Hollyhead, Anglesey

Hollyhead, Anglesey

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We started our journey early in the morning to Hollyhead, Anglesey. When we reached there strong wind and rain beat us away from Holly head. We took our lunch at the shopping mall and did some shopping at the Tesco.  Once we had our lunch we drove around the town and the busy ferry port.

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Unfortunately, the bad weather of grayish with misty clouds covered the surrounding landscape.  Our spirit wasn’t flatten by the bad weather, the scenic view from isle and the harbor were beautiful and enchanting.

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After cruising around for an hour or two, we drove back to the National Park of Bala and enjoying the beautiful Welsh countryside scenic view.  We reached the hotel around 4.00 p.m. and cooked an early dinner so some of my friends can relax and have and early night.

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Once we had finished our dinner, we decided to go out to explore Conwy  Fall which about 15 minutes drive from our hotel.  Our trip to Wales was meant to be free and easy due to my friend, he is 83 years old and we wanted him to relax end enjoy the Pretty  Welsh Country Scenic View. The fabulous Conwy Fall will be in my next post soon.

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Wild flowers in Midland, England

Wild flowers in Midland, England

IMG_5880.1_edited-1Spring is here and couldn’t resit the nice weather, I went for an English Country walk. During my walk into the countryside where the farmhouses and detached houses dotted along the country lanes. Spotted some beautiful wild flowers planted in front of one of the detached houses, and I had been lying on the ground to took some photos of these beautiful flowers.

So engrossed with the flowers and didn’t know the owner of the house sat in her car waiting to see what I am up to.  I am lucky not been told off for not asking for permission to take photos of her flowers and kindly show her some of my photos from my camera to her.

I had encountered  with an old man from another house , who came out to see what I am up to with my camera around his neighbour’s house. On my way back home, I came upon row and row of cherry blossom and  had enjoyed a happy hour snapping my camera away.

 

Totally knackered but happy with what I had achieved today and will go out for another walk again soon.

Llanuwchllyn Station, Bala

Llanuwchllyn Station, Bala

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Our journey to Wales –  I had booked our hotel rooms in the National Park of Bala.  On our way to the hotel, we came upon Llanuwchllyn Station.  The railway’s head quarter is located in the pretty Welsh village of Llanuwchllyn,  there are ample free car parking, refreshments,  small gift shop, toilets and picnic tables for locals families day outing, The storage and repair facilities can be found here.

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On our way to the station, we met a lady enjoying herself, happily and lovingly painting  a portion section of the train. The serene and pretty Welsh country side surrounding the station.  We can get the train tickets from the cafe, drinks and foods also serve here.

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Llanuwchllyn Station features an original Great Western Signal Box that is often open to visitors and provides an unique perspective on the station. All trains start and finish the journey at Llanuwchllyn and early visitors may be able to view the day’s engine being prepared prior to the departure of the first train of the day.

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Each trip to Bala and back, the locomotive is serviced at the water tower at the western edge of the Llanuwchllyn station site, where this fascinating process can be viewed. The Bala Lake Railway  offers a delightful 9 mile – approx  1 hour , return journey along Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), through the beautiful and natural  Snowdonia National Park.

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We didn’t want to go for the steam train rides and spent our times at this gorgeous and beautiful steam station. I had a happy hour of clicking my camera on the locals and their families enjoying the day outing at this station.

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Chasewater Country Park, Staffordshire

Chasewater Country Park, Staffordshire

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Our Singapore friends came to England to visit us and we planned to tour England and Europe for the 21 days when they were here. The first day was free and easy and we went to the Chasewater Country Park.

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Chasewater Country Park in Staffordshire is perfect for a gentle stroll, bird watching, running, cycling or even a steam train ride. It is located between Burntwood, Brownhills and Norton Canes, in a picturesque countryside setting. It covers 360 hectares, including some 90 hectares of water.

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The country park provides a home for many birds and animals, where the keen naturalist can find rare habitats to visit including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). There are excellent bird watching, walking and cycling opportunities.

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In May 2011, Chasewater Country Park and its reservoir were transferred to Staffordshire County Countcil. The park have been totally changed since it was taken over by Staffordshire County, it became a park where the locals enjoyed the benefit of water sport organized by the County. Lot of locals come to the park to enjoy the day with their families and having picnic and enjoying the steam train rides every Sunday.

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Unfortunately, due to all these activities in the park, the wild life such as rare birds and swans, ducklings been pushed over the edge. There are lesser wildlife around this park and hope the Staffordishire County will take step to protect the wildlife habitat so that the wildlife would immigrate to this reserve again.

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Lei Yue Mun (鯉魚門), Hong Kong

Lei Yue Mun (鯉魚門), Hong Kong

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Been to Hong Kong so many times, thought that I had seen all the tourists spots from Hong Kong but I was surprised when my friend took me to take the tram or “Ding Ding”  operating in Hong Kong. The trams traverse from the Northern part of Hong Kong Island on a East-West direction, they are cheap, clunky and slow. It was unique experience and a sightseeing attraction on its own. At only HK2.30  per ride, one of the bargain deals.

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The rackety double deckers have been traveling these routes for over a century.  They have been very much a part of the Hong Kong landscape and culture and are beloved by the locals who still use them to carry on their daily routines such as getting to work, go shopping, or the races. So riding on one of these relics gave me the unique glimpse of everyday Hong Kong street life, as we were traveling literally close to the ground.

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The locals refer to them as the “Ding Ding”, because of the constant noisy chiming along the way.Awed to see the locals jammed on the tracks, busy with their marketing even though the “Ding Ding” chimed it way toward the tracks. After our tram trip we took a bus to Lei Yue Mun.

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Lei Yue Mun “鯉魚門”or Carp Channel is named after a short channel between Tseung Kwan O and Victoria Harbour separating Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula.The Eastern getaway into the harbour is now renowned for hosting the world famous Seafood Bazaar. We simply go to market and pick up any seafood we fancy and the chef in the restaurants will cook the seafood with a  charge.

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Lei Yue Mun is one of the few places in Hong Kong where you can still see the stilt houses or Pang UK “棚屋”. It is a traditional form of house developed by fishing people when they moved onto the land, but wanted to maintain the feel and advantages of living on a boat.

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A great place for a day out with a seafood meal and a visit to the Grade II historic Tin Hau Temple, The Wish Tree, Lighthouse and the Museum of Coastal Defense. The new buildings merging with the old traditional stilt houses,  enhancing the little fishing village and bought lot of prospective investors to live at this gorgeous town.

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We finished our day with a buffet steamboat dinner in one of the restaurant, enjoyed an happy ending of the day with my friends and had gained an insight into the locals lifestyle.

 

Wang Chung Stream (橫涌石澗)

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We met with our friends at Tai Po Bus Station and took bus 275 to the Bride’s pool bus terminal. Followed the road toward the Tai Po Station about 10 minutes walk, there is a small stream with a sign “No Enter” go through the steps and about a few meters we reached the stream. Our friends are experience stream trekkers and every weekend they will escape the busy city to the rural urban reserve for stream trekking.

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This weekend they planned to stream trek at  Wang Chung Stream so we can enjoyed ourselves with nature and has a dip in the waterfall pool to cool off the hot humid  day. Wang  Chung Stream is one of the most popular streams in Hong Kong. The entrance is on the Bridge’s Pool Road . It is easily accessible and hiker-friendly. It embraces picturesque landscapes with majestic waterfalls and clear water pools. An idea way to spend a relaxing summer afternoon in the stream and leave the hassle in the city.

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We had a mini break at one of the medium fall and enjoyed ourselves at the pool of the fall. There are bountiful  of nature such as fish, mayfly, butterflies and greenery forest surrounded the waterfalls. We had to scramble up the big boulders to ascent up to the waterfall.  The next waterfall is Dragon Ball, my son and the boys enjoyed rock jumping into the pool. This is a difficult level of stream trek and don’t take risk and get hurt.  We had experience stream trekkers to guide us for this hike.

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A spectacular view from the top of the waterfall, it is serene and peaceful, the forest merging into different shades of green to black.The big boulders create a backdrop of mythical landscape around the stream.  It been advisable not to trek up the cliff of Dragon Ball Fall, as climbers have to cross the waterfall at the junction of the upper and lower half.  Someone did fall off the cliff and lost their life.

 

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There is another medium stream cascade and the pool is deep enough for swimming. We spend a few hours at the reserve to take photos of the wildlife and landscape. At last, we came upon a bridge on Pat Sin Leng Nature Trail which takes us back to the Bride’s Pool Road. We didn’t go near to the Bride’s pool waterfall as there were lot of Filipino maids enjoying the fall. We can changed our wet clothing at the toilet near the bus terminal and every half an hour there is a bus to the Tai Po Bus Station. There isn’t any bus to the Bride’s Pool Terminal except on Sunday only.

 

IMG_5473.1_edited-1Once we reached the Tai Po Bus Station, had our dinner at the Tai Po Market. What a wonderful ending for a perfect day. We hardly spend any monies for this trek, bought our drinks and prepared homemade sandwiches for lunch. Love the Hong Kong citizens’ method of keeping fit and healthy, exciting and adventurous lifestyles  which I have totally miss when I back in England.

