A Travellerspoint blog

A Greek Escape

A highlight of the few days spent in Athens before we got to the islands....

semi-overcast 9 °C

Monastiraki

An amazingly vibrant and old neighbourhood still in action after a few thousand years! Everywhere you turn from the square, there are wonderful items of every kind to find, to buy, to eat and savour. Spent almost an entire evening walking around this neighbourhood, tasting authentic Greek cuisine and shopping for trinkets and souvenirs. Spending an evening here gave me an insight into the life of a modern day Athens resident which seems to combine a heady mixture of the modern and the traditional with the ever present backdrop of the ancient. Literally!! (The Acropolis looms in the background of this old town).

I attended the evening service at a Greek Orthodox church at the entrance of the Monastiraki square which incidentally seems to be where the name of the town is derived from. It makes you feel like you are in a timeless oasis within the hustle of Athens.

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There are lots of bars and restaurants in the small streets off the square, we however found a picturesque back alley eatery and with a little help from our friends at the adjoining table who happened to be locals, ordered a rustic and delicious Greek meal.

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Acropolis - Athens

THE BIRTH PLACE OF MODERN DEMOCRACY - There are quite a few stairs to get to the top of the hill where the Acropolis is built but, the view once you reach the top is truly humbling. There’s nothing that prepares you for the feeling that comes with the realisation as to how much history lies beneath your feet and all around you. It is a definite journey back in time and is a surreal experience imagining that something of this magnitude was built by hand nearly 5000 years ago.

Visiting the Acropolis took me back to the time when I studied Greek Mythology in school and like me if you are fascinated with Greek history, Greek gods and goddesses, then this is bound to be a surreal experience. There is a lot of restoration work going on at the site and its heartening to see the Greeks doing everything they can to preserve and restore the buildings on the Acropolis.

The Parthenon that stands proud even in its ruins seems to tell stories as to how it shaped up to be the seat of modern day democracy. It must have been an unbelievable sight all those years ago when the structures were still in their original form. Even like it is today, it is an impressive sight. The carefully calculated spaces between columns, the overall symmetry of these huge marble structures built all those years ago just goes to show how advanced the ancient Greeks were. It was cloudy and windy for the greater part of the time I spent here, but just for a minute the clouds parted and bathed the entire Acropolis with bright sunlight, which if you ask me is probably the only way this wonder has to be viewed. Was lucky to get a good picture of the Parthenon before the sunlight disappeared.

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The Porch of Maidens was another sight that was just a treat to the eyes. The statues of 6 women are used as structural pillars are beautiful to say the least. I heard the guide say that the statues on the site are replicas and that 5 of the maidens are housed at the Acropolis Museum and one of them is at the British Museum in London.

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After the long trek back to the bottom of the hill lined with a zillion olive trees and fat lazy pigeons who prefer to walk after a meal instead of fly, I now know for a fact that no matter how familiar with the sight of the Acropolis you are and how much familiarity you may credit to your knowledge owing to your school work or just because you browsed through the internet and read everything possible on the subject, nothing (absolutely nothing!) prepares you for the astonishing scale of such a structure that was built millenniums ago. I strongly advise you make the effort and hike up that hill. It is an experience like no other.

NOTE : Its extremely windy atop the Acropolis. The best time to visit would be in the morning or evening. Wear sensible shoes as the path winds and is uneven.

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As you make you way down from the Acropolis you can see the fully intact Temple of Hephaestus built in honour of the Greek God of Blacksmiths and Metalworking (pictured above). Did not visit it to the Temple of Hephaestus, but instead paid a visit to the ruins of the Temple of Zeus which is at the base of the hill.

On reaching the city square we found ourselves outside the imposing structure of the Academy of Athens. Took a couple of pictures and walked on, only to find out later that that if we had taken ten steps towards the building, we could have also seen the statues of Socrates and Plato near the base of the pillars supporting the statues of Athena and Apollo.

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This city is truly MYTHOLOGICAL.

