|November 2008||Mumbai, INDIA|
|August 2008||Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA|
|July 2008||Oslo, Flam & Bergen, NORWAY|
|June 2008||Shanghai, CHINA|
Just got back from a trip to Mumbai so it is a bit of as shock to hear about all the trouble out there now. Not much time for any sightseeing but did get to see the Hanging Gardens that feature numerous hedges carved into the shapes of animals.
The Hanging Gardens
Like Shanghai in China, Kuala Lumpur is a very modern and vibrant city. I can’t resist going inside tall buildings and therefore had to visit the KL Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers. The Twin Towers are connected by a Skybridge open to visitors. It's free but only a limited number of visitors are allowed in each day and only about 15 people are allowed on the bridge at a time so I skipped breakfast at the hotel to queue up at 07.00 a.m. in the morning. By 09.30 a.m. I was on the Skybridge.
View looking down from the Skybridge connecting the Twin Towers
With the completion of the Burj Dubai skyscraper the Petronas Twin Towers now rank
as the 4th tallest building in the world but are still the world’s tallest twin structures
The Batu Caves located just north of Kuala Lumpur have a temple dedicated to Lord Murugan within the caves. Just below the cave with the temple is the 'dark cave' where you can get a guided tour to see stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones and other features of the cave including many different species of animals most of which are invertebrates dependant on guano produced by bats roosting in the cave. To preserve the environment of the dark cave electric lighting has not been installed (and flash photography is forbidden), the guide using a torch to show visitors around.
Entrance to Batu Caves, a Hindu shrine
Inside the Caves
Macaque monkeys roam freely in the caves
Went to the Saloma Theatre Restaurant one evening for some delicious Malaysian and Chinese cuisine together with a show by dancers dressed in traditional costumes. At the end of the show members of the audience are invited up onto the stage to join in themselves (no pictures forgot camera). Other sites of interest in KL include the old railway station notable for its architecture built in 1910 and now a budget hotel. I also visited Chinatown and just around the corner discovered two old temples. I cooled off in the KL Bird Park and the Butterfly Park.
Old KL railway station now the Heritage Station Hotel
Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple
Kuan Ti Taoist Temple
KL Bird Park - feeding time for the hornbills
Putrajaya located south of Kuala Lumpur was built to be the new government administrative centre of Malaysia to ease overcrowding and congestion in Kuala Lumpur. I found some impressive buildings in Putrajaya such as the Perdana Putra (an office complex for the Malaysian Prime Minister) but there were not many people around. The most interesting thing about Malaysia is the people, a mixture of native Malays (forming about 60% of the population) with large Chinese and Indian minorities all apparently living in harmony.
Perdana Putra, Putrajaya, Malaysia
We did the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour for our annual holiday this year making our way from Oslo to Bergen by train, boat and bus all on one ticket! It’s a very beautiful country but incredibly expensive a bottle of ordinary wine in a restaurant costing around 40 GBP. The weather was not too bad although rain is common especially on the west coast. The Norwegians have a saying that it only rains between the showers - just like Manchester then! Spent the first two days at the Perminalen Hotel situated in the centre of Oslo – very good value for money considering prices in Norway and recommended by the Insight Pocket Guide to Oslo & Bergen but book well in advance if you want to get a room here. Sightseeing activities included the Akerhus fortress, a two hour cruise of Oslo fjord and the Vigeland Sculpture Park. We also took the ferry to Bygdøy to visit the Norwegian Folk Museum with its old wooden buildings including a stave church and the Viking Ship Museum. Because it was raining on and off I did not take many pictures in Oslo. We then took a train from Oslo to the mountain station at Myrdal and from here travelled to Flåm on one of the worlds steepest railway lines much of the journey through twisting tunnels that spiral in and out of the mountain. Although it was July there were still patches of snow on the mountain. The train stopped at one point so that we could get out and see a spectacular waterfall.
View of Oslo from the Akerhus fortress
The mountain railway station at Myrdal
Stayed at the Fretheim Hotel in the village of Flåm for the night and then continued our journey by boat sailing out of the Aurlandsfjord and into the Nærøyfjord, one of the narrowest fjords in Europe before disembarking at Gudvangen. Our journey continued by coach down the steep and spectacular hairpin bends of Stalheimskleiva the steepest road in Norway then on to Voss and finally by train to Bergen where we stayed at the Augustin Hotel near the Bryggen wharf for a couple of nights before flying back to Manchester.
Rita in the Fretheim Hotel restaurant
View of the Bryggen wharf
We took the funicular cable car to the look-out point on the Fløien Mountain for a fantastic view of the city of Bergen.
The Bergen funicular
Bergen from the Fløien Mountain
Just in Shanghai for a week on a business trip but managed to see a few sights. The Oriental Pearl Tower has a space module, revolving restaurant and the Shanghai History Museum giving a perspective of the city’s past particularly the colonial period is located in the basement. I enjoyed an evening cruise on the Huangpu River with glorious night time views of both old and new Shanghai (unfortunately I had left my camera on the daylight setting so the pictures are not worth showing). Wendy took us to Lubolang a famous restaurant said to have been visited by Queen Elizabeth II,
Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro (but not all at the same time!). We shared an assortment of little dishes all delicious – I tried jellyfish for the first time. The restaurant is near the nine-twist zigzag bridge in Yuyuan Garden. On Saturday we visited Zhujiajiao an ancient water town located near Dianshan Lake about an hour’s drive from Shanghai. Regarding the food I am now an enthusiastic advocate of steamed dumplings.
I am in the Space Module of the Oriental Pearl Tower
Water town near Shanghai
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