Bucket-List 2013 Week 25 – 25.Visit atleast one historical town in Australia (Armidale)

Hello My Lovely Fellow Bloggers,

A smile and hug from Sydney. I had an amazing weekend this time like many others and I am back to share some stories and experience with you including my bucketlist adventure. Here is a link for my bucket list if you haven’t read it yet.

My Promise to live life – My BucketList 2013

A little bit different and another post about the fears I have in my life with a reflection of other reader’s experiences along with it.

My Fears

This time I had a wonderful time in a city called Armidale, located in the northern tableland in New South Wales, Australia. It has population of around 25,000 people and is known as one of the higest city in Australia at 1,110 meter above sea level. It is a beautiful area covered by world heritage national parks and it has also got an airport at 1,084 metres (3,556 ft), the highest licensed airport in New South Wales. It is 5 hours 30 minutes drive from Sydney, but I don’t drive so I caught the Greyhound bus in the evening from Central, Sydney to get here. It is a bit cold in Armidale due to it’s high location hence it is advisable to carry few warm clothes usually.

I think this is one of the most relaxed and happy weekend I had for quiet a while. And as I look back, I feel that the time I had spent here in this little town was blissful. Why do I feel blissful? A number of things happened on my trip to Armidale this weekend and I was content and happy after such a wonderful weekend with few  hiccups. I left Sydney around 5:30 PM on Friday evening when everyone was getting in the party mood in the city. People were leaving work on time or even early to start feeling Friday fever. I was in the bus waiting to get out of the city and get a snooze before I arrive in Armidale at 2:30 AM in the morning. It was a nice bus ride where I met this French couple who were spending their honeymoon travelling around the world for 6 months. What an awesome way to celebrate I must say. I love meeting people from different culture as you can see and we instantly hit it off and shared a lot of experiences from past travelling. I was lucky to get the next seat free in the bus as it was enough for me to curl up and get some sleep on my way to Armidale. As this was the first time I was going there so I checked quiet a few times with the driver about where we were and that made him wonder why I might be going to this little town where he himself hadn’t been for ages. Anyways finally I was there. The moment I left the bus a wave of cold air took me by surprise. It was around -2.0 C which I was not quiet prepared to be honest and the warm clothes I was carrying were mainly for the bus in case the AC was too low which sometimes is the case when you take a bus. But I was very glad that I did have few warm clothes and I tried to wear all of them to make myself more comfortable in this cold night.

I met some locals and made some really good friends I must say. It was just such a nice trip if I look back.  I went for a walk/run to enjoy the atmosphere and that took me to the University of New England in Armidale, where there was some function taking place. Then I also visited the city and the Dangar waterfall that is 20 minutes drive from Armidale, a very serene place. There are few other nice places to visit that I didn’t get a chance to go but worth seeing if you have few days in Armidale:

• Oxley Wild RIvers Nationalpark
• Zoology Museum
• Museum of Antiquities
• New England Regional Art Museum
• Hillgrove Museum
• Cathedral Rock National Park
• Dangars Lagoon and Racecourse Lagoon
• Deeargee Woolshed
• Eastview Estate Winery
• Geraldine 4WD Recreation Park
• Mount Mutton Walking Trail
• Mount Yarrowyck Nature Reserve
• Thunderbolts Rock
• Uralla Heritage Walk
• Wollomombi Falls – This is one of the highest fall in Australia. Wollomombi Falls are located less than one kilometre south of the village of Wollomombi and approximately two and a half kilometres by road. The access turn off is one and a half kilometres from Wollomombi on the Waterfall Way towards Armidale.

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10 Best Places to Experience the Serene Beauty of the World through Hot Air Ballooning

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Another article published of mine in ‘TheHostelLife’ travel website. Here is the link and also the information for all of you to refer: http://www.thehostellife.com/news/item/480

I wish I could fly! Have you ever felt like this? Then you know what you can and Hot Air Ballooning has made it easier than said in today’s modern world. Its a majestic feeling as the balloon lift in the sky and fills you with the feeling of joy and serenity. And when you encounter the first ray of sun in the sky it makes it worthwhile to get up really early in the morning. Here are the top 10 amazing places in the world for Hot Air Ballooning:

  1. Hot Air Ballooning in North Pole in Arctic with Quark Expeditions (http://www.quarkexpeditions.com/). It is called ‘The Ultimate Arctic Adventure’ which doesn’t really surprise as getting the balloon up in the air at such place definitely shows the adventure involved with it. More than 50 guests celebrated 50 years of the ship with 5 minutes of Hot Air Ballooning experience at the top of the world. It is really once in a life time experience. Next date can be checked at the site and costs somewhere from $24,965 – $37,965.
  2. Great Barrier Reef is one of the best places to see the reefs and beautiful coast line in Australia. Australia gives you a wide variety to experience Hot Air Ballooning but flying above one of the seven natural wonders in the world is an unforgettable experience in itself. http://www.hotair.com.au/cairns/tours/hot-air-balloon-and-great-barrier-reef-cruise-with-great-adventures.html
  3. Hot air Ballooning in Grand Canyon gives you the birds eye view of the remarkable desert landscape and the mountains. It is a feast for one’s eyes when you see this beautiful scenery below from a few flying balloon. http://www.grandcanyonballoonrides.com/
  4. What can be a better option than flying over the breath taking regions of Niagara Falls. It is a tranquil experience for your soul to see the nature on its full swing like this. And ballooning makes it easier to fly across the falls and let you enjoy the amazing scenery below.
    http://www.balloonsoverletchworth.com/
  5. Mt. Everest is one of the unique places to fly over around the world. The first Balloon Flight Over Everest 1991. Not only it was built with special oxygen breathing systems but also had differently designed burners to allow the balloon to fly in extreme conditions at almost 40,000 ft. Andy Elson was the pilot of this first pioneer flight. Leo Dickinson even wrote a book about it – ‘Ballooning Over Everest’. This is not run as a tourist attraction due to its risky operation and extremely high cost but it has been done once and keep an eye open, may be someone starts it in future again. http://www.andyelson.com/Everest.htm
  6. Would you plan to go for a fight over active volcano – Mount Bromo in Java, Indonesia. Yes, I am just joking as it is not safe to fly over this place for sure. But you can definitely boast about flying over Cappadocia, Turkey where the rocks and stone towers were carved into the volcanic lava almost 65 million years ago. One of the best and amazing site to witness in the world if you like the concept of Hot Air Ballooning and the leisure time it gives you to soak into the scenery. Cappadocia, also known as ‘Land of the beautiful horses’ is an hour away from Istanbul. http://www.hotairballooncappadocia.com/
  7. Sunflower fields and vineyards surrounding a beautiful village in southwest of France is a very compelling reason to come to Loire Valley. It has more than 800 castles with a beautiful river crossing the area. One of the famous and scenic places for Hot Air Ballooning in the world, Loire Valley, still maintains the authenticity of the place in the midst of the touristy feel to it. http://www.france-balloons.com/balloon-ride,val-de-loire.php
  8. When talking about ballooning, how can we forget about the International Balloon Festival organized in Chateau d’Oex. This festival is held in the last week of January and gives a perfect view of Alps with the spectacular ski slopes. http://www.festivaldeballons.ch/en/festival_en
  9. Napa Valley in United States still maintains the reputation for being a great place for Hot Air Ballooning. Celebration with champagne after a flight over the beautiful vineyards mixed with the fields of sunflowers is a real treat. http://www.balloonrides.com/
  10. Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya provides a lifetime experience of Hot Air Ballooning. Specially during the migration season (from July to October) when over two million wild animals including zebra, wildebeest, eland and Thomson’s gazelle try to cross Mara River alive as the crocodiles in the river prey on them. This is the only place in the world where you can witness a massive and immense movements of wildlife. http://www.audleytravel.com/destinations/africa/kenya/things-to-do/hot-air-balloon-flight.aspx

Go go go….Rest of Sri Lanka is waiting – Part 2 (Travel faster or Fast Travel – Sri Lanka in 7 crazy days)

So where were we…yes it is in continuation of my last post as I promised..but don’t worry if you missed that as there is no such connection that you would need to know something in advance to read this one. So go ahead and have your share of fun – at my expense 😉

