A Travellerspoint blog

May 2019

62 ~ Summary - Reflections

Third trip to India?


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Will I do a third trip to India?

Probably “Yes” as there is so much more of this incredible country to see.

At least on this trip no Delhi belly or unknown physical muscular issues like last time ...

Just didn't take my heel balm and was wearing most of the time my slip-on Birkenstock with no socks plus it was dry and at times dusty ... hence cracked heals.

Yes, should have worn my orthopaedics inserts for my shoes more than I did as that was also an issue towards the end of the trip ... walking towards the end of the day and the impact on the soles of both my heels.

Yes, there were lots of surprises and differences to my previous India trip a year ago.

What would I remember of this trip?

Travelling by car seeing:

  • Yellow fields of mustard.
  • Overloaded vehicles carrying hay.
  • Dead animals mainly dogs on both the side of the road and road itself.
  • The noise, particularly the horns in the towns and cities

When walking:

  • The street photography and willingness by mainly the shop keepers for their photo to be taken. So it was a quick 2 shots - one setting the scene of what they were selling, then a heads and shoulder.
  • The ladies and families who asked me to take their photos taken.
  • The old men who have lived a lifetime seeing the India that they grew up with changed - no doubt full of wisdom.
  • The ladies often dressed in a red sari with veils covering their faces.

Weather:

While it was winter, it was nice for me. Yes, the mornings were cold with the need to wear a long sleeve merino top but it quickly warmed up so soon I was down to just my yellow polo shirt.

“Your Vacations” the local provider:

The local guides and the wide range and standard of service offered.

From Push in Jaipur, Javed in Bikaner plus Prem in Jaisamler who all knew what I was after with my street photography and that I didn’t want to know too much of the history which I had read beforehand.

I didn’t come to India to relax in a hotel - came to see the locals at work and play.

Despite telling my local guide that I am not buying on this trip, being taken to the craft shops and at times pressured to buy! But that’s India so no surprises on this front.

Thanks for the upgraded vehicle with wifi.

Despite discussing the law of the land that talking on the phone when driving was illegal, too often Ashok had long conversation while driving so it was interesting when he changed gear on the manual car … he was not handsfree. Must have had a third hand to hold the steering wheel.

With one’s own vehicle, I able to stop at will like seeing the procession after leaving Luni on route to Ranakpur Temples and the mainly goat market seen enroute to Fatehpur Sikri.

Next time I will need to:
- be much clearer as to my needs and what I want to achieve with the local guides.

- try and ascertain the time that was allowed seeing the local sights.

Weather:

No rain despite reading back home the wet summer’s weather that they were experiencing.

Accommodation:

Had a diverse range of accommodation ... from the Heritage hotels to a resort with the odd 3 and 4 star hotel thrown in for good measure.

Great staying at the heritage hotels, all so different and each had its own unique character. Well worth it even though some of them were so far out of town.

  • Hans Plaza - 4 Star hotel in central Delhi so it was good to be able to walk to Connaught Place only a couple of blocks away.
  • Udai Vilas Palace - Out of Mandawa, it felt strange being one of the few guests in this complex.
  • Gajner Palace - A Heritage Hotel in Gajner out of Bikaner. The best room as it felt like an apartment. Plus the 2 hot water bottles as a surprise treat.
  • Fort Rajwada - Best 4 star hotel in in Jaisalmer with its setting. By far had the best buffet breakfast and dinner.
  • Fort Khejerla - Another Heritage Hotel where the village walk around Khejerla was probably the highlight for me and the contact with the locals are concerned.
  • Fort Chanwa - Another Heritage Hotel in Luni.
  • The Lavitra - A 3 star hotel Udaipur. At least it was within easy walking distance back into the old city.
  • Deogarh Mahal - The Heritage Hotel in Deogarh up on the hill with the labyrinth of passageways and roof terraces with its many different levels looking down at Deogarh itself.
  • Ananta Spa Resort - No time for a spa or enjoy this modern complex just out of Pushkar.
  • Fortune Metropolitan - 4 star hotel in Jaipur. The room with the view down into the neighbouring shopping centre from one’s bedroom window.
  • Hotel Amar - 3-star hotel in Agra whose only thing in its favour was that it was just 15 minutes walking distance to the Taj or else why stay here? Wasn’t the food nor the rather dated room. Was only for a night so served its purpose fine.

