Mt. Bromo and Ijen Crater – Indonesia

 

Bali is probably the most well known destination in Indonesia but this country has other out-of-this-world places which are worth visiting, Mt. Bromo and Ijen Crater being among them.

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Mount Bromo or Gunung Bromo is an active Volcano (it last exploded in November 2015), stands at 2,329 metres and is located in East Java, Indonesia.

It’s difficult to tour this place without a tour guide as only specific jeeps with license are allowed on the mountain and you are better off with a tour guide as you have to drive on mountains in the night. Our guide picked us up at Surabaya Airport at around 10pm to drive us to Mt. Bromo which is 4 hours away. We freshened up at our hotel and left for Penanjakan Peak for the sunrise  which is a few minutes drive up the mountain. The place can get crowded but you can climb the wire railing and watch the sunrise from there. It’s probably the most stunning sunrise we’ve ever seen. The rest of our itinerary was to visit Savanah, Teletubbies Hill and Bromo Crater, all of which are equally stunning.

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The next day we left for Ijen crater which is a 5-6 hours drive. Around 2.00 am that night we trekked the steep mountain for around 2 hours to reach Kawah Ijen. You can see blue flames at night but since there was a lot of fog when we were there, we couldn’t see anything. But the place was still very beautiful. You have to wear gas masks to protect from the sulphur fumes. We saw many sulphur miners working there under dangerous conditions without masks.

Needless of the early mornings, the steep climbs, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. We also got to taste the most expensive coffee in the world. What more could you ask for?

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We would recommend this place in a heartbeat. Some of the pictures below.


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Haji Ali mosque – Mumbai

Sometimes it’s nice to be a tourist in your own city. Technically it’s my husbands city but I’ve been there enough times to think site-seeing there would be ridiculous. But during these past few visits, we have been trying to go to various places, some already been to but forgotten. Haji Ali Dargah is one such place.

Haji Ali Dargah or Mosque is an early 19th century mosque situated on the Arabian Sea. It’s one of the most recognisable landmarks of Mumbai. People of all faiths pray there. In-spite of being crowded there is a certain serenity to the place, and being surrounded by the ocean gives it a different charm.

We planned to reach around 6pm so that we could see it in daylight and also enjoy the sunset on the ocean. I’ll leave you with pictures since it’s difficult to describe in words.

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tenerife spain

Spain and an Update!

Sorry for being MIA for so long but a lot of things have been happening and our priorities changed. But we have a lot to share and a lot of blogs to go through. It’s always good coming back and seeing what everyone else is up to.
We went to a 16 day trip to Spain, 6 days out of which we spent on Tenerife Island with Mohit’s sisters family. The process of sorting through pictures and experiences is such a huge undertaking that I keep procrastinating. But no more.

For those who are not aware, Tenerife is the largest of the 7 main canary islands and also has the highest elevation point in Spain. It has the third largest volcano in the world. Oh and some part of the movie fast and furious 6 was also shot here.

Spain Tenerife

We would probably never have visited this beautiful island if my sister in law did not stay there. It’s an approximately 4 hr flight from Barcelona. After a 13 direct flight from Singapore to Barcelona we had a 6 hour layover before catching the Air Europa flight to Tenerife. Needless to say it was a long journey. But we were very excited to meet the family after a long time. My MIL, who stays in Mumbai, had already arrived a few days back.

Our main purpose of visiting Spain was meeting the family and celebrating Diwali together. But since we were going so far we planned a 6 day trip to Tenerife and 10 days in mainland Spain after. Needless to say we had a lot of fun. I’ll do a separate post on Tenerife later on. We also visited Madrid, Seville, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Granada and Barcelona in that order. We decide to stick to Spain and not visit the neighboring countries because Spain in itself is so huge that it will take us months to visit the whole country.

Also, I’ll be going to India in December mainly because my sister and my niece are visiting from the US and I want to spend time with them and my family. Since I’ve been freelancing for the time being, I can afford to take the few days off. So not looking forward to the travelling part though. Airports bore me to death, especially if I have to travel alone.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Will be back with another post soon.

