Writer’s List of Foreign Countries Visited

April 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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Writer’s list of foreign countries that he has visited

The map below shows the foreign countries I, Choo Chaw(a Malaysian), have visited from 2003 until 2017.

Writer's list of foreign countries visited from 2003 until 2017

Writer’s list of foreign countries visited from 2003 until 2017

Click on a country below to read about my travel there:

1.  AFRICA

a. Egypt Travel

      Egypt Travel Part I :Salah el Din Citadel, Muhammad Ali Mosque, Tahrir Square and Egyptian Museum

      Egypt Travel Part II :Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple and Colossi of Memnon

     Egypt Travel Part III :Hot Air Balloons and Karnak Temple Complex

     Egypt Travel Part IV :Papyrus Paper-Making, Luxor Temple and Esna Lock

     Egypt Travel Part V :Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo Temple and Galabia Party

     Egypt Travel Part VI :Abu Simbel Temples and Nubian Village(Elephantine Island)

      Egypt Travel Part VII :Unfinished Obelisk, Aswan High Dam and Philae Temple

      Egypt Travel Part VIII:Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel, Moon Beach(Ras Sudr), and St. Catherine

      Egypt Travel Part IX :Mount Sinai, Catherine’s Monastery and Sharm el Sheikh

     Egypt Travel Part X  :Sharm el Sheikh

     Egypt Travel Part XI :Cairo Food, Saqqara Step Pyramid Complex and Memphis

     Egypt Travel Part XII :Great Giza Pyramid Complex and Khan el Khalil Bazaar

b. South Africa Travel

      South Africa Travel Part I:       Air Flight from KLIA to Cape Town, Cape Town Shantytowns

      South Africa Travel Part II:      Table Mountain, Malay Quarter, Castle of Good Hope. A & V Waterfront

      South Africa Travel Part III:     Hermanus, Cheetah Outreach, Stellenbosch, Jewel Africa

      South Africa Travel Part IV:     Duiker Island of Seals, Cape Point, Boulders

      South Africa Travel Part V:       Cape Town to Johannesburg, Pilanesberg National Park(Game Drives)

      South Africa Travel Part VI:      Sun City, Union Buildings, Vootrekker Monument

      South Africa Travel Part VII:    Kruger Museum, Church Square, Melrose Museum, Carnivore Restaurant

       South Africa Travel  Final Part:  Gold Reef City: Gold Mine Museum 

2. AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND

a.  Australia Travel 

         Part I: Melbourne/Mornington Peninsula/Phillip Island),

         Part II: Sydney 

b.  New Zealand Travel

          New Zealand Travel 

3. ASIA

a.  China Travels

      i. Beijing, Tianjin, Chengde Travel

           Part I: Beijing, Badaling

           Part II: Beijing, Tianjin, Chengde

      ii. China Relatives & Ancestral Places(Fujian Province)

            Part I: Parents’ China Relatives

            Part II: Hanjiang, Meizhou Island

            Part III: Putian

      iii. Hong Kong Travel

             Part I:  Hong Kong City Tour

             Part II:  Hong Kong City Tour

      iv. Macau Travel

             Macau City Tour

       v. Shanghai Travel

            Part I:  Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing

            Part II: Nanjing Bridge, Shanghai City, Shanghai Expo, Hangzhou

      vi.  Shenzhou, Hezhou, Quilin, Zhaoqing Travel

             Part I: Shenzhen, Hezhou

             Part II: Quilin, Yangshuo, Zhaoqing, Shenzhen

      vii. Taiwan Travel

              Part I: Taipei

              Part II:  Checheng, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Sanyi, Yehliu, Jioufen

     viii.  Yunnan Travel

              Part I: Kunming, Jiu Xiang, Shilin, Dali

              Part II: Dali, Lijiang

       ix. Zhangjiajie Travel

              Part I: Tianmen, Zhangjia jie, Wulingyuan, Tianzi, Yuangjiajie

              Part II: Dragon King Cave, Shaoshan, Changsha, Macau

        x.  China Expedition 2013

              Part I: Thailand

              Part II: Yunnan

              Part III: Tibet

              Part IV: Qinhai

              Part V: Xinjiang

              Part VI: Gansu

              Part VII: Ningxia

              Part VIII: Inner Mongolia

              Part IX: Beijing 

b.  Indonesia Travels

           i.  Bali Travel       

           ii.  Batam Island Travel  

c.  Japan Travel 

            Part I: Osaka, Kyoto, Hamamatsu

            Part II: Owakudani Valley, Mt. Fuji, Tokyo

d.  Myanmar Travel

            Part I: Yangon, Bagan, Mount Popa

            Part II: Yangon, Kyauktan 

e.  Singapore Heritage Trails

            Part I: Chinatown, Little India

            Part II: Malay Heritage, Civic District

f.  South Korea Travel

             Part I:  Seoul, Jeju Island

             Part II:  Sokcho, Everland, Dongdaemum, DMZ, Seoul

g.  Thailand Travel: 

       i. Bangkok, Ayuthaya Travel

               Part I: Bangkok, Ayuthaya

               Part II: Bangkok

      ii. Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, The Golden Triangle Travel

                Part I: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, The Golden Triangle

                Part II: Maesa, Chiang Mai

      iii. Phuket Travel 

      iv. Part I: Thailand (from China Ezpedition 2013) 

h.   Vietnam

            Hanoi Travel

                   Part I: Hanoi, Halong Bay

                   Part II: Hoa Lo, Tam Coc, Hanoi

4.  Europe:

              a.  Western Europe Travel

                     Part I: Germany, Switzerland, France

                     Part II: France, Belgium, Holland, England

              b.  Eastern Europe Travel

                   Part I: Budapest(Hungary)

                   Part II:  Bratislava(Slovakia)

                   Part III: Vienna(Austria)

                   Part IV: Vienna II(Austria)

                   Part V: Brno(Czech Republic)

                   Part VI: Prague(Czech Republic)

             c. Italy Travel

                  Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City

                 Italy Travel Part II : Rome(continued)

                 Italy Travel Part III: Pisa and Florence

                 Italy Travel Part IV: Venice

                 Italy Travel Part V(Final): Verona and Milan

5.  U.S.A. & Canada

           a.   East Coast: USA & Canada

                  Part I: Philadeiphia, Washington D.C.

                  Part II: Niagara Falls, Toronto

                  Part III: Colborne, 1000 Islands, Ottawa

                  Part IV: Montreal, Quebec

                  Part V: Boston

                  Part VI: New York

                  Part VII: Woodbury Common Premium Outlets

            b.   West Coast: USA

                    Part I: San Francisco

                    Part II: San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Las Vegas

                    Part III: Grand Canyon

                    Part IV: Las Vegas

                    Part V: Premium Outlets(S. California)

                    Part VI: Disneyland(Anaheim)

                    Part VII: Hollywood Walk of Fame(Los Angeles)

                    Part VIII: Universal Studios Hollywood

                    Part IX: Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

THE END  (Home)

Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City

December 11, 2017 by · Comments Off on Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City
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Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City

Italy is a popular tourists’ destination that is rich in history and culture. She has many interesting cities where old, monumental buildings built in Gothic, Classical, Medieval, Baroque and Neoclassical architectural styles still exist.

Italy Tour of 7 Cities

Tour-Group and Tour-Manager

Malaysia Tour Group

Malaysian Tour Group

My wife and I joined a group of 20 Malaysians under a Golden Destinations(Malaysia) tour manager, Jenny, and travelled to Italy for a five-day land tour of 7 cities, namely Rome, Vatican City, Pisa, Verona, Florence, Venice and Milan.

Map of Italy showing Cities to be Visited

Italy tour of Rome, Vatican City, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Verona and MIlan

Italy tour of Rome, Vatican City, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Verona and MIlan

Writer and Wife

Writer, Choo Chaw, and wife, Peng

Writer, Choo Chaw, and wife, Peng

Tour-Manager, Jenny

Jenny, tour manger

Jenny, tour manger of Golden Destinations(Malaysia)

Day 1  Thursday, 2 November 2017

Air Flight to Italy

On the first day we left KLIA(Malaysia), travelled to Hong Kong and then to Rome in Italy. The air-flight was long taking about 15 hours.

Day 1: Flight to Italy from Malaysia via Hong Kong

Day 1: Flight to Italy from Malaysia via Hong Kong

Day 2  Friday, 3 November 2917

Visiting Rome and Vatican City on Day 2

Rome Tour Guide, Christina

When we arrived in Rome, Italy, on the 2nd. day,  a Polish coach-driver, Bart, brought us to some historical places in Rome and later to other cities in northern Italy for a total of 5 days.

Bart, the Coach-Driver

Bart, a Polish coach-driver, bringing Malaysians on a tour to 7 cities in northern Itaky

Bart, a Polish coach-driver, bringing Malaysians on a tour to 7 cities in northern Itaky

Map of Italy showing the location of Rome and Vatican City

Visiting Rome and Vatican City on Day 2: Friday, 3 November 2017

Visiting Rome and Vatican City on Day 2: Friday, 3 November 2017

Jenny, our tour-manager, led us to the historical places in Rome and they were as follows:

Monument of Victor Emmanuel II

The first place we visited was one in the centre of Rome City where we saw the massive Monument of Victor Emmanuel II(1820-1878). It was built in honour of Emmanuell II for unifying Italy in 1861 and becoming her first king. It was built by several well-known sculptors in the 1885-1925 period.

Monument of Victor Emmanuel II

Monument of Victor Emmanuel II, Rome

Pantheon

Then we walked to Venezia Square where a Roman temple was built in 113-125 A.D periodk. Now it is a Catholic church dedicated to “St. Mary and Martyrs”. The front of the church is supported by 12 Cornithian columns and a rotunda with a dome is behind them.

Pantheon in Rome

Pantheon in Rome

Top of the Pantheon dome allows light to pass through.

Top of the Pantheon dome allows light to pass through.

Visitors in the interior of Pantheon

Visitors in the interior of Pantheon

Tombs of Kings

Tombs of two Italian kings, Victor Emmanuel II(1820-1878) and Umberto I(1844-1900), are displayed in the building. The tomb of Umberto I’s wife, Margerit(1851-1926), is inside, too.

Tomb of King Umberto I(1844-1900) in Pantheon, Rome

Tomb of King Umberto I(1844-1900) in Pantheon, Rome

Piazza della Rotunda

Outside Pantheon is a square known as Piazza della Rotunda which has an obelisk and fountain.

Pantheon Square or Piazza della Rotunda, Rome

Pantheon Square or Piazza della Rotunda, Rome

Colosseum in Rome

From Pantheon we walked to a historical site where Italy’s iconic Roman amphitheatre was built. Known as Colosseum, it was built in the 72-80 A.D. period by two Roman Emperors, first Vespasian and later, Titus. Built for gladiators’ contests and public spectacles, it could accommodate 65 000 spectators.

Christina, the Colosseum Tour-Guide

At the Colosseum we met our local tour-guide, Christina, who showed us around the amphitheatre.

Rome tour-guide, Christina

Colosseum tour-guide, Christina

Colosseum of Rome

Colosseum of Rome

Colosseum in the Olden Days

Colosseum in the Olden Days

Fall of the Western Roman Empire

The Colosseum ceased to be used for gladiators’ contests and public spectacles in the early Medieval Period or Middle Ages(5-15th. Century) after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Then it was used for such purposes as a cemetery, workshops and for housing.

Earthquake

In 1349, a strong earthquake damaged the southern part of the Colosseum and it was repaired later.

Colosseum in Ruin

Owing to weathering, erosion and neglect for over a 1000 years, the Colosseum is in ruin, but millions of visitors continue going to Rome to see the legacy of the Roman Empire every year.

Ruined Interior Colosseum

Ruined interior of Colosseum

A Bare Colosseum without Statues and Stucco Decorations

A bare Colosseum without statues and stucco decorations

Steps of Colosseum in ruin after 1400 years

Steps of Colosseum in ruin after over 1000 years

Colosseum Decorations Were Stolen

Since the Colosseum was not used after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 4th. Century, marble statues and stucco decorations were all stolen; leaving the amphitheatre bare with ugly holes in the walls.

Ugly Holes in Walls of Colosseum

Ugly holes in walls of Colosseum

Stucco Decorations in Colosseum

Stucco decorations in Colosseum taken off from walls

Headless Statue in Colosseum

Headless statue in Colosseum

Colosseum’s Wooden Floor of Arena

The wooden floor of the Arena of the Colosseum soon rotted and was removed, exposing the underground rooms and passageways.

Wooden floor of arena rotted and removed

Wooden floor of arena rotted and removed exposing rooms and passageways below

Arch of Constantine

Next to the Colosseum stands a triumphal arch known as Arch of Constantine. It was built in 315 A.D. to commemorate Constantine I(272-337)’s victory in the Battle of Milvian in 312 A.D.

(Arch of Triumph in Paris built in the 1806=1836 period, looks similar to this smaller Roman triumphal arch in Rome. The former was erected in honour of those who fought and died for their country in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.)

Arch of Constantine built in commemoration of Constantine I's victory in the Battle of Milvian in 312 A.D.

Arch of Constantine built in commemoration of Constantine I’s victory in the Battle of Milvian in 312 A.D.

Writer, wife, tour manager and tour guide posing in front of Arch Constantine

Writer, wife, tour manager and tour guide posing in front of Arch 0f Constantine

Taking photo in front of Arch of Constantine

Tour members posing in front of Arch of Constantine

Visiting Vatican City

Later, we moved on to the world’s smallest country, Vatican City, that is surrounded by the city of Rome. It has a population of about 840 and a small area of 44 hectares which is equivalent to 82 football fields.

She has the largest Catholic church in the world known as St. Peter’s Basilica that was built in the 1506-1626 period.

St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world

St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Catholic church in the world

St. Peter's Square as seen from St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

St. Peter’s Square as seen from St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

The church is dedicated to St. Peter(one of Jesus Christ’s apostles and the first pope) and the burial site of St. Peter. It is a popular place for pilgrimage and liturgical  functions.

Bronze Statue of St. Peter in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Bronze statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

Rain and Long Queue

When we arrived at the church, St. Peter ‘s Basilica, it was drizzling and we had to join a long queue to enter the church. According to our tour manager, Jenny, we were lucky that we queued for about an hour before we entered the church. She had to queue for three hours the last time she brought a tour group there!

