Singapore Fling

Arrival at Singapore’s Changi Airport meant a stroll along the corridors and a peremptory look at my passport and I was free to discover- or RE-discover the delights of this proud island state.
Long known as the “fine” city-$500 SGD fire for littering or chewing gum, or several other minor offences, the amount of state control makes Singapore a relatively clean and safe destination.


After a free early check-in (8.00am!) it was time to eat. The days of the hawkers selling their food off carts has long disappeared. In fact some of the local eating places even have aircon. What hasn’t changed is the varied tastes and cleanliness of these markets. For around SGD $3-4 each dish, it is easy and cheap to find tasty nourishing food.

In the afternoon it was time to meet friends in Orchard Road, leading to a very tasty dinner at Newton Circus

At the end of the meal, it was comical to watch three people trying to extricate the flesh from Thai Coconuts with very fragile plastic spoons. Even the vendor thought they were strange, as she said they never eat the flesh…

The following day was a trip to the Jurong Bird Park. This was a great day seeing many feathered friends in an environment where they were still able to fly around. The highlight was hand-feeding some Rainbow Lorikeets, but the whole experience was amazing, with colourful and noisy birds.

On the way home l also managed to find the shoes l had searched for but failed to find in my size. Also cheaper in Singapore plus a tourist refund. Shopping done … LOL … not! Singapore might not be the bargain bonanza it once was, but there is a wide variety of goods ranging from very cheap to impossibly expensive – markets to luxurious shopping malls designed to entice you to spend.

Talking of expensive enticement…the following day was a trip to Sentosa Island, Singapore’s Playground. Apart from the Images of Singapore museum, the Merlion and the fountain pathway, which are relatively untouched by the commercial crassness of the rest of the Island, Sentosa’s main purpose appears to be to separate you from your hard-earned dollars. It begins with the cable Car and then flashy luxurious hotels and a casino plus numerous “adventure experiences” abound.
Lunch at Coastes restaurant at Siloso Beach consisted of poor to mediocre food with lacklustre and unfriendly service, all severely over-priced. I guess you could say it meant eating on a beach, but then they threatened to charge SGD $30 to sit on a beach chair instead of the restaurant table. Save your money people! Don’t go to this restaurant … Now where is Tripadvisor when you need it.

Then the last day in Singapore. Leaving bags at the hotel, a rather long day was in store. A walk across the new Helix Bridge, with its view up to the Merlion and Clarke Quay past the floating stage – already setup for Chinese New year celebrations to welcome the year of the Horse.

Then it was over to the “Gardens by the Bay! This is a great concept, with a series of several themed gardens and a grove of Super trees-large metal towers covered with plants and taking its waterfrom the nearby bay.
Some of the super trees were connected by a high bridge.

I managed to quell my fear of heights to negotiate the bridge with a beautiful vista all round.  Later an early Thai dinner and out to the airport for the 14 hour trip to France. Further adventures to come, but this was the end of our Singapore Fling.

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We Will Remember you….

Today they celebrated Remembrance day in Grahamstown. Aptly at the 11th hour of the 11th day ( in fact the 10th as it is a Sunday) and the 11th month (when the First World War ended in 1918), they had a ceremony at the Town Square, commemorating those who died in the World Wars in defence of peace…..

An appropriate day to think back over my few weeks in South Africa – coming to an end later this week. From Capetown, through George, Knysna, Sedgefield, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth (PE) and  now Grahamstown, I have enjoyed huge hospitality from the people looking after me.

I have not written about PE in my travels yet. This is for several reasons. PE is quite a large city and I was not able to travel around it as much as I would have perhaps liked. My surroundings at the Beach Hotel were – as one might expect – the Beachfront area. I could walk in one direction and the opposite direction, but it was mostly a matter of more of the same – with the City centre far too far even for me to walk. Not to say that I was bored!! Far from it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in PE and emerged feeling relatively rested despite a fearsome timetable in my last week there. Mostly I walked up to the local supermarket to find dinners which I could make without cooking, but which would be healthier than eating constant hotel or takeaway/restaurant food.

