Category Archives: My Trips Around the World

Dragon In Escape To Australia!


Before continuing with the dragons, I should write first about Australia… Well, the plans for Australia had been made almost one year ago and unfortunately my flight to Perth was cancelled in last minute. That’s why I changed my itinerary with a new one to Indonesia.

But, life is hard, I had lots of new responsibilities at work in the recent months and I couldn’t write the part about the dragons as promised. But, then, the life is also plenty of surprises and hopes, and right now I’m in Australia for a short trip. And this time, I want to share my third Australian experience with you without passing time.

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After a flight of almost 10 hours, I arrived to Hong Kong where I stayed one night. Hong Kong is lively as it is always. Mainland Chinese people are filling up the narrow streets of the city to celebrate the new year, the expats are having fun after work on a Friday evening and you become surprised to see how traffic is under control in the most populated tiny country of the world. I tried to enjoy the dynamism of the city as much as I can because I know that in my next destination I would miss the crowds(!)

Then, with another 8 hours of flight, I arrived to Sydney on Sunday. The weather is hot, very hot for a traveller like me coming from a snowy city. As do most of the tourists of Sydney, I rushed to take a picture of Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, which are the symbols of the city.

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Next day, I took a flight for Ayers Rock, in the center of Australia, known also as Red Rock or Uluru. Finally, I’m in my targeted destination….

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Tranquility everywhere. I’m in the middle of nowhere and Anangu – Aboriginal people of Western Desert think this is the center of the world. The Anangu people have been living here for over 30,000 years. Uluru is the biggest monolithic rock formation on earth where Anangu people have been settled. It dates back to 550 million years and the caves of Uluru had become so far home for Anangu people.

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Today, I woke up early and did a trekking around Uluru. Some of the caves walls are painted – dating back to 5,000 – 7,000 years ago; the stories of those paintings  are still unknown. Hence lots of imagination required. What we know as of today are few childish stories and legends.

But, for the history part;

In 1873, an Englishman, William Christie Gosse became the first European to climb Uluru.

In 1930, the first airplane, ‘Love Bird’ landed at Uluru.

In 1950, first tourists arrived at Uluru. Now, it’s the tourism icon of Australia.

I write these lines right after my camel tour. My camel, Daisy, is well-known in this part of the world, he appeared in many ads… I liked it, and I will continue my touring with Daisy for another couple of days in this beautiful desert….

Labuan Bajo is not in South America


img_2163img_2144Where’s Labuan Bajo? It’s not in South America! It’s a town in one of the thousands of islands of Indonesia. And for a traveller who departs from the west side of the world, it may take more than one day to reach there…

First take a flight to Jakarta, capital of Indonesia. You can stay a couple of days in this chaotic and surprising city where you’ll acclimatize your body to the tropical heat. When you’re ready you can hit the road for your final destination.

We took an early morning flight to Labuan Bajo; there’s not a direct flight, there is a stopover in Bali where you can have a delicious coffee before taking your next charter flight. From Bali, after almost two-hours flight you arrive to the island of Flores and Labuan Bajo is one of the main towns of this pretty island, located in the west side. The airport is newly constructed and I think this is the most modern building which you’ll see in this island. The center of the town is just 2 km. from the airport and on the way to your ferryboat, your driver would like to show you the bay of Labuan from one of the best spots.

We left the city (or should I say the town?) behind us and took a ferry for the Bidadari Island. ‘Bidadari’ means ‘angels’ in Indonesian. In fact this is one of the paradisiacal places on the earth hence its name embellishes it more.

We stayed five nights in an eco-lodge surrounded by verdant hibiscus garden a few meters away from reef corals. The Flores Sea was calm and warm, hiding a colorful world in its depths. The famous Komodo Archipelago was lying  in front of us like a wall bordering between the bustling world and our small Bidadari Island. The crickets were chanting the secrets of a life unknown to us.

As one of the TV ads says it’s ‘Wonderful Indonesia’!…

Coming Next: Dragons in escape!

Kunming, one of the best Chinese cities


Shi Lin Kunming is one of the best cities in China to live in. The major reason of that is its climate: Kunming has a temperate climate year-round. It’s also a central point for the tourists wishing to visit western regions of Yunnan and Tibet. In the foothills of the Himalayas, it’s called ‘Spring City’ .

Kunming Beauty

Kunming people are nice, unlike local people in the big cities, they’re more friendly towards foreigners. Although the city center has become a jungle of skyscrapers, like in every big city in China, about one hundred kilometers beyond the city center, I had a chance to visit one of the most astonishing natural beauties of the world: Stone Forest  (石林, Shi Lin)and Jiuxiang Karts Caves (九乡风景区; Jiu Xian Feng Jingo Qu).

Forest of Stone

Both places are around 80km. from Kunming center. There are some buses going there but I rented a car with a driver and I think that it was worth to do that. It’s a huge area, try to go there early in the morning. You would spend all your day in these two places.

Stone Forest

Stone Forest is like a Flintstone World….

Yunnan Girls

But beware, it’s very crowded….

