Fun Time Riding in Style

Sometime you just want to party in style. This was definitely one of them. Normally my friends and I just go to a local bar and get drunk with my friends, but it was my girlfriend that suggested a party bus, and your website was so helpful. All I had to do was click here … Continue reading “Fun Time Riding in Style”

Sometime you just want to party in style. This was definitely one of them. Normally my friends and I just go to a local bar and get drunk with my friends, but it was my girlfriend that suggested a party bus, and your website was so helpful. All I had to do was click here for party buses.I was really surprised when my girlfriend suggested that we look into renting a party bus or a party limo bus for a guy’s night out. I guess she knew I had really been working hard at work and had a lot of stress lately. She wanted to be able for me and my friends to just cut loose and have fun and not be concerned with how we would get home.

One of her friends had used another company’s limo service, but they only had limos so she had gone online and found your company’s website. You seem to be everything we were looking for, the right size at the right price. I didn’t know at the time, but my girlfriend was thinking it we had a good time she might rent one for her and her friends too. Continue reading “Fun Time Riding in Style”

Lake Bled – Amazing Craft of Nature

Lake Bled is located in the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia. The natural landscapes surrounding the lake are amazing. It’s no surprise that Bled was a favorite destination for President Tito, who was spending a lot of time in his villa located on the lakeside.

The Lake Bled is the main touristic attraction in Slovenia, and one of the most prominent symbols of the country, along with the Triglav peak. It is a glacial lake on altitude of 475 meters. The total area of the lake is 1,438 square km. The astonishing natural beauty under the Alps can be reached in only 55 km from the Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

What makes the lake unique is the Church of the Assumption, which is located on the Bled Island on the lake. That is probably the most beautiful landscape that there ever was in whole Yugoslavia. It is an endlessly romantic place with a 99 stone-step staircase that show the way to the Church. Every young couple in Slovenia dreams of climbing that staircase in order to pronounce the faithful “yes” on a spectacular wedding on the Island.

Besides the Church, the Bled Island has other historic buildings, like the bell-tower and chaplain’s house. A lot of myths and legends are connected with this place, because the spectacular sight was definitely capable of awakening overflowing imaginations and fantasies throughout the centuries.

Another part of the rich touristic program at the lake is the Bled Castle. It is a medieval castle built on a giant cliff above the city, offering a staggering view on the Lake Bled. It is commonly regarded as the oldest Slovenian castle and is definitely a tourist attraction that is taking the attention of the visitors.

In 1960, the lakeside settlements Grad, Mlino, Recica, Zagorice and Zelece merged and founded the city of Bled. It is believed that the name of the city and the lake is of pre-Slavic source and there is no defined meaning of the term Bled. It is the hometown of Iztok Cop, Olympic gold medalist in rowing. In the time of Yugoslavia, Lake Bled was selected as a host of the World Rowing Championships in 1966, 1979 and 1989. After the independence of Slovenia, the Rowing Championship was again held at the lake in 2011.

A figure from 1979 says that the city had a staggering 544 062 touristic overnight stays throughout the whole year, which shows the importance of Bled for the overall tourism in then-Yugoslavia and Slovenia nowadays. It is a fact – who can remain indifferent on such a gorgeous natural beauty?

Witch of OZ – How I Met a Witch in Australia!

It was more than ten years back in 2004 that I traveled to Sydney, Australia. I was travelling not on a family vacation or a holiday, but on work. I were there on a software consulting project (don’t want to go into more details of this boring topic), and this was my second trip to the beautiful city. I had earlier spent three months in Sydney, but due to project related work-pressures I was hardly able to explore the city, and neither did I get a chance to really meet anyone there. So this time I wanted to see around the city and make friends there. I never knew that I would be soon meeting and making good friends with a witch in Australia!

Yahoo messenger was in vogue those days and with some searching, I was able to connect to a lady. She was from Sydney, appeared much older than me, but was fun chatting. So when I told her that I’ll be travelling to her city in a week and was looking to find a friend there, she was game.

