I love intelligent movies. But I am also weary of miserably realistic movies. I only want to be comforted by some positive vibes especially winter. I am glad that I stumbled upon the movie ” Colette ” from Netflix.
I found the movie very inspirational especially as a woman and a wanna-be-artist”. Colette was a young, innocent, strong country girl who fell in love with a well know author called Willy incidentally. Willy was 14 years senior and notorious of gambling, having an extravagant living and being promiscuous. He was also a talented artist who maintained his fame by employing various ghost writers who earned living by writing for him. Usually, he gave rough idea and plots to his ghost writers and got the benefit out of them. None the less, his lifestyle always exceeded his sporadic flux of various incomes.
It was surprising for Parisian community when Willy decided to marry a country girl. Colette was frowned upon by socialites for her choice of dresses in the beginning and her upfront personality. She detested people flirting with each other and people who take pride on adultery . Out of pleasing her husband, Colette tried to write short stories which were rejected instantly by Willy. Willy thought her stories were too honest to be liked by anyone.
When Willy’s financial problems became critical, bank people came and took their furniture to pay for his debt. Then only, they rediscovered her old writing and Willy decided to edit them for publishing. Eventually, her stories became wildly popular although the books were under the name of her husband. Willy also emotionally abused her and even locked her inside the room , forcing Colette to write more.
I really love the character of Colette. She was genuinely in love with her husband mostly because he was charming and very intelligent. At the same time, Colette was smart enough to her role and also beware of the mindset of her husband whose life was full of lies. Her mother persistently reminded her that Colette had a strong personality and nobody should be able to change her.
During the mist of financial crisis alternating with fame , they were invited by rich people and the wife of millionaire had an affair with Colette. At same time, Willy tried to muddle the situation and slept with the same woman. It became more interesting when Colette eventually fell In love with another woman who dressed like a man. She found someone who truly loved her unconditionally . The movie shows metamorphosis of Colette from an innocent teenager to a mature artist with confidence . It also gave us a glimpse of life style of cream layered people and artists in 1800s as the story is based on real life of Colette. The real actress Colette was also a very beautiful woman. Please watch the movie if you want to uplift yourself. It will not disappoint you.
It is winter in Isle of Man now which means it’s dark, cold , wet and gloomy. I barely see the sun when I finish my work at 5 pm. You might wonder why I am mourning so much about the weather. It’s because I spent 42 years of my life in warm , sunny , weather where I can feel and see the sun till 7 pm , even without mentioning about how fabulous to go and sit at the beach after 10 pm when street performers are strumming the guitars with the sound of waves at the beach called Teluk Chempedak.
I miss Home or a place I called Home for 12 years called Kuantan in Malaysia ( South East Asian country ). I don’t even miss Yangon ( capital of Myanmar ) although I was born , raised and lived there for 28 years. Yangon is a city with 8 million population and when I think of traffic jams, noises and stress of citizens, it makes me shudder to live there again.
I lived in Kuantan, a town near South China sea for 12 years and that was the place I loved and enjoyed very much.
I had beaches, rivers, mountains and waterfalls in Kuantan . I enjoyed tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, rambutans, durians , I enjoyed sharing nature with monkeys and wild life although they can be annoying sometimes. Above all, I miss a place I lived, a terraced house with 3 bed rooms. The house is an old house and belongs to an elderly man called Uncle Yeo. My dad thinks Uncle Yeo loves me like his own child. He is also one of the kindest person you can ever meet. I can never leave his house without taking something from his house, like banana, apple, a packet of keropok ( fried fish crackers ) or cooked food. He also regularly drove me to and fro from airport or bus station for my crazy travelling. He behaved like my God father and for me, he is one of very few people who have loved me unconditionally. He never thinks me as a doctor, but in his eyes, I am just a clueless, reckless, girl with wild imaginations and crazy ideas. He is an old teacher and he used to tell me I am one of the bravest and smartest person he has ever met. When he hears something about me from patients, he beamed and told me immediately. He said he met patients telling ” that Burmese doctor is good ” and he told me he felt like telling them he knows me well. Whenever I had good news, I ran to his house and told him immediately because I know he would share everything with me. I still remember he hugged me , tears in his eyes, when I said I finally passed my PACES, a freaking exam after 4 times of attempts. I never thought he was sad about my failure before until I passed that bloody exam. Right now, I am starting to cry thinking of him .
