United States of America – An Introduction To The Country With No Singular Specific Cultural Identity

Yeah I know the title was not that good. A lot of people may raise their eye brows on me and looking at me like “How dare you to say that?”.

I didn’t mean bad thing when I made that title, I didn’t even think a negative about it. I know that the time I spent in USA was not enough to observe the overall culture, ethics, beliefs and even its politics to say about one country.

We usually heard that USA is “Land of the Free”. That’s why the Statue of Liberty in New York represents USA as a country because it symbolises what’s the real thing going on inside this one of the powerful country in the world.

As I traveled to not so many countries and observed the cultural identities of each country that I visited. It emanates the heritage and culture so much in-depth that even we live now in modern times of our days, it still reflects in our way of living, way of our thinking and belief.

Because USA is one of the country that opens its door to the world at earlier times where it allows any color or race to accept in their country. Yes there are countries that automatically can come without visa and there are countries that they are very strict but they still give you a chance to be fair in each citizen from all over the world (if not 100%) to migrate. With that part of their history, cultures from different countries brought to this huge continent like country and these culture identities are spread in different states and cities that no one can really identify if USA has been more influence of specific culture. One culture identity maybe noticeable in one place but cannot be said that its noticeable to the whole country. I looked at USA as a country with multi-cultural identity. The foreign cultural influence in this country from outside maybe observed from different places but in totality the effect is not a whole wide country as we see this huge country is so big that the impact will be really widespread and so deep. Because of mix culture influence, there are times that people or even myself make mistakes where the culture, norms or ethics may come from. I hope that for 10 years visa that was given to me, I will be able to explore more and learn more this country being called “Land of the Free”.

USA is a country that impossible for me to reach. The first time that I applied for US Visa last 2011 had been denied, the reason given to me was I don’t have strong family ties to come back to Philippines. I was sad at that time because my chance to travel to USA was gone. At that time that I applied for business visa was through personal or individual application because the company that sponsoring my visa application is not qualified for PIP (priority interview program) due to not meeting the required employee headcount (which for what I know must be at least a hundred employee before able to pass that program) and the company that I was affiliated with just have around 50 employees.

Because of the experienced of my first time application was bad, I removed USA in my bucket list that I plan to travel in the near future.

Unexpected happened in the company and never thought nor dream that it will happen. My boss at work talked to me that I may engage with the project in USA though it was not sure yet at that time. The project is engaging USA client. That thought in mind I still never think that I will be going to USA. Few weeks passed and the local manager in the project pushed me to process my visa application. This time it’s different because the company that I’m currently working is in PIP (Priority Interview Program). At least in this second time of visa application there’s a bit of help from the company. My interview was set and I was oriented by my company to be able to pass the consul officer interview. I went in US Embassy (which located at Roxas Boulevard) at least more than half an hour of my assigned schedule. Like no other embassies that I visited, USA always overwhelmed me. Long queue of schedule interview is noticeable. I adjusted myself in the queue that goes inside the embassy. I followed the usual protocol inside the embassy.

When it was my turn to stand in one of the window to speak with Consulate Officers, I was asked for questions and answered promptly. There’s a question that I haven’t finished answering as the officer and he followed another question. He asked me which countries that I already visited and mentioned, Japan, South Korea and Australia. When I mentioned Australia, he checked my passport. Then, the officer checked my documents, he noticed about something in my guaranteed letter. The officer told me that he didn’t recognize the person signed my guaranteed letter. I was thinking what he’s trying to relay to me until I realized that there are only 3 people who are authorized to sign guaranteed letter and remembered the one signed in my document was not included in the three names that I know. I haven’t learned this until the officer gave me a green paper and advised me to submit it again. I thought my visa application will be denied again and thankful that there’s still chance.

I received the green paper and left the embassy. The next day I process the submission of the documents and included my passport. After a week, the passport sent to me and I got 10 years multiple entries for B1/B2 visa. I was really ecstatic that my visa application was approved for second time.

After few days that I received my visa, I was scheduled to fly to USA at the last day of October. I was planned to work in the client starting the 2nd of November and will work within 3 weeks.