I was staying at the Travelodge Macquarie North Ryde Hotel, near the Macquarie Shopping Center. Once I landed and joined work I updated her and we fixed a time on a Saturday morning to meet. She came to meet me on a Saturday morning at my hotel, dressed in black from head to toe. She also had pitch black hair and was wearing black shades over her eyes. We met at the lobby and then after we were acquainted, she offered to drive me around the suburbs of Sydney to which I readily agreed.. While I was boarding her car, I seemed to notice a little sticker on the rear of the car.It red ” My other car is a broom!!”

The insides of her car had everything.. from used coke cans to heaps of cigarette buds in the ashtray. There were lots of papers, dress items, pillows, additional sleepers, a towel and a couple of small cardboard boxes at the back. The front seat was full of ash and the car reeked of cigarette smoke. Additionally, the side view mirrors had cobwebs on them. The car was dirty!!!

Northern beaches, Sydney.

The mind kept looking for answers as we began chatting on weather, then about the city, then about Australia, then about India ( my country) then about my religion – Hinduism. She said she knew about Kali and Krishna ( which are Hindu Gods and Goddesses) and said she also worships them. Things were not matching.

“Are you a Christian?” I asked with some confusion.

“No, I am a Wiccan. Do you know what is Wicca?” She asked me.

“Well, no,” I replied.

And she explained about the Pagan mother religion that was in vogue before Christianity came. The religion which is connected to King Arthur and his Excalibur, and Sir Lancelot and the round table of the Knights. She explained how wizards and witches had been given different explanations as Christianity came to power and started to spread all over Europe and the European colonies.

“Wizards are good people. They are liked. Harry Potter is a wizard and everyone loves him. But witches are bad, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Well I guess so,” I replied with no idea of why it is so.

She smiled and told me that theirs was a maternal religion and it was the women who had superior knowledge in society, of science, religion, medicine and science. They were the pillars of the society in the Wiccan era and men flocked to them in times of need. But when Christianity came, it was difficult to convert these erudite and knowledgeable females and so Christianity gave them a bad name. That’s why these witches bore the brunt of the ire and thus perished over time. “Joan of Arc is one such example, who was burned to the Cross for not falling in line with the religious doctrine then” ” she said.

With that we went on driving along the beaches and coasts of North Sydney. We spent the whole day walking and driving around with turquoise blue water and white sandy beaches all around. We broke for some lunch of chicken burgers and cola around 2 pm. All along we were chatting about our customs, traditions, society and religious views. She was equally interested to know about our traditions as I was about hers. It was something new to me.

As afternoon approached she asked me whether she wants me to drop me off at my hotel or would I like to go over to her place for a small refreshment and then maybe she can drop off. By then I was so much interested about her and her life that I immediately agreed to visit her place. We reached her home in about 15 minutes from Coogie Beach.

Her house was a walk down a few steps from the motor able road at a secluded place. The steps down to her main door were adorned with miniature dolls and figures of toads, bats, rabbits and cats. Some of them made an automated sound as we approached. As soon she opened her main door, a couple of cats and a one-eyed puppy ran up to her and started to meow and woof around her feet. I could hear the cries of cockatoos immediately too, as if they have all become aware of their mistress returning home. The house had a strange heavy smell, one of heady incense and a fumigator was throwing fumes from a corner. The little foyer had a huge glass box and I noticed something inside. One corner of her foyer also had a large man size mannequin of ISIS ( the Egyptian Goddess, as she educated me later!!). There were tonnes of books on a large book shelf on one side of the hall. I peeked into them as I am naturally fond of books. There were large collections of magic, spells, love potions, divine connections, spirituality, witchcraft, Psychic foretelling, charms, love, spirituality and Wiccan worship. I just became more interested and attracted to this whole new world of knowledge, wisdom and wizardry. I could not resist myself in checking a few of them.

“What do you do with all these kinds of books?”, I asked her in my perplexity.

“I am a Witch”, she smiled.

That was how I met Carole Chapman, one of the most wonderful person I have met. In the coming days and months that I knew her, I found her to be a very warmhearted, loving and caring person. She was immensely knowledgeable, witty, in tune with the world around her and a very outspoken person. During the next few months of my stay there at Sydney, I came to know her friends, her coven, her society and the witchcraft that they all perform for the betterment of their lives. I came to know about her religion and the false stigma it carries around in the Christian world. She was one of the few direct students of famed Wiccan teacher, Alex Sanders, who starred in the movie “The Wickerman”.