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Sam Mun Tsai New Village (三門仔新村), Hong Kong

Sam Mun Tsai New Village (三門仔新村), Hong Kong

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Our last day in Hong Kong we went to Sam Mun Tsai New Village (三門仔新村), from Tai Po take bus 74  to the village bus terminal. Every half an hour there is a bus to the Tai Po terminal station.

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The fishermen now residing in Sam Mun Tsai New Village, they used to live on boats at the original Sam Mun Tsai which is close to Tai Kau of Luk Heung. The original Sam Mun Tsai is now on the northeastern shore of Plover Cove Reservoir. They were relocated to their current residence in 1966, due to the construction of the Plover Cove Reservoir. At the time, only 36 families were moved to housing on land. In 2006 to 2007 the government conducted an extensive renovation work to the village.

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Amazed to learn the members of the Hakka Chan (陳) clan  moved from today’s Shenzhen and settled in Yim Tin Tsai during the 19th century. Other members of the clan settled in Yim Tin Tsai,   Sai Kung and  Ping Yeung and Ta Kwu Ling, North District.  My late mother-in-law came from the Hakka Chan (陳) clan, to my knowledge, she used to work in the construction site carrying the basket loads of cement and bricks all day long.

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It kinda of cool to walk around the houses built in stilted with modern transportation merging with the old. There is a small light house on the pier.  Behind the church, there are some seafood restaurants which open in the night.  With the  dark grey sky and water, some  boats were moored  around on the sands. This place was so serene and peaceful and the mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the little village. Opposite to the sea is the majestic Pat Sin Leng mountains and the giant size statue is the Goddess of Mercy facing the Sam Mun Tsai Village.

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Plentiful of wildlife such as egret and crabs can be seen, busy feasting at this sea. Totally fascinated with this urban village, it is so rich in history there ain’t any tourists or visitors at all. There is a trail link to  the island of Ma Shi Chau in the east by a tombolo that is only accessible when the tide is low.

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An urban fishing village in a Lonely Planet and would recommend  for anyone if you happen to be in Hong Kong, this village worth a visit and sunbathing at here but it does not has a public toilet.

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Lamma Island (南丫島), Hong Kong

Lamma Island (南丫島), Hong Kong

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Our 1sr  attempt to visit Lamma Island was not successful,  we reached the Central Pier around 2.30 p.m., it was too late to take a ferry over there and be back within 2 or 3  hours.

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The next day, we were packed and started our journey from Tai Po, took a bus to the Central Pier, the bus journey took about one and half hours to reach the Central Pier.  There is a ferry leaving  every half an hour. The ferry took about half an hour to reach the Yung Shue Wan Pier.

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Lamma Island has a very different pace from Hong Kong Island. There are no cars on the island with  lot of parked bicycles at the pier. All apartments around here must be built with a maximum 700 square ft per floor.  The weekend attracts hoards of Hong Kong people and the ferry docks the town gets very full quickly.

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There are a lot of Westerners living on the island and people tend to come and live here for an alternative lifestyle rather than modern living which makes it great for relaxation.

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There are three villages on Lamma Island, the main one is Yung Shue Wan in the north. It is the main town where most of the island’s population lives and connected to the central piers.

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There are lot of seafood restaurants at the sea front and the price of the seafood dishes were very expensive compared those in Hong Kong. We had  black beans clams and   seafood noodles for lunch which cost us around HK$350.00. The 2nd village is Sok Kwu Wan in the South is basically a street lined with large seafood restaurants. It is connected by ferry to Aberdeen and the Central Piers.

 

The 3rd village, Mo Tat Wan is a tiny village to the east with a few houses and a couple of restaurants. The ferry from Aberdeen  and Sok Kwu Wan stops here, enjoy a large lunch and stroll over here before catching the ferry back. We walked from the main village, Yung Shue Wan to the Lamma Winds, a wind farm. There are lot of signs showing the directions and how long it take to reach the destination.  It was an enjoyable stroll as there wasn’t a lot of tourists around here.

 

it took us another 25 minutes to reach the Hung Shing Ye Beach, It was overshadowed by a coal fired Power Plant in the background. There were lot of locals and tourists swimming and suntanning on the beach. Followed the platform leading up to the mountains, it took us about 45 minutes to reach to the top. We were lucky as there was a young lad selling drinks and fresh pineapples. We bought some cans and slices of pineapples from him.

 

Enjoying ourselves with the fresh fruit and water, with a serene and peaceful scenic view of the fishing village. Totally enchanted with these gorgeous and beautiful villages and it took us about 45 minutes  to reach the Mo Tat Wan Pier, we took a 5.30 p.m.  ferry to Aberdeen.  A beautiful and gorgeous fishing village, there are lot of nature at the wind farm and awesome scenic view of the villages.

 

Avenue of Stars (星光大道) Hong Kong

Avenue of Stars (星光大道) Hong Kong

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I had extended my stay in Singapore and now back in Hong Kong to meet my husband and son. We went to Tsim Sha Tsui,  hope to visit the art gallery at one of the conference hall next to the Avenue of Stars.  There were some sculptures displayed in front of the building but no art exhibitions being held at the time.Been told by one of the staff from the Art shop, this place will be closed soon for renovation.

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We went to Avenue of Stars (星光大道), models on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is located along the Victoria Harbour waterfront. It honours celebrities of Hong Kong Film Industry.

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There were some sculptures of the famous actors and actress who had passed away, walking along the harbour waterfront and enjoyed myself taking some street photos. When we went back to Hong Kong in January 2016, this place was  being closed for renovation till 2018.

 

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This is the first time I had ever seen immigrate begging  on the street  in Hong Kong.

IMG_8872.1Making new theme park for the Hong Kong Eye.

After our walk we went back to Tai Po Market for our dinner, we arranged to meet our son at the train station and walk to the market as it is only 5 minutes walk from the station. At the 3rd level of the Market the food stall open late in the night for the locals.

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We ordered 4 dishes and the foods were tasty and gorgeous until I had accidentally chewed a used cigarette butt in the clam dish.  The worker immediately  cancelled the dish out of the bill. With this incident happened, all of us had lost our appetite for the food and settled our bill and went to another shop for our dessert.

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The foods in the Market stalls are cheaper than the shops or restaurants due to the high rental problems in Hong Kong. After this incident we were more caution food.

 

 

Pasir Ris Park (白沙公园), Singapore

Pasir Ris Park (白沙公园), Singapore

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Pasir Ris Park (白沙公园) is a beach park located in the Eastern part of Singapore. It occupies 71 hectares of land, included some reclaimed land. This coastal park is among the largest in Singapore. The full length of the park is around 6.6 km.

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There is a 6 hectare mangrove forest within the park. The boardwalks enable visitors to explore the forest. Mud crabs, mudskippers and mangrove trees. are found there.

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A 3 story tower supports bird-watching and prominent birdlief in the park include milky storks, blue eared kingfishers and buffy fish owls.

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With a newly refurnish children playground, the park includes a beach, a cycling track, barbecue pits and picnic tables. There are cafes, food courts and pubs opened till late at night.

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This is a serene and peaceful location which not a place frequent by tourists. During the weekend the locals with their families will enjoy a family day outing at this beach. Lot of nature such as different types of mushrooms growing under the trees and lot of different types of wild life can be find in this serene and eco park.  Every time I am back home, will visit this beautiful park for my morning walk, a great place for photography if you are into nature as there are bountiful of wild life here.

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I will totally  recommend this place to all my friends if you are in Singapore make a day for suntanning in this beach as there are so much to do in this park. There is no entrance fee for this park which is an added bonus to the package.

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It is easy to travel to this park as there is the MRT train to Pasir Ris station and take a bus 403 at the bus interchange  which is next to the MRT train station which will take you straight to the park.

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Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Singapore

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Singapore

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We met our friends at Chinatown, Singapore and she took us to try the dessert in one of the shop in Chinatown.  I had ordered a mango dessert and a mango Chee cheong fun, it was delicious but  a bit pricey for these two desserts.

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The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is 5 minutes walk from the shop. The entrance lead to the main hall with high ceiling, it is a four storey temple. There is a bell tower and drum tower at the same level. It was a prayer day, the monks and the followers were busy chanting and praying to the Gods.

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There is a solid gold two metre stupa on the Fourth floor where  the sacred relic is kept. At the top of the roof, there is a pagoda with a large prayer wheel. The temple was built in a style based on the Buddhist mandala integrated with the Buddhism of the Tang dynasty.

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On the third floor is the Buddhist Culture Museum with more than 300 Buddhist artifacts from all around Asia. The little tea house is on the second floor,  where we can enjoy and relax with a cup of tea and some vegetarian cuisine.

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It is a memorable experience of culture, art and history of the Buddhism. Once we finished our tour around  the temple,  we went to the People Park Centre to enjoy the local cuisine at  the food court. There are a lot of shopping malls and day or night markets in the China Town. The local shops and market stalls selling  Chinese art, goodies and dried herbs and foods.

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At night the Chinatown became a busy hub where the locals and visitors come here for the  famous local cuisine and shopping. All the shops and market stalls close at 10.00 p.m.daily. Singapore is a city of shopping, clubbing and foods paradise, it is a clean and safe city to be out enjoying all night till morning.

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Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

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Every year we went back to Singapore, my sister will get a room for 3 days at Marina Bay Sands Hotel for us.  In 2015 we went back home, We stayed for 3 days. It worth to splash some of the money at this 4 stars hotel, as we  totally relaxed ourselves at the hotel pool any time of the day,  there are also restaurants on top of the hotel where  you can have your meal without leaving the poolside.