Safe Travels
Sowmya CJ

Posted by Ceej 12:12 Archived in Greece Tagged athens parthenon acropolis monastiraki porch_of_maidens Comments (0)

Paris in spring

C'est Magnifique!

overcast 4 °C

There’s nothing quite like Paris on a day in spring. As I walked down cobbled streets looking at beautiful buildings dotted with a terrace here - a balcony there sporting beautiful flowers in bloom, I found myself falling in love with what is arguably called the most beautiful city in the world.

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As I sat on park benches in the warm sunlight that was still attempting to pierce through the last remnants of winter, watching the parade of Parisian life go by - it dawned on me that the only way to truly discover this city was by walk. I made it a point to stroll over the bridges that cut through the Seine especially at dusk most evening. I loved the sight of the wrought-iron lamps flicker to light and the way the streets look in that golden glow. Every single time I have gone for a walk back home after this holiday, and I mean EVERY TIME - the joy I felt walking on the cobblestone streets keeps coming back to me in waves. It never ceased to amaze me that everywhere you turn in gay Paree, there are two things in abundance - ART and BEAUTY. It is said that it will take several lifetimes to unravel all the things this city has to offer. I'm taking a shot by compiling some of the most famous places I visited during my stay at the City of Lights and the most beautiful sights I saw.

Louvre Museum

Standing in the courtyard you already get a sense of what to expect inside.

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If anyone ever wanted to understand the meaning of the term "a wealth of history", they need to just step into the Musee de Louvre. There are 3 wings at the Louvre - Richelieu , Denon and Sully. Denon (where the most expensive and famous residents are housed is easily the most visited). The description under all the works of art is written in French, so the Nintendo audio guide in English that we procured at the information counter was very helpful. I'm sure there are works of art and artefacts in this museum to keep any historian happy for years.

Most people have a tendency to make a bee-line to visit the Louvre's most famous resident - THE SMILING LADY, but in my opinion - there are so many other works of art displayed within the same walls which are breathtaking, especially in the French and the Italian Renaissance sections. Throughout my childhood I've been obsessed with Greek mythology and still remember reading about "Nike" and learning to my surprise that it is not only the name of a famous shoe brand but the name of the Greek Goddess of Victory. I believe the day I laid eyes on “The Winged Victory” was almost a moment that brought me a full circle.

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Before we move forward, let me describe my visit to the smiling lady's chamber. The Mona Lisa is tucked away in a distant corner of the Denon wing past the Da Vinci paintings in the Renaissance wing. My reaction upon seeing her for the first time was how small the painting is (atleast in comparison to all the other works of art housed at the Louvre). The section is partially cordoned off and the painting is housed behind enforced bullet proof glass.
A small bit of caution - You will never have a moment alone in peace with this famous lady. The Mona Lisa will always be crowded regardless of whatever time you choose to visit and you will definitely be pushed around.

After spending entire day wandering around the Denon wing we decided to spend the evening being Parisians, sipping wine accompanied by cheese and crackers and conversation. When we could absorb no more art, we left the Louvre and found ourselves at the closest Monoprix where we proceeded to pick up by some wine(bad!) and some cheese(yum!). We wandered back towards the Louvre and found ourselves a nice sunny spot in the Tuileries Gardens in front of the museum(yes sunny even at 8:30 PM!). Even here we could not escape ‘art’ as there are numerous statues and decorative touches throughout the garden and later in the evening we were treated to the sight of a distant Eiffel Tower flickering to light as we sat on the compound surrounding the Louvre which was also by then lit up and immediately reminded me of the setting from Dan Brown's DaVinci Code.

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Arc de triomphe

When you see this magnificent monument up close, you can only then fully appreciate its beauty and begin to understand why it has such a significant place in French history. The ornate carvings that adorn the walls and ceilings are intricate and makes one wonder at the depths of the artists talents who created this monument. It takes 284 steps to get to the top but I’ve heard that views over Paris are breathtaking from the top. It also forms the perfect setting for the most exclusive shopping destination in the world - Champs Elysées. Oh one walk through this entire street is enough to make you feel that there is not enough money in the world to buy everything that you little heart might desire.

