Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wandering About Guilin

What’s your secret?

Secret? None. Well, patience and perseverance maybe, but no secrets.

Friends often asked me how I managed to secure bargain air-fare tickets each time Air Asia launches its campaigns. My reply would be, “Try and keep trying.” Sounds so corny, kan? But if I were to tell you that I paid a little under RM130 for each return ticket to Guilin recently, wouldn’t you too want to go flocking AA's cyberspace trying your luck?

And that’s my story with the red and white website. Sometimes I get lucky; at times efforts can be hopelessly futile. Well, you can’t win all the time.

Anyhow, flying on Air Asia can be a headache at times. Rescheduling of flights is pretty common these days. Off late some flights are even canceled. No reasons given, only a notification email. So be prepared to have your plans adjusted. In fact that was what happened to this trip to Guilin; we were warranted another day as the return flight was rescheduled. What was only a 5 day trip has changed to a 6 day holiday. Okay jugak lah kan……

That morning on 16th May 2011, Faris drove us to LCCT at around 3.30am. I had done the web check-in but we didn’t want to take any chances, of course. Had light breakfast at McDonalds (one question..why must the same pancake at the airport cost much, much more than pancakes at the non-airport McD outlets?? Haa...cer citer...cer citer...) After breakfast, we walked to our departure gate. Unfortunately, the gate assigned to our flight was a temporary one and the departure area was not equipped with any form of amenities. There was no toilet and neither was there a surau. Argghhhhh....ohhh….why larr?? That morning we did our solat Subuh from our seats in the departure waiting area minutes before we boarded – early morning flights, that's how it is lah.

Guilin is a city in Guangxi Region, China.

Flight to Guilin was slightly more than 4 hours. Later when I looked around in the aircraft, I discovered that we were the only non Chinese on board!! One uncle asked why we were going to Guilin. According to him, most Malays would tour the other famous Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai. I told him we’ve been to those places, and now it was time to go have some adventure. I couldn’t tell if he was at all impressed by my reply. But when I told him we didn’t not engage any tour agencies from back home to arrange for our trip he only had this to say, “Whoaaaa….u banyakkk pandai oooo!!”

I wanted to reply him this way, “Unker….got Google mahhh!!” But instead I chose to just show him my confident smile. And that was how we managed pretty much the next five days, communicating like ducks and chics; putting to use all creative means and methods we could possibly think of.

Sharing here story of our trip….enjoy :)

Very close proximity to many picturesque limestone mountains and formations, Guilin is a scenic town and one of the best-known tourist destinations in China.

Nissa and our guide for the city tour. Got the tour from the info desk at the airport. Pretty reasonable rate - CNY200 for the afternoon tour of the city.

First excitement of the day - the cable car ride up the Yao Mountains. Yao Mountain lies only about 12 kilometres from downtown Guilin. At a shade over 900 metres high it is the highest peak in the vicinity of Guilin. Brave heart Nissa..(before the ride...)

The 1400 metre cable car ride was completed in 1996 using Austrian technology. This provides easy access to the summit as well as wonderful views on the way up.
View from our cable car....by now knees were wobbling.

These covered cars are only used during rainy days.

The cars came very close to these tall trees on the mountain slopes.

Pine and bamboo trees that came into view

Mommy trying to look cool for the camera while Nissa was all cold feet and hands.

Err...when was maintenance checks done on these?? A question that was probably running in everyone's mind. It was on mine all along the way up.

Not for the faint hearted - you can even slide you way down!!!

Yao Mountain got its name from a Yao emperor temple and boasting all natural beauty in its surroundings.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Auntie's Back

Been to the river, peeked into the caves, climbed the mountain and cycled to the country side - this holiday was indeed different.

Got home this afternoon. Still sorting out the laundry while FBing. Will have more stories of our trip to captivating Guilin.

Sent via Kay's Berry

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

Nope the title has got nothing to do with this post. But then come to think again, may be it does!!

This tweety bird is going away for a couple of days. She's gonna be chirping away in some outback country side with two others.

The next few days this will be her motto.....

Have a good week folks :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Toi Mon Amour, Mon Ami

Obviously, there is still a longggg way to go at completing our Paris & London travel stories. I've completed our adventures of the first day in Paris - still many, many more days to go.

Celebrating my accomplished effort with this song.

Toi mon amour, mon ami
Quand je rêve c'est de toi
Mon amour, mon ami
Quand je chante c'est pour toi
Mon amour, mon ami
Je ne peux vivre sans toi
Mon amour, mon ami
Et je ne sais pas pourquoi
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah

My love my friend

You my love, my friend
When I dream, it's about you
My love, my friend
When I sing, it's for you
My love, my friend
I can't live without you
My love, my friend
And I don't know why
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah

Notre Dame de Paris

There were already storms of people waiting in line to go up the Eiffel Tower. Both girls were not bothered about making the climb up the tower.

What fascinated us most was the street sellers making their dominant presence at selling the replicas of the tower. Abe befriended one of these young enterprising chaps and later walked away happily with a few replicas of the tower as souvenirs. (ye lah kan...orang hari-hari dok eat, sleep, study, love, tengok tower...kena lah bawak pulang bagi kat kawan-kawan)

Us girls, we went around taking pictures while he haggled for the best deal he could get for his purchase.

Once done, we hurdled back to HOHO stop.

Our next stop was a Gothic masterpiece located on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the heart of Paris.

Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe.

