Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Of Dreams and Lists ( Hello! )


Allow me to settle in the shock of realising how long ago I've left this blog inactive. It took me quite a while to figure out how to login, and what my password is, LOL

Anyway, it just crossed my mind to update the UNESCO sites that I have been. The past 2-3 years have felt a bit slow for me in terms of travelling, and I'm hoping to plan a few trips in the near future while keeping the Big Trips dreams alive. 

I have that list somewhere in one of my notebooks (probably not updated as well) but I can't find it right now. Here goes, from the top of my head and with Google help:-

1. Kinabalu Park, Malaysia
2. Gunung Mulu Park, Malaysia
3. Georgetown and Melaka, Malaysia
4. Prambanan, Indonesia
5. Borobudur, Indonesia
6. Bali, Indonesia
7. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
8. Hoi Ann, Vietnam
9. Hue, Vietnam
10. Luang Prabang, Laos
11. Baroque churches, The Philippines (2/4)
12. Puerto Princessa Subterranean River, Palawan, The Philippines
13. Vigan Historical City, The Philippines
14. Rice Terraces of the Cordilerras, The Philippines
15. Singapore Botanical Gardens
16. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (Terracotta Army), Xi'an, China
17. Red Fort, Delhi, India
18. Humayun Tomb, Delhi, India
19. Qutb Minar, Delhi, India
20. Taj Mahal, Agra, India
21. Agra Fort, Agra, India
22. Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, India
23. Petra, Jordan
24. Bethany beyond the Jordan, Jordan
25. Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
26. Chitwan, Nepal
27. Lumbini, Nepal
28. Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
29. Kandy, Sri Lanka
30. Galle Fort, Sri Lanka 
31. Sigiraya, Sri Lanka
32. Dambulla, Sri Lanka
33. Central Highlands of Sri Lanka
34. Damascus, Syria
35. Aleppo, Syria
36. Palmyra, Syria
37. Crac des Chevaliers and Qalat Salah El Din, Syria
38. Goreme and Cappadocia, Turkey
39. Historic Areas of Istanbul, Turkey
40. Hierapolis-Pamukkale, Turkey
41. Ephesus, Turkey
42. Tower of London, UK
43. Westminster Abbey, London, UK
44. Liverpool, UK
45. Macao, China

After my trip to Bagan in 2013, I became more convinced that the World Heritage List isn't something that is ... 'fair'; for want of a better word. It just seemed really strange to me to not have Bagan on that list, regardless their reasons (something to do with authenticity and restoration standards etc).

Reading random travel blogs led me to learn of many not-so-popular, off-the-beaten-path kind of places, activities and trips. This appeals to me on many levels, and encourages me to not limit my motivation to lists and popular recommendations. 

My favourite random find so far - Batanes. I can say absolutely that for Batanes, 'it started with a picture, then a pursuit ensued'. Such a beautiful place!

With the not-so-great currency rates in recent times, I think I would like to look at re-visiting our neighbours again in the next year. Keep on dreaming!

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Xi'an - The Muslim Quarter aka "Eat Street"

Other than the Terracotta Army, Xi'an is also very well-known for its Muslim Quarter - a centrally located area next to the Drum Tower that offers a myriad of food, glorious food. I regret reading up too much on this, as it made me indecisive over which food I should try, and for which meal. LOL

I can only eat so much, you see ;)

So here's some pictures I took along the street - also known as Bei Yuan Men. I went there early at abvout 5 pm before the dinner crowd started arriving. Walked the whole length and turned back to see what was on offer.

The Drum Tower, all lit up.

Early crowd.

Fried baby potatoes came highly recommended - and did not disappoint. It was quite good, all hot and spicy and salty. Lots of salt, cumin and chili!

This was my very first bite of Xi'an street food. Yums.

I don't know what this is - some sort of rice cakes. Reminds me of our radish cakes.

This is a similar one at another stall.

Hooves? Trotters? For sure it's halal though. I was very tempted to try. Alas I did not.

These trotters must be popular, there are many stalls selling it.

Oodles of noodles.

Candy-puller pulling candy :) I did not try any sweets.

I did buy a slice of this - rather bland, it's made of rice and before you eat it, you dip it in some kind of sweet rose water syrup. Looks better than the taste.