Killing time at the Mumbai Airport…

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Although this was our third time traveling via the new Mumbai International Airport Terminal, we never got the chance to really explore it. Blame it on the Mumbai traffic but we almost always reached with enough time to reach the boarding area 45 mins before.

New Mumbai TerminalNew Mumbai TerminalNew Mumbai TerminalYou probably have no interest in seeing how the new Mumbai Terminal looks like but if you travel enough then you also know how important airports can be when you have hours to kill before boarding a flight.

The new Terminal is huge with high ceilings and spacious sections. It’s gleaming and spotless. The best thing though is the design. It embodies a lot of Indian culture, traditions and art. It’s not design for design sake. Everything has a meaning. The no. and variety of shops are limited, especially no bookstores. That was a bummer. But we were told that bookstores would be opening in the future. There is a lot of space to lounge around or lay down for a few minutes if you want to. And considering we reached 4 hours before anticipating heavy traffic dues to rains, it was god sent.

New Mumbai Terminal New Mumbai Terminal New Mumbai TerminalIt’s not the best airport in the world and it does have scope for a lot of improvements, but if you’ve seen the old airport this one is definitely 10 times better.

 

 

Containers: Literally

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Sorry for the not so crisp image, it’s taken with my phone from behind the glass windows of one of the meeting rooms. Ports are a huge part of Singapore economy as Singapore imports/ exports tons of stuff from all over the world. Having worked with Port Singapore Authority for a few months I still cannot imagine how this Port manages to keep itself going day and night without any major goof ups.

Ports of Singapore

This post is for the Photochallenge

-Trupti

Seoul Tower

A panaromic view of Seoul: The N Seoul tower

On a business trip to Seoul recently, I managed to take some time out to visit the most common tourist spot in Seoul – The N Seoul tower. According to Wikipedia approximately 8.4 million visit the N Seoul Tower every year, so it seemed like a good place to go when time is an issue.

Why  is it so popular, you may ask? It is very near the city, it gives a panoramic view of the Seoul, is very convenient if you want to hangout with friends over a (cheap) beer, is usually crowded but as it is spacious you don’t feel very crunched. Our trip to the tower was very peaceful specifically for these reasons.

We were kind of lucky to time the trip there, as we reached there at about 5:30 PM in the evening. It was the right time as we could see the city lighting up.

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Buy some beer, grab a seat near the observatory windows and let the time fly by. View from the top is really beautiful. You can see the mountains in the background while the busy city is right at your feet.

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The tower changes colors and if you are lucky, with proper lighting you can take some really brilliant snaps.

One of the most interesting parts of the tower is the love-Locks. Make a wish and lock it (literally). Looking at the number of locks, one can safely assume that this tourist spot is mostly frequented by locals. 🙂

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-Mohit

Wangfujing shopping street

Fancy Scorpions on a stick? Go to the Night market in Beijing!!

Wangfujing shopping streetAfter the flag lowering ceremony at The Tienanmen Square, we walked down for a few minutes on a cool, crisp night and entered Wangfujing shopping street.

If you are the adventurous type where food is concerned, this place could be heaven for you. But we don’t really eat much in meat other than chicken and Pork. Sometimes we eat duck but definitely not when we can see the eyes and the beak.

Wangfujing shopping streetYou can find dumplings, scorpions on a stick, heaps of octopuses, baby ducks, snakes and other delicacies. But don’t worry, you can also find things to eat here – satay, Duck Pancakes, kababs among other things.

Wangfujing shopping streetThe atmosphere is lively, there are a lot of tourists around and generally good time can be had just by walking around and trying to recognize things on sticks. We would highly recommend this place even if it’s a place where probably only the tourists visit.

Siem Reap city

Siem Reap: The city of Ankor Wat

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Siem Reap is home to some of most beautiful archeological sites, Ankor Wat being one of them. There is a lot you can do in and around the city. There’s Ankor Wat of course, The night market, Silk factory, Stone Carving workshop, fish spa, shopping among other things.

Siem Reap airportSiem Reap city When we drove into the city from the airport, there seemed to be a mild sand storm or just a lot of wind I guess. The city is not very developed compared to other South East Asian major cities. We stayed in Ankor Paradise which was a great place to stay with some balconies that open on the main road. We bought the hotel voucher through Group-on and it worked well since the location was great. It was just a few minutes walk to the main market.

