21. July 2008 07:45
by Rene Pallesen

New Car

21. July 2008 07:45 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

new car

About two months ago a crashed and wrote off my old car...pretty silly but what can you do. Fortunately it was old and was already starting to cause problems and cost me a lot in repairs. Kim had already hinting that maybe it was time to get a new car and that the car was trying to tell me something.
The car was 11 years, the engine was leaking every fluid imaginable and the gearbox was slipping and there was rust developing so the timing to get a new car was pretty good.

The insurance paid me a good price for the old car...a lot more than I would have received if I had used it as a tradein to buy a new one.

After chasing around the city for a second hand car...amongst which there were some pretty dodgy deals the choice came down to either buy an 6 months old ex-rental or a new one. There was a $4000 difference and by the end of the day the decision came down to us needing that money once we buy a property so I decided to get the ex-rental. It is a nice blueish gray (Aztec Blue) Toyota Corolla. It will have its first test run this weekend when we go down to the snow in it.

My new car

Kim and I could probably have gotten by with just one car, but hers is too small to fit golf gear, ski & climbing gear etc. into and the new car is harder for her to drive because of the size...so for now we'll have two cars.

The score so far is:

Kim new job: Done
Rene new job: Done
New car: Done
Wedding: Pending
House: Pending

3 out of 5 aint bad

15. July 2008 12:17
by Rene Pallesen

My Mums hardship

15. July 2008 12:17 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

my mum moving out

Some years back my mum had a stroke while my parents were traveling in Thailand. This left totally paralysed in the left side of her body and she has been bound to a wheelchair ever since.

The stroke was most likely caused by heavy smoking and drinking and in general an unhealthy lifestyle.

This all happened a few years after my parents retired and were planning to spend most of the winters traveling in warmer countries. They have always been traveling a lot and never liked the winters in Denmark.
The realisation after the stroke for my parents was that suddenly those dreams were burst and that my mum would need constant care. My dad negotiated with the council that they would look after her one week a month which left my dad with some time to realise some of his dreams and at leaft do some traveling and at the same time provide some relief from looking after mum. It has been a hard blow to my mum and it is still very hard for her to accept that she will be bound to a wheelchair and dependent on other people for simple tasks such as going to the toilet, washing and getting dressed.

My mum some time ago discovered that some of the traveling my dad had done hadn't taken place alone but with an old female school friend (How intimate they were/are I don't know and don't care) but obviously my mum got very hurt and set the ultimatum that either he stops seeing her or she moves out. My dad said that he didn't want to stop seeing her and that he would still keep looking after my mum except for that one week every month.

It has now come to the point where my mum has found an apartment in a care facility and it going to move there this month. I am sure that it hurts a lot for her to move out.

Another blow has been that I am getting married in a few months time and that it is not possible for her to attend my wedding but that my dad is. It will be really hard for her on the day itself and I wish there was something I could do to make it easier for her or somehow allow her to attend.

So how do I feel about this? I am disappointed, angry and understanding at the same time. I am angry at my mum because she insisted smoking and drinking the way she did and tat this caused a stroke.

I am angry at my dad that he's found someone else and that is causing my mum to move out...she is the one totally loosing out. I am disappointed that their marriage and thereby also my family is breaking up.

I also understand why my dad has been longing for some company on different level and at the same time I also understand why my mum is so hurt about it. I am hurt because I know that my mum needs some support but that I am so far away but at the same time my life is here and I am about to get married here.I just hope that she understands that my happiness is dependent on me staying here. Especially since the stupid danish immigration laws will prevent me from moving back to Denmark with my future wife.

I am also hurt because my parents during the last decade has been through so much hardship first with my brother, then with the stroke and now with all this.

This is certainly a year of change...

13. July 2008 09:51
by Rene Pallesen

Climbing Mt Ku-Ring Gai

13. July 2008 09:51 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

climbing mt ku ring gai

A new climbing area in Sydney suddenly popped up on our radar. A new area up in the Mt Ku-Ring Gai national park near Berowra. And and May went there while I was in Hunter Valley and they said it was really hard to get to.