Here is the link for my last post though in case you are thinking what fun you might have missed:

https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-days/

Now I was in the bus to Polonnaruwa, second old capital of Sri Lanka. Although after visiting Anuradhapura I was not going to be surprised to see thousands of years old buildings and their remain I thought but being a traveler you are always curious for unseen and new places and things. So here I was in another town. It was a bit difficult to get seat in the bus so I preferred to stand like many other locals and tried to use my biceps muscle power to keep myself from falling on the floors or outside the door as I was close to the front door. I then realized that I had made some good biceps picking up my backpack in last few weeks of travelling in Nepal and here. Not that I am going to use it as my strong point as I am not into body building or something but it helps when in the plane or other places I can just lift my big backpack with one hand and fit it into any high place at my own…hehehe..funny though 🙂 But finally when I gave up and sat on the floor then a gentleman offered me his seat as he was getting down. I enjoyed sitting for half an hour and got ready to meet this new town and enjoy what it has to offer now.

It was evening and I was very happy with myself now as I had enough time to find a place to live and get some decent food after all this hard work. Yes, this is what I call hard work when I travel – successfully execute challenging targets ;), like getting at places on time…hehehehe…See I told you, you are going to have fun on my expense…go ahead I don’t mind.

I saw one guy approaching me with a card of a hotel and he told me that he can offer me great price. But here I was all over-confident about my capabilities of finding a better place than this. So I politely raised my hand in a gesture of saying no and started walking towards the town. I walked for 15 minutes and saw a bunch of girls walking towards my direction. Being a girl I felt that it will be easy to communicate with the same gender. But what I didn’t realize was that none of them could understand even a single word of English. Now that was a sign of trouble. I regretted the decision of not listening to the guy at the bus stand. But with my attitude it got hard to go back so I continued. See sometimes tiredness of travel can make you stupid and rude. And I walked into another hotel which was way too expensive than what I was already been offered. But my luck is good at times and I saw that guy again. This time I was very happy to see him and he asked me instantly if I am happy to stay at the hotel he mentioned. Next minute I was on my way to the same hotel with good price and close to the market.

I got a nice big room for my own. In Sri Lanka there is not much of a backpacking culture but if you are travelling with your friend then its very cheap to get a room and it gives you more privacy and freedom rather than sharing a place with 6-7 other people at times. But still both have their pros and cons. Anyways soon after getting fresh I got an awesome deal that if I want then the same guy can arrange an Auto for me to see the town and it was 3 PM so I didn’t really mind it as it could free me the next day to explore more places. Soon I got the auto and started taking pictures of this new awesome and old place. This place had the same rule – either buy the pass or get the auto rickshaw to show you around. I was too tired to walk all around it so I chose the second option.

Entrance Ticket for Polonnaruwa

Entrance Ticket for Polonnaruwa

This place took me by surprise due to its tall and huge buildings and remains of the kingdom. Nothing like Anuradhapura and I felt good about my decision to come here. I was taking so many pictures to make sure that if I miss any details then I can revisit them again. Also here are some of those cherished memories for you as well.

It was sunset again – my weakness for some reason 🙂 Yes, I know it sound romantic but I think I am in love with nature then…hehehe. So I started taking pics of the sunset. Please note that in pilgrimage places you are asked to leave your footwear outside the gate at most of the places. Tip: Try to keep it in your bag. Why? Here is the answer – After I returned from the temple, I could not find my sandals on the gate. I searched it for 30 minutes with head torch. Not that it was a gift that I could not live without, but I had to walk  to the next temple barefoot, which believe me is not very comfortable for your feet on concrete and uneven ground.

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I got a bit angry at the fact that whoever took it didn’t even think of the inconvenience that would cause to the owner. But who thinks that right. I got a very beautiful on my way to the next temple in the night though. So I would take that as a reward.

I got home a bit upset and went to a hotel to get my food. After dinner I got normal again with my smiling face. Also I tried Sri Lanka breakfast (Hopper and String Hopper)

20130326_190645 20130326_190544for dinner which I didn’t have a clue is actually eaten for breakfast, till I read it under the breakfast menu the next day somewhere. I also tried the Watalappam (sweet dish). And then I retired to bed with content heart and peaceful head finally.