My inbound flight was through Narita International Airport in Japan and Los Angeles International Airport in California USA. This means that my port of entry to USA is in LA. One thing to note as important facts about my entry in the said airport was because of the custom and immigration officer that I saw while I was on queue for passport check. At first, I did not notice how cute he was, but because it seems he’s in charge with people who speaks a different language, it seems he speaks Mexican-Spanish language. Until I looked at him and I realized that he’s not just cute but a handsome one. Because of him I never felt that my waiting time in the line was a bit long but I just enjoyed simply watching what he’s doing. I tried my best not to be obvious while I was sneaking a glance on him. He’s not a typical white American, I can guess he’s Mexican or Spanish-American. I wished that I will be standing in his front to check my passport but unfortunately someone went into him instead of me, it was not my luck to see him up close.

After passing the immigration officer, I have to take care of my luggage and work my way to transfer for domestic flight to Atlanta Georgia. All my flight booking were all Delta Airlines.

I arrived at Saturday night in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. And it’s been raining in Atlanta. I took the cab to the hotel that I was booked. Once I arrived at the hotel, I immediately checked-in, had dinner and concluded the day.

The next day was Sunday which was good for me so I can rest for another day. I was having trouble to properly sleep. I knew what it meant, it was a jet lag. I came from a country with 12-hours difference that day and will be switching to 13-hours difference as day light saving time had been ended. Because of rain and gloomy weather, though I wanted go outside to take an opportunity to see more about Altanta, but I wasn’t able to do. That time I haven’t figured out how I will use public transportation.

From the past 22 days of staying Atlanta, I wasn’t really able enjoy much of my days in the city because from the time that I arrived in Atlanta, it never stopped raining up to my 10th days in the city. The first weekend was spent in the hotel after I arrived, the second weekend was the same as still raining and drizzling around the city.

I only able to see some part of Atlanta during my last weekend before I come back to my country.

Hidden Panorama - USA Intro

Here are some places that I got a chance to visit.

1. World of Coca Cola
2. Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum
3. Georgia Aquarium
4. Fox Theatre
5. Peachtree Street
6. Pemberton Place
7. Centennial Olympic Park
8. Underground Atlanta
9. Margaret Mitchell House

Name Of The Place : St Kilda Marina

Name Of The Place (Post#24) : St Kilda Marina

One of the walks that I did while living in Melbourne for a while was walks near the shore. Since I lived in St. Kilda that time, I had a chance to see some part of the suburb and one of the things that St Kilda is famous is because of its beach or marina. I can say that its marina is one of the nearest from city center of Melbourne. The photo above that I captured was taken when I was passing St. Kilda Marina where boats and yachts do their parking and offers other marina services. Photo captured last December 2013.

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Picture Frame : Summit View From Mount Oberon

Picture Frame (Post#2) : Summit View From Mount Oberon

One of the best moment while in the summit of the mountain was enjoying the scenic and panoramic view from the top. After a bit of challenge in trekking up to the mountain, all the feeling of tiredness will be gone after seeing what the summit of the mountain is offering to us. This is one of the reason why even I’m having a challenge to climb a mountain, I still do love going to the top of the mountain. One of the views to enjoy at the summit of the mountain are Norman Beach, Norman Bay, Squeaky Beach and Leonard Bay. These photos were captured during my tour in Wilson Promontory National Park in Victoria Australia. Snapshots captured last May 2014.

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Below is my previous adventure at Wilson Promontory National Park

Trekking and Bush Walking at Wilsons Prom

View At My Window : Loch Ard Gorge

View At My Window (Post#21) : Loch Ard Gorge

One of the first places that I visited during my first travel in Australia was the Great Ocean Road in Victoria State. It’s around two weeks since the first day that I arrived in Melbourne, I joined a Great Ocean Road tour because that time, my first assignment was initially 3 months contract with the client. With that thoughts in mind that I will be out of Australia after 3 months, I grabbed my opportunity to see Great Ocean Road. One of the highlights of the tour was to see the Loch Ard Gorge in Port Campbell National Park. The gorge name was after the clipper ship Loch Ard. Loch Ard was a sailing vessel which was wrecked at Mutton Bird Island in 1878 which not far from the gorge location. As per history, there were 54 passengers and crew in the ship but only two survived. Photo captured last February 2013.

