Myanmar: Travel between Culture and Traditions

The adventure begins to Myanmar, a country almost isolated from the rest of the world. It is charming, mystical, full of ideas and surprises where time stands still! After a good day of walking we decided to return to Khao San to take a shower, hire the taxi to the airport for the next day, dine and try to get some sleep. All agencies of Khao San offer a shuttle service to the airport. Our flight to Yangon takes off at 07:15 so they are to pick us up at 04:00 in the morning! In short, these are our holidays! We make a stop in Chinatown to eat and visit the area.

Day 1 - Yangon

At 03:30 the alarm goes off. We check out at the hotel and go out to wait for transportation. 20 minutes later, and seeing that the mini-bus does not appear, we decided to call the agency with which we hired the service. Nobody answers the phone. A taxi driver asks us what problem we have and when we tell him what happened with us he explains that this type of transport is offered by a wholesaler.

He asks us for the phone and calls them. After 5 minutes of discussion he puts us in a taxi. Incredible, it seems that he is more serious than those of the agency that have sold it to us. Thanks to the taxi driver who called and the vertigo speed of the taxi driver that takes us to the airport we arrived at time to the airport!

The queue to leave the baggage is eternal. So I use my best smile and I get one of the stewardesses to leave our bags. Against all odds at 06:15 we are already inside the airport! This airport has free WIFI. We just have to go to one of the information counters and ask for the password to be able to use it.

The flight to Yangon is fast and at 08:00 we land at our destination. In the terminal we wait for both the people of the hotel and those of the tours with whom we have contracted the flight the next day to Bagan.

The issue of internal flights in Burma is very strange. It is not possible to buy flights over the internet. So we send an email to the travel agency, request price and schedule, and send them our passport number. We buy the next day's flight to Bagan. We go in the rainy season so there is usually availability. So there are effectively no problems in buying the rest of the flights.

Our hotel in Yangon is one of those recommended by the LP. They offer a free pick-up service at the hotel, and the pick-up truck is so strange that the trip itself to the hotel is a first adventure. The hotel fully matches the description of the guide. The staff is pleasant and diligent. After arriving while we manage the rooms they prepare a breakfast.

As we are only going to be in this city one day we decided to make the most of it. We changed in the hotel since the exchange offices of the airport were closed when we arrived, and we left quickly. The hotel is somewhat far from the center but the price of taxis is very cheap.

We start the day at the Sule Pagoda as the LP proposes, we continue with the proposed walk and get lost in the nearby streets. We pass through the port until we reach the Bogyoke market where we intend to exchange the rest of the money. The people around the market are supposed to have a good exchange rate. The truth is that we have heard so many scams that we directly approach one of the two exchange offices in the market where the change is reasonable.

The restaurants in Yangon are not abundant (not to say they are scarce). The normal thing is to buy food in the street stalls, where the food is very rich and cheap. After the early morning and the walk we feel like sitting at a table and taking a very cold Myanmar beer. So next to the market we found a small restaurant with internet and everything! The place is beautiful and the food is very good, although somewhat expensive compared to the rest of Burma.

After lunch we decided to walk to the hotel to take a shower and visit the Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset. The pagoda at sunset and at night is especially beautiful, large and majestic, conveying a special peace. Only the bright neons that adorn any temple or pagoda in Asia can break it.

After the visit we considered where to spend the rest of the afternoon. In Yangon (actually in all of Burma) the streets are not lit and there are no places to sit and relax either. In the area of ​​the Shwedagon we do not find anything worth mentioning. So we stopped for a taxi and we go to the area of ​​the Sule Pagoda where we came across the night market. It is no wonder but Yangon does not offer a wide variety of leisure activities either.

We return to the hotel and booked with them a taxi to the airport the next day. The flight takes off at 06:15, but at the hotel they tell us that it is enough to leave at 04:30.

Day 2 - Bagan

At 04:00 the alarm clock sounds. The people of the hotel prepare breakfast for us and at 4:15 the taxi is already waiting. We share it with another Belgian couple who have the same flight. Yangon airport is very interesting. When we check in they put a sticker and manually pick up our bags. A kid takes them rolling and we go to the international zone which is nothing more than a door with a security arch. I forgot to take off my belt and pass with the bag full of coins.

At 05:45 we embark punctually but at 06:15 we disembark for technical problems. Against all odds, only 40 minutes later we return to embark and take off. The flights in Burma are punctual and the staff is very efficient. The attention during the flight is exquisite with refreshments, breakfast, wipes, smile of the hostesses!

At 08:30 we arrived in Bagan. After going around and around to see which of the three areas we are going to stay in (Old Bagan, New Bagan or Nyaung) we opted for New Bagan. We go to the Hotel recommended by LP that despite being in New Bagan overlooks the temples.

The day before we called from Yangon to confirm the reservation and ask for the price of transportation from the airport. The journey has a fixed price and it does not matter if you hire it directly at the airport or at the hotel as it does not vary. So we booked it with the hotel.

The hotel does not disappoint. It is a small resort with spacious bungalows with pool and jacuzzi and overlook the pagodas. After checking we decided to rent some bikes and go hunting and capture pagodas. We ask at the hotel for a map of the area and ask for the best ones. All this information appears on the LP but in the plan they offer they summarize it in a single sheet. Without a doubt it is much more practical and manageable.

Personally the bike tour seems to me one of the best options since it allows us to discover for ourselves the pagodas. It is very fun and pedaling along the roads with the views is amazing! I looked like a tourist and did not even ask the price until we realized that is their means of transport. The horses are not there for tourists but for locals.

The day is gray and threatens rain but thanks to this it is possible to pedal, I cannot imagine the heat with the sun at its peak. The hotel is relatively close to the temples located in the Myinkaba area. So we started with Abeyadana (beautiful with 550 paintings inside), Manuha, Nan Paya. In short all those who have pointed out to us the guys at the hotel and match those highlighted by the LP.

It is rainy season and therefore low season (there are hardly any tourists). So the sellers of paintings and other souvenirs assault us in each temple. The good thing is that they are not pushy and a smile and a thanks are enough. In addition, this personalized attention on the part of the sellers has its good part.

Many of them are in turn responsible for the maintenance of the pagodas. They tell us the history of it, or they show us the corner from which to take the best photos or small details that for us would go unnoticed. They also have the keys to climb to the top of the temple where the views over the plain are breathtaking. Wherever we look there are pagodas!

There are many vendors and we have cool water. It's so hot that the water we carry turns into soup in a few minutes. After this area, we continue to old Bagan where are the city walls and the entrance of Tharabar. In addition there are the most beautiful pagodas like Ananda, Gawdawpalin, and Thatbyinnyu.

Back at the hotel we approach the pier where is the Bupaya, a golden stupa but with a restoration so poorly made that it looks like a shabby monolith. At 3:00 pm we cannot take it anymore, as we are hungry and exhausted. So we go back to New Bagan. We eat at a very good and cheap beach bar and when we get up to go to rest at the hotel we find that the streets are full of people. There is music and a parade with some giants and bigheads that are made with cardboard.

It is the festival of the Lawkananda Pagoda, the most important in New Bagan and one of the most revered in the area. They tell us that the next day we should get closer to the pagoda area, as there are rowing races and offerings for the temple.

Before returning to the hotel we asked at the agencies of the town for the tickets to Mandalay. At the hotel in the morning we decided to close it with them and rest a while. It is very hot and the pool calls us. Sure enough there is no flight to Mandalay but we are informed that one of the buses (the one at 08:30) takes only 5 hours and so we bought it.

After relaxing hour and a half later we are already replenished and as new, we want to see the sunset over the pagodas. So we take our bikes and go to the pagoda recommended by the hotel, the Dhamma and zka pagoda. From the hotel it takes about 40 minutes by bike and sunset is at 18:30. So we leave at 05:30. The pagoda is beautiful. We climbed to the top barefoot and the view is impressive. The site transmits a special feeling.

The sunset lasts about 30 minutes and at 07:30 it is totally dark. When arriving at the town we verified that the internet does not work in any of the cyber, which is a task because we cannot organize the rest of the trip. We return to dinner at the hotel as the restaurant has a lot of charm and the prices are very good. I think we have been awake for 20 hours, and rightly we are exhausted!

Day 3 - Mandalay

At 06:00 sounds the alarm clock. I prefer to take advantage of the cool hours and enjoy the view with this light. We decided to visit the most distant temples also with the bikes. Today it's time to visit the temples of the northern plain and the central plain that are on the way to Nyaung U.

They are impressive on the outside but many of them inside are full of those neons. Halfway we remember the Lawkananda festival and we asked what time it ends. They tell us that it is at 12. It is 09:00 and if we want to see it we have to turn around and go back to New Bagan.

The kilometers are worth it. The road to the temple is crowded with people wearing their best clothes and full face Thanaka. There is a wheel worth seeing, with 5 people moving it, manual horses also, merrymaking and screaming. People are happy and the joy is contagious. As I mentioned we decided to go to Nyaung U to continue the visit where we left it.

The bus arrives punctually and is decent. In addition they leave us the back seats where I try to sleep. The 190km journey theoretically takes 5 hours, but seeing the roads that we are going through, I find it hard to believe. Against all odds before 6 o'clock we are in the Mandalay bus station which in itself should be considered an LP point of interest. It is a dusty crossroads with Burmese-style buses and trucks parked here and there. There are people and more people shouting, laughing, chickens, dogs and in short everything is a show.