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I like more Jiu Xiang Caves area , what you see above the earth, you witness them underground, you feel the surreal of the place…

Jiuxiang cavesWaterfalls in Jiu Xiang

Jiu Xiang Caves

 

When you return to Kunming, awe-inspiring feelings will probably preside you… you can finish your Kunming day with the specialty of this region; with a delicious mushroom plate…

Note:  Bangkok is a perfect hub to fly to Kunming, the flight is around 2 and a half hour, more comfortable to fly from any other big city in China…

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Lijiang: Venice of China


A canal with flowers

A canal with flowers

Lijiang is the old capital city of the Tea Road; for centuries it was the central bazaar where Tibetan and Han traders negotiated for their products. It’s at the bottom of Himalayas and Qinghai – Tibet plateau; you can feel the fresh air at an altitude of 2,000 meters. It’s surrounded with mountains, rivers and lakes. Besides of its amazing landscapes, it’s known also by its rich culture.

One of hundreds canals in Lijiang

One of hundreds canals in Lijiang

More than 20 different ethnic minorities live in Lijiang, amongst them are Naxi, Bai, Tibetan, Puma, Yi , Lisu, Miao people. Each of them have their own traditions and the different colors and styles of dresses fill the car-free cobblestone street of the old city.

Local people from Lijiang

Local people from Lijiang

 

 

 

 

In 1997, Lijiang was the first Chinese hill town listed in the World Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO.

Street view from old Lijiang

Street view from old Lijiang

 

 

Old women of Lijiang

Old women of Lijiang

Old way of transporting merchandise

Old way of transporting merchandise

Together with its picturesque landscapes, the arts and architecture of this town are fabulous. They are the masters of Dongba scripts, drawings depicting the Naxi culture. When I returned back home, my Chinese teacher asked me whether I listened to Naxi music. `Of course` I told her, almost everyday I witnessed live music performance of ethnic people on the border of the canals.

Old Naxi Scripts

Old Naxi Scripts

 

Famous Wall Scripts in Lijiang

Famous Wall Scripts in Lijiang

When you enter into the old city, the first thing that you notice is the numerous stone bridges embellishing the canals of Lijiang.  Another interesting thing: there are many shops where you can rent one of the beautiful Lijiang dresses, there you wear your costume and do your make-up and then a photographer takes your picture on one of the 350 bridges. Nice souvenir!

Pose For

Pose For

Another Pose

Another Pose

Thanks to its nature Lijiang kitchen uses lots of mushrooms or jun zi… really delicious in the hot pots!

Famous Mushrooms

Famous Mushrooms

Kublai Khan arrived to this city and drank water from this well…

Kublai Khan Well in Lijiang

Kublai Khan Well in Lijiang

You must absolutely visit Black Dragon Pool Park (hei long tan) , just 15-20 minutes of walk after you exit from the Old Town. It’s a relaxing place located at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. You can climb to Elephant Hill if you want to see an overview of old and new city. Or you can visit the Naxi Culture center to listen their songs.

Black dragon pool park

Black dragon pool park

This is not particular to Lijiang but my favorite toys, remembers me the Far East Asia 🙂

My favorite!

My favorite!

And don’t forget, life is full of surprises… you can not know when and where you can see a white camel. Sometimes you should switch your path from main streets to side streets 🙂

What is this?

What is this?

Watchtower of Turkey on Vimeo


I loved it!

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I arrived to Baku before the sunset; the big sun was shining like an egg yolk in front of me. The international airport of Baku is situated almost 20 km. away from the city center. The heat, the dust and … Continue reading

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Memoires from St. Petersburg

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(Early morning scene from Helsinki – St. Petersburg train) (Melancholy in St. Petersburg) Just one year ago, Shabby had told me to do this trip to St. Petersburg. I didn’t want to travel anywhere. I was in a middle of … Continue reading

Mostar – Old Bridge


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On the way to Mostar, you can witness to the natural beauties of this country: on a beautiful spring day, everywhere is colored with every tone of green. You start to be immersed to this natural beauty until you suddenly realize a mass grave with its snow-white gravestones; and then, another one, and then another….all showing the same year, as the year of death: “1993”. From Sarajevo on the way to Mostar, you should not expect to see flower fields….

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But you should see Mostar absolutely. It’s easy to go there by bus: you can find almost every hour a bus going to Mostar. The old Ottoman stone bridge, which resisted to all kinds of natural disasters for about 400 years, could not stand to the attacks and was demolished by the Croatians. This is one of the important symbols of Bosnia and the war…In 2004, the restored bridge was opened…..and the Old Bridge of Mostar is now listed on the Unesco World Heritage List.

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Mostar is a small but “picturesque” town; you can see the small stone bridges dating the 16.- 17. Centuries, admire the Neretva River and the beauty of the town from the top of one of the hills; take a rest on a bench in the middle of mass graves (yes, the death and the life are intertwined here, you should get used to it!), or to join to the happiness of a new-wed couple reminding us that the life still continues for who survives….

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Sarajevo Triste!

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(The bullet holes – everywhere in the country, keep your memories alive….) I remember to the war in Bosnia, happened more than 20 years ago. In those days, I was living in Italy having a lot of friends from Bosnia … Continue reading

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Chinese Romantism in Li River

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Guilin is famous with its Karst hills and with the River Li. If you travel in the South of China, don’t miss this city, try to spend at least one night there and take a daily tour on the Li … Continue reading