A Travellerspoint blog

Istanbul


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Istanbul was a really enjoyable place. I have seen some amazing sights. Below is a quick list of these sights including links to some flickr sets containing photos. I am not going to ramble on about the incredibly fascinating history of Istanbul, Wikipedia will do a much better job than I can.

Istanbul Walking Tour
The host of the hostel I stayed at in Istanbul (Bahaus Hostel) was really good. The manager of the hostel and one of his staff took a bunch of travellers including myself on a walking tour. We walked through the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul and went through the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, through the New Mosque and over the Galata Bridge into the new new part of Istanbul. From there we took a ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul on the other side of the Bosphorous Strait. From there we bought some beers and walked through some more markets before boarding another ferry to the Prince Islands. The Prince Islands are a welcome change to the hustle of Istanbul City, there are no cars allowed on the Islands, so every gets around on bikes or by horse and cart. We bought some more beers, a bottle of scotch and some BBQ ingredients and chilled out for the next 3 hours before catching a ferry back to Sultanahmet and grabbing some kebabs and heading back to the hostel.
Photos for the walking tour are here

General Sight Seeing
The next few days were spent primarily visiting the major sights in and around the Sultanahmet area. These include Sultan Ahmed Mosque (also called The Blue Mosque) after which the old town area is named, the Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome of Constantinople and the Topkapı Palace
Some photos for these sights are found here

I also met some really cool people while in Istanbul who I then spent the next week and half travelling through to Cappadocia with and then on to Olympos in the south of Turkey. I will be posting about those separately.

Posted by hayden.albrey 07:46 Archived in Turkey Tagged istanbul Comments (0)

Dubai


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First Impressions
I can't really remember what I expected Dubai to be like before I had visited, so am not sure if it is matching my expectations or not. But if I was to use one word to describe it so far, it would be 'familiar'. In a lot of ways it feels a lot like an Australian city. The weather today is in the high 20's with quite low humidity, we even had some rain last night. The roads and traffic are no different to what I am used to in Perth, certainly a long way from the chaos that you see in some countries. There is also such a mix of different races and nationalities that if it weren't for the Emirati wearing their Kandoora it would be largely indistinguishable from an Australian city and it's diverse ethnicity.

Bur Dubai
I spent a full afternoon exploring an historic district not far from where I am staying. Bur Dubai is located on the western side of Dubai Creek, close to the mouth. The are several museums and exhibits in the area all set in traditional buildings like those that were used throughout Dubai and the arab world, prior to the extensive westernisation of Dubai. I took some decent photos of the are which can be seen here

Downtown Dubai
I think this area is really best described in pictorial form. So check out the photos I have taken in Downtown Dubai in the flickr set of the same name here

Ski Dubai
So truth be told, the main reason I chose to stay in Dubai for as long as I did is so that I would get an opportunity to try my hand at a bit of snowboarding at Ski Dubai. It is an indoor 400m long ski slope that is attached to the Mall of the Emirates. It was amazing. I had so much fun snowboarding and am really looking forward to incorporating a more extensive snowboarding trip into my travels maybe a bit later in the year before I head home.

Posted by hayden.albrey 03:42 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged photography Comments (0)

Kuala Lumpur

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I have spent the last week hanging out in Kuala Lumpur. This is the second time I have been here and the city continues to grow on me. The backpackers I have been staying at has been fantastic and has definitely help make the week as good as it has been. Meeting so many people and sharing in some of the sights, sounds and flavours has been a lot of fun. Here are my thoughts!

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Jalan Alor
This place is just fantastic. It's a very vibrant, hive of a food street located in Bukit Bintang. It is about 300m long and is lined with a mix of Chinese, Thai and Hong Kong influenced restaurants and general street food vendors. The food here sells itself because you can smell the food being cooked at a series of small stalls located under the shed like structure that is the restaurant, and it smells amazing! Yesterday I had a meal of dim sum and Thai green curry and it was delicious. Tonight I have arranged to head back there with a few other travellers and we have committed to trying the 'frog porridge'! There is also a steady supply of Durian for sale. I do not eat Durian. It is not nice.