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Meandering At Kings Canyon’s Wilderness

My second day was mixed of Kata Tjuta, a bit of Uluru and Mount Conner. So far I was floating in satisfaction and fantastic scenery and experiences. At first, I thought that the group’s next destination was just nearby until we spent more than two hours in the road. It was like the same feeling during my Day 1 trip, I felt the time passed was too long but in reality it was not. Before arriving to Kings Creek Station we passed a beautiful scenery of George Gill Ranges located at our right side while we were on our way to Wattarka National Park from Lasseter Highway. I really enjoyed the scenic views for some time since it is a long mountain range. At that very moment while enjoying the scenery, I felt that part of the world like heaven in a sense that it was a peaceful moment of my life.

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At Kings Creek Station

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Our Tour Bus

 

Camels found at Kings Creek Station

We reached our destination, the Kings Creek Station and Kings Canyon was just around the corner. I remembered, our tour guide mentioned that our second and last night accommodation was an upgrade from the first one. He told us that from swag, we were upgraded to tent, a tent with bed. With that thought in mind, I expected that the tent is not the same tent I used in my hiking adventure, because a bed will not fit on it. We got off the bus and noticed that we stopped in a gas station, we walked around the area and familiarize ourselves in the place.

The good thing about the place, it has store that you can buy basic things needed in the outback and even gifts or souvenirs. Then we passed the shower rooms and bathrooms. We walked to the area and found the version of the tent that I was thinking. Then, I realized that the tent that our tour guide was referring to, was called safari cabin. Two single bed are fit in a cabin. Therefore we have to find our partners for each cabin and I found mine but apologies as I can’t recall her name right now.

After we took our stuff from the bus, we arranged ourselves at the cabin and made ourselves comfortable. I arranged my bed and my stuff, then, I went out to help the group for our dinner. That night, all of us in the group were helping out. Another thing that I noticed was that our tour guide knows a lot about food. Even we have members in the group that are vegetarians, breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner were not been an issue to him. I learned something about food wrapping. Learned that having stuff to fill in the wrap, you are ready to fill in yourself without really cooking. Another thing that I discovered was cooking using charred wood. There was a bonfire area just near from our cabin which also used for cooking. I was familiar with cookware, pans or pots used for cooking but the new stuff for me was pots where it’s lid has a portion on its top area where you can  place burned wood wherein the heat was not only coming from the bottom of the pot but also on its top to make cooking easier and faster. It was an amazing stuff that I discovered and a very important cooking pots or basins when you wanted try to live in the outback.

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Bonfire

 

Cooking Basins

That night, we prepared a lot of food. Maybe because it was our second and last night together in the outback. I snapped the idea because it made my feelings gloomy. We still have the next day for the last adventure. We cleaned-up the kitchen and the dishes we used in preparing and cooking our food.

Maybe because it was our last night together, most of our group did not sleep immediately after the dinner. We sat around the bonfire we used in cooking for our dinner and we started talking together. At that moment in my life in front of bonfire at the outback together with the people I had been with for the past two days feel like a familiar feeling, though we’re all still strangers personally but I felt it was like home. I knew that it may not or may take longer that moment to happen again, and every bit of it, I treasured the moment in my heart and my mind. We spent hours in front of bonfire and then, one by one were saying good nights. I was one of the last person to stand away from bonfire and went to the cabin.

I felt relaxed when I returned to the cabin and in a matter of minutes I was dreaming. I walked up early in the morning, had our breakfast, cleanup the dishes and ready for the last day adventure. For our third and last adventure, I was still excited because we were scheduled to walk and trek around Kings Canyon. One of the canyon I saw was a long time ago and that time I was inside the rocky mountaineer train which was Cheakamus Canyon in Canada. I felt excited and inspired to see and experience Kings Canyon.

All of us jumped into the bus and drove towards the canyon. From Kings Creek Station we reached the parking area. Our main activity was to walk within the canyon. We followed the Canyon Rim Walk track with estimated of 3 to 4 hours of walk and trek. Our tour guide gave us a warning that the initial part of the trail is called a “heart attack” hill because we have to climb a steep and rugged steps (stairs) which he mentioned as 45 degrees. This means the climbed in that stairs will be a bit of exhausting.