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There are several shopping malls  link to the hotel and a food court with international  cuisines to suit everyone taste buds.  The price of food from the food court is slightly more expensive than the normal food courts or hawker center.

 

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I love it here especially my friends will come to the hotel to meet me and stay to talk till late into the night. We  enjoyed the musically fountains show around 7.45 to 8.00 p.m. every night or stay  at the infinity pool to enjoy the the lighting display. There is a  MRT train station within walking distance. It is so easy and convenience as everywhere there is sign board to show the direction to the tourists attraction spots, within easy access of walking distance, buses or trains.

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I found the cost of foods at the hotel here was still cheaper for the foods we paid for in Hong Kong. The standard of living in Singapore is much lower than in Hong Kong.  A city of  shopping and food paradise, if you want to sunbath there are several beaches in Singapore to enjoy sunbathing.

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Singapore Botanic Garden

Singapore Botanic Garden

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Singapore is a city of shopping paradise, as well as famous for traditional and authentic Singapore dishes. One of the attraction place is Singapore Botanic Garden, which open from 5.00 a.m.  till 12.00 midnight daily.

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The 74 hectare national park has a subtle feeling of Victorian times with dazzling swan lake, a symphony stage and beautiful theme gardens. In 2012, the Botanic Gardens was listed under World Heritage sites by the UNESCO.

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Gorgeous statues are scattered around the gardens, and the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, which looked like turtle shape in the middle of the artificial lake. It has becomes the venue for concerts for the locals and tourists.

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There is an entry fee of $5.00  for the National Orchid Garden, it close at 6.00 p.m., give yourself more times to venture into the garden. As we reached the National Orchid Garden at 5.00 p.m and left with only 1 hour so we decided not to waste monies and go there when we are in Singapore again.

 

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There are various theme gardens such as the Ginger Garden with different species of ginger family, the Heal8ing Garden, the Fragrant Garden, the Evolution Garden and the Orchid Garden. The main attraction is the Orchid Garden which houses nearly 60,000 orchid plants, 2,000 hybrids and consisting 400 different species found species throughout the world.

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Hakka celebrate Chinese New Year, Hong Kong

Hakka celebrate Chinese New Year, Hong Kong

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I had my first opportunity to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Tai Po, Hong Kong. My husband’s brothers and sisters were all back home for my father-in-law funeral in 2015 before the Chinese New Year. the ethnic group of the Hakka People have suffered huge controversy. Historically, the Hakka in Hong Kong were considered as outcasts.  The population of Hakka has appeared a rapid decline and their traditional culture and language are under threat.

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None of our children are able to speak Hakka language,  with just a minority of  older Hakka locals in the community.  Every year this community will organize the Chinese New Year  feast  for the local Hakka, each family can either give free donation to this good cause.

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We reached the rural temple in the village, hundreds of tables  were set and ready for all the locals to enjoy themselves with the traditional Hakka Poon Choi.  Before the feast started the villager headmaster  will lead the lion dance into the temple to pay their respect to the God, and he gave a red packet  for the lions to catch it.

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There was a stage for troupe of dancers and singers to perform whilst the Hakka locals enjoyed themselves with Poon Choi and a good gossip.  Poon Choi is a traditional dish originated from Hong Kong village Cantonese Cuisine. It is served in wooden porcelain or metal basins due to its size and communal style of consumption. Poon Choi consist of the best food gathered together, cooked it in the basin and served it to a table of 12 people.

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It was awe inspiring to see the rural temple come to life with bright colors, and there were laughter and smiles from the locals,  all their friends, members of relatives and guests. If you happen to be in Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year,  go for it as it is a amazing  experience and the Poon Choi are so yummy.

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After our Poon feast, we went to Ah San to see our ancestors’ land, the place where our ancestors’ land fall in decline and in  need of new buildings to replace it soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Majestic temples in Penang

Majestic temples in Penang

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Our last day in Penang and it was a day reserve for temples visiting. Amazed there were so many different cultures temples in Penang. We went to the Kek Lok Si Temple, our coach driver took us half way up the hill and from here we can either walk uphill to the temple or take a Incline Lift up. The fare for the Incline Lift is M$3.00 per person.

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Kek Lok Si Temple split into three sections the ground temple ground, is  beautiful gardens and sacred ponds. One of of the famous ones is Liberation Pond (Sacred Turtle Pond). Chinese believes that a turtle is a symbol of longevity, strength and endurance. It is a spiritual liberation when a turtle is captured and set free in this pond.

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The latest additions to the temple complex, a reconstruction of a huge 30.2 m bronze statue of the Greatly Compassionate & Sagely Kwan Yin. also the newly completed Guan Tong Great Hall, the Aghast Hall  and the installation of the incline lift. We gave some donations toward building the temple, prayed to the Goddess  and made our way to visit another temple.

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Our next temple. Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple  (Waterfall Temple), is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Penang. According to popular belief, a sadhu (holy man) chose a spot close to the waterfalls for a shrine dedicated to Murugan. The place was called thanner malai, meaning water hill, and the deity itself was known as Thannermalaian – (he who resides by the waterfall).

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Unfortunately, the gate was locked as we needed to go through the gate and climb the 512 steps to reach the temple. Instead we had enjoyed ourselves at the waterfall which nearby to the gate. As this temple had been moved since my last visit,  wish I could see this grandeur temple.

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We reached Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram Temple around 4.45 p.m. and the staff worked in the temple told us they close at  5.00 p.m. Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram Temple is the largest Thai temple in Penang. The yellow and blue temple is also known as Wat Buppharam, it is home to a 108 ft long reclining Buddha statue, the third  largest in the world.

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The reclining Buddha statue is surrounded by elaborate images of a gold leaf covered Buddha in different poses. Buddhists believe that reclining Buddha, with his head resting in the palm of the right hand and his head pointing northwards signifies enlightenment.

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Opposite to the Thai Temple is the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple situated along Burma Lane was founded on 1st August 1803. The temple was known as “Nandy Moloh Burmese Temple, being one of the earliest and only Burmese Temple in Malaysia. The temple featuring the historical pagoda, the temple’s well and Sima hall, the temple was designated in 1988 as one of the state’s historical sites to be preserved as tourist attraction.

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The temple grounds is renowned for its green and serene environment and was awarded the 1st prize in the state landscaping and beautification programmed in 1997 and 2001.

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All these majestic temples worth a visit if you are in Penang, it only take  a day to see all  these temples. Thanks to my best friends who kindly arranged all these trips for us to see and revisited some of the attraction places which I have not been before. We had enjoyed a great trip of beautiful cuisines, traditional culture of Penang, amazing marine park and tourists attraction spots.

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Pulau Payar Marine Park, Malaysia

Pulau Payar Marine Park, Malaysia

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Pulau Payar Marine Park is situated in the Northern Part of the Straits of Melaka, near Kuala Kedah and thirty km South of Pulau Langkawi. It is a very popular tourist destination. To visit this Marine Park, we had to booked through the office of the Langkawi Coral at the Kuah Ferry Terminal, which cost around RM220 per day. The company pick us up at one of the hotel meeting point, provide lunch, drinking water, life jacket and snorkel equipment.

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Pulau Payar Marine Park covers two nautical miles off four little islands and Pulau Payer is the largest, Pulau Kaca, Pulau Lembu and Pulau Segantang. None of these island is inhabited, except by on duty officers of the Fisheries Department. Fishing is strictly prohibited around these islands.There is no accommodation on these islands, if more adventurous tourist who would like to rough it out with nature, camping is allow with permission from the Fisheries Department.

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Our day trip to the Pulau Payar Marine Park from Penang Island and the ride takes more than an hour. There are several companies in Penang do organizing trips to Pulau Payar. We were glad that our tour guide arranged to pick us up early in the morning so that we will miss the big flock of tourists and locals coming later to enjoy the beach.

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Once we arrived to the marine park, the beautiful sparkling jade and blue water looks so inviting with fine sand beaches. Pulau Payar offers four sandy beaches which provide a total length of 200 meters with coral reefs surrounding the four islands with an average visibility between 9 to 15 meters. It is an ideal place for scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming and picnicking.

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There are two tracking trails for visitors to explore the flora and fauna of the island. There some amenities such as picnic tables, barbecue pit, gazebos and restroom. Scuba divers and those who snorkel will enjoy the sight of colorful fishes darting playfully in and out of the corals.  We swim and revel in the company of shoals and shoals of fishes as they go about their busy way.

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Various seashells, shellfishes and slugs that are scattered all over the seabed complete with underwater vista. A sense of calm among the hustle and bustle of life in the water. The tranquil surface belies the teeming life below.

 

Unfortunately, we unable to visit the Carol Garden due to recent bleaching problem and the local authorities closed all the affected areas for preservation of  ecosystem  and hopefully it will bring back the colorful carol back to life again. As to prevent more tourists or locals caused more harm to the marine park there  isn’t any toilet facilities in this area and tourists and the locals have to leave this areas by 3.00 p.m.

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Strongly recommend this amazing beautiful island paradise to all my friends if you happen to be in Penang, make a day free to visit this exciting and adventurous island as there are so much sea life to see and experience swimming around with the company of flock of colorful fishes and baby sharks.