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Notre-Dame

I finally found the peace to immerse myself in prayer at this 800 year old chapel. No matter what religion you follow, I'm sure at this cathedral you will experience emotions that touch the core of your being. The architecture of this cathedral is truly marvellous and the stained glassed windows are absolutely beautiful. Sitting in the courtyard listening to the church bells was an experience like no other and the memory of which I will carry in my heart for the rest of my days. We wanted to go up the tower to visit the famous gargoyles, but were told that it is only allowed at certain times before 4 PM.

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After long days spent on foot, I still found enough strength in my legs to explore these beautiful stalls filled with old books(most of them in French), near Pont Neuf on the banks of the Seine. There are postcards along with books and posters for sale. Some of them are used postcards and letters with addresses written in the most beautiful handwriting and posted decades earlier.

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Eiffel Tower

What can I say that’s not been said before about the Eiffel tower? It is afterall Paris's signature monument :) . I would highly recommend going here in the evening when there is still sunlight and have a small picnic on the lawns of the Eiffel tower and make pretty pictures. If you stay long enough, you get to see the lights come on "twinkling" and light up this beautiful monument.

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Right from the first day I was hit by this idea that all of this is normal for Parisians! That awe I felt when I heard the bells tolling at the Notre Dame at dusk, the joy I felt walking along the Seine, all those lampposts lighting up cobblestone paths. Al these treasures are simply a part of the fabric of a Parisians lives and since their face doesnt wreath into smiles while passing by it I'm somehow certain they might even be used to them being in the background! What would that be like, to live in a place where you could expect to see so much beauty on a day to day basis?

À tout à l'heure Paree!!! Looking forward to be back meandering around your cobblestone streets along the Seine to sit on the lawns of the Eiffel, laying in the grass, sharing a kiss, sipping some wine and reading a book. Hopefully to stay and explore whatever you have to offer for a full year :)

Wish You Safe Travels
Sowmya CJ

Posted by Ceej 14:28 Archived in France Tagged paris eiffel spring path cafe seine notre lamps cobblestone paree Comments (2)

Malaysia

Truly Asia - (hmmmm …. Still thinking if this is an apt description )

all seasons in one day 28 °C

TOUCHDOWN KualaLampur - Watched the most beautiful sunrise from the plane :) The pilot for the day informed over the intercom , “Ladies and Gentlemen, its sunrise over beautiful Malaysia. If you are visiting us then we welcome you to our country and if you are Malaysian - THEN WELCOME HOME !!!! “(I had tears in my eyes when I heard that). I cannot imagine the times when I have returned back to my homeland and nobody has bothered telling us anything that sounded remotely as wonderful.
Good Morning malaysia

Good Morning malaysia

:)

We caught our transportation and were swiftly driven towards KL. The airport is 60 kilometres away from the city.

Now for everyone who pictures Malaysia in their head - Kuala Lumpur in particular, the first thing that pops into the mind are the Patronas Towers and yes, the towers dominate the city skyline, but does not mean you get to see it from every place in KL. We were lucky to get a room with one of the most beautiful views of the Patronas Towers and the Minara!!!
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Now the fun part of my trip lasted 4 days ,so I will only concentrate on the fun part

Day 1:
We had to pay a visit to CHINATOWN to kick-start the adventure. We did something very local, we hopped onto a bus, bought tickets for 1 Malaysian Ringgit (RM) and got dropped off at Chinatown. Our stomach’s were collectively shouting their displeasure, so we decided to pay heed and put their complaints to rest…. AND HOW!!!
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Note to self - ALWAYS CHOOSE FOOD ON STICKS. Now they come at varying prices, the duck was 2.5RM, Chicken 2RM, OCTOPUS - 5RM. It is served two ways - Barbecued or Steamed. We chose to get them barbequed. We loved it and went back for another round of "food on toothpicks" (as I conveniently chose to call it ) ….Tried Claypot Rice and proclaimed that I could have died and gone to heaven that instant - Love love loved it!

Now that the stomach was put to rest , we kicked of the next important to-do-item on the itenary - SHOP. Now I’ve seen imitation wallets, bags, satchels in Thailand, but the quality of the imitation stuff in Malaysia is far superior.
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Found the coolest hoard of T-shirts ever, including a store that sells vintage T-shirts. Cash is the only accepted mode of payment and as I discovered to my enormous surprise - I loved haggling. Imitation designer shoes, watches, bags, jewellery, belts and trendy clothes - Oh so much to buy!

