weekly photo challenge: on top

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We were on Monkey Island in the Amazon, when a monkey jumped ON TOP of David’s head.

We thought this would be fitting for the week’s photo challenge :)

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weekend walks: inside jenolan caves

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Weekend walk took us indoors this week, inside caves! Actually, the initial plan was to do the Jenolan River Walk and see the Blue Lake in the Greater Blue Mountains region (which is a UNESCO Heritage Site). So after driving 2.5 hours, we arrive to find that the walk is closed for maintenance. The most of the Blue Lake we got to see was up above from the road.

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Luckily, Plan B was not a bad plan at all. Plan B was to visit Jenolan Caves themselves. The tours of the caves last about 1.5 hours and range in levels of fitness/difficulty. We elected to join the Orient Cave tour which is considered one of the top 10 most beautiful caves in the world! There was no way, we were missing that one. Not that we have seen the other top 10 contenders, but we certainly rate this one incredible!

Inside the caves, there are crystals: millions and millions of crystals. There were stalactites (those formed from the ceiling down), there was stalagmites (those formed from the ground up) and there were helictites (those that changed directions as they form). It was a crash course for us in basic geology and cave formation.

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An extremely fascinating (and almost unfathomable) fact was that sometimes 1 cubic centrimetre of these formations can take up to 300 years to form, so…. given “that” and after some calculations, the Jenolan Caves are about 340 million years old, making them the world’s oldest caves!  (Well, actually, we didn’t do the maths, it was already done).

As we pass through the caves, the water overhead drips, we can hear it and see it. Crystal is forming as we walk! From the photos, the surfaces looks almost waxy. We also managed to see a flowing stone as we entered.

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The Orient Caves contained a Persian Chamber, an Egyptian Chamber and an Indian Chamber. Looking around, it felt like we were in another dimension or on another world. It is so utterly unusual and intriguing. Some of the formations are given names or descriptions for orientation.

(1) Example of “shawls” – these are two alongside one another. The one on the right is what crystal looks likes after water over times flows over the limestone: it is white, translucent white. The one on the left is crystal formed from dirty/contaminated water.

In general, the brown streaks through the formations are from iron in the water.

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(2) Pillar of Hercules – found in the Persian Chamber, stands at about 8 metres tall.

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(3) The Dome – found in the Persian Chamber, approximately 40 metres high

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(4) The pilgrims – found in the Persian Chamber, “walking” up a hill

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(5) Little crystals formed in water

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(6) Egyptian Blanket and curtains – found in the Egyptian Chambers

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(7) The Frozen Nile  - also found in the Egyptian Chambers. The white dots on the far right of the picture are the sparkles of the light hitting the crystals.

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(8) Elephant Headress, found in the Indian Chamber.

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(9) Medusa, looking down with a headful of snakes.

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Jenolan Caves are such a delight to visit. We are curious and keen to go back – more so as with each ticketed tour purchased, the visitor receives a ticket which entitles them to get 50% off any other cave tours that they do with the year (BONUS :-) )

We really do take our hats off for those explorers who were so brave in venturing into such unknown territories (with only candles and naked flame as their source of light) to discover such beauty and even more so to those in 1867, who gazetted the area as a reserve! Thank you to those people with such foresight to protect such beauty so we can enjoy it today!

Greater Blue Mountains were UNESCO Heritage listed in 2000. To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited, visit our unofficial bucket list

 NB: This was not a sponsored post – we visited on our own accord. 

 

weekly photo challenge: monument

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When we visited Washington DC, the one monument we were MOST looking forward to was the Lincoln Memorial. Without a doubt, we knew this was to be our entry into this week’s photo challenge.

We were completely in awe when we saw it – the sheer size alone was a great representation of his legacy!

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a culinary trip to afghanistan

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We figured that we would not be able to try the cuisine in Afghanistan anytime soon, so we went for the next best thing: we ate at an Afghan Restaurant in Sydney.  And the food is simply scrumptious.

The flavours are influenced by countries close by, probably most notably India and there are elements of China, possibly due to connections via the Silk Road back in the day.

To start we ordered our drinks, one cherry lassi and one salted lassi. The salted lassi (also referred to as Doogh) is a savoury yoghurt drink with cucumber and mint tossed through it. It definitely has a unique yet refreshing taste and is less heavier than the typical mango lassi. The cherry lassi was sweet and tasted almost like a cherry juice but creamier.

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For entree, we ordered a mixed platter for two (it could easily have fed 4 people) – it included 2 meat and 2 vegetarian options.

(1) Afghani potato flat bread with chopped onion shallots, coriander and spices, served with yoghurt sauce

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(2) Vegetarian dumplings topped with a bolognese sauce – it felt almost like a Chinese dish fused with an Italian dish. There is an option that is a purely vegetarian (i.e. no bolognese sauce)

(3) Beef dumplings also served with a bolognese sauce.

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(4) Seekh kabab – lamb mince charcoal grilled, served with a spicy chutney.

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For our main, we shared a chicken dish, Chicken Karahi, which was ever so fragrant with spices, cooked in a tomato-base sauce with onion and capsicum. The sauce had some “kick” & we were glad to have ordered the lassi :-) With every mouthful, the chicken was so moist, tender and full of flavour.

Accompanying the chicken dish was naan bread. We ordered orange pallow rice as an addition. The rice had an orange flavour and the cardamom through it was very pronounced.

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The waiter (who we suspect is also the owner) is a very friendly man and is always obliging when we have eaten here. He will always advise if he thinks we have ordered too much or can recommend dishes worth trying, especially during your first visit.

We are by no means food critics nor are we turning into foodies but considering our blog is about our travels, this particular trip was a culinary one for our taste buds! We were pretty sure our attempts to avoid gluten, failed here as well as our attempts to cut back on meat…

Bamiyan Restaurant is located in Five Dock, about 10 km from Sydney centre. We would recommend anyone in Sydney or visiting Sydney should consider giving it a go :-)

Disclaimer: This is our post and we were not sponsored for it. 

Have you tried Afghan cuisine before? What did you think?

weekend walks: centennial parklands

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We woke up early on Sunday morning to get to Centennial Parklands for a quick walk around the ponds. And to all bird lovers out there, it was sensational.

The air was really crisp, the sky was cloudy and there were a few people out for the morning run. But what blew us away was that there were birds everywhere! In fact, the first birds we came across were a brace of ducks crossing the road in front of us.

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As we walked, we saw a walking track amongst some trees and decided to detour. Looking up and all we saw were bats overhead. Yikes, all hanging upside down in the trees or swooping overhead.

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Hope you enjoy our photos for this weekend walk.

Disclaimer: We only took our compact camera (as per usual for our walks) so shutter speed and zoom was not the best for capturing birds :-)

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We wish you all a lovely week ahead!