Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Busselton Ironman 70.3 - Day 1 & Day 2

How truly enjoyable can an Ironman trip be?!
29 April- 6 May 2015

1. To start from the beginning of this wonderful trip (Day 1 and 2) continue reading on.
2. To laugh yourself crazy seeing how the boys did their Open Water test swim (Day 3), click here.
1. To jump right into the Busselton 70.3 Race day, click here.
4. To read our trip outta Busselton to Fremantle ~ Day 5, click here.
5. To view the rustic old buildings of Fremantle & our journey to Joondalup ~ Day 6, click here.

Post-Putrajaya 70.3 blase...
Changi Airport Terminal 2. Waiting to board SQ213 for the 7:40am departure.
[Click on photo to enlarge]
The boys have been talking about doing a 70.3 in Busselton for months.  But back then, doing a Half Ironman distance was the furthest thing from my mind... Until one day in December 2014, Darric and Gerard suddenly clicked on 'Join' on the Busselton Ironman 70.3 website... And kong-tao-ly, I joined too. Followed closely by Jeremy.  It must have had been accidental that I clicked on the Join button for Putrajaya Ironman 70.3 for April 2015.

Jeremy - a really champion Ironman, who did so well in his second Putrajaya.
[Click on image to enlarge]
The stage was set. And my confidence level was high.  I trained day and night, 6 days a week following a stringent training programme, right up till the fateful Putrajaya 70.3 when I suffered so terribly that I couldn't finish the run leg.
That set back was pretty deflating. And I dumped all my training programmes and just swam randomly when I felt like it for the whole month, and did only one run, and a couple of rides.

Pre-Busselton blase...
So what was Busselton all about? I was so bo chap about it that even up till the day before the flight I still didn't even bother to read about the route and to watch the pre-race video. Vaguely I had the idea that a few of us were to fly to Perth and then make our way to Busselton for the race. I only started packing a couple of nights before.

The Ironmen and the soigneur arriving in Perth Airport. all decked in evoLV T-shirts. 100 points to each!
[Click on image to enlarge]
"Well, best case scenario, I could maybe complete the swim and the cycle leg. Worst case scenario, it would be simply, a nice holiday for Serene and I."
I told the boys right at the beginning of this trip, perhaps in a way to pacify my apprehension.
That was a comforting thought, still.
Many established triathletes have said that the Busselton Half Ironman is one of the best courses to do. And everybody goes there to get their Personal Best (timing). Usually within a couple of hours after the opening of registration, all the places are snatched up. That is how popular Busso is.

It was 3pm Western Australia time, which happened to be in the same time zone as Singapore.

The Optus counter girl who just used "Oh, the SIM card is most probably not activated yet. Wait another 15 minutes." as an
excuse when mine and Darric's phones just couldn't connect.  I ended up having to figure out how to
activate the voucher the next day, and Darric had to undergo a complicated conversation with the
Optus customer service girl on his phone to adjust his setting the next night.
[Photo: Gerard Tan. Click on image to enlarge]

We approached the Avis counter in Perth International Airport to collect our rental cars, and popped buy the Optus telecom counter next door to buy prepaid Optus SIM cards (A$20 for 2Gb of data for mobile phones, and for Huawei it's a different kind of SIM card that cost A$30 for 3Gb of data).

Getting ready to move..
[Click on image to enlarge]
"Well, if you are driving in the city it's ok. But if you are driving out of city, you might just want to buy a A$27 a day car insurance to cover you up to an excess of A$300," advised the Avis car rental counter man.
"Why ah?" I asked.
"Because you might just hit a kangaroo," was his earnest answer.   Jeremy was there too and he heard this Kangaroo remark.  But honestly up till the end of the trip,  I only saw one dead kangaroo road-kill on the side of the road somewhere on our way back to Perth, and our cars didn't come anywhere near any kangaroos for the clever animals stayed far far away in the fields.

Pushing our trolleys a short distance out to Avis car park lot number 55 where our Hyundai Imax 908 was.  A couple of
lots away was the smaller Kia dunno-what car 995. [Click on image to enlarge]
"It will be a 2.7 hours drive from here to Busselton." the man added.  Wah lau.. we'd better hurry.
Everything was a blur to me, that persisted through our pushing the trolleys out to the car park in search of our cars. So there they were, a Kia and a Hyundai Imax.