The Beach Hotel is located next to the boardwalk, which has a small Casino and several restaurants and shops ( including an – as per usual – totally overpriced Billabong shop!).

Also it is surprisingly enough situated right on the beach front. I enjoyed many long walks along the beach, though I must say that the constant companion of the wind meant that I was not inspired to swim in the Ocean. I used the hotel pool instead, as it was much more sheltered and there was no gym for exercise. The larger picture in the album below is my hotel from the pier

After a short drive of 90 minutes to Grahamstown, I settled in to an afternoon – and then a Saturday morning of examining, before being able to renew my acquaintance with this picturesque town.

This morning, I went along to the end of the memorial service to listen to the bands parade past – before exploring the town rather more

View albumView albumView albumView album

The bagpipes started about 9.00 this morning at St Andrews College, the school, upon the edge of which I am staying, surrounded mostly by parents of this and its sister school Diocesan School for Girls. they come here to watch the cricket, which has been going on outside my room each day so far – very serious stuff! – and generally drink and eat. The upper photo is an exciting Saturday afternoon in Grahamstown, the lower photos is the view from my room

Grahamstown - cricket

Grahamstown - Room with a view

Not entirely peaceful but not noisy either. The bar was closed about 10.15 last night and I even had to leave before the end of the All Blacks/France test match, because they were closing down. This after watching the South Africa/Wales test match as a lone supporter of the Welsh team(Was I a welsh Rarebit??) wearing an All Black teeshirt! Amazing noise whenever the Springboks did well and the Lone Ranger applause from me when the Welsh did well…..   Smile

After the service I wandered up to the other end of the High Street – this did not take long – and then up through the Botanic Garden and the Rhodes University. I have separated these photos off into two albums, as there were so many photos. I could have taken many more.

Rhodes university is such a wonderful environment in which to study – wide streets with the boarding houses on them and beautiful old ( and new!) buildings with each department seemingly situated in an old house. I photographed the Anthropology department house, as it was so unique with its fortress outline. One of these photos is of a plant that looks like a mini Frangipani and smells like a Frangipani – doesn’t that make it a Frangipani? Maybe it is a plant I could grow in Auckland I(if I can find it there) as it is certainly cool here in the evenings – about 9 degrees last night……interesting to see the Bougainvillea trees and also the Bougainvillea grown successfully in pots.

So a few more days here. It has been a very enjoyable time here in South Africa. So many people told me to be careful with the violence here – and I have to say it is never far away beneath the surface, but I have not felt threatened in any way since being here. I find it a country of paradoxes, with old and new rubbing shoulders – a mixture of mood and people, only beginning to learn to live with each other in relative peace.

The only sadness is that I doubt I will see again, after this week, the beautiful back garden and the flowers in the house of Judy, the local rep and her husband Les in PE, who have received very sad news this week. Judy in particular and South Africa in general…. we WILL remember you!

PE - Judyles garden   Pink Iceberg

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Just who is in the cage….

Yesterday I made a trip to the Addo Elephant National Park – an hour out of Port Elizabeth.

Addo Entrance  Addo entrance

Travelling past a brickwork factory, I had to wonder if the road had been made out of the broken bricks from the factory – it was very bumpy indeed. Of course this was nothing like the road inside the National Park, where the animals wander in relative freedom and most of the roads are optimistically called ‘gravel’ roads, where in fact they are clay.

After registering at the main counter, I was somewhat surprised at entry cost, with 200 rand for foreigners being rather expensive I felt (50 rand for south African citizens). There was a map and some information given to customers. We wandered around the museum room, looking at the birds and animals that we would hopefully spy on our peregrinations. the toilets were rather minimal, with queues at both.

However out on the road in our little car. Beginning on a bitumen road, we travelled along, our eyes peeled for the slightest sign of animal life. In the morning time, there were not many sitings of the animals. they must keep asian hours I think… More luck once we moved onto the ‘gravel’ road.

