Four Year Mile

It was 4 years ago, blogs had just captured the attention of newspapers and the offline world. I had joined Engineering. I had started writing about 2 years ago when i decided to test if i had inherited it from my genes. What started off with autobiographical writings and dark poems eventually culminated in this blog Aninosaintlife, which after second opinions resulted in the version you now see before you. Eventually i broached out to this, largely kept hidden until recently, where i blogged as Insomniac. ‘An Inosaint Life’ gave way to ‘An Innocent Life’ and in somewhere in 3rd year of engineering ‘Life is not all Ha-ha hee-hee’ was replaced by the newer namesake’s name. ‘Mad Hunter Skozaken‘.

The Blog and the online world taught me a lot i should say. In addition to finding some awesome people online, it made me develop my writing style. This has changed from an ‘everyday blog’ to a more My Article Blog.The Old Gang of bloggers is almost all gone. I myself disappeared for long stretches in the past two years when offline life kept me pretty preoccupied. When i did eventually come back, the blogosphere was changed. I really didnt feel the need to ‘publicize’ my blog. I still maintain contact with some of the ‘Old Gang’ but thats pretty much it. Nowadays i just follow some of my friends blogs (who arent very regular when it comes to updating).

In these 4 years, I have started and blogged at more than 7 blogs writing around 350+ posts in all. The Mind Clutter Blogger blog, A Quiz Blog survived and is now on, a Posterous and finally, in July Absolutely Filmy! came into being. I also re-wrote my ‘About‘ Page and created a ‘Downloads‘ page. Thats been my journey so far.
I really feel Blogging/Writing is my Chicken Soup for the Soul. I dont care if people dont read what i write. I know this gives me a way to archive my thoughts. Some day when i am old and worn, counting that the interweb survives, i would look back to the decades of history i intend to chronicle here. I write happy thoughts here. There s a lot left unsaid ; why should i reveal my emotions to all and sundry? Humans are fickle minded creatures. But thats another blog post in itself.

For People who visit/read, Thank You.
For Friends who support, Thank You.

