Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grand Pacific Drive - Part 2

In Part 2 of this series, we shall explore two more attractions along Grand Pacific Drive. To read Part 1, click here

As we head off to Kiama Blowhole, we saw a sign that read Nan Tien Temple. Surprised to find a Buddhist temple as one of the many attractions, we made a slight detour to check it out. 

Nan Tien Temple 
Also known as Southern Paradise, it is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. The drive here took us away from Grand Pacific Drive to another suburb. A traditionally Chinese designed arch marked the entrance to temple grounds. Driving up the long driveway to the car park to the main building gave us a glimpse on how large the area is. Driving pass well manicured grounds, the feeling of calmness slowly enveloped us. Exploring the area had to be done on foot from the car park onwards as cars were off limits at other areas of the temple.

Across the car park is a flight of stairs leading up to a pagoda. We were half way up the stairs when we heard prayers taking place at that moment. Not wanting to interrupt, we headed towards the main building instead.

Staircase up to the pagoda.
The main building consist of several floors. To move from one floor to the other, visitors are encouraged to use the stairs. Even though there is an elevator available, it is kind of reserved for wheelchair users and strollers as it is old and slow (the sign says so).

The temple's main building. Behind the staircase is entrance to tea house.
A tea house is located on the ground floor where vegetarian food and snacks are available for sale. I noticed some Nyonya kuih on sale which made me wonder if the tea house operator is from Malaysia. You could also opt for a buffet lunch/dinner on the top floor of the temple.

The temple is not only about prayers and food, it also provides a range of services like guided tours of the temple, meditation classes, Buddhist & meditation retreats, wedding and baby blessing ceremonies among others. For more information on this, visit their website at Nan Tien Temple.

A lake stood at the other side of the building and made my way towards it. Here, I noticed the different cute "little" figurines nicely placed in various parts of the garden. At the lake, carp fish could be seen swimming, occasionally near the edge hoping for food perhaps. It was a nice spot to sit and reflect on life. After 10 minutes of reflection, it was time to come back to reality and make our way to Kiama Blowhole. 
Figurines placed around the park.
Serenity by the lake

Kiama Blowhole
What is a blowhole? According to dictionary.com, blowhole is defined as a hole in a sea cliff or coastal terrace through which columns of spray are jetted upward.

Before our first visit in winter, I did not know what a blowhole was. I thought it was the part of a whale where water would spurt out. Apparently my thoughts were not far from the truth.

On arrival, a group of people were crowding on the platform looking at the rocks with their cameras in position. A minute or two later, you could hear the water gushing out from the blowhole before seeing it spurt out into the air. The height of the water spurt varies depending on the time of your visit. Different seasons would register different heights I believe.
First, nothing.
You actually hear water sounds first before seeing it.
The highest it got..
.. before the water falls back in.

Not many people at Kiama Blowhole when
we came for a second visit.
The kids would be excited to see this which was why we made a return visit in November. This time, there were just a handful of visitors on the platform. It could be due to several factors - it was a Monday, non school holiday season and it was late in the evening.

We saw a couple with raincoats waiting right in front of the blowhole with their camera in hand. They seemed a bit disappointed with the spurts that took place and walked away after taking a few pictures. My first thought was they were a bit overkill with the raincoats.

I walked with my brother, Razlan and his daughter, Pebbles to get a head start at the blowhole. Mr H waited for my sister-in-law, Reen as she got the little one ready. The platform was empty. We quickly took our positions and waited for the blowhole to do its thing. As the water came gushing, my brother shouted "Quick! I can hear it coming!". I saw the water gush out, so high that it looked like a giant wave. I started snapping away, trying to take as many pictures as I could with my phone camera. What happened next could have been a scene from a prank TV show.

The water level was much much higher than before and droplets of water started rain on us. When the droplets got bigger/heavier, we ran for cover. Unfortunately, we were no match for the blowhole. You could only hear screams/shouts/laughs as the water crashed unto us, leaving 2 drenched individuals and a partially drenched camera woman. THAT was what the raincoat couple were waiting for! Unfortunately I was too busy laughing (while my niece cried) to take any pictures after that. 

Everyone's in position, now to wait.
If you think that was high, the water got higher before crashing into these two. They looked like they took a shower while fully clothed when the water settled. Hahaha
Looking like we got out of a shower fully clothed, we made our way back to our laughing spouses who saw the whole thing from the parking lot. We did not bother to walk around the blowhole once we changed to dry clothes. You could actually walk along the path that enables you to view the blowhole from the side and from the back. Once you are behind the blowhole, you would get a beautiful picture of the lighthouse with the sky as a backdrop. However after our recent experience, no way we were going to risk getting wet again! 
Railings surrounding the blowhole. You can view the blowhole from different angles.
Blowhole is located in the middle (where the rocks are). Steps on the right lead up to the parking lot.
Since the location of the blowhole is next to the sea, it gets a bit cold due to the wind. I would suggest you bring a windbreaker to protect yourself from the wind. Also even if you are there for a day trip, do bring a change of clothes. You would never know if you are lucky enough to be "blessed" by the Kiama Blowhole like we were.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Grand Pacific Drive tour. To read Part 1, click here

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