We were of course kept into our cars the whole time. There are signs around the park. Dung beetles have right of way on the roads and of course one should not leave the car except at designated points – and even then only at one’s own risk.

Addo Dung sign   Addo Lion sign

So to the animals……

Dung beetles are quite large. They use the large balls of dung, left by elephants, to enclose their eggs. Once made into a ball, they then roll the balls of dung-eggs to the surrounding ground so that when the eggs hatch, the babies will be able to eat the dung balls to stay alive. Naturally Dung beetles only live where there are elephants! One example of how neatly Nature has a use for everyone. Cars are not allowed to run these beetles over – which can be difficult if you come across a lot of them

Dung Beetle on Barry's handAddo dung-beetle-with-ball

In the morning we also saw some warthogs and red hartebeest. It was amazing how quickly the animals could disappear without any trace. We humans of course leave much bigger marks of our presence on the environment.

We also came across several Kudu. The South African Nursery rhyme about them goes something like this…apologies for any errors

If you Kudu

What I Kudu

You could be a Kudu too!

These are truly magnificent animals….I guess they are a type of antelope. However unlike European antelope , they do not lose their horns. The horns on the male are placed closer together – supposedly to make them stronger for fighting. They also have markings down their sides, that – like fingerprints – are uniquely their own. these were probably the highlight of the morning’s trek.

Back for lunch at the restaurant. Apparently the South African franchise chain of restaurants known as Spurs, has been allowed to start setting up in the National Parks. this is a shame, as the restaurant here was excellent, with prices not far above those in town. Given that this is a tourist site – with no competition – it was good value.

However during lunch – and during the day, we saw a few birds, so I thought this was a good time to share the bird photos for the day. South Africa must be a bird-lover’s paradise. there are many indigenous birds and species of course from other countries. Here is a Hadeda Ibis ( Sacred Ibis), Egyptian Goose, Black-headed Heron, Francolin, fork-tailed Drongo (!), Egret and a couple of others that I can’t now identify.



During lunch I had an expected visitor – a little gecko, who did not even blink an eye when I took a photo from very close.


Then came the afternoon’s fun….

Having seen no elephants in the morning – ironic given that it is called the Addo Elephant Park, we lost count of these in the afternoon – conservatively we saw 50. These are of course magnificent animals. I was told that they have been known to pick up errant motor vehicles from under the rear bumpers and lift the cars up and roll them over. They do quite a lot of damage to the foliage and bark of the local fauna – there are monitored sites that have fences around them to gauge the difference between places where elephants go and those where they can not go. Needless to say we were a little careful around some of these animals – particularly when some of them were almost close enough to lean out and touch….reminder David, these are not tame pets… We saw herds, cowherds (herds of mothers), babies, large males and younger elephants. At one stage we moved very slowly(but quickly) when one mother looked sideways at us. Several males had musk in their eyes ( a warning sign), so it was better not to get to close to those. We only saw some flapping ears from afar and heard no elephant calls. These are but a small sample of the photos I took – working on the basis that if I took enough, SOME of them were bound to come out. My camera is pretty good, but sometimes I do wish I had an SLR camera…..

Another highlight of the day (both morning and afternoon) was seeing some zebra up close. These are Burchell’s Zebra – a little different from those further North, being slightly creamier in colour. We saw these first from afar and then later caught them up and then had to wait as they took control of the road ahead of us.

Talking about taking control….we also saw a herd of buffalo – they were lying down mostly, but shortly after we did see several that crossed the road ahead of us. Cars stayed well away from these dangerous creatures.

Buffalo    Buffalo

In the day, we also saw several other animals – relegated to a mixed album merely because I only managed to take one or two photos of them. They were a Meerkat, Black-backed Jackal (apparently mostly nocturnal, so we were fortunate), Leopard Turtle, millipedes (by the million!) and an ostrich (not photographed).


We also took time out to travel to the Zuurkop lookout Point, from where I took this panorama shot. This is a tiny percentage of the Park environs….