In Kuantan, my house is a musical house, I had a piano and two guitars where people came and played along.
At one time, we even wrote a song together with Joy and Yeo ( my junior colleagues ) and that song nominated to our workaholic colleague called Tan. At that house, friends came and cried over my shoulder talking about their problems. At that house, friends have stayed over night, cooked meals, tucked me to bed when I got sick, brought their boyfriend as parents could not tolerate their dates. I have accommodated many couch travellers and friends who come over from overseas. I am an introvert, who loves being with people I chose. It is strange indeed, I need space but I am not afraid of sharing my space with people I love.
Girls are important part of my life who are always close to my heart. Even when they are married with kids, they love to spend time with me, picking me up from my house and walking at the beach with their kids. My close friend Nazlin lives near the beach and we usually jog near her house and her mom would usually wait for us when we come back home with a bowl of fruits or snacks. Everybody loves to feed me in Kuantan .My old lecturer Mama May Khin who is originally from Myanmar became a professor in university of Kuantan and she regularly invites me to have meals at her house while her son , Thar Thar entertained me with his stories.
When I left Kuantan, I cried many nights and even many days secretly, mourning about the place and people I love. Then I moved back to Myanmar and tried to create a home at a hilly place called Taunggyi. It was a lovely place with hills, rivers and very beautiful lake.
The weather was perfect and I finally renovated my flat into a modern home with open plan .
In Taunggyi, apart from beautiful weather , food is delicious and there are lots of fresh vegetables and fruits . In the morning, I could walk at the hill with lots of trees.
Unfortunately, my career was not satisfactory in my country ( I had a well paid job but I was not happy and what is the point of staying at job I don’t enjoy ) and I moved to Isle of Man . I still remember the first day I arrived Isle of Man. I thought trees were talking to me ” hey, look, Hnin is coming to live here, let’s look after her and greet her “. I remember I walked in a lane which was surrounded by old trees and I replied them ” thank you very much ” aloud . I know it was crazy. Isle of Man is alive and filled with voices of nature. Do not think me wrong. I am very grateful to Isle of Man for accepting me. I do believe you can not stay anywhere long if the place is not very fond of you. I respect this Irish sea, beautiful island and it’s resources of nature . I have walked along beaches, climbed hills, touched the wild flowers along the trails of glens, watched the sunset and I definitely love Isle of Man.
But I am missing to be at home, a home where I can accommodate people and do whatever I feel like doing. I love waking at midnight and start strumming the guitar. I am currently living at a flat and can even hear the foot steps from upstairs. If I don’t stop playing guitar at 8 pm, my partner would remind me to stop as my neighbour has a baby.
For past 6 months, I have been chasing a house to buy. I love apartments but it’s not very good for privacy and management fee is very high. And it’s not good to renovate as well. When I think of freehold houses, most of them are too expensive with my modest income . I tried to view many houses hoping I will find a place I can call home. In my mind, it doesn’t need to be perfect and very grand. I love minimalist style , easy to maintain house. We need minimum 2 bed rooms to accommodate friends overseas plus a room for study plus music . I can even create a nook for creative purpose like painting. If possible, I also want to have a sea view because it’s always my dream to have a house with sea view . I have collected lots of souvenirs for home decoration from different parts of the world and I need to put them in place soon.
I have been trying to find blogs about home owners and as I cannot find many blogs, I am starting to write this blog on my own. I did a blog called flat renovation previously and you can see how much effort I put into renovating my flat from zero standard to a beautiful modern home. I am really praying my dream will come true and I will eventually find a place I call Home. I hope I can share with you when I eventually buy my first property in Isle of Man. Do you also yearn to have a perfect home?
Castletown is the nearest town to the airport and you can go there either by train or by bus. If you use steam railway from Douglas, you can get off at Castle town train station. The town is around 20 to 30 minutes drive from Douglas town center. The live-action film version of Thomas The Tank Engine was partially filmed at the Castle town train station .
I have heard that Vikings pub at the castle town station has a very good food, but I have to try it one day.
From castle town train station, town center is only 5 minutes away. The town is compact and all shops can be seen in less than 1 hour.
