Tag Archives: travel

Finally Komodo Dragons


Now I know what may look like the ancient times…. I’m talking about the ancient times of dinosaurs …. I think one of the places on earth to grasp a sense of those times is the island of Galapagos…. and the other place is Komodo Island…. Well, going to Komodo Island in search of the rarest creature of the earth is much more practical than having a special trip to Galapagos… And here it is….

But, on the way to Komodo Island, ask to the boatman to bring you first to Padar island. This is the most beautiful uninhabited island of the world which I had seen so far. You have to hike a little bit to see this wonder of the world, but it’s worth to every step and to every drop of sweat…

 

As for the Komodo Dragons, you should be lucky to find one in the middle of the island. We walked almost one hour and we were lucky…..

The guide told us that this was a teen dragon.  A huge body of almost 3 meters, but very agile… be careful not to be close to him…

And finally… the lunch of a baby dragon!

 

 

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….

Shi Lin

 

 

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!

Aside

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

This gallery contains 10 photos.


(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

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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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Finland Before Winter

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It may sound a bad idea to go to Finland at the start of the winter. But it has many advantages. First, there’re not tourist crowds like in the warm countries or in other big cities of Europe. Second, everywhere … Continue reading

My last post (but the least) from Beijing : Confucius Temple and The Imperial Academy


The day began with some clouds in the sky. I was targeting to see Lama Temple in the afternoon of that day but it started to rain which slowed my walking. Arrived to the Temple of Lama, it was already late, it was closed. But a few meters away from the Lama Temple, I discovered Confucius Temple still open to visit. It was wonderful – romantic hours waiting for me in the Confucius Temple!

Conficius welcomed us!

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Who is Confucius? I think that everybody knows about him. But I read some information about him to put here. He was born in 551 BC and his real name was Kong Qiu, Confucius is the name given to him by the West. In that era, Buddha was teaching in India and Socrates in Greece. Conficius was unlucky when compared to western or Indian philosophers, he had lived in a country where there were several separate states not unified yet by a ruler. He travelled and taught his wisdom to his disciples. His main focus was the relations between human beings not the search for the existence of God. Accordingly a human being should try to be good. Nobility is not determined by birth but by the attitude of mind and actions resulting from him. However most of the rulers didn’t like his teachings. The Communists too saw an ideological opponent in Confucianism. In the recent years, this attitude started to change.

Back to the Confucius Temple, what strikes me was the gates with names like Gate of First Teacher (the first gate at the entrance) and the Gate of Great Achievements. When you pass these gates followed by short halls and surrounded by very old trees and pavilions you arrive to the main temple where you can admire some ancient musical instruments, which are part of the Confucius teaching I believe.

Pavillions in the temple

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With the combination of silent drops of the rain, this is one of the perfect places in Beijing where you can listen to your inner rhythm.

Ritual in the garden of the Temple

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As old as Confucius times, isn’t it?

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The Imperial Academy is connected to the Temple by a side gate. It was a highest educational institution in China starting from 13th century (The Temple was also built in the same century). The importance if this institution when compared to the universities in the west is that even children of poor people might at end the school if they were good students. In other words, the school was open to all students who merit it and this is one of the major difference in the socio-cultural system in China. You enter to the Academy thru the Gate of Highest Learning. A rectangular place is surrounded with classes, nowadays this building is being used as a government library.

Imperial Academy….

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In the meantime, what Confucius was saying?

“Failure to cultivate virtue and review what I have learned , inability to practice what I have been told to be righteous and unwillingness to correct my mistakes – these are what worries me.”