The Kawa Bath

kawa hot bath

Here’s a hot tub I’d love to get into. The water in these supersized cast iron pans is heated and kept hot by a live fire. How relaxing it would be on cool nights, under a sky full of stars; the near perfect way to get ready for bed after a long day hiking or kayaking or just a chilly swim. I wonder if the person who came up with this had read Robinson Crusoe!

These giant vats were originally used to in the sugar making process. The sugar mills have long been abandoned, but the experience is  still sweet.

If I ever happen to be in Philippines, I going to set aside a day for Tabio just for  this.

Bonus- spend the night At night, at one of Kayak Inn’s nipa huts. There’s no electricity – only the wind in the willows ( ok trees), and the song of the river. 

 Kayak Inn is located in Brgy. Tuno, Tibiao, Antique and can be reached using  a habal-habal (or single motorcycle),

Best time to go is from September to February, where the river is usually high, perfect for kayaking. This is also firefly season. Stars in the sky, and all around you. Enjoy the show!

 

* Original Photo here.If this photo belongs to you and you have any objection to my using it, please let me know and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

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The Cathedral of Saint Basil

If I walk the noisy streets,
Or enter a many thronged church,
Or sit among the wild young generation,
I give way to my thoughts –

– A. Pushkin

Saint Bails Cathedral.jpg

Be honest, doesn’t it look a castle in a Disney version of the Arabian Nights? I imagined this crazy candy crush structure would be in some hard to spell, harder point out on the map place like Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan, but no – it’s in Moscow. It’s no castle either, it’s a cathedral. It’s colourful and whimsical, and absolutely fascinating on a whole other level. The Cathedral of St Basil holds deep religious and historical meaning and symbolism. It has eight chapels set around a ninth one to form a perfect eight-sided star. The star can be interpreted in several ways religiously. In the old Jewish calendar, the number eight represents the day of Christ’s Resurrection. This mid-16th century magnificence was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible as both a mark of gratitude to his God for his victory over the Mongols and a tribute to himself that would remind people of his greatness long after he was gone. The nine chapels mark victories in the battles fought  between the Khanate of Kazan and Muscovite Russia.  The architectural entirety represents the Heavenly Kingdom from the Book of Revelation of St John the Divine.There have been many additions and renovations since.

What fun it will be to explore this beautiful building, with a matching  swirly ice-cream cone in hand!

*Original picture can be seen here. If this photo belongs to you and you have any objection to my using it, please let me know and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

 

Kings and Queens

Photo courtesy Flickr

I’ve seen African Lions in Kenya and Asian Lions in India. Next on my list is to see the Desert Lions.

The place to see these lions is the Namib desert of Namibia. Another reason to visit Namib desert  is that it is the oldest desert in the world. Other inhabitants of the Namib desert include the Himba tribe. What is so unique about the Himba people is that each  each Himba belongs to the clan of both their mother and their father. How beautiful!

*Original photo can be viewed here. If this picture belongs to you,please let me know if you have any objections to my using it and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

 

Riding a Camel on the Sand Dunes of the Moroccan Sahara

April 2015

 The Sleeping Gypsy

The Sleeping Gypsy

I was at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) a few days ago and Henri Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy filled me with a strange longing to experience a desert landscape. I imagine myself riding a camel through the shifting sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. The Sahara, meaning “The Great Desert,” in Arabic is the world’s largest hot desert and one of the harshest environments on the planet. I imagine the Sahara as a vast expanse of soft sand dunes, where dehydration and intense sunlight reflecting off the sand trick the eye into seeing things that don’t exist. The Sahara is much more. Most of the Sahara is characterized as rocky hamada, a type of desert landscape that has very little sand and is made up of primarily barren, hard, rocky plateaus.

Our first subscription box ever - the Marrakesh Box from try the World

Our first subscription box ever – the Marrakesh Box from Try the World

I see myself riding a camel on massive sand dunes of Erg Chicaga, with a guide to keep us from getting lost. Story has it that long long ago, a wealthy family refused hospitality to a poor woman and her son. God was so offended by this act that *He buried them under the mounds of sand today. In the modern world, these sand dunes are know as Erg Chebbi or Erg Chicaga.

Starting before dawn to beat the heat; admiring the colourful sunrise, we’ll march in silence. Slowly we’ll get accustomed to the awkward gait of the camel as it lurches forward, even learning to sit cross legged like Lawrence of Arabia.  When it gets too hot and the desert starts to shimmer in a thousand shades of burnished gold, we’ll set up our tents at an oasis and rest in the shade of a palm tree. They say if you know where to look, water is never more than 10 kilometers away. Could there be anything more ethereal than standing atop the picturesque dunes at sunset and watching as the harsh yellow glare magically transforms into soft glowing shades of orange, pink and purple? If the night is warm, we’ll sleep under the stars, or sing songs in the light of the radiant moon. On cold nights, we’ll warm ourselves by a crackling fire and listen to wondrous stories filled with lions and djinns!