Generally overnight accomodation was merely to sleep in a clean comfortable bed as oppose to spend time there enjoying the facilities.

Food:

While I am not a fan of Indian food, it was more than fine for me. I was going to go be vegetarian throughout this trip but that didn’t last long.

Jerra rice as well as garlic naan bread quickly become a favourite of mine on this trip.

Sights:

Where do I start?

Yes, as expected the Taj Mahal was no 1, especially seeing it in the morning with the fog coming and going.

Each of the forts had its own characteristics and none stood out as my favourite. Each had their own charm. Would I go back again to see them ... yes, but take it a bit slower and absorb their features and historical significance of its location.

Then there was the havelis and wondering what it would have been like in their hey day.

What about the sunsets and time out in the Sam sand dunes out of Jaisalmer?

Glad that I crammed in so much in the 16 days and managed to see besides the usual Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur that most tours go to, got to Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Mandawa and Bikaner as well.

Hope that you have enjoyed this blog ... watch this space for my next adventure somewhere around our small world of ours.

While my bucket list is getting longer and longer, already planning my next trip to a country that I have not been to yet but don’t know when I will go or if in fact that it will be my next destination.

Posted by bruceontour 02:14 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

61 ~ Home


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Breakfast decided on the Dim sum selection – shrimp fun gor, asparagus dumpling, spinach siu mai and glutinous rice dumpling.

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Sun rises just north of New Zealand.

Not often when I come back to New Zealand fly down this side of the North Island so close to the coastline ...

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Cape Reinga & North Cape

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Karikari Peninsula

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Kaipara Harbour

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North Head & Hobson Bay

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Kohimarama Beach

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Point England & Glendowie

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Waiheke Island

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Flat Bush & Clover Park

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Vector Wero Whitewater Park & Rainbow's End

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Manukau City

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Wiri

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Wiri

Touchdown.

No issues with going through the "green" lane and getting my bag x rayed.

Home ... wash clothes ... lawns ... ah, back to reality.

Posted by bruceontour 00:12 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

60 ~ Hong Kong

Day 17 : Getting through both immigration & security was so quick


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Hong Kong – A short 9 hour layover and in my head I knew what I would love to achieve:

- If fine go up to the Peak and the new observation Sky Terrace 428 to see down over Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor again. I knew that it didn’t open till 10am / 10:00.

- Take the Star ferry across to Tsim Sha Tsui.

- Go to Wan Chai where Aunty Eileen and Uncle Kwong who was the minister at the Methodist Church and I had stayed all those decades ago plus see the development in that area.

With the skies still dark Hong Kong airport loomed and we arrived at 6.15am / 06:15.

Thanks to Chris’s Octopus card which still had some dollars on it so at the Express Train counter topped it up with another HK$100 NZ$18.90 / US$12.70 / for a return same day trip into town.

Slowly the sky brightened during the short 24 minutes that it took the train to get into Hong Kong station.

Hong Kong was still asleep and just awakening.

Then following my nose and signs to the wharf at Central to catch the Star ferry across Victoria Harbour to Tsim Sha Tsui.

Using the Octopus card HKD$3.70 HK$78 / NZ$0.70 / US$0.50, it was a short 10 minute ride on the upper deck. Yes, there are quicker ways to cross the harbour but it was the magic of the ocean water in amongst the tall skyscrapers and after spending 2 weeks inland in desert like conditions enjoyed the sea air …

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Had the Tsim Sha Tsui side changed as I approached it? No, not really. Just many new buildings across on Hong Kong Island.

