Friday, December 16, 2011

13-18 April 2010 – Indonesia, Bali, Kuta

We took an AirAsia flight from Singapore to Denpasar, provincial capital of Bali. After a short taxi ride we were in Kuta, a former fishing village, now a popular tourist destination, especially for surfers.
We stayed in a lovely budget mini hotel on the Poppies Lane 1, close enough to the beach and far enough from the clubs and bars not to be bothered by party noise. There was a nice swimming pool and a patio area…

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

8-13 April 2010: Singapore. Clarke Quay, meeting old friend and the night safari

You have seen some pictures of my favorite place in Singapore, Clarke Quay, in the previous post. We came back there again, to have a dinner at Hooters' - the food was yummy! Later, in New York, we came to Hooters' hoping to get the same delicious food - and see the girls, of course, and none of them was as good as at Clarke Quay.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

8-13 April 2010: Singapore, an overview

I should tell you, I was leaving Kuala Lumpur with sadness. For some reasons, I felt so comfortable in that city. And at the same time, I was excited to go to Singapore, the country (or city?) I was dreaming of for so long. So, we finally arrived to Singapore. Chewing-gum free country. A country of 4 official languages (hello Kazakhstan, it is possible!).  A country with the lowest corruption level in Asia and the lowest crime level in the world. It is the second country in the world by population density, with at least 3 major ethnic groups and no major ethnic conflicts. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

4 April 2010 - Formula One, Malaysian Grand Prix

We were so lucky  - Malaysian Grand Prix was scheduled for 4 April, and certainly we could not skip it. Not that I was a big fan of races, but there was a concert after the race, with Wyclef Jean and Fatboy Slim. As for Thierry, he enjoyed the race and even shaked hands with Jenson Button.
Amazing thing happened on our way back to Kuala Lumpur. When we got to the train station, the station officer told us that we missed the last train... and after that, having seen our upset faces and other tourists coming up, he said he would make a phone call. In about 20 minutes we had a train sent specially for us, the racegoers. Did it happen to you in any other country?

A huge, endless line to get autographs, the session lasted only for an hour. We did not make it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

27 March 2010 - Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia

If you are in Kuala Lumpur, make sure you visit Batu Caves, one of the most popular Hindu temples outside India. It is within a short bus-ride (and now there is a new train line available up to the cave) from Kuala Lumpur. 
The caves are located inside a limestone hill covered with trees. To enter the main cave, we climbed 272 narrow steps. Lord Murugan statue in front of the cave is breath-taking: 42.7 m high covered with gold paint, this statue overlooks the city below and makes you feel so tiny... The area around the caves is full of monkeys that are in tourist business - they love stealing things from tourists! 
Here is a valuable advice: though Kuala Lumpur is free of mosquitoes, there are plenty of flying vampires inside the caves, so a repellent is a good thing to have with you. 

The gate to the caves:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

18 March – 9 April 2010: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I fell in love with this city immediately. When I hear its name, it sounds for me like a melody coming from a xylophone, “Ku-a-la-lum-pur”. And when I look at the buildings near Merdeka square or close to China town, I think of sweets - those caramel colors are... mouth-watering. Add modern buildings made of glass and steel, and you will have an idea of this vibrant city. 
We stayed in Little India (yep, could not say goodbye to India!), which is only a few blocks away from China Town. Kuala Lumpur has a very efficient public transportation network, including metro and monorail lines. However, if you stay close to the city center, you may not need public transport that much, as the city is fairly walkable. English is widely spoken, and we had no problems at all (even a lady at the post office was fluent in English). 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

March 13-14, 2010: Kerala backwaters

If you happen to be in Kerala, you can’t lose an opportunity to take a boat trip along the lakes and channels, known as Kerala backwaters. The area parallel to Arabian Sea, it includes 5 lakes  linked by channels,  and I did not hesitate to call it ‘the Venice of India’.

What made this trip very special is that it was Thierry’s birthday present to me, absolutely unforgettable one…

So early in the morning we left for Alappuzha (or Alleppey) where our boat trip would start. The boats are actually floating houses, able to accommodate up to 8-10 people, not including the crew.  For the next 24 hours we had a comfortable cabin and a cosy area on the deck, and own captain and chef!

We spent a very relaxing day, drifting down the channels, enjoying the views of the calm water, reflections of the sun on it, palm trees. The scenery is truly amazing! We saw local people bathing, boys playing in the water, women doing their laundry and men transporting goods on canoes.  Thierry was offered to sail the boat, and he certainly took his chance to practice his sailing skills.

In the evening, before the dinner with a cake, a surprise was waiting for me. A pair of cute earrings with aquamarine was lying on the bed, a present from Thierry.  Yes, I agree with you – my boyfriend is such an amazing guy!

I have already mentioned that I love food in Kerala. It is not as hot spicy as northern Indian cuisine is, but it is so delicate and full of flavours as almost every dish is cooked with coconut milk. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

25 February-18 March: Trivandrum, Kerala

Trivandrum, or Thiruvananthapuram (an official name that I still cannot memorize) is a capital of Kerala state in India.  It is within 37-km train ride from Varkala.
Even though Trivandrum is not a touristic city at all, there are a few things that are special and I should tell you about them.
It was the first city where I had seen a mosque, catholic and orthodox cathedrals and a temple to Lord Ganesh, all on the same street: Palayam Juma Masjid,  St. Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral, St. George’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, and a temple to Lord Ganesh. It is amazing that all these religions co-exist in the city so closely, and it is the perfect example of the religious tolerance in Kerala.
And for the first time here in India, we saw a street protest (unfortunately, I cannot tell you what it was against or for. Maybe someone will read this and tell us what it was about?). It seemed to be very well arranged and controlled as well: no signs of violence or riots.
There is an interesting stadium in the city centre, Chandrashekaran Nair Football Stadium. Hold on, it is not just the name that makes it interesting: it is semi-circle and host even international level matches.
People in the south of India, and in Kerala in particular, look so much different from those living on the north of the country. While Europeans go to solariums and stay on the beaches for hours to get tanned, people in Kerala protect their skin and walk with sun umbrellas. Women usually wear saris, while men may not wear trousers but dhoti, a rectangular piece of cloth, wrapped around and knotted at the waist. It must be the best clothing for a hot and humid weather!
We have visited a museum of science and technology, which was surprisingly good (it would give many points to the National Museum of India back in Delhi!), definitely a must-see if you are in Trivandrum. Give a miss to the 3D-movie theater close to the museum if you have ever seen any movie in 3D (read the sign: feel the effect of 3D, which you have heard but never experienced!).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

25 February – 18 March 2010 - Varkala, Kerala - the town and places around

Varkala, the town, is noticeably cleaner than any other Indian city on the north. It is also very colorful and I may not be objective, but I think that Varkala buses are the most colorful! Some architectural items and signboards on the streets had made me smile quite a few times... 
One day we made a tour around the town. There is a beautiful lake within a few kilometers from the town and we saw picturesque fishermen houses around it, built just between the palm trees. 
Also between the palms is St. Sebastian's church, beautiful and big enough to admit all Christians of Varkala town. 
Back at North Cliff, we took a cooking class one evening. So now Thierry knows all the secrets of fish molee!
I did not mentioned in my previous post that I visited a homeopath doctor (as he calls himself) at North Cliff. Note the only book on his table, the Lonely Planet Guide... 
Soon we will leave Kerala and India. And like many other places we have been to, people we met in Varkala will always stay in our minds.