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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Luang prabang Day 2




Woke up early to get to Saffron Cafe for our excellent breakfast! 

Latte and cuppocino (17,000 kip)  big breakfast (49,000 kip)
and burrito (30,000 kip)  

And then it was a very very cold ride in an almost open boat to
 Whisky Village and Pak Ou Caves

It was so cold and we wereso not dressed in woolly winter wear
and my daughter who was dressed only in a thin denim jacket and
 had an even thinner scarf to wrap herself with, was frozen
 during the 2 hour boat ride. Here the villagers share their fire with her! 


 I was okay and walked around the village called Ban Xang Hai
where villagers demonstrate the distillation process : here
  rice flour ferments in jars for 15 days.

The alcohol is sometimes combined with scorpions and snakes
in clear bottles for added potency...a beverage clearly for the
 more adventurous!  

Then it was back to the boat again to get to the caves 


How our boat looks like....




The scenery here is fantastic and we could pose all day!
But it was time for us to climb up to caves where more than
 4000 statues of Buddha can be found in every nook and corner. 



The lower cave is only a few dozen steps from rhe jetty but the
upper cave takes more than 200 steps up and they look craggy
and perilous so I gave it a miss, and the better too, because a
French couple who got back to the boat past the stipulated time
 got a shelling from the boatman!!! 



Waiting for the other passengers who were late. 



We went back to our residence and this girl took the opportunity
to bundle up after freezing her butt off  on the boat ride home!
 We learnt from social media too that in Malaysia and Singapore
folks back home were experiencing ‘winter’ too at 22 degrees and lower!


After a nap we went to look for late lunch of tom yam fried rice
and pad thai... Laos food is Thai and Burmese cuisine combined 


Then it was pasar malam tine and we managed to buy a hoodie
for daughter so she could face the rest of her trip comfortably bundled up! 


Look at her... she loves her winter ‘parka cum hoodie’ as it keeps her snug! 

The night market in Luang Prabang showcases handmade traditional 
souvenirs and crafts; the traders here are artisans and rhey come from
 near and far. Buying from them means you take home exceptionally 
crafted goods and contribute towards sustaining local communities like 
the Hmong tribes.


It was tine for dinner to end our 2nd day in LB and what better
way than to have it with BEERLAO!!!!!

2018 Vacation : Luang Prabang

We started 2018 off with a vacation to an Asean destination: Luang Prabang to take advantage of Air Asia 500 ringgit voucher and also to bring our daughter on a holiday with us before she leaves for university. 

We took off for 4 days which is more than you need for a Luang Prabang holiday that does mit include Vientiane or even Vang Vieng! 

Anyway we found ourselves on this pavement with our luggage and proceeded to look for Sok Dee Residence which was actually right down the sidelane but we went on a wild goosechase looking for it! 


So this was to be our residence for the next few days...



Straightaway after checking in we walked out and found ourselves at this surreal place where people sat on bar stools overlooking a river : the Mekong no less, I’ve studied that in my History and Geography books and now it’s there, right in front of me! 


And we sat there too! Staring not at the river but at the photographer, hehe!!!



After much clicking, we went looking for dinner with a view.


So nice! Not only dinner with a fantastic view, weather was bracingly cold for me to enjoy my cuppa: Laotian coffee!


Walking back, bought fritters from this good looker who plied his simple ware right outside his heritage house that was not turned into a guest house or restaurant like  his neighbours.


We ended our first night with a foot massage!

40,000 kip for 1/2 an hour... perfect nightcap for bed!

Next: full touring day ahead!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

SOHOM Charity Bazaar 7 December 2017



Last night my beloved niece said " why don't you blog anymore" and I said "you still read my blog?" Hahahaha ! I didn't think anyone would still read blogs ever since my son told me that blogs are so passé and so "out". 


So here's a start: after getting nasi lemak and roti canai breakfast for these "ozzie" kids, and hubby had sent them off to airport for their holiday to Hanoi, I dashed of to the SOHOM Bazaar  because my president personally phoned me to extend this invite, plus, she had put down my name for it.
And I'm glad I was able to make it! 


With guest of honour, our patron, the president and immediate past president at SOHOM Charity Bazaar at Pearl Condo. 

On reaching, I saw this fantastic spread that the various embassies had brought!


So I got to taste new stuff from other countries like this drink:
KVAS drink which tasted like it had alcohol in it but it was the taste of some fermented stuff...potent brew!!

salad presented in a lovely way, I may want to copy this!
Mexican Chicken Tacos....delicious!!!


We had a lovely lunch outside on the terrace!

Our beautiful patron who's also friendly and most gracious!


Our president poring over the bazaar goodies!
Lots of goodies and souvenirs from the Federation of Russia, Philippines, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Poland, Brunei, UAE, Thailand, Poland, Japan, Czech Republic were on sale.  Below:  chocolates  made from Kazakhstan were sold out ! There were also many hand made Christmas angel decorations on sale.
besides handicrafts, there were yummy chocolates for sale!

And the most artistic looking cake with the SOHOM logo from The Ritz Carlton

My second time here at Pearl Condo and as always, I am impressed with the landscaping, this one at 8th floor, the venue of our event.

