Last year I had big plans to finally blog regularly and they fell through as always. Life as it does got in the way but mainly the second half of 2015 was marred by seasonal depression, visa issues and a real hatred for my new job.
Most of those things have now thankfully resolved thmeselves or are on the way. I’ve also been taking vitamin D consistently for the past month – only after years of my doctor saying I should because I am deficient.
I am finally feeling myself again, motivated and wanting to share about my goings on in London. However, I know how easy it is for me to ditch the blog. A time will come again where my mood will dip and I will retreat from it and I’ve come to terms with that and allowed myself to feel okay if there are long breaks in…
In spite of my love/hate relationship with the place because of the experiences before my departure, this is, and will always be, my 2nd home. So in continuing with my theme of living vicariously through others’ travels this year, here’s a post about a small section of my 2nd home. Enjoy.
This past Sunday was the first time in ages where I went on one of my rambling exploring days out. Yes it’s been winter, and cold and grey but I usually manage to get around during the season. Not the case this winter where I mostly stayed inside.
It feels good to finally feel the sun on my face and not only get out and about but want to get out and about. The prospect of using my new lens was also an incentive to haul my very heavy D-SLR out with me.
With flowers budding all over the place, longer days and even a few days where I wore sunnies (!) none of us can deny that Spring is knocking on the door. I’m finally getting into using my twitter account more and seeing the point of it all (@wanderlust _wtb) over the past…
February 2016: It was Valentine’s Day when I landed in Yangon. There were no red roses or heart-shaped balloons to meet me at the terminal but, following instructions from the office, I made a brief queue to obtain my visa-on-arrival (It costs $50 for a 70-day stay), followed a long queue with a large group of tourists trying to clear immigration, claimed my luggage, then I was out into the humid brightness of Myanmar‘s capital. A smiling taxi driver, who held a white paper with my name on it, helped me load my bags to the cab, then whisked me through Sunday traffic to my hotel. After many years of having it in my bucket list, I was finally in Yangon. Happy hearts’ day to me.
The Yangon International Airport has direct flights to regional cities in Asia – mainly, Dhaka, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh…
I volunteered in Uganda a while ago for 6 weeks. It’s one of my favorite countries, and I’m well overdue for a trip back there. If you’ve never been there before, consider adding it to your travel (and/or bucket) list.
Evening view of Kampala city (credits: Joel Nsadha Isababi)
Uganda is commonly referred to as the Pearl of Africa which is not far from the truth considering her natural resources combined with a very hospitable population. Here are some crazy facts about her;
Caesarian sections were being performed in Uganda way before 1879 when R.W. Felkin observed his first successful operation by indigenous healers in Kahura. (reference: Notes on Labour in Central Africa” published in the Edinburgh Medical Journal, volume 20, April 1884, pages 922-930.)
There are about 880 mountain gorrillas in the whole world and half of them are found in Uganda.
Ranked as the world’s most entrepreneurial country with a rate of 28.1%. This means that 28.1% of Uganda’s population own or co-own a business that has paid salaries for more than 3 months but less than 42.
Lakes and rivers cover 26% of Uganda which is 91,136…
So far, I have only 2 weekend trips planned, and that may very well be the extent of my travels this year. (My friend is getting married in England so if that happens this year, that’ll be another trip.) I’m back on my own, so I have to handle my responsibilities first. (American vacation time/annual leave doesn’t help matters either.) Hopefully, 2017 and beyond will be different, but for now it’s time to be an adult. 😐
How about you? Will 2016 be a slow travel year for you too (if you travel at all)? If so, how come? Where are you going? And if you’ll be traveling as much as usual, or more than usual, please share here so that I can be jealous. live vicariously through you.
The day after we returned from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, we went on a desert safari that took place in the evening. (Step-dad stayed in since his stomach was still hurting.) Travel Friend left Dubai – as he was departing via Abu Dhabi airport to return to the States the next morning – and met us in Abu Dhabi to go with us on the safari. Another travel group member (Travel Friend 2), who was in the United Arab Emirates at the same time as us, drove from Dubai and wound up going with us at the last minute. We had a good time.
We went on the evening desert safari with the Abu Dhabi Desert Safari company in Al Khatim Desert. There isn’t much to say; hopefully the photos speak for themselves. (I didn’t include all photos; I didn’t want to post photos of anyone just in case they prefer privacy.)
Toyota Land Cruiser.
Lots of dune bashing.
United Arab Emirates country flag.
Falcon eating prey.
Joined by guests.
