Travel Time – Jakarta, Indonesia

indonesiaWe are off to Jakarta, Indonesia for the Good Friday long weekend. Since we can never track holidays and book in advance all the fancy places like Bali and Chiang mai are already booked or way too expensive.

Jakarta was relatively cheaper. We love traveling. We don’t mind going to the non-touristy places as well.

We’ll be there for 3 days so want to make the best of it. We are making lists. On the list are places mentioned in lonely planet, a bar and probably a disc. And shopping. We’ll see.

There are more books to be read and lists to be made.  Sometimes I feel just planning for the trip, looking up places and generally just reading up on a certain place is pretty interesting in itself.

Suggestions are always welcome!

 

 

 

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Shanghai: Jade Buddha Temple

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“Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

The Jade Buddha Temple was founded in 1882 with two jade Buddha statues imported to Shanghai from Burma by sea. The history of this temple is very interesting which you can read on Wikipedia.

Before going to the temple i read a few reviews online and a overwhelming number of them complained of how its a tourist trap and how 3/4 of the premises are souvenir shops. But i decided to go there anyway based on the few good reviews i read. And i’m glad i did.

I went on a monday. I reached around 1 and it was pretty quite with very few tourists around. When i went inside the main hall I immediately felt a great sense of peace surround me. Im not a very religious person and I’ve been to a lot of temples before but rarely have I felt so connected. The temple is beautiful and the statues have a serene look.

There are different buddha halls. The Devajara Hall, Mahavira Hall and the Jade Buddha Tower. I also saw monks reciting shlokas which is a beautiful thing to hear.

Yes there are a lot of souvenir shops around which makes me sad but of you ignore those things and resign to the fact that everything is going to be overpriced and simply enjoy the temple and its history its a beautiful place to visit. Continue reading

New Years Eve: Singapore fireworks 2013

Welcome to our first travel post. But before we start, here’s wishing you a very very happy new year…May you have a prosperous and fruitful 2013.

We were in Singapore during New Year’s eve for the first time (in spite of living here for 3 years), so we decided to see the Singapore fireworks at Marina Bay. We celebrated our last New Year in Hong kong watching the fireworks and it was a wonderful experience as more than 15,000 visitors gathered around the tower which was lit up to invite 2012. The fireworks were part of the building and everyone seemed to have loved it. Here are a couple of pictures…
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People always draw comparisons between Singapore and Hong kong, both are emerging economies of South Asia, both are similar in size and foreigner intake. Both have a chinese orientation and both want to make a mark on the world with infrastructure and tourism. So our expectations from Singapore fireworks were set by the experience we had in Hong kong.

Plan was to leave from home at 9:00 PM and try to reach Marina Boulevard by 10:00 pm. But the Mrs was not ready even by 9:35, so we ended up taking a cab. On the way we saw signs which said that private vehicles were not allowed around the marina bay area and hence we were dropped off at marina bay sands itself. The instructions we found on the internet were very confusing and when the cab couldn’t drop us at a specific point, all we could do was follow the herd. As a result of which we were not aware of any concert arranged.  With us being dropped off right at MBS, we missed the entire concert and were directly at the fireworks viewing deck. So in other words we were waiting for the fireworks 2 hours in advance with nothing else to do.

Crowd was sitting at premium locations and we had no choice but to stand behind, with the crowds building behind us. Expected crowd was 25,000 and with our HKG experience, we had really high hopes, but the actual fireworks did not commence until 12:00.. so basically we were left bored with no entertainment but to look at others. The government in HKG had made sure people had things to do when they waited during the countdown, like intermittent light shows or other things like small fireworks. But here, there was nothing, the count down was basically a painful wait.

The actual fireworks lasted for only 8 mins, and it was over before we were even started enjoying it. It was good but Mrs thought it was nothing spectacular. I guess we count the whole experience rather than just the fireworks. Here are a few pics.

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We didn’t manage to take many descent shots as it was very crowded. Nonetheless, we had fun. Strolled around Boat Quay for some time and took the last train home.