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Khoo Kongsi, Penang

Khoo Kongsi, Penang

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In the maze of alleys and pre-war houses is the breathtakingly beautiful Khoo Kongsi Clan house, it was built by the early Khoo clan men more than 100 years ago. There are three entrances lead to the magnificent structure built on a beautiful courtyard.

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The Khoo Kongsi means “Dragon Mountain Hall”, the clan house stands proud as a symbol of tradition, culture and values.

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It almost burned to the ground on the eve of the Chinese New Year, 1901. Five years later, a new Indo Malay bungalow with Fujian temple and prayer pavilion stood in its place, signaling the re-birth of one of the most majestic clan houses in South East Asia.

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There are elaborate murals and carvings of rich history inside the clan house. Founded by Hokkien immigrant workers who came to Penang to seek greater fortune, the clan house was set up to promote clan solidarity and Confusion teachings values as filial piety and respect for the elders.

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Walked through the exit leading to Armenian Street, the pre-war houses are turned into restaurants, shops and art and craft shops and galleries. The streets were bustled  with locals and tourists, totally immersed  ourselves in the local famous dishes, deserts, traditional, modern and  contemporary arts in these areas.

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We have the pleasure of  strolling the street of Armenian, Armenian Street or Lebuh Armenian, is a street in the inner city of George Town and within the core zone of the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site. It derives its name from an Armenian family who once stayed at the junction of the now Armenian Street in the early 195h century. The street is the venue of the weekly Armenian Street Fair.

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On our way back to the apartment, the driver drove us through the longest bridge in South East Asia.

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Pinang  Peranakan Museum (僑生博物館) Penang

Pinang Peranakan Museum (僑生博物館) Penang

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After our lunch we came to visit the Pinang Perankan Museum. Pinang Peranakan mansion belongs to Chung Keng Quee (Kapitan) from China who made his fortunes in Penang, Malaysia. He was an immigrant from China and was influence by the Straits Chinese (called the “Peranakan”) culture. He commissioneds his stately mansion to be built incorporating the Peranakan architectural design.

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It was furbished with ceramic floor tiles, iron cast balconies and railings, and carved wood panels and screen from all over the world. The mansion is so beautiful furnished and decorated. There is so much to see from the 1st and 2nd level of the mansion of a hugely wealthy tin merchant.

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The rooms are fulled with extraordinary beautiful furniture and ornaments. There are glass cases full of exquisite made ladies’ slippers.  The wedding outfits , portraits, paintings and a great deal of gold and jade jewellery are displayed in the glass cases.

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At the back room, there is a room where we can browse and buy the jewellery from the the shop. In the old kitchen we can also get some hot or cold Nyonya soup. There were lot of visitors from the locals and overseas, some of the local young couples were having their wedding photos taken at this museum.

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At the 2nd level  the rooms are full of cabinets of displaying beautiful and delicate glass wares from all over the world. Awed by the riches and history of Pinang Peranakan Mansion and it worth spending 1 to 2 hours here to enjoy it all.

 

Snake Temple (蛇庙), Penang

Snake Temple (蛇庙), Penang

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After our Taiwan trip, we were back in Singapore. The next day we went to Penang to meet our friends for 3 days break in Penang, Malaysia.

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Arrived at the airport in early morning and picked up by our friends. We went the Snake Temple, in Bayan Lepas, South of Georgetown, which is not far from the airport. The Snake temple is a very old temple, it was built in 1850 and was dedicated to the Buddhist priest Choo Sor Kong. Legend said that it was the home of a religious man who gave the snakes shelter and they remined there after his death.

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I had been to this temple preciously  about  27 years ago, the surroundings and the temple had not been changed since but today there are lesser pit vipers than it used to be. The pit vipers are to be found draped on altars, vases and tables. The snakes appear docile, it might be due to the thick clouds of incenses that drift through the temple.

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We can take photo with the snake as there is a photographer in the gift shop next to the temple. Beside the gift shop is the Snake park and the entrance fee is $3.00 Malaysia ringgit which was about 0.60 pence in UK. In the snake park, the park caretaker was happy to talk to you about his knowledge of the snakes being kept in the park.  He encouraged us to touch and feel the snake which known as fortune snake.

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I was not so keen on the snakes but simply like the snake skin which sheded by the snakes twice or a few times in a year. The Park keeper kindly gifted me some of the skin to take back home to preserve as he told me that the skin will became dust once it dried up.

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Finished with the temple visiting, we went for our durians feast, durians is know as King of Fruits in Asia. The beautiful scent and taste is so delicious, I simply love it.  The smell and taste is an acquire taste as some felt it taste like vomit while others simply love it and rightly deserved the titled “King of Fruits”.

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Our this trip is to satisfy our foodie cravings and touring in Penang. Next we went to a coffee shop to enjoy ourselves with big bowl porridge. Woo!!! it is out of this world and I miss my hometown and Malaysia foods for so long. The foods here are catered for multi culture and simply its can satisfy any countries taste bugs. A big thumb up for my first day in Penang.

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Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, Taiwan

IMG_6488.2Our day started early today to visit the Peacock farm, stay at the farm for about 20 minutes and on our way to take the cruise to Sun Moon Lake Ropeway. We reached the station at 8.30 a.m. and it was a long queue. Try to go early to enjoy the entire day at the culture park and theme park.

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Our group managed to go into 3 cable cars and  which connects from the Sun Moon Lake with the Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village theme park. The ropeway cable cars are painted in red, yellow and blue to symbolize the red sun, yellow moon and blue lake. It also the Aboriginal culture red for happiness, yellow for healthy life and blue for ecology.

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We bought our tickets for the cable cars and amusement park for the Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village.. The tickets for the cable car are sell separately from the amusement park. From the cable car trip to the amusement park, we were able to see the beautiful scenic view of the Sun Moon Lake.  Our first stop is the visit the local aboriginal craft shop and then to the theme park to enjoy the water rides and roller coastal rides.

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We have our lunch at the traditional villages, we have the beautifully cooked bamboo glutinous rice and all the gift,food and drink are exchangeable with the coupons  comes with the entrance ticket to the park.

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After our lunch we visited the traditional built Aboriginal houses which were made of slabs of stones to preserve the heat inside the house. Our friend have arranged for us to see the culture show of 9 different tribe culture dances.  Awed with the traditional cultures and the old relics in the traditional houses.

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We didn’t want to waste time queuing the return trip by cable car, so we walk and take a bus to the local car park. We left the Sun Moon Lake to Tainan and on our way back to Tainan, we stop at a local village shop for a hot mud bath and dinner. The local village is famous for fried chicken, it look like roasted chicken but it was so delicious, I don’t recommend the mud bath to anyone as most of us got stung by the mosquitoes.

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Happy and love to thank our kind Taiwan for our warm welcome and introduction of the beauty of Taiwan, we didn’t manage to visit all of the famous spot, due to shortage of times and wrong season. We were able to immerse into their culture and soak into the life style of different world.

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Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) Taiwan

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Today we have a long journey from Kaohsiung to Taipei, after an early breakfast, our journey started at 8.00 a.m. It will take about 3 to 4 hours to reach Sun Moon Lake. We stop over at Salico Foods, to do some shopping and famous for the Pineapple Tarts and all our friends and relatives bought quick a  lot as gifts for friends.

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Amazed to see  the company spend a lot of monies on the building, it is a castle with  chess board drawn on the floor, a princess beautiful carriage for visitors and a group of tribe band playing and singing on the stage.

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We went  for the cruise at Sun Moon Lake, enjoy it as there ain’t so many tourists in the same boat. Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in Taiwan as well as a tourist attraction. Situated in Yuchi Township, Nantou County, the area around the Sun Moon Lake is home to the Thao tribe, one of aboriginal tribe in Taiwan. Sun Moon Lake surrounds a tiny island called Lalu. The east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon.

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The area surrounding the lake has many trails for hiking. The lake and it surrounding countryside have been designated one of thirteen national scenic areas in Taiwan. There are a few temples around and we follow the trail to Syuanguang Temple.  There is a long flight of steps to climb as this temple is on top of the mountain. There are lot of tourists around here,  we stop to do some prayer and our way back to the ferry and to visit the next designation.

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Nert to a organic farm, we take a train ride around the park surrounded by a beautiful lake. Stop at the main entrance, we saw a few monks  so our friends lead us to the top of the building, a big statue of Guang Yin standing facing the lake and mountains.A serene and peaceful place and we have so much fun and laughter at this place. I have no idea what is the name for this place but we been taken into a museum where a few staff explain the process of nature plants extract made into soap, foot powder, facial soap and etc. Fascinating and each of us bought some soaps and foot powder and some facial skin care made of organic plant extract.

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The last place we been is the manufacture of color papers, we reached here quite late and the staff waited for us, They explain the machinery us to make paper and some of the amazing items such as frame cartoon characters, lamps, hats and etc are make from colorful papers. it is a good experience to see some of the works and items for sale and we bought some of it to take home with us.

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We stay in Sun Moon Lake hotel, amazed with such a big room for family and with a balcony facing Sun Moon Lake. Our friend arrange for us to try the famous Taipei cuisines in one of the restaurant near the hotel.  Wow! the food are incredible and beautifully cook, yummy and delicious. We though this is a happy ending for the day, “oh, no” our friends went to get some cold chicken and peanuts  for our supper, so we can enjoy ourselves with wine, beers and chat through the night.