Addo - view from Zuurkop lookout

and this shot from the same lookout of the mountains in the distance. South Africa is a VAST country.

Addo - View from lookout

So what did we miss…? Well we missed the lions, that came out in the afternoon sun in the place we had been in the morning and the Black Rhinoceros and the Spotted Hyena along with several smaller animals that were on the list given to us. We thought we saw a Puff Adder Snake, but it “slitheryned” away before we were able to really see it properly.

My overriding impression of Addo, was that it was a wildlife reserve – one in which the animals are relatively free – almost as if in the wild. It is a very large area of land. we drove in the car ( slowly of course) for about 5 hours and did not see half of it. You need at least a day here to hope to see most of this National Park. However it is still a large zoo or cage. However if you look at these photos – taken on the day – maybe you will agree with me….at Addo, just WHO is in the cage…..?

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The Tortoise sets the pace

From Capetown to George and Knysna for work, but not until after a day spent looking around. There is a Botanical Garden in George. The highlight there was a bird hide, from where I was able to watch the Weaver Birds literally weaving their magic. The male builds a nest – which look like little balls hanging like Christmas tree decorations from branches of the tree. The female then inspects the nest. If it does not come up to scratch, then she proceeds to destroy it – mmmhhh   sounds familiar…..?  Smile

A couple of days in the tourist town of Knysna. There are very beautiful views here, but probably the most spectacular views are found out by the heads. Here I was able to climb above the mouth of the harbour and take some photos of the sea and the surrounds

A day in Plettenberg Bay and lunch on Beacon Island – a tourist resort. Built right on the sea, this resort has a hotel/restaurant and some rather lovely grounds. The old swimming pool was washed away by the encroaching sea and the resort is almost an island at high tide, with a bridge for the guests to the beach over the water. I looked for the sign which gave the depth of the deep end of the old swimming pool, but was unable to find more than a lonely pole sticking up out of the water. From Beacon Island the beach goes seemingly endlessly to the North and to the South the Robberg Penisula, which is a nature reserve.

A weekend in Sedgefield provided respite from the concentration of the week’s work. Sedgefield is a small town between George and Knysna. One night was spent here at a Wine tasting. this is a regular event for the members of this club and they made me feel very welcome – despite the beating handed to the Springboks by the all Blacks the previous weekend – or maybe because of that?

In the weekend I travelled to Meiringspoort. One of the passes connecting the Klein and Groot Karoos through which the original settlers travelled. How did they do this?!! They must have been very intrepid pioneers Everything in South Africa is large-scale! Meiringspoort is a large gorge  – about 20 kilometres in length surrounded by high craggy mountains. The road has about 20 bridges or passes, all crossing the same river and each with its own name or story. There is a memorial in the middle of the gorge where one of the early pioneers carved the name of his fictional elephant on a boulder – Herrie’s Stone is an early example of graffiti, now enshrined as a national monument.

Also in the gorge is the Skelm – a waterfall tumbling into a dark pool, which legend has it, is bottomless. A beautiful mermaid was said to live in the pool at the foot of the waterfall. Hardy plants cling to the precarious rockfaces, while birds and baboons abound in the cliffs and crevices

Travelling back we went down the Montagu Pass – literally a road of clay and stone down the side of the mountain range. We did meet a car coming up but managed to (almost literally) scrape past each other.

Swartsberg Pass  Swartsberg pass 2

Back at Sedgefield and time for a run around the Island – enjoying the clean feel of a countryside untouched by the demands of large-city life a place where people live in harmony with the natural beauty around them rather than forcing the environment into something it does not want to be.

Life moves slowly in Sedgefield. Known for its tortoises, the saying among the locals is quite true….The tortoise sets the pace

Sedgefield tortoise

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Wine with Attitude

For me, a visit to South Africa would not be complete without tasting some of the amazing wines that this country produces.

On this trip, I have been fortunate enough to be able to visit the Stellenbosch area – just north of Capetown – from where some of the best wines in the country are found.

