Dubai – a city everyone’s talking about!

There have been many sites, magazines and writings on and about Dubai. My visit in November, 2013 doesn’t encourage me much to write about Dubai, plus I was busy with new adventures. However, the best things happened about Dubai and in Dubai was my time spent with my two beloved nephews, Alan and Ping.

In between my attendance in a trade show, the three of us managed to squeeze valuable times venture out as far as staying a night in the desert. Upon our first day in Dubai, we decided to go on the famous desert safari. Where most of the tourist took the night desert safari, we decided to spend a night in the desert, and it ended that we were the only three, other than the night staff.

The desert safari started with our driver picked us up at the hotel around 3pm in a 4×4 vehicle. We made stop at a small fun park for some desert ride. Alan and Ping definitely enjoyed the new experience, while wearing the Arabian famous headgear for man, Keffiyeh that made them looks like princes.

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After a short fun ride at the desert, to wash away any sand residue, we were driving to some rocky-mountain-dry-and-deserted village for a “swim”. When I read this on the tour agent’s website, the idea seems good and I imagined that it would be so fresh and refreshing to be able to “swim” in the desert, not until we reached the destination. Judge it for yourself in these photos.

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Coming from more than 5,500km, we have the opportunity to learn about the heritage of the Arabs at the Hatta Heritage Village.  The Hatta Heritage Village is located in the Hajjar Mountains and provides a perfect example of villages of the past. Coming into existence in the 16th century, the Hatta Heritage Village features breathtaking architecture and a style which few have ever seen before. The mosque and houses within the Hatta Heritage Village were originally constructed from materials readily available at that time. Some of the materials used to construct the buildings included items such as mud, palm tree trunks, reeds and stone. The finished product is such that it makes individuals stare with awe imagining the craftsmanship and time it took to construct such buildings. Also included within the village are two watchtowers and the Hatta Fort.

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With two detour, we were ready for the famous, adventurous, fun, roller coaster ride and dune bashing. I have to say that our driver was good. He drove us into the desert, together with many more vehicles within vision, our responsibility was only to shout for the exciting ride. At the end of the dune bashing, the sunset was just irresistible beautiful. I would say this is a must for everyone visiting Dubai. (The ride was too bumpy, I wasn’t able to take any picture!)

Driving into the sunset, it’s good to give our buttocks a rest by driving on flat road for a while before we head to the desert safari campsite for more fun that included camel ride, henna hand drawing, traditional dance, BBQ dinner and lots of desert air.

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The whole night safari programme ended around 9pm, and everyone left the campsite except the three of us who have chosen the “OVERNIGHT” desert safari. The campsite amenities were accepted, the temperature was dropping fast. We have our quick shower to clean up and change, and what’s next??? Twelve hours before our next morning pick-up, with no modern gadget to play with and minimum lighting, that’s a long wait. Instead, we were having such good time playing football on sand with some of the overnight staff. That was not in the itinerary but pleasant surprise! This is what I call “adventure” too.

Desert morning was quiet and peaceful. We were served juices, hot drink and bread. P1050789 (640x360) P1050793 (640x360) P1050800 (640x360) P1050807 (640x360) P1050808 (640x360) P1050809 (640x360) P1050812 (640x360)P1050829 (640x360)






Uganda – Pearl of Africa

It has never occur to me that I will travel to Uganda, a landlocked country in East Africa. Thanks to the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities – Madam Maria Mutugamba in initiating and organising the Miss Tourism Uganda, I am invited as a judge. That’s when I started the long journey to Africa.

I started my journey from Kuala Lumpur to Entebbe on Ethiopian Airlines. That’s a total of two transits in Bangkok and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), including the delay in Addis Ababa, I travelled a total of 18 hours to reach the Pearl of Africa. First glimpse of Africa, the clouds are like cotton.IMG_1921 IMG_1923 IMG_1931 IMG_1933

If you wander where is Uganda, let me try to illustrate. Uganda is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda lies within the Nile basin and claimed the source (Lake Victoria) of the Nile river, which runs estimated 6,853km to Egypt into the Mediterranean Sea.

