Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cable Cars

Can you guess these cable cars are in which country? You are invited to make a guess.

If there are comments on this post, I will share more story.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Unique City of Venice

Let's go to Venice! After a day's tour in Rome, I left for Venice by the night train. Venice is a magnificient, unique lagoon city with several islands interconnected by bridges and canals. It's amazing to note how a swampy region could become a world famous tourist attraction destination.

Picture Source

After I left the railway station, I came to a huge terrace with youths loitering around the steps. I looked at some sovenir items, got a Venice tourist map and then strolled on my own because it was already too late to join a tour.

The map below will give you a bird's eye view of the city of Venice and the waterbodies around it. Map Source

For those who are interestd to know about the Origins and History of Venice click here.

I lost count of the number of bridges and churches. I walked a long way to look for food, got lost after I found it as I was mixed up with the bridges. Rice and pasta were sold by the weight (in grams). The pasta was pretty good. I did not like the rice too much.

The buildings are quite close between certain stretch but boats can still make their way through the narrow waterways.

This section is broader and different kinds of boat berthed at the sides. A boat selling fresh fruits came by. I saw some strange fruits for the first time in my life.

There are many monuments such as the San Marco Square, the Rialto Bridge, the St. Mark's Square, the Doge's Palace and the prison adjoining it, some churches and their heritage, etc. St. Mark's Basilica is a popular tourist spot in Venice. It has a Byzantine architecure (picture below).
Picture Source

It would have been better to join a tour so that a tour guide would explain more interesting story about the history, buildings and monuments. Most tourists like to take a boat cruise on the Grand Canal or gondolas. The gondola rides are known to be pretty costly. Below is a picture of the gondola.

Find more information on Gondolas and other Boats

In the evening and at night, the atmosphere was very romantic. The lamp lights, the bright stars in the sky, the romantic lighting on the gondolas, the sound of the music coming from the gondolas in line, the sight of well-dressed rowers on "red carpet" entertaining couples on each gondolas were like a festival beyond description. I took some pictures but none of the night shots turn out. I can only share the vivid memory in words.

I would like to go back to Venice for a night's gondola ride with my husband some day. For couples who would like to enjoy the music and romantic evening or night ride on the gondolas, you can go ahead of us and come back to share the photos. Have fun!

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Day's Tour in Rome

Welcome to Rome! After my work in Milan, I proceeded to Rome during the weekend break. Rome attracts a few million visitors every year with its rich architecture, history, design and art of different eras. You have to love history and art to appreciate Rome. Here are some of my pictures:Trevi Fountain.
There is a legend that if you toss a coin with your back facing the fountain, you will come back to Rome again. Was I doing that or just acting? I don't remember. What I remember is it took me a while to be able to get this shot. Why? See the crowd in the next picture.

For history and more information on Trevi fountain, click here

Some Sculptures and fountain Somewhere in Rome (See below)

Rome Pantheon, an ancient building (see picture below). Pantheon means "Temple of Many gods" in Greek.

If you are interested to know more about the Pantheon, click here

Better picture of Rome Pantheon:Picture Source

Map Showing the areas of the Vatican City open to Tourists:Map Source with Explanation

Within the city of Rome is a walked enclave known as the Vatican City. The Vatican City came into existence after the Lateran Treaty in 1929. It is ruled by the Pope (the Bishop of Rome).

St Peter’s Square (Piazza) and St Peter Church (Basilica)
St. Peter’s Square is situated in front of St. Peter’s Basilica (church) in Vatican City, Rome. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed and completed the square from 1656 – 1667 as a forecourt to enable the greatest number of people to see the Pope gives his blessing. Bernini also worked on the interior of St. Peter’s for decades. The trapezoidal shape of the square (piazza) created mainly as a result of site constraints from existing structures, has been praised as a masterpiece of Baroque theater because it provides a heightened perspective for a visitor leaving the church. (I paraphrased into one paragraph the information obtained from Well, according to my tour guide, the square is able to accommodate 500,000 people!

Panoramic View of St. Peter’s Square Picture Source

Aerial View of St. Peter SquarePicture Source

Picture of Fountain in St. Peter Square (above). I am not sure what other purpose it may serve other than being decorative.

If you need current information about visiting the Vatican, one of the best sources is here

The St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest Catholic church in the world which is famous for its interior design and architecture as well. It has many pillars. On top of each of the column (pillar) is a full scupture of a saint. Those interested to see the excavations under the church may have to make advance reservations for the tour.

St Peter’s prepared for outdoor Ceremony Picture Source

My picture at the square in front of the church

St Peter Doom Picture Source

The Vatican Museums
The highlights of the museums are the rich collections and culture. My visit to the Sistine Chapel was on the tour package to see famous fresco artwork of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino, etc. You may want to visit the museum website to decide what you want to see in the Vatican.

The Ceiling of Sistine Chapel - Artwork of Michelangelo Picture Source

To learn more about Michaelangelo's work, read his assistant's story here

My professor who taught me art appreciation likes Italy because of its rich art heritage. We also watched a DVD in on the fresco works in Sistine Chapel and its restoration. We laughed when I shared with him that I left the Sistine Chapel within a few minutes after I stepped in. If I have had his class before my visit, I would have been more appreciative of the tour.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Underwater World

There are several Underwater Worlds in this world. I have been the one in Perth, Australia and Denver in USA. Now I am taking you to the one at the Ocean Park in Hong Kong (now China). I remember vividly how I squeezed myself around to take these pictures, changed my lens and zoomed, zoomed, zoomed. I probably missed some shots. Now these are available for sharing.