DAY 2:

Destination : GENTING HIGHLANDS ….
About an hour and a half drive from Kuala Lumpur amidst the drastic change in terrain, climate and skyline I first laid eyes on the highlands. You can reach the place by either of 2 ways - Cable Cars or by Winding Roads. We decided to get to the Genting Highlands by Cable cars. I am scared of heights so it goes without saying that I was freaking out quite a bit when 6 of us piled into the cable car, but then I saw that the view that immediately put all my fears to rest. The sight of the natural valleys and high hills shrouded in mist and as you go higher up and the rain forest beneath your feet, is truly BREATHTAKING.

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We stayed at the World’s Largest Hotel - First World with 6118 rooms. The waiting area has more than 50 counters to help you check in, but be warned, this is a tedious part and it takes anywhere between 2 to 4 hours to get you checked in. The hotel management is quite intelligent and has arranged for live entertainment at the waiting area Clowns, Street dancers etc.

The rooms are not impressive and in the effort to pack as many rooms as possible ended up in making them minuscule. They do not even offer complimentary WATER !!! The 8th floor of the hotel connects to the mall and what a mall it is. Toy Trains, shopping mall , karaoke Bars , Ripleys Believe it or not museum , haunted houses - everything packed into the mall :D
and before I forget - CASINOS TOO. The guys wanted to hit the slots immediately, but we girls went shopping 
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We went back, left our loot in the room and went to the Ripley's Museum and it qualifies as one of the more interesting hours I have ever spent in my lifetime.

Next stop : CASINOS.
It was the first time I ever entered a casino and I think I finally understand the draw that gambling holds. We decided to try the casinos at the other hotel too … We had to take a shuttle to that hotel that runs every half hour between the hotels.

The food in Genting is terrible to say the least. (Trivia : Alcohol is extremely expensive in Malaysia .. A 650ml bottle of Carlsberg costs 20RM.. almost 3 times its original price, so we bought alcohol at duty free stores at the airport and kept it with us through the duration of the trip) If you wake up early enough to watch the sunrise (or in our case, you could stay up late enough to see the sun rise) - The sight is unbelievable. large_IMG-20120407-00383.jpg

DAY 3:
Theme Park in the facility
I've been to Disney so I will not attempt a comparison. But it is if viewed independently and without bias - quite nice.
We drove back to KL almost feeling like we were KL natives who had gone to Genting on vacation. Looked like KL was growing on us.
We got back to KL and had the most lovely Indian dinner at the Grand Seasons. I've usually hated Indian food served outside India, but theThere’s a lovely Indian restaurant at the hotel.

Day 4:

We knew we had to pay a visit to the Patronas Towers atleast once before we leave Malaysia. But a girl somehow looses track when she goes shopping. Anna our lovely Malaysian friend took us to the Central Mall and we girls shopped to our hearts content, brooches, clips, Chinese fans and a gorgeous painting of koi fishes by an artist who had her baby sitting in a high-chair playing with water colours . Interesting fact - This market has been in existence since 1888 - WOW!

Chinatown closes by 3PM on Sundays and we didn't have a clue about that. Our transport arrived and we went to the Minara Tower which has an observation deck built to see the Patronas towers . The observation deck is at a height of 286 meters and has a 360 degree views of Kuala Lampur and the sight is amazing. This is truly a beautiful city.
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In the midst of all this, we never did one thing that we all had wanted to do all along - visit the Patronas Towers … With only 5 hours left to take-off, we had no choice but to scrap the plan and leave for the airport.

I’ve been a life long fan of graffiti, so when Abhay saw a wall full of graffiti at an open car park, we had to stop the van and jump out to make pictures ….. and guess what we saw to our left as we were sprinting towards the graffiti filled wall

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THE PATRONAS TOWERS!!! It was a coincidence like no other and so we did get to take pictures with the towers after all.

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Ofcourse we took pictures with the the backdrop of those graffiti filled walls. What fun, everyone was captured in various stages of flight.