Yours truly setting up the Garmin GPS.  Thankfully it operated exactly like our GPS back home.
[Photo: Gerard Tan. Click on image to enlarge]
GPS mounting and setting was a breeze.  But heck... I wasn't used to driving an MPV. So the first few bends that I had to negotiate was a little tight for me.

A group photo before moving out. Who was the Smart Alec who brought a foldable tripod for his Leica M9P ah?
[Click on image to enlarge]

... Leach Highway, Kiwana Freeway.. We got out of the congested roads of Perth city and headed at 110km/hr towards Busselton. 
The messages flew fast and furious between our two cars as we tried to search for some places to grab a bite. Darric was really good as he Googled and identified a small town with a small fish and chip shop.  Jeremy, Serene and I laughed when we pulled up at the car park and all we saw was a Medical Centre.

Medical Centre to buy Fish and Chips?
[Click on image to enlarge]

"Huh? Got fish and chip at this medical centre meh?"
A panoramic view of our first fish and chips stall. [Photo: Gerard Tan]
[Click on the image to see how Gerard, Darric, Jeremy and Serene were enjoying their fish]

Gerard and Darric were the ones with the last laughs as a pleasant lady from China served us our fish fillets and we quickly filled up our gastric voids.

Sun was almost setting... [Photo: Serene Gan]
I forgot that it was approaching winter, and the days were short. Unknowingly I was speeding at 120+km/hr following closely behind Gerard's Kia, quietly worrying as the sun set, and our surrounding darkened with no street lamps for tens of km at a stretch. Jeremy was counting down the distance beside me.
Long stretches of Australian road at 120km/hr with no street lights but only our head lamp.
Right in front, Gerard was going on high-beam regularly to illuminate the dark road ahead.
[Photo: Serene Gan]
Busselton Town

The GPS was our only saviour and it was surprisingly accurate. Once we were on Bussell Highway, I finally relaxed, even though it was already night fall. 240km of drive wasn't that bad.  We finally arrived at Busselton town just after 7pm, amidst a light drizzle.
Arriving in Busselton town in rain. [Photo: Serene Gan]
Mandalay Resort

30 more minutes to closing at the Reception. Me taking shot of Jeremy. [Photo: Serene Gan]
[Click on the image to see the beautiful expression of Jeremy the Ironman in deep thoughts...]

This Mandalay Resort wasn't bad at all. We made in to the reception at 7:30pm, half an hour before the staff close the office. (Heng ah!) It was a sprawling estate with chalets and villas of all shapes and sizes. Between five of us we had two chalets and one villa- a total of 9 rooms (if I didn't count wrongly) and 11 beds.
Chalet number 41, a delightful unit with ample dining and kitchenette, washing machine & dryer..
where many a lovely meals were served. [Click on image to enlarge]

It was really a comical moment as we looked at each other and looked at Alison the receptionist, and decided that it would be too scary to sleep alone in a single huge villa.  Very quickly, the arrangement was made - Gerard and Darric would occupy chalet number 24, while Serene, I and Jeremy would take chalet number 41.
Gerard and Darric studying Chalet number 24 closely.  And as they felt so immense comfort in this unut,
Gerard decided to sit down and test out the comfortable sofa before the Eureka decision was made...
[Click on the image to view another angle of this lovely chalet]

Meals and laundry would mostly be done in number 41.  As for Villa number 9, the largest of them all, it was a sheer pity as it was so huge and beautiful, but located quite a walking distance away across a field.  We had to leave it vacant for the duration of our stay.

Sadly, we had to leave this huge Villa number 9 empty.
[Click on the image to see the second floor of this unit]
"Hey all five of us can stay in this huge Villa number 9!" exclaimed the boys when they saw how big Villa 9 was.  Sadly, we didn't have enough participants to fill up all the rooms and the beds.  In retrospect, it would have been ideal had our contingent been double the current strength.

"Hey we can all stay in villa 9!"

The weather was a comfortable early teens. And Busselton was such a small little town it was only a few kilometres from one end to the other. By the time we set off from the chalet at just before 8pm, most of the shops were closed.