My Travel Diaries: Mission Kashmir

We reached New Delhi early the next morning at 2am. We were transferred to a local hotel because our flight was at 11am the next day. While unloading our bags from the bus into the hotel we were introduced to greasy delhi policemen. They were telling the bus driver that he couldn’t park there. And this was at 2 A.M. ! They took a Rs. 50 bribe and were on their way. One of the operators present there commented that ‘Give a Cop a Rs. 50 note and he’ll be willing to look the other way no matter what we were transporting’. No wonder India has the highest number of terrorist attacks. We were staying at Karol Bagh which due to the renovation for the Commonwealth Games 2010 was all dug up. As i write this post the CWG is marred in controversy. Early next morning at around 9am we were off to the airport. The last time i had been here was almost 4 years back and that time too we had barely stayed for long.
So we were on our flight to Srinagar. Everyone was apprehensive about this segment of the trip because there has been recent unrest in the valley and currently it has a curfew status. So well we were just hoping for the best! We landed as per schedule and after loading our bags we were off to our hotel. Now the hotel was named Hotel Goldenfinger. Reminds you of that Bond film no? Owned by a fan nonetheless. With that tacky name i was not sure what to expect and i wasn’t let down. It looked like shit from the outside but luckily the inside was better. Well you see ever since the perennial state of terror that the state is in, the influx of tourists is decreasing. This ‘Heaven on Earth’ is struggling to survive. The pollution levels are rising. It was a reminder to us that we were back in India after our sojourn abroad. Truly, A rude awakening.
After settling down ( the rooms were decent and even had flat screen TV’s which we hadn’t got even abroad) the plan was that we go to Dal Lake in the evening. The local shopping area was not safe to visit because of the terror threat. There was still curfew you know but its different from the one we are familiar with. There its a way of life. We actually find people moving about normally. We are only reminded about the situation when we see couple of policemen/military police posted every 100 metres. That s a really high level of security!
Evenings at Dal Lake seem to be a family affair. There were lot of people about and everyone seemed to be having fun. We went for the traditional shikara ride. Only 4 fit in one so i decided to go with the guys separate from my family. I think it cost us Rs 75 each. Decent for an hour ride around Dal Lake. We were shown places around. We had a grad old man as our boatman and he kept rambling about places like the vegetable garden, location of the movie scene where Hrithik Roshan shot for Mission Kashmir, etc. We munched on Corn and moong dal. You see, Dal Lake is a city in itself. There are boats which function as shops. These ‘shops’ swarm around you showcasing their wares and trying to cajole you into buying something from them. That s how we ended up with the corn. We told the other merchants to go away because with 4 guys in the boat there was no chance of us buying any jewellery 😀 Each boat has a cut involved in every sale made. Thats why they even take you near certain shops. People have to survive despite circumstances. We visited a Kashmir Handicrafts showroom on one of the boathouses. My parents later bought a blanket which we later found out was cheaper in the city (by about Rs.500) 😛 but hey thats how tourists luck is.
So we were back to the room and not much else was left to do. We played cards to pass the time. I learnt a lot of new games and it was fun time with those guys: Karan, Kishan, Sandeep, Shodan and Harsh.
Many people complained about the amount of leisure time we had in Kashmir. There really wasn’t much to do. The next day we set out early at 8am to be able to get out of the city before any trouble breaks out. We were going to visit Pahalgam. Its a grassland at a height where the sheep graze and during winter functions as a skiing slope. It was beautiful. We rode up on horses but the climb down was one adrenaline pumped experience. It really is something looking down steep slopes as your steed negotiates his/her way down. We had tea on top and also met some Army men with whom we posed for pictures. These Great men who live for the country deserve respect. We climbed down for lunch next to the river that flowed along the highway. On the way here we were subjected to security checking on the roads. It was the peak season of the Amarnath Yatra. There were a lot of pilgrims travelling. We dipped our feet into the ice cool waters of the river for a bit before we trudged uphill to a nearby temple where we were stranded at because it rained. After this we were on our way back to the hotel. Thus ended day 2 at Srinagar.
Day 3 at Srinagar: There was some feast of importance that day and the curfew was relaxed. So when we went out to our destination that day we were met with traffic. Our destination this time was the resort rich area of Gulmarg. Gulmarg is famous for movie scenes and the skiing slopes. Its also has ice/snow nearly all round the year. Basically there are two levels at Gulmarg. Each of which is accessible by using a Gondola(Cable Car). The fee is expensive but the service is good too. I think it cost us Rs 400 to the first level each and Rs 500 was the amount to the second level. The Levels are at quite a height compared to the base where the cable cars start off. Earlier this trip was to be made on horses until the government stepped in and installed these French made cable cars. This causes loss of employment for the horse owners but it prevents the tourists from being fleeced. I recommend you visit such places with a tour guide. Almost everyone opted only for the first level. I was interested in going to level 2 but going alone is no fun. At Level 1, we were told that if we opted for horses they would take us to a waterfall and also show us snow. We agreed. So we mounted horses again. The trip this time was longer and even though we were on steady ground i couldn’t take may pictures unlike at Pahalgam. The reason being it was drizzling. At the end point the horse keepers pointed out to a glacier like place which was still frozen. We decided to climb up. This is not something recommended for people who have altitude sickness. The air at this altitude is quite thin and many people find it tough to breathe. We guys however persevered on climbing along the sides of the glacier. The path was not clear; our footing uncertain. Somehow we made it to a certain height where mist covered us so that we could barely see ahead of us. It was time to go back. We posed for pictures and also played with the snow. Coming down was again another story.. The lack of a path accompanied with the slipperiness from the stones being wet was a dangerous way to climb down. I slipped at one place and hurt my finger on a stone before i regained balance. The fact was that i was wearing sandals and not shoes to climb. It started raining more heavily as we set out back to Level 1 cable car station. I hid the camera in my jacket to keep it safe. The next 20 minutes were the most boring and cold moments i have ever felt. Me and the tour guide, Mr. Ratnakar were the last ones on the trail and we couldn’t see anyone ahead of us. By the time we got back things looked messy. People were wet and cold. Somehow we made it to the bottom, walked more than a kilometre to our vans and were off. The rain made us change our plans. Lunch was shifted to a hotel further down the slope where i also had tea post lunch to warm me up. We also visited an apple farm and ate apples and walnuts! These walnuts were tasty! Back to the room and card games.
The last day at Srinagar was our Garden tour day. We visited the High security Shankaracharya temple on Sulaiman Hill. No cameras or cellphones are allowed. You have to leave your bags in your vehicle and climb the 200 odd steps to the temple. The gardens we visited were Mughal Gardens, Shalimar gardens and Nishat Gardens. There is not much to see in Gardens. But for a shutterbug it presents a lot of opportunity. We visited a carpet weaving factory that day and the work of the artisans amazed me. I bought a papier maché egg with some intricate paint work. With Nishat gardens, the last leg of our tour was done. We had lunch there before heading back.
We left Srinagar the next morning at 11am. Goodbye to The Valley. I am not sure if i am visit this place again or if it even would be possible in the future 😦
Our connecting flight at Delhi was at 5:50pm. There was some problem and we were delayed quite a bit. It was past 6:30 when we eventually had lift off. However there wasn’t much of a delay in our arrival time. We reached around 9pm at Bangalore and headed to my cousin’s house for the night. Sadly the journey had come to an end. I was back Home.