Long queue to St; Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world

Long queue to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Catholic church in the world

“Pieta”

When we entered the church, the first thing that caught my eyes on the right was a marble sculpture known as “Pieta”.

Floor Plan of St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Floor Plan of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

“Pieta” is a masterpiece created by a famous Italian sculptor, Michelangelo Buonorroti(1475-1564), from  1498 until 1499. It depicts Virgin Mary holding her dead son, Jesus Christ, on her lap after his crucifixion.

"Pieta" by Michelangelo

“Pieta” by Michelangelo

More sculptures, monuments, paintings and statues of previous popes, founders of religious orders, etc. can be seen in the church.

Monument dedicated to Pope Leo XI(1535-1605)

Monument dedicated to Pope Leo XI(1535-1605)

Monument dedicated to Pope XI(1611-1689) in St. Peter's Basilica

Monument dedicated to Pope XI(1611-1689) in St. Peter’s Basilica

Statue of Pope Pius X in St. Peter's Basilica

Statue of Pope Pius X in St. Peter’s Basilica

Other Basilicas

On the floor of the nave are markers showing the comparative sizes of other basilicas in other places.

On the floor of the nave of the church are makers showing other churches of comparative sizes

On the floor of the nave of the church are makers showing other churches of comparative sizes

The Holy Door

There is a special door known as “The Holy Door” made of bronze in the northernmost entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It depicts the life of Jesus Christ.

The door is cemented shut and only opened for Jubilee Years of the church. The Catholics believe that if they go through the door during the Jubilee Years, they may be granted the plenary indulgences.

The Holy Door is only opened in Jubilee Years of St. Peter's Basilica

The Holy Door is only opened in Jubilee Years of St. Peter’s Basilica

Change of Guards at St. Peter’s Basilica

Coming out of the church at 5 p.m. I was fortunate to watch the change of the Swiss guards at the entrance adjacent to the church. The ceremony lasted for 5 minutes.

Swiss guards protect the pope and St. Peter's Basilica

Swiss guards protect the pope and St. Peter’s Basilica

The guards are Swiss citizens. Their duty is to protect the pope and the church. They wear a colourful uniform which has vertical blue, red, orange and yellow stripes.

Victoria Terma Hotel

In the evening we left the church, went for dinner and retired to our rooms at Victoria Terma Hotel that is a few kilometres from Rome City.

Tour group staying at Victoria Terma Hotel near Rome on the first night in Italy

Tour group staying at Victoria Terma Hotel near Rome on the first night in Italy

Home / Next

Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City

Italy Travel Part II : Rome(continued)

Italy Travel Part III: Pisa and Florence

Italy Travel Part IV: Venice

Italy Travel Part V(Final): Verona and Milan

Home / Next

Italy Travel Part II: Rome

December 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Italy Travel Part II: Rome(continued) 

Day 3  Saturday, 4 November 2017

Map Showing the Location of Rome

Visiting Rome on Day 3: Saturday, 4 November 2017

Visiting Rome on Day 3: Saturday, 4 November 2017

Visiting Rome(continued)

In the morning we left Victoria Terma Hotel and went to visit two more places in Rome City before we left for Pisa and Florence in the north.

Trevi Fountain, Rome

The first iconic landmark we visited in the morning was a well-known Baroque fountain, Trevi Fountain. It was built in the 1752-1762 period by several sculptors with the facade of Poli Palace as its backdrop.

Trevi Fountain was built in 1732-1762 by a few sculpyors

Trevi Fountain was built in the 1732-1762 period by a few sculptors

Trevi Fountain viewed from right

Trevi Fountain viewed from right

Trevi Fountain seen from the left

Trevi Fountain seen from the left

Coins in Fountain-Pool

Visitors believe that if they throw coins into the fountain-pool after making one, two or three wishes their wish or wishes may be granted. Everyday many visitors throw about 30oo euro worth of coins into the water. The money collected is for subsidizing a supermarket for the poor.

Coins thrown by visitors into the fountain pool are worth 3000 euros a day

Coins thrown by visitors into the fountain pool are worth 3000 euros a day

Spanish Steps

Having spent a short time at Trevi Fountain, we left and took a long walk to another place of interest known as Spanish Steps.

The Spanish Steps has 135 steps from the Spanish Square below to a Roman Catholic church, Trinita dei Monti, on top of Pincia Hill. The steps were built to link the Bourbon Spanish Embassy below with the church on the hill.

Spanish Steps has 135 steps linking Spanish Square below and Church on top of Pincia Hill

Spanish Steps has 135 steps linking Spanish Square below and Church on top of Pincia Hill

Crowded Spanish Square

Crowded Spanish Square

Spanish Square

In the Spanish Square there is a small fountain known as “Fountain of Ugly Boat”.

Fountain of Ugly Boat in Spanish Square

Fountain of Ugly Boat in Spanish Square

At about 11 a.m. we were lucky to hear a band on the Spanish Steps playing Italian music.

Band Playing Italian Musics

Band Playing Italian Music

Trinita dei Monti Church

The Roman Catholic church located on Pincia Hill is known as Trnita dei Monti Church. It was built to replace the old one that was constructed by King Louis XII in 1502 to celebrate his victory in the Battle of Naples. This church was consecrated in 1585.

Triniti dei Monti Church on Pincia Hill

Triniti dei Monti Church on Pincia Hill

Roman Obelisk

In front of the church is a Roman obelisk that was moved there in 1789.

Interior of Trinita dei Monti

Interior of Trinita dei Monti

Journey to Florence

Soon we left Rome for Florence in the north. On the way we stopped at two places. The first place was a shop, Autogrill Service Area in Val di Chiana, where we stopped to buy Italian food products for our loved ones back home(Malaysia).

Shopping at Autogrill, Val di Chiana

At 3.30 p.m. we arrived at the shop, Autogrill. It was a pleasure to shop at this well-stocked place and the tour members were spoiled for choice. Besides, the shop-assistants were friendly and helpful.

Shopping for Italian foodstuffs at Autogrill, Val di Chiana, Italy

Shopping for Italian foodstuffs at Autogrill, Val di Chiana, Italy

Shopping at Autogrill, Val di Chiana

Shopping at Autogrill, Val di Chiana

Francesca, friendly shop-assistant

Francesca, friendly shop-assistant

Many kinds of foodstuffs at the shop

Many kinds of foodstuffs at the shop

Writer befriends a shop-assistant, Andra

Writer befriends a shop-assistant, Andra

After spending an hour at the shop, we moved on.

Pierotucci Leather Factory

In the evening we arrived at a leather factory known as Pierotucci Leather Factory near Florence City.

Established in 1972, it produces genuine leather bags, jackets and accessories. Besides producing its own designs, it also produces those of others such as Dunhill, Valentino, Bally, Fratelli Rossetti, Cole-Haan and Hugo Boss.

Pierotucci Leather Factory Workshop, Florence

Pierotucci Leather Factory Workshop, Florence

Leather Craftsmen

When we arrived at the factory, we were led into a workshop where expert craftsmen worked. As the workers had left the factory, a lady explained how a craftsman made a handbag. Then we were led to a showroom where many kinds of leather goods were displayed for sale.

Tour group at Pierotucci Leather Factory, Florence, Italy

Tour group at Pierotucci Leather Factory, Florence, Italy

Genuine leathers for making bags, jackets and accessories

Genuine leather for making bags, jackets and accessories

Factory showroom of leather-products

Factory showroom of leather-products

Genuine leather handbags in showroom

Genuine leather handbags in showroom

Genuine leather jackets in showroom

Genuine leather jackets in showroom

Genuine leather belts in showroom

Genuine leather belts in showroom

“Authentic Florentine Steak”

A few of us bought some items and then left for dinner at a L’ema restaurant nearby to savour the “Authentic Florentine Steak”. Unfortunately, I could not finish the meat as it was too “rubbery”.

Tour group having "Authentic Florentine Steak" for dinner at a L'ema restaurant

Tour group having “Authentic Florentine Steak” for dinner at a L’ema restaurant

Photo Session

At the restaurant I took the opportunity to take photos of the happy tour members and myself for remembrance.

Tye Family

Tye Family

Mr, and Mrs. Raymond Low, Penny and Fong Eng

Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Low, Penny and Fong Eng

Eunice and Lim

Mr. and Mrs. Lim

Mr, and Mrs. Lim

Mr. and Mrs. Lim

Mr. and Mrs. Look

Mr. and Mrs. Look

Ai Lan and Mee Lan

Ai Lan and Mee Lan

Mr. and Mrs. Ho

Mr. and Mrs. Ho

Mr. and Mrs. Leow

Mr. and Mrs. Leow

Writer(Choo Chaw) and wife(Peng)

Writer(Choo Chaw) and wife(Peng)

Hotel President, Prato

After the dinner we left and went to stay at a hotel, Hotel President, in Prato that is near Florence. We would be going to Pisa to see Leaning Tower of Pisa the following day.

Previous / Home / Next

Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City

Italy Travel Part II : Rome(continued)

Italy Travel Part III: Pisa and Florence

Italy Travel Part IV: Venice

Italy Travel Part V(Final): Verona and Milan

Previous / Home / Next 

 

Italy Travel Part III: Pisa and Florence

December 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Italy Travel Part III: Pisa and Florence

Day 4:  Sunday, 5 November 2017

Visiting Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa

Visiting Pisa and Florence on Day 4, Sunday, 5 November 2017

Visiting Pisa and Florence on Day 4, Sunday, 5 November 2017

Rain in Pisa

In the morning we left our hotel. Hotel President near Florence and went west to Pisa. On arrival at Pisa, we walked in the rain from the coach parking area to Cathedral Square which was a few hundred metres away.

Pickpockets

On the way we came across some foreigners selling umbrellas and ponchos. They forewarned us that there were several pickpockets around, trying to steal tourists’ money. As we were walking to the square, we looked out for one another. Luckily, none of us fell prey to the pickpockets.

Walking in the rain to Leaning Tower of Pisa

Walking in the rain to Leaning Tower of Pisa

Souvenir stalls along a street to Pisa Tower

Souvenir stalls along a street leading to Pisa Tower

Three Monumental Buildings

When we were in the square we saw three prominent monumental buildings, namely Baptistery of St. John, Cathedral of Pisa and a world’s famous leaning tower known as “Leaning Tower of Pisa”.

Cold and wet in Cathedral Square of Pisa

Cold and wet in Cathedral Square of Pisa

Baptistery of St. John 

Baptistery of St. John is a Roman Catholic church that was built in Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles in the 1152-1363 period.

Three prominent buildings in Cathedral Square

Three prominent buildings in Cathedral Square

Cathedral of Pisa

Cathedral of Pisa is in between Baptistery of St. John and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was built in Romanesque architectural style from 1063 until 1092 and dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Now it is the seat of Archbishop of Pisa

Cathedral and Leaning Tower of Pisa

Cathedral of Pisa and Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The well-known tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is about 56 metres high was built in Romanesque architectural style. The builders took almost 200 years(1173-1372) to complete the construction. Unfortunately, the tower tilted slowly to as much as 5.5 degrees while they were building it. It was due to weak foundation on one side of the ground.

Leaning Tower of Pisa has tilted to about 3 degrees

Leaning Tower of Pisa has tilted to about 3 degrees

Tower Tilting 5.5 Degrees

Later, frantic efforts were carried out to make the tower stand upright. But they could only reduce the leaning angle to about 3 degrees as we are seeing it now. I think it is because of its tilting nature that attracts the attention of millions of tourists every year.

Visiting Florence

Michelangelo Square

Michelangelo Square, Florence, Italy

Michelangelo Square, Florence, Italy

In the afternoon we left Pisa and travelled east to Florence City. Before we entered the city, we went to Michelangelo Square on a small hill in the south. Standing at the square in the rain, we saw the beautiful city of Florence.

 

Panoramic view of Florence City from Michelangelo Square

Panoramic view of Florence City from Michelangelo Square

Bronze Statue of David

In the square we saw a bronze statue of David which is a replica of Michelangelo’s marble statue of David.

Bronze statue of David in Michelangelo Square

Bronze statue of David in Michelangelo Square

Florence Square

When we entered the city centre, the first place we visited was a square known as Florence Square where we met a local guide, Virginia.

Virginia, Florence tour-guide talking to tour group

Virginia, Florence tour-guide talking to tour group

Florence Tour Guide, Virginia

In the square, Virginia brought us round and told us about the monumental buildings. some of which are shown below

Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower

This huge cathedral with a red dome was built in 1296-1436 in Gothic architectural style. It is the largest one in Florence.

 

Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower, the main Florence church

Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower, the main Florence church

An entrance to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower, Florence

An entrance to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower, Florence

The interior of Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower

The interior of Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower

Giotto’s Bell Tower

Close to the cathedral and built in Gothic architectural style from 1334 until 1359 is a tall tower, Giotto’s Bell Tower, that is about 85 metres tall. Visitors can climb up 414 steps to the top to see the whole city of Florence.

Giotto's Bell Tower next to Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower in Florence Cathedral Square

Giotto’s Bell Tower next to Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower in Florence Cathedral Square

Giotto Bell Tower, Florence

Giotto Bell Tower, Florence

Baptistery of St. John

Another building near the cathedral is Baptistery of St. John in Romanesque architectural style. It was built in the 1059-1128 period in octagonal shape and has three bronze doors with relief sculptures. One of them was dubbed as “Door of Paradise” by Michelangelo.

Baptistery of St. John in Florence Cathedral Square

Baptistery of St. John in Florence Cathedral Square

One of the three doors of Baptistery of St. John

One of the three bronze doors of Baptistery of St. John

Signora Square

Then we walked a short distance to another place known as Signora Square. This square was the political focus of Florence for many years. On one side of the square an equestrian monument of Cosimo I(1519-1574) was erected in 1594.

Cosimo I Monument

Cosimo I was the 2nd. Duke of Florence from 1537 until 1569. The Fountain of Neptune near the monument was under repair.

