Thundering into Hungary

The reason we used the world ‘thundering’ is because the country’s name would suggest a connection to the Huns. Now you might not be a fan of history, but let us tell you that these folks (the Huns) were known as ferocious horse pack warriors that literally struck deep into Europe during the end of the Roman era in the 5th century.

Their arrival signed the collapse of the Roman empire in western Europe and heralded in an age of “darkness” (hence the dark ages) when there was little or no political stability let alone social and personal safety.

But today the lands that are called Hungary is inhabited by the descendent of the Magyar tribes. Some try to link them to the Finns and Estonians, but apparently the languages are not mutually intelligible. And it became part of one of the largest European empire : Austro-Hungarian empire of the Habsburgs.

We “thundered” into Budapest in a quieter fashion, making a cue for the medieval constructs in Buda before taking a cruise on the Danube and settling in Pest. For the river divides both sides of the city today, when just about 140 years ago they were two. Enjoy the café culture of the city, and let the cool vibe of the city sink in. That’s what we did. Read all about it here. So much has changed since the time we were there.

Did you enjoy your time in Budapest? And if you had still been, would you be tempted to do so?

What is Bali to you?

If one were to do a search, Bali is probably one of the destinations that has been written about so much that there seems nothing new anyone can add to it. So we cannot profess that what we are about to share with you will.

In fact, this post is a ‘throwback’ (some folks like this term huh?) to the two occasions we did get acquainted with the island. Have a look (here) at our time there if you like.

Today our post is ask the question: what is Bali to you?

Do you have images of Hindu temples and people in traditional dress participating in ceremonies flashing in your heads? Or do you dream up of the beautiful surf that laps the white sand beach with a cocktail in hand? Yep. Those are surely two very different visions!

Some folks write about the wonderful time they spent in the forests, being robbed by monkeys (macaques really). Yet others tell of intriguing temples in seemingly nowhere, at least when one reaches the ‘entrance’ that leads to them. There are those who seem enthralled with the terraced rice fields (padi we call them), while some stay up late into the wee hours partying away.

Did you know that in Bali

  • Local vineyards produce and bottle their own wine
  • There many different craft villages where you can see artisans at work
  • Royal palaces of extinct Balinese lineages are gorgeous
  • Some of the best backdrops for golf can be attractions in themselves

What is Bali to you? What did you do when you were there?

Tourists go where Pilgrims go

Today’s handprint story is not so much about our sharing, but more about how the people, ideas and religion had crossed the deserts, mountains and of course – the seas. In particular it was an intriguing way to combine not just sightseeing, eating (compulsory) and relaxation on any journey you embark on.

The Indonesian archipelago.

You might have read our series on the Philippines some time back. You will then know that there are 7,107 islands according to offical Philipines records. But this is dwarved by that of Indonesia. Depending on who you ask, there can be between 17,508 to 18,307 of them all over the entire territorial space of the country. Obviously this means one of the most important mode of communication (and transport) would be by sea.

What would neccessitate folks sailing the seas to another far off island? Fishing? Perhaps. Visiting relatives? A long shot. Mostly likely it would be about trade and diplomacy. And it was this way that ideas and religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam) along with the physical goods traveled to Indonesia.

Nearby the city of “Jogja” are two heritage sites, one dedicated to Hinduism and another to Buddhism. Despite the ravages of time and natural disasters, they have endured. And they are magnificent indeed! We enjoyed being here to take in the history and in awe of effort people more than 1000 years ago put into their faith and devotion.

Why not have a read here to and sample what you might see and do here? Perhaps be inspired to make your own journey to these UNESCO sites?

The Caucasus. Could that be next for us?

Recently (well 3 months back), a friend of ours got on a 3-week journey across Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. You cannot imagine the amount of ‘jealousy’ (heheh) we had when we heard about that. First things that came into our mind was : “oooh it would have been wonderful to get around with your own group of friends“, “why did you not rope us in?“…

So why didn’t she?

For one reason it was a religious group. So we were reticent about joining and she knew that. Second we are completely spent bankie-wise… and thirdly, we are in the midst of a lot of work – officewise and lack of vacation leave days… Thus, the reason we were left drooling over what could have been. Don’t you have those feeling too sometimes?

But let’s get back to the matter at hand. In recent months we’ve heard and read ever so often about red dotters who have been to the Caucasus. And independently too! Now the length of time they spent across the various countries differed, they showed us how ‘old’ we’ve become… whatever happened to that youthful sense of excitement over adventure to get out there?

Shall we consider to take a plane into Baku and then map out a way to Yerevan from there? Or do we need to have detailed plans on the mode of transportation, accommodations and sights prepared before we embark? Lots of questions today. But as you might know (from our past posts) when we blog about it, we mostly actually will do it.

Have you been to the Caucasus countries before? How did you plan you journey?

Descend into the 18 levels of hell

Been to hell and back before? And if we told you that it is possible would you believe us? Yeah sure we’ve all been through “hell” before. Those who performed time in the armed services might tell you of ‘hell week’. Those going through their finals (exams) will share with you their weeks of ‘hell’ swoting for it. And then there are those at work who might swear that the week they just had was like ‘hell on earth’…

But today we are not talking about these metaphorical forms of hell.

We are referring to a place in our little red dot where you can get a good preview of what it would be like to be a soul that has been banished to this supposed pit of eternal suffering in the afterlife. At least from the view of the ancient Chinese…

And none other than at the Haw Par Villa will you find the portal to this surreal world. One where you will be fortunately just an observer. And hopefully you will come out all wiser about the virtues of being a good person. Aside from avoiding being put through eons of torture… there are true moral lessons to be learnt too.

And so we continue finally onto this next instalment of our introductions to the sights of Singapore. Interested to know more? Well click on the above link and be hyperlooped there. You’d wish this was not an escape game if you were ever to be stuck there… the only upside? It’s free.

Have you experience anything like this anywhere else in the world?

Viva Las Vegas indeed!

What happened in Vegas has to stay in Vegas right? Well yeah. Kinda set you off on a visual imagination of what can be doesn’t it? Just what would have to happen for it to not leave with you…

Now we are not gamblers. In fact, we detest it.

To be honest we expected more. The movies portrayed the casinos to be full of beautiful suave men and sculpted women. The blinking lights in the movies appear brighter and sparkles. To us the actual gambling sites were a little less glitzier than we envisioned. And we could not even find a nickel machine to try our hand! Because they seem occupied day and night.

So why would we spend a whole week – ie full 7 days in Las Vegas? Because there is definitely more to gambling and the flutter of the heart in sin city. Dodging ‘body snatchers’, seeking out free stuff to see and do, gourging on food, shopping and the bright lights… do you recall Percy being lost in the Lotus casino in the movie ‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief‘? This city might do the same to you.

Especially if time is not of an essence to you.

Read up here on what we did in Vegas that did not stay there! Did anything happen with you that needs to stay in Vegas? Oops. Did we ask you to share a secret?