Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Eco Friendly Travel Habit Gone Wrong

Eco-friendly travel has become an essential part of travel these days. Travellers are encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint by travelling by bus or train rather than airplane, choose environment friendly accommodation, etc.

Whenever I travel, I tend to be extra careful not to leave a carbon footprint as huge as Bigfoot's, hahaha. Just kidding.

One eco-friendly habit I practise is to refuse plastic bags whenever I purchase anything. This habit has become a way of life for me. Whenever I travel, I usually bring along a knapsack big enough for a guidebook, water bottle, travel documents and of course sufficient space to put newly bought items like small souvenirs and snacks. So I don't need to use plastic bags at all.

However this habit of mine sort of backfired during a visit to The Cotswolds in September 2009.

I was on a day-trip around the The Cotswolds and we stopped for lunch at The Queen's Head in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Facade of The Queen's Head. I didn't snap any pics inside because I was too fascinated with its unique interior. 


I chose macaroni and cheese because it was the cheapest item on the menu at GBP 7.50, hahaha.

After lunch, the tour guide gave us some time to explore the little town. I took the opportunity to drop by the souvenir shop (can't remember the name) beside The Queen's Head to get a souvenir.

Fridge magnets are probably one of the cheapest souvenirs you could buy as a memento of the places you've visited. So a fridge magnet I went a looking and found a cute one that resembled the quaint houses that The Costwolds is famous for.

Fridge magnets are probably one of the cheapest souvenirs. This one costs only GBP 1.25.

Since the magnet is small enough to put into my bag, I politely told the lady cashier that I don't need a plastic bag for it.

She asked me again for confirmation and I repeated what I said. I could tell from the expression on her face that she was annoyed at my request. She probably thought I was being rude, or am a weirdo for not wanting a plastic bag. I didn't wait around for her to say something sarcastic, so I quickly paid for the magnet, placed it into my bag and left the shop.

Looking back, I felt that the situation would have turned out more positively if I had told the cashier the reason I didn't want a plastic bag. Communication process gone wrong here. And what an utter shame especially since I'm working in the communications line.

In conclusion, I think all cashiers should be trained to ask the customer whether they need a plastic bag or not. This is especially important if the item purchased is something small like a fridge magnet.

Nevertheless, that incident at the souvenir shop in Stow-on-the-Wold will not deter me from continuing my habit of being an eco friendly person in my daily life and whenever I travel.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Trip to Palmyra - Bride of the Desert

Our trip to Palmyra began early in the morning when our driver picked us up from our hostel in Damascus.

Most of the attractions in Syria like Kraks de Chevaliers and Ma'aloula are located in remote areas where there's hardly any public transport. So the next best option is to arrange for your own transport.

Costs us USD 120 to hire a car and driver for the entire day. It would be cheaper if you have more passengers to split the bill with.

Along the way we stopped at Baghdad Cafe for breakfast. The cosy diner is unique and warrants an entire entry on its own, which I'll complete soon.

Baghdad Cafe

Breakfast at Baghdad Cafe costs us SYP 250 each. I though it was rather expensive but I closed one eye considering the fact that Baghdad Cafe is located in the middle of nowhere. So must take into consideration transport costs and other costs.

The portions were too much for 2 people. Looked as if though we were feeding 5 people!

After breakfast we continued our journey to Palmyra which is about 220 km from Damascus. The journey was long and boring. To spice things up, we made a few stops along the way to snap photos like these:

 Prove that I was only 152 km from Iraq :-)

Sheep grazing by the highway. These sheep are taken care by bedouins, the local people of the area.

Soon we arrived in Palmyra and headed to the Tower Tomb of Elabel.

Palmyra is a city made up of tombs, temples, theatres, etc. - but all are ruins of course. The area is huge and it would be horrendous to walk from one ruin to another. And the scorching sun would not help either. At that point, hiring the car was an extremely good decision.

It's free to enter the grounds of Palmyra. However there are separate entrance fees at the different temples and tombs. For instance, the entrance to the Tower Tomb of Elabel was SYP 75 each.