Seen from the exterior, the building appears to be High Gothic. Notable features include the profusion of colonnettes and tracery screens, the horizontal and vertical ordering of the facades

The Portal of Saint Anne is the portal on the west façade on the right. Its tympanum is an earlier Romanesque work, taken from the former St. Stephen's Cathedral and dating from about 1150.

In its centre, there is a magnificent Virgin with Child in the Romanesque style, with all of the elegant and serene characteristics of majestic Virgins.

A painting in the Notre Dame.

The South Rose Window was a gift from the king Saint Louis. It was designed by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil.

It would days, just to view all the windows and learn what they are illustrating. Each window is divided into panels, which are usually read from left to right, bottom to top (earth to heaven). The number of figures or abstract shapes used is symbolic; three stands for the Church, squares and the number four symbolize the material world of the four elements, circles for eternal life.

Silence...prayers in session.

Statue of St. Joan of Arc inside Notre Dame

We followed the flow of crowd making one full round in the cathedral. Upon our exit, we saw the dark skies looming over the area. And we were hungry again by then.

Coffee and food aroma from the sidewalk cafes got us walking across the street. We found a seller on the corner selling crêpe!!

Break time.....and we had our own choice crêpe (a type of very thin pancake, usually made from wheat flour. Abe said...macam lempeng lah) with different fillings. In the end, we all agreed that the best crêpe was the one with Nutella, banana and coconut filling. Yummmmssssss......

As we strolled around the Notre Dame area, we spotted these power machines..........

And Mommy obviously had to do damage here.......

The Iron Lady

It was a very long wait for our HOHO bus at the Concorde stop. We were the first ones there and not long after we were joined by a few more. One foreign couple paced up and down the sidewalk, clearly making their dissatisfaction noticed over the tiresome wait in the cold.

Both Abe and Farah had gone to the luxury 5 star Hôtel de Crillon to do what they needed to do. "Toilet dia...berkilat-kilat silau," reported Farah. Well....what would you expect?? This is after all Paris!!

I checked the list of stops and coming up next was the Eiffel Tower. Everyone was excited and when the bus finally came (like after a good 40 mins wait....) we quickly hopped in and climbed onto the upper deck for better views.

As the HOHO bus slowly approached the area of Champs de Mars, we understood then why this steel lady was so popular.

La dame de fer, the iron lady - you couldn't possibly visit Paris without seeing her. The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

Full view from Trocadero area.
The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building.

The structure was built as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution.

Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets. Nissa being given some quick facts about steel structures by Daddy - who is no stranger to such structures. (check out her must-I-listen- to-this-tech-stuff-stories look....)

It was named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel.

It took more than two years to complete the structure. To date, it is the most-visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year.

My personal favourite view of the lady......
Paree....Je t'aime

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde is an area situated between the Tuileries and the Champs-Elysées. Octagonal in shape and it is about 20 acres big.

In 1792, during the French revolution, the square was called Place de la Révolution. A guillotine was installed at the center of the square and in a time span of only a couple of years, 1119 people were beheaded here.

Amongst them many famous people like King Louis XVI, Marie-Antionette, evolutionary Robespierre, just to name a few. After the revolution the square was renamed several times until 1830, when it was given the current name 'Place de la Concorde'.

Trying to pose and keep warm at the same time


This 3200 years old obelisk from the temple of Ramses II at Thebes was installed in the 19th century at the center of the Place de la Concorde.

It is a 23 meters (75 ft) tall monolith in pink granite and weighs approximately 230 tons. In 1831, it was offered by the Viceroy of Egypt to Louis Philippe. Three obelisks were offered by the Viceroy, but only one was transported to Paris.

The obelisk - sometimes dubbed 'L'aiguille de Cléopâtre' or Cleopatra's Needle - is covered with hieroglyphs picturing the reign of pharaohs Ramses II & Ramses III.

Giving lil sister an uplift for better look of the bronze fountain

'La fontaine des Mers' was added to the square in 1836 Jacob Ignaz Hittorf.

It got even colder as we continued our walking tour

Berkerut-kerut menahan sejuk....

In the background is Hôtel de Crillon - a masterpiece of French 18th-century architecture.
Okay that's it...let's take the HOHO bus now!!

Grand & Petit Palais

It is actually very difficult to walk the streets of Paris and not go in amazement with what you see. There is always something that'd capture your eyes. Hence, walking is the best way to appreciate the beautiful city. But there were times these old and worn out knees couldn't carry off the passionate wishes of the heart.

We rested for a short while after feasting our eyes on the ornate Pont Alexandre III. Got our packed sandwiches out and wiped clean those tuna mayo slices. Sejukkk....jadi perut pun lapar lah.

Across our resting place, came in view two historic buildings in Paris. One is the Grand Palais (Grand Palace) and the other is Petit Palais. Both places house excellent collections of art work from various centuries.

The Grand Palais listed as a historic monument. Its glass domed roof can be spotted from a distance.

The structure was built in the style of Beaux-Arts architecture as taught by the École des Beaux-Arts of Paris. The building reflects the movement's taste for ornate decoration through its stone facades.

For more than 100 years, the Grand Palais has been a public exhibition hall and host to a variety of grand events.

Just accross the Grand Palais - the Petite Palais. It was built for the Universal Exposition in the year 1900. Originally meant to be just a temporary structure to host a large exposition of French art. This magnificent Beaux Arts-style building was designed by Charles Girault. Now it serves as a museum of art.

It combines Greek and Roman forms but also includes plenty of ornamentation, making it rather eclectic in style. Seen a big statue of Winston Churchill.

A statue standing tall in the gardens of Petite Palais