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We were toooo excited even after we boarded …. The girls watched rom-com movies …..while the boys downed 5 whiskeys each …. We spent the remaining flight walking to each others seats and having an unusually mad time. Will never forget A reminding J to check if the parachute was where it was supposed to be and repeating the oxygen mask wearing instructions to him :D

We landed in India and I held my breath as the captain started announcing the descent AND NO …….. Our pilot never said anything remotely sounding like “Welcome Home” :(

Till I get another stamping on my passport … C ya :)

Posted by Ceej 07:24 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Shopped till I dropped

...... THAILAND

sunny 30 °C

First and foremost I was shocked to see how infra structurally sound Thailand is as soon as I landed at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.
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I just fell in love with the various coloured taxis which in a way have become a hallmark in Thailand, they look like car shaped m&m's have been strewn all over the streets. Based on my interactions, I have found that almost every one who visits this country seems find the colourful taxis worth a mention.
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Time and again I've been told by enough number of people that I should have not missed visiting the Chatuchak Weekend Market, especially when I was in Bangkok over the weekend. Personally, I am not someone who is terribly fond of the sun, so shopping at nights when the temperature is not soaring suited me best :) I did make up for it at the various Night Bazaar's.

Suan Lum Night Bazaar in Bangkok

: beautifully lit shops that are laid out in strips, which cover the sidewalks. All the old favourites are here: Lovely dresses, silk scarves, T-shirts, pillow cases, toys, silver jewellery, coloured gems and gorgeous lamps and lights or every conceivable colour.
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There are also packaging services and bigger and more fragile products (as I discovered) such as ceramics, furniture, carvings, and lamps (don't forget to take some home - THEY ARE GORGEOUS ). Just because items in Suan Lum are more likely to carry a price tag does not mean that's the last price. There are fabulous imitations of high-end brands available, you might just strike an unbelievable bargain if you buy 2 things instead of one especially, on products such as watches, sunglasses and bags (if that's something you would like. I cannot bring myself to buy imitation watches but I'm all for the sunnies)
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There was this place that sells music too. The shops sells these awesome covers of mainstream songs all the way to jazz/acoustics :) As in all open markets, try to bargain. I know they don't speak English , but they all have calculators with which they convey the price, in Bahts (Thai currency)
Walk around the market before deciding to make a purchase, because you might get a better price at another shop. (Disclaimer : unless you are terribly good with directions you might just end up not finding the first shop you visited, as what happened in my case ) :( :( . I guarantee one thing "You will end up buying interesting things that you had not expected to buy before!!! " :)

I went there on a Friday night , and it was open till 3 AM. I paid a visit again on a Monday and realized that the place is more active on Weekends (might be a no-brainer for the ones reading this but I was surprised at how empty it looked). The place closed before midnight. On our way back...our cab driver said something about the Suan Lum Night Bazaar being closed permanently so that the government can build some fancy hotel there :(. Personally, I hope not. I loved being here.

PATTAYA :

We'll get to my views about the Walking Street in a bit, I am going to start off with an account of what Pattaya has to offer during daylight hours because I got here in the morning and did get to see a bit of the town. During the day you have to visit the beach. There are multiple water sports that you can engage in including jet skiing , para sailing and I think I saw an ad for scuba diving too. You can also find excellent bargains on flip-flops and the likes and some good eateries too. My favourite thing was to get a foot massage sitting under the shade of umbrellas watching the waves. One of my friends with whom I travelled ended up in getting inked by a tattoo artist who has a studio on the beach and after much requesting, the artist agreed to do the entire tattoo on the beach (it took all of 4 hours to complete the work)

I was extremely curious to go to Walking Street in the night . The place does take on a completely different vibe after dark. It is always very busy with hordes of all spectrum of worldly tourists in all manner of states at the night time recording everything on video. We are all well aware that this is the place most men to go 'meet' young Thai girls who spend their evenings enticing any visitor to partake in drinking, eating and dancing. The whole street is lit with neon lights and it is filled with a combination of music, shouting and laughing from from all corners. I just chilled with some friends at a open air pub, smoking from a hookah listening to amazing live music and over-looking a bar with Russian girls at the window. I had fun in this strange place, alight with neon lights.