After an early start in the morning, and a short detour through the frailties of yours truly the ‘map-reader’, we finally took the correct turning and made our way …… up into the clouds to the Uva Mira vineyard. Literally high up in the mountains, we were greeted by the piercing cold wind that had favoured us the day before at Cape Point and the much warmer greeting of the grand-daughter-in-law of the founder of this family vineyard. A lovely american lady, who was happy to help us with information about their – and others’ – wines. This was a gracious, but comfortable visit, with beautiful Lavender and Olive hedges all around. The interior was welcoming (and warm!) with good wines to taste, if a shade brittle to my taste. I want a Lavender and Olive tree hedge – almost halfway there now  Smile

A break from wine after that, to have a quick visit to Stellenbosch itself. Picturesque and set in a verdant valley, we stopped in Dorp Street outside Sammie’s shop to savour some of the sights and the heritage houses.


After that auspicious beginning we made our way – without further map-reading mishaps – to Tokara Vineyards. This was a more cultured venue, with a wedding taking place while we were there. There was an amazing entrance with a Wisteria made of aluminium hanging near the entrance with the history of the vineyard printed on the leaves, if one had the patience to read it. Inside were paintings and sculptures to match the quietly luxurious nature of the vineyard. I tasted a most beautiful Pinotage here – but at 265 rand for a bottle (about NZ$33), I was never going to buy it merely to drink alone in a hotel later in my visit. However it was unbelievably smooth – robust on the nose, full-flavoured with more than a hint of berry and a chocolate aftertaste. Absolutely wonderful wine! no I am not reading from any label…..unfortunately!


Then we made our way across the road to Delaire Graff estate. My word for this was pretentious. Met by somewhat unctuous uniformed ushers (You have to say it slowly and enjoy that assonance!), I came away with the impression that they were more interested in selling their diamonds than their wine. A beautiful outlook and  a nice restaurant (in which we did not eat) and wines that were OK, but significantly over-priced in term comparison to others I know of in South Africa. Notably their best wines were sold out however – but priced at over 1000 rand (NZ$125) in some cases, we were never going to be interested in those. It was also the only place we visited, which charged for the tasting (10 rand per person). Apparently it is a favourite jaunt for the students at Stellenbosch university to go round tasting wines – a sort of Stellenbosch pub-crawl…?

Finally we arrived at the Hartenberg Wine Estate. This was a success from the very outset. A very long approach drive, led to a carpark, from which we descended to a beautiful heritage house and escaped the very strong cold wind by entering the restaurant, which had a large fireplace and tables. Apparently it used to have sofas, but I guess the demands of commercialism have hit and the sofas are replaced by the real money-earners. The food was well-priced – 90 rand – NZ$11-12 – for a Rib-eye Steak, chips salad and some beautiful bread and snoek paté (Snoek is a fish with very large bones apparently), which was ‘on the house’, plus a glass of their award-winning Shiraz!!! The wines – the reds in particular – were well presented, pleasing the palate and the eye. I took away some Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and cabernet Shiraz 2010. They have corks, so I might have some trouble to open them while on tour, but I will manage…I think the german word ‘gemütlichkeit’ is the best description of this visit to this family Estate, which dates back to the late 17th Century.

After the travels of the day, we returned home, tired but happy and then proceeded to enjoy the ABs/Springbok test match – along with the remains of our bottle of Hartenberg Cabernet Shiraz, which the waitress at the restaurant had given to Barry. Some trepidation ensued on my side, as the ABs took some time to control the match. I had even worn my AB tee-shirt all day, expecting some comments, but it was not until friends arrived to watch the match (wearing a springbok shirt), that the opposition began to warm up. However in the end the ABs won with some ease at altitude – like our first stop of the day among the wine with ‘attitude’

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Fair Winds and Stormy weather

After a fairly rigorous 33 hour journey, I arrived into Capetown, ready to take on new challenges. There is so much that seems familiar in South Africa to a person from New Zealand. the pragmatism, the seeming casualness and the welcome. However, on occasion one is quite forcefully reminded that you are in a country, beset with a level of violence we would find distasteful in New Zealand. As an example, it seems customary to pay self-appointed people to guard your car when you park in a large carpark. One wonders what would happen if you did not…….however customs clearance was very straightforward, with no form to fill in, so shortly after my arrival I was well settled into a self-catering apartment. Time to stay awake!!