One thing we regularly do is visiting old fashioned sweet shop called memory lane sweet shop where you can buy all the sweets in the world. It is indeed a dangerous place for diabetics. Just now, my friend from London rushed to the sweet shop to get a handful of sweets and greatly disappointed as the shop was close today.
There are some Chinese food shop and also a famous noodle bar called ” Time out IOM ” where you can try various noodles.
Castle Rushen exist at the heart of Castle Town and the name of the town was given because of Castle Rushen. You need to pay 8 GBP for entrance fee. It is a place you should go especially when the weather is not suitable for outdoor activities.
According to history, Isle of Man had become separated from Great Britain and Ireland by 6500 BC. The first people who ruled castle rushen are vikings from Norway in 1200 and the castle was built in 1265 for a Norse King. Later, Isle of Man became a possession of the Scottish and then the English crowns. In 1603, during the union of the crowns of England and Scotland through James VI and I, Isle of Man became crown dependency with democratic government.
The castle has been used as a fortress, a residence for the Kings and Lords of Mann, the site for production of coins and even a prison (past prisoners include a bishop and two newspaper editors).
Interesting thing is from 1849 to 1864, Castle Rushen was used as a lunatic asylum. Because of growing popularity, a lot of tourists came to visit Isle of Man and most of the time, the guards had to pay attention to tourists by showing them around rather than looking after the patients aka prisoners. It was written that it was impossible to make the tourists stop throwing tobaccos at the prisoners. The facility was so poor with iron bed, improper food supply and a lot of tragedy happened, for example, some prisoners who were kept in the basement died by drowning due to floods etc.
Below pictures showed how prisoners that time was tortured in various ways.
During 17th century, some royal families from England visited Isle of Man and the lord of man named James Stanley welcomed the royal family generously. However, later the King from England sent notice to Lord Stanley to surrender the island to England.
Instead of surrendering, Sir James Stanley went out of Isle of Man to defend his kingdom . During his absence , his wife, countless Charlotte tried to protect Isle of Man from invaders courageously. However, her life became at stake because of traitors who did not have faith in the Lord as they were afraid of being sold off by the lord to England. Upon the knowledge of betrayal of her people to Stanley family and execution of her husband , Countless handed the castle to the public.
If you do not have any mobility issue, one should climb stairs to look panorama view of Castle Town from the roof top of Castle Rushen. There are also display of statues in various locations and it is interesting to look at how rich people live at that era.
Scarlet visitor centre
It is located around 15 minutes walk from castle town centre and really worthwhile to visit to see the volcanic rocks formed 250 million years ago.
The shed , scarlet visitor centre opens only from May to September from 2 to 5 pm. I have never been inside and keen to go back there at the right time. It is a place where you can learn wildlife of Isle of Man .
Stop `1 is flooded quarry where limestone were dig out to make building, railways and fertilizer.
Stop 2 is Limeklins where limestones were burnt from bottom to reach temperature up to 600 centigrade for months to get lime powder which was mixed with water to be used as fertilizer.
There is also limestone pavement, a pavement composed of millions of marine creatures.
The Storm beach is composed of rugged basalt ( rock ) which was formed from volcanic larva 250 million years ago.
On the rocks of scarlet beach, you can see lichen ( organisms composed of fungus and algae ). These lichen are tolerate to acidity of the area. It is also a great place to watch wild life such as various birds.
St Michael’s Isle or Fort Island
It is one of the best scenic viewpoints in the Isle of Man. It lies to the east of Derbyhaven Bay and is approached by the same road which leads to the Golf Links Hotel on Langness.
Technically, it is no longer an island as it is joined to the mainland by an extremely narrow causeway, just wide enough for single file traffic. In size, it measures a bare quarter of a mile in length.
Apart from wild life and beautiful scenery, there are two ancient buildings to see. One is roofless old chapel which was named after St Michael dating around 12th century.
Second building is the fort constructed by James, 7th Earl of Derby and Lord of Mann. This dates from 1645 and was built during the civil war in England to defend Derbyhaven, which was then a major port, from the forces of the parliamentarians.
These are the places I like and I have been in Castle Town, I plan to update this blog every time I find a new place and hope you enjoy reading my blog.