I wanted to experience it myself and convinced Andy that we should go there again. Yes, it is a long walk in (40 minutes) and yes it is hard to find the way but it helped that he'd been there before and it also helps that the track has seen a bit of traffic and marked with cairns.

The first few climbs the rock was a bit cold so the fingers went a bit numb which adds 2-4 grades to a climb. Later when the rock heated up a bit it was really good climbing. The area is new so rock still breaks here and there so it is important to be careful and safe but it is not as bad as Otherland and Stables where the rock crumbles.

During one of the last few climbs we heard some noises in the bushes but couldn't see what it was. Once we finished the climb Andy had a closer look and spotted an Echidna (A large porcupine). I grabbed my camera and went over there and it turned out that there was three Echidnas there trying to hide under a branch.

There are some other cliffs in the area that are being developed so I am sure that we will be spending a fair amount of time there in the future.

13. July 2008 09:40
by Rene Pallesen

Kims Birthday & Hunter Valley

13. July 2008 09:40 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

kims birthday hunter valley

Late June is Kims birthday. We went out for her birthday with a lot of her friends to a restaurant called the Mantra. It was a fun evening with entertainment in the restaurant in the form of belly dancing. Kim also had a go at the sword dance. I thought the belly dancer was pretty good, but Kim having done belly dancing herself said that she'd seen better.

Click here to see more photos

My present to Kim was a trip to the Hunter Valley. I had hired a nice romantic place up there with a Spa, served breakfast on the balcony with a view from the mountains of the whole Hunter Valley. My aim for the weekend was to really spoil her and she loved it. Saturday morning we met up with a couple of Kims friends Linda & Warren do go through the wine districts. As usual we found some really nice surprises and also got confirmed that some of our choices in wine from earlier trips are excellent choices (I can recommend the Silvereye from Misteltoe and the Shiraz from Petersons).

Click here for more photos

In the evening I took Kim to this really nice restaurant called Mojo's. It is not cheap ($60 for two courses) but the scallops Kim had for entrees were without a doubt the best I've ever had before. They were fresh and just marinated and cooked slightly and still raw inside and really tasty. I had Quail for my entree and for the mains I had a beef ribeye fillet and Kim had the Lamb chops. After two courses we were absolutely stuffed. I saw some of the food other people were eating and it all looked very delicious. After dinner we went back for a nice warm spa bath as it was freezing outside all weekend.

Click here to see more photos from hunter valley

Sunday morning we went to another couple of Vineyards and then drove back to Sydney...a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend.

10. July 2008 05:26
by Rene Pallesen

New Job

10. July 2008 05:26 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

new job

After 4 years I decided it was time to change to a new job in a different company. There was several reasons why it was time for a change and it was hard to let go as I have loved working with the company and there are a lot of aspects of the job that I will really miss.

The new job I have accepted is with a large consulting firm here in Sydney. They are about 800 people in the branch itself and they are part of one of the large telecommunications and mobile phone networks here in Australia and Asia which has got tens of thousands of employees. So hopefully in the long term some better career opportunities as well as more money in the short term.

I have now been in the job for about three weeks and is still trying to decide whether I like it or not there. I am more used to a consultative selling process where you talk to clients and really try and understand their business and then become their trusted advisor in making decisions and guiding them how to improve their business.

I was expecting this new consulting company to follow similar approaches as this in my opinion is the best way to secure business. It seems however that this company is following a more opportunistic approach where they respond to tenders and requests from customers. This means that it is in a very competitive area where other business also are responding to the same type of requests from the same customer. It also means that a large part of my function so has has been in preparation for customer demonstrations and writing proposals. I would rather engage with the clients more and understand their business before we jump to demos and proposals.

Another thing is that there was no induction process a such. They have an overwhelming amount of processes in place and there is no one who can really explain what applied and when it applies.