I allowed myself just 30 short minutes on this side walking along Kowloon Public Pier passing Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Hong Kong Museum of Art.

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Going as far as Salisbury Garden as the Avenue of Stars was closed for renovations.

Then back along the street passing the famous The Peninsula (hotel) and finally the iconic former Kowloon – Canton Railway Clock Tower.

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So, it was back on ferry at 8.30am / 08:30 and this time on the cheaper HKD$2.50 / NZ$0.50 / US$0.30 lower deck across to Central. Much better experience being closer to the water level. Plus it had the locals on their way to work.

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I knew approximately where the Garden Road Peak Tram lower terminal was so again following my nose going through the elevated walkways between the various buildings got to St John’s Cathedral at 9am / 09:00. The Peak Tram terminal was around the corner.

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A tram was about to leave, but the Sky Terrace 428 viewing terrace didn’t open till 10am / 10:00. I was glad that I brought my HK$99 / NZ$18.70 / US$12.60 ticket for the Peak Tram ride. It takes only 7- 8 minutes each way conquering about 370-meter / 1,300 feet height differences along the 1.35km / 0.8 mile route. It is so steep that the buildings you pass look like they are leaning a gradient of between 4 to 27 degrees!

Meanwhile buses need at least one hour along the winding hill roads. With the tram taking 120 pax = 95 seated and 25 standing, there were plenty of seats to choose from.

Knew to sit on the right-hand side going up for the views.

It was 9.30am / 09:30 when I got as far up as I could in the Sky Terrace 428 building, but it was still 30 minutes before the Sky Terrace 428 roof top opened. Spent time walking along to the Lion Pavilion and then further along Findlay Rd getting a slightly different perspective of the city scene below me.

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Sky Terrace 428 is guess what, 428 metres above sea level and is the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong offering a stunning 360-degree panoramic view across the Hong Kong.

https://www.thepeak.com.hk/en/the-peak-experience/the-sky-terrace-428

https://www.thepeak.com.hk/en (tram)

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Being one of the first to get up to the Sky Terrace 428 was good as there was hardly anyone on the viewing platform. With free wi-fi did a Facebook Live sending New Year’s greetings. Yes, Hong Kong has as expected changed and is still growing “upwards”.

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Then down and it was only 10.45am / 10:45 but what a long queue was now waiting to get their tickets. So glad that I went up early!

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Hennessy Rd with Methodist House and the Chinese Methodist Church was only a short 15-minute walk away along Queensway.

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While the trams are still there, gone is the “ding, ding” that I vividly remember the sound trams made when staying with Aunty Eileen and Uncle Kwong above the church.

Henry showed me around the redeveloped site and chapel. Just the facade of the building was kept and a 28-story office block built 1997/98.

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Time for some lunch but with my spoken Cantonese now virtually non-existent and I can’t read Chinese, it was interesting wandering around the back streets of Wan Chai trying to find a local place to eat at.

Found Wong Kei Chinese Barbecue Restaurant = Suckling Pig with Rice HK$72 plus the soup HK$6 = HK$78 / NZ$14.70 / US$9.90.

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Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre down by the harbour. With MTR expansion construction passing the Central Government offices and Legislative Council Complex.

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Down through Tamar Park with “both” flags flying.

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Along the Central and Eastern District Promenade to the Central Harbourfront event space and neighbouring AIA Carnival with the Hong Kong Observation Wheel.

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Now 12.45pm / 12:45 so time to think about heading back to the airport. I had allowed 2 hours to get back and that included getting through immigration / security etc.

In fact, I had plenty of time as the Express train left soon after I arrived at the platform. Getting through both immigration and security was so quick. So, had time to pass before my 3.20pm / 15:20 departure. By now I knew that Premium Economy passengers had their own queue at the boarding gate.

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Yes, I should have added all these videos below together as 1 continuous clip ...

It was a night flight, dinner then managed to get some sleep.

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Posted by bruceontour 02:23 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged star_ferry tsim_sha_tsui sky_terrace_428 Comments (0)

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