Sadly Carole left us all for Summerland in July 2011. Her Facebook profile can be found under the link in my Blog. She was an authority in Wicca, and Wiccan tradition as I found out. and was referred as the Queen Witch in Australia. She was also a dear friend whom I miss.

The Best Adventure Holidays for 2015

If you are one who loves adventures, just the thrill of exploring new places and making the most of those destinations then we have the perfect solution. So this list is for anyone who considers himself or herself a dare devil. Well, here is a list that makes most daredevils scared and excited. So visit these interestingly adventurous locations to get the adventure experience you always wanted.

1. Avoriaz, France

Mountain biking in Avoriaz is a tremendously large scale sporting activity that you can enjoy here. The destination offers the best trails and the finest trainers in the businesses that are sure to make a motorcyclist out of you. So let your inner fears left behind as you try this adventure filled journey through the rough roads and only your bike on your side.

2. Sailing, Cape Horn, Chile

When talking about sailing all we can think about is clear seas and sunny weather, well, this may not be a case here; from stormy seas to ocean waves the whole experience is sure to teach a few things. The sailing in the region is about taking those deepest fears out and riding the ocean. So book a boat and learn the art of sailing in these fine waters.

3. Ice Marathon, Antarctica

Looking for a chilly experience, well, we have a match for you. The ice marathon in Antarctica is a real thing and is a marathon on ice, yes; you heard it right a marathon that takes place on the ice beds of Antarctica. The contest sees a lot of tourists all the year round due to its uniqueness and daring sights. So be a part of this unique and innovative experience and observe Antarctica in a way like never before.

4. Swimming, Sporades Isles, Greece

When all you need is your swimming gear and a heart of a lion, well that’s a trip worth making. Take a dive in the crystal clear waters in the region and explore the waters like never before. The destination offers a once in a lifetime chance to actually swim in the clear waters with the sun on your head and thee waves by your sides.

5. Mount Baker, Washington, USA

Climbing the Mount Baker is no easy task and is an adventure that even the most famed hikers would remember in reminiscence. The destination is great to explore and the main activity is climbing the mountain that is done with soaring insignia by travelers every year. So pack up your hiking gear and be ready for the hike of your life!

6. Rock climbing, Yangshuo, China

Rock climbing is an experience every adventure seeker must do in a lifetime. Yangshou, China has some of the best rock climbing arenas and peaks that you can enjoy. The destination is known as the adventure capital of China and is a heaven for adventure seekers. Rock climbing activities is famed in the county due to the natural topography of the region. There are many indoor and natural places where you can enjoy rock climbing at.

7. Whitewater rafting, Mosquito Coast, Honduras

Gushing waters, pumping adrenaline and just your raft to save you from the toils of the waters is what whitewater rafting is all about. The voyage is considered one of the best experiences when it comes to adventure sports. Give the sport a try and you are guaranteed to have a memory you will never forget.

8. Expedition Amazon

Exploring the amazon forest is one such trip that any traveller hungry for adventure should take. With picturesque scenery and breath-taking views the destination is sure to grasp your attention. But what makes this destination the perfect place for adventure is the flora and fauna in the region and also the fact that there are many areas which have not been explored.

Best Place for Climbing Mount Kinabalu

I have less than a year until I reach the big FOUR-ZERO. Although many say that forty is the new thirty – after all, we are on a whole getting more health-conscious, spending countless hours at the gym getting toned and fit – the upcoming birthday is still a time for reflection. I watched a post on YouTube not so long ago about age and one’s career. According to the man being interviewed – a man born into a poor family in China whose net worth, at the age of 50, is into the billions (of US dollars) – one’s career should be set in stone and on a spiral upward by the time the age of forty comes along.

