Have you seen sleeping whales?

We’ve written about our snorkels and how beautiful the world underneath the seas are. But have you ever wondered, with all the tempestuous sea currents and potential predators – how does a fish sleep? Does it even sleep at all? Perhaps the naturalist or Zoologist within the midst of the readers can tell us more.

But today we are sharing with you a link (here) where you can see more of the photos taken by Franco off the coast of Dominica. Since we’ve just rambled a few days back about not seeing them – Whales, that’s what we’re talking about. It is said they don’t really sleep but snooze (ie nap?), and even then for short stints of between 6 to 25 minutes. Wow.

Sleeping Whales
Lifted from the Daily Mail

They look so majestic even as they sleep, don’t they?

We touched the tip of Mexico

Yeah. We have been dreaming about a journey across Mexico. And we had a taste of this “forbidden” fruit many years back. However, work and circumstances did not facilitate us returning for a bigger bite. If you had followed our earlier post you’d know that we were on a Caribbean cruise.

And this was the final stop before we headed back to Miami.

We had been looking forward to getting to Mexico and finally touching it. The original intent was to take a sightseeing tour to Tulum on the mainland. But the cruise ship was docked in Cozumel and the cruise line could not have conducted the tour to the Mayan sight. Because it would not be feasible from a time and distance perspective – sailing, take us away…

Sigh.

So it was with a heavy heart that we started looking around what else we can do. Well there was a tour that promised the experience of 4WD driving in the “jungle”… ok not exactly this word but something close. If you ever see that offered on your cruise, we’d recommend you skip that. However, there weren’t that much other palatable choices either. So we took it in our stride and made the best of the day.

We hope to get back to Mexico someday. This consoling short stint is all we have at this time. Have you been to Cozumel before?

So ends this jaunt at sharing our handprint stories from Canada and the Caribbean. Next, we shall bring you some interesting bits of continental United States. Heheh… look out for them!

A most glorious falls

Yes we know that there are many large and beautiful waterfalls in the world. And it is such a coincidence it is oftentimes the border between nations too. And the Niagara is no different. Like other renown sites such as Victoria falls or Iguazu falls, it sits on a human defined border.

Did you know that approximately 750,000 gallons of water fall over every second here?

We were fortunate to have spent time on both sides of the Falls, the US side first followed by the Canadian side the next day. Because you must. For trying to see it all in a day would only belittle the glorious views. At the time of our visit, it was so easy to walk across rainbow bridge between both sides without customs procedures. Yeah there was a customs officer on the US side but he was there only to ensure the crowd going across to the US side was orderly.

Go over to the Canadian side to observe all of the views. Get up high too and take in the panorama like our feature picture.

There were two beautiful days we ordered and received to enjoy the falls. Come reminisce with us our view of Niagara here. Which side of the falls (country) do you think the views of the falls are more spectacular?

Enjoy the caves of 九乡

You might recall in an earlier post we shared our handprint story of struggling with rarefied air in the highlands near the Tibetan border. If you had read the story, you would also know that we ‘evacuated’ back to lower altitudes as soon as we could to avoid worsening our bout of altitude sickness. Talk about cutting losses…

What was one to do now that we are back at a more comfortable altitude?

Why we set out exploring of course! Because we only had two days remaining, it was not possible to go far. In fact, we only had the hotel nights in Kunming city itself, thus leaving for another city such as Lijiang was not possible without paying more and changing the flights home. Hey you’ve still gotta stick with budget right? Afterall one can still save for a return in the future. So where did we go?

The caves are alive with the sound of (Yunnan tribal) music… Yeah. That was sure fun.

But that was not all. We also visited a tea institute where the senior students host visitors and provide an appreciation of the prized tea of the highlands – Pu’er (普洱) tea. Not only are they aged for long long time, they are said to have wellness effects too. We bought a couple of ‘cakes’ of tea home and are still drinking them.

Yunnan is a fascinating mix of different ethnic cultures and natural beauty. Find out more about our cave exploration here and tell us if you’d do the same!

Suzhou (苏州) and 太湖

Having read all about Hangzhou’s West Lake (here), we hope your appetite has been whet for more stories of what short road trips one can take while in Shanghai. Literally a stone’s throw away in today’s terms, Suzhou can be counted as one of the places where a day’s journey can yield a treasure trove of experiences that brings you back to the time of the Song/Sung dynasty.

Whereas Hangzhou is a city of tea and home of Longjin (龍井), Suzhou is a city of silk it is said. And when we were in the city it seemed evey corner there were vendors trying to sell you the most wonderful quality fabric… let’s just say we were not interested to buy any…

What some might know of the other side of the city is its famed gardens. Home to quite a few of the largest private classical gardens in China, they were the abode of bureaucrats or merchant princes from a golden age. For as one of the cities of eastern China, it had grown wealthy from being the terminus of the grand canal – the source of booming trade that flowed between north and south China, someday which we want to explore too.

But Suzhou is not just the city. It is also near lake Tai, one that is so large that it continues to supply freshwater to surrounding cities. Let this essay enchant you into perhaps not just road tripping there, but stay longer. Have you been the this half of heaven?

West Lake (西湖) in Hangzhou

You’ve read about artsy water towns in East China in our previous article (here). Northern Italy has a plethora of beautiful lakes in addition to its large water town (heheh – Venice). How about China? Can it offer anything to rival Italy?

Perhaps not rival. Afterall no two places are the same. No?

The cities of Eastern China along the tributary rivers of the mighty Yangtze had always been blessed with having a good mix of fertile valleys fed by plenty of water. And so Hangzhou is no different. Set within the city is a lake that had inspired many a Chinese poet or painter. They were mesmerizd by the wondrous beauty that the lake supposedly exuded. So famous the lake was that even emperors came to visit.

Of course Hangzhou is more than just the lake. Afterall, it was the capital of the Southern Sung dynasty. An imperial capital for 150 years until it was taken by the Mongols resulting in regime change. Our stay though revolved around the lake and all that is to see here. And you should know we do not stay grounded in one location for too long when on our journeys. We spent almost 4 full days there. Do you wonder why we were struck by the lake? Was it really so alluring? Read all about our poetic journey to Hangzhou’s famed lake.

Perhaps you might book yourself into one of the new luxury hotels there and enjoy the view? Would you be inspired to become a poet by the lake?