Merry Christmas!!!! (I'm already in a christmassy mood) By the way, this bazaar is free, ie, it does not charge any entrance fee, (some do) and there's a delicious spread of international food as well!!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Turkey Package Tour : Day 1 and 2 (13-14 July 2017) Istanbul, Blue Mosque, Hagia sophia, Topkapi Palace, Bolu.

 Waaaahhhh! I have not blogged in ages, and I had better get my Turkey blog off  while it is still fresh in my mind!!!!  Our grand Turkey trip took all of 10 days, (plus travelling time) and we booked it from Parlo Tour at Matta Fair at a discount, a good deal we thought.  However, it was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of interest and guests, but we found it out the hard way, and in the nick of time too, as we managed to shop around for an alternative agency and found our package at SA Tour.


 So we found ourselves travelling on Turkey Airlines, (picture below) and we were pampered to the hilt after being treated like paupers on Air Asia!


Besides 30 kg luggage each, and inflight movies and music, we were given pillows, blankets
 
and 2 meals (dinner and breakfast) menu, MENU??? below: 
 This is how I travel, with my walking stick that you can fold our into a chair, and, yes, I sit anywhere, like here, in the middle of somewhere!!!

 Because.....daughter had spied Jo Malone!!! where she had worked as a temp at Pavilion shopping mall, and she could not resist popping for a visit

 She used to be able to name and sniff out every Jo Malone scent....but she could not afford any!

We are nearing Istanbul after nearly 9 hours.
Getting our luggage...note our fellow tour mates....5 Malaysian Chinese (3 of them us) and the rest Malaysian Indians.
We plunged into the tour proper right away but being driven to the BLUE MOSQUE.
This is Kaan, our Turkish tour guide. He speaks English well, is a Muslim with a Christian girlfriend. 
We are soon to find out that Turkey has lots of stray dogs which are well fed, disease-free (treated by the state) and tagged after being declared clean, healthy and vaccinated, neutered, dewormed, etc.

We are at the Hippodrome, which is a huge courtyard surrounded on all sides by arched galleries and a lattice-work fountain at the center.  You have to gaze around and stand for a while here to fully appreciate the architectural symmetry and grandeur of the place. 

Once we are inside nothing  "can detract from the serene calm of 

this epic place of worship. 

Even when full of people, the scale of the interior can’t fail to 

impress. 

Supporting the huge structure are 4 “elephant feet pillars”, so called

because of their 16-foot diameters which dominate the interior.

The eponymous blue tiles rise up from floor level and  nearly glow with light from the heavens filtering through some 260 windows"
Did you know:
The Blue Mosque tiles were all made in the small town of Iznik. Given that there are over 20,000 of them, the volume of the order was so great that it nearly exhausted the capabilities of the famous ceramic-making town as it was being fulfilled. 


"The large panels of Caligraphy on the inside of the Blue Mosque Dome depict verses from the Koran and the names of important caliphs (religious leaders). They were originally the work of the famed 17th century calligrapher Seyyid Kasim Gubari, but have been heavily restored over time."

Gosh, all that walking and gawking at the immense architecture, got us all hungry and this little cart selling Turkish pastries were our life-line to stave our hunger.

All the Indian uncles and us biting into dough rings and doughnuts!!
Next we are going to visit the Hagia Sophia! The Blue Mosque was built to rival the Hagia Sophia, so now we are going to find out whether it is unsurpassed .
Hagia Sophia is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now a museum, Hagia Sophia is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world.
It is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture, rich with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings.

 Hagia Sophia remained a functioning church until May 29, 1453, when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered triumphantly into the city of Constantinople. He was amazed at the beauty of the Hagia Sophia and immediately converted it into his imperial mosque.

Hagia Sophia served as the principal mosque of Istanbul for almost 500 years.

In 1934, under Turkish president Kemal Atatürk, Hagia Sofia was secularized and turned into the Ayasofya Museum


From a church, it became a mosque!!!! Note the picture of Madonna and Child and the Quranic calligraphy side by side!!! There are mosaics  too of the caliphs and archangel Gabriel. Then it became a museum due to secularization of Turkey. Since it is a museum now, we do not need to wear head scarves. 

Next we have to walk to Topkapi Palace, and I was tired, and together with 2 other Indian uncles, we opted to have Turkish coffee and tea instead while the others went ahead. Just as well we did not go!  It was closed on Mondays!!
 Turkish coffee
Turkish tea....Loved the turkish glass, and I bought some home!
Mine had gold rims and embellishments, this one is plain. 
Topkapi Palace visit will have to be "done" again on the last day when we come back to Istanbul,  We will be heading for Bolu after lunch.
Lunch is at Serbethane Cafe, and it looked very Turkish to me, with cobble stones, brick walls, it had a "Mediterranean feel " !!
Starters...it was to be our staple for the next few days, variants of salad, dips and flat bread.
 My bread with all the dips: yoghurt, mashed chick peas etc, etc, I don't know their names!
 Main dish, garlic butter rice, potato gratin, bbq chicken or beef.
 with bbq beef
 for the vegetarian uncle
 This is a combo of beef and chicken, the Indians had only chicken.


After lunch, we set off for a long journey to Bolu, just as well, we are ready to snooze off after that meal!
Some of the scenery from the window through sleepy eyes.......it took us a few hours to reach Bolu, which will be my next post!