Thailand, known around the world for having the hottest capital, never being colonized by a European power, and for its beautiful culture. The main reason for me wanting to visit Thailand was through the stories of my friends that have moved here. I have been told that the Thai people have a level of respect that the USA does not have.
This country represents everything that a country in Southeast Asia would be. A beautiful mixture of South and East Asian cultures, it’s hard to ignore the influences. From the way that the people look, the food they eat, and the language, you can see East Asia and India. Buddhism here is somewhat unique to other Buddhist majority countries. With the strong Hindu and traditional Chinese beliefs making a big impact on the local culture.
What I enjoyed most about Thailand was the food. Me being an enjoyer of Indian food, you can see it in the local cuisine. They have curries here that are somewhat similar to the Indian counterparts. Indian curry is almost like a stew, while Thai curry is more light. In Indian curry, you get more blasts of flavor. Thai curry doesn’t pack the same punch. Yet, that doesn’t mean that it is not good. Thai curry is still very favorable. You also see the east Asian Influences in the noodles. If I stayed in Thailand for a month, I’m sure I would gain a few pounds.
The temples are what took my breath away. I heard they were beautiful but seeing them in person was another thing. From white marbles to all the beautiful designs, you can tell they put a lot of effort into their temples. It’s clear that Thai people are very proud of their culture.
Lastly were the traditional dances. There are 6 different forms of traditional dances in Thailand. I got to see a few. I don’t remember exactly what dance styles I watched. However, it was beautiful hearing traditional music and seeing the people dance to it. It made me feel like I was truly in Asia.
I can see why my friends love it here. The cost of living is cheap. The weather is usually hot year around. A lot better than living in New York City. Not to forget about the awesome food. This country is a place of smiles.
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When I first saw the tower from afar, it finally hit me that I was in China. The buildings and the Lion statues, this is the China I grew up seeing in movies and television. The atmosphere was relax. No pushing or shoving, just people enjoying their time. Getting lost in the moment, it was hard not to notice how peacefully things looked. The whole area surrounding the Yellow Crane tower reminded me of flushing, queens. Might be the fact that Flushing Queens was Nyc’s little China at one point. Still couldn’t help noticed the mixture of urban with the touch of suburban.
Started walking closer and I noticed, this tower reminded me of that Pokemon game gold and silver. If you ever played them, there was a tower that was burnt down. It looks very similar to this. I wonder if the game developers were influenced by this landmark. Just a little reference to a childhood moment. Now back to the story!
The closer you get to the tower, the more you hear tourists walking around. As mentioned before, people from all over china come here to see this landmark. There is something special about this to tower to the Chinese. Which I will go in detail soon. You do have to pay to get into the tower. You pay upfront at the entrance to the park/landmark. Took me about 15 mins from the entrance to the tower. Along the way, I saw even more cats!! You know I had to stop and get close. Weirdly enough, this park had a lot of wild domesticated cats running around. I wonder if there some hidden mystery there.
The history of this tower is very interesting. There has been many poems made about this tower. The tower we see today is actually a modern version. Over the years, the tower has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. This one was built in 1981; however, the original tower that stood in it’s place can be dated back to AD 223. That means, this place has been important to the Chinese culture for more than 1600 years! The yellow crane is one of the four great towers of China. It’s somewhat hard to think about because the USA and all the countries in the Americas have only been around for 500 to 600 years. Just a fraction of the age of this landmark. This is why I love traveling to places outside of the USA. Just wrapping your head around the fact you are standing in a building, tunnel or on a street that is over 1000 years old.
Got to the very front and I was lost for words. It looks a lot bigger up close. Everybody around were getting their phones out to take a selfie. A little reminder of the world we live in today. Saw a few westerns here in awe like me. I’m pretty sure they assumed I was from India. Everybody kept asking me that on my trip throughout South East Asia. It’s hard not to appreciate, the detail put into this tower. It’s really a piece of art. Which makes senses why the tower has the hearts of many Chinese poets.
The stairs to get to the top photo courtesy of Hugo Morel
paintings on of the floors of the tower photo courtesy of Hugo Morel
Once inside, every level has a form of art. The art shows different stories from Chinese culture. To get to the top, you need go up the stairs. There is an elevator for those that can’t do stairs. If you don’t have knee problems, I recommend taking the stairs. Seeing the different levels and the views of the city looks different at each one.
At the very top, I walked to the sides of the tower. I wanted to see the city’s skyline. When I got there, to my surprise the city of Wuhan looks a lot bigger than I thought. It almost looked like a smoggy Manhattan. Although, I still saw San Francisco mixed with Chicago while going around the city. The skyline really looked like you are in Brooklyn looking at Manhattan. I’m still in somewhat disbelief to what is happening in Wuhan now. Since this was in the middle of December in 2019, everything changed so quick.