Coming up: Collages of Malyasia, Singapore and Kashmir.

My Travel Diaries: Jurong and Bye Bye.

The schedule showed us that we would have the Bird Park visit in the afternoon after a morning of shopping. But since it was a Saturday, plans changed and we were on our way to the Jurong Bird Park in the morning! We reached when there was barely any crowd around. Lucky us! We got our tickets and took the ride on the park Panorail which services three stations. We got down at the Lory Loft. This is the world’s largest walk in aviary. You can feed the birds for $3. They hop on you to have the food and soon you ll have around 4 or more birds trying to eat from your hands. An awesome experience! The Bird park is the World’s Largest and it also has shows for the visitors at regular timings. The Panorail ride was how we saw most of the rides as we were ill pressed for rides. After the Lory Loft experience we got into the Panorail to go to the “Bird’s of Prey” Show. I sat in the front because i wanted to get good shots! The seating area was not very big! So the show started and First came the Secretary Bird which was followed by Owls, Hawks, Eagles and some more birds of prey. An interesting show with audience participation too! Next we headed to watch the macaw’s and the parrots and the flamingos. We also got to see the Nocturnal Bird exhibit ‘The World of Darkness’. We were going to watch the next show at a different venue. Birds n Buddies Show had a bigger seating arrangement and we were advised to sit at the top so as to be able to get out more easily. I was the only one sitting so near the arena. All for a better shot 🙂

The show started and this was a more imaginatively created one with entertaining the kids one of the main ideas. It had flamingos, toucans, parrots, macaws, Pelicans, Storks..etc. They played basket ball, recited numbers , sang a happy birthday song , flew through hoops and did many more tricks!

The bird bark was an unforgettable experience but we didn’t get a chance to check it out entirely due to our schedule. The Jurong bird park is one of the 3 wildlife parks in Singapore. The Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari are the other famous Parks. We couldn’t visit them as they weren’t included in our tour. Maybe next time?

Okay so i had missed indulging in my philatelic interest in Malaysia but wasn’t going to do the same here. I had already marked the nearest post office and wished i could visit their Philatelic museum but it was too far away from the hotel to go on my own.

So after lunch and a short rest we were out shopping. We tried the OG. This is a nearby mall which is a famous Singapore mall for the Singaporeans. Its not a place Indians usually visit but we were told by our tour guide Ling that since it was the end of july it would be the shopping season and the OG would be a place where you get great deals. And boy was she right! If you wanted to buy branded  clothes this was the place to go. We bought quite a bit here after roaming a lot for the elusive money changer. For every purchase of $20 or more we were entitled to a free pearl at the OG. That was a fun purchase!

So my family wanted to go to Mustafa which was still some way away from the OG and i decided to detour to the nearby post office but sadly when i found it, it was closed. I had forgotten that it was a Saturday so i trudged back to Mustafa disappointed. But hey atleast i tried!

I cut through Little India armed with my map and made it just as my family reached it. We then proceeded to buy the stuff that we had previously noted down to buy. After which we proceeded back to our hotel for lunch at 7:30pm. Our flight out of Singapore was scheduled that night at 11pm.