Reggae Mansion Hostel
This is only the second hostel I have ever stayed in, and the first outside Australia. I am worried that I have set the bar really high with this hostel

because I have been hearing from quite a few people staying here that it is one of the best hostels they have ever stayed at. The room I have been in contains 24 bunks but each bunk is recessed into the wall kind of like a walk in robe and then a curtain goes across the front. You get the bonus of having a bit of privacy while still getting to meet a whole bunch of other travellers. Normally there is a trade off between privacy and socialising when staying in hostels so I like the way they do it here. Add in free breakfast, cool roof top bar, good wifi and a great location and its been a pretty great place. If every hostel is like this then I should last until November no worries!

Batu Caves
Myself and another traveller from Perth decided to go and check out Batu Caves today. My Perthite sight seeing buddy for the day was a girl originally from the UK who despite the British accent has clearly settled into the Aussie way of life like a duck to water (she drinks Emu Export). I

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have been to Batu Caves before but I decided to go again and am extremely glad I did. The 'main' part of the Batu Caves has largely been taken over (not recently mind you) as a Hindu shrine, which in itself is a shame, given the natural history and beauty that existed here well before Hinduism. But the real shame is the way that tourists are pestered as they walk through the complex to purchase various little toys and trinkets and general nonsense. It detracts from the experience, and the worst part is, that the main cave is full of litter and trash, why not employ some of these locals trying to flog there wares as cleaners! I would even be happy to chip in and pay for entry if it meant the place was kept clean and better preserved. But still, it is very pretty if you look past the things above.

Dark Cave
But the real gem of this trip to Batu Caves was the 'Dark Cave'. Located on a side path about half way up the main steps of the Hindu shrine portion is the entrance to Dark Cave, a conservation site that is very respectful to natural history and bio-diversity within. We were handed hard hats (which we later found out was to protect our heads from bat shit) and small torches and then led down a path about 300m into the caves. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and clearly has studied the ecology of the caves at some level. We saw spiders that only live within that cave and no where else, and these centipedes that are without a doubt, the definition of a creepy crawly. There was also the usual cave like amazing-ness of stalactite and stalagmites. All in all well worth the entry fee.

I have done a bunch of other stuff, not to mention attending three days of Formula 1 action. But I think this will do for now. I might write about the formula 1 a bit later when my photos have finished uploading to Flickr! I will also try and add some photos to accompany this blog post. Tomorrow I am off to Dubai to learn how to snowboard (among other things).

Posted by hayden.albrey 19:24 Archived in Malaysia Tagged food hostel Comments (0)

Pre-trip

So I am heading of on a backpacking adventure in 6 days. I was talking to a friend yesterday who mentioned that I didn't seem like I was all that excited about my pending departure. Specifically, one week out from departure, the expectation is that I shouldn't be able to stop talking about my plans and how exciting it all is. He is right, I probably haven't been doing this. I think the reason for this is that my plans are just so open and so my expectations are not low, just kind of blank which I think might be a good thing. I don't have a lot to talk about if I don't have plans.

Plus I have been quite pre-occupied with getting my vaccinations organised (come at me diseases for I am VacMan) and finding a tenant for my apartment.

So my brief plans to date are:
1. Kuala Lumpur - Watch a formula 1 race (a common theme for this blog over the coming months)
2. Dubai - Learn to snowboard. See big tower. See desert.
3. Istanbul - See Istanbul

I am sure I will flesh these out a little bit over the next few weeks. Particularly Istanbul, as I would like to stay there for a few weeks I think. After Istanbul my plans are very open but I am thinking that I will catch a train in to Greece. Alternatively I could check out some other areas of Turkey. I will make some decisions on this front once I am in the country.

I hope to make another post just prior to departure which will be on or around the 25th of March.

Posted by hayden.albrey 10:56 Archived in Australia Tagged packing preparation Comments (3)

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