We agreed with a taxi driver the trip to the lodge and half an hour later we arrived at the hotel. As we have advanced one day the arrival there are no rooms and we stayed in the bamboo house. The soul falls to our feet when we enter that cabin! It is very hot. There is noise and the shower works badly.

After leaving the bags we asked for the flight to Heho. We booked it, as well as the flight from Heho to Yangon. Tickets can only be purchased from Burma. The issue is very strange because they give a few tickets with a copy that we have to deliver at the airport. They exchange it for a sticker that identifies us, since all the companies fly at the same time.

After settling the issue of tickets we opted for the bikes to get closer to visit the hill and the nearby temples. It is easy to get from the hotel!. The climb lasts 45 minutes. Anyway, it's supposed to have charm but we do not like it. The best thing about the climb is when the monks come to us to practice English. We take advantage and ask them all the questions that have been assailing us throughout the trip.

The views from the Top of the hill are very nice and worth seeing the sunset. We return to the area of ​​the hotel to look for a cyber to buy the flight to the island. We found a beautiful place, with music and air conditioning where we pay double for a coffee but it is worth it.

The internet access from Burma is horrible, and after an hour trying we cannot buy the tickets! What despair! We decided to return to the hotel to take a shower and go out to dinner, hoping that the speed would improve later.

When we look for a place to have dinner, we meet a boy in his tricksaw with a smile who offers to take us to a site for locals with good price. So we trust in him and we ended up in the restaurant, a place that is highlighted in LP where we choose the fish and they serve the rest, soup, vegetables and rice.

After chatting he offers to show us the cities the next day on two motorcycles. We think it is a good price but we adjust with it that he also take us to see the temple of snakes that is quite far away.

Day 4 - Amarapura

At 06:30 sounds the alarm clock. The bikers come to pick us up at 7:30 but we prefer to get up with time and breakfast quietly. The motorcycles are punctual. We started with the neighborhood of the gold leaf, the sculptors and the mahamudi paya.

It is full of people venerating Mahamudi, a seated Buddha completely covered in gold. Millions of faithful wash daily at 4:00 with care. We continue towards Amarapura, to see the famous food of the monks. It is a monastery inhabited by thousands of monks and at that time they all go out to eat.

An endless corridor of monks who receive their portion of food is formed. I had read that it was not worth it for the amount of tourists. Perhaps because of the lack of expectations or because in the rainy season there are few tourists. I particularly thought it was something interesting and worth seeing.

After the lunch of the monks we went to the U Bein Bridge of Amarapura. After the Sagaging Hill, which in my opinion is prettier than the Mandalay Hill since there are no posts in the climb and the view from the top is beautiful. After Sagaging we return to our bikes and go to Inwa.

We eat before crossing the river in a stand that has stunning views over the river. We bought a round trip ticket to cross the river. On the other side, the only way to visit the different pagodas is to hire a horse cart. The pagodas, the children and the views of Inwa are beautiful but I think we started overdosing on pagodas!

At this point we only have to go to the snake pagoda. It is quite far away so it took us almost an hour to arrive. Once again we find the pagoda festival. So there are beach bars, music and people. The pagoda is not worth it. There are only three snakes and the locals touch one of the snakes. We also believe that snakes are drugged because they do not move!

The heat is unbearable so we decided to return to Mandalay. We are further away than we thought and when we arrived we had a broken back from the road bumps. Even so it has been a good day! Our guide proposes us an excursion in a single motorcycle and we pay for gasoline.

He wants to show us the eastern part of the city, a less known but very beautiful part. He also takes us to an Indian restaurant and above all the food is delicious!

We climbed on the motorbike and left towards the eastern part of the city, with rice fields, water buffaloes, fog over the mountains. The landscapes are beautiful, while people greet us from the road and smile at us. I'm sure they think that we are crazy!

We arrive at a temple famous for the healing properties of the water but we do not dare to drink the water from the cauldron! We climb a hill and have a tea with the guide while he gives us lessons of Burmese. The truth is that despite his limited level of English he tells us many things about the different religions that live in the country, people, language, and customs.

He takes us to lost corners. We stopped in different places, where people did not stop smiling. He took us to his house so that we could see his town, his humble house and we knew his children. Already in the city, we asked for the price of a taxi to the airport, since in the hotel they tell us what seems expensive. Our guide calls a taxi driver friend for the next day at 6:00 (our flight to Heho leaves at 08:30).

After lunch we rent bikes to take the recommended route by LP, the neighborhoods from the west and watch the sunset over the river. Until this moment we do not realize how tired we are so we ask for a place to give us a message. They recommend a place. We dine with rice, noodles and salads! We are tired so we decided to return to the hotel to be rested for the next day.

myanmar wallpaper images travel tourism

Day 5 - Heho

At 05:30 the alarm goes off. We check out and go out to the airport. Before 7 we arrived at the Mandalay airport. It is very small so we did not take anything to check in and go to the boarding gate. At 8:00 we embarked, at 08:20 we take off, and before 9 we are already in Heho!

We have booked a room but the airport transfer seems expensive. There are hardly any tourists so we have to catch a taxi for ourselves! The day before reviewing the emails with the hotel to see the address we realize that there is an error in the rate. We caught a taxi and go to find other hotels. We stopped at the hotel recommended by the LP. The owner shows us the rooms and bungalows and the site is fine so we stayed.

After having paid we felt somewhat uncomfortable. It is the first time we have to pay in advance. We went out with the boatman to tour the lake and visit the villages. The view is beautiful. The boatman stops us in a couple of typical shops. We tell him not to stop us in those places and he seems to catch it because he does not stop again.

We left the village and go through different villages. He tells us many things about the country, its religion, its history, the fauna, and the flora. The truth is that the landscape is impressive but the conversation is as much as the landscape.

We arrived at a school. It is a joy to see the faces of the children! It is a school founded by Japanese where the four teachers work altruistically, without any salary. They have to walk several hours to get to school from their village, taking their own food. The guide explains that these villages have a serious problem of alcoholism. There is no electricity, or any entertainment for what people are dedicated to drinking. Of course children copy this behavior.

We continue the trekking and on the way a monk joins us, since he has to reach another village and does not remember the way. The ascent towards the mountain begins to harden. We climbed for almost 4 hours but the views over the rice fields and the lake are worth it.

While we go up our guide tells us many things about the different plants, the crops, the problem of deforestation that they start to have. The morning is one of those magical moments that linger in our memory. At 1 finally it's time to eat, as we're really hungry. We climb to the top of a house at the top of the mountain. It's a family that, like so many others, is dedicated to drying leaves to wrap tobacco. The noodle soup is delicious, as also the tofu appetizers, the mango and the pineapple.

We visited towns and more villages and several pagodas, one of them very interesting with monks who train cats that jump! After sunset we return to the village and decided to look for a trek for the next day. After asking in several places we sat down to have a Myanmar beer. The boy who serves us is charming and asks us if we have contracted trekking. We have not hired anything yet he tells us that he is a guide and that if we want we can go with him. The truth is that the boy is charming, so we booked him at 08:00 for the next day!

After the meal, we descend. We arrive at a winery! We had no idea that in Burma they made wine and as we walk fast our guide tells us that we have time to try a wine if we feel like it. The winery is impressive! From the winery we have one more hour walking to the town. We have shower, and go for dinner. The fish is delicious. We return and go to sleep.

Day 6 - Heho

The dogs have not let us sleep for the whole night. For some strange reason they have been howling in the hotel door. Our guide proposes a new route to the west that crosses the mountains and reaches Heho. It seems that he took this route a few months ago with a friend and says there are no tourists.

A van brings us to the foot of the mountain. We get off and start climbing. It has rained a lot so the path is covered and the guide is lost several times. We climb and then go down. The views are beautiful but the climb is full of mud. It's hot and humid and mud floods everything.

When we think our guide is totally lost, we find a power plant that serves as a point of reference towards the falls. We continue climbing. After several hours of climbing we arrive at the area of ​​crops. People look at us strangely and do not stop asking where we are from. Knowing that we have crossed the mountain they offer us tea and a kind of rice They are delicious.

We cross several small towns. The lovely people greet us, and give us peanuts. We eat in a stand of Heho with a noodle soup and a kind of garlic dumplings. In order to return to the town it is necessary to stop to a bus that approaches us to another intermediate town. There we take a tricksaw that already takes us to Nyawshe.

We have mud up to our ears. We need a shower, so we go to the hotel. After a well-deserved rest we try to book the hotel in Bangkok and Koh Samui. The internet connection is painful and making the reservation takes two hours! But at last we have a hotel.

We booked the taxi for the next day. We will share the taxi with some Americans who asked us if we were flying the next day. We took a walk through the town and we met a guy we had met in Bagan. They tell us that they are in a new hotel which is charming and cheaper. We dined in the night market! The food is much better than in the restaurants and much cheaper. We are tired so we go to the hotel soon.

Day 7 - Yangon

We believe that the sermons or mantras that are heard through the loudspeakers of the temples are altered. The sound is constantly heard and even it is driving us crazy! We had breakfast and at 07:00 we left for the Heho airport (it is about an hour) to catch our flight to Yangon where we landed at 10:30. The next flight to Bangkok is at 6:00 PM so we will spend the day in Yangon.

When we arrive in Yangon we have to walk from the domestic flight terminal to the international terminal. Our idea is to do the checking to get rid of the suitcases but they tell us that until 4:00 pm it is not possible. At the airport it is not possible to leave our bags and they recommend us to try it at the hotel in front of the hotel!