Hey, two dolphins made themselves into a raft and carried this guy across the huge pool.
Then they swam back stroke. To see the back stroke picture click here.

A lady called the dolphins and here they appeared as though saying, "Yes, we're here!"

Okay, let's walk on our fins, "One, two, three..."

My buddy spins the ball first, while I watch and do some other tricks later. Oh man, so many spectators today. Hehehe! I can look at these people and relax at the moment.

Let's spin the hook together, you take the pink and white hook and I, blue. "Hey, tell us when you want us to stop spinning, buddy!"

Now, it's Mr. Seal's turn to show off his weight lifting skills!

Oh! Showtime is over. Hope you enjoy and appreciate the amazing skills of some water creatures. For the real excitement, you know where to go when you are in Hong Kong (I still call it HK because China is an enormous country).

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Taman Negara (National Park)

Now, I'm taking you to the National Park in the heart of Peninsular Malaysia which is about 4343 sq km (1,072,721 acres) in area. It is believed to be one of the oldest preserved national parks in the world, that is about 130 million years old. (However, I personally believe our earth is not that old).

For A Brief Park Introduction and How to Get There: Click here

I'm sharing pictures I have personally taken and the experience of my personal adventure. When I arrived at Kuala Tembeling, I had something to eat. From the higher elevation of the cafeteria, I took a picture of the jetty as below: As you can see, there are several narrow boats with a roof on each of them.

Now the closeup view of a passing boat: Our ride was painfully longer than usual because the water level was extremely low due to one of the worst dry spells in history. At one particular point, our boat was stuck and we had to help to push it. It was fun and we made our journey with jokes and laughters. See picture of the boat below with the boatman alone whom we called Pak Cik (uncle). Sorry we were too busy rolling up our pants and did not take the picture of us pushing our boat later. A German couple whom we met shared that when their boat was stuck, there was a python at the bank of the river so they pushed the boat quietly and quickly, thus, no joke or laughter.

We went for a night jungle walk led by a ranger. We carried our torch lights (flash lights) and were reminded to keep quiet. However, a few kids in our group were somehow noisy. No wonder we did not see any big animals. We saw a huge spider up the tree which the ranger said is capable of eating birds. We also saw other smaller creatures.

The next morning we trekked on our own. Look at the root of this tree! I stood there so that you will have a better idea of its size.
Along the way we heard and saw some birds and some rattan plants. They are all covered with thorns. It must not be easy to remove those thorns. Anyway, I am thankful that someone are in the business of removing those thorns and someone had discovered the beauty of the inner cane that create our beautiful furniture today.

After the trek, we went to the Interactive Center and learned more about the park. We decided to get more water and proceeded to the Canopy Walk. It was believed to be the longest canopy walk in the world. We experienced the view of "up on the trees." I am showing you two pictures, one of the walkway and another of the steps.

Picture of the Walkway (not very straight): I am not sure whether a person who is afraid of heights would enjoy the canopy walk. It is not only long but pretty high from the ground level.

Imagine the number of steps I have yet to take. My husband was ahead of me and he took this shot. Many more steps to go. Be careful!

Well, after the Canopy Walk, we went to the restaurant experienced having tea with monkeys. Afternoon Tea with Monkeys.

In the evening, we met a guy who carried a telescope and camera with him to a higher elevation to watch nature and take pictures and he wanted to be alone so we did not join him. We decided to sit outside the restaurant to watch the nature. Shortly after a group of people went into the jungle for the night walk, a group of wild boars, a wild cat and other creatures came out from the jungle. We laughed that the night before we probably chased those animals out too.

You may enjoy other activities like fishing, and other exploration. We did not have enough time to do them all. It was a great experience. If you like nature, you would enjoy it.

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mini Beach Houses

I was not too far from Melbourne, Australia (called Brighton if my memory doesn't fail me), when I came across multiple colorful mini storage buildings at the beach. A friend who took us there told us that one small storage unit cost about A$50,000! Wow! That's a lot of money just to put your belongings by the beach. If I have that kind of money, I probably would not buy the mini house. I would rather remodel my own house and create space for my beach or water sports equipment.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Australian Outback

After camping near Ayers Rock, we proceeded our ride and trailed the dramatic desert landscapes to the Stanley Chasm. It's very colorful and magnificient. You have to be fit and be willing to walk and hike to enjoy the natural beauties of the OZ homeland.

As we were resting we saw rock kangaroos. They are tiny like rats. Before I went to the Outback, I used to think all kangaroos are huge. However, I later learned that there are numerous species from colors to sizes.
Can you see the kangaroos? The are near the holes. It was hard to see them with my naked eyes when I was physically there. If you look hard enough you may be able to figure out a couple of them out there.

Do you know that Central Australia has the largest population of wild camels? They are not native to Australia but they adapt very well to the arid desert. They arrived in Australia before the railroads were built.

At night we had campfire where we baked Damper, the famous OZ bread and took turns to play the didjeridoo for the first time for most of us. You can't imagine how awful the wind instrument sounded in the wrong hands. Our guide was very good at it. It gets better after you learn how to do it. The didjeridoo is made from the eucalyptus log where the inside is hollow after having been eaten by the termites. Apparently the history of more than 1500 years' instrument was discovered by accident when one of the men blew the termites out of the hollow log into the air.

I hope you will have the opportunity to enjoy and experience the Outback on your own.

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