If I follow this rule, and with five months to go to my fortieth birthday, I think I may be in trouble where my career is concerned. But as I look back on my life, I realise I have many life experiences to be proud of. A unique one, particularly as a Sabahan, was the four years I spent roughing it in the African bush. Contrary to the notion many held that I was miles away from home playing with wild animals (this idea might have been encouraged by some of the photos I sent back of interesting animal encounters), I was putting my skills to use, co-managing safari camps in the largest National Park in Kenya.

Even earlier in my childhood, a fond memory I have is climbing Mount Kinabalu. I took on the challenge as a teenager twice, joining church and school youth groups to conquer what was then noted as the 4,101 meter tall mountain. The fun was in gathering together during our pre-climb exercise sessions. The joy was the comraderie with close friends. The aches and pains did not even come into question.

As a young adult, I climbed Mount Kinabalu twice more, this time paying more attention to the journey itself. This is a mountain that has attracted people from all over the world. While many retain the same attitude I had before – the sole goal is to reach the peak by sunrise, it is encouraging to note that interest in the surrounding flora and fauna is on the rise. The mountain that is embodied in many logos and letterheads, for tourism companies and otherwise, is a proud feature for us in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo. Yet, more than 10 years after my last climb, I realise that my appreciation of this mountain has grown even more. A component I had not considered during my climbs is the cultural value of the mountain. I am grateful to have developed a deep understanding of this through my work with the Global Diversity Foundation, an NGO dedicated to promoting biocultural diversity. Mount Kinabalu is a sacred site for the indigenous Dusuns living in the area. Their deceased loved ones are buried facing the mountain so that their spirits can see the mountain as they begin their journey to the afterlife.

It is with this renewed appreciation that I revel in anticipation at climbing Mount Kinabalu once again, flamed even more by the photos that have spread like wildlife over social media on the newly opened Ranau Trail. I have taken it as a personal challenge to climb Mount Kinabalu in 2016.

The Black Sea Triangle

A seismic shift in the global power struggle between the West and the BRICS world has shifted to Central Europe. Russian and NATO military hardware confront each other in what was, until a short time ago, a sea that was of little interest to the rest of us.

We have all heard of the Bermuda Triangle, the mysterious sea where ships and aircraft disappear. Few have heard of the Black Sea Vortex. Could the inexplicable disappearance of a Russian or NATO warship spark a war that would leave Western Europe and the United States a glass-strewn thermonuclear shell-hole?

Turkish fishermen were the first to bring to attention what is known as the Black Sea Vortex of Death. The location is Snake Island set in the Danube Delta. For centuries the region has been a hotbed of tension between Ukraine and Romania but now attracts wider significance.

Historically, Russian sailors have been wary of the phenomena of disappearing ships since the 13th Century. They record a whirl of white water that swallows everything on and over this sea, even flights of birds.

Are these flights of fancy or is there something in such tales? Russian and Ukrainian scientists are agreed. The region shows magnetic abnormality. This information came to light when, during the Soviet era, a Red Army report disclosed that a warship in May 1944 had disappeared without trace. In broad daylight and perfect sea conditions the heavily armed Russian cruiser simply disappeared when south of Crimea.

The baffling loss was reported by the commander of an accompanying warship. His report told of a ‘black fog and a bolt of lightning that, when it cleared left the horizon clear’. The Soviet warship had incomprehensibly disappeared. There was no wreckage, no trace, nothing to suggest its earlier existence.

In December 1945, five Soviet bombers disappeared over the area. They left neither trace nor explanation. The last radio messages recorded a thick fog blanketing their cockpit canopies.

Equally odd the disappearance of eighty oil-drilling platform personnel as recently as 1991. Contact between the shore and the rig abruptly ceased. Repeated attempts to contact the rig were futile.

Sent to investigate, a military squadron discovered a drifting rig platform upon which there were no people evident and no signs of disturbance. The area was combed but nothing was found. This incident has its parallel in the Mary Celeste incident that occurred in 1872.

Inexplicable ship disappearances are today still commonplace. I recall the time when, in 1962, moored at a pier in the Red Sea, we sailors remarked on the cruise liner berthed next to us. The weather was blissfully quiet.

This adjacent moored vessel set sail the night before our departure. That night, both the liner and its passengers disappeared. We were told the liner was the victim of a rogue electric storm. I heard no more. The sea remains a very mysterious place.