We decided to go to Yangon with our suitcases. We walked again through the Sule Phaya and nearby neighborhoods. We ate the Biryani recommended by the LP and spent a relaxed day in the city. At 4 we again take taxi to the airport and 45 minutes later we arrived at the international terminal. At 8 we arrived in Bangkok. We booked a very cheap resort, with pick-up service at the airport. The hotel is more than decent! We had dinner.

The bad thing about the hotel is that we do not close our eyes all night. The room overlooks the courtyard from which the vans leave for the airport and the constant slamming of the porters does not let us sleep! The absence of sleep is our condemnation in this trip!

Trip to Mumbai to Watch Dahi Handi during Janmashtami

After 28 hours by train we arrive at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Station, commonly called Victoria Station, which is also a World Heritage Site. A taxi took us to our new home, near the Gateway of India.

After a few minutes of being in Mumbai, the financial capital of India, I already felt totally lost. In a paper, I had written down the address of my hotel and the only thing I thought about was how I would get to that place. I felt so lost that for a few minutes I thought that after so much walking I would find the Roman Colosseum in front of me.

My lodging was in the center of Mumbai and if it is already crazy, imagine how old it is! When I leave the lodge I find dozens of auto rickshaws. Seeing me as a tourist they approach offering me transfers through the city. As I stop to listen to the offers in a few seconds more autorickshaw drivers arrive and more and more! Leaving behind the auto rickshaw I cross the street market.

Day 1

On the first night in Mumbai, I was lucky enough to witness the Janmashtami festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna. People get ready in the streets for the celebration and also in the temples. The Janmashtami here in Mumbai is popularly known as Dahi Handi.

The act shows the childhood pranks of Krishna, who is said to have a special affinity for milk and butter. The food was hung on the beams of the houses, to keep them out of the reach of children and animals. Krishna, along with his friends formed human pyramids, to steal milk and butter from the houses of the village.

The ceremony consists of a pot filled with milk, cottage cheese, butter, honey, and fruits. It was suspended on a rope at a height of about 12 meters. A group of young people, men, and boys, form a human pyramid, climbing on the shoulders on top of each other until they can break the Handi.

Next to the Handi, was placed some money as a reward, to the human pyramid, which manages to reach the goal. Youth groups, called Govinda, travel by truck, trying to break as many handis as possible during the day. A large number of people living in India makes their streets a total madness. The sun began to set and the old Bombay stood in the cool blue light of tungsten and the warm lights of the bonfires.

After being lost for about 3 hours between the markets and the streets, I finally reached my destination. In the evening precisely in the ISKCON temple, I went to observe this religious festival of Janmashtami. I walked through several narrow streets full of markets where merchants sold brightly colored fabrics and petals of flowers. Finally, I was able to get to the center of the ceremony.

I had to take off my shoes and go barefoot while people had their arms in the air waving them from one side to the other. I could hear a person saying a kind of prayer. Devotees started playing musical instruments while people kept waving their arms.

Being inside the temple people were kneeling and resting their foreheads on the ground. Then they raised their heads and then they touched the ground with their foreheads again. Some people started to look at me with a curious face. So I knelt on the floor and started to do exactly the same as they did.

To go out at night through the small streets of Mumbai is to go out into the unknown and the wild. The motorcycles and rickshaws pass by honking their horns trying to break through all that madness. People cook and sell the Pav Bhaji along the narrow streets. I walk to a restaurant that was near my hotel.

Walking a few steps also transformed into an entire experience. In every trip I've made I've met people with really incredible stories and Mumbai was no exception. During my night walk, I met a sadhu, who was accompanied by his disciple. I was walking and the sadhu raises his arm holding a piece of wood as if it were a scepter.

He shouts, hey you the one with the camera, come here. As I approached him, all those around him began to make room for me and I sit next to the sadhu. While this sadhu asked me a thousand questions, his assistant was preparing a chillum with marijuana for his master. They all started smoking and at the same time, the conversation became more interesting.

Night falls and I walk towards the hotel, although first I stopped at a restaurant on Marine Drive. I ordered the lassi and I loved it. Arriving at the hostel I eat dinner.

Mumbai Dahi Handi Janmashtami

Day 2

I had breakfast early and had a city tour of the area with buildings with colonial architecture. I gave myself the time to visit some of the tourist places that the city has. There are tourist places full of history and with incredible architecture. The first visit was to one of the most emblematic tourist places of the city, the so-called Gateway of India. The taxi ride was intense. My impression of the city was that Bombay is half urban, half forest and a city.

The smells immediately invaded us. A smell that is hard to define. There is something sweet mixed with the aroma of spices, cow dung, incense, and moist earth. The monsoon had emptied heavily and the caverns of the road had become large lagoons in the middle of the city. Crows also roared and squawked freely.

But the most surprising thing was the loud noise, the traffic chaos, and the sounds of the horns everywhere. Everyone played the horns at once, short but fast sounds. Hundreds of sounds per second invaded my senses. I liked a road sign that said something like respect the lanes. What lanes?

All the vehicles flooded the only existing lane. There are striking taxis and trucks, motorcycles, bicycles that disarmed along the way, clueless cows, scrawny dogs, fierce pedestrians, and colorful three-wheeled auto rickshaws.

Everyone wanted to be preferential and pass first. There are hardly any traffic lights. Only traffic guards who from a pedestal try the impossible mission to bring order to the chaos based on whistles. Our taxi driver, a skillful driver, weighed amazingly and masterfully all the obstacles that stood in our way.

Immediately I realized that despite the gray day, Bombay shone with a special light and full of color. And for the first time and after the long journey, I felt awake and very alive. In the watercolor of black and white that expanded before my eyes, I discovered the multitude of color palettes that the city offered.

There are the colorful shops and posters of small shops. There are the prints of the beautiful silk and cotton saree shops of the women. There are the bright ranges of colorful flowers in the street corners. There are the pigmented mandalas painted on the sidewalks. There are the little ones and also the flashy temples on our path.

Mumbai seemed chaotic and anarchic, but within that chaos, everything seemed to flow and function. As we moved south, the auto rickshaw disappeared. We were already entering the rich part of the city. Our access is prohibited. It was then that I caught a glimpse of the silhouette I was looking for.

The Gateway of India is located on the waterfront of the Port of Bombay opposite the Arabian Sea. It is a triumphal arch of basalt measuring 26 meters high, built in an Indo-Saracenic style. The monument was erected to celebrate the visit of the British King George V, and his wife Queen Mary in 1911. Since then, it was used as a ceremonial symbol of entry to India by viceroys and governors.

Paradoxically (and although this does not tell much about the story), it was also the exit door for the British when India finally reached its independence. On February 28, 1948, the Light Infantry's troops paraded for the last time in front of it.

The area, known as the Colaba, is very popular with tourists because it is close to the luxurious the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and for being the starting point for the excursion to the famous caves of Elephanta Island. The place was also full of souvenir shops, taxi drivers, horse carriages, trinkets vendors, and tour guides. And the icing on a stimulating day was nothing better than walking along the coast of Mumbai.

We take a final walk along Marine Drive, while our gaze is lost in the orange sunset that surrounds the Haji Ali Dargah. It is a monumental complex of Indian and Arab influences erected by the Sultanate of Gujarat in the fifteenth century and dotted in the middle of the Arabian Sea.

In the evening I was invited to a ceremony in a Sikh temple, another one of the many religions in India. This temple was giant and the people made long lines to enter. People were lining up to wash their feet. So I stood in line and wait my turn to wash my feet. After that, I left the main temple and went to walk around where a Sikh began to speak to me in his language.

I did not understand anything but try to put my best face in front of him. After a few minutes, I went to wash my feet again to a large pool that is in the temple. After that, we continued walking. I asked for a photo and he agreed without any problem. After coming out, I went to the Crawford Market (a traditional market for meat, fruit and fish), near the Victoria station, to finalize our shopping in the streets full of shops. I dine at Leopold Cafe, a meeting place for backpackers.

Mumbai is a compendium of stimuli in the form of bizarre sounds, exotic smells, and strange sensations that assaulted me in an uncontrolled way. They are a thousand stimuli per second that saturate the senses, and I have to learn to digest in small sips. It has been a wonderful journey, where we have discovered different cultures.

Here the humblest people have given us a lesson about the value of life. Because traveling to Bollywood is more than just that.

Zapstore: The Future of Social Shopping

Many view shopping as a noble of love, an affirmation of identity, a recovery of the mythical dimension. A passion hardly resistible carries us from one window to another, wandering in a dream and something that has something of madness, two attributes usually conferred to love. We can then think of shopping to a form of love.

Personalised advice is perhaps one of the main factors why the traditional outlets continue to report, especially in India, still a big influx of visitors and customers. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are the most effective form of shopping because friends and relatives know us and our tastes, and this makes them reliable when it comes to making a purchase or, in choosing a product.

One of the most interesting approaches is called curated shopping, that some consider online version of boutique shopping. The social phenomenon today is also the basis of many traditional approaches of curated shopping. In fact, the real advantage of an approach in terms of curated shopping would lie in reducing erroneous purchases, where users can take informed decision after comparing prices among many stores easily.

The individuality of the customer is here at the center. This approach does not require the production of a catalogue of products, but the recommendations appropriately selected according to the buyer's taste and personality.

What is Zapstore?