 

Scenery enjoyed while resting after the heart attack trail

We walked a bit until we reached the uneven stairs. I saw the trail and I saw that it was a bit of steep climb. I knew it was a quite challenging climb because even though there’s a rugged steps, for me it’s more challenging to climb a stair than climbing with your own steps. When I did the climbed, I remembered that I was catching my breath. I looked-up and checked if the last step of the stair was almost near. I rejoiced when I saw that I was almost at the top of the stairs. The warning given by our guide was right, it was a heart attack climbed. It was not that really difficult like my other climbs that I had, it’s just that everyone were pushed to follow the steps of the stairs. So there’s a bit of time than I rested to recover my breathing. When we reached the top, we stopped a bit so everyone in the group will be gathered again. What I saw at the top excites me because I knew that we were exploring a canyon in the red center of Australia.

 

Our tour guide explaining something about sand dunes and rocks

When everyone were at the top area after the heart attack trail, our tour guide started to tell something about the canyon and its sand dunes. He mentioned that there were other trails available in the canyon and we were taking the trail that will finished just after lunch time. Next, we enjoyed the walk within the canyon wherein I just realized we were actually walking in the weathered sandstone domes that looks like the Lost City when we were at the other side of the canyon.

 

Snapshots while walking in between of weathered sandstone domes  which called Lost City of the canyon and while resting a bit not that far from the heart attack trail

We walked, ascended, then we repeated the process until we reached the famous lookout within the Canyon – Cotterrils Lookout. The said lookout gave us a chance to see 365 degrees of the canyon. We had a wide view of the Kings Creek and the overall scenery of weathered sandstone domes. In the said lookout we spent time here for photos and funny posts that our guide suggested us to do as our memories of the canyon.

 

Around or near Cotterrils Lookout

 

Cotterrils Lookout

 

While at Cotterrils Lookout

 

Lost City like scenery from Cotterrils Lookout

 

Kings Creek

Our walk in the canyon allowed us to discover the area of the canyon where there was a spot that was similar to Bungle Bungle (included in my list to see in Western Australia – I hope I will got a chance to tour around that state).

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The Little Bungle Bungle within the Kings Canyon

After enjoying the scenery of the sandstone domes, our trek within the canyon continued. We reached the wooden stairs and we descended and followed the track. Next we crossed the bridge. Then, we reached a gorge between cliff. While following the track after the stairs we saw what they called Garden of Eden because it serves as oasis where there are natural spring waterholes and has different plants around the area.

 

The Wooden Stairs and Bridges

 

Garden of Eden

 

Before we climbed up at the other side cliff we rested at the Garden of Eden near the oasis. Aside from us, other visitors stopped there too and there were few young male teenagers who jumped off in the oasis and enjoyed their swimming. While we’re resting our tour guide gave us some snacks that the whole group shared.

After resting we returned in our track and we climbed up the wooden stairs. When we reached the other side of the canyon, it gave us a chance to see the canyon in a different outlook or perspective. The part of the canyon that we just walked by and passed by, we were able to see it from the other end what it looks like. The rock domes are more notable compared to when we were walking along with it.

 

While climbing at the other side of the cliff

 

Rock Domes

 

In between Rock Domes

 

Waterhole

At the top we saw the oasis in a different angle even and the same with Kings Creek. Our walk continued. After sometime, we saw the part of the canyon that showcase another view of weathered sandstone. That weathered sandstone from a far looks similar to Old Aztec City that is why it is being called as Lost City.

 

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Kings Creek

 

The other side of the wall of the Kings Creek in Kings Canyon

 

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Lost City in Kings Canyon

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At the top, we spent more time for photos, selfies, groupies with the wonderful scenery that surrounds us. And then, our tour guide announced that we will start descending the canyon. We started our walk and followed our guide. With that moment, I know that once we reached the ground, that’s the last moment that I will have with the canyon. Probably with other people it’s just another canyon to see and visit, but for me the outback as a whole was another world for me that I may not be seeing again, but the place gave me a lot of memories because I was given a chance to discover and explore them in a short period of time. I somehow thinking that if I am not an IT (Information Technology) by profession I maybe a geologist. It may be an interesting profession.

When we touched the ground, we had our pack lunch and we headed straight back to Alice Springs where we started our 3 days adventure in the outback. I spent another night in Alice Springs and returned to Melbourne the next day.