After returning from the safari, step-dad was up & about, feeling better. Even though we didn’t get back until a little after 21:00, our host (an expatriate who’s also a travel group member) surprised us by taking us on a bit of a tour of her part of the city. (Travel Friend 2 went straight to the airport after the safari to catch her flight home.) There isn’t much to say here either; hopefully the photos speak for themselves.
Night view – Emirates Palace.
Emirates Palace – fountains (right).
Emirates Palace – fountains (left).
Night view – Corniche.
Night view – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre.
Falafel (Lebanese food).
Shawarma (Lebanese food).
By the time we finished eating, it was almost midnight so we called it a night. Tomorrow was our last full day there, Travel Friend had a red-eye flight, and we (the 3 of us) had a couple of things to do before our departure.
As a repatriate, some of the points in this article hit home, especially since my return was (mostly) involuntary. Take a look at the article below and feel free to comment. Hopefully, other repatriates will comment too.
Repatriation Blues: Expats Struggle With The Dark Side Of Coming Home
My restless soul has a strange relationship with the little red dot on the world map. In the six years I studied and worked in Singapore, I spent my days planning adventures and craving excitement in the far reaches of Southeast Asia. But when I moved away in 2011, I was filled with nostalgia and a curious desire to rediscover Singapore itself – especially given that it’s just a short hop and an e-visa away from India.
I’ve discovered hidden beaches, password-protected bars, mangroves to kayak through and pristine forests over my last few trips to the country; it’s time to spill the secrets:
Leave your footprints on a hidden beach
You’ve reveled in the underwater world and manmade beaches of Sentosa. Now ditch the crowds to find solitude at Lazarus Island – an undiscovered, undeveloped stretch of coastline where soft white sands are caressed by gentle azure waters. To…
Dubai was never on my list of places to travel, but since I’d be there, I wasn’t going to pass it up while visiting the United Arab Emirates. While booking & planning, I initially planned to spend 2 days there – hopefully enough to get a feel for the city. I changed my mind and decided that less than 2 days should suffice, and I’m glad I made that decision. I’ll explain why later.
We left Abu Dhabi on Saturday afternoon for a short jaunt to Dubai for a little over 24 hours. Dubai is 90 minutes drive from Abu Dhabi without traffic, and easy to reach by bus or car (rental, taxi, etc.). We took a cheap Greyhound-style bus for 25 AED one-way.
It took us longer than 90 minutes because there was a dust storm that caused multiple accidents; we saw at least 30 damaged or destroyed cars on the roadside. 😐
Couldn’t even fit the whole building into the frame.
Model of Burj Khalifa inside of the building.
The view At The Top – 2nd highest observation deck (124th floor).
We planned to meet afterwards with a travel group member, but Dubai Mall (located next to Burj Khalifa and the largest mall [by total area] in the world) is so big that we couldn’t find him, and my phone died. We (minus step-dad) were also supposed to see other people from the same travel group for a party. But by then, I’m exhausted & sleepy from jet-lag and walking around; we’re annoyed about not finding the person in that humongous mall; and we were hungry. So we returned to the hotel instead. I messaged the travel group members to explain what happened, we ate at one of the hotel’s restaurants (Indian Claypot), and stayed in until check-out time Sunday afternoon.
Another person from my travel group met us at check-out. He knew where the Gold Souk was, so he led us there.
NOTE: The United Arab Emirates heavily regulate their precious metals, so unless one buys jewelry on the street (NOT recommended), one is assured that the gold (or other precious metal[s]) is of top quality.
While me and my friend walked around, step-dad and Travel Friend sat down. Step-dad didn’t tell us right away that he wasn’t feeling well (typical man), so I got annoyed when I found out. Luckily, Travel Friend had a hotel room nearby and step-dad rested there while the 3 of us went to eat. (To make a long story short – step-dad loves spicy food but this time, the food at Indian Claypot was extra spicy and tore up his stomach the next day. I bought him a couple of medications, but bread, crackers & ginger ale did the trick and he was better by the next evening.)
After we ate, we hung out a bit while step-dad rested. We left Travel Friend’s hotel a little after sunset to return to Abu Dhabi; we’d see him the next day. We got a taxi to the bus station, where we caught a bus back to Abu Dhabi and stayed with another travel group member for the rest of our stay.
Dubai is a lively city and reminds me of Manhattan… times 10. 😐 For me – a born & raised New Yorker – to say that, means something. I can also speak for my friend and step-dad (also born & raised New Yorkers) when I say that while we think Dubai is a beautiful city, it was quite overwhelming (especially as an introvert) to be around so many people, lights, and tall/large buildings & structures. So as I said in the beginning, I’m glad that we stayed for only a little over 24 hours.