Anyway so far I am not very impressed...but it is really still too early days to tell.

7. May 2008 04:28
by Rene Pallesen

Engaged - Getting Married

7. May 2008 04:28 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments


As you can read further down this blog I popped the big question to Kim when we were in Rio de Janeiro at the end of our holiday. Luckily she said yes because otherwise it would have been a couple of really miserable last couple of days there.

Click here to see more photos

It took us almost a week to find the right moment to break the news to Kims family but as soon as we opened our mouthes and said "We've got some news for..." everyone shouted "YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED!!!". Yeah well, they must have seen it coming miles away. Even my friends Andy, Glen and Luke weren't surprised. Anyway, everyone is very happy (including me) and we are really looking forward to us moving into our own place together.

Click here for more photos

So now the wedding planning has started. We have set a date (16th November this year) and we have booked the reception venue. Everything else is still up in the air but at least I've got less things to stress about than Kim who is running around looking for dresses thinking up colour schemes, table decorations etc. We still have to find a nice venue for the ceremony itself...there are plenty of really nice places in Sydney to have it but the problem is that we also have to take wind and rain into account and most public places such as parks and beaches you have to book and pay for in advance.
It should be a nice wedding although we want to keep the major expenses down as we need the money to buy something to live in.

According to Vietnamese traditions there is given money in red envelopes instead of wedding presents (so do not start looking for presents) so hopefully this will eventually cover some of the cost.

Click here to see more photos

All my friends and family in Denmark is invited to the wedding (This is your official invitation). If you happen to be in Sydney on this day then let me know well in advance.

I am hoping that my Mum and Dad will make it to the wedding. Otherwise it looks like it may be a wedding without any of my family there which would be a major disappointment :-(

Click here for more Photos

Anyway, it looks like 2008 is turning out to be the year of change. Kim has got a new job, we are getting married and we are looking to buy a place to live in. We have 4 big changes that we want to make this year...3 more changes to go and only 7 months to make them in.

Click here to see more photos

Some of Kims friends are starting a Photography business so they agreed to take some engagement photos of us in Centennial Park one morning and then based on that we could decide whether we want to use them for all or some of the wedding photos.

The photos you see here were taken by them and I have provided a link to their websites below where you can see more photos:

Sonova Photography
Sonova Flikr Photo Album Engagement Photos

My slide show

6. May 2008 01:34
by Rene Pallesen

The Stables - Nothing to do with horses

6. May 2008 01:34 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

the stables nothing to do with horses

This Sunday Andy, May and myself went climbing at the Stables up near Pennant Hills in Sydney. The area is close to another nice little area called Otherland, but the stables requires a fair bit a bush bashing to get to.

The climbs are of a higher grade (18-25) but are mostly well bolted, but because of the pretty shitty rock a lot of holds have come of and sometimes this affects the grading of the climb.

May is new to lead climbing but the area had got a really easy grade 14 so we decided that she should have the honour or leading the first climb of the day...she was pretty nervous and back clipped a few draws but otherwise didn't do anything too disastrous.

On the 2rd climb of the day I lead this grade 19 (I think it is 16 or 17) and I did pretty well until I got to the last anchor right at the top. There wasn't a lot of hand holds and I grabbed a small ledge with a rock lip on in. While I was getting my feet into position and getting my balance right to be able to clip the anchor I felt the handhold crumble between my fingers. Everything started happening in slow motion..."oh shit, the hold is breaking away, I'm loosing balance, I'm falling how long am I going to fall". After falling about 5 metres Andy caught me on the belay (Andy, you're my hero) and I was ok...nice to see that the theory also works in practice.
Andy lost a bit of skin on his finger and ankles but was otherwise ok. After resting a few minutes I went back up and completed the climb and Andy and May wisely decided to top rope the climb.

Afterwards we did another couple of really nice climbs all in the grade 19 range and I led all of them and Andy and May top roped.