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Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山)

Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山)

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We arrived Fo Guang Shan Memorial Center, as I have been to this Memorial Center in 2014 and it is my Taiwan Blog. We have a walk in the Memorial Center and my sister queue for the monk’s blessing. Once we finish our prayers and offering of wax lotus flowers to Buddha and Goddess Guang Yin, we walk up to Fo Guan Shan Monastery.

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Once we at the bottom of hill, we queue for the temple’s buggy to go up hill to the temple. It will take about half an hour walk up to the temple. Fo Guang Shang is located in Ta Shu, Kaohsiung,  is the biggest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan and it literally means “Buddha’s Light Mountain”.

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Fo Guang Shan is founded in 1967 by Venerable Master in promoting Humanistic Buddhism, it covered more than 30 hectares comprising of university buildings, shrines and cemetery.

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In 1975 and 1981, a 36 meter tall Amitabha Buddha and the Great Hero Hall were built. During this period over 200 temples were built all over the world by the Order’s Mother Monastery.

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I didn’t manage to visit Fo Guang Shan last year due to they are closed to public but I managed to visit this grandeur temple this year.  Fo Guan Shan was closed to general public in 1997 to 2000 due to provide the monastic the cloistered atmosphere for their Buddhist practice.

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Fo Guang Shan Monastery covered by green forests and the monastery is set on the top of the mountain with great views overlooking the surroundings town. There are more than 100,000 statues around the monastery and it create a mystic and solemn atmosphere.

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The temple and surroundings are well maintain by the monks and nuns, this temple is not flock with tourists and the clean, fresh air from the forests and mountain are so refreshing and it is a great place for mediating and prayer. Fo Guang Shan Monastery also included a self contained museum with all  antique relics  and statues of God, Goddess and Buddha.

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An amazing temple and would recommend to all my friends, if you happen in Kaohsiung, and it is worth a visit to this gorgeous place.

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Extrapolation – mid-year 2016 exhibition

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Extrapolation is our  mid year 2016 exhibition will be held at The Work Gallery, B5 6 Birmingham, United Kingdom. The opening dates are 9th February to 11th February from 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. All my friends are welcome and invite to this event if you are in Birmingham, England, just drop in and have a sneak look at our exhibition.

Following on from our previous successful shows of ‘Omnifarious’ & ‘Interrobang’ BCU’s HND Fine are delighted to bring you Extrapolation. Featuring a variety of new exclusive artwork the show looks at taking the old to create something new. Join on Tuesday 9th Feburary for the private viewing with free wine and food.
 
Kaohsiung Pier 2 Art District (文化部-地方文化館)

Kaohsiung Pier 2 Art District (文化部-地方文化館)

 

We arrived  at the Kaohsiung  Pier  and  board a ship, within minute it take off. Surprised we have the ship to ourselves  there aren’t any tourists on board.

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We cruised around the sea port where the cargoes are loading to the vessels and ready to export out. Been told by our friend that this port is the 2nd major port in Taiwan.

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Along the piers, we saw a big Ocean restaurant been abandoned due to bad economic  in 2008.  At the moment, every year  there are about 5 millions tourists visit Kaohsiung and the local councils are  targeting for more tourists.

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The cruise is about 45 minutes and cruise around the scenic and coastal lines of Kaohsiung. A charming experience and would recommend to all my friends,  go for it  if you are in Kaohsiung.

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Alighted at Pier 2, and walking up the Pier  there are lot of sculptures around the pier. The Pier 2 Art Center in Kaohsiung is a hub of outdoor and indoor art warehouse and museums set around an old charming wharf. The wharf is now known as “Yencheng Passenger Wharf”

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The Pier 2 Warehouse was an abandoned warehouse and it used to store sugar but now it houses contemporary and modern art throughout the year. The surrounding grounds are full of modern and contemporary art sculptures, statues and beautiful decorated buildings.  There is a walking path and a cycle path through

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There are lot of tourists, locals and students around this place and it is the popular spot in Kaohsiung for modern and contemporary art fans.The place is bursting with young and old art lovers and tourists. A fabulous place and it would take half of the day to see all the art galleries and museums around here.

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It is a thumb up for me as I simply love it here, unfortunately we don’t have times  to see all the galleries as we are having a special local famous Taiwan cuisine at one of the restaurant in Tainan.

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The famous dishes are the chicken broth with herbs which  take about 12 hours to boil and the fresh crab with lot of eggs cook with glutinous rice. I like to thank  our Taiwan friends for arranging such a beautiful and gorgeous holiday with  local cuisine for our group.

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Lotus Lake 莲池潭 , Kaohsiung

Lotus Lake 莲池潭 , Kaohsiung

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Today we are going to Kaohsiung (高雄), to visit the famous scenic man-made Lotus Lake (莲池潭). It is famous for the lotus plants on the  lake, temples and pagodas at the lake.

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The Spring Autumn Pavilions (春秋阁) and the Dragon Tiger Pagodas (龙虎塔) are locate at the southwestern of the lake.

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We visit the Dragon Tiger Pagodas (龙虎塔) with nine curve Bridge (九曲桥) connected to the shore. The pagodas is seven floor high. There is Chinese saying – Nine Curve bridge with every sharp turning, it is to help cleanse the evil spirits away.

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We walk  into the Dragon Mouth through it’s throat and exit from the tiger’s mouth. It is symbolize good luck.  Up to the top of pagodas we can see the town of Kaohsiung.  Directly opposite the Dragon Tiger Pagodas is the Ciji Palace (慈济宫) and being told by our Taiwan friend, it worth a visit, but we didn’t as we are schedule for a cruise around the Tainan port.

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The Spring & Autumn Pavilion is about 2 minutes walk from the Dragon Tiger Pagodas. The octagonal Spring & Autumn Pavilion is dedicated to the God of War, Guan Gong (关公) and it is about 4 level high.

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In front of the pavilions is a statue Goddess of Mercy (观音) and an oriental gazebo is at the back of the pavilions. There are lot of wild life  in the lake. We spend about 2 to 3 hours and continue our journey to the Kaohsiung harbour.

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Salt Pan Eco Village & Beimen Crystacl Church (水晶教堂)

Salt Pan Eco Village & Beimen Crystacl Church (水晶教堂)

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After temple trip, our friend took us to Beimen District  (北門區) to visit the popular spot Crystal Church (水晶教堂). The church opened last year, a romantic place and atmosphere for couples to tie the knot and taking wedding photos.

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The church is near Beimen Visitor Center and the building’s surrounded with a theme park of love, with many exotic buildings and art structures.  We stop for 10 to 15 minutes to take some photos and proceed our way to the Salt Pan a special cultural legacy and ecosystem in Beimen.

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This eco village used to be a major salt making center. The offspring of salt, fields workers renovated the deserted salt fields and salt village facilities to establish it into a eco village.  The series of works are carefully planned, guided activities are available at the village allow visitors to harvest salt and understand how salt is made.Visitors are allow to try their hands at making salt shakers.

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The eco village also boasts a salt wharf, coral reef walls, a mangrove ecosystem and a library dedicated to the salt making industry. At the salt mountain we can feel the heat from the salt and sun, we felt thirst and our skin so dry, it seen the salt extract water from our bodies.

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Some fields with canvas covered over small hill of salt, it is to prevent the salt wash away by the rain. It is intrigue and fascinating trip for us to learn and see how the eco salt system work.

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Donglong Temple, Tainan

Donglong Temple, Tainan

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We reached Tainan on the late afternoon after we checked into our hotel, our Taiwan friends  took us to dinner at the local restaurant which is well known by the locals for the best local cuisines. The foods are beautiful cooked and so delicious, enjoyed the best pig’s legs cook in different ways and the utterly crisp Chinese salads that I have ever taste before.

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Early the next morning, our day started with a visit to Donglong Temple in Tainan.  the cultural gallery of Wangye is at the Donglong Temple and it contains Taiwan’s most complete collection of artifacts relating to Wangye worship, giving visitors a fine opportunity to learn more about the island’s religious faith.

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It contains finely wrought camphor-wood carvings of all the folk performances that are used to greet the Wangye in Taiwan today. With thousands of human figures that are extremely lifelike, each one having its own facial expression and posture.

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The representation of the rituals, inviting the gods, sacrificing to the gods, feasting with the gods and sending off the Wangye, as well as all the items that are place on Wangye boats.  The gallery gives us a comprehensive understanding of the content and importance of Wangye worship in Taiwan’s southwestern coastal areas.

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We are lucky to see  the fellow worships carrying the god chair with the god relic sitting on top of the chair, the men whose carrying  the chair go into a trance like state and will write down the information that the God want to give and to guide the follower.

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Kinda of interesting to learn and see different country cultures and beliefs. The workmanship and the gold  being use to do up the temple are amazing. A great experience and eye opening to enjoy the local culture of this village.

 

 

 

Sharp Island or Kiu Tsui Chau -橋咀洲

Sharp Island or Kiu Tsui Chau -橋咀洲

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We took a bus to Sai Kung District, surprised to the floating market at the pier or harbour of Sai Kung.  It is cheaper to see the volcanic rocks by ferry than follow the trips by Administration of Sai Kong District. By the ferry we pay $50HK Dollars.