Roving in the Woods

As I write this, it sends shivers down my spine even to this date, though with a difference. Today, I am neither frightened nor terrified just because I sit to share this from the coziest corner of my war room.

I went there to spot those winged, feathered, 2-legged warm-blooded and egg-laying vertebrates from the Class Aves to see their flight of life as free agents. It was a visit to Bird Sanctuary at Kumarakom, a beautiful tourist destination near Kottayam, Kerala.

Of late I nurtured this secret passion and decided to take the plunge, oblivious of the fact that a 2km traipse would I need to tread before my eyes meet theirs.

We arrived at the main gate beyond which the vehicles were disallowed. A few steps more and we were at the gate. The security guard saw our entry tickets and guided us about closure of Tower no 1. That meant a 100 more steps to reach Tower no 2. He also advised us to keep guided by our nose till the end.

We took our first steps toward where we’re destined to – to spot the avid flyers.

“2 kilometers walk, and that too, through this dense wet forest?!” “That’s a snarl.” I murmured incoherently.

A few steps down and I began to realize a faint sense of foreboding… not because my feet were unhappy, but it was the silence – too loud to get my rejoinder.

I went mute…

The brew of thoughts: ‘I want to go back, I don’t want to visit’ began to spill out. At one point, I nearly skipped a heart-beat. Let me say, I was brutally honest about the ‘fear’ barrier of a jungle walk when even the breeze has not woken up.

This was well scripted on my mind. I had no solution to this new normal since it was I who put this song to ‘play’ and ‘repeat’ automation – right from the moment we landed at Kochi airport, “I MUST visit Bird Sanctuary” – as if something was keeping me from it – not once, or twice but at least 3 times!

So, it was I, and not you, him or her, who had to find solution for moving past – the fear, dread and wonder!

My husband sensed my fears. He held my hand. He also took my bag in his custody, and if there be a need, I knew he would hold and backpack me through this timber trail.

Something held me back… I wanted to react against the inner system that lay dormant with known fear. What, if a reptile passed by? What, if I stamped on it or what if some unforeseen gets seen? I erected one1000 and 1 thoughts on a baseless foundation.

My eyes were alert and roved constantly.

My husband separated a big branch from a tree and handed me with a ribbing: “Just hit if something approaches you.” You never really know, Sweetie!

This light-hearted jesting made for the irksomeness that tick bites gave me on the bare portions. The redness and itching kept aggravating. The insects didn’t leave me. I was worrisome I may not get Lyme (disease caused by tick bite in the heavily wooded areas)! Hence, Tip No.1: Cover yourself to optimum at such places.

Well, my husband knows me well – like any other does. He calmed my worries. I loosened my imaginary leash with charming unpredictability and headed for the walk. With the fear poured out of the spout, I started walking with confidence. I was determined to rebel for a higher purpose; no matter it was a slippery slope!

All through this journey, nature was 0 kilometers away. And, it was beautiful!

Another hindrance was Kumarakom – the name itself, and it was funny!

Somehow, the spellings didn’t gel with my tongue initially. I had to make a mnemonic something like we used to memorize the ‘hard to grasp’ and our self-styled ways to “Ratta Maar… ”

To cite an example: My brain was always short on remembering the planets, so my father helped me thus: “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos.” And, lo! I always placed them right in the Solar system, thenceforth.

The pneumonic of Kumarakom was my creation. We have a friend with second name “Kumar” who couldn’t accompany us. So I kept saying Kumarakom, something like, persuading them to come with us.

Well… !

It’s is a lovely tourism destination near the city of Kottayam in Kerala, just 15Kms from the nearest railhead Kottayam. Kochi, which is at 94kms, is the nearest airport. It takes you there in 2 and half hours. Taxi costs about Rs.2000.

This town sits on Vembanad lake on the Eastern bank of which lies this sanctuary (also Vembanad Sanctuary).

This is the largest freshwater lake in India, stretching about 110kms. Almost all resorts have close proximity to its shores so one can imagine the magnificent view even from one’s rooms. The in-flux of houseboats, country boats, and speed boats all abound, ready to take you anywhere and everywhere on a vast ocean of backwaters that Kerala is so famous for.

