Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sydney Revisit

My first travel abroad when i was still younger was to Sydney, Australia. That was a very exciting trip, nothing compares to your first "whatever", isn't it! But excluding the novelty of it all, the happenings still stand as exciting and memorable. I worked in the Plant Physiology laboratory then. From that first trip, decades thereafter, and many countries in-between, Sydney, Australia is still my favorite place. I even wanted it more than my own. I said i want it, i didn't say i love it. The later adjective describes my feeling for my native country, and where i will be living till i transcend to the State. That only means State-of-no-return. Yes i am trying to be funny, but maybe only my countrymen will appreciate that joke. Never mind, at least i hope i conveyed my message about Australia.

For years i longed to be back to Sydney, reminisce the wonderful times, visit the old places. And last November i had the chance to return, to attend an international conference. Another excitement was with me, but not as comparable to the first time. I lived in a friend's house at the outskirt of the city, which entails train rides to the university where the conference was held. The University of Sydney has many buildings occupying many blocks in the Central Business District. At least it is just walking distance from the Grand Central Station.

The University of Technology Sydney has some new buildings including the one where we held our conference. Above is also a unique new building that will still open this year, supposed to be devoted for business courses. It was said to be made starting from the center outwards because of its structural design. It looks like it is collapsing isn't it.

One of the conference dinners was specially held in one of the Darling Harbour Cruises. We just walked to the harbour to board the boat which stopped at sea, while we were having buffet dinner. What more can one expect for a Sydney visit more than a Harbour Cruise! This is where most of the city landmarks and icons are very visible. It was a Thursday when we had the Darling Harbour Cruise, so there's a lot of people in bars and restos around the harbour. I haven't seen a lot of people in Sydney as big as that afternoon. They really spend Thursdays to have a good time.

 Above is the city skyline before dusk. The Sydney Tower is visible at the left side. I have crossed the harbour in the past, but i already forgot the details. It is overcast and the light for photographing is not very good, nevertheless, i was able to at least document the landscape.

The both famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. They are far from each other, but looks attached in this view where our cruise boat passed.  Oh how wonderful it would have been if i am on ground with a tripod waiting for the sunset to light the sky. I wont dream for it to still happen in my future, that is hitting the moon too!

This is the right post of the Harbour Bridge on our way back.  I know walking the top of the bridge is also a very famous activity in Sydney, but that is not a thing i look forward to. Heights are not one of my most favored conditions, in short i am afraid of them, so i don't envy anybody who walks on there.

This view is on the way back after our boat dinner. Please pardon the somehow blurred photo, but what do you expect from a night shot handheld on a moving boat with strong winds blowing at the viewdeck? I can almost hear your verdict, the above photo is decent enough for those conditions! AT least it shows the lighted buildings, the Tower, and the Opera House prominently standing at the north part of the skyline.

All of us were on the boat's deck trying to capture the beautiful Sydney Skyline, no matter how difficult. I am sure many of us were so disappointed with the resulting blurred photos, but at least we got some semblance of the real thing.

We needed to be so quick in taking photos because the boat is faster on the way back. I haven't taken some decent shots of Luna Park, The Rocks, Harbour Bridge, and yet we were almost back at the pier. What a pity, these were all. The clearer photos however are permanently embedded in my mind. I have recorded them at 360 degrees, and i swear they are really beautiful. I cannot show you the evidence, so you just need to go there for validation. I promise, trust me, you will not be disappointed.

As a parting shot, this is my first afternoon at the house i was staying. Sunsets always accompany me wherever i go. And beautiful sunsets are always good omen for me, happy things ahead! Thanks for all the things that happened in Sydney, something was closed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Land of Thousand Temples: Part III

Our hostel in Yangon was chosen not only for the price, but also because of the owner's promptness replying to emails. She was also very helpful and accomodating. Our arrival in Yangon was early in the afternoon, so we had enough time to rest a bit before dinner. Shennoon's House proved to be very nice, cosy and clean. It was just a rented old place remodeled to fit the need for a small guesthouse. Shennoon, the owner, is still very young, single and very pleasant. If ever we want to visit Yangon next time, we will not hesitate staying there again.

The major temple in Yangon, Schwedagon Paya.

The swarm of people visiting Schwedagon Paya on the Full Moon. Other people in farther areas of the country visit temples nearer them, but most prefer visiting this main big temple in Yangon, the capital city of Myanmar. Heavy rains and slippery temple stairs didn't sway the people from leaving home.

 When you are in Bagan, everything around you will be temples, as far as your eyes can see.  This is trully the land of thousand temples.

 Bagan is said to be already being reviewed for the UNESCO Heritage Sites. Despite being approved officially, it is already there in the hearts of the people and tourists who have been to the place, I am included.
Cattles also roam freely in and around the temple sites. Other patches are being cultivated with domestic crops like corn and beans. Those big trees are mostly of the Casia species.

This is the main river, Ayeyawady River, used for transport of goods and services around Myanmar.

Bupaya Temple. Near the bank of the Ayeyawady River, was an old temple claimed to be built in the 3rd century. What is seen now is a complete reconstrucion after the 1975 earthquake that demolished the original.

These woods are Muraya species growing in Central Myanmar, used for making thanaka (spelled thanakha) creams. It is normally applied as circular paste on faces of women and children, but sometimes also for the whole body. It has a mild scent and can give cooling sensation and protect the skin from sunburn.

At the left is the stone where the bark is smudged to make the cream paste. At the right is an example of the thanaka on the face. She is not a Burmese woman but my friend companion during our visit. She wants to experience the feelings of a Burmese woman, at least on the face.

My next post will be on Bagan lacquerwares, that survived the centuries.
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