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It is believed that 140 million years ago a volcano was located in Sai Kung. Sharp Island was on the margin of the caldera.  This is probably the reason for widely distributed different volcanic rocks from different geological periods around Sharp Island.

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Sharp Island or Kiu Tsui Chau –橋咀洲 is the largest island in the Kiu Tsui Country Park located at Port Shelter of Sai Kung. Local go there for BBQ, fishing, swimming and diving. Sharp Island is under the Sai King District.

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The sea currents near Sharp Island pushing sand and gravel near the shore. After several years they formed a tombolo, a natural bridge made of different sized rocks and sand connecting Sharp Island and Kiu Tau. At high tide the tombolo is submerged in water and can only be seen when the tied goes out.

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During our ferry ride the captain  give a brief description of the different rocks formations of this place. The rocks are amazing beautiful similar to some of the rocks formations and textures of the craters that I have seen in Iceland.

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The trip took about half an hour and we alighted at Sharp Island. There are several walking trails leading to the beach, tombolo unfortunately for us, it is high tide and it is submerged in the water, and also up the hills.  We enjoyed ourselves at the beach but it is too hot and humid, so we follow the trail up to the hills.

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It take about half an hour to reach the top of the hills and we can see the island with the light house and also the surrounding islands around the Sharp Island.

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The High island Geo Trail about 1 km long, is an easy level walk. The trail starts at the East Dam, and visitors can enjoy marvelous landforms along the trail, such as hexagonal rock columns, faults, distorted rock columns and an intrusive dyke. Unfortunately we were unable to covered all the sight-seeing of this island.

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We only managed to visit The Sharp Island Geo Trail about 500 m, along the trail we can see various igneous rocks such as volcanic breccla, rhyolite and quartz monzonite.

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I strongly recommend this Sharp Island to all my friends if you happen to be in Hong Kong, just make a day a this gorgeous place and there aren’t lot of tourists around this island. A fantastic place for trekking, sunbathing and diving.

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Cheung Chau, Hong Kong -長洲 – 2015

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong -長洲 – 2015

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My sisters and their friends arrived in Hong Kong on the 10/7/2015 and we planned for this trips to visit the islands in Hong Kong instead of shopping  and visit temples. We are going Cheung Chau,長洲. Cheng Chau is a small island 10 km Southwest Hong Kong Island. It is nicknamed the “Dumbbell Island” due to its shape.

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Famous for its annual explosion of Bun Festival fun. Cheung Chau’s temples, seafood restaurants near the pier, beaches and a pirate hideout. We take MTR to the Central Station and walk to the Ferry Pier No 5 and take a ferry to there.

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Once we reached the  Island we queue for the local famous big “Fish balls skewers” and it taste so beautiful and there is a long queue for it. There are maps all around the island and many walking trails and each trail takes about 1 to 2 hours.  We follow the trail to the Ma Cho Temple and on the way to there, my friend recommend another famous local dessert “Mango Moochi” which is a piece of mango wrapped with glutinous rice flour and it taste so yummy. We couldn’t resist it and have a second round of the dessert.

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After the visiting the temple, we follow the trail to the beach, as it is so humid and hot, we just look for a cafe and take a break with some cold drinks.  We didn’t manage to walk up hill to view the surrounding islands.  If possible, stay for the sunset as the view from the harbour or pier is so beautiful. We took the ferry back around 5.00 p.m. to have our dinner at MongKok.

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After dinner we went to do the last minutes shopping before returning to the hotel. On the way back to the hotel we encountered a group of demonstrators  fighting for freedom of democracy and speech, police patrols at the side of the demonstrators.

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A great ending for the day, everyone is happy and knackered and ready for  a early night.

 

 

GoodBye 2015

GoodBye 2015

I think I have done quite well for my 2015, completed my 1st year university and had 2 exhibitions shows held in Birmingham. Been to several countries and gone on holidays with my relatives and best friends.  We have so much fun, adventure, sadness, laughter and sharing heartfelt thoughts.

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My first time venture to Turkey and simply fall in love with this country. The heat of the sun is killing but the scenic view of the country had made a great impression in my memory. The friendly and kind  locals are so extraordinary amazing, I couldn’t wait to visit the country again so.

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My first trip to Taiwan with my friends is beautiful and gorgeous. The second trip with my family and friends are so wonderful and fabulous. My brother-in-law’s Taiwan friends show us a different side of Taiwan which we haven’t seen before. With friendliness  and warm welcome, they  recommend us to all the famous local cuisine and places we have never seen or been before. This is an eye-opening experience for  us and every day with a full belly of good foods.IMG_6488.1

Hong Kong is my husband’s home town and he has been away from the  country about 38 years. His parents  are immigrated to England for 45 odd years but went back to Hong Kong when they retired. We have been to Hong Kong several times to visit them and also sight-seeing this beautiful city. Most of the people think Hong Kong is great for shopping but it also great for sight-seeing. There are lot  of beautiful nature in Hong Kong. Especially the islands and is a great place for trekking up to the mountains/hills within easy reach by bus or tram.

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Singapore is my hometown but I have immigrated to England for 24 odd years. I have been back home a few times and there are some beautiful places in Singapore which tourists have not been venture to. One of my favorite place is Pasir Ris Park full of nature and wild life.

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Went to Penang – Malaysia is a neighbouring country to Singapore. Enjoy ourselves so much,  have a rowdy and mad holiday.

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My friends came to England to visit us, so we arranged a trip to England and Europe. First we visit Wales, Lake Districts and Scotland and drive to France, Belgium and Holland. We have a great and wonderful times touring round UK and Europe and here  to share some of the photos of these places.

Wales – The Bont

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Lakes District – Windermere

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Scotland -Edinburgh

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Scotland – Culross West – Scottish Highland

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France – Paris

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Belgium -Brussels

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Lastly Holland – Windmills Park

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I think I have pretty much reflecting 2015 with my photos as documentation of what I am doing and also keeping a record for my own keepsake. I had lost both my parents-in-law in 2015 and become a  first time grandmother, in total  it is quite a great achievement for me and my husband. Our emotions are like yo-yo up and down but in the end happiness overcome all the lost and sadness. Hope 2016 will bring Peace to Earth and wish all my friends A Happy 2016 with “Peace & Love”.

 

 

 

 

Typhoon Lianfa – Hong Kong

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We reached Hong Kong  Airport about 4.00 p.m. after collected our luggage. Received a phone message from our friend, E Chan that all transportation will be shut down soon as there is a Typhoon Lianfa -T8 storm signal. She advise us to take the tram MTR back home instead of buses as all buses stop services in most of the towns. Been told Typhoon Lianfa swirling around the coast of China and Japan with Hong Kong preparing to battan down for a strong winds and rain.

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We have some food in the airport and took the MTR tram and transfer to train to Tai Po Station. All the shops are closed and the MTR is just like a ghost town without any people. Quite scaring as never encounter a typhoon before, getting panicking just want to reach home, sweet home. It normally took an hour to reach Tai Po by bus, it took us about 2 hours to reach Tai Po. Unfortunately there are long queue for taxi and no buses at all. The locals are getting panicking and some of the taxi drivers aren’t taking any passengers due to insurance company do not cover  for any accident  happen during  this typhoon period.  It took us 5 hours to reach home after queue for 3 hours  for taxi to take us home.

We couldn’t feel any strong wind or gale, and it has been raining quite heavily  for a few hours while we are waiting for the taxi. Later been told the typhoon has slow down about 7.00 p.m. and it has passed by Hong Kong.

 

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

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Topkapi Palace is the residence of Ottoman Sultans exhibiting imperial treasury, sacred Islamic relics of Prophet Mohammed, kitchen, Chinese porcelain weapons, calligraphy.

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Topkapi Palace is massive and during Summer there are lot of tourists visiting this place. We only managed to see the rooms where the Sultans, harem and children resided. The architecture was beautiful and many of the rooms adorned with the same styles tiles.  The grandest rooms are the state room where the sultans entertain guests.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough times to view the other court yards as we were too knackered for more sight-seeing in the hot, humid midday.  We went to the town for our lunch and proceed to Grand Bazaar, as my son wanted to get some shirts and stuffs that he needed.

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The Blue Mosque is just next to the Topkapi Palace but we decided to give a miss as we have been to other mosques which are much quieter than the Blue Mosque.  For our last day at Istanbul, keen to take some photos of the daily life in the Istanbul. While my son is busy buying clothing and for me, busy clicking my camera away.
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We finished our shopping about 4.00 p.m. and back to the hotel to get our luggage, packed all our last minute purchase and ready to take a tram to the airport.
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We have seen a lot places in Turkey and it is easy to travel from one place to another without hire a car, as the local transport are so convenience  and not expensive. Hitchhiking in Turkey is easy and accessible after we had tried it. Turkey is a thumb up for us as we have so more fun, knowledge of history, dangerous experience of safari with thunderstorm and freaky lighting, hot air balloons and beauty of the nature.
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I have enjoy  and love  Turkey so much and hopefully  able to visit this amazing and gorgeous country again soon. Look out for my next post – visit Hong Kong.

Istanbul Archaeological Museums

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At the Topkapi Palace, we don’t have to queue for tickets as we hold the Museum Tickets. At the gate we need to queue for our bags to be scan by the machine and search by guards. Once through the gates we decided not to visit Topkapi Palace first due to lot of tourists headed there.