After Northern Ireland tour, we went to Republic of Ireland from Belfast to do Ring of Kerry tours. When my friend told me, the tour costs only 20 GBP, I did not believe her in the first place. On the other hand, I thought service might not be good. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out the tour is very good with nice coaches and good tour guide. I booked via trip adviser and needed to pay extra 2 GBP (22GBP ) . It is still very worthwhile. The same tour can be done from different towns and the price is more expensive if you start Ring of Kerry tour from Belfast.
First of all, we took the bus from Belfast to Dublin . It was around 12 GBP per person, then we went to Killarney from Dublin by train which cost us 24 GBP per person. As you might have been already aware , the earlier you can book for the train, the cheaper the price will be. To make you understand, I will post the picture of the train route.
As you can see above photo, we can not directly go to Killarney from Dublin by train. We have to get off at a town called Mallow and have to change another train to Killarney.
Kilarney is a charming expensive tourist destination with lots of horse wheel carts etc. All hotels are run by local and there is no hotel chain . I notice a lot of nice restaurants there . I assume most hotels are originally houses, transformed into inns by owners . As a result, you feel like you are staying at a local Irish house. We booked a motel named Kilarney Inn. It cost us 100GBP per night without breakfast. If you browse booking.com or agoda, you will find out the price can go up to 500 GBP per night for some hotels. The staff are nice and welcoming at Killarney Inn and they cater delicious breakfast too . We need to walk around 15 minutes from town centre to Kilarney Inn.
The next day we went to the Killarney town center to catch a tour bus for Ring of Kerry tour . The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. Its 179km-long, circular route takes in rugged coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages
When our tour started , our tour guide stated that Johny Cash wrote the song “forty shades of green” based on Irish scenery. We have seen lots of green mountains and trees along the way.
In the beginning, we passed through River Laune and a beautiful town called Killorglin .
I will write our stops with headings because those places are ones I could really see and walk around.
1) Kerry Bog village
It is a Irish traditional village composed of thatched houses. The Kerry Bog Village is set at the foot of the Mcgillycuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range . You can see almost extinct Kerry pony and Irish hounds ( the world’s largest dogs ). The hounds were once used to hunt wild boar, wolves and Elk. It was also regarded as royal dogs and general population was not allowed to own them. They can be as tall as 90 cm and as heavy as 70 kg. Nowadays, not many people can rare Irish Hounds as they are difficult to maintain and very expensive. At Bog village, they looked unwell and tired. They were kept in the cage in the sunny area.
There was also history about potato famine. When potato blight ( fungus ) invaded Irish farms in 1845 to 1849 , a lot of potato and tomatoes were damaged leading to death of many people because of starvation . As Ireland main food is potato, a lot of people suffered financially and physically. At that time, typical Irish family had many household members and children living in such small dwellings .
Infant/ maternal mortality rates were disturbingly high in Ireland during 18th/19th century and average lifespan of people living in these times was on average 45 years.
Among other things, I also learnt that the reason the windows are so small in certain cottage was due to tax purposes. Under the laws of the land in Ireland, people paid more for having larger windows, as it was seen as a luxury to have more light. It is believed that such a tax was the reason for the half doors, as light was allowed in the top half of the door when needed and this was not taxed. It was this tax that started the famous phrase ” daylight robbery”. ( information from pamphlet distributed at Bog village )
Cottages did not have toilets like we have today. Instead they had to make use of a p’o ( a special pot usually placed under the bed ).
Farmers had to loan money with interest from wealthy people to do plantation . When they could not pay back the loan, the loan sharks could confiscate the farm and houses. I also found out people were forced to leave their house by loan sharks by legal orders as well as mechanical restraining . Sometimes people died inside their house as the authority threw fire into the chimney when the house owner resisted to leave.
There is a Red Fox inn at Bog village and they sell delicious Baileys coffee. I was eager to try baileys coffee and I got severe gastritis after that. ( It tastes so good and you should try if you have strong stomach ). By the way, Bog village entrance fee is 6 Euros per person for adult and 4.5 Euros for a child.
2) Iveragh Pennisula /? Dingle Bay
I hope I am writing this correctly. The bus stopped at the scenic location around Iveragh Pennisula called Dingle Bay.
The place is breathtaking. I could recall the area had traditional celtic musician playing pipes and Irish folks selling handcraft items.