Below are some photos that I still have after reaching Alice Springs and on my way back to Melbourne.

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Back to Alice Srings

 

With Wallabies

 

Alice Springs Airport

Note:
This is the 3rd or last part of my travel post and the continuation of my adventure of the Red Center in Australia. It takes a while for me to finish the post as I am overwhelmed with so many places that I traveled to and half of the post was done last year and now I got a chance to finish it up as I also tried to remember everything not only from photos and but also from all the experiences that are still in my memory.

Here are the other 2 posts from Australia’s Red Center which already published.
Uluru / Ayers Rock
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Life In The Metro : Overlooking Sydney CBD, Circular Quay and The Rocks

Life In The Metro (Post#4) : Overlooking Sydney CBD, Circular Quay and The Rocks

During my first time visit in Sydney Australia, to be honest I can’t believed that I was seeing Opera House and Sydney itself. The city is one of my dreams that I never thought that’s going to happen or became a reality. The photo above was a partial snapshot of Sydney CBD which includes, the CBD itself, the Circular Quay, The Rocks and the Sydney Cove and when I captured this I was at Opera House. Seeing so many people in a famous city like Sydney is a normal thing. People flock to these kinds of places as it is known to the world. It can be a pride to anybody who was able to visit such places. I was really thankful I had a chance to walked around Sydney. I took this photo last April 2013 during musical collaboration event that I got a chance to joined in.

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Life Of Others : Howqua Valley – Easy Going Gelding

Life Of Others (Post#4) : Howqua Valley – Easy Going Gelding

I am featuring in this photo theme the horse that with me in my horse back riding adventure in Howqua Valley Victoria Australia, he was assigned to me considering it was my first time riding experience. His name is Woodman and he was with me for the two 2 days adventure in one of the beautiful high country places in Australia. The experience was amazing and he was kind to me as he follow my instructions to him. I was thankful to Woodman as he take care of me during the unforgettable adventure. Photo captured last August 2013.

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Twilight : White Night Melbourne – Flinders Street Station

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Twilight (Post#3) : White Night Melbourne – Flinders Street Station

Photo above was captured during light shows at Flinders Street Station building in the midst of White Night celebration in Melbourne held last February 2014.

View At My Window : Strahan – Risby Cove

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View At My Window (Post#23) : Strahan – Risby Cove

When I got a chance for 3 days adventure in Tasmania, next biggest island to the mainland of Australia, I had opportunity to experience the island. Part of the itinerary is to stop over for a while in Strahan, a small town located near the cove. For me after seeing the harbour from upper area, I had a glimpse how beautiful the places is. For me it is a perfect place for a rest house used for a getaway from busy life in the city. Photo captured during my adventure in Tasmania last June 2013.

Interior : The Block Arcade – Elizabeth St Interior Walkway

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Interior (Post#2) : The Block Arcade – Elizabeth St Interior Walkway

One of the things that I really enjoyed in Australia while strolling around in its different cities are its century old arcades and one of them is “The Block Arcade” or simply “The Block”. The said arcade is located almost at the center of Melbourne CBD. When I got a chance to enter in this European touched arcade I was really amazed. Looking at its interior design, you will really feel the building’s history and culture. Photo captured last July 2013 while walking around the city.

Kangaroo Island – Australia’s Wild Life Park Island

It was my second and last tour in South Australia, I knew that one of the hardest thing to decide when traveling is choosing which tour or adventure to select and which one is to give up. When I’m planning my holiday in this state, I wished that I had a longer days of holiday but I don’t have. After spending some thoughts about it, I chose Grand Adelaide and Kangaroo Island tour. I already published the stories happened to me on my first day in Adelaide in my previous posts and this time I am focused in my Kangaroo Island experience.

Every time I travel, I tried my best to see the national park around the area or nearby area because I have this thoughts that there is something special in such kind of place, something considered as natural treasure that humanity must protect. Kangaroo Island has Flinders Chase National Park and conservation parks wherein Seal Bay Conservation Park is one of them. The name of the Kangaroo Island was made because the early explorer of the island was came from the group of Matthew Flinders and at that time they haven’t eaten meat for so long until they saw small Kangaroo which the group hunted. That kind of story behind the names of places sometimes quite fascinating to learn.

