Cameron Highlands Tea Plantation, Malaysia

Monday, November 29, 2010

My World - A Cruise on the Bosphorus in Istanbul

One of the highlights of our trip to Istanbul was a day spent cruising the Bosphorus. This was my second time on this cruise and I was extremely excited to embark on this unforgettable journey again. When we look at the cityscape, with not many changes, it definitely brings back fond memories for us.

We took a ferry from Eminonu quay near the Galata Bridge and cruise along the Bosphorus for a 90 minute ride. The cruise was a wonderful way to see the city along the shores and the fact that the beautiful strait that divides Europe from Asia makes it particularly unique.

There are so many mosques, old palaces, quaint buildings, fortresses, and castles here with a real sense of history and our cameras just couldn't stop clicking. Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what you can expect from this cruise.

Dolmabahce Palace as seen from the ferry, located on the European side of the shore served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire. It's also fascinating to watch the locals like these fishermen going about their daily lives.

Ciragan Palace, (1850) a former Ottoman Palace is located on the European shore of the Bosphorus. It is now a five-star hotel

As fascinating as the major sites are the quaint houses and buildings that line the shores of the Bosphorus.

Along the way, we saw many ships and oil tankers dotting its shores, as well as local fishing and ferries crossing across the Bosphorus straits.

There are two suspension bridges on the Bosphorus connecting Europe to Asia and this is one of them seen from a distance.

After passing through numerous buildings, we finally saw the bridge in Ortakoy linking Europe to Asia. It is the first of two bridges over the Bosphorus.

This is the second bridge at the narrowest point on the Bosphorus. Next to the bridge across the straits is the fortress Rumeli Hisari which is now a museum. The ruins within the castle is pretty extensive.

A closer view of the Rumeli Castle. This imposing fortress, also known as the "Fortress of Europe" was built in 1452 in preparation of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. With the help of 3,000 thousands of masons and workers, the fortress was completed within an incredibly short four months.

As the ferry zigzags its way up to the Black Sea, we finally crossed the Asian shore. The Asian part of Istanbul is much more residential. I was told that most residents commute to the urban European side for work and commute home to Asian side.

Here we are, standing on the Asian territory looking at Fortress of Asia which is located opposite the Fortress of Europe.

The Beylerbeyi palace (1861-1865) on the Asian shore

Overall, this was probably my favorite activity in Istanbul. I really enjoyed this experience. This was a fabulous day out and worth the trip if you are staying in Istanbul for several days.

That's My World

Saturday, November 27, 2010

PhotoHunt - Written

My first impression of Athens was a huge city filled with tons of tagging and graffiti art. It is almost impossible to pass a corner without seeing graffiti everywhere in the city. I came across some artistic and colourful ones and some of it are simple written words found on every conceivable surface. In my eyes, much of it is mindless tagging but in the city like Athens, people tend to look at it more as an art than as vandalism.

Here are a few examples of graffiti in various forms found throughout the city.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Skywatch over the Ave Maria Monument in Rome

Rome has plenty of fascinating monuments and here is one of them. A magnificent structure standing proudly in all its glory against the blue sky.


Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Some memories from Spring


Monday, November 22, 2010

My World - Turkish Evil Eye

The shot below shows a tree full of hanging evil eyes in Cappadocia. The Evil Eye Amulet is a good luck charm commonly seen in Turkey to ward off the 'evil eye' of jealousy and protect the bearer. I find it fascinating that the talisman have been created for generations and is one of the most widespread superstitions in Turkey.

They are absolutely everywhere and hard to miss. You'll find them placed in most homes and buildings, and they are even worn by babies and young children or even hang on trees like this one in Cappadocia.

It seems like a very safe spot to stand. I bet the village below is well protected with this good luck tree watching over them.

That's My World

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Smile of Nature

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Today's Flowers, Macro Monday

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Underground city of Derinkuyu, Turkey

The Underground city of Derinkuyu was one of our stops before arriving in Ihlara Valley. Being the largest excavated underground city in Turkey, the early Christians used this city to escape from persecution from the Roman Empire and later from the Arabs.

Derinkuyu is 11 stories deep though many floors have not been excavated. It has several tunnels connecting it to other underground cities, and large enough to accommodate between 35,000- 50,000 people together with their livestock and food stores. I find it so hard to imagine that large numbers of people could live in these narrow passageways for such long periods.

This is one of the many passageways in which we venture with the charred ceilings in view. As you descend towards the depths of the city, you come across many different rooms such as kitchens, chapels, living quarters, bedrooms, eating areas, churches and even wineries. The whole trip takes around 2 hours.

Taking sharp pictures are quite difficult as the only sources of light are the light bulbs they placed along the wall. I was glad I was able to get a few good shots in low light conditions.

The city is full of incredibly small hallways and requires a lot of crouching and crawling over. If you are claustrophobic, I strongly don't recommend going down there as you are climbing underground through sometimes small and tight spaces.

Aside from that, some of the tunnels are often narrow with very low ceilings and quite dark and eerie at times. It works pretty well for me but I have avoided the deepest levels and the narrowest spaces.

I find it amazing that there are huge ventilation shafts which works incredibly well. The ventilation shaft plunges 80 meters into the earth with access points on all levels to keep the fresh air circulating.

Just a word of caution. It is an enormous underground structure so it is easy to get totally lost and confused, although there are arrows pointing towards different directions. Trust me, you do not want to lose sight of your guide.

It's truly remarkable that people during its heyday were able to build such structures so reliably that they never collapsed and that the ventilation systems were so wonderful that they still work today. The air seemed refreshing cool the entire time we were underground.

Scenic Sunday

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Skywatch - Bare trees and rippling clouds


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Road trip around Ihlara Valley, Turkey


Monday, November 15, 2010

My World - Hiking tour in Ihlara Valley

While in Turkey, we paid a visit to the Ihlara Valley in Cappodocia which is a smaller version of Grand Canyon. If you're a fan of nature's many wonders, you'll definitely like being in this place. It offers some of the best hiking trails and great sight-seeing adventures.

The valley is the result of the collapse of rocks following several eruptions of Mount Erciyes. Inhabited by monks from the 4th to the 14th centuries, the entire canyon is filled with rock-cut underground dwellings and churches from the Byzantine period.

I enjoy gazing at the beautiful views of the canyon from various vantage points.

The picturesque Melendiz Stream flows through the valley.

We spent a few hours hiking through this gorge and visited a couple of churches and this was one of them. Most of the churches were dug into the walls of the canyon.

The paintings inside are primitive, but resembles those in modern churches.

Every trail offers a unique hiking experience. There's so much to explore and trek around the valley.

Pigeon holes and cave temples can be seen on either side of the valley.

The journey for this hike is quite easy but there are a few short paths where we have to scramble over the rocks as we followed the stream. I strongly recommend good walking shoes which have good traction to prevent you from slipping on the rocks.


After a few hours of hiking and exploring we made our way out of the canyon and then headed back towards town. I'd like to go back again some day and do the challenging full-day hike, as we missed some of the more spectacular spots in the north side of the valley past Belisirma. It really is a beautiful spot to visit. It’s refreshing and a nice change to the more touristy spots we have been visiting.