Asia

the top 5 that did not disappoint

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So we’ve written a post about the top 5 places that underwhelmed us, then we wrote about the top 5 unexpected places and now is our top 5 that was everything plus more than we expected. We should also qualify that we have had lots of “overwhelming” moments on our travel but we narrowed it down to our top 5 for this post – which wasn’t easy.

5. Galapagos Islands

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The place where Charles Darwin came up with his evolution theory.

The place where there is abundance and diversity.

The place where animals and humans can swim together and walk together.

The place we would recommend to everyone in a heartbeat!

4. Uluru

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In the centre of our home country lies the monolith that is ever so famous. It wasn’t only seeing Uluru itself that made this the most jaw-dropping memory we have in Australia, but it was the entire experience itself; seeing Uluru during the day, seeing Uluru changing colours, watching the sunset, being under the stars in the red centre, understanding more about the Indigenous Australian culture and beliefs.

We published a photo essay recently on Uluru if you want to see more photos.

3. Yellowstone National Park 

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Being the first National Park in the world and with 9000 square kilometres to explore, one cannot really not pass up the opportunity to visit here. We visited in October and we had snow – lots of it. And it only made the scenery so romantically magical.

We were able to catch glimpses of different wildlife, we visited Ol’ Faithful Geyser and we were mesmerised by the sweeping landscapes and colours.

This is one of the first places we ever visited that as soon as we left, we said, “We’re coming back here again!”

2. Lake Titicaca

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Floating reed islands? The minute we heard about these many years ago, we knew we had to visit it one day. And when we finally did, we fell in love. It didn’t matter that we were 3000+ metres above sea level and that every few steps we felt out of breath. Because as we stepped on the reeds and realised that we were actually walking on a floating island, the moment was ingrained in our memories forever. Looking around us, we saw the local residents waving to us in their colourful sweaters – welcoming us to their home. On this planet, there are plenty of unique places to see and this is one of them.

1. The Hanging Monastery

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In the side of the cliff, 50 metres above the ground, there stands the monastery/temple that conjures up images of ancient China immediately.

This is the first place that we have visited in the world that brought tears to our eyes. We were so overwhelmed with emotion, peering upwards at it that we did pinch ourselves to see that we were really awake. Then walking through it was another thing altogether – held by what look like only wooden logs – we prayed that it was still architecturally sound. We held our breath when we saw it and we held our breath when we walked through it.

There you have it – our TOP 5 places that met and exceeded our expectations. Any surprises?

There were a few others that were close contenders such as Machu Picchu, Neuschwanstein Castle, Carcassonne, New York City…… plus many more!

Where have you been that you had high expectations of and it delivered? 

Leave us a comment.

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breaking the silence on the time we broke the silence

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Today marks the beginning of Lent. And to acknowledge it, we thought we would share a sacred place that we visited in Turkey. We’re also sharing a story that we haven’t told anyone as yet.

The last home of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, although it has not been officially pronounced as so by the Vatican. There is an information board before heading down the path abut the archeological evidence.

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The stone house is now a chapel. It is located in very peaceful surroundings. We walked along a footpath, lined with lush green trees before lining up outside the doors of the chapel to enter. Despite the number of visitors there, it was respectfully quiet.

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We stepped foot inside and we were welcomed with complete silence. Everyone was walking down the middle towards the altar, in pairs or in single file. There were people kneeling to the sides,  people with their heads bowed, people kissing the tips of their fingers, people doing the sign of the cross. There’s a deep sense of serenity in the modest-sized chapel.

Respectfully, we wanted to make a donation and true to our clumsy selves, we broke the silence embarrassingly. Amongst the peace and quiet,  the coins decided to fly out of our wallets, clanking and rolling around the chapel. Our initial reactions were to hang our heads, let out a sigh and mutter “Oh no!”, wishing for that split second the ground below would swallow us up.

Quickly and as quietly as possible, we gathered the coins and placed them in the donation box before we made a beeline for the exit. We didn’t even want to stay a second longer and disrupt any more of everyone’s tranquil moment in Mary’s House.

Once outside, there is a “wishing wall” where pilgrims can tie their wishes onto. We didn’t actually tie up any intentions because our only wish right then, was to wish we could forget the commotion we created inside.

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Mary’s House was a significant spiritual place for us to visit, an experience we would never forget for more reasons than one.

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Can you make us feel better by telling us about a time you created a scene unintentionally while travelling? 

 

 

 

 

weekly photo challenge: express yourself

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To show what “express yourself” means to us?

We thought it was almost impossible to find a photo that showed playfulness and young at heart. Then we found this photo we had taken while we were travelling which is also a big part of who we are.

Give you one guess where this photo was taken…

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Interestingly, when we look up the symbolic meaning for the panda, the search returns with words such as peaceful, positive outlook on life, gentle strength, caring and compassion. These are values we try to live our lives by.

And we will let you in on a little secret…. one of the nicknames we have for one another is in fact: Panda Boy and Panda Girl 😉

Have a great weekend, everyone!  

Any comments are appreciated!

what would you order from our three-course taste of travel menu?

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We were nominated/tagged by two fellow blogger pals, A New Life Wandering and Mrs Ayla’s Adventures for #atasteoftravel blogger competition. Although we are not eligible to win the prize and we are not entering this post into the competition, we thought it would still be fun to get involved in creating a three-course menu from the foods we have tried on our travels.

But we are choosing to put a “spin” on the menu – instead of one entree, main or dessert, we have decided to make it like a set menu: a choice of one of:

  • three entrees
  • three mains
  • three desserts

Simply because we could decide on JUST one for each 🙂 – Apologies in advance that there are no vegetarian options.

So here goes the Wise Monkeys Abroad 3-course Travel Menu.

ENTREE

OPTION 1:

White Rose Dumplings from Hoi An, Vietnam

A steamed dumpling filled with shrimp bunched to look like a rose.

It is served with toasted garlic and sweet dipping sauce.

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OPTION 2:

Sashimi Platter from Hakone, Japan 

A selection of uncooked seafood includes tuna, prawn, squid, octopus, yellow tail .

Served with wasabi and shaved radish.

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OPTION 3:

Cheese Fondue from Lucerne, Switzerland

An infusion of gruyère and emmental cheese in dry white whine.

Served in a casserole on top of a spirit lamp and a basket of bread.

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MAIN:

OPTION 1:

Beef Stroganoff from St Petersburg, Russia

Sauteed beef in a mushroom, sour cream based sauce.

Served with a side of mash potatoes.

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OPTION 2:

Seafood Paella from Leon, Spain

Aromatic rice cooked with seafood, chicken and vegetables over an open fire.

Served in the pan it is cooked in.

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OPTION 3:

Pork Knuckle from Riga, Latvia 

Slow-cooked pork knuckle.

Served with beans, fresh tomato salad and potato wedges.

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DESSERT:

OPTION 1:

Chocolate Soup from Edinburgh, Scotland

A hot chocolate served in a bowl, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

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OPTION 2:

Creme Brûlée from Carcassonne, France

Vanilla custard based layered underneath a hard caramel top.

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OPTION 3:

Pistachio Baklava from Istanbul, Turkey

Chopped pistachios wrapped in filo pastry and held together with a sweet syrup.

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What are you ordering?

Let us know in the comments.