Got back into the building and saw the inside art at the very top. The whole ceiling is filled with Ancient Chinese painting mixed with a modern style to match the building. There is a story being told through the painting. The local legend is that the tower was built in honor of a Taoist priest. The priest used to come visit a pot house and asked for wine. The owner of the pot house ignored him but his son did not. The son gave the priest wine regularly for about half a year. Then one day, the priest drew a crane on wall of the pot house. As a repayment for his kindness, the priest enchated the drawing. The crane was magical and would dance at the son’s request. The whole city heard about this and the family became rich. They built the yellow crane tower as a symbol of gratitude. If you want to read more about the legend, here is a link.
Thank you so much for reading! Much love and safe travels!
Never been to Ireland nor had an interest in really going, besides seeing Dublin. However, when you see cheap tickets to Ireland it’s hard to say no. Only paid 250 for the roundtrip flight. After a crazy day, I was off to the land of the green leprechaun.
It took about 5 and a half hours from JFK to reach the Shannon airport. It’s a rather small airport. Still gives you that classic European vibe. It was interesting to see signs in English and gaelic. One tip to know is that flying into Shannon is usually alot cheaper than flying into Dublin. I compared the prices before and after buying my tickets. You will usually save about 200 dollars, if you fly into Shannon.
Got outside and it was a weird feeling to finally see Ireland. For some reason, I expected Ireland to be that sterotype the media throws at us. I was expecting Irish music blasting and a pub nearby with people partying to sunrise. Yeah, in Shannon you don’t really get that unless you go to downtown, the main streets and/or the tourist sites. The place is pretty quiet and calm. It’s more like a suburb than a major City.
I got on the shuttle bus that would take me into the main part of the city. It was about three euros and it was going to be a short ride. Irish people in general are friendly. Most of the time they are very helpful. Had no idea there were different types of shuttles from the airport. In case your Wi-Fi connection is off, you can always ask an airport staff and they would be more than happy to explain the different routes with the corresponding numbers. However, the locals from Shannon aren’t as nice as the people from Dublin. So, you might find someone having a bad day.
The green grass of Ireland. Makes you think twice about what the green on the Irish flag means.
The ride to Shannon’s transportation hub was probably the longest 30 mins ride of my life. I was so excited to be in Ireland. Made me wonder how I would look to the other people on the bus. An Afo-hispanic/American in the middle of Ireland sitting impatiently like I had to go to the bathroom. Luckily for me, everybody minded their own business. All thanks to smart phones. Whether or not that is a good thing for the progress of humanity, we can only find out in the future.
Thank you so much for reading!!! Much love and safe travels!!
With only a few hours left in this desert metropolis, I had one last thing to do. I didn’t visit the palm island yet. This is the place where all the six stars services were at. My final task on my to-do list was about to be crossed off.
Found a taxi and told him to take me to the man-made island. It took about 30 mins of going through tunnels to finally arrive to the Atlantis hotel. My local friend works here. Didn’t want to bother her while working. Plus, fancy things aren’t really my thing.
Right in front of the hotel, there is a beautiful view of the Persian golf. It’s crazy to think that Iran is on the other side of that body of water. Iran is like another universe compared to Dubai. I always found it strange, how countries so close to each other could be so different in economics and political views. For example, USA and Mexico. Two countries that share a broader, however, are so different. It’s almost mind blowing to think how a few thousands miles can really change how people think, live and look.
Eventually, I asked to be driven to the 6 star hotel. I didn’t want to go in, I just wanted to see from the outside. The restaurants inside aren’t that expensive. It’s about 80 dollars a meal and side orders. That’s about 20 dollars more in New York city. The funny about the hotel is that there is a water park right next door. Kind of implying water parks are somewhat a luxury here. Which, if you knew more about water parks. That water should be yellow. Bleach is such a magical substance.
In order to get to the hotel, you need to pass a security check point. You can’t get in without a reservation. I was thinking about going here for a restaurant. However, that is something I would regret spending money on. I always prefer authenticity over luxury. With that, ends my adventures in the 🇦🇪 UAE. Next stop would be more Christmas themed.
Thank you so much for reading! Hope you all are enjoying your weekend! Happy late Thanksgiving to the Americans!
As my time in Dubai was ending, I kept trying to find something to do. This is something that’s abnormal for me. I don’t really care about jewelery. Never interested me to show people what I have. So I never go to a jeweller. I got convinced to go visit the famous gold souk by my local friend.