The country has 52 known tribes. The capital city is Kampala, and the airport is located at Entebbe, some 35km away. That’s only one single lane main road from the airport to the city, and it passes many residential areas and markets which made the journey even longer that it seems. (A new expressway linking the two cities is under construction but will only be ready in a few years’ time.)

I was put in the Sheraton Hotel Kampala, which is one of the nicer hotel in the city. I was brought to visit the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre the next day. I have the most incredible close up encounter with the animals.

Touching the entelope, rhino, baby elephant, chimpanzee, shoebill and hyena.Uganda-Entelope Uganda-Rhino Uganda-Elephant Uganda-chim Uganda-shoebill Uganda.Hyena

Kissing the Giraffe.Uganda-Giraffe Uganda-Giraffe2 Uganda-Giraffe3

Feeding the beautiful and exotic leopard.Uganda-Leopard Uganda-leopard4 Uganda-Leapord3

And above all, close up with a couple of lions. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. I thank all the people, the zoo-keeper for the effort and experience.Uganda-lions1Uganda.lions2 Uganda.lions3 Uganda-lions5 Uganda.lions4

Set on the shores of Lake Victoria, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre  is a must visit for anyone coming to Entebbe for a leisure or educational tour. The centre which sits on 72 acres, boasts of a wide variety of indigenous wildlife numbering well into the thousands, and housed in natural settings which depict three of Uganda’s ecosystems: The Wetland, The Savannah and The Forest. Its existence is to educate the public on conservation of wildlife, with emphasis on the young generation, in partnership with stakeholders.

Saint Gallen

On the Bernina Express, I meant a Japanese couple who has been in Switzerland twice and as I was checking with them places to go, they recommended me Saint Gallen, a city seated north-east of Lucerne. I was glad that I told their advice and thank you very much if you are reading my blog. You know who you are.

A 2-hour train from Lucerne, the view along the countryside was calming and green.Gallen gALLEN2 Gallen3 Gallen4

The main tourist attraction is the Abbey of St. Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983. Its renowned library contains books which date back to the 9th century. A little bit history is never too bad to learn.

The Abbey of Saint Gall is a Roman Catholic religious complex. The Carolingian-era Abbey has existed since 719 and became an independent principality during the 13th century, and was for many centuries one of the chief Benedictine abbeys in Europe. It was founded by Saint Othmar on the spot where Saint Gall had erected his hermitage. The library at the Abbey is one of the richest medieval libraries in the world.Abbey Abbey2 Abbey3

As I walked inside St. Gall Abbey Cathedral, I saw what I never expected to see, the most impressive, beautiful and awesome interior of a cathedral I ever see in my whole life. In fact, it is one of the most important baroque monuments in Switzerland. Abbey4 Abbey6Abbey7 Abbey8 Abbey9 Abbey10 Abbey11 Abbey13 Abbey14 abbey15

Non of the confession room is identical to each other despite having same function.

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The Abbey library of Saint Gall is recognized as one of the richest medieval libraries in the world. It is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of early medieval books in the German-speaking part of Europe. As of 2005, the library consists of over 160,000 books, of which 2100 are handwritten. Nearly half of the handwritten books are from the Middle Ages and 400 are over 1000 years old. It is one of earliest and most important monastic libraries in the world.

Although the library is opened to the public, no photography is allowed. Slippers are provided to visitors to be worn over shoes. I think it must be for purpose to reduce damage to the wooden floor. Being a book-lover myself, I just love the smell of the library. This photo is taken from a postcard I got from the souvenir shop. Backup 867

From Saint Gallen, I took a local bus to Stein, a village (rather is a farming land) for insights into the art of the cheesemaker, the Appenzeller cheese factory.P1040126Backup 817Backup 819 cheese Backup 824 YUMMY!

An interesting site of the city: Stadtlounge (City Lounge) – a pedestrian area in the town center designed to represent a lounge room, but in the street. It somehow created an unique attraction for this little city. P1040130P1040129

For anyone making a tour to Switzerland, please do not, I repeat, do not leave out St. Gallen. It worth every minute to reach this place.