There is not that many climbs in the area. There are two more climbs that I would go back there for but otherwise I think we've had enough of the Stables...the rock is too crumbly which makes the climbing less enjoyable as you think more about what might break off next instead of focusing on the climb itself.

2. April 2008 02:38
by Rene Pallesen

Barrenjoey - Another couple of ticks

2. April 2008 02:38 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

barrenjoey another couple of ticks

Sunday I went to Barrenjoey climbing with Andy and May. It was one of those rare days where the temperature was perfect and where we had most of the area to ourselves.

Although the climbing is fairly easy at Barrenjoey I enjoy going back here time after time as it is located within the national park at one of the most beautiful spots in Sydney.

I led most of the climbs on the day (trying to veen myself of TR) and Andy and May was happy following. The most memorable is a climb called Mescalito (19) with some interesting section as well as Enterprise (18) which is very enjoyable.

There is generally a lot of ticks (small insects that suck your blood) there and today was no different. I got 4 tick bites.

Also took a couple of videos:

Video of Andy climbing Enterprise
Video of May climbing Enterprise

23. March 2008 12:06
by Rene Pallesen

South America Summary

23. March 2008 12:06 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

south america summary

We are now back in Sydney and I thought I'd write a summary of the various places and experiences.

It has been a big rollercoaster ride through South America...the differences between the countries are huge. During the last six weeks I have taken off in aircrafts 20 times:

Sydney to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Mexico City, Mexico City to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Sydney, Sydney to Auckland, Auchland to Santiago, Santiago to Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires to Santiago, Santiago to Lima, Lima to Cusco, Sucre to La Paz, La Paz to Iguazu, Iguazu to Santiago, Santiago to Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo to Rio, Rio to Sau Paulo, Rio to Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo to Santiago, Santiago to Auckland, Auckland to Sydney.

In other words...I have an enormous carbon footprint this year which cannot be apologised enough for.

The people in South America were extremely friendly and helpful (Except the girl at the hostel in Potosi). Most people didn't speak anything other than Spanish...but Spanish is almost my second language now (I know at least 70 words)

Argentina was an interesting place. I loved the culture and the dancing. The food was bland with too much meat and Buenos Aires itself didn't have much else to offer and was a bit run down.

Chile is amazing. It is really organised in Santiago and you could be in Northern Europe in terms of cleanliness. They have a really effective public transport system which is a magnitude better than sydneys (close to being as good as Tokyo). People are very friendly...but unfortynately this is also the only location in all of south america where they managed to scam Chris and I on the price of a taxi fare as we didn't know the local exchange rate...in the rest of South America they did try, but generally we paid same price as the locals (and a few times less). Again I can understand why my cousin chose to live in Santiago rather than somewhere else...it is by far the safest and most developed city in this part of the world. The food here is amazing, and you can get everything...this is the only place in South america that we saw a Thai restaurant.

Macchu Picchu in Peru is incredible...it is a fantastic ride into the site and the area around Cusco has got a lot of potential.

Bolivia is a country with so much potential and with people with so little ability and knowledge to tap into it. People in the North are fantastic, but the further south you get the less culture. It has been a privilege to go there and I think they will get there one day.

Brasil...Beautiful by day and dangerous by night. It was fantastic to go here and I'd like to one day come back to Brasil to see other parts of the country. The economy has really taken off here...but in the process left a lot of people behind and that can be seen by all the crime and social problems.

I have now set foot in 52 countries on 6 continents. As I have travelled I've noticed that the world is becoming a smaller place where no major differences in culture and language.

Countries I've set my foot in

in 10-20 years from now everyone will wear the same clothes, listens to the same music and eat the same food (Pizza). The fun and the purpose of travelling will disappear. I can see from the new generation of travelers that they are more interested in thrill seeking and dead buildings rather than people, cultures and observing and learning from differences. Pity as there is so much to learn and it will build appreciation of how lucky we are to have what we have.

