirrel make friends and try to hang on to my finger for the ride home. Paul even climbed down a cliff to convince the most beautiful Mountain Goat I have ever seen, climb up to the top of the cliff, just so we could get a couple of close up photographs … how’s that for service? We’ve photographed Moose, Mule and White Tail Deer, Elk, Canadian Geese, Big Horn Sheep, Richardsons Ground Squirrel and did I mention the Beaver?

We'd also like to say a special thank you to Jade and Heather, who were ever so accepting of our Australian sense of humour. Your service was excellent and your bosses need to know you're both worth a raise!

If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!
Go To:

Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner
Beaver Bandits

Monday, 29 September 2008

The Jump To Jasper

With the bear viewing in the bag, we made the long jump to jasper with Paul having to drive about 10 hours through a little snow on the long mountain climb out of Bella-Coola, through some beautiful country side, stopping at Tim Horton’s for coffee of course, to the more commercial and tourism based, but none the less magnificent town of Jasper.

The stay in Jasper was designed to offer us some picturesque mountain scenery and wildlife shots such as a range of Birds, Coyote, Elk, Mule Deer, White Tail Deer, Sheep, Chipmunks, Squirrels, Pikas (The worlds smallest rabbit at only about 6 inches long) and the illusive Moose and Wolf, that we so far haven’t managed to find. This is really beautiful country and a must to see if you’re visiting Alberta Canada.
The photographers are thick on the ground here and it only takes minutes after we’ve stopped to photograph an Elk, for dozens to materialise out of nowhere. I do have a little lens envy when some of these guys pop lenses on their cameras that look more like the Hubble Telescope than a camera lens, but then again, there is a lot using the same lenses and Dad and I, so I don’t quite feel like I’m using a tiny little compact.I’ve had a few late nights sorting thousands of photographs, so I’m going to keep the writing a little light for this BLOG. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I have prepared a sample of some of the things we’ve photographed that should give me brownie point for a huge essay. Because we’ve got so much to show you, I’ve created another new album to show you the wildlife, a few scenes, people and even a couple of lovely young ladies who were ever so helpful to a couple of Australian Tourists.
If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!

Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner
Jasper Jokers

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The Bear Essentials Part 2

The first part of our safari has been dedicated to photographing Grizzly and Black Bears in the wild and we certainly haven’t been disappointed. For those of you more interested in the Autumn Scenery and other Wildlife, don’t worry … that is all still to come. We left the Chilko River Lodge and our wonderful hosts, HOUSI and ANNETT for a change of scenery and have some nice accommodation, with power and an internet connection at Hagensborg, just down the road from Bella-Coola on the west coast of British Columbia. We had an early start on Monday in the rain with Fraser in his inflatable (Raft that is … not “Special” friend) and floated down the river. I’m really glad my deodorant isn’t made from fish oil because these Bears only have one thing on their mind at the moment … and that’s eating.
We have seen so many bears now I’ve lost count and it’s quite an adrenalin rush sitting in a little dingy only metres from these very powerful animals … did I mention they only have eating on their mind at the moment? On Tuesday, we had the pleasure of LES’ company for the “Cruise” in his fibreglass dingy which was a little more comfortable and my camera bag didn’t have to go swimming like the day before either. All in all, this dingy was a win for both my butt and my camera gear, plus it wasn’t raining. It is truly awesome to be sitting silently, with nothing more than camera shutters whirring at six shots a second, to record the action from just metres away from an animal that could happily make you their next meal. Did you see those claws? I think I’d be little high in cholesterol for them after eating all that Canadian Bacon and Maple Syrup soaked Pancakes for breakfast though. PAUL has been looking after us in the meals department and for those of you who know my Dad and his clockwork stomach well, telling you he had breakfast at 10:00am, lunch at 7:45pm and Dinner at 10:00pm yesterday will seem unbelievable, but it’s true!
The only really sad thing we’ve experienced here is seeing the thousands of Salmon, yes the ones John West Reject … dead or dying right in front of you. I understand that this is their natural life cycle, but it seems such an undignified end, to what is ultimately such a triumphant journey … all for the kids, which are those nice little red balls you saw the Bear eating in THIS PHOTO. Before they die, they are almost a fluorescent red colour, but after jumping their last rapid, they fast become a smelly, colourless rotting carcase. Depressed yet?
So this will be about the last of the Bear photographs for this trip, as tomorrow we have a short drive (about 10 or so hours) to our next destination, where we will begin to photograph some of the other scenery and wildlife we had on our list of things to do.