We managed to stuff the newly bought stuff into our luggage’s and we were off to the Airport. The Singapore airport is one among the best in the world. Its huge! The shopping area was one of the biggest i have seen, boasting the biggest brands there are! Oh and the joy when i saw a mobile post office! Finally i could buy some stamps. I ended up spending slightly more than $20 but it was worth it. I got a Grand Prix Singapore, Old Singaporean theatres, an embroidered Flower stamp and a Singapore City. I had already picked up a Bird stamp from the Hotel’s reception. Finally i got what i wanted. We also browsed the net and i tweeted my status just before we left. There were also Foos ball tables but they were occupied!

Singapore like most tourist countries has a GST(goods and service tax) on its products. So when tourist buy items, there is a scheme to reimburse the GST to them. This can be done so by producing the relevant bills of purchases. A maximum of 3 bills can be held together to produce a sum of $100 minimum to be able to get your GST refund. Mustafa however has a different procedure wherein you need to fill out a form at the mall and after you get the necessary authorities to stamp it you can drop it at the airport and in a few weeks you’ll get a demand draft delivered to you at the address of your choice. The other stores have a normal GST refund method where in you can get the cash as soon as you check in.

So We were finally leaving Singapore. I wished we could have stayed longer and visited more places but there was not much that could be done on a planned trip.

Next up: Mission Kashmir

My Travel Diaries: Merlions, Museums and More

“This place possess an excellent harbour..
Singapore is everything we could desire”

-Sir Stamford Raffles , 1819 ( On 6th February, 1819, he made Singapore a trade post of the British as a strategic move to “secure to the british flag the maritime superiority of the Eastern Seas”)

Breakfast was again complimentary and we had it in the hotel’s congested cafe. After breakfast we began our  City tour. After a brief intro to the history of Singapore, we headed to our first stop, The Baby and Mama Merlion at Merlion Park.

The Merlion is a symbol of the city and is supposed to bring good luck to the city. Singapore is named after the Lion and its an island city hence they decided to have a suitable mascot and the Merlion was born. Incidentally in mid August , the Youth Olympic games were to be held there and the city was covered with promotions about the Games which had their two Mascots, Merly and Lyo. You can see they are derived from the Merlion. So now back to the Merlion Park. Well Here’s where the Mama Merlion has been relocated ever since the auspicious shifting of it from its previous location a few hundred metres away. Story goes that after a bridge connecting the banks of the River the eyes of the Merlion were blocked from a view of the ocean this coincided with the economic decline in the growth of the city. Superstitious as these guys are they decided to shift it at an auspicious time. Thats how eventually the Mama Merlion ended up at its present location.

So after all the picturesque pictures i could manage with the Merlion in almost every possible position we headed out to the next location. The Chinese temple was located in Chinatown. The Chinese Love the colours Gold and Red and hence most of their decorations are of that colour. So the Temple looked beautiful! We had a brief introduction to the Chinese Religion before we entered. Did you know that the Doors to the Temple have painted generals of a particular Chinese Emperor who found that he didn’t get any nightmares about an impending assassination if his two top generals stood outside his room while he slept inside. However realising that they could not perform their duty if all they did was stay guard outside his room He decided to Paint their likeness on the doors which worked just as good and that was that. The Chinese temple is an official one, One of the few outside Mainland China. Also this morning we had a stop at a brief stop at a duty free shop where most shopped quite a bit. I bought a Dragon bookmark , Couple of Tshirts and quite a bunch of chocolates.

One of the interesting things i learnt at the temple was about the Goddess of the Sea, Mazu. She could control sea conditions and is attributed to have saved lot of lives. She was born around 950 AD in China and is supposed to have died in 987 at the age of 28 atop a mountain on Meizhou  Island and rode the clouds into heaven. Reminds you of a mutant, an X-men, Storm maybe?