To make this possible, one of the leading players in India today is Zapstore. The customers are asked at the time of their registration at the online store has to indicate a range of individual preferences. On the basis of the specified criteria, then a whole range of personalized offers is raised with potentially interesting articles for the individual user.

This online store offers products of different categories from fashion to technology. Being a traveller and photographer, I need something new, cool and functional, and to do that I choose these items, which I’m really eyeing for a long time. There is something in the technology of these devices that borders on magic.

1. The HP Touchsmart Laptop

When it comes to computer accessories, HP is my go-to brand. I can't let know you enough how much I require a laptop at present in my life! There's nothing immoral with wishing or hoping you'd be superior at what you're undertaking. The laptop can let me look at and find out more about my photos, at the similar time tender fresh perspectives on them.

2. Canon 7D DSLR Camera

If there are hobbies in my life that I truly desire to focus on right now, its photography and I think getting a premium DSLR camera, which I can bring during my adventures and travels and would in some way level up some of my photos. I saw this camera online and think this is perfect to capture those WOW moments of life. I'm eternally learning as well as loving it! This camera is ideal for my travel needs.

3. Apple iPhone 6s

I super love Apple products. My iphone 4 is nearing its innate end so I'm guessing an additional one is in need right now.

4. Apple iPad

As you can make out, I regularly take a trip every now and then, and all I truly need every time is a fine quality tablet.

I always liked to think a little outside the box, out of the conventional and for this the chosen devices has caught my attention.

The website is very effective in presenting the rates collected from multiple online stores, in addition to make it attractive and desirable with minimal design. The navigation is smooth with items sorted by categories, brands as well as hosting sites.

For those who still do not know, I love online shopping. I love to buy comfortably from the sofa of the house, everything that I like and discover on new sites to be able to recommend to you all.

And here that I fall into a vicious circle in which the unsatisfied desire needs more new items in a vain attempt to be satisfied, I can say it is almost like a drug addiction. It is the metaphor of the drug to characterize much of the philosophical discourse on a twenty first century consumer, who argues that consumerism represents the dullness of the minds, as amazing in fact, as well as the transformation of men into masses of passive consumers.

Mom & Me

When my mother is not present with me, I slowly lose, along with her, in the arms and hands that support me and accompany me everywhere. My mom has always been very present. My path to independence began when I was small, but is continuing today.

When she is not there with me, I realize that there were things that I had never done alone, because she has always taken charge, who would quietly lift me from the small or big problems in my life. I perceive those only in retrospect.

I started travelling and photography since my childhood, and my mom took me to the places as also the photography classes. I do not know if it was really a long thought out decision, but I like to think, in a somewhat romantic way, that without her maybe I wouldn’t ever have chosen these two wonderful activities. My mom almost like the two wings, accompany me and lead me quietly in my life.

Obviously, these two great passions of mine allow me to express myself. With a little stubbornness and even unconsciousness, it was not easy without her arms that engaged me in these fields and today I’m happy to have made it. Maybe it was possible just because I never wanted to prove anything to anyone. It was one thing for me, to achieve step by step and with the knowledge that all I had was a gift.

I think not taking things for granted is really the key to being able to enjoy every day of your life. I have encountered obstacles, with people who did not understand my mom’s choice and happened more than once to hear opinions of people who did not believe I could do it. I understand that in my mom’s eyes every time these passions were feasible.

But more often they were first to change their mind, after watching my photos. However I have always tried not to get influenced by opinions of others but keep solid to the belief held by my mother. The goal of my life was simply and still is to do what I love and give myself the opportunity to do it exactly like the other people. My starting point is that there are two arms to prevent me from having to do what others do. You have to find your own way, here. And this way is not better, nor worse.

I would like you to understand that the will power and the love of parents are the best tools to live and overcome any difficult phase of life. My mom has left many pearls of wisdom in the course of my life. And I understood it even further by writing this article, that is the hardest thing and the most beautiful thing I've ever done in my life, and I confess with great emotion.

Travel and photography allow me to transform pain into something positive and concrete, and it is exactly what my mom want. The advice perhaps greatest is this to overcome the difficulties without flinching.

And for me the passion of travelling and then capturing them into artistic montages gained over the years, first as a dream, that I thought would remain such, and then as a real project. I think the fact that it took so long, say a lot about how much courage it takes to give up a conventional life to pursue our dreams.

To be honest, what I really wanted was to get away from a place that although fantastic, is a lot busy and chaotic. After various adventures, and obstacles of all kinds, I found a permanent job as an officer in a government department. With my girlfriend by my side I made so many plans for the future, including marriage. Just when everything was going the right way, I realized that instead there was just nothing right in my life.

I hoped to win a lottery to travel freely, to photograph and tell distant landscapes. After years of envy towards those who had been lucky enough to relax in the tropics, even for me it was time to pack. I married to my longtime girlfriend and my dad resisted leaving my secure job.

So I took a risky decision just like my mother. I left the permanent job and decided to follow in her footsteps with her unflinching support. My life finally started taking the right direction with a earning more than decent and a studio of my own in my home. Yet, I believe that my parents and my partner are aware of the fact that now I'm really happy.

To realize my dream, I had to give up a secure job but I gained something that is definitely an absolute freedom. Having always been passionate about writing, I took the opportunity to tell and share my adventures in my blog which was not born with a business motive, but has almost become one now. I think I somehow managed to become a source of inspiration for people like me who have a dream and they think it is too big to make it.

No matter if you are hoping to travel the world or to change careers entirely. The message I want to convey is that you can do. As scary is the change, when you decide to go your own way, then things happen almost by magic.

For me, however, the blog has become a small job, that ensures a regular earning every month. Income through commissions that I get when people click a advertisement on my site, and secondly writing sponsored articles, with mention of products or services that I have personally tested and that I consider reliable. I do not do them for publicity's sake.

But how is life on the road? It is very difficult to define. Who leads a conventional life makes it hard to understand mine. The key points on which revolved your existence no longer exist. No alarm clock in the morning to go to work, weekends lose their meaning, no fixed address to which to deliver the mail. At first this is exhilarating.

As during the first few days of vacation, where everything is new and to be discovered like true travellers, who have an adventure in the veins, are recognized only after several months of travel. I do not have fixed points that become the norm. After a bit of time the journey can become tiring, and almost frustrating. It is normal, and is part of the package. The trip is a way of life and as you know, life is not all roses, even the one of your dreams.

There are also downsides of not sleeping too long in the same bed, arranging itineraries at the last minute, struggling with the internet to book a flight. It takes a great ability to adapt.

Just like my mom I do not like to travel in groups, because the best things of the trips are chance encounters. No pleasantries, no forced conversation or organized dinners, or just convenient smiles. We meet by chance, during an endless journey in a bus to be scrapped, while walking on the beach alone, in public areas of the hostel.

The question of suffering is certainly one of the most difficult to swallow for those who have chosen to live like me. It is very difficult, but not impossible. I saw couples born in trip that passed several tests and have also started a family stopping a few years and then return to travel with their children. I believe that these unions, if they last, are perhaps even more solid than the conventional ones.

My future just like my mom will be travelling around the world. Certainly, when you are in constant motion, it is easy to manage emotions with a partner with a vision of life similar to mine. Indeed, I admit that the idea fascinates me.

Traveling through Iran in Nowruz, the Parsi New Year

By coincidence of destiny, my trip to Iran has coincided with the biggest annual party of the country, the Nowruz, the Parsi New Year. At first I was alarmed because it is the high season of local tourism. Half the country is on the road and the hotels are packed. But now that I've lived it, I'm glad of the experience.

What is Nowruz? It is the new year, which in Iran coincides with the spring equinox. It is also celebrated in other territories that were influenced by Persian culture, such as Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Georgia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

Nowruz, Elburz, Behistun or Firuzabad are words that could make us think deceptively in the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. Nothing is further from reality.

Nowruz is the most important celebration of the year in Iran. It has its roots in the Zoroastrian religion and symbolizes the end of the dark winter as the spring is welcomed. It is not a celebration of just one day. It lasts 13 days from the entry into the new year and is the largest and most important Iranian holiday period.

In Iran, the Nowruz ceremonies begin with a deep cleaning of the houses. It is celebrated by traveling to see relatives and with endless meals with the whole family, which lasts until dawn.

Our trip to Iran was in the time of Nowruz was an accumulation of circumstances. Our first intention was to take the trip during the month of May. But we decided to advance the trip by two months. Between work holidays, and the price of airline tickets (we already know that from one week to another can vary a lot), we stand in the middle of Nowruz.

Traveling in Nowruz raised a series of doubts. Would it be very difficult to find accommodation without prior reservation? And find transportation? Would the bazaars and tourist spots be closed on the most marked days? How could this affect our trip?

I remember we had a hard time finding information about someone who had traveled to Iran in the middle of Nowruz. We read a travel experience during that time of year, and that was what clarified things for us and encouraged us to buy air tickets for those weeks. We were not able to find information from anyone else who had traveled to Iran at that time.

The new year is super high season in Iran. It is a time when Iranians travel a lot as families come together to celebrate the holidays. One of the first things we decided was to try to find a host to be able to experience the party from the inside. It could be a very enriching experience to live the celebration as a family. And if we did not find a host, we would look for our lives and sleep in a hotel. But we were going to try it.

The second decision was to try to book an internal flight from Tehran to Shiraz from home. We had read that due to the economic sanctions that have been imposed it is difficult to buy something from outside the country. But we searched and searched and finally found a website that allowed us to make the purchase of the internal flight. I have to admit that I did not have them all with me when I bought it, but it was all perfect.