If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!
Go To:

Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner
Grizzly Hunters Extraordinaire

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Bear Essentials …

The safari has begun and we’re with our guide for the next few weeks, professional photographer Paul Stone from Canada Photo Safaris. From the first meeting, which I’m sure I was only tricked into believing was supposed to happen at 9:00am and actually started at 6:30am, Paul seems to have the sense of humour needed for putting up with Dad and I over the long and many days ahead. Let’s see if he can still cope with us after a couple of weeks shall we? We started off with a very long drive in our huge GMC Suburban from the Quality Hotel Downtown in Vancouver at a little after 6:30am and after a few comfort breaks, free doughnuts from the girls at Tim Hortons and stops for food supplies, we ended up at the Chilko River Lodge and Guest Ranch (, adjacent the Chilko River at about 8:00pm. That’s one hell of a long drive in a single day with only a few litres of coffee, bacon, eggs, toast, sausages and a BLT in the afternoon to keep us going. It’s like driving from Brisbane to the Whitsundays.
This is truly Canadian Wilderness country, without a bitumen road or even electricity in sight. We’re staying in a homely rustic log cabin, with gas mantles for lighting, a wood stove for heating and yes … no electricity. There is a generator up at the lodge for power to download the thousands of photo’s taken each day, but nothing in the rooms. Housi and Annette are our hosts at the lodge and they have truly offered us the warm, friendly, welcoming host experience we were looking for.
The first few days have been dedicated to photographing the mighty Grizzly and Black Bears and we certainly haven’t been disappointed. We’ve found and photographed up to 25 Grizzly Bears each day. These bears are truly amazing creatures to be in the presence of and surprisingly calm when drifting as close as a few metres away in our 6 metre tinny. Watching the mothers guarding their cubs while they play, it’s very obvious that one eye is kept on us every second and I don’t think any of us would be met with welcoming arms if we ventured out of the boat. We’ve seen so many, it’s hard to keep track, but this has truly been an experience of a lifetime.

If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!
Go To:

Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner
Grizzly Hunters Extraordinaire

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Vancouver or Bust !

Just like this lovely mothers dress, we “Busted into Vancouver's, Queen Elizabeth Park today, taking advantage of the few short hours we had put aside to at least try and test some of the new lenses and equipment we purchased for the trip. It’s been just a tad hectic having had two Sundays this week. Yes, we actually arrived in Vancouver, 4 hours before we took off from Taipei and we even managed to squeeze in a 10.5 hour flight to boot.

That said, we are suffering a little jetlag and have just received a call from our guide Paul Stone, from Canada Photo Safaris at informing us that we will now be leaving at 6:30am instead of the planned 9am time. Yes, as you all know my feelings on this subject of early morning rises … people wishing to interact at this time of the morning should be executed. Subtle as a sledge hammer aren’t I? It’s just wrong to contemplate this sort of insane action without 2 litres of coffee and half a pack of Davidoff. Did I mention that one of Australia’s most expensive cigarettes called Davidoff are only AUD$2.30 a pack in Taipei … but I digress.

So we have been busy little “Bees” today and don’t have a great deal to tell you as I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about the wonderful meals we’re eating and the fantastic service we’re getting and the … jealous yet? Today has really just been a preparation day for the upcoming safari.

I am going to keep this a brief update … no picture of “Girls in Briefs” sorry … as we now have to scamper around like “Squirrels” to rearrange the packing of our bags to allow for quick and easy access to our nuts … err … I mean camera gear. Can you tell I’m tired?

Hope you liked all the bad puns with matching photos, all taken at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, BC, Canada today.

If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!

Go To:

PS: Special thanks to Michael Jackson (Yes, that’s his real name!) from Less Stress Computer Services for helping my poor mother be far less confused than is expected, when video conferencing with Dad and I on Skype. Visit Michael’s web site at if you need help with a computer … how’s that for a plug?

Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner
Grizzly Hunters Extraordinaire

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Typhoon ... iD Style

You have to say we have the luck of a Suicide Bomber with a faulty trigger. All we've heard about since landing is that the Typhoon which raged between midnight (while I went out for a rather wet walk) and around six o'clock this morning, was going to dump about a metre of water on the city. If it did as the news broadcasts are telling us … Brisbane needs to learn a thing or two about drainage. Other than wet roads and the occasional gail force wind, all the drains are flowing well and there’s barely a puddle to be seen on their roads between the myriad of scooters.

Due to the fact that we had 150klm/hr winds and there was just a little rain about, we had a slow start to the day in our room, getting the BLOG set-up and attending to photo filing systems before heading out to one of the only shopping centres that was still open on Saturday. Unfortunately, neither Dad, nor I was really interested in purchasing a new handbag or pair of stilettos’ so after some serious communicating with some of the cutest help desk girls in Taipei, we found a delightful young lady who pointed out that there was another shopping centre just across the road and it was open too.

I decided to tuck myself under Dad’s Poncho (Keep it clean) for what seemed like the crossing of the Jordan River and subsequently managed to grab an extra shower on the journey across the street. I wasn’t planning on doing this fully clothed, but hey … I never knock back an opportunity to freshen up before going shopping. We are both SO GLAD we bought those AWESOME WATERPROOF “Timberland” Hiking boots. That was a good call and we can’t recommend them highly enough. These “Timberland” boots are more comfortable than any sneaker I’ve ever worn and allowed us to have one dry body part … our feet. My jeans and shirt were absolutely soaked, crossing the street.

This next shopping centre was more like the Aspley Hypermarket with everything from Mobile Phones and Ladies Underwear, (No I didn’t buy any) to wait for it … a lovely bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label for about AUD$34.00! Nothing new or latest technology here though. For a mid afternoon lunch, we decided to try a local bowl of noodles and managed to find a Taiwan Chef by the name of Steven, without Taiwan citizenship, because he was born in L.A. Needless to say, he spoke like a yank which made communicating far more pleasant than trying to pass the 5Kg’s of food they fed us on the flight here.
He wrote down an address of a street where the Uni Students buy their gear which turned out to be a gem for purchasing the additional couple of Laptop Hard Drives we wanted. We bought a couple of Transcend 320Gb USB Drives for AUD$124.00ea … not bad for a brand name even I recognise. They had about 40 shops jammed next to each other full of laptops and every kind of computer part you can think of. Did I mention this is the place to buy laptops? There must have been literally thousands on display in this one street.

Back to the hotel with Peter Brock the Taiwanese Race Car … I mean Taxi Driver, we relaxed in the room and ordered a “Chicken Cordon Blue Sandwich” from room service. It didn’t look BLUE to me but hey … it tasted great and who am I to get picky on colours anyway? Dad crashed and I went out for a walk “Smoke” and after trying five convenience stores, finally managed to find Dad a can of Deodorant. What, don’t Taiwanese people stink or sweat in 30+ temperatures and high humidity?

After a great night’s sleep on a nice firm bed … no really … it was, we had yet another 5kg breakfast in the hotel and wandered outside to snap a couple of locals riding on some of the forty million scooters that seem to be transporting entire families and in some cases, the contents of their home, business and next door neighbour’s furniture on the back of these tiny buzz boxes.
Apparently, the later flights like ours at 11:40pm to Vancouver are running on schedule, so at least for now, it looks like we’ll be leaving Taipei for Vancouver as planned on Sunday night.

If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!
Go To:

Keep smiling ...
Typhoon Darren & Keith Gardiner

Saturday, 13 September 2008

The Adventure Begins ...

Well, the enormous lead up has finally led to Dad and I fleeing the country. Sorry everyone, but no more business cards until I get back now. I don't think the Grizzly's have a printing press.

For those of you who don't already know, I slipped on the wet tiles at home while testing one of our new lenses and broke my tailbone and cracked my skull last Friday. This led to just a touch of anxiety about sitting in what we normally foresee as a thimble holder of a aeroplane seat for somewhere in the vicinity of nine hours. But ... to my surprise ... and delight, the plane seat provided by China Airlines in Business Class is much larger than the equivalent seat on a Qantas Business Class flight to New Zealand for our honeymoon a couple of years ago. I FIT IN IT!