Mount Pilatus

Mount Pilatus deserved a post by itself because of  the world’s steepest cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad. Mount Pilatus is a mountain overlooking Lucerne. It is composed of several summits of which the highest (2,128 m) is named Tomlishorn. Another summit named Esel (2,119 m) lies just over the railway station. The top can be reached, besides the cogwheel railway (operates between May and November) and aerial panorama gondolas and aerial cableways from Kriens, which can be reached by bus from Lucerne easily. However, my recommendation is to take a boat (ferry) from the harbour right in front of the railway station to Tomlishorn, followed by the cogwheel railway to the top and decent by gondola and cable car.

Mount Pilatus has the longest summer toboggan track in Switzerland (0.88 miles or 1,350 m) and the biggest suspension rope park in Central Switzerland. A few different local legends about the origin of the name exist. One claims that Mount Pilatus was named so because Pontius Pilate was buried there. Another is that the mountain looks like the belly of a large man, Pilate, lying on his back and was thus named for him.PilatusBackup 770 Pilatus2 Pilatus3Pilatus4 Pilatus5 Pilatus6 Pilatus7Pilatus8 Pilatus9 Pilatus10Pilatus11 Pilatus12

Taking in the views from on top of Mount Pilatus, it reminded me that the Creator of nature is a true artist, and I begun to appreciate nature even more.

Lucerne (Luzern) Switzerland

Lucerne, with a population not more than 80,000 is a popular tourism city. Strategically located north-central of Switzerland and its splendid rail transport system, I made the city my base for excursion to many places a wise decision. Besides, located at the shore of Lake Lucerne (swans swam gracefully), the city is clean and peaceful with Mount Pilatus within view at a distance. Since the city straddles the Reuss River where it drains the lake, it has a number of bridges. The most famous is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a 204 m (669 ft) long wooden covered bridge originally built in 1333, the oldest covered bridge in Europe, although much of it had to be replaced after a fire on August 18, 1993. Backup 870Swan

My first night in Lucerne was a hotel named Hotel Pickwick and Pub, overlooking Chapel Bridge. (The 2nd white building from the right in the photo above.) As the name goes, the pub was crowded with locals and tourists alike for beer and football matches. (I arrived at night with football match between Manchester United and Chelsea, the pub was just packed.)Backup 739

Old Town Lucerne is located just north of the Reuss River, and still has several fine half-timber structures with painted fronts. Most shops and restaurant are located here. Remnants of the old town walls exist on the hill above Lucerne, complete with eight tall watch towers. Walking from the old town towards the walls and climbed one of the clock tower to take in the whole view of Lucerne was enjoyable, though a bit of hard work is required.   Luzern (2) Luzern (26) Luzern (28) Luzern (114) Luzern Luzern2 OldTown

The Lion Monument, famous carving of the work of Bertel Thorvaldsen is located in a small park just 10 minutes walk from the old town. The carving commemorates the hundreds of Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when an armed mob stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris. ( A very small park and just a lion monument and the Swiss is able to promote it for thousands of tourist to pay “pilgrimage” each year, all I can say it’s just marvellous storyteller and publicity.)Lion Monument

The twin needle towers of the Church of St. Leodegar, which was named after the city’s patron saint, sit on a small hill just above the lake front. Originally built in 735, the present structure was erected in 1633 in the late Renaissance style. However, the towers are surviving remnants of an earlier structure. The interior is richly decorated.Luzern (72) Luzern (76)

Pipe organ in every cathedral always managed to draw my attention and admiration.Luzern (81)

The famous Bucherer shop at my background, where luxury watches (exclusive dealer for Rolex especially) and jewellery are for your pick as long as you have the money.Backup 882

Bernina Express : St. Moritz – Tirano – Lugano

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage that moves – the Bernina Express, its combination with the surrounding landscape is what constitutes to its recognition. Running along 122 km of track (from Chur), passing through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges and viaducts, the line is truly masterpiece of engineering skills through the Swiss Alps. It took me from the snow capped mountain, through glaciers to the warm charm Italy (Tirano), and back to Switzerland (Lugano) by express bus. Seating around a Swiss couple who don’t speak English, a Japanese couple whose wife speaks English, a Taiwanese guy and myself, we have an incredible enjoyable journey communicating in sight language, trying to capture the speechlessly beautiful sceneries that some time appear at the left and at times at the right of the panorama window.