My new friend photo courtesy of Hugo Morel
On my way there, I met this very smart cat. To get away from the heat, it slept inside the air-conditioned subway station. I just wanted to give it water. Life must be tough for a furry animal in the Middle Eastern heat. Had to say goodbye to my new friend. Sometimes, I wish I could adopt street cats. Especially, from forgien places.
Stepped out of the station and that wave of intense humidity hit me. I was sweating so much. It made me look like I just took a shower. Uncomfortably, I made it to the entrance of the souk.
Once inside the souk, you get blasted by the smell of spices. The noises of people trying to sell you their goods were in the air. The souk felt like a subway train going towards Manhattan. Everybody is trying to sell you something. Unwanted soliciting everywhere. It comes with the territory.
The further I walked, you notice the Indian influence. There were a lot of Indian celebrities images. Dubai does have a large Indian community. Didn’t expect to see Bollywood Stars posters here. Didn’t even know who that person was until showed my Indian friend this photo.
The jewellery shops were so beautiful. Being a proud window shopper here. I just came to the souk for sightseeing and not buying. Glad, I made the trip here. It made me wonder how this place used to be before Dubai became so international. I was a little disappointed, since the souk lacked that Middle Eastern authenticity you see on television. I was hoping people would be speaking more arabic and less English. I don’t really like complaining, I’m just pointing that out. Regardless, I still enjoyed my time.
One of the most famous mosques in the world. Constantly shown to us as a luxury. The Grand mosque of Abu Dhabi is Marvel to see in person. It makes you realize how much this country loves their religion.
The taxi driver pointed out that I could take pictures from afar. I asked him just to make sure. Didn’t want any surprises. The whole me wearing shorts kept poking my mind. Asked the driver about my shorts and he said that it won’t be a problem. I just wouldn’t be able to go to where the Muslims were praying. Which was fine. Meanwhile, I was my crossing finger hoping he was right. Didn’t want to go this city for nothing.
Finally, got to the entrance. I was dropped off and my new friend left. We had an interesting conversation. He was from Iran and told me his opinion about the mosque. I was let known very well that it was beautiful; however, there are other mosques all over the Muslim world that are much prettier.
You have to pass a security point. Similar to airports with metal directors. It was cool to see that a few of the security guards had the traditional white arab robes. If you turn around passing the security check point, there is a line of taxi drivers waiting outside. At least, I knew there won’t be any problems going back to the bus station.
Once inside, you have to walk the long courtyard. The blazing sun hitting the white marble floor was making the environment warmer. The place felt like a house of royalty. Finally got to the point where you have to take off your shoes. Left my shoes with the guards and starting explore the small areas that were allowed.
The combinations of the white and gold were jaw dropping. In complete awe, I took in the moment. This mosque is a work of art. Completely different than the Iranian/Persian mosque, I visited the other day. Also, the ones I saw in Egypt were not at this level. This is mosque gave more of a sense of wealth. You can tell there was an abundance of money here. All the mosques I visited in Egypt, many were run down with little money. However, they have more soul to them.
The grand mosque is very beautiful; yet, this is not my kind of thing. Love their expression of appreciation towards their religion. Everything was perfect and on point. The Grand mosque reminded me of a sports car. Lovely to look at and to be in one. While, Egyptian mosques were more like a community church van to me. The ones that picked you up to make sure you went to Sunday masses. Enjoy both but prefer the van.
Learned from Muslim friends, each region of the Muslim world has their own unique style of mosque. The Persian and Egyptian styles, I have already shown on this blog. Hope to share how each region looks like to you all.
After a 7 hour ride, we arrived at Assisi. It was late but we were not going to let that stop us. Plus, I never explored this Italian pearl after sunset. So I was already filled with energy.
We got out of our hotel, into the dark gem. I was surprised to see how beautiful this city was at night. European cities have a different appeal compared to American cities. There’s a level of sophistication that American metropolitans lack.
I started walking around until I got distracted by this beauty up above. The castle is called the Rocca Maggiore. I saw this during the day on my last trip. Seeing it at night gives a whole new perspective. It’s intimidating, the castle makes you think of how invaders must have felt. When they tried invading at night.
Walking the streets at night something was slightly off to me. After living in New York City for such a long time, seeing empty streets at night gives me anxiety. It’s usually an indicator to find another street to walk or you might get robbed. However, that is totally different here. There’s a sense of peace in the atmosphere.
It felt so liberating to walk around without a worry in the world. The narrow alleyways can be explored without fear. No random stranger that could be a criminal waiting for you at the end. I truly wish I could live here. It was just the first night here and already I was loving it.