We travelled first to Kirstenbosch gardens – at the foot of Table Mountain, which itself threatens to overlook all of the Capetown city bowl. The Gardens were established exactly 100 years ago and are full of the native fauna of the Cape district, known as Fynbos. Being in a fairly similar latitude with Auckland, some of the plants here are familiar, but some are unique to the Cape district.


After the entrance, with its very old (centennial!) bonsai trees, we wandered into the Camphor Path and then up the hill to find the ‘Mandela Gold’ Crane flower – brightly coloured and extremely beautiful – a suitable celebration of the man who, more than any other, helped to bring South Africa out of the rule of apartheid, into the many coloured nation that is symbolised by its flag.

Kirstenbosch-Camphor-Path            Mandela's Gold


Afterwards, we saw the variegated colours of the Protea – fondly called “pincushions” by the locals – Ericas and the mysterious-looking Cycad Palms. The Enchanted Forest contains a large example of the Outeniqua Yellowood tree that stands astride the forest like a colossus out of the Fantasy novels that I enjoy so much – probably best thought of as a form of escapism…

Capetown - Rhodes MemorialAfter this energising walk around the sloping gardens, we checked out the Rhodes Memorial on the way home. A former Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and the instigator of the Rhodes Scholarships, dearly sought after by many international students, he is celebrated in a memorial based on the Greek temple at Segesta, Sicily – a suitably cosmopolitan approach to this man’s life. The bust of Rhodes himself is protected by eight bronze lions leading up the steps.

Come the next day after the fair day at the Gardens and the wind is gale force and biting cold. This was the day to go up Table Mountain, but alas and alack, the Mountain was closed with cloud cover and the aforesaid winds stopping the cable car. Still we made it high up to the bottom of the cable car, before continuing, as planned, down to Cape Point – commonly known as the Cape of Good Hope – around which sailors had to travel to enable them to access the riches of the Orient. There are many wrecks in this area – including over fifty  in World War Two. ( I counted up to there in the little museum).

This was a fascinating trip, down through Simonstown and into the Table Mountain National Park area. There are flora changes here in the semi-tundra desert-like conditions. Little water is available and high winds often accost the coastline; the plants have evolved to suit the conditions.

On arrival at the Lighthouse, I was told we were NOT walking up the hill, but timidly taking the funicular (cable car). Oh well, maybe I didn’t need that exercise in any case. Once up at the Lighthouse area the view is simply astounding, with infinite vistas all around and of course high winds threatening anybody daring to wear a hat or cap. Numerous tourists and languages can be heard here with busloads of people arriving and departing. However there is still enough space to feel the sense of wonder at the Cape, which promised so much to the mariners rounding it, but which also claimed the lives of so many of them.

Returning towards Capetown, I was delighted to see several animals alongside the road. Notably some baboons, an Ostrich; later on some whale spouts (no whale flukes today!) and of course the Leopard statue which stands upon the rock at the entrance to Hout Bay.


Back via Chapman’s Peak Road – built early in the 20th century, it wends its way, precariously clinging to the sides of a sheer cliff. It is apparently used for advertisements here of new cars, with Pyreneen-type overhangs, not to keep the snow off, but more as semi-tunnel arrangements through the unforgiving rock formations.

Capetown - Driving back from Cape Point      Capetown - Driving back from Cape Point

Finally we travelled past the twelve apostles – all suitably bearded today and then to Signal Hill, from where I was able to look down upon the Capetown city bowl and also across to Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, which rewarded me with small gaps in the cloud cover giving some idea of the grandeur of this well known natural landmark. However the ‘tablecloth’ was well laid today.