Day 1

With the reservation of the internal flight and a hotel reservation in Tehran (since we would arrive at dawn) we arrived in Iran.

We arrived days before Nowruz. Our first host in Shiraz fell at the last minute and we had no problem finding accommodation at the hotel. And the same hotel booked us the bus tickets to Isfahan a day in advance.

Day 2

We arrived in Isfahan almost at night after seven hours in bus without hotel reservation, as always. We had no accommodation, and needed hotel. It did not take us long to find accommodation. We went through three average hotels, near the center, and all with availability. In the end we were left with the third one that was the one that we liked the most.

We thought it would be very difficult to find accommodation two days from Nowruz and in Isfahan, a city that has more tourist attractions of national and international interest. But the reality is that it was not like that. With our backpacks we got on a taxi heading to our host's house. What nerves! It was our first time. We have mixed emotion and uncertainty for not knowing what we were going to find.

A young 23-year-old medical student welcomed us at the door of his house. Upon entering his house, he made us feel at home. His mother arrived. She offered us fruit, sweets and tea, and we chatted for a while. We enjoy a delicious homemade meal together. The only one in the house who spoke English was him. The house only had two rooms. In one the mother and the daughter slept.

The host show us the room. After lunch, we went to visit the city. We saw a lot of life in the streets. The streets were crowded, and the bazaars were full, full of people doing the last shopping before the holidays. At nightfall the host appeared with a boy from Germany. They came to where we were. He was showing us places in the city and we had a good time. We went to buy some pizzas for dinner and took them home.

Day 3

Upon awakening, the hosts prepared breakfast for everyone. They were accustomed to welcoming young travelers. The day was the great day, the day of the Persian New Year, the Nowruz. That day we celebrated as a family. Everyone ate where he could, some on the floor, some on the sofa. They gave us gifts. We drank tea, we ate fruits and sweets without stopping. We spent all day eating! And they made us feel part of the family.

We went to visit the Armenian neighborhood. We walk a lot, visit some mosques that we had pending, and enjoy a city that fell in love with us from the minute one. Observing the passion exhibited by the Iranians for the selfies and the smartphones nobody would say that they live in the year 1395. And it is not that the madness for technology and photographic hedonism reached the Persian deserts in the Middle Ages.

They proposed us to go somewhere to smoke shisha. We returned at 1 in the morning and between dinner and everything went to bed very late. But it was worth it.

Navroz festival images parsi new year wallpapers

Day 4

When we decided to go from Isfahan to Kashan, our host booked us a bus ticket online just one day before without any complications. They treated us as if we were family, and that was one of the best experiences we have had traveling.

We arrived in Kashan. We contacted our host via WhatsApp already from the bus, informing of the time of our arrival. Once there we went by taxi to the address you gave us. We arrive at the meeting point. We enter the house and they offers us tea and fruits. After a while, they offer us to eat, and we accept. We all eat together.

That afternoon we went for a walk around the Kashan bazaar. In one street we stumble upon the Ḥaji Firuz, a character dressed in red, smudged face and tambourine in hand that jumping and making capers announces knocking the doors the arrival of the Nowruz. The party atmosphere is perceived in every corner. The squares, gardens and roadsides are filled with families picnicking on rugs spread in the most unlikely places.

The night before we had gone to bed late, and that day had been exhausting between the bus hours and touring the bazaar in the afternoon. We thought it was a great idea not to be invited to dinner.

We showered, and when we were already in our pajamas, and it was 10:30 at night, the host, suddenly appeared, telling us to get dressed so we had to go for dinner. The world fell on me. I was so tired, already with my pajamas on, with my hair still wet. Seeing our host there insisting that we have to get dressed, in 5 minutes we left. We ate dinner, and went to bed.

Day 5

When we woke up, we all had breakfast together and we went to visit the small town of Abyaneh. At 5 in the afternoon we are already in town. It is a very small town, very rural, with goats, dogs and other animals out there. And we do not know very well what to do.

At the entrance of the houses, the Iranians put the Haft-Sin or table of the seven S. They are bowls with seven products full of symbolism whose name begins with the letter seen of the Persian alphabet. Among them, shoots of wheat, symbol of the rebirth that spring brings, garlic, which embody medicine, apples, in reference to beauty and health, or vinegar, which personifies old age and patience.

It is also the time to open wide the windows and doors of the home, to air it and to do an annual thorough cleaning. They offered us sweets, tea (a thousand times) and fruit. And so we spent the afternoon.

The Iranians do not stop offering us food, and we go eating. There was a time when so much hospitality overwhelmed me. We had dinner, but before returning home. In every house we enter they offer us food! That day we had a really good time. We danced and had a great time.

This was our last day in Iran, because after that meal, and at night, we went to the airport. We are very happy to have lived these two experiences, both in Isfahan and in Kashan.

We believe that our experience has been so intense to travel during the Nowruz, a time when the Iranians get together a lot as a family. Our days in Kashan flew by from one family to another. We could not visit anything from Kashan except the Bazaar (and the village of Abyaneh). They also gave us no option.

The ruins of Persepolis or the famous square of the Imam of Isfahan was like a beach. We were able to see the walls of the Byzantine era (based on earlier ones that are more than 3,000 years old and the longest in the world after China), the Great Mosque, which is one of the oldest in the country, and we also see the old churches that remain.

Melissa Climate Smart AC Control Review

There is no shortage of home automation solutions. Melissa Climate has products dedicated to home automation. One of those transforms the air conditioning system into an intelligent device. It allows easy control of the AC through a mobile app and a small WiFi supported device.

A fundamental aspect for those who choose air conditioners is consumption of electricity. Those days seem far away when the air conditioners often blew up the electricity bills. There are devices these days in the segment that has sophisticated functions. The features allow the devices to communicate with the user through smartphones. Alongside an intriguing aesthetic, it demonstrates that technology knows no borders.

The Internet of things is the great revolution of the future. A device in the house and an app can manage the air conditioner in an intelligent way. It can also help save energy. Everyday objects, from refrigerators to dishwashers get connected to the network. They can even inform the owner if there is something wrong. For example, if there is no milk! and things like that.

The installation is immediate and requires no cables. The heart of the system is a small unit equipped with specific sensors. It monitors the climate of the environment and communicates via infrared with the AC. It promises a simple and efficient management of home temperature, even on the move.

It only needs an Internet connection and wifi router. The device is a Wi-Fi thermostat for air conditioners. The tool also optimizes the air conditioner to reduce electricity consumption. It ensures energy savings up to 25 percent thanks to the smart temperature control. With the geolocation system, it also helps in saving energy when you leave.

What more? The device helps you to manage your air conditioner from a distance. Whether you work out of town or on the go you can control the unit from anywhere. So you can limit the AC when you are away and pre-cool the rooms right before returning. Thus saving both hot sweats caused by the heat and the cold due to the bill. The device also sets the speed of the airflow according to your needs.

The device is only 10 centimeters wide and two centimeters thick. So it takes very little space and fits anywhere in your home. The wireless thermostat works with all the latest generation of remote-controlled models. What you need is to turn the device into an outlet, and put the device near your air conditioning. Download the mobile app and you are ready to go after synchronizing the device.

The device is intelligent and learns what temperature you love. Thanks to a clever algorithm, your application delivers detailed monthly statistics. It informs you how many hours you use your air conditioner during the past month. How much time you spent outside the home, and what percentage the device was able to save since using it.

You can download the mobile application used by the device for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

India 2050: A Brief History of the Future

Prediction is human nature for centuries, but anticipating the future is becoming trendy in various disciplines. In 2050, I see of an India that will be radically different thanks to smart cities, environmentally sustainable and energy efficient point of views, an India in which art and creativity will conquer new markets and sectors such as medical technologies and synthetic biology.

Travel Guide to the Fiji Islands for Backpackers

We arrived in Nadi, the capital of the Fiji Islands, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon on a 3-hour flight from Auckland. As soon as we got off the plane, we noticed that we had completely changed register. There is a sticky heat, palm trees, women with flowers in their hair and a big smile, and music everywhere. Oh my God, this is paradise!

There are white sands shaded by palm trees full of coconuts. It reminded me a bit of Polynesia (Bora Bora and Moorea), which by the way was not that far away. There are tropical beaches with clean and transparent waters, with fish of all colors swimming around the coral. The snorkeling is the best I've ever seen, with north of Bali on the sidelines.

We put ourselves in "beach" mode and in a moment we were more than integrated into the landscape. At the same airport, we asked at a mobile store if we would have coverage on the small islands. The boy told us that it depended on the island and how far we were getting away from the main island, but that we would generally have coverage. So on the fly, we bought a prepaid card so that our parents could call us.

We had already booked the hotels and transfers and paid everything in advance to a Fijian-New Zealand company specializing in Fiji. It is very difficult to go on your own if you do not book before. You cannot hire a boat just for yourself as there are long distances. In addition, they are quite small hotels and you need a "conventional" transport logistics.

The regular catamaran and boats from the hotels themselves wait for you to get on and get off it on each island. We were struck by the number of people who traveled there alone (many girls), from Auckland, Melbourne or Sydney, and with a clear backpacker profile. We had booked a hotel for that first night and they had free transportation from the airport.

