Monday, November 27, 2006

Bottle Tree Village

On the northern coast of Singapore, out near Sembawang Park, there is a little restaurant nestled back in the jungle. It is off the beaten track, and mostly it is a place frequented by locals.

Bottle Tree Village, that isolated little eatery off the beaten path, is situated across the straits from Malaysia, with a nice view of the jungles on the Johor coast sitting across the water. It is a breezy little spot, and a wonderful place to while away the afternoon.

I've spent many afternoons there, soaking up the quietness. For that, it is the perfect place. It is hard to believe this hideaway is in Singapore, as it is the perfect escape from all the urban bustle.

Getting there without your own transportation isn't that easy. (Getting there by cab is easy, but catching a cab out less so.) However, if you are a bit of a walker, there is a nice walking path that stretches from Yishun (near the industrial park) all the way out to Bottle Tree Village. It's about a 3 km walk along a canal.

Oh. And the food. Well, it isn't the best in Singapore, for the price (not cheap, but not terrible). But if a quiet escape spot is in order, it is definitely a place to consider. And the seafood is the best choice from the menu.

Showintale Journeys

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Centre Court

It's been some years since I visited Wimbledon, but standing at Centre Court is an experience I will keep in mind for a long, long time. I was not really a big tennis fan before that, but had recently come to know some friends who were tennis-mad. Having spent some time with them, I had a growing appreciation of the game.

At Centre Court, there is a feeling of grandeur that seems to be lacking from other sports venues I've visited. It truly gives the feeling, standing at that spot, that this is a game of class and style.

During my stay in Wimbledon, the players began to arrive, and the air was electrified. The arrival of these top-notch tennis pros really lit up an otherwise sleepy part of London. I am glad, all these years later, to have that experience of the place.

acrostic

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chinese Theater, LA

In front of the Chinese Theater in LA, there lies the famous stretch of road upon which you can see the names and hand/footprints of the stars, outlined and laid out within a star of its own. It is a fun walk to make, with one's eyes downturned, reading the names, seeing the little messages carved into the stone, and thinking about the careers these famous folk have made over the years.

Both times I've been there, I enjoyed the sights and the walk very much. Once I was there at midmorning, and once closer to midnight. The place has a very different feel at the different times of day. If you are the sort who might feel a little paranoia about parking on a dark, rather seedy-feeling side street, then stick to the midmorning routine. Or perhaps just plan your route better than I did to avoid those sorts of parking spaces.

But the creatures of the night who roam about the place after dark do add a special feel to the air, and it is worth seeing then too. If you are the sort who likes to keep company with vampires and night owls, making a trip down there in the cool of the late night is something that is worth keeping in the memory books.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Road to Penang

Stretched across the northern section of the Malaysian peninsula lies a vast jungle area. It expands out across the hilly region, a lush green landscape.

Somehow or another, a highway has been built through this jungle undergrowth, running roughly from Kota Bahru to Penang. It is an engineering feat, how that road was built, and it still lies today in one of the most rugged regions of Peninsular Malaysia.

Standing next to the roadside are signs that are common for many parts of the world, indicating a warning to beward of crossing animals. However, what is noteworthy about these signs is that they picture elephants, this being one of the world's few highways that would have to worry about elephants crossing it.

And I've heard that it can be a problem. Night driving there is highly discouraged because nighttime is the time the elephants most like to crowd the highway. The blacktopped surface of the road attracts heat throughout the day. In the cool of the jungle night, this heat can be appealing to the elephants, who often like to sleep there. And a collision with an elephant, no matter how sturdy one's vehicle, could be a deadly affair.

Tigers have also been known to roam the highway at night.


showintale's blog

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Otago Peninsula

The Otago Peninsula, just outside of Dunedin, New Zealand, is a stunning spot to visit for any animal lover. The farmers and whalers there, for generations, had destroyed the forestation. It happened that the forestation was needed, though, to support the Yellow-eyed Penguins that have always lived there. When the forestation was destroyed, the penguins left. And so did all the animals that needed the penguins for survival.

About a decade ago, some farmers along the coast began to leave their lands closest to the coast for regrowing the natural forestation on the peninsula. When that happened, the penguins returned to their natural habitat. And the sea lions followed. Most recently, the whales have too. (There are no more whalers there.)

When I was there, we were so close to a yellow-eyed penguin that we could have touched him. He walked right up to where we stood, took a good look at us (we were obviously the oddity, not him) and started making his way up the hill to where we could see his mate waiting for him in the regrown forestation. We saw 5 penguins that day (though this breed is not very sociable). And we saw lots of seals and sea lions. In fact, the sea lions blocked the footpath, where they lay sunbathing. We had to make our way quietly around them.

I loved the way the place is being conducted. Though we were able to get close to the animals for a good look, the natural condition is well maintained. The tourists who are taken there are kept to a very limited number, and the place is well sheltered from the problems that often go along with a tourist boom.

Tours are hosted by Elms Wildlife Tours. No other company has permission to bring tourist to the peninsula. This has worked wonderfully to preserve the natural habitat of the wildlife there, which is what enables those few tourists who go to see so much of that wildlife.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Traffic Hotel, Chengdu, Sichuan, China

It's been years since I was there. But I can still picture it as clearly as if I were there right now. Located at Linjiang Zhong Lu 6, Next to Xin Nan Men bus station, which was a torn up mess when I was there years ago, the Traffic Hotel makes a perfect HQ for travelers to Chengdu. Like many other budget travelers to Chengdu, I made this hotel my base while I was there.

The hotel is a relatively simple place. It includes breakfast in the price of its rooms, but doesn't have a lot of high class perks. What it does offer is services and styles that cater to the back packer. There is a bicycle rental station (what a way to see any Chinese city!) and a great notice board for fellow travelers to exchange information and great finds around the area. Best of all is the book exchange service, where many backpackers are willing to exchange their Chengdu, Sichuan, or China travel guide for one related to their next travel destination.

The rooms are simple and clean. The little gift shop is simple, but has some fun things there. The breakfast is simple too, but fills the tummy.

Noticing a theme here? Well, if simple and functional -- and affordable -- is what you seek, the Traffic Hotel is the place.

The Journeys of Showintale

Monday, November 13, 2006

Seeing the World

I haven't seen the whole world. Not yet.

Maybe one day I can change that claim, and say I've seen it all. Every last corner. Tasted every sort of food. Smelled every smell. Seen every sight, great or small.

But today is not that day. Not yet.

I've seen a bit of it, though. And it's an interesting place, this planet I call home.

Keep checking in here, from time to time.

I'll share some of what I've seen along the way.

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