"Hey come, let's look for dinner!" Suggested Gerard.
Before the trip, somebody was telling me that in Australia, any restaurant chin chai chin chai would serve fantastic steaks. Naturally that became our objective for dinner.
The resort staff's highly recommended steakhouse Red Flame was closed by the time we reached there. Looking around we found a Ship & Inn just across the road. It was a cosy little restaurant cum bar.
Happily and eagerly waiting for our steaks in Ship & Inn.
[Click on image to enlarge]
The pretty Ang Moh waitress suggested the special Rum steak and there weren't any hesitation, except Jeremy who cleverly ordered beef burger, though all our steaks ended up one grade too done. I was laughing myself crazy when I heard Darric and Serene kao beh-ing about how hard their steaks were, because mine, though ordered medium-well, was pretty well done.
"Next time we must order one grade less doneness," said Gerard.
"Ok, tomorrow morning let's go for a test ride," suggested the boys. "Let's explore the Busselton Jetty area and do a roughly 20km ride.  8am at the Reception."
The Moment of Truth for me...

So it was decided.  And we all dispersed to set up our bikes.  As I searched for my attire, a strange sense of something missing occurred to me.
"Dar, where is my Tri suit ah?" I asked Serene.
"I don't know hor.. you prepared your own tri suit and wet suit one hor.." replied her.
"Huh? You didn't help me bring my Tri suit meh?" I asked again, as though asking her once more would make the Tri suit appear.

Shucks.  It really appeared that my favourite blue Zoot Tri suit was not within the radius of 5km of me.  Jiaklat jiaklat jiaklt.  Where got people fly all the way to Australia to take part in an Ironman but forgot to bring his Tri suit one?!?!  I walked out and announced to Jeremy the sad fact.  Perhaps deep within me there harboured the hope that I did not have to take part in the race at all, after all the negative experiences I suffered in Putrajaya.   I was within earshot of Gerard, who happened to be just outside our chalet 41, after fixing up his pedals with my number 15 wrench.

"Huh? You didn't bring your Tri suit ah?" Gerard said. "Ok ok, I have an extra Tri suit.  But it's a one piece Tri suit. You can wear mine."

Phew... I heaved a sigh of relief.  Thank goodness for Gerard.  Otherwise I would be in deep shit.  My goodness, no Tri suit!  How could I?!  What more would I forget to bring?! Well... we would wait and see over the next couple of days.  With that, all the adrenaline drained out of my system and that night I slept like a baby.

8am. Darric and his Willier was readied outside the heated swimming pool
[Click on the image to enlarge]

Day 2 Busselton ~
~An early morning recce ride & a tour of Magaret River vineyards...

 Early morning Ride to Busselton Jetty
Right turn from Geographe Bay Road.. Jeremy never give chance.
[Click image to enlarge]

Yes, I really couldn't remember when was the last time I properly rode with the boys.  Mandaly Resort at 8am was a tad little cold, at around 10 degree Celcius.. and donning only skin-tight latex Tri suits in total sexiness wasn't really a sure guarantee of warmth wor...
Click on my Strava to see how much I suffered and check out my average heart rate of 151! Siao liao lah!!!

So with the early morning cold breeze caressing our necks, our two Tri bikes and two road bikes started off from Geographe Bay Road.
Moving westward towards the Busselton Jetty brought us face to face with some bit of cross wind and head wind.  My early morning blurness hadn't totally woken up yet.. but I could feel myself pushing hard against the head wind and my heart rate was really rising rapidly.  I couldn't tell if it was because I wasn't warmed up yet, or my thighs weren't conditioned or was it due to some other reasons.. but I was feeling breathless and palpitation.
NEVER pang chance to me!!!
[Click on image to enlarge]

Shit. These guys NEVER gave chance to me, even on a supposedly test ride like this.  Gerard and Jeremy were really pumping their pedals way ahead.  Darric was saying something like 'must try your best to catch up with them...', but somehow, I just felt so very chuan.  The guys were turning here and there, I knew I had to follow tight otherwise I would get lost.

A shot of four of us and Busselton Jetty.
[Click on image to enlarge]
This Busselton Jetty is quite a delightful place.  Beautiful blue sky and a rustic looking lighthouse.  A passing Ang Moh lady was very nice to volunteer to take several shots of us on my iPhone.