So they told us where the minibusses of the hotels were and we waited for them to come and pick us up and several more. We stay in the backpacker dominated beach hotel. We have dinner by the side of a fire show by aborigines for tourists. The hotel is on the beach, with a very nice pool, a restaurant full of candles. It includes breakfast and room with bathroom and air conditioning.

The next day we went to the islands and they told us to bring everything we needed and drinks because there we cannot buy anything and the drinks are expensive. So we went with a hotel worker who left at that time and left us in the biggest supermarket in the city.

The prices were incredibly cheap and we bought shampoo, many packets of cookies, mosquito repellent, several bottles of water and a pair of glasses and snorkel tubes. The diving goggles that we wore caused more than a sensation to those who saw it on us. We returned to the hotel and at dinner time, we have a plate of grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables with wine.

In Fiji, there are many groups of islands. There are hundreds of them, so you must decide which ones you want to go to. Fiji is made up of 2 major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, but there are 320 islands (100 are uninhabited) and more than 500 islets. The Yasawas are great and highly recommended. There are approximately 12 volcanic islands owned by the people who live there, as well as the resorts or hostels that are there.

They are quite virgin and do not receive many tourists, so they are still quite calm. With 16 days ahead we could not pretend to see everything either. So we decided on the Yasawas, one of the most visited groups of islands and where are the mid-priced hotels that all young people go to. To get to them you can only take the ferry that goes every day to the last island stopping at each of them and then returns to Nadi (on the island of Viti Levu) at sunset.

The problem is that this ferry does not stop at the islands, but stops at the sea near each of them. Then a small boat from the hotel on that island goes to the ferry and carries the people who go to that hotel and, in turn, takes the people who are leaving for the ferry.

Normally on each island, there is usually a hotel or two at the most. The problem is that you must have booked in advance for the hotel boat to pick you up on the ferry, and you have no other way to access the hotel. The second problem is that in all those islands there is no internet. So you cannot book with them directly, but you have to do it through companies that are in the capital or in Australia.

They charge you a commission to manage the reservation and notify them that they go out to pick you up on the ferry. But I do not like to book in advance without having seen the hotel in person. So we decided to go directly and see what happened. The next day we took the ferry very early. Normally people usually buy a pass of 7 or 14 days that allows you during that time to take the ferry as many times as you want.

But we think that this is for people who travel every day on a different island. Our intention was to spend 3 or 4 days on each island so we would not need much transportation and we prefer to buy each individual ticket. The ferry was full of people, and we did not really know what to do or where to get off. The fact is that when you ride you must say where you are going. We said the name of a hotel we wanted to go to in the first place.

The person asked: do you have a reservation? And we said no. So he called from his cell phone and was told it was full, and that there was no room. He suggested that we go to another who was also well, called, They told him they had a place.

On the way, we went passing through wonderful islands, some so small that they only have a small hotel. The bigger ones have, in addition to one or two hotels, a small villa of premises with some 30 houses, the school, and the church.

Finally, the boat stopped and they told us to go down there, on the Waya Lailai island. A small boat took us, another couple and us, to the hotel. The hotel has to be seen. It consists of 4 double cabins right on the shore, on a nice lawn with palm trees, and a wooden hut with a thatched roof that serves as reception, meeting room, and dining room.

There were another couple of girls staying there, so there were 6 hotel guests. The workers were 5 people, 4 men, and 1 woman. And everyone did everything. They prepared the food, played the guitar and sang typical Fijian songs during meals. They cleaned the rooms, made excursions like going fishing, going to feed the sharks or learning how to make bracelets woven with palm leaves. It was really fun and different.

Our cabin was pretty good, with its bathroom, a double bed, and two small, mosquito nets, and with all the walls of windows to take advantage of the breeze and get rid of the heat. We also had electricity from 6 to 10 at night, which is a luxury on the islands. We have everything included, accommodation and meals. The next day another couple arrived, so we were already 8 people. It was 3 days of fun. We spent the hours in the dining room chatting, lying on the beach, snorkeling, reading, lying in the hammocks, sleeping, and eating.

Regarding the meals, the truth is that it was good. It was a little basic counting on that in the island there was only light for 4 hours a day through a generator. There was no refrigerator and, consequently, the food was all stored of rice, pasta, preserves, vegetables. The breakfast was at 8, although the truth is that we all arrived always late. At 12 they provide lunch and at 7 the dinner. Lunch and dinner were vegetables in a sauce with rice or some bread, sometimes chicken and a slice of pineapple.

We did an excursion to snorkel in the coral reef and feed the sharks. There were many small fish of many colors, and several sharks (harmless, of course) that approached us more than I like, but we did not see many big fishes. But the guide hunted some fish and fed it to the sharks, and even some could catch a shark by the tail and cradle it like a baby! But the truth is that the animal was writhing and I was very afraid so I did not even touch them.

Another excursion went to the villa where the locals live, at the back of the island. They took us in a little boat. We went because we wanted to pay with a card and of course, there was no light and nothing was not possible. So they took us to the villa where a lady had a little old machine to copy the card and we could use it there. The procedure was authentic.

The lady copied the card and then called the bank through a wireless phone to confirm that the transaction could be made. The truth is that the villa was authentic, with the house of the chief in which he lives with his wife. The children live in nearby houses cared for by other people. There is a church, a large drum made with a trunk to call people to the meetings and everything that arises and all at the seashore between palm trees.

On the last day, we had a barbecue on the beach with fish freshly caught from the sea, rice, and bread, all enlivened by the Fijian songs. Although they sound quite typical, after a while you find that they all sound the same and you could sing with them perfectly and it would not be noticed.

By the way, being there, one day a boat arrived with a plastic washing machine on board. The colleague got off with the washing machine on his shoulder and planted it on the lawn. They plugged it in, plugged in the generator, and there she went to do the laundry for all the staff. The funny thing is that I put the clothes in the washing machine.

I let it go around for half an hour, and after a while, I took them out, put it all in a bucket and washed it by hand again. We can see that the lady did not trust the new instrument very much. When it finished washing all, the colleague took it with them, put it back in the boat and left. It is seen that it would be something like a mobile washing machine that goes from hotel to hotel and from villa to villa.

And once the 3 days were up we went back to take the boat that took us to the ferry that took us to the next island, Nacula, which was, by the way, the furthest among the available options. It is the one that is more to the north of the group of the Yasawa, to 4 and a half hours of the island principal. When the ferry arrived on the island, the sea looked so impressive that everyone took pictures without stopping.

The boat from the hotel came up to pick us up and took us to the shore. We board a catamaran, on a ride that allowed us to see from the roof of the boat the rest of the islands and hotels where the people went down. (This boat goes up and down daily from Port Denarau and picks up people in the vertical Yasawas). This hotel was somewhat more expensive, with all meals, but it was much more sophisticated than the previous one.

There are 8 cabins and a large dining room on the seashore, office, volleyball court. There is more staff working, more elaborate food, light almost 20 hours a day, daily room cleaning and much more impersonal. The beach was even prettier than the previous one, and our cabin was also right on the shore. We arrived at the lodge on a stunning postcard beach, practically deserted, and with only two hotels (hidden in the vegetation), possibly the best of the Yasawas.

Another 3 days of relaxation, chatting with the rest of guests at meal times, reading, walking on the beach. I do not know how we slept at night without moving the body. And the worst is we slept like 10 hours! The meals were at 8, at 12 and at 7 in the afternoon. It did not occur to us to arrive late because some of the hotel staff came to tell us that the food was on the table and that everyone was waiting for us.

I want to sleep a little more, that the 10 hours had not been enough. The peace was such that it was only interrupted a couple of times a day when a seaplane arrived at the shore to leave or pick up customers. We begin an excursion to swim to a natural cave and the famous Blue Lagoon, which was really wonderful.

Another 3 days in this hotel and we left again. We had decided to stay 3 days in each hotel and thus be able to visit 5 different islands. Again the ferry and the boat to our next destination: Nanuya Lailai and the hotel, with all meals included. When we arrived we were left with our mouths open. It is not precisely because of the beauty of the hotel or the beach, but because it was the most shabby thing we had seen in our lives.

There is a shabby hut, without the light of any kind and without washbasin. They assigned us a ramshackle cabin with bunk beds and wooden windows that did not close properly, and without a bathroom, anyway, because the whole hotel was fully booked for a wedding. On the way we thought that instead of two nights we would only have one, so we went to pay the woman and tell her.

In the previous hotel, we had called this one to reserve the two nights and there. We paid a part of the amount and the rest we would have to pay on our arrival. He gave us a receipt where the amount of everything was clear. Well, when we pay, the woman says no, she does not know anything about what we paid at the other site (which was a very serious hotel).

We have to pay the full amount and that if we want to cancel the booking for one of the two nights we have to pay 30%. I tell the woman that I'm not going to pay her that crazy amount as I have already paid an amount. I am only going to pay what remains for the total amount of that night and that in the morning we were going on the ferry. The woman was determined that no, we had to pay everything and if not, we cannot move from there.

And if the woman was stubborn, so was me. We are on an island lost in the middle of the Pacific and they will not let us go for good? We have to reach an agreement. And so we did. We got up without saying anything else and we left. So looking out of the corner, we quickly left the hut. We took our things and left that shabby place. And thank goodness that I had seen in the guide that on that island there was another hotel not far away.

So we went walking on the beach to see if we could find it because we did not have many alternatives to stay either. And so we arrived at the hotel. It was seedy but passable, much better than the previous one and cheaper, despite the fact that the part we had paid in advance at the other hotel was lost. We decided to stay there more than anything because we had no alternative but to sleep on the beach accompanied by the thousands of crabs. This was also run by a Fijian family but very friendly. There were only 5 guests.