I took above photo from the bus and believe that that is Kells Viaduct who was last used in 1960. The trains used to come from Dublin to Caherslveen by Dingle Bay via Kells Viaduct .
3) Brendan Ferris Sheepherding Demonstration
The highlight of Ring of Kerry tour is sheep dog demonstration. It is such a marvelous show and only cost us 5 Euros per person.
Kells Sheep Center is run by Sheepdog trainer Brendan Ferris. It is located on the Ring of Kerry on the N70, halfway between Cahersiveen and Glenbeigh. Brendan trains Collies around 20 minutes per day to become excel in sheep herding . Training period takes more than 1 year and trained dogs can be as expensive as a car. Our tour guide said we can go back home with the conviction that if dogs don’t listen to us, they are just merely lazy or pretending to be naive.
We went in the summer, and it was very sunny. I was sweating in the crowd. I recommend to bring umbrella if you go there in the summer.
The bus passed throught the town called Cahersiveen which has population around 1000. There is a catholic church in Cahersiveen named after a lay person , Daniel O’ Connell ( very unusual in Ireland as most churches are named after saints ) . Daniel was referred as the liberator who fought for equal rights and religious tolerance of Irealnd in early half of 19th century. He was born from wealth Catholic family and decided to gain the equal rights for Catholic people in Irish parliament which was denied many years. The bus did not stop in Cahersiveen but I could manage to take some photos from the bus.
Another famous person in the town is Hugh O’Flaherty, a catholic priest who saved many lives of Jews and Prisoners of the World War II.
Our tour guide explained that the Catholic priests have involved in politics of Ireland in a positive way.
4) Waterville village
Our bus passed through the Waterville village. It became popular because of American comedian Charlie Chaplin who regularly visited the village and finally bought a holiday house there. There is a statue of Charlie in the center of the town in his memory.
5) Com an Chiste
Our Bus stopped at Com an Chiste around 30- 40 minutes. So we had a time to take photos .
It is a place which is 700 ft above sea level , and regarded as the best place on the planet to view stary skies at night. On a clear, moonless night, you can see over 4000 stars with the naked eye.
From there, you can see Scariff island, where Fr Francis O’ Sullivan , a scholar rebel, priest and wanted man, was caught and beheaded by British troops in 1653.
Another popular destination is Skellig island where star wars movie “The Force awakens ” was filmed. It is UNESCO heritage site because of 6th century monastic buildings. There are day tours depending on weather , but guests are not allowed to stay there and there is no facility such as toilet , water and food supply in Skellig island. Only 180 visitors are allowed to visit everyday and there is no safety measures . The boat trip last 45 minutes and tourists are allowed to stay 2 hours at the island. The steps are steep without rails and difficult to climb. Even when the sea is calm at mainland, the water near Skellig island is turbulent. Our tour does not include visiting there.
6) Scariff Inn
The bus stopped at Scariff Inn, which is well known for Irelands best known view with the meal. The sea food is delicious and as I expected, overpriced. After the meal, we had a few minutes to enjoy the scene outside the restaurant.
Along the way, we passed through a stretch of beach which was spectacular. I just googled and found out it was called Derrynane beach . I am sad that I did not have a chance to walk along that beach as the bus did not stop there. I really recommend making it as a stop.
7) Sneem village
Among all sites, Sneem village is my favourite. I had a very nice vanilla ice cream there. While other people were looking at wool shops, I ventured towards the church and found out little pyramids around the church .
The project of building pyramids was begun in 1988, financed by the Arts Council of Ireland as a result of Sneem winning the National Tidy Towns award the previous year. Using stone and coloured glass, Irish artist James Scanlon and his team have created a magical effect, marrying the natural to the human world.
Actually, the pyramids were created like the way fairies went. I walked around pyramids, sat beside river and listened to the sound of the river, scattered with the calling of birds. It was amazing.
8) Ladies view
Our last point is Ladies view at Killarney National park. It is a scenic point and the most photographed place in Ireland according to Irish Times. It was named according to the time, ladies in line waited for Queen Victoria arrival. To arrive Ladies View, we passed through Gap of Dunloe.
Our guide said the oak woods in Killarney National Park is infested with invasive plant called rhododendron ponticum which destroy diversity of the woodland by rapidly proliferation and replacing other plant species.