The Lighthouse at Busselton Jetty.
[Click to Enlarge]

"Ok let's go for breakfast, shall we?" suggested Gerard.
And we headed out to the McDonald's we saw on our way into town the day before.
[Click on the image below to see a picture of us enjoying our McDonald's breakfast.]
"Wow, these bikes are beautiful!" said an Ang Moh man on the next table. "How much do they cost?" he asked.
"I won't dare bring it out of home if mine costs like yours" he jokingly said.
[Photo: Gerard Tan]
[Click on image to see us having breakfast]
After our meal, and after I somehow managed to spill the coffee onto the wrap that I da-bao-ed for Serene, we cycled to the Bicycle shop across the road to buy a couple of CO2 canisters.  Haven't used my cycling rain coat for the longest time.  Finally had a chance to wear it this morning.
"How come you all don't need to buy CO2 canisters one?"
I asked the boys.
"I left mine inside my bike case and checked it on board the plane mah," said Darric.
Yours truly with the rare opportunity to wear my bicycle rain coat.
[Photo: Gerard Tan]
[click on image to enlarge]

Silly me.  Well, at least now I know.  You don't really have to play by the books and guai guai leave the CO2 canisters at home. Just dumped them into your bike case and let them be. At least save yourself $10 from having to buy a couple at the local bike shops.

A Tour of Margaret River Vineyards

Now this is the delightfully pleasant part of the trip that I wasn't expecting.  I was un-informed about what we were going to do here in Western Australia that I did not even know that the famous Margaret River precinct was a mere 40km away from Busselton.
Gerard and Jeremy became our guide, navigator and driver on this drizzly morning.
[Click on image to enlarge]

So this morning, Jeremy became our driver cum navigator as we took off in one car to roam the famed Margaret River area.

"Margaret River is so much nearer Busselton than Perth," said Jeremy.
"Yah lah, come to Western Australia, must tour the vineyard one by one and taste the wine and enjoy the cheese mah," said Gerard.
I wasn't exactly sure about that. I haven't had a drop of alcohol for the longest time to keep my uric acid level down. These guys looked like they were determined to exacerbate my hyperuricaemia.  Anyway I WAS here for holiday, and the 70.3 was a by the way kind of event.  So let it be lah, I would just enjoy the pre-event tour.

NgYanLinG Cave
Jeremy was really good.  It's not every day that we have an under-water communicator to do 'within-3m-GPS-accuracy' navigation and driving for us.  I didn't know how they did it, but between Gerard and Jeremy, we reached every single one of our vineyard with pin-point accuracy.
The NgYanLinG cave which entrance we visited.  Been there, ticked.
[Click on image to see a picture of Serene and I pointing to NgYanLinG]
First on the list - The Ng Yan Ling caves.  Well, at least that was what Darric and Gerard told me.  It was supposed to be some kind of cave where you would walk for a good half a day to see some limestone thingy.  We did walk.  But only managed to walk as far as the signboard at the entrance, and to take a picture of that Ng Yan Ling name.
At least we all knew we were not really cave people.  These guys were more makan and drinking people.. Of course, in addition to being triathletes.

Several kilometres away, we came to this winery with a funny name - Knee Deep.

The Australians really have a knack for names.
Serene and the rows of vines right at Knee Deep's plantation.
[Click on Image to see Serene's BIG SMILE as she enters]

Oh, but what a beautiful setting this winery was in!  Glass building with good wine and beauitful views.  We were drawn right into its very cavernous interior the moment we parked our car.
Lovely setting.
[Photo: Serene's iPhone]
Both Serene and I have never seen how a vineyard looked like.  And seeing the vines in real life, walking under the sun, but in a cool, dry climate, was a totally different experience in itself.  The serenity of a vineyard, the environment, the water of the river, certainly made for good wines, not to mention good lives.
[Click on the image below to see how Serene smiled big big at the good life]
 I have never ever done any wine tasting of this nature.  So it was truly refreshing.  Gerard, Jeremy and Darric simply just sauntered in and that pleasant Ang Moh lady flashed them a big smile.
"Let's try some of your wine," said the boys.
And before we knew it, glasses after glasses were filled with whites and reds of different grades and different fruitiness.
This Darric ah, not only was he enjoying the wine, he was also enjoying the pop corn.
[Click to enlarge]

"Wah, this one is very smooth!" exclaimed Darric.
I didn't know left from right when it came to wines.  So I just tried my best to smell and slurp and leave enough on my tongue and palate to see if my sensors could detect the nuances between the different bottles.
The boys who knew about wines.
[Click to enlarge]

"Hey.. if you don't want to swallow, you can poooooiiii your mouthful of wine into the (spitoon)," instructed Gerard, pointing to a container beside me.   Clever man, him. These kind of things he also knew.  Must be very experienced lah, he. 