We quickly left the suitcases and crossed the island to go to the beach where a movie was filmed, which is why this island is famous and why everyone comes here. The walk lasted half an hour with a scorching sun on the head, so when we arrived we almost fainted in the water with clothes and everything. The beach was very beautiful, but not much more than the rest, expecting that this is hundreds of islands, almost all are equal, so as beautiful as the rest.

Also in one of these islands, another movie was filmed but we will not go to see it because it is a desert island to which you can only go with an excursion paying to see an island just like the many others that are around here. It is known as Tom Hanks Island. This blue lake beach has a small island in front of it with a hotel of more than € 1000 a night where celebrities come to hide from the paparazzi. We were going to stay in that but in the end, we liked the sunrise more.

In the morning, at breakfast, the lady informed us that there were rumors that a hurricane was expected to arrive in Fiji that night or the next day. So we took the ferry willing to learn well and act accordingly. The ferry reported that the next day they would not make the route. So people would have to go to a hotel to stay there for at least 2 days, until the hurricane passed, or return to the main island.

We planned to go to a beach that we were told was very nice, but the hotel was not admitting new guests for fear of the hurricane. We informed ourselves of where it came from and he told us that from the East. So we looked for a good hotel on a big island on the west coast of it so that the hurricane would reach us from behind and the island would slow it down.

We found one that gave the profile because the island was like a mountain in the center. We thought we would be safer, and with a somewhat more expensive hotel but with cement huts. The fact is that it was full and they did not have one empty for that night. So we had no choice but to go to another one that was right next to us, on the same beach but something seedier.

It was not bad, with several decent cabins, with an outdoor shower in the back, a small bathroom and mosquito net. Upon arrival, we put on our diver's glasses and went snorkeling through the coral reef. The water on that beach was so hot that it was almost warm when it entered. The reef was beautiful, and although it was full of fish of all colors, the really amazing thing was the corals.

There we were swimming calmly far from the shore when I heard screams that surprised me because I had not seen anyone there. When I raised my head there was a man shouting at us halfway between us and the shore, telling us to run out of the water. He had seen a huge shark. So, with those words he made me swim at the highest speed I've ever done in my life.

And I, there, submerged in my thoughts under the water, thought that those things only happened in the movies or in the documentaries of the TV. And there we were, running away from a huge shark at full speed. And I became so exhausted that for a moment I give up. And so, almost dead, we reached the shore and we dropped into the sand with our eyes closed. We will never forget those minutes of terror with 100% adrenaline rush.

The fact is that we left the sea but not in our hotel, but in the other in which we wanted to book from the first moment and that had no rooms. Once recovered, we decided to enter to ask if they had for the next day and see the hotel a bit. And we found a very nice hotel, with beautiful cabins, with a pool and not much more than the other we were in.

We decided to book the next day and went to the hotel to take a shower and rest. That night the hurricane did not arrive although they were still waiting for it. It had not yet arrived in Fiji and it was not known what course it would take. There was not a drop of wind and we spent the most horrible heat in our cabin without light or fan.

The next morning we changed hotels and settled in our beautiful cabin. The day dawned good and nothing was known of the hurricane. The ferry worked normally and bring a lot of guests to the hotel. There are a lot of girls of about 18-19 years old who just finished high school and roam around before entering the university. I wonder who pays for those trips to these girls who sunbathe until they get like crabs.

The day passed from the hammock to the pool and from there to the bed, doing nothing at all. The food of the hotel was quite good and the pool gave the comfort. But in the afternoon they warned us that the next day the ferry would not come. The route had been suspended due to the risk of the hurricane and that all of us who were there would have to spend at least two nights because there was no way out of the island.

We are glad we changed our hotel and that we were in a big cement hut. And the next day the preparations began. The workers of the hotel began to nail wood in the windows of the rooms to protect them. They asked for help from the guests to take the boats from the water and to raise them to the sand far from the sea. They shored with wood from inside the doors of the dining room and left only a small back door open.

It seemed that, after 3 days hearing about it, finally come that night. Indeed the ferry did not come. We were all there, on an island in the Pacific, unable to leave in any way and at the expense of what the hurricane wanted. At night, when we went to bed, the wind was already strong, but I managed to fall asleep soon. I do not know when it started, but at 2 in the morning I was awakened by a wind so strong that it made my hair stand on end.

We closed the windows completely because the curtains flew and the sand entered the room everywhere. But it was impossible to close them completely so the sound of the air was deafening. I have to admit that I panicked that night. I spent the whole time with my eyes wide open, praying that it would not be anymore, wondering if that would get uglier and was shaking like a leaf.

From time to time I would get up to look through one of the small windows, but the plants came tumbling down by the wind and the sand fly everywhere. At 5 o'clock in the morning it became even stronger. The sound was very loud and dull. And thus, without being able to do anything and hoping that it was what nature dictated. Although the wind continued to relax a bit I was completely asleep. I missed breakfast and got up directly at lunchtime.

We asked what had happened and they told us that the hurricane had not passed by. Luckily, it had passed through the islands further north. We were only touched by the strong wind that did not reach more than a bad night as everything dawned (including the inside of our suitcase) full of sand. The next day was exasperating. The wind was almost as strong, the sky was black and the ferry did not work either.

We could not be outside so it was all deserted. People were in their rooms or in the dining room. What a boring day, without being able to go out or do anything and everyone there without the possibility of leaving. We stayed two more days at the hotel because it was very good, because of the pool, and the room. At night the hotel staff danced for us typical Fijian dances.

We also visited another beach on the same island that was completely deserted. They took us by boat and put us in a suite. We have a free minibar and we also see the tiny island of Naukacuvu that does not appear on the map. The 4 days passed quietly.

Our last destination was the Matacawalewu Island and the hotel, which is situated on one of the best beaches. Indeed, the beach was beautiful, very long and very wild. Although when the tide went down we could walk for an hour and the water never passed on our knees. The water was so hot that after a few hours it was impossible to enter the sea because it gave us hot flushes, like when we walk into the thermal pools.

We have to get out because we feel great. The hotel was regular because although it was new and the cabins were very good they had it very dirty and the food was bad. I had to eat with my tongue down and without looking at the plate for the simple fact of feeding myself. They had warned and I think it was even worse. There we spent our last two nights.

As a summary of the Fiji Islands, well of the Yasawas Islands, which are the only ones we have visited in the country, I will say that they are very beautiful, very charming and very wild, with what that entails. But I also found it very expensive, extremely expensive for what is offered. And then the meals. And it is not that I say that I am a binge, but that it is the constant topic of the conversation who are always desperate for the next meal to arrive.

It is that here when you go to a hotel the price includes the room and 3 meals. Breakfast at 8, lunch at 12 and dinner at 7. Counting on that each meal is a single dish with boiled rice and something else and that cannot be repeated so tell me how you can stand 7 hours from 12 o'clock to 7 without the guts rumbling you without stopping.

And the worst thing is that as there is nothing, I want to say that your hotel is on your island and nothing else. Because you cannot buy anything, in the hotel, they sell satanic potatoes and cookies at a hefty price. It is your only salvation to pass the wait for the next meal. But cookies are, at best, timepass. Obviously, there are better hotels and hotels worse in this aspect, but all give only 3 limited meals.

The funny thing is that in all the hotels they called with a tamtam when the food was ready, and then everyone went to the dining room. And that is also used in the villas to communicate things to the whole town or to call the mass or a meeting.

Well, I do not mean that I did not like it. I loved the trip, but I also like to always say the negative points to honor the truth and not fall into idealism. Finally, a very curious thing about the Fijians is that all women, absolutely all of them, have short hair. You do not see any with long hair and they say that is their culture. They get married before they are 20 and have several children.

We also read that the Fijians were famous for the kindness, who has been voted by several travel magazines as the friendliest people in the world. I do not usually like this kind of voting, Although in this case, I could not say otherwise. In general, they are nice people, smiling and waiting for you on your island playing the guitar and singing. Yes, everything is slow, and that is they are like that.

Do not get nervous if you wait and wait. The Fiji Time as they call it there is like a different vision of time. 35% of the population has Indian roots. They are descendants of Indians brought by the British to work. They love to drink cava, but beware! It's a traditional drink made with the roots of a plant that leaves you a little anesthetized.

We get back to Port Denarau in a yellow catamaran, which went in the middle of (inexplicable) waves that suddenly came up and made us all dizzy enough. We spend a last obligatory night in Nadi (in Viti Levu) and the next day we return to Sydney and take advantage of 5 hours in Sydney before leaving for Dubai. Well, with that we have arrived in Australia. We have the internet now.

Now we have been disconnected for 16 days because there was no communication on the islands. But from now on we will not let so much time pass before we tell you what is happening in this part of the world. Of course, we went to eat sushi next to the Opera House to say goodbye to that iconic space, in a truly exciting and vibrant city.

Celebrating Teej in Patan and Pashupatinath in Nepal

We woke up early and went down for a good breakfast, enjoying one of the great attractions of the trip, masala chai. In the morning I take an excursion to the elephant breeding center. We saw elephants of all ages, from 3 months, and we fed a 9-month-old. It is time to return to the Kathmandu valley. We all wanted to ride in a Nepalese truck, so I tried to convince a truck driver to take us. Our persuasive arts did not work.