Next stop was the Singapore Gems & Metals Co. Limited. Here raw ores are polished into Gems and treated to create masterpieces which are as super expensive as they are beautiful! The work is intricate and delicately made. After that trip we ogled some cars at the showrooms outside 😛

Our last stop before Lunch was the National Orchid Garden. This is a part of the Singapore Botanic Gardens which includes The Botany Centre, Swan Lake, Ginger Garden, Rainforest and some more gardens all fitting into 63 hectares ( 155.7 acres). I clicked a lot of macro photos of most plants. I wished i could have spent more time at the Orchid Gardens because the rain played spoilsport midway and we all got a bit wet. Disappointed i clicked a few more pictures as i negotiated my way under my jacket towards the Exit.

Lunch was at a place called Hotel City Hub. Then we proceeded to Sentosa Island. Now this is one of the smaller islands near Singapore which has been developed as a tourist destination somewhat in the manner of how Genting is developed in Malaysia. There is a Resorts World Singapore over here with a Casino too. There are two casinos and both are extravagantly designed and built. One has a restaurant designed to look like a suspended ship on top of a building which curves its way up and the other is The RW Singapore. The RW Singapore boasts of a number of attractions, 6 world-class hotels, Universal Studios Theme park and lots more! But our destination was not RW. What we were here to see first was the Underwater World. This is the World Famous Underwater park and Dolphin Lagoon. Most of us has heard about the Tunnel Travelator wherein you are surrounded by Fishes all around and all you need is to stand in a location as the travelator ferries you through the entire length. We entered the Island on one of the Islands Buses, other vehicles are not allowed inside. Our stop was called Imbiah lookout near the Siloso Beach. We entered Underwater World and had some time to spend before the Dolphin show started at 3:30pm. We had a look at the Ray pool where you could touch and feed the Rays. I was not brave enough to touch their leathery backs. We moved fast through the aquarium sections showcasing shark development, the crabs, the octopuses, the cuttle fish, Living Reef, the jelly fish and a little something known as The Sea Angel; that was a truly amazing creature. I hurried through the Tunnel which housed Sharks, Rays and was built like a reef colony. The Aquarium is split into three levels and there is a Vertical tube housing fish around which a staircase is built connecting the bottom Tunnel Level to the upper Level One.

Soon it was 3pm and we trooped to catch seats at the Dolphin Lagoon. I decided to get them close to the pool because i would get better shots. The Show was a short one and i missed the football trick while trying to check if another section had been filmed. Unfortunately both didn’t end up being filmed. So at around 4:15pm we were out of Underwater World. Interested people could opt for the 4D ride. Basically you get a 4D experience with the given adventure programmed to make you feel as if you are a part of the movie. It cost $18 per person and we were the only youngsters who didn’t. Hey, we got to indulge ourselves with Walls Chocobars which you don’t get here in India. They costed $5 each! I also got a chance to explore sections of Imbiah Lookout which were not part of our itinerary.

Our Next stop was the Images of Singapore museum where we had a guided tour of the history of Singapore. It was lengthy and had statues depicting the ways of life followed from the beginning. It also showed the ways of life of the 4 main ethnic diversities of Singapore; namely Malay, Chinese, Indians and British. I wasted quite a lot of my camera battery clicking pictures of this unique museum tour. By the time we came out it was around 6. We then proceeded to the Merlion tower. The Papa Merlion is the biggest of them all and you can climb all the way to the top with the help of a elevator. Tourists pose for photographs at its mouth and on its crown.  The View from the top is breathtaking. Its offers us a 360˚ view of the Island. We were also given a brief video presentation about the Singapore-Merlion connection and a token. On coming down from the Merlion we were guided to a set of Merlion statues where you could insert your token from the top and you would receive a number from its mouth. There were 3 numbers ( 1,2,3) each of which entitled you to a souvenir. 1 gave you the most common Hand Fan, 2 a postcard/mouse Pad and 3 gave you the rarest of the three which incidentally i don’t quite recall…think it was a mousepad too.

By the time we came out , it was about 6:45pm. We had been booked to attend the Lazer Show, “Songs of the Sea”. However it was scheduled for 7:40pm. We headed out to the beach location of the show. By the time we reached there around 7pm, there was already a crowd of tourists who had taken the best seats; the centre ones. This is one of the most famous attractions here and the shows are booked tight all year round. There are only 2 shows a day and one show can seat around 1000 people easy. So we had to wait in the best possible seats available till the show started. It was a long wait. The kids in the next column of seats were all busy playing with their PSP’s, DSi’s or Cellphones. And these were all school kids. Sentosa island is a tourist destination and right now the neighbouring countries had vacations. The schools organised tours to visit all the famous places. We saw many such school groups during our trip.