Signoria Square, the political focus of Florence

Signoria Square, the political focus of Florence

Palazzo Vecchio

In the square there is a building, Palazzo Vecchio, which houses the town hall and a museum, too. It was built in the 13th. Century to show the importance of Florence and protect the magistrates of the city in times of turbulence.

Palazzo Vecchio, a town hall and museum

Palazzo Vecchio, a town hall and museum

Statue of David

At the entrance of the building there is a statue of David which is a replica of Michelangelo(1475-1564)’s David statue on one side and statues of Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli(1493-1560) on the other side.

Statues of David, Hercules and Cacus at the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio

Statues of David, Hercules and Cacus at the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio

Signora Square, the political focus of Florence

Signora Square, the political focus of Florence

Loggia dei Lanzi

Loggia dei Lanzi built in the 15th. Century is an open-air gallery of Renaissance sculptures.

Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air gallery of Renaissance sculptures

Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air gallery of Renaissance sculptures

This building at Signora Square displays several beautiful sculptures. The photos below show some of them.

A bronze statue of Perseus holding Medusa's head

A bronze statue of Perseus holding Medusa’s head

Statue of a Male Lion belonging to Ferdino I of Medici(1549-1609)

Statue of a Male Lion belonging to Ferdino I of Medici(1549-1609)

"Hercules beating the Centaur Nessus" by Giovanni Bologna(1529-1608), a Flemish sculptor living in Italy

“Hercules beating the Centaur Nessus” by Giovanni Bologna(1529-1608), a Flemish sculptor living in Italy

"Menelaus supporting the body of Petroclus" sculpture, a much restored Roman sculpture

“Menelaus supporting the body of Petroclus” sculpture, a much restored Roman sculpture

"The Rape of Polyxena" by Pio Fedi(1815-1892), an Italian sculptor

“The Rape of Polyxena” by Pio Fedi(1815-1892), an Italian sculptor

Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery is behind Loggia dei Lanzi. It is a famous large museum that has 101 rooms displaying artworks, particularly, from the Italian Renaissance period. It attracts many visitors every year. About 2 million people entered the museum in 2016.

Uffizi Gallery, a famous museum of artworks, particularly, from the Italian Renaissance

Uffizi Gallery, a famous museum of artworks, particularly, from the Italian Renaissance

Uffizi Gallery has niches in exterior columns that contain statues of important historical figures, such as Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, and Dante to name a few.

Michelangelo Buonarroti(1475-1564)

Michelangelo was born in Florence, He was a sculptor, painter, architect and poet. His famous sculptures include “David” and “Pieta”.

Michelangelo Buonarroti(1475-1564) was born in Florence. He was a scul[tor, painter, architect and poet. His famous sculptures include "David" and "Pieta".

Michelangelo Buonarroti(1475-1564) was born in Florence. He was a sculptor, painter, architect and poet. His famous sculptures include “David” and “Pieta”.

Leonardo da Vinci(1452-1519)

Leonardo was an Italian polymath who had many areas of interest such as sculpture, painting, invention and astronomy. His famous paintings include “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”.

Leonardo da Vinci(1452-1519) was an Italian polymath who had many areas of interest. His famous paintings include "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper".

Leonardo da Vinci(1452-1519) was an Italian polymath who had many areas of interest. His famous paintings include “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”.

Galileo Galilei(1564-1642)

Galileo was also an Italian polymath who was interested in astronomy, physics, engineering, natural philosophy and Mathematics.

Galileo Galilei(1564-1642) was an Italian polymath interested in astronomy, physics, engineering, natural philosophy and Mathematics.

Galileo Galilei(1564-1642) was an Italian polymath interested in astronomy, physics, engineering, natural philosophy and Mathematics.

Dante Alighieri(1265-1321)

Dante Alighieri(1265-1321) was an Italian statesman, poet, language theorist and political theorist.

Dante Alighieri(1265-1321) was an Italian statesman, poet, language theorist and political theorist.

Ponte Vecchio(Old Bridge)

Ponte Vecchio is a 30 metre-long stone-bridge that spans River Arno. The first bridge was built in the Roman times. It had been destroyed by flood a few times and then reconstructed.

Ponte Vecchio is an old 30 metre-long stone-bridge spanning River Arno in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio is an old 30 metre-long stone-bridge spanning River Arno in Florence.

Shops have been built on the bridge selling jewellery and souvenirs to tourists.

Shops on Ponte Vecchio selling jewellery and souvenirs to tourists

Shops on Ponte Vecchio selling jewellery and souvenirs to tourists

Basilica Santo Croce

In the evening we left the old bridge, Ponte Vecchio, and walked for several minutes to a restaurant for dinner. On the way we came across a white cathedral, Basilica Santa Croce(Basilica of the Holy Cross), that housed the tombs of many influential Italians, including those of Michelangelo and Galileo. So it is also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories.

Built in the 1294-1385 period. it is the main principal Franciscan church and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic church.

Basilica Santo Croce that houses the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo

Basilica Santo Croce that houses the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo

Hotel President, Prato, Florence

After dinner we went back to our hotel, Hotel President in Prato, to rest.

The following day, we left Florence for Venice.

Previous / Home / Next

Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City

Italy Travel Part II : Rome(continued)

Italy Travel Part III: Pisa and Florence

Italy Travel Part IV: Venice

Italy Travel Part V(Final): Florence and Milan

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Italy Travel Part IV: Venice

December 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Italy Travel Part IV: Venice

Day 5:  Monday, 6 November 2017

Journey from Florence to Venice

We left the Florence hotel, Hotel President, in the morning and travelled to Venice in the northeast of Italy.

Map of Italy showing the location of Venice

Visiting Venice on Day 5, Monday, 6 November 2017

Visiting Venice on Day 5, Monday, 6 November 2017

Venice

Venice is built on more than 100 islands in a lagoon. The islands are separated by canals, straddled by over 400 bridges. A causeway, Bridge of Liberty(Ponte della Liberta), connects the mainland to a small island of Venice.

This causeway, Bridge of Liberty(Ponte Della Liberta), connects the mainland and a Venice island

This causeway, Bridge of Liberty(Ponte Della Liberta), connects the mainland and a Venice island

Causeway

In the afternoon we arrived at the island of Venice after crossing the causeway from the mainland. Then we boarded a boat that took us to another but larger island, San Marco Island(St. Mark Island).

Tour group taking a boat to San Marco Island of Venice

Tour group taking a boat to San Marco Island of Venice

Spectacular Views

While sailing to San Marco Island we saw a few large cruise ships and spectacular views of old medieval buildings, hotels and churches on some islands.

A large cruise ship bringing tourists to Venice

A large cruise ship bringing tourists to Venice

Tour group's boat passing by a beautiful building, Hotel Hilton, on Giudecca Island of Venice

Tour group’s boat passing by a beautiful building, Hotel Hilton, on Giudecca Island of Venice

Old Venetian buildings along the waterfront of Dorsudoro Island of Venice

Old Venetian buildings along the waterfront of Dorsoduro Island of Venice

Photographing

While sailing to the island, we took the opportunity to take some photos of ourselves in the boat for remembrance. Below are a few of them.

Writer and wife

Writer and wife

Raymond Low and wife

Raymond Low and wife

Mr. Tye and family

Mr. Tye and family

Some Ladies of Tour Group

Some Ladies of Tour Group

Mr. and Mrs. Lim

Mr. and Mrs. Lim

San Marco Island of Venice

After a 20 minute boat-ride, we sighted San Marco Island with a prominent bell tower known as St. Mark’s Bell Tower. The view was stunning.

After a short boat riding, we sighted our destination, San Marco Island.

After a short boat riding, we sighted our destination, San Marco Island.

Soon we arrived and disembarked at the jetty of San Marco Island.

Tour group arriving on San Marco Island of Venice

Tour group arriving on San Marco Island of Venice

Waterfront of San Marco Island

The waterfront is wide and about 1 metre above sea-level. Hence, it is prone to flooding whenever the tide is high. But tables kept on the waterfront are ready to be used by visitors if it is flooded.

Tables on the waterfront are ready to be used by visitors if there is flood

Tables on the waterfront are ready to be used by visitors if there is a flood

Tables were used earlier by visitors queuing up to enter St. Mark Cathedral in San Marco Square.

Visitors standing on tables to prevent their feet from getting wet in flooded San Marco Square, Venice

Visitors standing on tables to prevent their feet from getting wet in flooded San Marco Square, Venice

Flood in Venice

A flood occurred in Venice on the following day after our visit.

Venice was flooded on Tuesday. 7 November 2017 when we were in Florence

Venice was flooded on Tuesday. 7 November 2017 when we were in Florence

Venetian Buildings

On the waterfront there are several rows of old Venetian buildings. Among them are Doge’s Palace(Palazzo Ducale) and a prison separated by a narrow canal.

 

Wide eastern waterfront of San Marco Island

Wide eastern waterfront of San Marco Island

Wide westerm waterfront of San Marco Island

Wide westerm waterfront of San Marco Island

Doges of Venice

Doges of Venice were chief magistrates and leaders with supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice. They were elected for life. Venice was under their rule from 697 until 1797 when France under Napoleon Bonaparte(1769-1821) captured it.

Doge’s Palace(Palazzo Ducale)

Doge’s Palace built in Gothic architectural style and established in 1340 was the residence of the Doge of Venice until 1797 when France took over Venice. Later, the palace was taken over by Austria when Venice was ruled by Austria. In 1866 Venice became part of Italy.

Since 1923 it has become an art museum.

Doge's Palace(Left) and Old Prison(Right)

Doge’s Palace(Left) and Old Prison(Right)

Bridge of Sighs

A bridge was built from Doge’s Palace to the prison next to it in 1614. Known as the Bridge of Sighs, it was built for criminals who were sentenced to jail. They had to walk across the bridge from Doge’s Palace where the court was situated to the prison.

While crossing the bridge, the criminals had a last look outside through the two windows, sighed and entered the prison to serve their sentences.

Bridge of Sighs links Doge's Palace and Old Prison

Bridge of Sighs links Doge’s Palace to the Old Prison

Writer and wife standing on a bridge and Bridge of Sighs in the background

Writer and wife standing on a bridge, with the Bridge of Sighs in the background

Over 400 Bridges in Venice

There are over 400 bridges in Venice. Most of them are short, straddling narrow canals and different from each other in design.

A low bridge in Venice

A low bridge in Venice

A short and low bridge

A short and low bridge in Venice

A high bridge in Venice

A high bridge in Venice

Malaysian beauties on a Venetian bridge

Malaysian beauties on a Venetian bridge

San Giorgio Maggiore Church

Standing on the waterfront I looked across a waterway, the Grand Canal, and saw a large church on Dorsoduro Island. It is called San Giorgio Maggiore, a 16 th. Century Benedictine church built in Classical Renaissance architectural style in the 1566-1610 period.

San Giorgio Maggiore Church on Dorsodura Island of Venice

San Giorgio Maggiore Church on Dorsodura Island of Venice

Venetian Ladies

On the waterfront we saw two ladies walking on stilts. They were dressed in traditional Venetian costumes and wearing masks. They were inviting visitors to take photos with them.

Venetian ladies in traditional costumes and wearing masks on waterfront

Venetian ladies in traditional costumes and wearing masks on waterfront

Venetian Masks

There were some souvenir stalls on the waterfront. The most common things they were selling were the Venetian masks.

Venetian masks are usually worn during the Carnival of Venice which is an annual festival in Venice. They may wear full-face masks or eye masks to hide their identity and social status.

Venetian masks worn during the Carnival of Venice

Venetian full-face masks worn during the Carnival of Venice

Venetian eye-masks worn during the Carnival of Venice

Venetian eye-masks worn during the Carnival of Venice

Black Spaghetti for Lunch

When it was lunchtime, we went to a restaurant, Taverna dei Dogi, in an alley near St. Mark’s Square. We had black spaghetti or squid ink spaghetti, simple salad, fried squid rings and ice-cream for lunch.

Tour group having lunch at Taverna dei Dogi Restaurant, Venice

Tour group having lunch at Taverna dei Dogi Restaurant, Venice

Interior of Taverna dei Dogi Restaurant, Venice

Interior of Taverna dei Dogi Restaurant, Venice

Black Spaghetti or Squid Ink Spaghetti

Black Spaghetti or Squid Ink Spaghetti

Simple Salad

Simple Salad

Tasty Fried Squid Slices

Tasty Fried Squid Rings

Glass-Blowing Demonstration

After lunch, we walked to a glass-shop in Castello District which was nearby. At the shop we watched a glass-blower, Parlo, making a glass-object by traditional method. After the glass-blowing demonstration, we went to the glass showroom where many kinds of glass-objects were for sale, such as chandeliers, drinking glasses, glass figures, etc. But none of us bought any of them as it was troublesome to bring them home, 10 000 km away from Venice.

Glass-master demonstrating traditional glass-making

Glass-blower, Parlo, demonstrating traditional glass-making

Glass-objects of different forms, sizes and colours for sale

Glass objects in different forms, sizes and colours for sale

Glass-shop assistant trying to sell Venetian glass-objects

Glass-shop assistant trying to sell Venetian glass-objects

St. Mark Square(Piazza San Marco)

Later, we went to the most important place in Venice. It is the centre for social, political and religious activities of the city. It is known as St. Mark’s Square(Piazza dei San Marco).

St, Mark's Bell Tower built in the 12th. Century is 98.6 metres tall in the centre of St. Mark's Square

St. Mark’s Square is an important place for social, political and religious activities in Venice.

Malaysian tour group in St. Mark Square(Piazza San Marco), Venice

Malaysian tour group in St. Mark’s Square(Piazza San Marco), Venice

Malaysian tour group visiting St. Mark's Square on 6 Nov 2017

Group photo

St. Mark’s Bell Tower

In the centre of the square stands a tall tower, St. Mark’s Bell Tower. It is 98.6 metres tall and built in 1912 replacing the old one that collapsed in 1902. The first one was built in the 12th. Century as a watch-tower or lighthouse.

St. Mark's Bell Tower built in 1912 to replace the old one that collapsed in 1902 is 98.6 metres high.

St. Mark’s Bell Tower built in 1912 to replace the old one that collapsed in 1902 is 98.6 metres high.

