Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mini Travel Log: Shanghai, China

My second destination to China; Shanghai. It was a very short stay for me and I didn't have enough time to explore. And I STILL haven't get the chance to see pandas yet (Grrr!!!!). Well, I was very impressed with the world class infrastructures in Shanghai. It is really a metropolitan city which is on par with any Western cities. However, the mentality of the people is still very much third world, especially when you see how the devils drive on the road dangerously. And yeah, the people here still spit everywhere. The city is so polluted that even on a clear sky with bright sun, the light couldn't penetrate the layer of pollutants. I wonder how they can achieve long life expectancy while living in such conditions. Constructions are ongoing everywhere in the city and at the time of this writing, the walk down the famous "Bund" of Shanghai where old colonial buildings are is closed. I was actually quite disappointed when I got there. Went to the other side of the river to see the Oriental Pearl Tower. Here, constructions of mega buildings are ongoing as well. On my next return, I will go out at night instead to avoid the smog and to capture nicer pictures. Oh yeah, I need someone to remind me to visit the pandas too. :P

Last post for the year of 2009. I wish everyone HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mini Travel Log: Auckland, New Zealand

Spending my christmas in Auckland was not entirely cool. Many shops and tourist attraction sites were closed. On the morning of christmas, the streets were literally deserted and the city looked like a ghost town. Fortunately, the harbor cruise and tourist sight-seeing buses are still operating. It was a lovely sunny day. The cruise down the harbor was wonderful. I'd recommend that for anyone visiting Auckland. Hop-on buses brought me to many attraction sites; but mostly closed, so I spent most of the time outside. There was one thing which I couldn't do which is the bungy jumping off the Auckland Harbor Bridge or the Sky Tower. Perhaps next time when I return again.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Lights @ Orchard

To all readers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you have a better year next year. The past 2 years were terrible but things are looking brighter now. For those who lost their jobs, may you find a new one. For those who got their pay cut, may you get a salary increase and bonus by year end. And for those greedy sinister powers behind this economic meltdown mess and profited from it, enjoy your ill-gotten gains. Don't forget the less fortunate. Here are pictures of Christmas lights taken from Orchard in Singapore. It's not grand anymore but at least the festive mood is still around. At times of despair, it's good to throw everything aside and enjoy our time. Happy holidays!

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mini Travel Log: Maldives

Maldives is a group of small tropical islands in the Indian Ocean. Faced with the threat of global warming, this country is forecasted to be under the water in the near future. Five years ago, this island was devastated by tsunami generated from an earthquake. It showed how vulnerable it is against threats of mother nature. I was very lucky to have the chance to visit this beautiful island. The beach is sandy white and the blue sea is so clear. Every island is surrounded by lagoons of rich coral and fish species. I had my first snorkeling experience here and was stunned by the out-of-this-world underwater sights. I even came close to sharks; which I was lucky not to be eaten. I hope every one can do a part in fighting global warming and preserve the beautiful mother nature for our future generation. There isn't many places left in this world with such beautiful sights.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mini Travel Log: Dubai, UAE (2)

I had another few days in Dubai recently. I returned to Dubai mall for another look at the tallest building next to it on a clear blue sky. Even though it was the second time, I managed to capture a few more fantastic shots of the building and areas in the mall. After that, I went to the famous hotel by the sea; Burj Al Arab. I was surprised to see many people sun-bathing on the desert beach under the scorching hot sun. No wonder skin cancer is on the rise among the new generation. I ended my tour at the man-made island Palm Jumeirah. I ventured until the very end tip of the island where the huge Atlantis hotel is located. Damage for the day: cab fare of 160 dirhams!!! Hmm..where should I visit on my next trip. Maybe I should check out the desert safari. Anyone up for it?

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: Dubai, UAE (1)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mini Travel Log: Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul; the city where East meets West. The two continents are divided by the Bosphorus Strait. Many great empires ruled over this city and used it as a capital; leaving it with rich cultural heritage. I was mesmerized by this beautiful city and its many historical structures. Fighting fatigue and trying to stay awake, I managed to visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar. There are so many other attractions and I wished I had more days here.

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A word of caution for tourists. Like many southern European cities, there are many shady people preying on tourists here. Very often these people come up to ask you questions like "where are you from" and "who do you travel with". While trying to draw your attention away, the other guy will work his pickpocket skills. There are also people who will coax you to follow them to some good bargain places. Don't be fooled by them as they are trying to bring you to isolated place to mug you. On my very short visit, I had already seen a case and another attempt on myself.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mini Travel Log: Beijing, China

My hotel is just next to the Olympic Park where the Bird's Nest and Water Cube are located. I was all excited like a kid and ready to go out when my cab pulled up at the hotel entrance. Entrance to the park itself is free but there is a fee to go into the Bird's Nest. The Water Cube is fenced up and looked abandoned. It is very sad to see such huge sports complexes not utilized for sports activities and left to collect dust. And it is definitely a huge waste of money on maintenance. In the evening, I visited Tiananmen Square. Unfortunately, the sun was already setting when I reached the place. The winds were howling and temperature dipped to minus 6 degree celcius. I didn't stay there for long to be a snowman. I will return next time to explore more and enter the Forbidden City. On my way back, I passed by the Olympic Park again. The place was beautifully lit up with illumination, especially the Water Cube. Definitely worth to check out for those who love night scenes.

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