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Monsoon Arrives In Manali..!!

rain
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30th. June'16>Departed a rain drenched Kashmiri Gate Bus Station in Delhi at 7pm for the 11.5hr. road trip to the hills of Manali in Himachal Pradesh..As comfortable as a bus journey can be on long trips & especially India, I was impressed with service, punctuality & cost for a top rated company like Himachal road Transport Corp..Good drivers with good road skills, especially on the winding roads in the higher mountain regions...
Arrived around 9:30am in Manali a touch weary as I am more of a napper than a sleeper on long journeys and not one to miss much when travelling too.!!..Had to wait awhile for my room at check in for Hotel Devlok, but that's okay as I new I had arrived early & my reserved room was not ready..I was offered an interim room while I waited, which was quite unexpected & thankful..Late lunch/early dinner and I felt like an early night after catching up on emails & Facebook.. Wifi can be a little hit & miss here at times, so patience is the name of the game..They say it's due to weather, location & power cuts..No choice I guess, just go with the flow.!!... Caught up for a coffee with friend Bhuvi, who runs her own trekking & mountaineering school here, before she takes a group from Bangalore on a nine day hike up to Hampta Pass tomorrow..
2nd.July'16..Took the short stroll up to the Hidimba Temple this afternoon..intentionally the idea was more to try for a few candid/street style shots of the nearby markets & stallholders with the new OMD Pen-F & with the 45mm F1.8 lens attached, it seems like the perfect combination.. Okay that's enough of the technical stuff.!!..
Rain & more rain this evening..it's the monsoon season up here in the Himachal mountains & fortunately I decided not to do the long hike to Hampta Pass with Bhuvi this time..Will plan it for the better season next time...Highlight of the day has to be spending the evening for dinner with Bhuvi & her family...There's never anything to beat good home cooking & this time it was all Himachali style.!!.
3rd.July'16..An early breakfast & dodged the morning showers for a walk into town for a look see...As it's a major starting point for a number of hikes & other outdoor activities Manali is a typical tourist hill station, especially for the national population who's main aim is to distance themselves from the warmer temperatures of the south...have met a few from Mumbai, Delhi & Gujarat..and have received a few Facebook friend requests too..Just love the looks on faces when I break into the their national language .. Speaking Hindi in India as a tourist has certainly been an advantage, 'cos apart from breaking the ice in conversation it also lessens the risks of being ripped off or overcharged at times.!!.Twice the standard fee for a taxi or scooter rickshaw is the norm when they see you as a tourist, so it pays to haggle & not accept the first price before you agree to the ride.!!!..
Came across a great little cafe called "Amigos" German Bakery & owned by Tibetans (work that one out?!?!) just a ten minute walk to the city from the hotel...A main serve of momo's & masala chai will set you back a mere $4:00 & it also solved my hotel internet woes with free wifi as well...Guess where I'll be having lunch again tomorrow and the day after and the day after.......???!!.. Checked my emails/Facebook posts & got my all important Skype chat with my lovely SongHi back home. Happy now.!!!!P7030835.jpgP7020780.jpgP7030826.jpgP7030165.jpgP7020815.jpgP7020810.jpgP7020798.jpgP7020791.jpgP7020787.jpgP7020785.jpgP7020760.jpgP7020755.jpgP7020128.jpg

Posted by wattslee 11:59 Archived in India Tagged landscapes mountains buildings people markets accommodation history traditional hotel forest spices cameras Comments (0)

"Three Pairs Of Socks For A Dollar..!!"

Hello India...

semi-overcast 42 °F
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Sat 25th/Sunday 26th.June'16...After contributing a few voluntary hours at the annuaul Lytham Hall Club Day on Saturday, I stayed back & enjoyed a beautiful sunny afternoon of events at a typical English family friendly village show..Traditional market stalls, donkey rides,food stalls beauty pageants & workshops..Included this year was a vintage car rally too. No doubt about it, it's a popular family day out with the picnic blanket & basket..
Flew out of Manchester Airport on a wet & windy Sunday evening after dropping off the little red Honda Jazz I had rented and with a 2 hour stopover in Dubai I arrived in the steaming 40deg. heat of Delhi & checked in at the appropriately named Bed & Chai guesthouse in the city..It's been three years since I was here last with SongHi and yes.!. I certainly see a few changes since..Airport/Metro & Shopping plaza's as in construction & technology..Though, noise & pollution..Well, I've only been here a day..!!!!
28th...After some heavy rainfall in the morning I braved the 40deg. heat & humidity for a walk to Nehru Place today..Highly considered as a prominent cyber technology & IT hub of South Asia, it's a commercial & business district built in the 1980's and named after Jawaharlal Nehru (the first PM of India)..Built above an underground carpark & considering how popular and busy this complex is, maintenance is at an extreme low even though most of the main structures are still in use.. So, care for a bargain..?!. Well this is the place..Anything from computers, cameras, printer cartridges, digital printing & photocopying to even illegally copied software sold from a cart ... As most trading is done without receipts & bills bargaining is the name of the game here..ACCC/Health & Safety.!. What's that.??..
Thankfully, I am up to date with all the technology I require but I did require some new socks.!!..3 pairs of fake Nike & Adidas sports socks for a dollar...Well, I call that a bargain.!!..and socks sold at an IT market, you may ask.!!..Well so do I but I guess some computer nerds do need socks.!!
Chicken Biryani washed down with a Kingfisher beer for dinner & that's me ready for bed.!!!P6280119.jpgP6280116.jpgP6280113.jpgP6280112

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India (March 2011) - 113

India (March 2011) - 113

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Posted by wattslee 08:46 Archived in India Tagged buildings people planes markets accommodation history traditional hotel it trip software computers phones cameras Comments (0)

"Brews With Views"