As the show time neared i was worried about how long would my camera batteries last. The flash photographs during the “Images of Singapore” had depleted them. I didn’t want to miss this event. So i rationed the camera. I Clicked a few shots as and when needed. Even after the show began i was stingy with my shots and the darkness posed a very difficult challenge to get good pictures. I still managed to get a few good ones.  The Show was enjoyable with its singing, lazer play, fogs and fireworks. The story was a classic one. I really liked the fire display. As i watched the show i wondered why we here in Mangalore cant develop a similar lazer show on our beaches. Here in Singapore they had organised one on an artificially created beach. We simply don’t make use of our resources to develop tourism!

By the time we were out of Sentosa it was almost 8:30 and we had yet to journey back to our hotel. A short dinner followed at a restaurant in Little India owned by the Chennai based Woodlands group and we headed to our lovely beds for some well needed rest. Tomorrow would be our last day in Singapore and also abroad!

Next Up:  Birds and adieu to Singapore!

My Travel Diaries: Singapore Beckons!

We had lost our breakfast coupons but we were still allowed to enter the cafe for breakfast. Our lunch was also prepacked. The Bus today morning for our trip to Singapore was a different one. The journey was going to be around 5 hours. We were warned of Singapore’s strict rules. They say its a FINE city, an oft used pun. High on the not to take things is chewing gum. Chewing gum is a banned item in Singapore after authorities found people sticking the used gum on the doors of the monorail. After lunch at one of their rest stops which are developed along the highway , i joined the guys at the back to play cards. Thus began our card playing, Donkey nonstop.
Singapore is an Island so to get there we need to cross a bridge. After that we have to go through Singaporean authorities. Before the bridge is where the Malaysian border ends and we have to submit our Exit card and get the stamp on our Passport. The Singapore visa is a E-visa and valid for 2 years. After a quick check through we were back in our bus and journeying towards the centre of the city. Singapore!
Our hotel was The Village’s Albert Court, which was located near Little India and the Famous Mall, Mustafa Mall. Mustafa Centre is Singapore’s only 24-hour shopping mall. Mustafa was founded by Indian businessman Mustaq Ahmad in 1971, and at first sold mainly clothing. In 1985, Mustaq moved his business to the ground floor of Serangoon Plaza. As his business expanded, Mustaq bought over a shophouse on Syed Alwi Road. Subsequently, he also bought the neighbouring units, but decided to build a new shopping mall to house his business. Thus its grown really big nowadays!
There was still time before the day ended so everyone opted for a quick visit to the mall as long as we made it back for dinner at 7:30. Walking through the streets of Little India i couldn’t help thinking that ‘You can take the Indian out of India but not the India out of the Indian’. It reminded me of Chennai actually. After we trudged through the labyrinthine passages exhausted by the vastness and by the fact that this was a building that grew as the owner bought the neighbouring shops to add to the mall. You keep going into the next building only at a particular level and its confusing to navigate through it. Add to the length of a floor, I assure you , you will be exhausted. Things to buy here: Cosmetics ( Soaps, Perfumes) and Food. Other than that there aren’t anything thats “cheap”. As far as electronics goes you are better off buying them in India because they’ll have a valid guarantee/warranty. What we bought included Rechargeable batteries for the camera ( Rs 350 for precharged 2100Am) , cosmetics , perfumes and ofcourse Chocolates! But this was later on day 7, the day after tomorrow.
So quite empty handed we headed back to the hotel, exhausted. Dinner was in the nearby Sheesh Mahal attached to our hotel plaza actually. The Hot tub soak was definitely something required! I have always loved bath tubs. They were that elusive luxury when i was little and i never got round to having a bath in one till i got to go on this trip.
Watched some quality tv before dosing off, The Foo Fighters live at Wembley i believe. My room looked over the street below.

My Travel Diaries: Go KL!