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We headed to the Instanbul Archaeological Museum. This superb museum showcase archaeological and artistic treasures from the Topkapi collections. Housed in 3 buildings, it exhibits include ancient artifacts, classical statures and exhibition of Istanbul’s history. The main museum which are three levels high and it is still under construction.

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The complex has three main parts the Archaeology Museum, The Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion. These museums house the palace collections formed during the late 19th century by museum director, artist and archaeologist Osman Hamdi Bey.

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Museum of the Ancient Orient

This 1883 building has a collection of pre islamic collections from the Ottoman Empire. Series of large blue and yellow glazed brick panels once lined the processional street of Ishtar gate of ancient Babylon.

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Archaeology Museum

The neoclassical building housing extensive collection of classical statue and a sprawling exhibit documenting Istanbul history. The main draws are two dimly lit rooms contain the museum’s major treasures – sarcophagi from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon and surrounding area. the Alexander Sarcophagus and Mourning Women sarcophagus are truly  extraordinary work of arts.It also contain Lycian monuments and Anatolan architecture from antiquity.

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Tiled Pavilion

The last museum buildings is the beautiful pavilion, constructed in 1472 by Mehmet the Conqueror. The portico with its 14 marble columns, was constructed during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid (1774 -89).

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The display are Seljuk, Anatollan and Ottoman tiles and ceramics dating from the end of 12th century and beginning of 20th century. The collections includes Iznik tiles from mid 14th and 17th centuries when the city produced the finest colored tiles in the world.

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We spend about 3 hours at these museum as I am interested in the sculptures and there are English and Turkish notes on each piece or relic. Even with the ongoing construction works on the museums and was awe by the vast collections of historical collections stored in here.

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I will totally recommend this place is a must see if you happen to be at Topkapi Palace, if you do not posses the Museum Card the entrance fee is 12 Lira which is a good  value for money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bosphorus Cruise, Istanbul

Bosphorus Cruise, Istanbul

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Late in the afternoon, we were at Eminonu Harbour, the ticket for the Bosphorus Cruise is 12 Turkish Lira and it go through the waterway separating the two continents,. Europe and Asia with a possibility to take photography of marble palaces, ancient wooden villas of Ottoman architecture besides modern resdentias and luxurious apartments.

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Our tour is operate by TurYol, 90 minute cruise nonstop from Eminonu by the Galata Bridge, up the Bosphorous  to the Faith Bridge, then turn around and return to Eminonu.

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Our last night in Istanbul, we tried to enjoy every minute of it. Not really impress of this cruise as you can simply take a ferry or a boat from one town to another and it is cheaper than the cruise, the journey is about 25 m9nutes to 30 minutes.  From the domestic airport to Istanbul we took a ferry to the old city and the ferry has travel the similar route as Bosphorus Cruise.

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We took a tram back to the Sultanahmet to have our dinner at one of the Korean Restaurant. We went back to our hotel to have a early night.

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Grand Bazaar & Eminonu Yeni Camii New Mosque

Grand Bazaar & Eminonu Yeni Camii New Mosque

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It took us an hour to walk to the Grand Bazaar, as we asked the students who volunteer to help the tourists for directions and been told it is very near to Sultanahmet.  Along the way to Grand Bazaar there are lot of shops, restaurants and cafes for tourists  to shop till you drop.

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When we reached the Grand Bazaar, it just a wow factor for us. It’s the most attractive shopping center and the biggest “souk” in the world with nearly 4,000 shops selling antiques, jewellery, gold, carpets, leatherware and souvenir.

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We bought some shorts, trousers, t-shirts, a kitchen tap and  a hammock to hang in our garden.  We are so knackered, after walking for hours and decided to stop at the Eminonu Yeni Camii New Mosque.  There are lot of tourists sitting on the steps of the mosque.

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The New Queen Mother mosque also known as Yeni Valide Camii, also called the New Mosque. Yeni Cami dominates the ferry docks in Eminonu at the Southern end of Istanbul’s Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn.

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The mosque is viewed by architectural historians as a lesser of the great imperial mosques of the classical Ottoman architectural period, Yeni Cami is a beautiful building worthy of a visit, particularly it is uncrowded by tourists.Don’t visit at prayer times,  I really enjoy its peace, tranquility and splendid decorations of the domes.

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Yeni Cami was the center of a kulliye, or complex of other buildings, such as hospital, Turkish bath, library, astronomer’s office, and a Egyptian Spice Bazaar.The Spice Bazaar or known as Egyptian Bazaar – the mystical smells of different aromas of various spices. Shops selling fruits, vegetables, fish, flowers.

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In 2012 James Bond Movie – Skyfull was filmed partly in Istanbul, Turkey, principally around Eminonu and the Grand Bazaar.

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I didn’t took a lot of photos around this place due it is too hot and humid to do more than wanted to find a cool place to sit and chill off. Inside the mosque there are lot of local and some tourists sitting around the hall to chat and enjoying a rest from the heat of the day.

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Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

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Hagia Sophia in Greek in Sultanahmet, Istanbul is also known as The Church of the Divine Wisdom. This church is one of the most impressive and important buildings ever constructed.

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The wide flat dome was a engineering feat in the 6th century, and architects still marvel at the building’s innovations. It is called Ayasofya in Turkish and was built in 537AD on the site of Byzantium’s acropolis by Emperor Justinian.

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It has been converted into a mosque being the world’s most impressive building, Mehmet the Conqueror proclaimed it after his conquest of the city from the Byzantines in 1453.

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In 1935 it became Istanbul’s most revered mosque, till Ataturk proclaimed it as a museum.

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About 30 million gold tesserae -tiny mosaic tiles which cover the church’s interior especially the dome have been recently been restored to its brilliance. The interior is filled with scaffolding for 17 to 20 years now as work is been carried out to preserve the tiles and glory.

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The cost of entrance is 30 Tl, as we have the museum card so easier as we don’t have to queue for 2 times for admittance. They are closed on every Monday and some museum closed on every Tuesday so check the opening date as you don’t want to miss it.

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Fascinated by the dome as when the sunlight filter into the tiny windows it created a special lighting effect on the dim interior, it make me thinking of, some angels or  faeries standing on the top of the dome flying around the dome.

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There are lot of tourists or visitors at this museum, we didn’t managed to stay too long in here. Our next destination is the Topkapi Palace but they are closed  on Tuesday, we will visit it tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

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Having saying our goodbye to the proprietor and staff in the hotel where we are staying and they arrange for a car to pick us up to the airport for our flight to Istanbul.

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Booked our hotel at the old city in Istanbul, without knowing that we have to take a tram from the airport and take a boat cruise to the old city of Istanbul.

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Istanbul is a city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. The Old City reflects cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. In the Sultanahmet district, the open-air, Roman-era Hippodrome was for centuries the site of chariot races, and Egyptian obelisks remain. The iconic Byzantine Hagia Sophia features a soaring dome and Christian mosaics.

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Our hotel is about 2 km away from the city center,  after checking into our room, we take a break to chill out before venturing into the city for our dinner.

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Walking into the city in the late afternoon, all the tourists attractions were closed for the day. In the center of the Sultanahmet district, there are lot of locals taking up spaces on the tables and benches and some even spread mat on the grasses and waiting for the call from the Mosque  for their feasting time during sunset.

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The  30 days is Islamic holy month of Ramazan, called Ramadan in other countries, is a time of fasting, prayer and celebration.

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Ramazan is also a time of celebration, and after sunset the feasting begins with a ceremonial “break-fast” light meal call Iftar.

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It always includes freshly baked flat pide bread, and usually soup, pickled vegetables, olives and other easily prepare edibles. Elaborate dinners are held later in the evening.

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Strings of colored lights festoon trees and buildings, mosques are illuminated and crowded with worshipers. We kinda enjoying ourselves walking around the old city center and lot of shops and restaurants were busy with tourists enjoying their shopping and evening meals.

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Pamucak Beach, Selcuk

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We took a mini bus from Ephesus to Pamucak, it is 3 Lira per person and we had to wait for  20 to 30  minutes  for  a bus. Not all the bus follow the route passing near Pamucak, there is a bus guide for the minibus and he asked us to take a seat and called us once the bus arrive.

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The coastal road stretch from Selcuk and Ephesus to Kusadasi and it is a 5 minutes walk to the sea at Pamucak, so access is cheap, quick and convenient with local minibuses.

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The wide crescent of dark Meander River delta sand is 7 km west of Selcuk. There are big resort hotels on the southern reaches and most of the beach is public.  At the very southern end, the road begins to climb over the hills to Kusadasi, is the Aqua Fantasy water park.

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The soft sand is a bit squishy underfoot and the beach is open to the Aegean Sea, which constantly sends the waves onto it, churning the sand, clouding the water and make swimming experience a bit harder.

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There is cafes and some beach houses near the beach and we able to sit in the cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with food, or suntanning outside the cafe on the beach. There is a police post but no lifeguards or life-saving equipment.  As the waves is strong and high, it is a good place for surfing.

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There are lot of locals out fishing with their families and bbq on the beach, enjoying a sunny day on the beach.  We were at the quiet spot of the beach  where there are not a lot of tourists.  The local are very friendly and enjoying photos being taken by tourist. We only stay around this place for about 2 hours and head back to Selcuk.