St. Mark’s Cathedral(Basilica dei San Marco)

On its western side is a large church, Basilica dei San Marco(St. Mark Cathedral). It was built in 978-1092 with five domes and five arches in front. It has a mixture of Italian, Byzantine and Gothic architectural styles.

It was built as a private chapel for the Doges until 1807 when the local bishop, Patriarch of Venice, took over in 1807.

St. Mark's Cathedral(Basilica San Marco) built in 978-1092 houses St. Mark's Treasure in St. Mark's Square, Venice

St. Mark’s Cathedral(Basilica San Marco) built in 978-1092 houses St. Mark’s Treasure in St. Mark’s Square,

The Church houses St. Mark’s Treasure consisting of 293 items in gold, silver, glass and other precious materials from various sources like from Constatinople, Western art, of Islamic origin and others.

Gondola Ride 

Finally, we went to a pond or small lake, Bacino Orseolo, near St. Mark’s Square to ride gondolas.

A gondola is Venetian iconic boat that looks like a canoe. Painted black, it is 11 metres long with comfortable seats and ornately decorated.

 

Bacino Orseolo is a place for gondola rides

Bacino Orseolo is a place for gondola rides

Fellow tour members getting ready for a gondola ride

Fellow tour members enjoying a gondola ride

10 000 Gondolas

About 200 years ago, there were approximately 10 000 gondolas, but now there are about 500 left. Those boats were the chief means of transportation in Venice in the olden days. Today most of them are used for carrying tourists who want to enjoy the ride.

Venetian gondolas at a mooring on Grand Canal, Venice

Venetian gondolas at a mooring on Grand Canal, Venice

Bacino Orseolo

A tourist gondola can carry 6 persons and is rowed by a gondolier. My wife and I together with 4 members of the Tye family sat in a gondola at Bacino Orseolo, a small lake. Our seating in the gondola was decided by the gondolier as he did not want his boat to be tilted to one side

Writer, wife and Tye family enjoying gondola ride

Writer, wife and Tye family enjoying gondola ride

Slow Gondola Ride

Shortly afterwards, we were moving away from the lake. The boat was moving slowly along narrow canals and part of the large canal known as Grand Canal, passing under low bridges.

Gondola moving into busy Grand Canal of Venice

Gondola moving into busy Grand Canal of Venice

Marco, the Gondolier

Our gondolier was Marco. We asked him to sing for us while he was rowing, but there was no response from him. Anyway, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of  Venice as we were moving along the canals and under low bridges. The ride which lasted for about 20 minutes is a memorable one.

Marco is a skilful gondolier since he was a teenager.

Marco is a skilful gondolier plying his trade since he was a teenager.

Gondoliers row their boats with skill and care in narrow canals

Gondoliers row their boats with skill and care in narrow canals

Low canal bridges will be a problem for gondoliers to row their boats underneath.

Low canal bridges are a problem for gondoliers during high tide.

Rialto Bridge(Ponte de Rialto)

While riding in a gondola on Grand Canal, we saw an iconic bridge of Venice known as Rialto Bridge. Constructed in 1591, it spans Grand Canal and connects San Marco Island and San Palo Island.

Rialto Bridge(Ponte de Rialto) spanning Grand Canal was constructed in 1591.

Rialto Bridge(Ponte de Rialto) spanning Grand Canal was constructed in 1591.

Departure for Venice Mainland

Soon we left Venice’s San Marco Island and returned to the mainland of Venice. Then we headed west to a hotel, Hotel Da Porto, along Viale del Sole to stay overnight before going to Verona and Milan in the north the following day.

Previous / Home / Next

Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City

Italy Travel Part II : Rome(continued)

Italy Travel Part III: Pisa and Florence

Italy Travel Part IV: Venice

Italy Travel Part V(Final): Verona and Milan

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Writer’s List of Memorable Travels

July 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Writer’s List of Travels

1.  Africa

South Africa

South Africa Travel Part I:       Air Flight from KLIA to Cape Town, Cape Town Shantytowns

South Africa Travel Part II:      Table Mountain, Malay Quarter, Castle of Good Hope. A & V Waterfront

South Africa Travel Part III:     Hermanus, Cheetah Outreach, Stellenbosch, Jewel Africa

South Africa Travel Part IV:     Duiker Island of Seals, Cape Point, Boulders

South Africa Travel Part V:       Cape Town to Johannesburg, Pilanesberg National Park(Game Drives)

South Africa Travel Part VI:      Sun City, Union Buildings, Vootrekker Monument

South Africa Travel Part VII:    Kruger Museum, Church Square, Melrose Museum, Carnivore Restaurant

South Africa Travel  Final Part:  Gold Reef City: Gold Mine Museum

2.  Australia: 

Part I: Melbourne/Mornington Peninsula/Phillip Island),

Part II: Sydney

3.  China:

i. Beijing, Tianjin, Chengde Travel:

Part I: Beijing, Badaling

Part II: Beijing, Tianjin, Chengde

ii. China Relatives & Ancestral Places(Fujian Province)

Part I: Parents’ China Relatives

Part II: Hanjiang, Meizhou Island

Part III: Putian

 iii. Hong Kong Travel

Part I:  Hong Kong City Tour

Part II:  Hong Kong City Tour

 iv. Macau Travel

Macau City Tour

 v. Shanghai Travel

Part I:  Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing

Part II: Nanjing Bridge, Shanghai City, Shanghai Expo, Hangzhou

  vi.  Shenzhou, Hezhou, Quilin, Zhaoqing Travel

Part I: Shenzhen, Hezhou

Part II: Quilin, Yangshuo, Zhaoqing, Shenzhen

  vii. Taiwan Travel

Part I: Taipei

Part II:  Checheng, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Sanyi, Yehliu, Jioufen

  viii.  Yunnan Travel

Part I: Kunming, Jiu Xiang, Shilin, Dali

Part II: Dali, Lijiang

  ix. Zhangjiajie Travel

Part I: Tianmen, Zhangjia jie, Wulingyuan, Tianzi, Yuangjiajie

Part II: Dragon King Cave, Shaoshan, Changsha, Macau

  x.  China Expedition 2013

Part I: Thailand

Part II: Yunnan

Part III: Tibet

Part IV: Qinhai

Part V: Xinjiang

Part VI: Gansu

Part VII: Ningxia

Part VIII: Inner Mongolia

Part IX: Beijing

3. Egypt Travel

Egypt Travel Part I :Salah el Din Citadel, Muhammad Ali Mosque, Tahrir Square and Egyptian Museum

Egypt Travel Part II :Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple and Colossi of Memnon

Egypt Travel Part III :Hot Air Balloons and Karnak Temple Complex

Egypt Travel Part IV :Papyrus Paper-Making, Luxor Temple and Esna Lock

Egypt Travel Part V :Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo Temple and Galabia Party

Egypt Travel Part VI :Abu Simbel Temples and Nubian Village(Elephantine Island)

Egypt Travel Part VII :Unfinished Obelisk, Aswan High Dam and Philae Temple

Egypt Travel Part VIII:Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel, Moon Beach(Ras Sudr), and St. Catherine

Egypt Travel Part IX :Mount Sinai, Catherine’s Monastery and Sharm el Sheikh

Egypt Travel Part X  :Sharm el Sheikh

Egypt Travel Part XI :Cairo Food, Saqqara Step Pyramid Complex and Memphis

Egypt Travel Part XII :Great Giza Pyramid Complex and Khan el Khalil Bazaar

4.  Europe:

i.  Western Europe Travel

Part I: Germany, Switzerland, France

Part II: France, Belgium, Holland, England

ii.  Eastern Europe Travel

Part I: Budapest(Hungary)

Part II:  Bratislava(Slovakia)

Part III: Vienna(Austria)

Part IV: Vienna II(Austria)

Part V: Brno(Czech Republic)

Part VI: Prague(Czech Republic)

5.  Indonesia:

i.  Bali Travel       

ii Batam Island Travel

6. Italy:

Italy Travel Part I: Rome and Vatican City

Italy Travel Part II : Rome(continued)

Italy Travel Part III: Pisa and Florence

Italy Travel Part IV: Venice

Italy Travel Part V(Final): Verona and Milan

7.  Japan:

Part I: Osaka, Kyoto, Hamamatsu

Part II: Owakudani Valley, Mt. Fuji, Tokyo

8.  Myanmar:

Part I: Yangon, Bagan, Mount Popa

Part II: Yangon, Kyauktan

9.  New Zealand:

New Zealand Travel

10.  South Korea

Part I:  Seoul, Jeju Island

Part II:  Sokcho, Everland, Dongdaemum, DMZ, Seoul

11.  Singapore:

Singapore Heritage Trail

Part I: Chinatown, Little India

Part II: Malay Heritage, Civic District

12.  Thailand:

i. Bangkok, Ayuthaya Travel

Part I: Bangkok, Ayuthaya

Part I: Bangkok

ii. Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, The Golden Triangle Travel

Part I: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, The Golden Triangle

Part I: Maesa, Chiang Mai

iii.  Phuket Travel 

iv. Part I: Thailand (from China Ezpedition 2013)

13.  U.S.A & Canada

i.   East Coast

Part I: Philadeiphia, Washington D.C.

Part II: Niagara Falls, Toronto

Part III: Colborne, 1000 Islands, Ottawa

Part IV: Montreal, Quebec

Part V: Boston

Part VI: New York

Part VII: Woodbury Common Premium Outlets

ii.   West Coast

Part I: San Francisco

Part II: San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Las Vegas

Part III: Grand Canyon

Part IV: Las Vegas

Part V: Premium Outlets(S. California)

Part VI: Disneyland(Anaheim)

Part VII: Hollywood Walk of Fame(Los Angeles)

Part VIII: Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX: Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

14.   Vietnam

Hanoi Travel

Part I: Hanoi, Halong Bay

Part II: Hoa Lo, Tam Coc, Hanoi

END

South Africa Travel Part VII: Kruger Museum, Church Square, Melrose House, Carnivore Restaurant

February 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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South Africa Travel Part VII: Kruger Museum, Church Square, Melrose House, Carnivore Restaurant

(Continue from South Africa  Part VI)

Day 6   Thursday,  1 Dec 2016

Kruger Museum

After a visit to Voortrekker Monument where we learned about the history of Voortrekker(Dutch-speaking pioneers), we went to the city of Pretoria and stopped in front of a house which was already closed in the evening. That single-storeyed, wooden, Victorian-styled house was built in 1884 as a private residence for Paul Kruger and his family. It was located along Nkomo Street.

Kruger Museum. a former residence of Paul Kruger, the 4rd. President of South African Republic(1883-1900)

Kruger Museum, a former residence of Paul Kruger, the 3rd. President of South African Republic(1883-1900)

Paul Kruger

Paul Kruger(1825-1904) was a Boer leader and former President of South African Republic(Transvaal) from 1883 until 1900. During the Second Boer War(1899-1902) between the British Empire and Kruger’s men(Boers) in South Africa he went into exile in Europe where he died in Switzerland in 1904. The British won the war in 1902.

The house was restored in its original form and in 1934 it was opened to public as a museum, Kruger Museum. In the museum, visitors can see many things belonging to Paul Kruger and his wife.

Statues of White Lions 

As it was already closed when we arrived at the museum, we spent several minutes looking at its front. There were two statues of white lions in front of the entrance that attracted our attention. They were birthday gifts given on 10 Oct 1896 by a mining magnate, Barney Barnato, to Paul Kruger who was the President of South African Republic(Transvaal) then.

Kruger Church where Paul Kruger attended church services, frequently

Two statues in front of Kruger Museum given as birthday gifts for Paul Kruger in 1896 by a mining magnate, Barney Barnato

 

Kruger Church

Looking across the road from the museum, I saw a church where Paul Kruger attended church services, frequently. It was officially opened by Paul Kruger in 1897. Originally, the church was known as The Dopper Church, and later Reformed Church Pretoria. But now it is known as Kruger Church.

Kruger Church, a place opposite Kruger Museum where Paul Kruger attended church services, frequently

Kruger Church, a place opposite Kruger Museum where Paul Kruger attended church services, frequently

Church Square

Then we went to another place in the old town of Pretoria. It was a market place in the olden days. Later, a succession of three churches were built and demolished in the centre of the area. The first church was built in 1857 and the last one was demolished in 1905. As three churches had been built there, the people of Pretoria called it Church Square.

Church Square, originally, a market place

Church Square, originally, a market place

Statue of Paul Kruger

In the centre of the square stands a statue of a former President of South African Republic(1883-1900) on a high plinth, Paul Kruger(1825-1904). It was erected there in memory of Paul Kruger, a Boer leader who fought against the British Empire for the independence of Transvaal and former President of Transvaal or South African Republic(1883-1900).

Statue of Paul Kruger at the centre of Church Square

Statue of Paul Kruger at the centre of Church Square

Statue of Paul Kruger holding a walking-stick and wearing a hat on a high plinth at the centre of Church Square

Statue of Paul Kruger holding a walking-stick and wearing a hat on a high plinth in the centre of Church Square

Old Buildings

There are many old but historically and architecturally significant buildings sited around the square. They were built around the year 1900, such as Palace of Justice(1902, Tudor Chambers(1904), Old Council Chamber(1891), Old Nederlandsche Bank(1897), and General Post Office(1910).

Palace of Justice, is a high court where Nelson Mandela was put on Rivonial trial for treason in 1963-4

Palace of Justice, is a high court where Nelson Mandela was put on Rivonial trial for treason in 1963-4

Tudor Chambers was built in 1904

Tudor Chambers was built in 1904

Old Council Chamber was built in 1891

Old Council Chamber was built in 1891

Old Nederlandsche Bank was built in 1897.

Old Nederlandsche Bank was built in 1897.

General Post Office was built in 1910.

General Post Office was built in 1910.

Melrose House

After a short stay at Church Square, we went to Burgers Park in the centre of Pretoria City to see an elegant mansion built in 1886.

Known as Melrose House, it was owned by a wealthy businessman, George Jesse Heys. He and his family stayed there until it was taken over by the British forces that used it as military headquarters in 1900 during the Second Boer War(1899-1902). The war was fought between the Boers and the British soldiers. Boers were descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers in South Africa. The war ended when the Treaty of Veereniging was signed on 31 May 1902 in the mansion which later became well-known.