We had to find a bus that went in that direction. It was quite full. Tomorrow we planned to see the Teej, the festival that we had seen so many times. We decided to go to sleep in Patan since we did not have the chance to enjoy that beautiful city because of the commitment to the Dakshinkali Temple. The truth is that I had doubted about whether to spend the night there.

I thought that having the hotel in this city would allow me to visit it quietly the next day at first hour. On the way we saw interesting scenes. We had to find a van that went in that direction. And unknowingly, we climbed into the van where the driver and the helper were drinking a drink that smelled of alcohol with the music at the top by a very narrow road full of curves on the mountain. We spent the way singing to have fun and alleviate the fear a little.

At the entrance to the town we find a chariot for a festival to the god of rain. We are at the beginning of the monsoon season, and it is raining. I wanted to go to visit some towns south of the capital. I told the hotel reception guy that I wanted to go to Kokhana, Kirtipur and Bungamati, and he told me that in those towns he would not find an architecture different from those seen in Kathmandu and Patan.

But he told me that if we wanted to see the real Nepal, the rural one, he could accompany me to a trip to a town where there were no temples or medieval architecture, and the houses were different. Great, I thought. Indeed, we went to a mountain (I do not remember the name, but it was on the road from Kirtipur to Dakshinkali and it was very interesting.

I not only saw beautiful landscapes, with mustard crops, but I also saw rural architecture, with houses made of brick, painted orange and with corn cobs drying in. In the night I stay in a B&B, an old restored house, located in a Buddhist courtyard. For dinner we have a nice soup, rice and the spectacular chicken curry. We went to sleep unconscious of the precious day that awaited us. One of the most spectacular days visually and emotionally, the Teej waited us.

Teej pics wallpaper

Day 2

When I woke up, I looked out the window of the room. We have breakfast quickly to take advantage of the show to the fullest. The girls were incredibly beautiful wearing makeup, with their little gems and all dressed in beautiful red saris. They made long lines to enter to make offerings in the temples.

On this day celebrated few days after Janmashtami the parents of the married women send Sinjara to their daughters, which is a package that includes bindi, vermilion, henna, bracelets, sweets typical of the region and a sari. After accepting the gifts sent by their parents, the married women adorn themselves with mehndi and jewels and prepare to enjoy this auspicious day.

The atmosphere was lively. In all the congregations of women, there was one that sang and others that danced. Later we learned that those who wore red, were married women who danced so that their husbands had a long life. The hotel manager advised us to go to Pashupatinath to watch the festival up close.

The taxi driver who took us have no idea how to get to the temple, which was already surprising because it is a temple of great importance for both locals and tourists. Besides he was driving like crazy. After we asked several times for the correct address, we came close to the temple.

We took a long but beautiful walk to the temple. The atmosphere was spectacular. We see more beautiful women. We saw a group of boys. Suddenly, it began to pour. I sheltered under the umbrella of 2 friendly families who welcomed us while they continued watching as the girls danced. For the umpteenth time they invited us to dance with them.

This time we could not resist dancing in the rain in that beautiful temple. Under the friendly eyes of the locals, I started dancing under the shower. It was a magical moment! We also saw a group of temples with lingas, and as we go up some stairs, we can see the silver doors of the main temple (it is the one with the golden roof).

We can also cross the bridge and approach the door of the temple, and we see the bull and the people who enter the temple. I return to visit Durbar again, and reach the Golden Temple. We spent some time listening to the mantras recited in the temple. We see the Kumari, the living goddess, of course. Perhaps the most interesting thing was walking through its streets with thousands of temples, markets, courtyards, and statues and where an almost medieval type of life develops.

Then we went to Bhaktapur, where I would spend that night. The surprises, when we arrived, continued. I thought I would not see anything new, but I was wrong. Bhaktapur is perhaps the most beautiful of the three ancient city-states and although its Durbar is the most damaged by the earthquake, architecturally it is the most interesting.

Almost all the houses in the center are beautiful, but it is also pedestrian. The road is also paved in red brick and is a very elegant place at the same time authentic. We stopped at a store to eat a yogurt. The lady who sells the yoghurts asks us if we liked the Durbar Square. We say that we loved it and we see her illuminated face. She asks us to put it on Facebook and tell all our friends and family.

With everything, I did not visit it just when I arrived. I wanted to do a trek to take advantage of the sunlight. My idea was to go to Panauti to make the trip walking to Namobuddha, but it had been late and I had to go to a temple on a hill called Pilot Baba, which was close to the city.

The truth, was what most disappointed me of the trip was the gentleman of the B&B where I was staying. I thought it would be a bucolic place and it was a mountain full of crap. At least I saw how the Nepalese enjoyed a picnic and a party evening with mobile disco included. We took a stroll through the village, which is very quiet, with few bars and shops.

We have a beer over there (they are very large, with one for two people) a few bananas, some strawberry-filled cookies (a vice). We go for a little walk in the tranquility, and we have paratha and curry in a eatery and come back to the hotel to sleep early to see the sunrise tomorrow.

Teej pics wallpaper

Travel in Talgo from Berlin to Minsk

I write these lines in Berlin Ostbahnhof station while waiting to travel on a Russian Railways train. It should take me from the German capital to Minsk, in the heart of Belarus. What worries me? I am convinced that the train manufactured by Talgo for the Russian company RZD, will arrive safely and comfortably to my destination. The 16 hours of an overnight trip that will transport me will be a balm before being thrown into uncertainty.

Every trip is a journey of dreams. The names and things that coincide is sometimes the best guarantee that nothing threatens us in the world that follows its own march without resisting. The difficult part of a trip to undertake on my own is to prepare it and, above all, imagine it. The prelude to the game is filled with uncertainties, real or figurative. Now, the scales weigh more on the monsters lurking than the joys sought.

What do I fear? At this moment it is shorter to list what I trust. It is the borders, visas, Cyrillic calligraphy, language, not to orient myself in the metro, to the limitations of the internet. I fear what does not look like me, I fear the unknown, which at the same time is what drives me to start the journey.

I get restless, although I have already visited Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kikiristan in this part of the world and I have enjoyed hospitality and confidence.

Going back to travel at night by train is like recovering an odor from childhood. The convoy left Berlin at 8:22 pm and, although the days lengthen, in the first swings of the route the other side of the window has changed to black. Reclining in the armchair the march, which is not dizzy, rocks me in small lateral lashes.

The absence of external perspective and movement, involves an experience. I'm stuck with myself , but I know that there is someone outside that transports me without the possibility of my destiny being distorted. During a long and restful sleep, I feel various types of rattles that I attribute to the different state of the tracks and the changing speed that allow reaching the train.

Travel in Talgo from Berlin to Minsk

Day 2

The border crossing of the EC to the Russian Federation, between Poland and Belarus, occurs around 6 in the morning. Without respect for the dream, a young uniformed man demands visa and passport. He compares the person in front of the passport photograph for a long time and resort to a sophisticated portable device in which the profiles of all the bad guys in the world must be trapped. As I do not appear, he rubs the magnetic stripe of my passport insistently demanding a coincidence. Finally he admits my innocence and wade the first test of fire with approval.

Sunrise. Through the window a landscape that warns of spring passes endlessly. The trees point to a juicy green bud, while water dominates the ground and brown tones of grass scorched by frost. The train reaches Minsk.

The streets of the Belarusian capital are immense avenues and benign weather can not dispel a trace of endemic cold. An icy city from a long distance becomes warm when I manage to establish contact with its inhabitants. But how?

Belarusians knows no other language than the native of his country. They have a worse conscience than me to speak a lousy English. They try very hard to make themselves understood and in the end, without great philosophies, the connection is achieved. The meters are the secular temples of the communist era.

The metropolitan railroads of Soviet origin were born as temples of the liberated people in a few years when churches were destroyed on the surface. The suburban Minsk is no exception and its symbolism of a secular temple does not detract from its practical spirit. In an effort so that the foreigner does not get scared, do not get lost, do not miss, they write the names of the subway stops in Latin alphabet, next to the Cyrillic (just like the ones in the streets). So the metro is the most comfortable, and incredibly cheap, way to get around the city.

Among young people the tyranny of the body is discovered, and what bodies! I would swear that in men they embrace a Lenin fashion with little hair, a thin mustache and a sharp revolutionary beard. That ancient leader whose huge statue overshadows one of the main commercial centers of the capital. Of Japanese style, the mall is buried under the huge square called Lenin, and with natural light that receives through giant skylights.

The food, as cheap as the subway, has a German touch. There is pork, knuckle, sausage, herring and an excellent beer. Here there is more taste for food than among the Germanic neighbors, which is not difficult. The evident success of the junk food does not eclipse a careful local cuisine among which would be the salad, which is also called Russian here.

Lenin now chairs a shopping center. Among the fears of the first hour I did not know how to include another of the traveler's black beasts. After the withdrawal to the Minsk airport the taxi driver tries to mislead me. Brief exchange of reproaches in which the opponent interprets my protest, although he does not understand my words, nor I his.

Now, with the comfortable sensation of the test overcome in the expectation of the next takeoff. The initial horrors become nothing. The retrospective of what has been learned and enjoyed makes ridicule the stress consumed unnecessarily. Also the prejudices and supremacism that poison our traveler's luggage.

We are disturbed by the unknown, which is not equal to ourselves. But the search for difference, the unknown, is what drives the trip compulsively. In the globalized world we tend to mimic ourselves; If the different thing disappeared, we would invent it. And so on until the next getaway.