Uh. Goat meat aplenty.

Quail eggs on a skewer, some takoyaki-kinda thing. Not bad.

Cold soba like noodles with peanut sauce and chillies for dinner. And they eat beads of fresh garlic. I tried a few, they were alright, very fresh and crunchy. I felt so healthy!

There are many, many, many types of grilled meat on a stick here. Strong flavours from the spices used, and not oily.

Meat for the sandwiches! *Don't mess with a guy with a chopper.

This was not in Muslim Quarter, but on the street where my hostel was located. My FAVOURITE ! I had it twice for breakfast. If not for my desire to eat as many things as possible I would've been happy to just eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's like a big, light, crunchy wrap, with egg. Freshly made to order. I put in my order via sign language :)

Here goes the egg onto the wrap, that's on a hot flat pan of some sort.

On goes the chillies! The next order I managed to ask her to double the chillies :)

Some onions, scallions, a little salt I think.

Then she adds on this fried crunchy flake/wafer thingy I don't know what it is. Also some lettuce.

This is a close-up of that flake/wafer thingy.

She rolls it up and cuts it into halves. It's now ready to eat! Yumminess. It's so light and needs to be eaten while it's still warm. 

 Again, chillies and spicese were common toppings.

They love their chillies here. 

This squid on a stick was super tasty and super hot, I got sniffy and shed happy tears eating it.

Actually I did wonder where these came from as Xi'an is smack in the middle of the mainland. They tasted fresh. (please, no fake squids!)

This stall always had a long queue, so I finally gave in and went to check out what's the story here.

You pay for the sandwich 15 yuan to one of these guys and you'll get a 'ticket'. Now join the queue.

See the plastic bag on the right side? You're supposed to take it yourself when you're in front of the queue. I just watched what everyone did. Monkey.

This is the ticket thing, by the way. You give it to the guy when you place your order.

He'll take a freshly steamed bun, place it in this paper pocket, and fill it with chopped stewed meat

This chunk of meat is freshly stewed or boiled. It looks soft.

Hey look there's another queue next door!

Chop chop chop and in it goes.

It tasted like soft, salty corned beef. Definitely a comfort food. I do like it, but don't think it deserves the hype it gets. 

Freshly pressed pure pomegranate juice to cleanse the palate.

Okay that's the express post on the Xi'an's Muslim Quarter for now - I'm blogging in the middle of doing some work so I gotta run.

(Not very good blogger :p)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Peek : Xi'an Marks the Spot

So, finally, I stepped foot onto mainland China, to a city that has captivated me since 1990.

Why 1990? I've only heard of Xi'an in that year, when a friend shared a photo of her dad accompanying the then Agong to visit the Terracotta Army. (They went down into Pit 1, okay)

In the short trip I managed to cover most of what I wanted to see and experience.

The place that took my breath away - Hua Shan.

View of the West Peak. Mesmerizing.


More soon :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wandering Thoughts Brought Me Here

I'm left to my own devices for more than a month, so I need to use up my time productively. *cough* Kinda bored right now so I thought, why not dust off that cobweb off this blog?

Here's another random selection of pictures - mostly of food. My mouth is watering right now thinking of the flavours.

And my "selfeet" collections. Err.

This was dinner in Istanbul - at a small cafe, far off the main street, with a friendly host who served us complimentary tea and salads and spicy dips. I had the adana kebab which was - holy smoke - super delicious! The host kept on giving us bits of stuff to try, it was really nice. Glad we went out of the way and found this place.

My thing with tiles and floors.


Have you noticed how I love old tiles like these?

Walking on the cold stones of Pammukkale. My feet were numb by the time we reached the end.

My first meal in Yangon. Mild, I had to ask for chillies :)

Closer to home, I think this was in Central Market.

Midnight supper at some R&R  mid-way between Yangon to Bagan. Yeay for chillies!

And this, might've been Penang, at the Blue Mansion.

The best chilli chips ever. Must eat with chilled beer.
Sunset drinks at Chitwan NP, Nepal.

Lunch of dhal bhat, Pokhara.

I'm keeping myself busy researching and planning for 2015. So many places! I think I'll add robbing a bank to fuel this affliction. Who's with me?