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If this is not your scene and you find it difficult to digest the sight, it is best you avoid this place at night as it is definitely not for the feint hearted - for sure. However, I will say this, from the point of view of a girl you do feel quite safe. I saw several police officers and most clubs have medics on hand to deal with all the nightly excesses.

Back in Bangkok, I paid a visit to Panthip Plaza : If you are looking for anything electronic - this place is a must visit. You can even buy the best computer games and TV shows - on a pen drive. You can even buy the pen drive at the store and select the content you want transferred on to the drive.

I would like to visit Thailand again and explore what Ko Samui and Phuket have to offer. I dont think I will pay Pattaya a second visit.

Till next time

Khapunkhaap

Posted by Ceej 21:42 Archived in Thailand Tagged shopping thailand bangkok Comments (0)

COORG

An ode to the land of my forefathers

all seasons in one day

Every time anyone meets me and then it is revealed to them that i hail from Coorg, invariably the conversation shifts to discussing the land of my forefathers. Though I was born and raised in Bangalore, the calling that this part of the world map holds is undeniable. People always seem to have so many questions regarding Coorg , the people , what activities they can pursue when they visit the place,etc. So I decided to catalogue some helpful things about Coorg.

Coorgs are a martial race inhabiting Karnataka’s picturesque hill district Kodagu, in the Southern part of India about 250 kilometers from Bangalore, the IT Capital of India. It was nicknamed as "The Scotland Of the East" by some of the officials in the East India Company most notably by Sir Erskine Perry. The history of this race has always been shrouded in mystery and no Coorg is not just about coffee.
Coorgs or Kodavas as we are known in some parts are a different kind of people as compared to others in the country. Unlike other Hindu communities, Brahmins have no role in any of our ceremonies: be it marriage, death or festivals. The birth of a male child is announced by a single gunshot fired in the air, but the death of a family member is made known by firing gun shots in the air. Drawing a parallel between the character of Greeks and Coorgs it is noted that, “Like the Greeks, the Coorgs have an instinctive hatred for servility or being obsequious. A Coorg will never show more than the obligatory respect to a man in the higher orders of officialdom unless he positively respects that man.”

There’s plenty to do and see in this stunning part of the country, but after careful thought I've finally come up with seven particularly interesting or different things to do in Coorg that will add more to your trip.

1. Help an elephant take his daily bath
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Near Kushalnagar there is a natural island with 11 acres of land, covered in trees and surrounded by a wonderful wreath of water. The Dubare Forest is maintained by the forest department, who also run an ‘Elephant Training Camp’. The island is reached by a 20 rupees motorboat ride. Tourists visit to witness the daily routines of tamed elephants. These huge mammals are used to the attention, moving through the river water and lying down while visitors pat and clean them. Tourists enjoy scrubbing the ears and backs as the elephants throw water on themselves through their trunks, if you are in the vicinity you are definitively getting soaked :) Once they are given a bath visitors can serve ‘raagi balls’ made especially for them by the forest department. The cool and gurgling waters of the Cauvery River create a pleasant and refreshing atmosphere.
You can get back to the mainland either by the same motorboat or by following a natural stone path through the river.

2. Visit the biggest Tibetan settlement in southern India
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Did you know there is an 18,000-strong community of Tibetans living in southern India? Bylakuppe, situated 90 kms away from Mysore city on the Mysore-Madikeri highway, is the largest Tibetan refugee camp, housing thousands of Tibetans in exile. Over 45 years ago Tibetans settled here, creating a ‘mini-Tibet’ in one village.
As you get close, you’ll see Buddhist monks – ‘Lamas’- overtaking you on their speeding motor bikes, their maroon robes flapping in the air. In the market they can be seen wearing Raybans and listening to their i-Pods! ;)
The sense of sudden change as you enter this Tibetan enclave is surreal, with its colorful flags, monasteries and modernised Tibetan culture.More than 7000 monks pursue their monastic education in Bylakuppe’s monasteries, with dedicated veneration to his holiness The Dalai Lama, their supreme master. The Golden Temple, with a 60 ft gold plated Buddha statue, and the recent addition of ‘copper colored mountain’ Zandong Palri it’s an attractive tourist destination.