12-apostles     Capetown - Table Mountain and Lion's HeadCapetown - Table Mountain

Two days in South Africa and already a glimpse of life ahead with the contrasts between the Fair Winds and the stormy weather.

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Mysore + Bangalore does not = Mangalore!

Tonight is Divali here in Bangalore. There is no need for thunder and lightning here, as the sound of fireworks and crackers has been incessant (and loud!) since about 5.30 in the evening. The crackers are seriously large (and loud), some of them about 20 – 30cms in height and lasting for about 30 seconds. Last night the peak of the noise came about 11.00, so I doubt it will be an early night tonight. So much for the much-vaunted security team. They all went to watch a barrage of crackers at the hotel gate tonight as I slipped inside without being scanned…such a rebel!Bangalore-Divali-crypt There is an enormous cloud of pollution around Bangalore tonight – I imagine it covers much of India!

This is a temple replica where people go – rather like Santa Claus – presumably to make their wishes etc. there are no candles in this replica– this is the ‘Festival of Lights’ and candles are burnt as offerings to the various godheads of the festival.


So back to Mysore last week. On my last day there, I finished work early enough to be able to look around the grounds of the Good Shepherd Convent, where I was working. It is ironically situated in a Muslim area of Mysore, with the large St Philomena’s Cathedral opposite. I was not permitted to go inside the convent grounds without a Sister to accompany me, though once I was inside, I was allowed to wander around a little – a lovely little church and beautiful garden for contemplation. I want a pink frangipani!! Unfortunately I can’t even get my white one to do more than merely survive at home…  Sad smile Mum’s is much better! I have no idea what the fruit is and when I asked people merely shook their heads. It looks like a round kiwi fruit but it is a harder shell/skin.

Almost opposite the Convent is the St Philomena Cathedral, with a few smaller shrines. I was entranced watching a class of children have races balancing books on their heads. Of the three races I watched, only one child actually managed to complete to course without losing their balancing books. The noise level the other children made cheering the athletes on was enormous. Probably one class of about 50 children….


The ride back to Bangalore was in a sleeper train – going on to other places after Bangalore. All the seats folded down to create a very hard bed, with a bunk bed above. I think I am glad I was not trying to sleep there! The two ladies here were my two ‘minders’ on this trip.

Mysore-sleeper-train        Mysore-sleeper-train-2


In the weekend I managed to walk all round Cubbons Park (also known by many as Cubbon Park – this is India, lots of places appear to have two names…e.g.Bangalore/Bengalaruru). It took me about two hours to walk all round the park and I took a few photos on the way. Part of this park looks like a smaller replica of the horse track at Hyde Park, London. The juxtaposition of the peace and tranquillity inside the park and traffic noise alongside the park brings the contrast even more into focus. I really enjoyed the small Bamboo Jungle walk. So many clarinet/saxophone reeds there waiting to be made….I would love to walk through a real Chinese Bamboo forest. It must be awe-inspiring. I saw some photos once and it looked so…serene. Notice that this street is clean and tidy. Not all pavements in India are full of rubbish and holes. there were lots of couples sitting in the park talking. Probably the only way they can get enough privacy to talk without people around them. I left them in their combined solitude  Smile

Bangalore-Cubbons-Park-bamboo   Bangalore-Cubbons-Park-StreBangalore-Cubbons-Park-whit   Bangalore-crow

Tonight, I decided to brave the fireworks to find dinner at a price much less than the hotel charges and went to put on my sandals. as I was about to slide my foot in, I noticed a shadow on the upper sole. where I had been about to put my foot was this insect – Somebody here doesn’t like me? I can imagine some that don’t, but then they do not have results yet…..It gave me enough of a fright that I had to take this photo. My watch is quite large….Maybe I should close my windows and use the aircon instead….


My trip to Mysore was a break from Bangalore, but I was happy to be ‘back home’ again. For those of you wondering, Mangalore is a port in Karnataka. Mysore + Bangalore does NOT = Mangalore!

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