Ring of Kerry tour lasted 6 hours and the bus driver recommended us to go and watch celtic dancing show called celticstep at the Killarney race course which is 10-15 minutes drive from town center.
It was an amazing show with a lot of talented dancers and artists who got awards internationally. The way they stepped on their toes and heels made me wonder whether they would develop osteorarthritis at the young age. The sheer pressure on the feet for years might cause wear and tear on the joints. They all look young and fit and seemed enjoying dancing. A lady sang beautifully and all of them are very good looking.
The only annoying thing was a few girls who were sitting behind us carried away with the show and kept on kicking our chairs .
Initially, the tourguide offered us to go there with free of charge transport. The buses came and picked up tourists after the show. Unfortunately, our driver did not turn up and we needed to beg another bus to take us. Instead of dropping us at our hotel, the bus driver only stopped in front of the pub, ( may be intentionally so that a group of tourists would end up drinking over night ). A lot of tourists on the bus protested and became grumpy, but all of us had no choice, but had to got off the bus.
Personally , this tour is just a small part of Ring of Kelly and I am thinking of returning with my partner to drive on our own. If you want to know ” off the beaten track” tour, please read following blog. The writer sounds like he knows Kerry very well. 🙂
Being a nature lover, I think Ireland is more authentic and more worthy to visit than UK . I am in love with Ireland and its people. In spite of teaming with sad stories of violence, revolutions, conflicts, Irish people are very warm. I have heard many stories that Ireland is pretty unsafe, and might be still true. But I did not feel it when I was there , ( may be because I was in many cities which are much more unsafe than Ireland ). The only thing I can complain is Belfast is not designed for tourists and it was very difficult for the tour bus to stop and fetch the passengers.
I went to Ireland when I was very down last summer 2019 . I thought of going there alone. Luckily, one of my Uni classmates joined my trip unexpectedly. So we had a nice time , catching up.
Here are a few things I did in Ireland with my friend.
In Belfast, I stayed in a travel lodge hotel in city center just for two nights. The first day was just to relax and look around the area. On second day, we did a Northern Ireland tour.
Near our hotel, there was St Malachy’s Church . a gothic style church which is regarded as one of the most romantic buildings in Belfast. It was built in 1941 and inspiration of the design come from the galleried chapels of rural Ireland. We did not have a chance to go in as it was quite late when we arrived.
Then we walked to the city center to see Donegall square. We admired the statues around that area, but we did not have chance to see Library and Titanic museum. One girl whom I met during the trip told me Titanic museum is very good to visit and you need a few hours to cover.
I would like to post following photos to show that architecture of Belfast is in danger of being shitted everyday by pigeons and sea gulls. Take note, they choose to shit on the heads usually.
Then we walked to St Mary chapel which is the first Catholic church in Belfast. As most people in Belfast were protestants, it was such a milestone for Belfast in 1784.
Then we walked around chapel lane and observed the mural paintings of Belfast. Belfast have many street artists and mural paintings are used to express the idea , culture and political view of people . There are even some tours which focus on mural arts. I should do the tour one day.
To travel around Belfast, I took the tour from Tripadvisor called ” Game of Thrones Filming locations tours of Northern Ireland. The tour was 45 GBP per each and duration was around 9 hours. The tour includes Giant Causeway, the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and the Dark Hedges.
In between these places, the bus stopped at some scenic places . Here are the stops along the Giant causeway route .
Ballygally bay and castle
Ballagally is a beautiful beach town on Antrim coast.
Ballygally castle is the 17th century castle and it is well known for having at least 3 ghosts. The most famous one has been around for the best part of 400 years. The popular theory is that the ghost is that of Lady Isabella Shaw, wife of Lord James Shaw.
Legend has it that Lord Shaw wanted a son, and when his wife delivered his heir, he snatched the baby from his wife and locked her in a room at the top of the castle. While trying to escape to search for her beloved child, Lady Isabella fell to her death from the tower window! Another theory is that she was actually thrown from the window by the cruel Lord Shaw or one of his henchmen!
Lady Isabella’s ghost is reputed to be a “friendly” spirit who walks the corridors of the old castle. Over the years many guests have reported strange experiences and have felt a presence in their rooms! There are also endless stories of unexplained noises in the night and an eerie green mist over the castle!