Lunch at the Knee Deep restaurant.
His experienced oozed full force with his recommendation of having lunch right here at Knee Deep and ordering a bottle of Chardonnay to go with our lunch.  We studied the menu closely and pointed at some dishes to our waitress.  If I could remember, we ended up ordering some duck, some fish, some lobster, and one more dish of dunno-what-it-was.  Here was the iPhone shots of our first lunch at the Margaret River area, by Gerard's iPhone...
Maybe.. the dunno what meat. [Photo: Gerard Tan iPhone]

This one, dunno what fish. [Photo: Gerard Tan's iPhone]

This one must be the duck lah. [Photo: Gerard Tan's iPhone]

This one.. probably the lobster lah. [Photo: Gerard Tan's iPhone]
Between five of us we managed to take very tiny bites of each dish.
"Wow, one mouth and it's finished!" said Gerard.
"Wah lau eh.. like that, where got enough to eat?" said Darric.
"I LOVE CHEESE!" declared Jeremy.
[Click to enlarge]
No worries, reassured Gerard. We were here for the mandatory tour of winery and restaurant mah.  So we would just eat and drink as we move from one vineyard to another.  We will slowly find more food along the way for tea, for snack and for whatever meal we would choose to have.   The guys were actually so impressed by the Chardonnay that they bought several bottles.
OK, done.  On to the next vineyard!
Cheers to Ironman!
[Click to see another shot on Gerard's iPhone taken by the waitress]

Another few kilometres, we stumbled upon this unique looking building with the name Evans & Tate. Hmmm... with such a name, the wine couldn't be bad, right?  Let's go!
The front entrance of Evans & Tate was quite special.  And for some reasons, Darric couldn't help himself when he saw this sign.  Click on the image below to check it out...
Click on this image to see WHAT SHIT DARRIC WAS UP TO!

So what special brew does Evans & Tate have?
What awaited us inside the blue-tinted glass house?
[Click to enlarge]
Whatever it was, Darric was eagerly looking forward to it with his thumbsup.
[Click to enlarge]

Now, hey... that was a pleasant surprise! An old vintage little wooden Go-cart right outside.  These Australians really knew how to plant their decors in the right places.

There were already several customers testing their wines inside.  The couple of again very pleasant Australian customer service staff were right there with their recommendations again.  I was in a way pretty surprised by their willingness to let us taste their different wines.  I couldn't imagine this happening anywhere else, with such generosity.   So again, the guys and girl went sipping one glass to another glass.  Once again, the nuances were kinda lost to me.  But what I knew was, the decor was modern and colourful.
By then, Jeremy really had one glass too many already, and his cheeks, his nose, his forehead, chin, ears were all beetroot red.  Don't believe? Click on the picture below to enlarge and see for yourself.
Jeremy at it again. [Click to enlarge to see HOW RED Jeremy's cheeks were already...!!!]

And they had an outdoor area where we literally ordered a bottle of white wine, sat down and someone produced a packet of chocolate to go with the wine.  My, these boys were really resourceful.
Here was a shot taken by Jeremy of us at this cosy little corner... with seven glasses of plain water, brought to the table by none other than yours truly, because Serene insisted that I drank enough plain water as I imbued the alcoholic beverage.

[Photo: Jeremy Quek.  Click on image to enlarge]
I totally enjoyed sitting out there on this wooden table and bench, watching the whole sky turned dark in an attempt to rain, and downing glasses after glasses of plain water to counter the detrimental effect of one glass of white, and chit-chatting with the guys.  This had been a holiday long in the brewing, but only managed to come true then because of the Ironman event.  How ironical.
35mm f/1.4 with 6-stop ND filter.... and a rapidly darkening sky as the rain approached.

A holiday to me, must usually be one where I could put my rangefinder to good use.  This trip certainly was no exception.  The 35mm Summilux and the M9P coupled sweetly with the 6-stop ND filter.  And the rendering of many a shots was to my liking.

This Darric really had a field day with all the reds and the whites...
[Click on image to enlarge]

Gerard has his own liking too.  Some of the wine were a little not to his palate.
"Wah, this white is too citrus for me!" he complained.  But still, the redness showed through his face and he was pretty elated with all the ethanol cruising through his veins.
Click on image to enlarge

No one enjoyed the vineyard more than Serene, who was everywhere, on the platform, down on the plantation, in the front yard, all over the places.