Siemp Reap CitySiem Reap city

The night market is a place where all the tourists and backpackers spend some time drinking and eating. Like any other South East Asian market, it has a lot of bars and massage places. A rather nice and lively place to relax. There is also a huge market for fake goods like LV, Prada and the likes. Also present is a section for pirated books.

Siem Reap citySiem Reap city Years of Khmer rouge atrocities have definitely left a mark. You see headless statues and destroyed work in the temples here. You see people on wheelchairs, a result of the landmines,trying to make a living by selling paintings. Tourism helps.

Split-Second Story :The Haze

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haze in Singapore
haze1That smoke, fog thing you see in the back is haze in Singapore due to the neighbouring Indonesian island of Sumatra’s forest clearing fires. The fires were used to clear plantations. Visibility was very poor, we could smell smoke all the time and had to wear masks before going out. It lasted for more than a week and the air pollution index went to a record high. 0–50 is supposed to be good, but it went up to 401 last year. It affected the whole of Singapore, parts of Indonesia and Malaysia.

There was a lot of blame game, specifically people pressuring Indonesia to control the fires. But there were also a lot of people who blamed Singapore partially since some of the plantations were owned by Singaporean companies.

The haze is supposed to return this year during the dry season. Let’s hope it doesn’t affect anyone adversely.

This post is for the Split-Second Story challenge…

 

Zhujiajiao ancient town Shanghai

Venice in Shanghai – Zhujiajiao ancient town :Shanghai

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Well it is known as the Venice of Shanghai. Zhujiajiao is an ancient town located in the Qingpu District of Shanghai. We had no idea how or where to buy tickets from because we didn’t want to go through a tour or an agent. We googled the ticket center address and we knew we could get a bus from there. Now this sounds easier said than done. Because if you can’t speak Chinese, good luck with making the cab driver understand what you’re saying. So we did the smart thing, got the hotel receptionist to write down the ticket counter place in Chinese and we also took a map. It still took us 3 rounds around the same junction to find the place.  Again we rushed to find the counter because it was nearing closing time. We found the counter at the basement and with hand gestures and map and our Chinese translation, managed to get two tickets to the place. Thankfully everything but the date and timing was written in Chinese. The ticket counter guy was sweet enough to point us to a English pamphlet of the place.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

The next day we reached 5 mins before the bus left and found it already boarded and waiting for late comers like us. All the people in the bus were Chinese and they were nice enough to point out our seats when we took the wrong seats the first 2 times.  We reached the place in about a couple of hours or maybe even less.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

There are rows and rows of weeping willow trees that great you on the way to the entrance. Since it was our first time seeing these trees, we were kind of  distracted. Zhujiajiao is what it says it is.  An ancient village on water. We had fun strolling around the cobbled streets looking at different varieties of food and souvenirs, dress shops and other entertaining things.There are a lot of alley ways and small shops along the way. The small streets open up to a huge junction.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

There are a few cozy and pretty cafes scattered along the way and there’s Starbucks. I wonder how Starbucks found it’s way here, but it was a relief to get a reliable chai latte to lift our tired spirits.

Beware of the temple in the village. We went in and couldn’t say no when the 2 Chinese temple guys separated us and took us to two opposite tables. The one who guided me saw my hand, pretended to read the lines, then wrote something down on a paper, put it in an envelope and gave it to me. Then he showed me a register to sign and obviously pay, which I was not going to go. I hate scams like this. I refused saying I had no money. He asked me to return my fortune back to him. Of course. I was only glad to return him the scrap of paper.

Zhujiajiao Ancient TownI bought soft wool socks made for my darling niece from this sweet lady. We also got our paper cut outs made. We watched a 5d movie (yes!) and I had my picture taken in a Chinese dress. I simply cannot resist things like that.

Zhujiajiao Ancient TownAs the sun started setting, it scattered a warm glow over the place which made it look even more beautiful. We might have enjoyed it even more if it wasn’t super hot.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town