Melrose House was built in 1886 as a private residence and is now a museum that exhibits the belongings of the Heys' family and a room where the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed in 1902.

Melrose House was built in 1886 as a private residence for Heys and is now a museum that exhibits the belongings of the Heys’ family and a room where the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed in 1902.

Melrose Museum

This beautiful house is now a museum that has many exhibits belonging to the Heys family, such as paintings by British artists, exquisite carpets, ornate ceilings and fireplaces, original furniture, stained glass-windows, and many more.. Besides, the museum has a room and table on which the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed in 1902. Annual antique markets are held on its premises.

When we arrived at the museum in the evening it was closed to public. So, all we could do was to look at it from outside its fence for a few minutes before we went off for dinner.

Carnivore Restaurant

For dinner, we travelled to a restaurant known as Carnivore Restaurant in Muldersdrift, Gauteng, Johannesburg, which was 50 km south-west of Church Square in Pretoria.  It served exotic meat, i.e. meat of game or wild animals, such as zebra, crocodile, impala, and kudu.

Carnivore Restaurant located in Muldersdraft, Gauteng, Johannesburg

Carnivore Restaurant located in Muldersdrift, Gauteng, Johannesburg, that served exotic meat

The restaurant had a large dining hall. While walking along a passage-way to the hall, we saw on both sides some wooden, life-sized statues of South African tribal chiefs and a politician, such as the following:

a.  King Shaka(1787-1828) was an influential king of the Zulu Kingd0m. He was assassinated by his half-brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana, in 1828.

King Shaka III(1837-1923) was king of Ba Mangwato people of Bochuanaland(now Botswana)

King Shaka III(1837-1923) was king of Ba Mangwato people of Bochuanaland(now Botswana)

b.  King Mzilikazi(1790-1868) was the king of Matabele Kingdom which he founded. He was considered as one of the greatest African military leaders.

King Mzilikazi(1790-1868) was king of Matabele Kingdom he founded. He was considered as,one of the greatest African military leaders.

King Mzilikazi(1790-1868) was king of Matabele Kingdom he founded. He was considered as,one of the greatest African military leaders.

c. King Kgosi Mogale Mogale(1795-1869) was the king of Ba Po Ba Mogale Kingdom. His people remembered him for his bravery, diplomacy and leadership.

King Kgosi Mogale Mogale(1795-1869) was king of Ba Po Ba Mogale Kingdom. His people remembered him for his bravery, diplomacy and leadership.

King Kgosi Mogale Mogale(1795-1869) was king of Ba Po Ba Mogale Kingdom. His people remembered him for his bravery, diplomacy and leadership.

d. King Moshoeshoe(1787-1879) was the first king of Basotholand(now Lesotho).

King Moshoeshoe(1787-1879) was the first king of Basotholand(now Lesotho).

King Moshoeshoe(1787-1879) was the first king of Basotholand(now Lesotho).

e. King Khama III(1837-1923) was the king of Ba Mangwato people of Bechuanaland(now Botswana).

King Khama III(1837-1923) of Ba Mangwato people of Bechuanaland(now Botswana)

King Khama III(1837-1923) of Ba Mangwato people of Bechuanaland(now Botswana)

f. Mokope Modjadji(1936-2001) was the 5th. Rain Queen of the Balobeda tribe in Limpopo Province of South Africa from 1981 until 2001. Rain Queen was believed by her people to have special powers, like the ability to control clouds and rainfall.

Mokope Modjadji(1936-2001) was the 5th. Rain Queen of the Balobedu tribe on th Limpopo Province of South Africa from 1981 until 2001. Rain Queen was believed by her people to have special powers, like the ability to control clouds and rainfall.

Mokope Modjadji(1936-2001) was the 5th. Rain Queen of the Balobedu tribe on the Limpopo Province of South Africa from 1981 until 2001. Rain Queen was believed by her people to have special powers, like the ability to control clouds and rainfall.

g. Nelson Mandela(1918-2013) was an anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner for 27 years, politician, philanthropist and the first elected President of South Africa(1994-1999).

Nelson Mandela(1918-2013) was an anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner for 27 years, politician, philanthropist and first elected President of South Africa(1994-1999)

Nelson Mandela(1918-2013) was an anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner for 27 years, politician, philanthropist and first elected President of South Africa(1994-1999)

Dining Hall

In the dining hall of Carnivore Restaurant, we sat at the tables reserved for us. The hall was crowded with many diners from far and wide.

Dining Hall of Carnivore Restaurant, Muldersdrift, Gauteng, Johannesburg, South Africa

Dining Hall of Carnivore Restaurant, Muldersdrift, Gauteng, Johannesburg, South Africa

The dining hall of Carnivore Restaurant was crowded with diners.

The dining hall of Carnivore Restaurant was crowded with diners from far and wide.

First Serving

A bowl of green-coloured soup and plate of bread and salad were first served to us. Then one waiter after another with different grilled exotic meat on long, large skewers came to our tables and cut a large piece of the meat for each of us.

A bowl of green-coloured soup and a plate of bread and salad were first served.

A bowl of green-coloured soup and a plate of bread and salad were first served.

A waiter went from one diner to another offering exotic meat.

A waiter went from one diner to another offering exotic meat.

Another waiter came with another kind of exotic meat offering the diners the meat.

Another waiter came with another kind of exotic meat offering the diners the meat.

Exotic Meat for Dinner

The kinds of meat we were given for the dinner were zebra, impala, kudu, venison(deer) and crocodile. Domestic animals’ meat was served, too, namely chicken, lamb and beef. Most of us did not enjoy eating the exotic meat as some were tasteless, rubbery and tough.

The meat I liked was the crocodile meat which was soft and tender, and venison sausage and balls, too. Anyway, we, Malaysians, enjoyed the fellowship atmosphere while having dinner together at the restaurant.

A hot-plate of exotic meat of zebra, impala and kudu, and domestic animals' meat. like chicken and pork

A hot-plate of exotic meat of zebra, impala and kudu, and domestic animals’ meat of chicken and lamb, together with some vegetables

A piece of crocodile tasted better than other exotic meat as it was tender and tasted like chicken

A piece of crocodile tasted better than other exotic meat as it was tender and soft, and tasted like chicken-meat.

Large Open-Air Stove

During dinner, I walked to a large open-air, circular stove in the centre of the dining hall. Large junks of meat of zebra, impala, kudu and crocodile on large skewers were roasted over the hot stove. Besides, domestic meat of chicken, beef and lamb were grilled over it.

Large junks of exotic meat are roasted over a large open-air, circular stove at Carnivore Restaurant

Large junks of exotic meat were roasted over a large open-air, circular stove at Carnivore Restaurant

Large junks of exotic meat were roasted over a large open-air, circular stove at Carnivore Restaurant

Large junks of exotic meat were roasted over a large open-air, circular stove at Carnivore Restaurant

A Picture of Game-Animals

There was a picture of four game-animals, zebra, kudu, impala and crocodile, near the stove, implying that the meat of those game-animals was for the dinner.

Meat of four game-animals, zebra, kudu, impala and crocodile, was for the dinner at Carnivore Restaurant

Meat of four game-animals, viz. zebra, kudu, impala and crocodile, was for the dinner at Carnivore Restaurant

Happy Mood Before Dinner

As our fellow-Malaysians were in happy mood before the dinner started at Carnivore Restaurant, I went round taking photos of them. See them in the photos below.

Fellow-Malaysians in happy mood before dinner of exotic meat at Carnivore Restaurant

Fellow-Malaysians were in happy mood before dinner of exotic meat at Carnivore Restaurant

Fellow-Malaysians at another table were in happy mood before dinner of exotic meat at Carnivore Restaurant.

Fellow-Malaysians at another table were in happy mood before dinner of exotic meat at Carnivore Restaurant.

Fellow-Malaysians at the last table were in happy mood before the dinner of exotic meat at Carnivore Restaurant

Fellow-Malaysians at the last table were in happy mood before the dinner of exotic meat at Carnivore Restaurant

Peermont Mondior Hotel

After dinner at Carnivore Restaurant, we left for a hotel, Peermont Mondior Hotel, which was 50 km south-east of the restaurant, but near Johannesburg International Airport or O.R. Tambo International Airport. We stayed there for a night and would leave for a gold mine museum in the morning.

Hotel Peermont Mondior where Malaysians stayed overnight near Johannesburg International Airport

Hotel Peermont Mondior where Malaysians stayed overnight near Johannesburg International Airport

(continue in South Africa Travel  Final Part)

Written by Choo Chaw

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Home

South Africa Travel Part I:       Air Flight from KLIA to Cape Town, Cape Town Shantytowns

South Africa Travel Part II:      Table Mountain, Malay Quarter, Castle of Good Hope. A & V Waterfront

South Africa Travel Part III:     Hermanus, Cheetah Outreach, Stellenbosch, Jewel Africa

South Africa Travel Part IV:     Maiden’s Cove, Hout Bay, Duiker Island(Seals), Boulders, Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope

South Africa Travel Part V:       Pilanesberg National Park(Game Drives/Safaris)

South Africa Travel Part VI:      Sun City Resort, Union Buildings, Vootrekker Monument

South Africa Travel Part VII      Kruger Museum, Church Square, Melrose House, Carnivore Restaurant

South Africa Travel  Final Part  Gold Reef City, Gold Mine Museum

U.S.A. and Canada East Coast Travel Part VI(New York)

U.S.A. and Canada East Coast Travel Part VI(New York)

Day 10 Sunday, 21 June 2015

At 8.30 in the morning we left our hotel, Reanaissance Woodbridge Hotel at Iselin in New Jersey and went 31 km north-east to Pier 15 on New York Harbour in Lower Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty on a tiny island called Liberty Island.

Map showing the Hornblower boat route from Pier 15 to the Statue of Liberty and back

 

Hornblower Boat Cruise

When we arrived at Pier 15, the sky was cloudy and we were worried that it might rain. After queuing up for half an hour together with other tourists, we boarded a Hornblower boat. When it was going to the Liberty Island we were glad that the sky became bright and the Statue of Liberty could be seen in the distance, clearly.

Visitors queuing up at Pier 15 for a Hornblower boat cruise to the Statue of Liberty

Visitors on a Hornblower boat that is moving, slowly, to the Statue of Liberty

A boat-load of visitors at Pier 15 going to see the Statue of Liberty

 

Bridges and Skyscrapers of New York City

As the boat was moving, slowly, towards the statue, we saw bridges, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, connecting New York City and Brooklyn on Long Island, and skyscrapers of New York City moving away from us.

Then, half an hour later, the boat stopped for awhile near the Statue of Liberty, and we and others on the boat were excited and began to snap photos of the huge apple-green statue.

Pier 15 in the foreground and New York City skyscrapers in the background

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge connecting New York City and Brooklyn

Skyscrapers of New York City during a cloudy day

 

Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island

Created in the image of a Roman goddess, Libertas, in 1886, the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island was a gift to the U.S.A. from France as a gesture of friendship. Standing at a height of 34 metres on a 27 metre-pedestal, the goddess holds a torch high in her right hand and a tablet in her left hand with the inscribed date of the American Declaration of Independence: “July 4, 1776”. Besides, there is a broken chain lying at her feet symbolising freedom from bondage.

Statue of Liberty on Liberty on Liberty Island

 

In 1984, the icon of freedom was designated as a UNESCO heritage site. In the UNESCO’s “Statement of Significance”, it declares that the statue is a symbol of “liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy and opportunity”.

Ellis Island

Near the statue is another island known as Ellis Island. It was the first stop and gateway for 12 million migrants who were mostly Europeans to places all over the United States from 1892 until 1954. Since 1990 the main building on the island is made a museum of immigration.

Choo Chaw and wife on a boat-cruise to see the Statue of Liberty

Ying Zi and daughter on a boat-cruise to see the Statue of Liberty

Helen and daughter on a boat-cruise to see the Statue of Liberty

 

Soon we went back to Pier 15. After disembarking the board at the pier, we walked to South Street, crossed the road, and walked to Wall Street.

Wall Street, New York City

Wall street stretches from South Street to Broadway, a length of 1.1 km. It is narrow with multi-storey buildings on both its sides. Located in the New York Financial District, Wall Street has become a metonym for financial and corporate sector. It attracts lots of tourists from all over the world.

Map showing the significant landmarks in New York Financial District

Wall Street joining South Street in the background in New York Financial District

Choo Chaw and wife on Wall Street that joins Broadway in the background in New York Financial District

 

1 Wall Street Court

As I was walking along the street an unusual building of 15 storeys high and in a triangular shape caught my eyes. Located at the intersection of Wall Street, Pearl Street and Beaver Street, it was completed in 1904 and first occupied by Munson Steamship Co. and later by many other companies. Known as 1 Wall Street Court, it now becomes a residential building since 2006.

1 Wall Street Court in New York Financial District, New York, U.S.A.

 

New York Stock Exchange

Soon we came to the world’s largest stock exchange by market capitalisation that is located at 11, Wall Street. Known as New York Stock Exchange(NYSE) and built in 1903, it provides a means for buyers and sellers to trade shares of stock in companies registered for public trading. It has an index, NYSE Composite Index, to measure the overall market performance over time. It has other indices too, like Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJIA), Nasdaq Composite and S & P 500.

New York Stock Exchange behind Rama and wife in New York Financial District, New York, U.S.A.

 

American Stock Exchange Building

There is another building nearby. It is at 86, Trinity Place which was built in 1921. It was used as a stock market for equities trading by the New York Curb Exchange which was renamed the American Stock Exchange in 1953. The building then known as American Stock Exchange was closed on 1 December 2008 and all its equities trading activities were moved to New York Stock Exchange at 11, Wall Street.

American Stock Exchange closed in 2008 after over 89 years of equities trading in New York Financial District, New York, U.S.A.

 

Federal Hall National Memorial

There is an old building known as Federal Hall National Memorial across Wall Street from the NYSE Building. It was built in 1842 to replace the old one which was built in 1700 as New York’s City Hall that was later demolished in 1812.