The Margaret River Chocolate Company
Now travelling with these fellows on a trip thus was akin to a quest for the ultimate in palatal enjoyment.  They never got satisfaction from just wine tasting vineyard to vineyard.  They must usually spice it up with some gastronomic variation.
"Next stop, Chocolate factory!" announced Gerard.

Again, my foldable tripod put to good use. Click on the image to enlarge.
This chocolate factory was probably one of the more commericalised ones.  Nice packaging, nice product designs with a good mix of variety.  Chocolates in different shapes and sizes.  They sell books on chocolates, T-shirts and the works lah.  Everything. Even while we were here, we saw a few groups of tourists who appeared to be Singaporeans.  So yah, pretty touristy a place it was.

Click on image to enlarge.

Someone started buying ice creams while in the factory.  I remembered it must have been Gerard.  And after he started the ball rolling, everyone started buying the ice creams.  Now, these were pretty delicious, especially the rum and raisin ice cream.  Gerard kept saying the milk in Australia was special.  And after tasting the ice cream, I believed him.

Click on image to enlarge the ice creams.
There was only THIS much chocolate one could buy, and THIS much ice cream one could consume, after which one needed to move on to the next highlight of the day.  It was already 4:30pm.  We had been on the roads since 10:30am that day, and we'd really been eating, drinking, drinking, eating and eating again non-stop for the past 6 hours.  So when Gerard declared that the next destination to be a Cheese factory, our brains started to wonder just how much more we could squeeze into our stomachs.  Bring it on, soldiers!

The Margaret River Cheese Company
Click on the below image to enlarge it...
A few of us doing the Arthur-man pose here down under. Click on image to enlarge....
... oh, I forgot to mention.  Clicking on the above image WASN'T to enlarge it. Haha.. it was actually to show 'The Making of the Photo'.. a shot of yours truly setting up the tripod to take the above photo, a picture captured by Gerard to illustrate how hard working my tripod was throughout the whole trip.

"Wah lau.. we all eat and eat and eat non-stop!  I cannot eat any more!" complained Serene.
She wasn't wrong.  But she wasn't right either.  For what was to hit our olfactory sensors as we held the curds near our faces was such heavenly odours that none of us, except for one, could resist the temptation to insert the pieces mouth-wards.  The Camembert was delicious.  The Brie was creamy.  The smoked Cheddar was literally out of this world.
Wow! Cheese cheese and more cheese! [Photo: Serene Gan's iPhone]

We all started buying and buying.  Except for the Boy-Who-Hated-Cheese.  All he did was to sit down and play games.
The boy who couldn't stand cheese.
[Photo: Gerard Tan's iPhone]

The KNOTTING HILL Estate Vineyard
"Any more vineyard?" Serene asked.
"Yes, one last one."
Serene and the bridge.
Surely this MUST be the last stop for the day because we were all filled to the brim.  As we negotiated the bridge over the lake outside Knotting Hill vineyard, we wondered what was to greet us.  And what greeted us was a simple, understated winery with nothing fanciful, but a very down-to-earth little (most likely) family-owned winery.  The lake around it and that little jetty out to the lake with the landscaping surrounding this little building was set in such peace that we all lapped it up and order a Knotting Hill Shiraz and made our way to the outdoor dining area.  By now we were experts in the whole sequence of events.
The little jetty out to the lake.

I stood at the wooden-floored varanda and looked inwards and appreciated the simplicity of the set up.
The very pleasant waitress and the simple restaurant of Knotting Hill estate Vineyard.
[Click on image to see the inside decor of the restaurant]
"Is this Margaret River out there?" I asked the lady.
"No, it's actually a man-made lake," she replied.
I took a look at Gerard, smiled, and said to her: "Well, nobody at home will know this is NOT Margaret River."  And she laughed.  It was quite true.  If we never said, no one would know.
So, on this Thursday afternoon as we drew close to 5pm, and as the sun begun to set and a distant rain cloud started to threaten, we made ourselves comfortable in the golden sun, beside a body of blue water, with cool air around us, set our bottle of Shiraz and our cheese on the table, and got ready for a simple little feast in our own way.

The Good Life - Wine and Cheese, on Knotting Hill. [Click to enlarge]
Jeremy was ever so ready to prepare food for everybody.