After Breakfast we started off on the half day city tour. First stop was the King’s Palace. We were told about the government and history of Malaysia and about the present Kings and his selection. The Sovereign is separate from the Government headed by the Prime Minister. He is more like a religious Leader. He is selected from one among the Sultans of Malaysian states. Each one holds the post for about 5 years and every State’s First Family gets a chance in a round robin manner.
The King’s Palace is just his Office. He stays elsewhere and we heard there’s another palace being built somewhere. It s the First stop on every City tour and it was a crowded place. The Guards are reminiscent of those at Buckingham’s Palace and on some special pre-assigned days there will be mounted guards too. We were lucky to visit on one such day. We took our pictures and posed at all the classic ‘touristy’ positions. The Police officers were riding huge Police choppers and we got a chance to pose on them which was Cool 🙂

Next Stop was the National Monument which is in memory of the soldiers who had lost their lives for the country in Malaysia’s struggle for freedom, principally against the Japanese occupation during World War II and the Malayan Emergency , which lasted from 1948 until 1960.This was constructed in 1966. The monument is 15 meters (49.21 feet) tall, made of bronze and was designed by Austrian sculptor Felix de Weldon, who was also responsible for the famed USMC War Memorial in Virginia, United States. We Went through the gardens after the Group Photo was taken.

Our Next Stop was the National Mosque which was very beautiful. The ladies had to wear the customary Burkha to enter. Then we got back into the bus to our brief stop at Independence Square where the Flag of Malaysia flies high. Its placed around an old Cricket club ground which doesn’t seem to be used now that the colonial English are gone.

Our Next Stop was the Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom where after a brief introduction to how chocolates are made you can go crazy tasting the various chocolates and also buy some for yourselves and your friends.

After the chocolate binge while we hurried to keep our appointment with the Petronas towers we had a brief stop for a photo session at a point where we are able to catch both the highlights of the KL skyline; the KL tower and the Petronas twin towers.

Finally we made it to keep our date with the Petronas towers. Now this is not normally included in the itinerary but we had to pay 15 RM per person for our free tickets. Petronas give away a limited amount of free tickets per day but the crazy rush of tourists causes touts to come in who stock up and kinda sell them in the black so as to say. Anyways so we got our tickets and we were also watch a small documentary about the history of the towers. After that we could take the Elevator to the 41st floor. Now the bridge connecting the two towers is a two floor one connecting the 41st and the 42nd one. The 41st one is open for tourists while the 42nd one is for the businesses. We were ferried up there in one of the fastest elevators i’ve been in. It was faster than 1 floor/second. We got to spend like 10 minutes there before back down we trooped and headed to our final destination, The KL tower. Lunch awaited us at the bottom of the communication tower which stands 421 metre tall. But we decided to go up and look around before lunch. The tower also contains a revolving restaurant on one of its higher levels. We saw adverts of people getting married on top the tower. Up on the observation deck we get a 360 view of the city, KL.

Lunch was again buffet Indian food which was quite good and the restoran D’Tandoor boasted of Indian Movie stars who had visited it. That was pretty much the end of our Half day city tour. I did have a detour on my own while we waited to head back to the bus and had a quick look at a mini zoo at the entrance to the KL tower.
With the end of the sightseeing came the beginning of the shopping. Our destination was a shopping mall at Bukit Butang. We had time till 5 or so to shop. It was basically a mall area spread into 5 floors and stocking almost every brand there is. This is where i bought some mementos for some of my friends. The Petronas towers too contains a mall but you can the prices are out of this world to most of us. Here is where i bought a Shonen Jump which had the 500 chapter of Naruto out. Although written in a language undecipherable by me i still wanted to buy it. I had already read that chapter anyway but consider this as a way of contributing towards Manga literature. After a tiring shopping session during which i didn’t buy anything else we went back to our Hotel, the Grand Seasons using the Monorail! Now that was an experience. You get surprised seeing the queues maintained to get into the train and there’s minimal shoving. The ticket back to our stop cost us 1.60 RM each. Chow Kit, our stop was 5 stations away and was the last but one stop on the line. Dinner again at a Indian hotel where there were a couple more groups for dinner too. It was noisy and we were too exhausted.

Back to the hotel and a good Bath tub soak later i went to sleep. Little did i know there was so much more tiring journeys up ahead as we travelled to Singapore the next morning.