Federal Hall National Memorial built in 1842 to replace the one as New York’s City Hall, New York City

 

When the new Federal Hall was built in 1842 it first served as the U.S. Custom House, later Sub-Treasury Building and now a national memorial that commemorates the historic events that had happened there. Among the events are: the former hall at the same site was made the first Capitol Building of the U.S., and used as the place where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the U.S. on 30 April 1789 and the U.S. Bill of Rights was introduced in the First Congress.

Statue of George Washington outside Federal Hall National Memorial in New York Financial District, New York

A plaque of George Washington on his knees and praying outside Federal Hall National Memorial, New York City

A picture showing George Washington being inaugurated as the first President of U.S.A. on 30 April 1789 outside Federal Hall National Memorial, New York City

 

Trinity Church

Trinity Church can be seen from Wall Street. It is at the end of Wall Street and on Broadway. Built in Gothic Revival architectural style in 1839-1846, it is a parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. This is the third church being built at the same spot to replace two old ones.

The first one was built in 1698 and destroyed in the Great New York City Fire of 1776. Then the second one was built in 1788-1790 and torn down later due to severe snow that weakened it during the winter of 1838-1839.

Facade of Trinity Church on Broadway, New York City

Trinity Church on Broadway, New York City

Trinity Church as seen from Wall Street, New York City

 

Zuccotti Park

After touring Wall Street, we walked to Zuccotti Park where trees were grown. At this park two sculptures can be seen. One known as “Joy of Life” is a 70-foot-tall sculpture consisting of bright red beams that look like three “X”s joining together in the middle. and the other sculpture known as “Double Check” is a bronze businessman with an open bag on his lap sitting on a bench. Out of curiosity, I looked at the things he had in the bag. There were pencils, papers, pen, stapler, stamp-pad and a communication-machine in it.

Zuccotti Park near World Trade Center, New York City

Helen and daughter with a sculpture of a businessman at Zuccotti Park, New York

Sculpture of “Joy of Life” at Zuccotti Park, New York City

 

This park is a tourists’ favourite place as they can see One World Trade Center towering high across the intersection of Liberty Street and Trinity Place.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center, the main building of the World Trade Center Complex, is 1776 feet(541,3 m) high consisting of 104 storeys. The figure “1776” is intended to symbolize the year 1776 when the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed.

This modern building at 285, Fulton Street, Manhattan, New York, is the 4th. tallest in the world. It was built in 2013 and opened on 3 November 2014. It is built to replace the Twin Towers which were destroyed by the al-Qaeda terrorists in 2001.

One World Trade Center, the tallest building in New York City as seen from a Hornblower boat on East River

 

Twin Towers

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center at the same site as One World Trade Center were destroyed by terrorists’ attacks on 11 September 2001 and about 3 000 people were killed. They were built in 1970s each over 1350 feet(410 m) high,

One World Trade Center was opened in 2014 and the other one is under construction in New York City

Twin Towers of the World Trade Center built in 1970s and destroyed by terrorists’ attacks on 11 September 2001

One World Trade Center has 104 storeys and is 1776 feet(541.3 m) high. The other building is under costruction.

 

Terrorists’ Attacks on World Trade Center on 9/11

In the morning of 11 September 2001 five al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked an American Airlines Flight 11 and crashed it into the North Tower. Several minutes later, another group of al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked a United Airlines Flight 175 and crashed it into the South Tower. The South Tower was burning for an hour before it collapsed, while the North Tower was burning for two hours before it too collapsed.

Twin Towers of World Trade Center under terrorists’ attacks on 11 Sept 2001 in New York City

 

Since those terrorists’ attacks or 9/11 attack, airport security is tightened worldwide. Passengers have to take off their shoes and belts, and go through full-body scanners at airport check-points. Besides, liquids more than 100 ml, knives, box-cutters, cigarette lighters and other objects that may be used for threatening life are not allowed to be carried by passengers into airplanes. These strict checks cause long queues at airports.

Charging Bull

Later, we left Zuccotti Park and walked to Bowling Green. At this place there is one large sculpture of a bull. It looks muscular and fierce. It is leaning back on its haunches, lowering its head, curving its tail like a lash and getting ready to charge.

Bronze Sculpture of “Charging Bull” weighing 3 200 kg at Bowling Green in New York City

 

But it looks so adorable that tourists like to gather round it and hope to get a chance to take a photo with it. Besides, they like to touch its head, nose and horns believing that it will bring them good fortune, and its testicles believing that it will give them fertility or virility power.

Tourists gathering round the “Charging Bull” at Bowling Green, New York City

A tourist rubbing the bull’s testicles hoping to get virility power

Mr. and Mrs. Koh posing with the “Charging Bull” in New York City

 

The sculpture is known as “Charging Bull”, “Wall Street Bull” or “Bowling Green Bull”. Created by a sculptor, Arturo Di Modica and installed at the present site on Dec 21, 1989, it is made of bronze weighing 3 200 kg, standing 3.4 metres tall and having a length of 4.9 metres. It symbolizes aggresive financial optimism and prosperity. It is now New York City’s icon.

Choo Chaw and wife posing with the “Charging Bull” in New York City

 

Having seen the Charging Bull, we walked to our tour-coach on Battery Place where Roanne, our patient and friendly driver, was waiting for us. When all of were on the bus, Roanne drove us to another tourists’ place of interest called “Times Square”.

Times Square

Times Square is in Manhattan, New York City, and it is one of the most popular tourists’ destinations in the world. Over 300, 000 tourists visit the place, daily.

In 1904, a 25-storey building was built for a local newspaper company, The New York Times. Hence, the open space in front of it was and still is called “Times Square”. This building is now known as “One Times Square”. It has a large ball atop and will illuminate a kaleidoscope of LED coloured lights when it is lowered on every New Year’s eve ushering in a new year. Hundreds of thousands of revellers will be there to watch it. It is a site for other important events, too.

One Times Square in in the background Times Square in New York City

Continuous flow of tourists to Times Square in New York City

Tourists in Times Square in New York City

 

Adjacent to Times Square is a small area known as Duffy Square that was dedicated in 1937 to Chaplain Francis P. Duffy(1871-1932) who was a member of the New York City’s U.S. 69th. Infantry Regiment. A statue of him is erected in the square in memory of him. In the same square, there is another statue. It is of George M. Cohan(1878-1942) erected in 1959 to commemorate his invaluable contribution to the entertainment industry.

Duffy Square adjacent to Times Square in New York City

Statue of George M. Cohan in Duffy Square, New York City

Statue of Chaplain Francis P. Duffy in Duffy Square, New York City

 

Times Square is a place surrounded by over 40 Broadway theatres that offer live, large-scale performances, like musicals, plays and magic shows. Buildings at this bustling place are adorned with large billboards advertising foods, goods and Broadway shows or musicals like “The Lion King”, “Aladdin”, “Chicago”, “Mama Mia!” and “The Phantom of the Opera”. Over 13 million people watched performances in these theatres last year(2014).

Multi-storey buildings around Times Square adorned with large, advertising bill-boards

Multi-storey buildings in Times Square adorned with large bill-boards advertising Broadway musicals and shows

Multi-storey buildings in Times Square adorned with large bill-boards advertising Broadway musicals and shows

 

International Day of Yoga

We were in Times Square on 21 June 2015 and, coincidentally, it was International Day of Yoga. It was declared on 11 December 2014 by the United Nations General Assembly. So, in Times Square, there were hundreds of people doing yoga at the same time to celebrate the occasion.

Yoga participants celebrating International Day of Yoga in Times Square, New York City

Choo Chaw enjoying the sights and sounds in Times Square, New York City

Yoga participants celebrating the International Day of Yoga in Times Square, New York City

 

Later, three young, pretty ladies from the “Chicago” musical group appeared in Duffy Square and performed a short dance for the visitors. From a flier I received, the dancers together with others would be performing at Ambassador Theatre nearby.

Three young, pretty ladies performing a “Chicago” musical dance in Duffy Square

Choo Chaw’s wife enjoying the sights and sounds in Duffy Square in New York City

A flier advertising “Chicago” musical show at Ambassador Theatre near Times Square

 

After spending several hours at the vibrant, crowded Times Square, we walked to Rockefeller Center which was a few hundred metres away.

30 Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center consists of several buildings between 48th. and 51st. streets in New York City. But we visited one of them which is known as 30 Rockefeller Center.

30 Rockefeller Center in Midtown, New York City

 

Built in 1931-1939, 30 Rockefeller Center has 70 floors and 850 feet(260 m) high. It has an observation deck on its top that offers 360-degree panoramic view of New York City. The deck is popularly known as “”Top of the Rock”.

Choo Chaw and wife on “Top of the Rock”, an observation deck atop 30 Rockefeller Center, New York City

Southern part of New York City as seen from the top of 30 Rockefeller Center

Northern part of New York City as seen from the top of 30 Rockefeller Center

It was a sunny day when my wife and I went up to the “Top of the Rock”. Standing on the observation deck, we were mesmerized by the spectacular view of the whole city of New York, a city of hundreds of skyscrapers, seemingly, competing for heights.

Eastern part of New York City as seen from the top of 30 Rockefeller Center

Skyscrapers below the observation deck atop 30 Rockefeller Center

Western part of New York City as seen from the top of 30 Rockefeller Center

 

At 4 in the afternoon we ended our New York City tour and went back to our hotel, Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, at Iselin in Woodbridge Township. It is 31 km south-west 0f New York City.

Location of New York and Iselin

 

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U.S.A & Canada East Coast Travel

Part I   Philadelphia & Washington D.C.

Part II   Niagara Falls & Toronto City

Part III Colborne, 1000 Islands & Ottawa City

Part IV  Montreal & Quebec City

Part V   Boston

Part VI  New York

Part VII Woodbury, JFK Airport & Home

U.S.A. and Canada East Coast Travel Part I(Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.)

August 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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U.S.A. East Coast Travel Part I(Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.)

(Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.)

Day 1 Friday, 12 June 2015

Air-Flight from Singapore to Philadelphia, U.S.A. Via Qatar

On 12 June 2015(Singapore date), my wife and I joined a group of Singaporeans headed by Andy Yuan, a tour-manager of  EU Holidays Pte. Ltd.(Singapore), at Terminal 3, Changi International Airport in Singapore to experience a 10-day U.S.A.-Canada land tour. At 9.50 p.m. we flew off on a a Qatar plane and arrived at 4.50 a.m. at Doha Airport in Qatar on 13 June 2015(Singapore local time and date).

Choo Chaw and wife at Terminal 3, Changi International Airport, Singapore

The U.S.A.-Canada 12-day land tour

Choo Chaw(Right) in the tour group

 

At the airport we immediately changed to another Qatar plane which departed at 5.a.m.(Singapore local time) for U.S.A.. At 8.45 a.m. on on 13 June 2015(U.S. local time and date) we arrived at Philadelphia International Airport in U.S.A.. The total time we spent on the air-flight from Singapore to U.S.A. was about 16 hours!

 

Andy Yuan, our tour-manager from EU Holidays Pte. Ltd., Singapore

Air-flight from Qatar to Singapore

Air-flight from Qatar to Philadelphia in U.S.A.

 

Philadelphia, U.S.A.

On arrival at Philadelphia International Airport in the morning on 13 June 2015(U.S. local time and date), we went through a stringent security check, like taking off our belts(for men), socks and shoes, and emptying our pockets. After a long immigration clearance, we entered the arrival hall where a large U.S.A. national flag hanging down from the middle of the ceiling greeted us.

U.S.A. National Flag

The U.S.A. national flag has 50 stars that represent 50 states and 13 stripes that represent the 13 British colonies that declared independence from Britain in 1776. It was adopted on 4 July 1960.

 

National Flag of U.S.A.

Roanne, the group’s capable, friendly and courteous coach-driver

Coach that brings the group on a 12-day tour on the east coast of U.S.A. and Canada

 

 

 

Independence National Historical Park

Coming out of the airport, we boarded a coach driven by a middle-aged, friendly and courteous American lady, Roanne. She brought us straight to a well-known historical place in Philadelphia City. It is known as Independence National Historical Park which was established in 1948 due to the effort of Judge Edwin O. Lewis.

Independence National Historical Park established in 1948 in Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Independence Hall

In this famous area, there is a very important, well-preserved building, Independence Hall, which was built in 1732 and completed in 1753. It was in this building three very important documents were debated, drafted and signed leading to the birth of a new nation, the United States of America, in 1776. The documents were Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of USA. These documents are displayed in the building. A statue of George Washington(the first President of U.S.A.) can be seen in front of the Hall.

Independence Hall built in 1732 and completed in 1753 in Philadelphia, U.S.A.

A statue of the first President of U.S.A. in front of Independence Hall, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Choo Chaw and wife at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, U.S.A. on 12 June 2015

 

 

 

Old “White House” Site

A site located over 100 metres from Independence Hall is marked as the location of the old residence(“White House”) of the first two Presidents, George Washington(1789-1797) and John Adams(1797-1801).

Location of the old “White House” where the first two Presidents of U.S.A. had stayed at the Park

Liberty Bell

Besides, there is an old, large bronze bell which has a crack, Liberty Bell, displayed at the Liberty Bell Centre. It carries a biblical quotation: “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants”. Created in Britain in 1752, it was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and alert citizens to the public meetings and proclamations in Philadelphia. As the queue was long we did not get inside to see it. But we saw it through a glass-window outside.

Liberty Bell as seen through a window-glass from outside the Liberty Bell Center at the Historical Park in Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Long queue of tourists outside the Liberty Bell Center at the Historical Park, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Drawing of the Liberty Bell with a crack

 

 

Freedom Bell

There is another bell in front of Independence Hall. It is smaller and shiny known as “Freedom Bell”. It is put up by the U.S. Army in honour of their armed forces of the past, present and future.

“The Freedom Bell” set up by the U.S. Army in honour of their armed forces of the past, present and future at the Historical Park, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Independence Visitor Center

This centre provides information on the Independence National Historical Park. Besides, visitors can listen to talks on American history in “Once Upon a Nation” corner, buy souvenirs at a gift-stall , listen to American traditional musics or snap a photo with Rocky who was a heavyweight boxer in a movie made in 1976. Sylvestor Stallone acted as Rocky in the movie that earned three Oscars. Later, Stallone became the major star as Rocky in another four movies: Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV and Rocky V.