The bigger the hole in your pocket the more the fun here! Water transit is exorbitantly priced!

The experience of all kinds of boats is differently unique. The country boats introduce you to a fisherman’s village life through the narrow lanes of backwaters. You have the virtual water roads, so to say, lined up on both sides by majestic coconut palms trees.

Almost all resorts own their houseboats which take you to a day or overnight cruise.

Kerala beckons… no wonder it’s called God’s own country.

We go there year after year and build more appetite. The word appetite takes me to the gourmand’s delight. For non-vegetarians and Kerala cuisine lovers, it’s matchless.

I cannot recommend vegan food.

Going back to my forest walk – Hardly did we walk for 15mnts that I sighted a cemented bridge over backwaters with a near broken edge. We had to cross it. There were several to follow later. It broke my focus syndrome. I stood there for a minute indecisively…

The first persuasive lesson from my husband came here, after which I could walk convincingly. We spotted another couple making us 4. We exchanged pleasantries and continued our walk.

It was a long walk with safe hurdles. It rained the previous night so intermittently we stamped on the wet soil. The narrow lanes of backwaters were lull except for some occasional sounds and walk of waterbirds, and the only transport to the watch towers was your own lower extremities.

The trees on both sides of the pavement stood secretly still.

Barring the hoardings by the Kerala Tourism at 2 or 3 turnings, we were only reading our minds walking on a path that had no switchback. Our eyes could scarcely see beyond 10 steps. Eleventh step would turn to a new horizon – not quite like The Lombard street of San Francisco, but it was definitely an uneventful stretch where we could not fathom the upcoming.

Having traversed nearly 1 and half kilometers we met another couple with a small kid. We eavesdropped on them. The husband was too tired to lift the toddler.

Here comes my Tip no. 2: A walk with small children, please do not consider. Let them grow their wings to see the winged creatures. I wouldn’t say it’s an unsafe trod, but the long stretch requires a definite watch management for the bambinos.

We finally arrived, a bit breathless and gasped to look at Tower no 2 – the observatory point. Having found it closed we walked a bit more to approach a dead end. We were thirsty.

My 3rd tip: Carry some water with you as the climate makes you sweat and you need hydration even in early mornings. Remember, it’s a coastal town.

We climbed up the zig-zag iron stairs. The view was awesome. The narrow stairs allowed only one person to stand at one level. As we went up the ladder top, a big lock welcomed us. It could frustrate us had we not seen the guard approaching soon, accompanied by 5 more couples. He opened the lock. We all went up to have the view our walk was focused at.

And, the disappointment lay here…

Since we went there in the off-season for bird sighting, Egrets, Waterfowl, Cuckoo, Owl and Heron – all went missing. All we could see were the White Pelicans swirling around at the top branches. But the walk was worth it, though a bit rugged.

For the same reason the article title was about the walk and not about birds.

I framed the nature forever in my mind…

Value addition: It is the first scientifically formed and preserved sanctuary in India with about 200 species of birds. It dates back to 1840 when the founder Alfred George Baker brought up Kumarakom village and this sanctuary, by reclaiming 500 acres of wetlands from the lake and planted mangrove trees into 14 acres for birds to help adopt this as their home. The climatic peculiarities of this region helped further.

We were on our return now. I felt like a free bird. I was able to smile, chat and also walk my own way. What was fearful to start with turned fancy post -visit.

I learned that a tourist’s place can’t be hazardous. The Tourism Department takes care of our fear, safety, joy and adventure. It gave me the best kick-start of the day!

Fear… ? What fear?? I thoroughly enjoyed this long stretch!

Richie Norton says, “To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around.”

I was happy I redefined myself and completed my walk. If I happen to visit again it will be between November and February so I could write about birds. I took some pictures on the return that’s why couldn’t bring the essence of early dew and denseness of the forest before sunlight, and neither could I capture the un-trodden wetness.