35mm f/1.4 wide open with 6-stop ND filter
[Click to enlarge]
I believe some of us probably had the ethanol level in our blood pretty close to the top of the legal range, but definitely still within the limits.  I knew I was quite quite seh by that time.  And we were all very very happy chatting loudly and making a whole mess of this table.
Gerard was by then, quite quite set on devouring the pack of smoked Cheddar.
[Click to enlarge]
The only one who was most likely still very sobre was this young little lady, seen here holding up the cracker that we have been living on for most of the afternoon.
Click to enlarge

The boy who hated cheese...?
The most surprising thing was how Darric started to try cheese.  I really didn't know what Gerard and Serene said to him.  But somehow on this fateful afternoon, I beheld the unbelievable with my very own eyes.
"Nah, here I am eating cheese!"
"It's well, not too bad leh.."

"Wah lau eh!!!!"
"Ok, let's all go to the jetty and take a jumping shot," said Gerard.
And seh as we all were, we happily trodded bare-feet to the jetty and we all jumped like a bunch of weekend party-goers high on alcohol, cheese and chocolate... the moment I pressed on the screen of Gerard's iphone, the sun ray came through the clouds on the side and landed on the subjects, giving a nice side-lighting...

Click on image to enlarge.
OK! A last round of wine-buying...
Yeah, that was what they said.  So we turned around, on our way back to Busselton town, and took a turn back to Knee Deep to grab a whole carton of the Shiraz.  Here, Darric... this was the proof that you actually bought the whole carton.  LOL!!! No wonder our luggage were over-loaded by 40kg!
Darric carrying the whole 40kg of wine!!

On our way back.. a detour to the local NTUC - IGA supermarket.
We decided that one of the best way to save some money so that we could buy some more wine in the days to come, was to make the best of the local primary products.  We would see if we could buy some fresh food from the local supermarket and attempt to do our own cooking in the chalet.

On our way back to Busselton...
The last circle before Busselton town...
IGA - the local supermarket.
Really loading up on fresh food.
[Click to enlarge]
Dinner? Let's have steak again!

After last night's steak, we all were still game for steak.  But we were so disappointed to find out when we made our way finally to Red Flame that it has closed down, and the lady told Jeremy that it was being converted to something like a catering business (was it?).

So we had to drive across back to Ship & Inn again.

This round we knew exactly how we were going to order our steak.. and they turned out pretty ok this time round!

"Let's go watch a movie tonight!" suggested someone.
"Yeah, let's go watch Avenger!" said Darric.
Wah lau eh!  I really didn't know, in my wildest dream, how crazy this bunch of guys could be! A morning ride, followed by a whole day driving around vineyards, chocolate and cheese factories eating and drinking, and now a movie in a strange country?  I really love these guys.
A few moments later, and A$16 lighter each of us, we found ourselves staring at the movie tickets on our dining table at Ship & Inn.

The movie Avenger... what a way to finish off a most enjoyable day!

So at 7:55pm, we left our chalet again, driving in the seemingly regular nocturnal drizzle, that 3.9km down to the cinema.

Parking in Busselton was interestingly easy.  One could literally park almost anywhere.  The car park lots were aplenty and they were all free.  Thus driving was really not a difficult thing at all.
At the car park.
We were all quite excited to be watching the launch of this new movie, and of all places, here in Busselton.  The cinema was really sparsely occupied, and we could probably understand why.  At A$16 a head, I believe many Australians would rather stay at home under the blanket and dream of the characters in the movie.

Darric busy speaking to the customer service lady with her heavy Australian accent,
to adjust the settings on his handphone so that the SIM card could work.
He succeeded finally.  Heng ah!

"Hey come, take a picture of us with the movie poster, and make sure you can see the word here," said Gerard.  I checked the shot.  Yupe.  Job done.
Watching the movie Avenger.
[Click to enlarge]

Click here to continue to Busselton Ironman 70.3 Day 3 ~ Of Race pack collection, bike check-in and the much-anticipated Open Water Test Swim!

1. To start from the beginning of this wonderful trip (Day 1 and 2) click here.
2. To laugh yourself crazy seeing how the boys did their Open Water test swim (Day 3), click here.
1. To jump right into the Busselton 70.3 Race day, click here.
4. To read our trip outta Busselton to Fremantle ~ Day 5, click here.
5. To view the rustic old buildings of Fremantle & our journey to Joondalup ~ Day 6, click here.