Moroccan Goodies

Moroccan Goodies

The end of November, and January and February are the best times to visit Erg Chebbi/ Erg Chicaga. The weather is not as harsh as summer or peak winter and since it is off season, it is also the quietest time.

Was it worth it? Well, the subscription rate is definitely more than the aggregate cost of the goods, but it is curated and sweetly packed and overall not very expensive. For $30 -$40 every 2 months, I'll take it.

Was it worth it?
Well, the subscription rate is definitely more than the aggregate cost of the goods, but it is curated and sweetly packed and overall not very expensive. For $30 -$40 every 2 months, I’ll take it.

*He – I believe God is gender free. I refer to him as masculine purely for convenience and convention

P.S – The date is not a typo. This is from April 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Istanbul

Blue Mosque at last Light of Day

*photo courtesy Flickr

By now, some of you know and some of you would have guessed that we will be exploring Istanbul next month. On the way to India, we are breaking our journey for a couple of days in this historical city. After a lot of research I’ve come up with this plan and am looking for suggestions to improve it.

 

Day 1, Wednesday – Our flight lands in Istanbul at 4 pm. Check into the Best Western Premier The Home Suites & Spa, (Küçük Ayasofya Mh., Küçük Ayasofya Cd No:60, 34122 İstanbul, Turkey)

7:30 pm – Attend a Whirling Dervishes performance at the Orient Express Train Station (Sirkeci Event Hall–Istanbul Gar). We need to be there by 6:45 pm. It is a 90 minute performance.

9:30 pm – Dinner Reservations at the Khorasani Restaurant

 

Day 2, Thursday

9:00 am to 12:00 pm – Grab a bite at the Pudding Shop, Check out the Hippodrome and the Blue Mosque. Check prayer timings, as mosque is closed for prayers

1:00 pm – Have lunch at the Yerebatan.

2:00 pm to 5:00pm – Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Grand Bazaar

8:00 pm and beyond – Grab dinner ( restaurant suggestions welcome) and hit Kadife Sokak. It seems to be the place to experience Istanbul by night.

 

Day 3, Friday

9:00 am to 5:00 pm – Grab breakfast, Go see the Suleymane Mosque, Topaki Palace and Archeology Museum. Check Friday prayer timings for the mosque

1:00 pm – Grab a bite at Fez Cafe

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Spice Bazaar

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Cross the Galata Bridge and climb up the Galata Tower

8:00 pm and beyond – Dinner at  Antiocha,Go to a Meyhane (Demeti and Feraye have live music)

 

Day 4, Saturday

9:00 am to 12:00 pm – Luxuriate in a Hamam. I have heard  Ayasofya Hamam is very good and is one of the oldest. Plus it will be close to our hotel. Any other suggestions?

Take the Bosphorus  cruise

1:00 pm – Lunch at Çiya Sofrasi

2:00 pm to 4:00pm – Anything that got left out

4:00pm – Check out

7:00 pm – Fly out

 

A special shout out to Anthea of antheaschronicles for her help with this.
*Original photo can be seen here. If this picture belongs to you and if you have any objections to my using it, please let me know and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

Desert Camping with the Bedouins in Wadi Rum

*Photo Courtesy Flickr

*Photo Courtesy Flickr

Camping is high on my list of things to do. The Husband is not too keen, but when he saw how disappointed I was about not being able to camp on our up-coming road trip, specially in Death Valley, he were sweetly came up came up with a plan to do some local camping.

Oh! There’s something super romantic about camping in the desert. The vast emptiness.The silences. The night sky shimmering with thousands of tiny diamante like stars, clear and unaffected by pollution. The spectacular sunrises. The people! The people of the desert, I imagine would be different from the people of the city. They would be roughed and harsh, but fiercely loyal. Their faces would be weathered yet so beautiful. They would independent and free spirited people. Perhaps I read too much.

Real Bedouins,the ones who live in deserts (with no water to bathe for days or months), in close proximity to their camels are probably a stinky lot, and highly irritable because of the weather. The ones I will actually meet would probably be neither. They might be regular people, just like you and me, who will hopefully will not be putting on theatrical airs and gushing, “Khushamdeed!! Khushamdeed!!” In addition to reading a lot, I also watch a lot of crappy Hindi movies.

My apologies if that offended anyone. I am sure the Bedouin are wonderful people and I look forward to their hspitality.

Now if I could convert a desert camping trip to include a camel safari through some stunning landscape and add a trip to the Dead Sea wouldn’t that be just perfect? That is where Wadi Rum comes in. Wadi Rum! Doesn’t it sound exotic? The Dead Sea is a 4 hour drive from Wadi Rum. They are both in Jordan, so you need just one visa.

While in Jordan, Petra-a UNESCO World Heritage site is not to be missed and Aqaba would be a great place to experience the Red Sea.

* Original Photo here.If this photo belongs to you and you have any objection to my using it, please let me know and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

 

** edited to add- Anthea of antheaschronicles tells me that Indian nationals do not require a visa to go to Jordan. Read about her adventures in Jordan here.