Exploring The Forest Of Bowland

semi-overcast
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20th & 21st June'16:
Proud of their heritage & rich cultural history & with a reputation for good cuisine.!!..That's what you get when you are in the Ribble Valley & that's where I've been hiding out for the last two days. Basing myself at the YHA in Slaidburn could not have been a better spot to go & explore, whether you're hiking, cycling or even driving. There are a number of quaint & pretty little villages dotted within this valley & unspoilt countryside..Newton-in-Bowland/ Tosside/Bolton-By-Bowland/Gisburn/Pendle Hill & Clitheroe are just a few... and it all lies in an area named the Forest Of Bowland which has been designated as an Area Of Outstanding Beauty in England and rightly so.. The other advantage in this area is that most of the villages or hamlets are within walking distance, & with a pub or inn in each one your quench for thirst could be for all the wrong reasons..There are a few awesome tasting ales being produced at local breweries here.!!!
The hostel holds it's own piece of local history having started out as a coaching inn back in the 17th. century & formerly known as the Black Bull while the local pub opposite, interestingly called the Hark To Bounty was so named after a favourite hound belonging to the Lord of the Manor..
It's been an interesting past weekend too, highlighting an amazing catchup after six years with friends Christina & Malcolm Usher whom we've known when we lived in Tasmania. They coincidentally happened to be holidaying in the UK at the same time & were on there way up to the Yorkshire Dales .. Drinks & tea at "The Shovels" in St. Annes On Sea was the ideal spot to celebrate.
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Dunscar Monroe Ale ((Hark To Bounty) Slaidburn

Dunscar Monroe Ale ((Hark To Bounty) Slaidburn

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Posted by wattslee 07:42 Archived in England Tagged landscapes mountains bridges churches buildings people trees accommodation history traditional hotel sheep valley forest yorkshire yha bowland Comments (0)

"An Arabian Sun & Sand Experience"

sunny 104 °F
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Day 3... 1/06/2016
Decided to brave the heat and take the stroll this morning to view Burj Khalifa & surrounds..Awesome & unique piece of architectural engineering to say the least.!!.For the statisticians out there, my research tells me it's built on an 11 hectare park & rising to a height of 828 meters with 124 floors, (at which is the public observatory) this building still claims to be the world's tallest at present with commanding views of the Arabian Gulf. The local Islamic culture has inspired much of the interior design with thousands of Middle Eastern pieces of artwork throughout..
For the shoppers out there, your paradise is just next door.!!..The Dubai Mall..Yet another of Dubai's claim to fame by being the world's largest shopping mall..Over 1200 stores & brand names and still increasing.. it's a retail heavan or nightmare, however you look at it.!!!..There's even an aquarium & ice rink with the obvious cinema to keep you occupied while your other half is spending up.!!. Typically, with current exchange rates regularly on the move it's always best to have your calculators at the ready.!!..
Knowing I had a big feed to look forward to in the evening it was a quick light snack with a healthy iced tea before catching a 16 dirham taxi ride back to the hotel for my 4:30pm pick up by Arabian Adventures on my Sundowner Desert Safari & Dinner.."Woohooo.!!'
As organised tours go, well not my cup of tea but you can see the advantages for families & groups alike..A falcon display/4wd dune bashing and watching a belly dancer while having dinner may please some.. though, I was happy to come away with a handful of acceptable pics of the sunsets & sand dunes from this unique and one off experience in the "Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve"..Established in 2002 and covering an area of 225 sq. kms. it takes in 5% of Dubai's land mass and was created with the aim to preserve some of Dubai's threatened & endangered species of fauna & flora..My kinda place.!!!9E5307A2BEFD616D1D6C8E27A3848185.jpg9E567462C8D4876EBC756B2BC735FA9E.jpg9E5A4D9BF7C9AE76254B140B0868D4BA.jpg9E5E432ECFC625945974FF9C49ADA548.jpg9E54E153EAF0D12C5CF3BB9C6E81DA29.jpg9E60013496FE457B60F1B468CCE7B41D.jpg9E64C499B3DA7569B57EF03BFEE7AB44.jpg9E6630B595603CC771A43F06AE9887A5.jpg9E6913E290E048C93500F9361F032A50.jpg9E6B9A76929AA6B4E0108A84D8CCE3D8.jpg9E6D2E3304A5AF4BEAEDBE0BC70CD3B9.jpg9E6EEA8EAE8C091841543CCEBC14D295.jpg
Well, in short..A day that was full on.!!!!..

Posted by wattslee 00:08 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged landscapes buildings skylines animals accommodation hotel sand dubai dunes emirates 4wheeldrive Comments (0)

An Early Arrival With An Early Check In..!!

sunny 102 °F
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31/05/2016..
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I had read and heard that the "Four Points By Sheraton" hotel has some amazing views around Dubai both by day & night, so after checking in at reception my first mission was to check out the 43rd Floor at the top of the building..Probably not the best time for the keen photographer through the almost 40deg. after noon heat haze, so I decided I'd return with the camera after sunset. The hotel it's self is situated in an ideal spot, with awesome views from almost any angle and also within close proximity to most local sights & attractions...No rush.!. I'm on holiday, so we shall see what tomorrow morning brings..maybe a walk across to the world's tallest building the "Burj Khalifa" & then check out the so called world's largest shopping mall " Dubai Mall" without getting lost.. 'cos I've gotta be back in time for my 4:30pm pick up by the guys at Arabian Adventures, for a uniquely named Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari..Ah well.!!.when in Dubai.!?!?..Some of us do get talked into these things I guess.!!..Sand & cameras.??..Not a good combination me thinks.!!!

Posted by wattslee 16:30 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged buildings skylines night accommodation hotel dubai emirates Comments (0)

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