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Isn’t that impressive? For many occasions, I can actually see the head of the train from my window. This was really fun. Many times when the train exists a tunnel, the scenery changes side.Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (111)

The Bernina line I took, started from St. Moritz at 1,775 meter above sea level, climbed to the highest point, Ospizio Bernina at 2,253 meter above sea level, and started to descent to Tirano at 429 meter.  Blog-Bernina (5) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (114) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (123) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (132) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (148) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (159) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (170) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (175) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (181) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (183)

The world looks different as the Bernina Express winds up to, or corkscrews down from the heights of the famous circular viaduct of Brusio. The viaduct, which describes a 360-degree curve, artificially allows the railway to perform a brusque change of height in a very short space. It’s just amazing!  Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (191) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (195)Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (199) Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (200)

An abandoned castle hotel. Definitely the perfect site to shoot a scary movie or ghost story movie.Blog-BerninaExpress-Tirano 181 (208)

The final stop before heading to the border and little Italian town, Tirano.Blog-Bernina (13)Blog-Bernina (30)

“A picture tells a thousand words” – this photo shows the Swiss train station (white building), the Italian train station (yellow building) and Italian tourist train around Tirano town. It’s an easy and small town, very good weather. 2 hours is enough to see the whole town.

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Authentic Italian gelati, how can I resist? It’s time to embark on the Bernina Express bus to Lugano.

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Saint Moritz

The journey on the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Saint Moritz took 7 1/2 hours. It was the slowest express train in the world. By the time I reached Saint Moritz, the sky was getting dark. I checked into the lovely Hotel Waldhaus am See, which is located on top of a small hill right beside the Lake St. Moritz. Blog-St.Moritz32Blog-St.Moritz (7)Blog-St.Moritz (6)

The view from my bedroom window was astonishing. More so in the morning when mist evaporates from the surface of the lake. It gave me a feeling of “heaven on earth”.Blog-St.Moritz (14)St. Moritz (43)

St. Moritz is a resort town in the Engadine valley, in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. It hosted the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948. Today, It is a popular destination of the upper class and international jet set, as well as one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world. Since 1985, St. Moritz has hosted the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow; an annual high-goal tournament featuring many of the world’s finest teams. In its current form, the tournament lasts four days and is played on a specially marked field located on the frozen lake.Blog-St.Moritz (24)

In order to catch the Bernina Express, I only spent a night here, enjoying a simple set dinner and breakfast at the hotel’s dining hall, which was definitely charming. St. Moritz (42)

Glacier Express – Zermatt to St. Moritz

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Woke up at 6am hoping to see the sunrise on the Matterhorn, which I was told that it’s purple in colour but was a bit disappointed cos it was a cloudy day. Zermatt town was still in sleep. Another exciting day ahead when boarded the famous Glacier Express, which departed Zermatt station at 9:59am. It’s important to get a window seat on the right side in order to fully enjoyed the scenery. The reflection of the panorama window made good photography rather difficult but still, that’s constant clicking sound of the cameras.Blog-GlacierExpress (28) Blog-GlacierExpress (30) Blog-GlacierExpress (35) Blog-GlacierExpress (45) Blog-GlacierExpress (46) Blog-GlacierExpress (51) Blog-GlacierExpress (66) Blog-GlacierExpress (69) Blog-GlacierExpress (74) Blog-GlacierExpress (85) Blog-GlacierExpress (91) Blog-GlacierExpress (108) Blog-GlacierExpress (126) Blog-GlacierExpress (131) Blog-GlacierExpress (5) Blog-GlacierExpress (9) Blog-GlacierExpress (15) Blog-GlacierExpress (17)

Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

There are a few hight points one can choice to ascent to view the Matterhorn and I have chosen the Klein Matterhorn / Schwarzsee link. First I took the cable car to the Furi station before changing to the famous and highest in Europe, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise up to Klein Matterhorn. Ascent from 1,620m (Zermatt) to 3,883m (Klein Matterhorn). Freezing cool up there and it was windy, the snow was flying crazy. Blog-Zermatt 037Blog-Zermatt 038Blog-Zermatt 044Blog-Zermatt 063 Blog-Zermatt 062 Blog-Zermatt 060 Blog-Zermatt 058 Blog-Zermatt 056 Blog-Zermatt 052 Blog-Zermatt 050Blog-Zermatt 065

The above photo is taken at the exist for skier at Klein Matterhorn. The wind was so strong it blown the snow flying and visual was just blur.

Glacier Palace – besides skiing, that’s only one place of interest at Klein Matterhorn. The icy world is the highest glacier palace in the world and buried under I don’t know how many meters under the snowy surface. Blog-Zermatt 067 Blog-Zermatt 074 Blog-Zermatt 076 Blog-Zermatt 078 Blog-Zermatt 079 Blog-Zermatt 086 Blog-Zermatt 091 Blog-Zermatt 096

Blessed with nature and abundant of ice, the palace should be bigger, more ice-sculpture and maybe sledges for visitors to have fun. Despite the freezing temperature, these activities would definitely make some sweat.

Enough of the cool, I take the cable car down to Schwarzsee, the best place to see the Matterhorn. Skier actually ends here. Please enjoy the beautiful sceneries. By the way, Matterhorn is the trademark of the famous Toblerone chocolate.Blog-Zermatt 120 Blog-Zermatt 122 Blog-Zermatt 127 Blog-Zermatt 140 Blog-Zermatt 142 Blog-Zermatt 143 Blog-Zermatt 146 Blog-Zermatt 157 Blog-Zermatt 161 Blog-Zermatt 183 Blog-Zermatt 208

Good bye Zermatt, I left with a beautiful photo of my self-portrait taken at a hamlet nearby.



Zermatt – Matterhorn

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Is the above logo looked familiar? Zermatt – The name of Zermatt, as well as that of the Matterhorn itself, derives from the alpine meadows, or matten (in German), in the valley. The name appeared first as Zur Matte (“in the meadow”) and became later Zermatt. So the name says it all. Zermatt is a little tourism village with a population of 5,900 only, and another few thousands are workers from other places and outside Switzerland and maybe 3 times of the numbers are tourists. There are three main streets which run along the banks of the river Matter Vispa, and numerous cross-streets, especially around the station and the church building which forms the centre of Zermatt.Blog-Zermatt 230Blog-Zermatt 010 Blog-Zermatt 021 Blog-Zermatt 026 Blog-Zermatt 036 Blog-Zermatt 237 Blog-Zermatt 286 Blog-Zermatt 291Blog-Zermatt 274 Blog-Zermatt 288

The village was “discovered” by mid-nineteenth-century British mountaineers, most notably Edward Whymper, whose conquest of the Matterhorn made the village famous. The Matterhorn was one of the last alpine mountains to be conquered (in 1865), and the first expedition that reached the top ended dramatically with only 3 of the 7 climbers surviving the descent. This is the short version of the first ascent of the Matterhorn from the museum’s brochure. Between 1857 and 1865, 15 unsuccessful attempts were made on the Matterhorn from the Italian side and 3 from the Swiss side. On July 14, 1865 at 3.40am, the British team with their mountain guide set foot and climbed onto the rock pyramid on the Hoernli Ridge. The higher they climbed, the more difficult the ascent became. At 1.40pm, the group stood together on the Matterhorn summit. There were no traces of their Italian competitors who were attempting at the same time. After an hour, the group roped up and started their descent. The seven men formed a single rope party to support the less experience ones. One of the junior and less experience man sliped and pulled with him 3 other men. The impact of the auxiliary rope hit a senior and injured his hands and chest, then severed off. The four unfortunate men plummeted down the North wall. In the museum, that’s display of the original broken rope.Blog-Zermatt 263Blog-Zermatt 271

The Matterhorn, 4,478m – the peak that the story surrounds.Blog-Zermatt 140 Blog-Zermatt 155