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An awesome place to be and would love to recommend to all my friends if you are in Ephesus, and made a stop at this gorgeous place.

 

 

 

 

 

Chain Bridge, Llangollen

Chain Bridge, Llangollen

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Chain bridge  at Llangollen is open now. The bridge has been dismantled and restored, re-establishing a link between Llangollen Canal and railway line which was closed 30 years ago.

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The bridge was supported from the river bed by six oak pillars. The bridge spans  the River Dee which itself runs parallel to the railway line on one side and Llangollen Canal on the other near its source, Horseshoe Falls.

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The 3 bridges spans together at the Chain Bridge Hotel and Restaurant. There is a cafe bar for customers to sit on the deck to enjoy the beauty of River Dee.

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About 1/2 mile away from the Chain bridge is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Canal, a world heritage Site. We can walk on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, there is a walking path and next to the walking path is the canal for the boats cruise along  River Dee. There is walking tracks for trekkers or walkers to walk around the Dee Valley.

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At the end of the road, one toward Pontcysyllte and another toward The Bont, I simply love The Bont, a private fishing lake with amazing beautiful sight. We normally climb over the locked gate to to enjoy the beautiful view of the lake, it is illegal but the thrill of seeing The Bont again worth all the risk.

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Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus, Turkey

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It took us 1 hour walk from the city centre of Selcuk  to  Ephesus. Ephesus is an ancient city in Turkey’s Central Aegean region, near Selcuk. Its excavated remains reflect centuries of history, from classical Greece to the Roman Empire.  When it was the Mediterrancean’s main commercial center to the spread of Christianity.
This is a must see -the  type of place to visit.  The excavation is continuously happening  while visiting, we are able to see the archaeological digs occurring.  It is a massive site with incredible intact old remains of the ancient buildings and city.

 

We reached Ephesus in the late afternoon with hot  sunny weather. It is quite a long walk and lucky we are well prepared and bought some water bottles with us. The best time to visit this place is early in the morning  with less tourists and not as hot and humid as the afternoon.

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After spend 2 to 3 hours at Ephesus, we  took a bus to the seaside resort to escape the blistering  sun.  We didn’t want to visit the house where the Virgin Mary is believed to have lived in Southwest of Selcuk as it is too hot  for more sightseeing.

 

Side Pike, Langdale Pikes

Side Pike, Langdale Pikes

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Side Pike is one of the top 10 photography locations in the Lake District. We didn’t do it the proper way as all other trekkers do, by parking our car at the car park at the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

We drove all the way up hill to a private farmhouse and park our car at the side of the locked up barn, as we reckon our walk will take us about a hour or so. It is best to take some drinks and sandwich along for this trek.

Great Langdale is renowned for the majestic Langdale Pikes and every year there are about 1 million visitors visit this place. The views down the Langdale valley are stunning. A view of both valley and the famous Pikes are equally as stunning. Side Pike standing less than 400m and is not even high enough to be classed as a mountain, but it offering some great views. It is one of my favorite views in the Lake District.

Following the private farm house side gate leading to the valley, and follow the sign at the side stating National Trust Park, there is a footpath leading to the side Pike, or another way is to detour the river across the farmland up to the side Pike. The footpath will lead into a side track on the right going uphill, the grounds or the footpaths are uneven so be careful when walking up the hill.

The best views is head up to the top of the Side Pike, about 3/4 up to the summit, we can view the village of Langdale with Lakes, when reach to the top of the path turn left onto the knoll that overlooks the valley, the views from here are nearly as good. We walk up to the summit, and glad that we did it. The view on the top is amazing beautiful, we can see the mountains peaks stretching from one to another and another is side is the valley, it is a glorious sight to behold to. At the summit, prepare yourself for the strong wind, as we couldn’t stay here for too long due to the strong wind.

We return the same way as we walk up, as there is a different route to extend the walk to include Blea Tarn, but we didn’t go for it.

 

Glan Yr Afon Riverside Park, Llangollen

 

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Glan yr Afon Riverside Park, Llangollen, North Wales, the riverside park is just next to the Llangollen Station. Lot of tourists will visit this town, it is the center of the footpath for trekking the River Dee and hills surrounded this beautiful town.

 

 

The main attraction  is the Llangollen station,  to take a ride on  the steam train which follow the River Dee to the area of outstanding nature beauty. Across the beautiful bridge to see  the fast water running under the bridge. There is a company who organized  canoeing in the fast ripple water. There are boats rides which are haul by the horses in the tradition ways on the canal for tourists to enjoy the beautiful scenic view around the River Dee.

There is a footpath from the Riverside  Mill Pub and follow this footpath, it will take you to riverside park. We plan our this trip to riverside in Autumn , around end of October, when the trees foliages have turned and change to different shade of red and yellow.

Busy taking photos of this gorgeous colorful  foliage reflection on the water, and been told by a few locals, they had spotted a stork on the rocks, so we can take a photo of the rare visitor.

We took some photos of the riverside and decided to join the locals going down to the river which covered with  special black rocks jutting upward of the water. The public are allow to access to these rocks and water if they are not worry to get wet. We walk across the rocks to view the amazing beautiful scenic view reflected on  still water.

Once we are satisfy we have enough photos of this place, we take a break to have a cup of tea with scones at the Riverside Mill Pub. I have never venture into this pub before. It look quite posh with deck for the customers to sit out and enjoy the scenic views of the river.  The view from the deck are amazing and the price of tea and scones are same price as the shops in the town.  The ice cream which I have is gorgeous and beautiful.

There is a old working mill inside the pub and you can walk around the old historical building to enjoy a traditional working mill and pub food. We stay for an hour at here and Chain Bridge will be our next stop. Look for my next post for the Chain Bridge in North Wales.

 

 

 

 

 

Inverness, Scotland

Inverness, Scotland

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 The Lake Inverness is just 2 second away from our self catered apartment. Inverness is one of Scotland oldest city and sits in the south of the Highlands, on the banks of the River Ness.

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 A Pink crenelated castle lavishly decorated with flowers. Inverness is a thriving city with rich variety of places to visit and shopping to do in the city and around. The city has a number of historic buildings in the Old Town and it is easy to get around.IMG_9198.1
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Perched picturesquely above the river is the Inverness Castle, it looms above the Gothic Tiown House in the High Street. Below the castle, the Inverness Museum and Art Galeryon Castle Wynd. It gives a good overview of the development of the Highlands.
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The medieval Church Street is home to the town’s oldest surviving buildings. On the corner with Bridge is the Steeple, whose spire has be to be straightened after an earth tremor in
1816.
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We enjoyed our walk on the Historic trail around the River Ness, the dark clouded day changed into glorious blue sky with beautify sun. We walk for an hour and go into the town to look for a Chinese Restaurant for our dinner.

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This thriving city offers a rich variety of things to do and shopping, culture to eating and drinking. There are many lovely riverside restaurants and bustling pavement cafes  and a wide range of specialist retailers in the historic Old Town. IMG_9216.1

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We need a good night  rest so  can go for our early morning walk and shopping in the Old Town in the next morning.

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Isa Bey Mosque, Selcuk

Isa Bey Mosque, Selcuk

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Isa Bey Mosque is one of example of Seljukian architecture, situated below the Basilica of St John. The mosque was built by the Syrian architecture Ali son of Mushimish al- Damishki, between years 1374 and 1375.

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The mosque was styled asymmetrically unlike the traditional style. The location of the windows, doors and domes were not matched, purposely. In the entrance of the mosque, an inscription from the god decorates the doorway.

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The columns inside the house of prayer are from earlier ruins in Ephesus, making an interesting contrast to the mosque. The domes are ornamented by turquoise and ble faience, the characteristic of Ottoman style.

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Crown-like doors from Seljukian architectural style later combin with the specific decoration elements of architectural style. The mosque was repaired in 1935.

 

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The mystical atmosphere of Isa Bey Mosque is worth a visit if in Selcuk. We stop at the restaurant outside the mosque for our lunch.

 

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The Bont, North Wales

The Bont, North Wales

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Wish to do a project for my art project and my husband agreed to drive me to North Wales. We spent part of the day at the Llangollen Train Station and on our way back home. We visited the Chain Bridge Hotel, the Chain  Bridge is now open as it was closed for a period of time for repair work on the bridge. Since we were at the Chain Bridge, we decided to revisit the The Bont which is located under the towering Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

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There is 1 car track road leading to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and at the end of the road, the left leading to The Bont and the right turn leading to Pontcysllte Aqueduct, a world Heritage Site in North Wales.  We followed the left turn leading to the The Bont, about 200 yards there is some farmhouses and we can park our car at the side of the road.

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The Bont is a private lake for private members of the fishing club. There are two paddock gates and we climbed over the gate to access to the lake. The public are not allow into this lake. This secret gem is a beautiful and stunning picturesque with Autumn falls.  There is a house sitting right at the edge of the lake and a commercial building next to it. The beautiful trees reflecting on the still water with the glorious sun shinning through the leaves.

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We only stay for half an hour at this lake due to  we reached here about 5.30 p.m. and running out of time to visit the Pontoysyllte Aqueduct. I will come back again, I have no idea why I love this place so much and keep going back again and again.  I have to share this gorgeous place to all my friend if you are in North Wales, make a visit to this gorgeous place in the lonely planet

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