Kangaroo Island Sealink Ferry Terminal - Cape Jervis

— Kangaroo Island Sealink Ferry Terminal – Cape Jervis Port

— Kangaroo Island from Kangaroo Island Sealink Ferry Terminal – Cape Jervis Port

From my hotel, the tour bus picked me up and we traveled to Cape Jervis for more than 1.5 hours where the Kangaroo Island Sealink ferry terminal is located. We jumped off the bus and transferred to the ferry that will bring us to the island which gave us a chance to cruise Backstairs Passage. In less than an hour we arrived at Penneshaw which is the ferry terminal of Sealink in Kangaroo Island. We left the ferry and transferred to the tour bus that’s waiting for us.

At Penneshaw Kangaroo Island - Kangaroo Island Sealink Ferry Terminal

— Kangaroo Island Penneshaw Port – Bay Terrace

From Penneshaw, we took Bay Terrace and North Terrace. We turned left to Thomas Wilson St to Howard Drive, then straight to Hog Bay Road. I enjoyed the ride as my eyes wandering in sceneries that I saw in the island such as Penneshaw Hotel near the port and Sea Dragon Lodge where a yacht station for island residences and visitors. The island is said to be the third largest island in Australia which means that one day may not enough to see all of the island. While inside the bus, one of my self entertainment was capturing photos as much as I can to remember all the places that I had been.

— Some window view snapshots from the bus along North Terrace road.

— Snapshots along Howard Drive

— Snapshots from Hog Bay Road

After passing Howard Drive, we stayed in Hog Bay Road in a while. Along the road, we saw American River which looks like a lake at first while inside the bus just to realised it is a river where it ends in Easter Cove of the island. Next thing happened that I noticed, we turned left on the way to Seal Bay Conservation Park. I can’t remember which road we took but one thing that I remembered, we passed the nearby island airport. We reached the Seal Bay Conservation Park. The park is located in the nearby coastal area or beach area called as Seal Bay Aquatic Reserve which is the access to many seals towards the bay. The park has boardwalk where visitors can walk through without disturbing the seals around the park. During our visits, most of the seals that I saw were sleeping or lets say they were resting. When I saw the seals, it actually confused me because they look like a sea-lion to me. But I noticed there’s difference between Seal and sea-lion. I found out that seal has small flipper, wriggle on their bellies on land and lack visible ear flaps while sea-lion has large flipper, walk on land using flipper and have visible ear flaps.

American River from Hog Bay Rd

—  American River from Hog Bay Rd

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— Seal Bay Visitor Information Centre

— Seal Bay Conservation Park

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— Sleepyhead Seals

I enjoyed my walk around the Seal Bay, with the help of our tour guide, we got a chance to walk in the nearby seashore area where we saw other seals in the sand, some were just came from the sea and some were sleepyhead seals. While looking and watching the seals, I can say they are one of the cutest sea-lion family that I saw. Seal Bay is in the southern part of the island where I experienced cold wind from the south because I visited the place during the end of month of Autumn season.

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— Sleepyhead Seals with some group of birds flocked together

— Seal Bay Aquatic Reserve

After enjoying Seals, we move to one of the wild life park in the island called Kangaroo Island Wild Park. Before it was called as Parndana Wildlife Park. Here we got a chance to see other animals aside from seals wherein the park collaborates with the island as they also protects and takes care of the animal being by providing conducive environment for them. After the wild life park, next area of the island we visited was Remarkable Rocks. Before we reached the magnificent rock formation, we stopped at the Remarkable Lookout to see the rock formation from a distance.

— Some animals at Kangaroo Island Wild Park (Parndana Wildlife Park)

— Kangaroo Island Wild Park (Parndana Wildlife Park)

Flinders Chase National Park

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— At Boxer Drive near Remarkable Rocks Lookout

Along Boxer Drive we appreciated exquisite sceneries along the edges of the island or the coastline. The bay is what they call Great Australian Bight. Within the area, where ever I turned my eyes into, I saw calmness and beauty of the place admiring the island and felt good knowing it is being protected as many generations will  be able to visit the place.

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— At Remarkable Rocks (Surrounding Area)

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