Good morning! New morning and new  things to look forward to. What else you want in life? But unfortunately my adventure never leaves me feeling this way. I paid for my hotel and caught a bus to next place – Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock. Its a 200 meter high rock basically which was chosen by the king Kasyapa for his capital due to security reasons (it was easy to see from the top of the rock if some one was approaching the castle). I got dropped on the way from where I was supposed to get another bus to Sigiriya. When I arrived there then I was informed that I have to pay another 30 USD.

Lion Temple

Lion Rock

Now this was enough as I was paying everywhere and this was not in my budget (poor planning). But I was not going to back down by this fact so God listened to me and a local told me that he can show me another temple from where I can actually see Sigiriya clearly and would need to pay only 2 USD. What a deal, I got ready instantly. I went to this temple with him as he was happy to show me around (nice people).

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This temple is called ‘Pidurangala’. You can have an awesome view (carry binoculars if you need a super close view). I visited temple and then the local guide told me that I have to keep walking to the top.

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Due to the trees I was not sure how much clear view I was going to get of Sigiriya. But I had lost my appetite to see it due to the high entrance fees really, specially when you have to pay to see every damn thing. Pardon my language but that was how I felt really. So I kept climbing the stairs. Stopping on my way to take pictures and then again climbing up.

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My heart beat was high in unusual manner and I though it might be due to this exercise. But then I realized my feet are giving up. And I had to sit down on a rock. Instantly I calculated the time we took to get here and a quick observation of my situation made it clear that I was going to faint soon as I was dehydrated. Wow, that can be taken as a big zero for my carelessness. How could I not carry water? How could I be so careless? Everyday I do drink enough to keep me going but today I had no water and as I woke up late so skipped my breakfast as well. No lollies or any snacks in my bag. That’s it. I felt that it was over. At this strange place with this strange person, I am in deep trouble now. I asked the guy to bring me water. First he denied asking if I can walk back rather. But after insisting he got ready to get me some water. I literally prayed to God and said sorry for being so irresponsible. Then I found a place to lie down and get some air as I was breathing hard. Then not sure why but started thinking what would James Bond do in my situation to hide the passport and other important things I was carrying in my bag to secure them. See this is called movie buff when you are about to faint but still thinking that you are smart as James Bond….lol. But fortunately I didn’t have to show my smartness and I was feeling better soon. Also the guy brought me some water and I drank all of it. Then what, we started climbing again. Crazy right….yes I know. But I came here so far then how could I turn back. So I kept moving and after some rock climbing, as its not as easy as Sigiriya (proper stairs are available there), we arrived at the top. And there it was awesome view of the Lion Rock (Sigiriya). I felt alive again. This was the 360 degree view for which I worked hard till now. It was worth I would say.

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On the way there was this most amazingly beautiful statue of Buddha as well. Now why don’t I continue in another post. Hope you enjoyed this post and come back to read another one. Hopefully tomorrow 🙂

Me - All revived after this nice view in-front of me out of nowhere

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Invention of Love

Invention of Love

The title originally chosen for this photo was – ‘Love is in the air – Someone is trying to live & Someone is trying to share’.

But then I wanted to write something relevant about this picture and started thinking about love. What is it all about and how it all started hence I felt that the current title would be more appropriate. As this photo has got five different pics merged into one.

  • The black & white is my experiment trying to capture all the pics of couples in the garden. This made me feel – Love is in the air.
  • Then a girl was enjoying the day sitting in the garden and her red hair attracted my attention. She made me feel that you can love yourself and enjoy the day at times as well.
  • Then third pic is edited in instagram and I took it today. It made me feel that sometimes we want to share the things in life we see with others – We want to share the love.

Today when I merged these different pics then they didn’t look different to me and merged into one emotion – Love. Its everywhere. I sit in the train and see couples, babies with their parents, friends, families. If I close my eyes and think about the good moment in my life then I find myself in love with my life.

I smile while walking on the street after seeing these beautiful emotions. I don’t need a present to be happy. I smile when I see my flatmate who is awesome. I smile when I hear the beautiful lyrics of a song. I smile when I think God is there to take care of me.

Simple but powerful – the nature of love and it can change our life. We don’t need someone else to give it to us. We can love ourselves and give the same love to others. The more we give the more it increases, that’s the beauty of love.

So the message for today is – Love. Think about it and let me know the various things that make you feel this emotion. Let me tell you its very easy to feel this emotion being human.