Independence Visitor Center at the Park

An American in a traditional costume playing a stringed instrument at Visitor Center at the historical park, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Tourists listening to a lady talking about American history at Visitor Center at the historical Park, Philadelphia

Hotel Gaithersburg

At 2.30 p.m. we left Philadelphia for Gaithersburg in Maryland. At 5 p.m. we arrived at the place and checked in at Hotel Marriott where we spent a night, comfortably.

Snap a photo with Rocky at Independence Visitor Center at the Historical Park

Hotel Marriott at Gaithersburg, Maryland, U.S.A.

An old American horse-drawn carriage carrying tourists for sightseeing around Philadelphia Old Town, U.S.A.

 

Day 2  Saturday, 14 June 2015

After breakfast at 8 a.m. at Hotel Marriott, we went to National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washingto, D.C..

National Mall and Memorial Park, Washington D.C. 

Established in 1965, National Mall and Memorial Parks have some national monuments and memorials erected to honour, respect and remember Americans who had made invaluable contributions and sacrifices to their nation. It is also a place for visitors to reflect and be inspired by them.

A pictorial map of the National Mall and Memorial Park in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Andy Yuan, our tour-manager, talking to us about the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Tour-members and Choo Chaw entering the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

 

On the National Mall and Memorial Parks, we visited the following places:

a. Vietnam Women’s Memorial

Created in 1993, the memorial honours the civilian and military American women who rendered their services in the Vietnam War(1955-1975). This memorial shows a statue of three American military nurses taking care of a wounded soldier.

Vietnam Women’s Memorial erected in memory of American women serving in the Vietnam War(1955-1975)

b. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Completed in 1982, the memorial honours American soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War(1955-1975). It shows a statue of three American soldiers looking at the Wall with over 58 000 of their unfortunate comrades’ names in the distance.

The Vietnam War was a long, costly war fought between the communist North Vietnam and the democratic South Vietnam. The principal allies of the North were China and Soviet Union whereas the South was the United States.

Owing to strong protest at home, the United States ended the war in 1973. Two years later, the two regions were unified under Communist control. The twenty year-war resulted in more than 3 million people killed, including 58 000 Americans.

A statue of three American soldiers of the Vietnam War(1955-1975) at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Wall in the distance containing 58 000 names of missing or deceased American soldiers in the Vietnam War(1955-1975)

A statue of three American soldiers looking at The Wall in the distance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

 

 

 

 

c. Lincoln Memorial

Built in 1914 and completed in 1922, the memorial honours Abraham Lincoln, the 16th. President of U.S.A.(1861-1865). It houses a large statue of Lincoln sitting alone on a chair. His two famous speeches, “The Gettysburg Address” and “Second Inaugural Address” are engraved on a wall on his left.

Lincoln Memorial in memory of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th. President of U.S.A(1861-1865)

Choo Chaw and wife in front of Statue of Abraham Lincoln in the hall of the memorial

Some Abraham Lincoln’s Quotations

 

 

 

d. Washington Monument

Constructed in 1848 and opened to public in 1885, Washington Monument, a 169 metre-high obelisk, honours U.S.A.’s first President, George Washington(1732-1799) who was in office from 1789 till 1797.

I saw it in the distance, clearly, from the Lincoln Memorial and its reflection in a pool of water known as Reflecting Pool. I saw it again while I was at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Washington Monument in memory of the first President of U.S.A., George Washington, as seen from Lincoln Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial in memorial of the U.S.A. and U.N. soldiers involved in Korean War(1950-1955)

Washington Monument as seen from Thomas Jefferson Memorial

 

e. Korean Veterans Memorial

Korean Veterans Memorial was added to the National Mall and Memorial Parks in 1995 to dedicate to the American men and women who were involved in the Korean War(1950-1953). Casualty statistics of the soldiers who fought in the war are engraved in four black granite blocks at the memorial, viz. Dead(US 54 245 UN 628 833), Wounded(US 103 284 UN 1 064 453), Captured(US 7 140 UN 92 970) and Missing(8 177 UN 470267).

The Korean War(1950-1953) was fought between the communist North Korea and democratic South Korea. The U.N. and U.S.A. soldiers fought for the South, while China and Soviet Union fought for the North. It ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed creating a 250km-long Demilitarized Zone at 38th. parallel north that separated and continues to separate North and South Korea. Occasional clashes happen between the two sides.

Information of U.S.A. and U.N. soldiers died in Korean War(1950-1955)

Information of wounded U.S.A. and U.N. soldiers involved in Korean War(1953-1953)

Information of captured U.S.A. and U.N. soldiers involved in Korean War(1950-1953)

 

At the memorial, there are 19 stainless steel statues of American soldiers, seemingly, “on patrol in a rugged terrain and a harsher weather in Korea” during the Korean War(1950-1953). They were created by a WWII veteran, Frank Gaylord. On a 50 metre-long, black, granite wall, over 2 500 photographic images of unidentified American soldiers involved in the war can be seen. They were sandblasted into the wall by Louis Nelson, a graphic designer.

Information of missing U.S.A. and U.N. soldiers involved in Korean War(1950-1953)

Images of unidentified soldiers involved in Korean War(1950-1955) on a 50 metre-long black granite wall at Korean War Veterans Memorial

19 stainless statues of U.S.A. soldiers at Korean War Veterans Memorial

 

f. Thomas Jefferson Memorial

This memorial was built in dedication to Thomas Jefferson(1743-1826) who was the third President of U.S.A.(1801-1809). He was involved in drafting and signing the “Declaration of Independence” in 1776 and a strong supporter of democracy and human rights.

In the memorial building, a tall statue of Jefferson was erected and surrounded by some of his speeches engraved on the walls. The speeches are his expressions of democracy, liberty, freedom, human rights, etc.

Choo Chaw and wife in front of Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Picture of Thomas Jefferson and his lawmakers inside the memorial

Statue of Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd. President of U.S.A.(1801-1809), in the memorial hall

g. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

In 2011 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Memorial Mall was created to dedicate to King.

King was a well-known civil rights activist seeking equality for the marginalised African Americans and helping to bring about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights of 1965.

On 23 August 1963, King made a famous public speech, “I Have a Dream”, from Lincoln steps in front of over 250 000 civil rights supporters on Memorial Mall in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On 4 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, he was assassinated at the age of 39. Third Monday of January every year since 1986 is a federal holiday in U.S.A. in honour of the King.

A huge statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., an American civil rights activist(1929-1968), at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

The U.S. Capitol, the seat of the U.S. Congress, opened in 1899

A long wall with King’s famous quotations at his memorial

 

 

 

 

h. The United States Capitol

The United States Capitol sitting on top of Capitol Hill is the seat of the United States Congress consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Opened in 1899, it is built in neoclassical architectural style. It holds major events, like presidential inaugurations, Independence Day celebrations, National Memorial Day and public paying their last respect to important persons lying in state.

Its dome is now under restoration and scheduled to be done in 2017.

Choo Chaw and wife and the White House, the residence and workplace of U.S.A. presdidents since 1800, in the distance

i. White House

Located at 1600 Pennsylvania in Washington, D.C., White House is the place where United States Presidents live and conduct the government of the nation. John Adams was the first president to occupy the House in 1800.

It has become a symbol of Presidency and stands for the power and statesmanship of the Chief Executive.

Fashion Centre or Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia

Fashion Centre or Pentagon City Mall, Arlington

After the visit to the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C., we went to Arlington to have lunch at the largest enclosed shopping mall there, Fashion Centre or Pentagon City Mall. It houses 170 retailers and restaurants. After lunch at 2 p.m., we left the mall for Harrisburg.

Hershey’s Chocolate World, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Hershey’s Chocolate World

On the way to Harrisburg, we stopped at a famous chocolate shop, Hershey’s Chocolate World, where we learnt about chocolate making and bought a few kinds of chocolate. It has a few attractions, like Great Chocolate Mystery in 4D, Trolley Works and Wrap Happiness.

Hotel Radisson in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Hotel Radisson in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Then we continued our journey and arrived at Harrisburg in Pennsylvania at 8 p.m. where we stayed for a night at Hotel Radisson.

Home / Next

U.S.A & Canada East Coast Travel

Part I   Philadelphia & Washington D.C.

Part II   Niagara Falls & Toronto City

Part III Colborne, 1000 Islands & Ottawa City

Part IV  Montreal & Quebec City

Part V   Boston

Part VI  New York

Part VII Woodbury, JFK Airport & Home

 

Bangkok, Ayuthaya Travel (Part I)

December 24, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Ayuthaya Travel (Part I), Bangkok, Uncategorized 
Bangkok,  Ayuthaya Travel (Part I)
 History of  Bangkok    
Map showing the location of Bangkok and Ayuthya in Thailand

Map showing the location of Bangkok and Ayuthaya

Bangkok began as a small village and later a trading centre. It developed rapidly when King Thaksin made it the new capital of Thailand in 1767. The old one, Ayutthaya, which is 80 km north of Bangkok, was captured by the Burmese soldiers in 1767.

People and Attractions

Bangkok has now become a fast growing city in Asia with a population of over 10 millions.  Although it has become a financial and commercial hub of Thailand with modern, tall buildings, it still preserves the old ones which have historical, religious and cultural significance.

Known as the “City of Angels”, it attracts over 10 million tourists annually. It is well-known for Buddhist temples with unique architectural designs, food, shopping centres, night bazaars, roadside stalls, entertainment, historical and cultural sites.

Map of Bangkok City

Over 90% of its people of diverse races have a common religion, Buddhism and culture. There are about 400 Buddhist temples, 55 mosques, 10 churches and 2 Hindu temples in the city. As it has so many temples, it should also be known as the “City of Temples”. The Thais are helpful and friendly, and they live up to the country’s motto: “Land of Smiles”.

“Venice of the East”

Located on the east bank of River Chao Phraya in a low delta area with many rivers and canals (khlongs), Bangkok is known as “Venice of the East”. In olden days, canals or khlongs were built mainly for irrigating paddy fields and water transport. Many houses, shops and markets were built along those that were used as waterways. Some of them had floating markets. But nowadays many have been filled up to make way for roads.

Sinking Bangkok      

Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand

Traffic jams and air-pollution are two major problems in the city now. Hopefully, the Thai government will find quick solutions to these problems, otherwise tourism will be affected badly. It is reported that the vibrant city is sinking and some parts of its land may be under water in 20 years’ time.

Bangkok and Ayuthaya, Writer’s Next Destinations

After an interesting trip to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle in Thailand in July 2006, my wife and I were off again to two more cities in Thailand in December 2007, i.e. Bangkok and Ayuthaya

Bangkok City Inn, Bangkok, Thailand

On 4 December 2007, we left Kuala Lumpur Airport by an Air Asia airbus plane, A320 and, two hours later, we arrived safely at Bangkok’s new airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport, which was one year-old then. Built 28 km south-east of Bangkok, it is an airport which is comparable to other large international airports in the world. Its large, massive steel-roof looks like a row of curved and oval-shaped parachutes from a distance.

As a railway linking the airport and the Makkasan Station in the downtown was not ready yet, we took a taxi and in less than an hour to reach our budget hotel known as Bangkok City Inn in the downtown.

Below is the itinerary of our unforgettable  Bangkok and Ayutthaya tour from 4 December 2007 till 7 December 2007.

1.      Ratchadamri Nightlife and Central World
2.     Ayutthaya : Bang Pa-In Palace

3.     Ayutthaya : Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Si Sanpet, Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit

4.     Chao Phraya River Boat Cruise

5.     Suan Lum Night Bazaar

6.      The Grand Palace, The Emerald Buddha Temple, Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Intrawihan

7.      Anantasamakhon Throne Hall, King Rama V Monument, Democracy Monument, Victory Monument

8.      Silom, Patpong and Chinatown

9.      Thai Body Massage, Floating Market, Khlong Saen Saep and Phetburi Road

10.      Bangkok City Inn, Vishnu Kurmavatara and Departure for Malaysia

Day 1 : Tuesday, 4 December 2007  

Ratchadamri Road Nightlife

After checking in at Bangkok City Inn  in Bangkok City we left the hotel in the evening and went to look for roadside food-stalls nearby to savour the cheap but nutritious Thai food for dinner. We found a row of them along Soi Rajadamri 2 which was nearby and tried their spicy, sweet and sour “tom yam”, fried rice, grilled chicken as well as fresh coconut drinks to cool our body system. Later, we found out that almost every street in the downtown had cheap roadside food-stalls.

Food-stalls along Soi Rajadamri 2, Bangkok City, Thailand

A busy Ratchadamri Road at night, Bangkok City, Thailand

A food-stall on Soi Rajadamri 2, Bangkok City, Thailand

Having finished our sumptuous meal we started our city sightseeing tour in Bangkok. The first place we visited was the busy Ratchadamri Road. The traffic was heavy on the road. As it was already evening, we saw lots of small stalls along both sides of the road selling all kinds of goods. They attracted a large number of both tourists and local people. The walkway was made narrow by the stalls and was so crowded that we had to be careful all the time not to bump into other people.

Central World

Then we walked to Bangkok’s largest shopping mall which is known as Central World. Located at the junction of Phloenchit Road and Ratchadamri Road, the modern multi-storey building houses many shops selling branded goods, such as watches, electrical and electronic products, jewellery, silverware, clothes, shoes, perfumes, cosmetics, etc. Besides, it has 21 cinema screens, 18 karaoke rooms and 28 bowling lanes. It is a place worth patronizing if you have lots of money.

Outside the Central World, we saw hundreds of people chill-out at two open-air bistros which had bands playing loud musics and local singers singing English and Thai songs. Adjacent to the bistros was an open space where there were many decorations including a tall Christmas tree lit with hundreds of small coloured bulbs that gave an atmosphere of Christmas festivity. This area was a popular place for families and young couples.

Central World Mall, the largest mall in Bangkok City, Thailand

Central World Bistro, outside Central World Mall, Bangkok City, Thailand

A tall Christmas tree at Central World Mall, Bangkok City, Thailand

Day 2 : Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Travel to Ayutthaya

On the morning of  5 December 2007, we joined a group of tourists from different parts of the world for a tour in the ancient Ayutthaya to learn about its interesting past history, heritage and culture. At about 8.30 a.m. we departed Bangkok by a coach and headed north to the city.