Personally I felt the tomb was unimpressive and we could have given it a miss. Maybe that's why I didn't take many photos there and only have these to show:

Picture 1: That's me in front of the Tomb of Elabel
Picture 2: Description of the place (if the text are too small, click on the picture)
Picture 3: Ceiling of the tomb

As I left the tomb, I saw a peddler selling these cool stuff at the entrance:

I was extremely drawn to the collection of Aladdin lamps. But I didn't buy any cause unless a genie can emerge from it and grant me wishes, I know it's gonna end up on my shelf collecting dust.

Next on the list was the Temple of Bel which is the "most complete structure and most impressive part of the ruins in Palmyra", as how Lonely Planet described it.

Some sources mention this place as Temple of Ba'al instead of Bel. And for this I was afraid to enter because Ba'al is a demon who is one of the Seven Princes of Hell. Gives me the creeps thinking about it. Nevertheless we paid the SYP 150 entrance fee and went in.

Soon I was happily snapping my camera. Here's a collage of some of my shots:

Temple of Bel.

As I was wandering in the temple ruins, I noticed this guy lying underneath a piece of ruin. I was curious  at what he was doing.

 Imagine if the ruin had given way ... horror story, man ...

So I waited for him to leave, placed my camera under the ruin and clicked on the button. I didn't dare lie down like he did because of obvious reasons!

And this is what I snapped:

Why do you think the guy was so intrigued by this carving? Is that an image of the devil Ba'al himself?

Moving on, we headed for the Theatre. Our driver dropped us off at the Monumental Arch where we made a short walk to the Theatre.

Read the description about the Monumental Arch by clicking on the photo.

Having visited so many Theatres in my travels, this one looked the same as every other ancient theatre I've been to. Entrance fee was SYP 75 each.

Crew members were setting the place up with audio visual equipment for a concert in conjunction with the Silk Road Festival, an annual festival in Syria.

Here are more photos of the Theatre:

Scenes from around the Theatre.

After the Theatre, we headed back to Damascus and saw this along the way:

It was my first time seeing a mini tornado.

All in all, I didn't find Palmyra as impressive as how so many travellers and writers have claimed it to be. Probably I've seen one too many ruins to last me a lifetime, and Palmyra has become just one ruin amongst a sea of ruins. But hey, that's just my opinion.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Remembering the Bali Bombings

Despite the fun and sun that Bali promises, 12 October 2002 will forever be remembered as a day of carnage and sorrow where more than 200 people lost their lives in a bomb attack.

On that day, bombs ripped apart a popular pub area in Legian. The bombs were carried by a suicide bomber and also placed in a parked van. Islamic extremist group, Jemaah Islamiyah were believed to be responsible for the attacks and 3 of its members were convicted and sentenced to death for that despicable act.

When I was in Bali I asked a taxi driver to bring me to the location of the blasts, and this is where it took place:

Ground Zero

A memorial has been built on Ground Zero to remember the bombings and all who perished in it.

The names of all those who died are engraved into the monument wall:

Most of those who died were foreigners with Australians being the most. After this incident I make it a point whenever I travel to live and hangout where the locals do cause terrorists will usually attack places where there are many foreigners (read: Caucasians).

I also saw a banner near the area that remembers the incident:

Now it is not the time to become sad again because teardrops will only reopen old wounds,
Hold our heads high to protect our beloved Bali with the spirit of peace,
Peace October now and forever.

Behind the monument is White Rose Hotel which has a prayer engraved at its entrance:

A prayer

I also pray and hope that incidences like this will never happen again anywhere in the world.

Tourists and travellers are innocent people caught in the crossfire of disagreements between certain powers that be.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Angkor Wat vs Petra

Having visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Petra in Jordan, I couldn't help asking myself which one I like more. Reason is because both ancient wonders share similar characteristics like ancient monuments and temples that leave traces of the great civilisations they once were.

If you're not sure what's Angkor Wat and Petra, here they are:

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Petra in Jordan

Both are equally breathtaking, huh?

Looking at the photos I couldn't help reminiscing the time I stepped foot onto the grounds of Angkor Wat and Petra for the first time. Being physically present in those places just blew my mind.

I also came up with this comparison table:

Having looked at the photos, reminisced my experiences and comparing both places from various aspects, I realised I can't decide which I like more because despite their similarities, both Angkor Wat and Petra has its own mesmerising spell that will hook any visitor who steps foot there. It's an exprience that cannot be described in words.

So there you have it - I remain a person undecided.

What about you? Which do you like better - Angkor Wat or Petra?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...