To be honest, the Flight with China Airlines was wonderful. Yes we are in Business Class, but these seats cost half what Qantas and Air New Zealand charge for a Business Class seat. But they are not half the airline. Both Dad and I are very impressed so far. The fully electric seats are roomy and comfortable, with me not even being able to touch the seat in front, as I have that much leg room. The food was truly wonderful. From aperitifs of marinated mushrooms and capsicum with curried vegetable patty, to starters of smoked salmon, tasty salads, main courses of grilled black bean Barramundi, rice, vegetables and bread, plus some lovely fresh fruit and scrumptious Orange Cheesecake Mousse Thingie with Chocolate Scrolls. We accompanied this with our choice of just about any beverage imaginable, but decided to skip on the Baileys for now and just had a nice French Merlot Blend.

The rest of the flight was relaxing with many hours to watch IRONMAN, catch a couple of Z's power up the laptop, dump a few photo's, check the plane power source was working and wait for it ... EAT AGAIN!

Yes, they decided that the 5Kg's of food they stuffed into us around lunch time wouldn't be enough to keep our sleepy souls from starving, so they served up a lovely bowl of Asian seafood soup, with our choice of add ins like asparagus, onion, chili, parsley and a yellow vegetable that so far remains nameless. Needless to say, we were both stuffed to the eyeballs, but the Taipei government was nice enough to give us a 5Klm walk to immigration in what seemed like the longest airport terminal in the world. Praise the lord for "Travelators"!!!
To speed up the ending of this BLOG, we were picked up in a week old BMW 740 Series Limo "NICE" and then sat in peak hour traffic for an hour and a half listening to the radio reports informing us that the Typhoon that was due to hit that night or the next day was expected to dump ... wait for it ... about 1m of water on the city and ... how surprising, some areas may experience flash flooding. Damn, if Brisbane got a metre of water in a night, we'd all be going to work in a kayak.

The hotel and staff are as you would expect for a 5 star hotel ... very, very, very, accommodating! I will now point out that the Riviera Hotel is "All Boarded Up" ... a comforting thought knowing we were planning to spend Saturday shopping in Camera Street Taipei. Might think about taking a Poncho with me tomorrow. Hmmm ... that'll be fun in 30 degree heat and 95% humidity won't it?

Well, that's enough for today ... time to go have some breakfast ... wonder if they have those deep fried scorpions here?
If you would like to see some more photo's of what we've seen so far, please visit our PICASA Web Albums page!

Keep smiling ...
Darren & Keith Gardiner

Saturday, 30 August 2008

BLOG ... On The Run!

The countdown is on and it’s finally dawned on me that time is seriously running out to get everything ready for the trip.

With that in mind, I thought it might be clever enough to at least test the BLOGGING on the run theory, with a quick test post. So, here you have it.

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures from the future in Bear Chow!
Darren Gardiner

Sunday, 10 August 2008

We're Going On Safari ...


That's right ... iDStyle is off for another photographic safari and we're heading into the Canadian Rockies this time. We're in search of wildlife, in particular the Grizzly Bear and we hope to capture him stocking up on Salmon before hibernating for the winter.

We will be starting in Vancouver with our personal guide and professional photographer, Paul Stone from Canada Photo Safari's. Paul has guided some of the great Wildlife Photographers and Cinematographers from around the world, though the Canadian Mountains.

We don't just expect to see Grizzly Bears by the way. We are also hoping to capture some of the fantastic autumn scenery the Canadian Rockies, British Columbia and Alberta Canada has to offer, along with some of the other amazing wildlife found in the area such as the Black Bear, Wolf, Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Mountain Goat, Moose, Caribou, Bison, Porcupine, Waterfowl, Beaver, Eagles and Songbirds.

If you'd like to know more about our Guide, please visit his web site:
Paul Stone (
Canada Photo Safari's)
web site:

iDStyle will be CLOSED from: 6pm Tuesday 9th September 2008
and ...
iDStyle will RE-OPEN at: 10am Friday 17th October 2008

Take care of yourselves while we're away!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Welcome . . .

Why iDStyle ?
Because we know how important it is to identify your business with style.

Established in 1994 as A Better Web Solution, we soon realised the need to be able to identify your business with style, both on-line ... and in traditional media.

We invite you to visit our web sites to see how we can help you identify your business with style and contact us to discuss your individual needs.

Graphic Design and Printing, Web Design and Hosting, Photography, Video Conversions and Duplication, Voice Overs and So Much More ...

Regards ...
Darren Gardiner