Tag Archives: travel

India 2016 – Delhi

Well it’s only been nine months since my last post, that’s not so long is it?  I did more travelling since you’ve heard from me last.  The big trip this time was India.  I was going to write one blog post for the whole thing but I realized there is just too much to cram in.  So I’m doing a post on every city/area I visited.  We’ll see if I make it through all of them…

It’s quite a country of contrasts.  From huge, elaborate palaces to very poor conditions.  But it’s certainly fascinating and memorable.

The first city I visited was Delhi.  I went to  Raj Ghat, the memorial site of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation.  I also saw the stunning Humayan’s Tomb, which the Taj Mahal was modelled after.  It’s not white though, it’s made of red sandstone.  Sandstone is commonly used in conjunction with marble and quartz in Indian buildings.  Another beautiful example is the Jama Mosque, built in 1656.  I had to wear a sheet-like outfit when I was there for religious reasons, very fashion forward, lol.

Another sandstone building is Qutab Minar, a soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. A 7 m-high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It is said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it your wish will be fulfilled.  I didn’t try it, but who knows?

The Sikh temple, Gurduwara Bangla Sahib is not made of sandstone.  It’s made of white marble with stunning gilded domes.  The Sikhs believe in the tradition of serving others and this temple feeds hundreds (if not thousands) of people every day for no charge.  It was amazing to walk through and see the giant cooking pots and all the people eating their meals.

I must admit though, for all the beauty of the temples and mosques what I loved the most about Delhi was Old Delhi.  All of India is chaotic but I think Old Delhi wins the prize, this is one crazy place!  They are very ingenious when it comes to wiring and electrical wires run everywhere in the narrow streets.  It looks a bit like a wild, steel spider’s web.  The markets there are wonderful, I only had time to visit the spice market, but oh, the colours, the smells, the people, fantastic!  I also went on a super fun but slightly terrifying rickshaw ride.  There don’t seem to be any traffic rules in India, lol.  On the first day there the taxi driver said “In some countries people drive on the left, in some countries people drive on the right, in India people drive anywhere they can”.  And he was right, lol.

So that’s just one city!  Stay tuned for the next!

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Raj Ghat

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Raj Ghat

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Humayan’s Tomb

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Jama Mosque

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Qutab Minar

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Sikh temple, Gurduwara Bangla Sahib

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Sikh temple

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Sikh temple

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Sikh temple

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Old Delhi, those wires!

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The rickshaw driver!

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A bit of traffic…

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spice market, Old Delhi

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Africa

I was lucky enough to get to go to Africa this year.  I visited South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

First up was Cape Town, South Africa where the highlight was taking a rather daunting cable car ride up to the top of Table Mountain.  I also saw some adorable penguins and brave baboons (one stole someone’s cookies).

Then it was off to Namibia to embark on a 4 day boat journey up and down the Zambezi River.  The banks of the Zambezi abound with elephants, cape buffalo, warthogs, giraffes, impalas, hippos, baboons and more.  I also went out in a small boat for water safaris where I got to see  animals quite close up.  The variety of wildlife is amazing.  This part of my journey also included a day of going to the Chobe National Park in Botswana for a land safari.  Even more animals!  The jeep had to stop to let elephants cross the road, and zebras, and giraffes!

The next part of my whirlwind tour was Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  This is the highest water fall in the world, and it was very impressive.  This was one of the most exciting parts of my trip because I got to ride an elephant!!  The place I went for my elephant ride is an elephant sanctuary.  All of the elephants there are either orphans or they were born there.   They have a huge reserve that they live on when they’re not giving rides to lucky people like me.  I know the reserve is big because I rode for over an hour and there was no boundary in sight.  There are many completely wild animals there as well, such as cape buffalo, warthogs and impalas.  The elephants are very relaxed and you can tell their caretakers are very fond of them.  I was quite nervous when I first got on (they are huge!) but quickly got used to the height and loved the experience.  After the ride I got to feed them.  They have two ways of taking their food.  If I said “trunk up” they put their trunk up and I threw the food in their mouth.  If I said “trunk down” they curled their trunk down then the end up so the tip points up like a bowl and I put food in the trunk, then they transferred it to their mouth.  And then, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, I got to pet a cheetah!  The cheetah’s name is Sylvester and he was orphaned as a baby after a lion killed his siblings and chased his mother off.  He was originally raised in a regular home with house cats but when he got big he was too rough to be kept there so he went to live at the sanctuary.  He roams around the reserve when he’s not getting attention from visitors.  There are wild cheetah there but Sylvester doesn’t think he’s a cheetah, he thinks he’s a house cat, so he ignores them.

The last part of my journey was back to South Africa, to Kruger National Park.  I stayed at the Manyeleti Private Game Reserve concession, which is a private area attached to Kruger.  I went out in a jeep every morning and afternoon to look for animals.  All the favourites were there, elephants, zebra, warthogs, giraffe, impala, etc.  Far, far too many animals to list them all.  Even walking around the lodge I would see kudu or duiker antelope happily munching on leaves or elephants strolling by my window.  Sometimes while in the jeep the elephants got a little too close and we had to back up pretty quickly to get out of their way.  This is where I finally got to see lions.  A pride of lions had killed a cape buffalo not far behind the lodge I was staying in.  The lions were so beautiful!  Although it was a bit gruesome to see them tearing apart their breakfast of buffalo.  I also got a brief glimpse of rhinos.  It’s so sad that these huge animals are terrified because poachers are constantly killing them for their horns.  They have patrols that search for poachers but Kruger is the size of the country of Wales, so it’s a lot of area to cover.  They have recently decided to move over 500 rhinos to smaller, more easily patrolled reserves.

Here are just a few of the many, many, many pictures I took!

 

Azorean Street Art

Wow, it’s been over two months since my last blog post.  I know I’m not a super-blogger but I guess that’s pushing it a bit.  Since my last post about Buenos Aires street art was so popular I thought I’d share some street art from the Azores, which is where I journeyed to in March.

The Archipelago of the Azores is a chain of islands in the Atlantic off the coast of Portugal.  The island in the Azores I was on is called Sao Miguel.  There isn’t an abundance of street art there, it’s a small island and it’s so darn gorgeous that between the beautiful landscape and the pretty buildings there aren’t a lot of surfaces screaming out for someone to paint on them.  However I did manage to find some very impressive pieces.  When I wasn’t searching for street art I was hiking around volcanoes, swimming in hot springs and eating food cooked underground by volcanic heat.

Here’s a few of the pieces of street art I saw.  I think my favourite is the weird fishing scene, it’s so big I had to take four pictures to fit it all in.

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