Places to Visit on the Costa Calida, Spain

Having holidayed here for several years and now spending our winters here I would like to introduce you to places we found of interest and you might enjoy too! First I will tell you about the area. Murcia covers quite a large district and extends inland into the countryside whereas the Costa Calida is the coastal area in the region, just south of Costa Blanca.

The Mar Menor is an inland sea formed by two strips of land that nearly join leaving a small water way between them. This creates a warm shallow inland sea. Small boats could pass through the gap but the water stretches out from the beaches a considerable distance making it an ideal spot for families to enjoy beach trips, and children to bathe in the warm shallow waters.

The beaches are mostly of golden sand a little paler to the north of the area towards the white sand of the Costa Blanca, becoming darker further south, but sandy and in places rocks stand out of the water.

The southern spit of land is highly populated with holiday facilities, high-rise buildings, hotels, apartments, restaurants, bars and shops. The northern spit has been created into a pleasant walkway between the Mediterranean and the inner sea. Popular mud bathing takes place in the summer and is a tradition for curing various ailments, with built-up mud bathing platforms along the path.

San Pedro del Pinatar, Santiago de la Ribera and San Javier are towns along the coastline, providing for all your daily requirements. San Javier has a small airport also known as Murcia airport, which doesn’t have much activity during the winter months. Alicanti about an hour by road, situated in Costa Blanca, also has an airport servicing the area. Alicanti is a more populated area for those holiday makers preferring a livelier holiday.

Just north of Costa Calida are two tiny coastal towns situated right on the beach, Le Mojon and Pillar de la Horadada. Their white beaches backed by sand dunes stretch down to the Mediterranean sea and are virtually empty this time of year. Le Mojon is my favourite beach.

Alcazares, a sailing and water-sports beach-side town lies to the south followed by a number of villages along the coast-line. Cartagena is a large port where cruise ships stop off. Following the coastline round are more villages until you come to Peurto Mazarron a delightful area with a lovely harbour and quay-side filled with luxury motor and sailing boats and smart restaurants.

It is now December and the daytime temperature is about 20 degrees. There is so much to explore to suit all tastes, Mucia town is the capital of the region, there are mountain-walks, café culture, many fiestas and parades, we love it here and think you will too.

You too maybe thinking of developing a small hobby business, to help fund your lifestyle and give you an interest for your spare time, I can recommend it, as it is great fun watching your business grow.

What are your dreams for the future, is it to live somewhere warm, retire early, build a hobby business, travel the world, the choice is endless if you set your mind to exploring what is right for you. Whatever your dreams are make a plan and follow it, it takes a while to execute a plan don’t leave it until its too-late!

The Elusive Tigress

It was around 6:00 AM. The excitement has started building up, slowly. Yes we are just entering into the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve.

Understandably so. Because, of all the Tiger reserves in India, the probability of sighting the striped cat is maximum here, we were told. But will we sight one?

As we get underway the welcome arch, and take the gravelled path, all our senses are focussed on the big cat – will we hear a roar, will we find it hidden behind those bushes… did we see a movement behind the tiger grass..?

The gravelled road gives way to muddy track, and we are now in front of a natural arch – an age old banyan tree. This is the favourite haunt of ‘..’, the guide speaks of a young adult. Here all tigers have a number, and the favourite ones have a name. Seems the young adult had some other pressing business and didn’t wait for us!

When we cross the arch of the banyan tree, the terrain changes abruptly, and so does the vegetation. And our first stop is a huge tree, atop which sits dozens of langurs, a monkey species. Very uncharacteristic of them, they are minding their own business, and not at all noisy. Then from nowhere comes a single high decibel shrill from the treetop, and suddenly the jungle is alive. The Langurs move higher on the trees, playful kids were picked up by the mother langurs to safety, spotted deers, so far not spotted by us run helter skelter… Our guide whispers ‘ call given.. he is somewhere here’. Our saucer eyed wait didn’t fructify. The deers have started munching their breakfast, and langur kids have started playing again.

We move on. The majestic Ranthambhore fort on one side, and tiger grass on the other side giving us company. We stop on the banks of a lake. The island in the middle houses a ruin. May be, the ruin houses a tiger, we whispered.