Where to next? I don't know...there is one continent down south that I still haven't been to and former Russian republics have got potential....otherwise closer areas like Tonga, Fiji, Indonesia etc.

22. March 2008 06:08
by Rene Pallesen

Rio De Janeiro - Brasil

22. March 2008 06:08 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

rio de janeiro brasil

We are now in Brasil after an overnight stopover in Santiago (The flights here in South America are fairly irregular so it can be difficult to get connecting flights without having stopovers).

We hadn't booked a place to stay but at the airport the tourist information suggested renting an apartment at Ipanema. When we got there it turned out to be really basic, fairly prices and probably a friend of the guy at the tourist information. Instead we went to Copacabana beach to one of the other options we had which also was very basic and a bit far from the beach...but at least non commiting for more than one night. Later in the evening we walked around and eventually found a hotel close to the beach and cheap. It also had big mirrors on the wall and in the ceiling over the bed...and Kim and I was wondering if it was one of those hotels that could be hired by the hour.
It did however turn out to be really nice apart from one evening when some of the other guests tried to get into our room because they got the number on the door wrong.

The day after we went to Ipanema beach to go for a walk. It is very beautiful in Rio and especially this beach is really cool.

Click here for more photos

After lunch we took the local bus to the Sugarloaf mountain. Traffic is really bad in Rio and Taxis are outrageously expensive and just as slow as the busses so it took us about two hours to get there. It turned out to be perfect. We ended up taking the lift of there just before sunset and had a fantastic view from the top.

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In the evening we had a fantastic meal called a Ridozio (or something like that). It was a 15 course meal (A lot more than we could eat) and only cost around 10 australian.

Next day we decided to go to see the Jesus statue first thing in the morning. Again we took the local bus there to save some money (Rio is really expensive). We then took the train up to the Statue which has got a fantastic view of Rio and all the beaches.

Click here for more photos Click here to see more photos

Click here for more photos

On this trip with Kim I had planning to ask her if she'd marry me. I had three possibly locations in mind..29th Feb in Santiago, Machu Picchu or at the statue in Rio. Kim was very happy when I popped the question and showed her the ring I'd gotten for her (but more about that later), so we are officially no longer boyfriend and girlfriend.

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Click here for more photos

In the evening we went to a restaurant called Porcao Rios which had been recommended to be by our partner in Mexico to celebrate and later we had a drink down at the beach.

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We didn't get back to the hotel until very late and I promised that I would never again walk back to the hotel that late at night. There were people from the slums everywhere and I didn't feel safe walking back...so next time we definitely take a taxi. In the daytime you see quite a few police cars and police officers around...but at night they are very hard to spot. It is almost like the movie 'I am Legend'...you are safe during the day, but as soon as night falls and most people have gone off the streets then the kids from the slums rule the city. It is truly a dangerous place at night...not that we were carrying any valuable on us whatsoever except for whatever cash we needed on the night, but the question is....would these kids believe that that was all we were carrying?
All houses an properties in the more wealthy areas are all surrounded by big fences and cages to keep the kids out...but really...not a very comforting way to live if you cant leave your house.

Another thing I noticed is that there also still is a class difference between the white/light and the black. The blacks have all the lowest paid jobs and the ones requiring manual labour. It is also the black people you see living on the street and going through the garbage every night (and there are a lot of these). So even through slavery was abolished several hundred years ago doesn't mean that everyone is equal.

In the morning I had caught some sort of a stomach bug...probably from the one drink I had at the beach and was feeling really weak so we spend the day doing a bit of shopping locally and then went to Ipanema.

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In the evening I started to feel really weak and felt like vomiting so dinner consisted of some light vegetables followed by coca cola (The ultimate remedy for any stomach problems).

Last day we slept in (ignored the hotel checkout time) and packed out stuff. I still felt a bit weak but otherwise ok (My bug lasted for two days after which I felt really weak but a dose of Imodium eventually took care of it).

Next back to Santiago overnight and then back to Sydney

Click here to see more photos from Brasil