3. Trek the hills

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From easy to arduous treks, Coorg has varying trails for all kinds of adventure seeker. The best season to plan treks in Coorg is between October and February. The three main mountain peaks in Coorg for trekking are Brahmagiri, Pushpagiri and Tadiandamol. You can trek alone or with a guide. Organisations like Coorg Adventure Club (CAC) organise trekking expeditions from time to time and can arrange the necessary facilities for the interested trekkers. The experience has it all: thick forests, sloping hills, waterfalls, incredible views of this area dubbed ‘Scotland of the East’.

4. Watch the hockey festival
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Hockey is a traditional game of the Kodava community, the ethnic group of this region. The Kodava Hockey festival in Coorg has run since 1997. The principal rule of the festival is that a particular team is represented by members of a specific family. Each year, the festival is organised by a different family who give their name to the tournament. It’s for both men and women and is considered to be of great importance. The festival was initiated to bring the people of Kodava community closer. The opening and closing ceremonies are held with spectacle of various dances and a demonstration of the martial arts of the Kodavas.

5. Tuck into Coorg cuisine
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Even though the people of Coorg are mostly non-vegetarian, they are influenced by the South Indian ways of cooking food. The rich cuisine of dishes use pork, chicken or fish but are cooked with coconut, curry leaves, ginger, chilli and spices like pepper and cardamom.
You have to try it to believe it - try some Pandi Curry with Kadambittu, which is Pork Curry with Rice dumplings.
Yummmmmmm!!!!

6. Attend a Coorg wedding
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A Coorg wedding is very different from other South Indian weddings, with the customs followed more familiar to those of North India. The bride wears a red sari, draped in an unusual manner that involves tying pleats in the rear, taking around the back and pinning of small portion of the pallu (end of the sari) securely over the right shoulder.
Men and women of Coorg are known for their beauty, bravery and intelligence. The men look handsome in
their long overcoats, with a silken sash around the waist. They carry a customary dagger called
‘pechekathi’ tucked on to the right side of the sash. And YES alcohol is served as a customary ritual, and its usually on the house with the food ;)

7. Walk the plantations

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Coorg is densely covered with coffee, pepper and cardamom estates. These estates on the lush and steep hills of Coorg make an interesting walk. You can even stay in one of the plantation properties and learn from the estate owner all about the growth of coffee and important local spices. Not to mention enjoy a piping hot coffee made wish fresh beans as you relax and enjoy the wonderful views.
I leave u with the image of perfect serenity, of misty mountains, lush paddy fields, roaring rivers, gurglings streams, beautiful people and the aroma of arabica coffee tickling your nostrils and the songs of the valley long forgotten.

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Until next time
CJ:)

Posted by Ceej 04:26 Archived in India Comments (0)

Sanibel Island - Captiva

West coast of Florida

sunny

Sanibel - Captiva Islands

March of 2007 was an extremely beautiful month (meaning that we were yet to see the temperatures rising to the 90s across the coast of Florida). We left Orlando and drove all the way to Fort Myers — our destination was 14 miles west of Fort Myers, off the coast of the southwestern shore.

SANIBEL ISLAND

It’s known as one of the best places to go shelling in the United States. As we drove , we passed the St. Petersburg sunshine skyway bridge... The drive was a very nice.
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At the far eastern tip of the island you’ll find Sanibel’s sole lighthouse—a conical tower of wired steel. I read that the purpose of the lighthouse being made entirely of metal is so that coastal winds can blow through. I didn't spend much time here as the adjacent beach was unbelievably gorgeous.
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The entire experience felt therapeutic and throughout the time I was here, I behaved like I was on a mission "to find shells",unfortunately I wasn’t alone. People come from miles around just to comb the island’s beaches. The beach is great for walking. The sand is completely white and very fine ..... But I guess that's because the shells turn into powder over time and they become one with the sand ...... Never realised that just searching for shells would be such a calming experience... I searched for hours ... it was so much fun searching for shells as new ones rolled in with the surf.