Parrots were seen feeding from the damp shore. A fearless Treepie came and sat on a kid’s palm, Kingfishers sat on branches, gazing deep into the water, while egrets and cranes were busy fishing. A family of wild boars came to quench their thirst, unmindful of the human intruders. The time for the tiger hasn’t come yet.

We moved on to another water hole. Spotted deers were grazing around, and until our guide pointed out, we didn’t notice the crocodiles dozing on the banks. What a coexistence..

Next we stopped to see a playful fight between a pair of Sambar deers. From quite a distance, their locking horns seemed graceful and sounded rhythmic. Watching it was a Nilgai. Such a fascinating animal,the Nilgai, it looks like a horse and deer bundled in one, and well camouflaged behind its habitat.

A tigress and her two cubs were sighted in the adjacent zone, we were told. But, we weren’t lucky,so far.

It is already an hour and a half. Time to get back.

Maybe we will see one on our way back, the guide tries to soothe us.

The disappointment of not able to sight a tiger, where you are sure of seeing one is written all over our face.

A red giant of a mountain stands there with all majesty. The ages old gum tree(s) with their white trunks and wide green leaves greets the sun’s first rays. The ruin looks at its reflection in the lake, thinks about its glorious past. Peacocks dance happily, to no one’s tunes.

None of these mesmerizing sights impress us. ‘The Elusive Tigeress’ weighs heavily on all our minds.

“The Tigress could have been near us, at many places. It only didn’t choose to show herself to us”, was our guide’s parting note.

The well mannered little kid is all a happy Twitter now. She was chirping “The Tree pie ate my chocolate pie.”

… How I wish, I were a kid like her.

A Family Advanture At The Night Safari

Today is the last day of school holiday. My family decided at the last minute that we would go for a family advantage to the night safari.
The Singapore Night safari is the world’s first wildlife park occupying a land area of 40 hectares of dense secondary forest. This park opens at night from 6.00pm to 12.00 midnight. Here, you will find over 900 nocturnal animals of 130 species.

The Singapore Night Safari has been a six times winner of the Singapore’s Tourism Awards’ Leisure Attraction of the Year and is very popular with tourists.

We arrived here shortly after 7pm, just in time for the Borneo’s Thumbuakar Tribal dance. It was an interesting demonstration of the pipeblowing skill as well as their fire eating performances. My older boy Xuan was thrilled as he watched those tribal men blowing fires into the air. After dinner at the Bongo Burgers restaurant. The sky was completely dark.

We first went to the Amphitheatre to watch the ‘Creatures of the Night Show’at 8.00pm. It was a 30 mins performance by the nocturnal creatures like raccoons, owls, wolves, servals, binturongs and otters. We were reminded times and again not to use flashes as that would frighten the animals. The host was very entertaining and interactive and brought lots of laughter to everyone.

After the show, we embarked on our night advanture on foot (tram option was available). We first took the Forest Giant walking trails (one of the three walking trails) which was a spooky mangrow walk along the dense forest where crickets sounds could be heard clearly everywhere. We crossed a suspension bridge into the East loop. There was no moonlight and the paths were very dark …. but it was wonderful and exciting for the kids as the darkness added a sense of mystery to the air with faint afican drum beats heard from the distance (well, it was the pipe-in music :)).
Xuan kept pastering his dad for the small pocket torch light and he yielded finally. The torch light was helpful for certain stretch of the trail which could be very dark with little or no light at all.

We covered the first trail in about 20 mins and spotted animals like Babirusas, Bearded pigs, Bongos, Hyenas, servals along the way.

Second walking trail we took was the Leopard trails which led us to the Giant flying squirrel enclosure, territory of the Tarsiers, pocupines, Leopards, owls and the mangrove bats. Many of the bats were low hanging and my husband almost run into two of them. Although bats are harmless, the sign says that they will bite if provoked. So that was a close shave :)

At times, it was difficult to spot some of the animals when they blend nicely in the dark or hide behind rocks/trees/bushes.

The last trail we took was the Fishing Cat Trail where more species of leopards were showcased. We saw Barking deers, Himalyan Tahr, Binturong, fishing cat, mousedeer and indian Aharial (crocodile) just to name a few.