So I found out the famous Grand mosque was not in Dubai. Kept searching for it online on a Dubai map but nothing was showing up. It wasn’t until I googled the Grand mosque, I found out it was in Abu Dhabi. UAE’s second largest city, which was a two hour drive. Didn’t not to drive in a forgien country due to fear of what could happen, I kept looking for taxis. Found out it would cost me about 100 USD to get there by taxi one way.
I’m sure you all know, I’m too frugal to spend 100 dollars for a taxi ride. Found out from a local friend, I could take a bus for about 16 us dollars roundtrip. To take the bus, I had to take the subway to the station shown in the picture above.
Once outside, it’s about a 3 block walk to the bus station. Got losted and started asking around. People in Dubai are very friendly and helpful. Most would love to help tourists without asking for anything in return. So do not be afraid to ask.
Eventually, I found the bus station. Went to buy the bus tickets and there were two lines. One for women and the other for men. The whole segregation of gender is still hard for me to understand. Women don’t have to take go to the women’s line. They can choose whatever line they want. However, the women’s line is quicker and less people hassling you. The men’s line you have to pay attention or they will cut you in line. Which is never fun. Luckily, there was not that many people there when I bought my tickets. Just one problematic person.
Once on the bus, you get to choose wherever you want to sit. It had air conditioning and the sits weren’t too bad. It was definitely worth the 16 dollars. Once the bus started driving off, I kept thinking how faraway from home I was. Dubai’s senerary was beautiful and exotic to me. The farther away we left Dubai and it’s metropolitan area, the more desert looking the senerary got. Lost in the moment, I didn’t even think about taking photos. So much sand, it made you feel like you were on a highway in the middle of a yellow ocean.
As the two hours passed, I could tell were getting close. The yellow ocean became green fields of dates. The excitement was building up. Couldn’t wait to see what adventures waited for me in Abu Dhabi. We eventually got to city and my wild experiences were just about to start.
Rome, a city that I enjoy visiting. With it’s classic charm and the city’s effort to maintain that classic look. This Italian city really gives you the feeling of being back in time; when you exclude, the ruins.
Walking the streets, the mediterranean architecture is shown brightly with the vibrant colors. The sound of music is heard throughout the walkways. People enjoying their pasta and wine. It felt good to be back.
The ruins remind you of the antiquity of the city. Hard to believe this place is over 2000 years old. The consistent reminder that Rome wants to remind you of it’s glory. Collections of Egyptian carvings occasionally placed in the middle of streets. Forcing you to think about the reach of the Roman Empire.
People enjoying themselves, in daily activity. Almost forgetting the historic impact that this city has made. Italian music playing in the background, gives you the urge to sit down and eat. Tourists losted in the moment, Rome leaves a mark on you.
Trevi fountian photo courtesy of Hugo Morel
My revisit of rome was already looking bright. I can not wait to see how many attractions I overlooked on my first go. I’m sure, it will leave a lasting impression.
To escape the heat, I decided to go and see what the Dubai museum was about. Took the metro to get there. It was a little bit of a walk away from the nearest station. So much for escaping the heat.
When I got there, I was surprised to see the price of the tickets. It was about 3 USA dollars to go around. I’m not much of a museum person. However over my travels, I’m slowly becoming one. Plus my local friend kept telling me to come here.
The entrance to the museum is very interesting. It’s made like a 1500’s fort. The entrance of the museum truly made me felt that I was in the Arabian Peninsula. I never seen this type of structure before in person. The fort is made out of coral rock. In fact, besides the Spanish forts in Florida and California. I never seen an actually fort before. Especially, not one made out of coral! Also, the fort is believed to be the oldest building in Dubai still active. The fort is called Al Fahidi.
Once inside the museum, you get to see the old fashion homes. They are called Arish and are made out of palm fronds. The homes are actually very small. Only really containing a place to sit, a kitchen and a bedroom. It’s crazy to think that the emiratis once lived so humbly. The large amounts of money a country gains, can really change its people’s culture.
Got to see an armoury right past the entrance. I heard the armours and weapons were collected from all over the world. I could only imagine how hot it would had been wearing mental armour in the Middle East during summer. I would rather choose 2nd degree burns over cuts caused by swords and arrows any day.
Funny thing about the homes, you get to see the old fashioned “air conditioning.” They were called wind towers. It was a gap in the ceiling of the Arish, as seen in the picture below. It was brutal for me to even walk around in this structure. The heat was still slightly unbearable. I couldn’t picture living in a place with no artificially-made cold air. Where the average temperatures in the summer is about 106 degrees to 86 degrees. For those who live outside of the usa, 41.1 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. Not to mention the 70 percent humidity.
The further I got into the museum, I found a door that lead me inside a walkway. That walkway would eventually take me to the main attraction of the museum. I was about to learn how Dubai was before the discovery of oil. Couldn’t wait to see what was in store me.