A coach bringing visitors from Bangkok City to the Summer Palace and Ancient Royal Palace in Ayuthaya, Thailand

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya, located 86 km north of Bangkok, was founded in 1350. Since then it had been the capital of the Siamese Kingdom for 417 years before it was beseiged by the Burmese in 1767.

After the Burmese attack many buildings especially the temples were left in ruins and not much work has been done to restore them.

Ayutthaya has been declared as a World Heritage Ancient City as the ruined sites are a testament to its rich history and culture in its heyday.

Arrival at Summer Palace(Pang Pa-In Palace)

After travelling for about an hour we arrived at a famous ancient royal palace known as Bang Pa-In Palace or Royal Summer Palace which is 30 km south of Ayutthaya.

Before entering the palace a large portrait of the present Thai king greeted us. When we were inside the palace complex we were amazed to see a beautiful landscape of large manicured garden, neat rows of trees and flowers, lakes and mansions of European and Asian architectural styles.

Pictorial Map of Summer Palace, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Portrait of Thai King at the Summer Palace entrance, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Visitors entering the Summer Palace, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Summer Palace (Pang Pa-In Palace)

In 1632 King Prasat Thong (1629-1659) was the first Thai king to build a palace as his residence there. Later, it was abandoned until King Mongkut or King Rama IV (1851-1868) restored it and made it as his residence. Subsequently, more mansions were built at the site by other kings. Many existing buildings were constructed during the reign of King Chulalongkorn or King Rama V (1868-1919) who loved European architectural styles.

The present king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej or King Rama IX, who lives at Chitralada Palace in Bangkok, occasionally, lives there and holds receptions and banquets.

After studying a pictorial map showing the locations of the mansions we toured the palace. Our Thai tour guide, Chamrong, who preferred to be called “James Bond” led us to the important mansions and patiently told us their histories. We toured the palace complex for an hour and found some buildings fascinating and worth mentioning below.

There are two parts of the Summer Palace: the outer and the inner.

1. The buildings in the outer part of the palace include:

a.    Golden Palace of the God King Shrine  (Ho Hem Monthian Thewarat)         

Standing under a large old Bodhi tree is a small stone structure in the form of a Khmer-styled shrine. It was built by King Rama V in 1880 and dedicated to King Prasat Thong.

b.    Assembly Hall for Ronal Relatives (Saphakhan Rajaprayon)     

A royal residence built in 1879 for King Rama V’s brothers

c.     The Divine Seat of Personal Freedom (Phra Thinang Aisawan Thiphya-Art)   

This beautiful, brightly-coloured Thai architectural styled pavilion with 4 porches and a spire roof was built in a pond by King Rama V in 1876. It houses a bronze statue of King Rama V in a Field Marshal uniform that was placed there by his son, King Rama VI.

d.     Excellent and Shinning Heavenly Abode (Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman)    

A royal residence built in a neo-classic architectural style by King Rama V in 1876 as his residence and throne hall. Oil paintings depicting important events in Thai history and scenes from Thai literature can be seen in the audience chambers and ante-rooms.

Golden Palace of the God King Shrine

Excellent and Shining Heavenly Abode

The Divine Seat of Personal Freedom

e. Statues and Tree Sculptures in Summer Palace Garden

In the Summer Palace Garden there are several statues of ancient Greek figures and tree sculptures in animal figures. There is a bridge with some white marble statues of Greek figures and some in the garden. Besides, trees have been shaped into animal figures, like elephants and rabbits.

Bridge with statues of Greek figures in Summer Palace Garden, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Tree-sculptures in elephant-figures in Summer Palace Garden, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Statue of a Greek figure in the Summer Palace Garden, Ayuthaya, Thailand

2. The buildings in the inner part of the Palace include:

a.     Garden of the Secured Land (Phra Thinang Uthaya Phumisathian)     

This is a large royal residence built at the expressed wishes of the present queen, Queen Sirikit. In 2006 Queen Elizabeth II of England was invited to stay there by the Thai king. She went to Thailand to celebrate his 60th. anniversary reign. This mansion replaces the wooden one which was accidentally burnt down during repair in 1938

Garden of the Secured Land

b.    The Sages Lookout Tower (Ho Withun Thasana)     

This is a tall observatory tower built by King Rama V in 1881 for viewing the scenery of the countryside.

c.    Royal Residence of Heavenly Light (Phra Thinang Wehart Chamrun)    

It is a large two-storey Chinese-styled mansion given by a group of local Chinese businessmen as a gift to King Rama V in 1889

A Russian prince who visited the mansion in 1889 aptly described the striking red and yellow building as follows:

It is really a palace of romance, with ornamented tiled floors, massive ebony furniture, gold, silver, and porcelain freely used for decorative purposes, and delicate fretwork on the columns and on the windows.”

There is a Chinese-styled throne on the ground floor. Besides, the building has an altar enshrining the plates with the names of King Rama IV, King Rama V and their respective queens. This mansion was a favourite residence of King Rama VI (1910-1925).

Sages’ Lookout Tower

Dragon Screen outside Royal Residence of Heavenly Lighy

Royal Residence of Heavenly Light

Journey to Ayuthaya

After a tour of the splendid Summer Palace we continued our journey to Ayuthaya which is well-known for ruined  ancient temples

Ayutthaya was an important religious centre until the Burmese captured it in 1767. Many temples were burnt down by the enemies. Some large ruined ancient temples can still be seen in the city and are now a tourist attraction.

Chamrong, the tour-guide, telling the tourists about the ruined temples at the Ayuthaya Historical Park

On arrival at Ayuthaya, we visited some of the famous places of worship including the following:

a. Wat Mahathat      

This ruined temple was built during the reign of King Boram Rachathirat in 1374 and completed during the reign of King Ramesuan (1388-1395) in 1390 to house the Lord Buddha’s relics. It was also used for the royal religious ceremonies as well as a place of worship by the locals and visitors.

During the Burmese attack in 1767 it was burnt down. Since then it was left in ruins. In the centre of the temple there was a large corn cob-shaped pagoda or prang (built in a Khmer-styled tower) that contained the Buddha’s relics. It collapsed in the  reign of King Songtham (1610-1628). During the reign of King Prasat Thong (1630-1655), its restoration was completed and its height was greatly increased to 50 metres . Later the pagoda collapsed again due to an earthquake that happened during the reign of King Rama VI. The collapsed pagoda can still be seen at the temple.

Picture and Plan of Ayuthaya Historical Park, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Stone head of Lord Buddha appearing out of the Bobhi roots at Ayuthaya Historical Park

The ruined Wat Mahathat at Ayuthaya Historical Park, Thailand

Surrounding the pagoda are large and small stupas or chedis as well as large and small statues of Buddha. Many of these statues are either headless or torsoless. According to our tour Thai guide, Chamrong, looters had decapitated the statues and sold the heads to antique collectors. Besides, many relics of Buddha and other artifacts were stolen from the temple. Even the bricks were not spared. But visitors can still see some of the valuable temple artifacts recovered by archaeologists at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum in Ayutthaya, e.g. Buddha statues, votive tablets, fish-shaped boxes and golden plaques in the shape of animals.

At the temple we were fascinated by a stone head of Lord Buddha image which appears out of the exposed roots of an old, large Bodhi tree. It is believed that the rest of its body is buried in the roots. A guard standing a few metres away from the head advised us not to let our heads be above that sacred head if we wanted to go near it to have a closer look.

Then we left that temple and went to another one nearby. It was Wat Phra Si Sanpet.

A Buddhist Pagoda(Prang) at Ayuthaya Historical Park

A statue of Lord Buddha at Ayuthaya Historical Park

A stupa at Ayuthaya Historical Park

b. Wat Phra Si Sanpet      

This temple was built in the large compound of a royal palace in 1448 without a monastery. It was used for royal ceremonies and religious rites. Besides, its compound was used for cremating the bodies of kings and royal family members.

Three large pagodas (stupas) were built to house the remains of the Siamese kings ( King Boroma-Tri-Loka-Nat, King Boroma-Rachathirat III and King

Ramathibodi II) and smaller ones the remains of the royal members.

Adjacent to this temple was a grand hall (Wihan Luang). It housed a tall golden Buddha statue (16 metres tall) known as Phra Si Sanpet. The statue covered with a layer of about 172 kg of gold was built by King Rama Thibodi II in 1500.

Unfortunately, in 1767 the Burmese came and burnt down the hall as well as the temple nearby. They also removed the gold from the large Buddha statue. A few tall pillars are the only remains of the grand hall that a visitor can see now. The large Buddha statue has been moved to the Phra Si Sanpet chedi in Wat Phra Cetuphon (Wat Po) in Bangkok.

Wat Phra Si Sanpet(1448) at Ancient Royal Palace, Ayuthaya

A model of an ancient Siamese soldier at Ancient Royal Palace, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Ruined Wihan Luang, Ayuthaya Ancient Royal Palace

c. Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit       

This temple located in the old royal palace compound houses a large statue of Buddha known as Phra Mongkhon Bophit (12.45 metres high) and the latter is covered with gold leaves. This statue was made in 1538 on the order of King Chairachathirat.

Besides foreign tourists who thronged that ancient royal palace, lots of local people also visited the place as it was a public holiday in celebration of their king’s 80th. birthday.

Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit houses a large golden statue of Lord Buddha at Ancient Royal Palace, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Buddhist worshippers in Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Golden Statue of Lord Buddha(12.45 m high) in Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Elephant Show and Elephant Ride

Nearby, there was a mini elephant show and many people both foreign and locals alike were enjoying riding elephants. There were some who bought bananas and sugarcane to feed some hungry elephants in a large tent. The whole place looked like a carnival then.

Buddhist devotees’ donation in Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Tourists feeding elephants at Ancient Royal Palace, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Elephant Show at Ancient Royal Palace, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Chao Phraya River Boat Cruise

After a tour of Ayutthaya’s two ancient ruined temples, viz. Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Si Sanpet, and a grand hall, Wihan Phra Si Sanpet, we travelled south in our coach to Wat Chong-lom Pier in Nonthaburi. On arrival, we boarded a luxurious cruise boat of about 50 metres in length belonging to Grand Pearl Company Limited at Bangkok. It would take us down the large River Chao Phraya for a river-sighthseeing cruise.

Before the boat started, I was standing on the pier and busy snapping photos of the river sceneries. Then a boy appeared in front of me proudly showing off a large fish. I understood what he wanted me to do. So I snapped a photo of him with the fish and he grinned. Then his father holding a fishing rod came and teased him.

Tourists boarding a cruise-boat at Wat Chong-lam Pier in Nonthaburi to go to Bangkok City

River Chao Phraya getting wider as it moves further south

A boy showing off his father’s catch

Soon the boat left the pier. As it was cruising slowly down the river, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the river. We saw boats of different shapes and sizes past by, water hyacinth plants floating down the river, villages and towns on both sides of the river and anglers standing on river banks hoping for a big catch. Occasionally, large fish were seen jumping out of the water.

As we were getting nearer to Bangkok City, we saw lots of landmarks, historical and modern and went under a few old and modern bridges.

Wide River Chao Phraya in Ayuthaya

Cruise-boat moving down River Chao Phraya passing by multi-storey buildings

Cruise-boat moving down River Chao Phraya passing by villages

When we reached Bangkok we saw a spectacular sight of the city. It is a city of tall buildings of different heights, shapes and sizes. They are hotels, government buildings, shopping centres and condominiums. Many brightly-painted Siamese temples, a few churches and the famous Grand Palace can be seen too. Besides, the river is bustling with boats that ferry passengers across the river and carry tourists for a river-sightseeing tour.

Cruise-boat moving down River Chao Phraya passing by temples

River Chao Phraya getting wider as it flows further south

Cruise-boat moving down River Chao Phraya passing by churches

After over two hours of the enjoyable river boat cruise we finally arrived at the River City Shopping Complex Pier and went back straight to our hotel to rest.

Wide River Chao Phraya in Bangkok

Skyline of Bangkok City as seen from writer’s cruise-boat

A Walk to Suan Lum Night Bazaar

In the evening, my wife and I decided to visit Suan Lum Night Bazaar. The bazaar is near the crossroads of Witthayu (Wireless) Road and Rama IV Road. Looking at the city map we thought it was not far from our hotel. So we decided to walk there. On the way, we came across a few groups of loyal hotel staff with burning candles standing in front of their hotels and waiting to celebrate their king’s 80th. birthday. After walking for half an hour we were surprised that we had not reached the bazaar yet. We realized the map we used was not drawn to scale. It took us another 15 minutes of walking before reaching our destination.

It was a sight of relief when we arrived at Suan Lum Night Bazaar. Feeling tired and famished, we made a beeline to the Thai food court, ordered some food and gobbled down all of it quickly. Then we took our time to browse a few hundreds of stalls.

Suan Lum Food Court, Bangkok City

Suan Lum Night Bazaar

This night bazaar which opens from 3 p.m. till midnight daily is a place where hundreds of stalls sell a wide variety of  Thai products ranging from accessories, shoes and clothes to antiques, souvenirs, watches, arts and handicrafts. Besides, a traditional Thai puppet theatre, pet stalls, restaurants, pubs, food court, foot massage rooms and many more are found here. In other words, this night bazaar offers practically anything a visitor wants.

Thai product stalls at Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Bangkok City, Thailand

Men’s shoes for sale at Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Bangkok City

“Tuk-tuks” made from aluminium cans for sale at Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Bangkok City

At a stall we were surprised to see aluminium cans made into objects for sale, like alarm clocks and “tuk-tuks”. Thais are truly creative and enterprising people.

Handbags for sale at Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Bangkok City

Wooden statues for sale at Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Bangkok City

Ladies’ clothes for sale at Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Bangkok City

After buying some articles at bargain prices and window shopping at the bazaar, we decided to go back to our hotel by a “tuk-tuk” (a three wheeled vehicle which runs on liquefied petroleum gas or LPG) instead of walking back.

A “tuk-tuk”(taxi) looking for passengers in Bangkok City

Continue in Ayuthaya Travel (Part II)

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