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I heard from a local that a lot of jewel designers and fashion designers come to Sanibel because there are so many combinations of colours to be found in these shells that they draw inspiration from them .... I guess one of nature's marvels.

Overall incredibly calm, relaxing and very kid friendly island .....One one my favourite beach vacation spots ever :) and that's quite a big statement to make, considering I get to see Miami's beach every other day.

Next we drove over to to Captiva which is the very picture your imagination forms when you think of beach town .... As we drove through its quiet roads, I had this urge to just forget that there was a world outside and just stay there for like here for a month .... hmmm someday hopefully ;)

CAPTIVA ISLAND

More than 2 miles of pure white sand is the first thing I noticed when we parked the car .. (there is a parking fee where a token is issued for you to park for 2-3 hours) .

Captiva is north of Sanibel island which is connected to Fort Myers by a three-mile-long causeway. I saw a lot of shell stores and noticed a lot of people biking through the beach town ....I also saw people fishing on the T-dock (fishing equipment can be rented apparently), also passed a nature centre, watched kid’s laying games barefoot and passed an arcade. It is a very quiet place overall..... The island is the very picture of what an ideal beach town is supposed to look like.

Great for watching the sun go lower over the horizon and set for the day. I did not get to spend a lot of time here ... just about an hour and a half .... but it will be a place I will remember forever .... Would love to go and spend some more time here ... :)

CJ

Posted by Ceej 00:17 Archived in USA Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Trip to Disney World

A childhood dream fulfilled at last...

sunny

MAGIC KINGDOM - DISNEYWORLD
Orlando Florida

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I guess every child fantasizes about visiting DISNEY... this fantasy was especially big with me since it goes without mentioning that I am a cartoon freak ..... According to Shw (one of my best pals) ..I make any person feel that their life is as empty as a man's breasts if they haven't read or watched any of the cartoons I watch or read the prince-swept-the-pricess-off-her-feet kinda stories ...... ;)

So guess what seeing Mickey-Minnie, Donald-Daisy, Cinderalla, Snow White and every Disney character I have loved felt like for the 6 year old me..... "pure unadulterated heaven" ..... :) :)

Got off to a great start, drove my Wolkswagen Passat all the way from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando in 4 hours flat ....that's about 300 miles!! ... started fairly early about 6 in the morning on 31st December 2006...so was feeling all happy when we got to the hotel .....
When we started, towards Disney the traffic suddenly got chaotic ...it was then that realisation sunk in as to how many people would be there to reel in 2007 ..... I read later that there were more than a 100,000.... :(
Parked the car and got into a waiting ferry to take us across to the main Disney area. The view from a distance itself was awesome .....
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Got off along with thousands of people and started walking ... the first thing I saw was Walt Disney holding his favourite creation and at the backdrop the Cinderella castle ..It was every bit as beautiful as what I had imagined ...
Saw all the Disney princesses performing and MICKEY AND MINNIE (the cutest couple ever)
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Splash Mountain(my very first roller coaster): Got soaked. Was screaming my gut out ... got teased that I was being such a baby ... but I was terrified even of this 60 foot roller coaster ... :(
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After this entire experience I was ravenously hungry ...decided to get some dinner before the Fireworks started at midnight.
The castle was lit up at this point and it looked lovely .... The food in Disney is bad if not anything else ... even the Chinese food is terribly bland ... left more than half of it on the plate ...went and got myself a cup of coffee from Starbucks ..found a few magnets embossed with Disney characters to put on my fridge door ... (memories of good times ... :) .. )
Walked over to the castle just as the fireworks were about to begin but didn't find a place close enough to the castle ...it was jam-packed .... Then the fireworks began ... what a show ...for 20 minutes before the midnight the sky just lit up to fireworks synchronized to some amazing music .....
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IT WAS 2007 .... the fireworks continued for another 15 minutes ...

It was then that I realised that my feet were hurting ....standing and walking the entire day .... Carried my shoes and walked all the way back to the ferry bare foot ......I dont even remember the drive back to the hotel, let alone getting into bed .... was that exhausted .....

Every child dreams about visiting Disney .... at 23 years ...my dream was fulfilled ........ :)

CJ

Posted by Ceej 22:34 Archived in USA Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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