Ballygally Castle is very proud of its permanent ghost resident and has dedicated a ghost room for the curious travelers.
For those brave enough to visit the room of Lady Isabella, make your way to the top of the spiral staircase. if you would like to find our more about the Castle History and a Ghost Tour with a member of the hotel staff please call +44 (0)28 2858 1066.
The bus stopped at Carnlough harbour because it was the location in one of the scenes of Games of Thornes. Apparently, I have no idea about that movie as I have never watched it. But I like that peaceful atmosphere and there was a nice coffee shop. We were given a few minutes as a toilet break.
I saw a memorable plate about a war pigeon called Paddy at the harbour. During World war II, pigeons were used as messengers to carry coded information. Paddy was released in Normanday and returned back to the base in 5 hours time which was the fastest time recorded. Paddy lived 11 years and was given Dickin medal which is animal equivalent of Victoria cross. Paddy was the only Irish recipient of Dickin medal to date.
Among all destinations, I love Cushendun the most. It is a very beautiful town.
Cashendun is a ferry port which is a stone throw away from Scotland. It has become popular because of its colorful past, exotic architecture, caves and churches. Clough-Williams-Ellis ( 1883-1978 ) was the famous Welsh architect who designed some of Cushendun buildings. We did not have chance to visit those buildings.
I found an interesting seat called Fuldiew seat at the cushendun port. In 1803, a tragic story of two lovers happened . The tomb of the boy was dated back to 1803 which can be found in St Parick’s church. The legend has been told repeatedly for over 200 years with some embellishment . The Fuldiew seat was erected to commemorate the tragic story of lovers by district development association in 2013.
The story of Fuldiew story was like that . An 18 year old boy named John McAlaster had a childhood sweetheart, Mary, to whom he was engaged. John went out to sea as a sailor and supposed to come back to Cushendun to mary Mary . Instead, he died aboard , killed by someone and his body was returned to his home town by ship . Mary was not aware of that in the beginning . However, when she found out about the tragic death of her lover, she died of broken heart. People found her dead body lying next to tombstone of John. She wrote some words on the tombstone using sharp stone.
Before we arrived at Giant cause way, the bus stopped near Dunluce castle which was built around 1513. The iconic ruin of Dunluce Castle bears witness to a long and tumultuous history. First built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north County Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500 and later seized by the ambitious MacDonnell clan in the 1550s during an era of violence, intrigue and rebellion.
We did not go to the castle although you can choose to go if you are interested in seeing archaeological remains. Entrance fee is 5.50 Euros for adult and it opens daily.
The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO world Heritage site. I had never seen many hexagonal stones lying close and fitted to each other before. These columns of stones were transformation of larva erupted from fissure of volcanoes.
Before you venture there, please look carefully at below photo. It is the map of Giant’s Causeway and one of the main attractions is Wishing chair. Unfortunately, the chair was occupied a long time by some tourists that time ( may be not aware of the fact that they should give chance to others, even it does not mean our wish can be granted by simply sitting on it ). So I did not have a chance to sit on it. Basalt stones are cold , shiny, smooth and quite nice to sit on them actually.
When I googled it, I found out the photos of Irish women sitting on it in 1900 with the hope of selling their religious memorabilia ( mirrors, hair brushes , booklet etc ) to travelers. The chair is perfectly formed by columns of basalt stones.
To make your wish come true, you need to wiggle 4 times, then rub the stone to your left with your left hand. saying your wish before sitting. ( you never know unless you try it yourself )
The science says these beautifully stacked stones were formed 60 millions years ago. However, another side of story is a legend. According to Irish legend, Giant Causeway is formed by an Irish giant named Finn McCool who got into trouble by fighting with Scottish giant called Bennandonnar. The latter wanted to claim Ireland as his property. Enraged Finn threw away boulders into the sea to make a way towards Scotland. After arriving Scotland, Finn noticed he could not beat enormous Bennandonnar and had to run back to Ireland by passing through Giant Causeway . He was rescued by his witty wife who conned his enemy by portraying Finn as a baby. Bennandonnar ran away thinking Finn as the son of his enemy. His enemy thought if the baby was that big, father would be impossible to beat.
Dark Hedges were rows of very old beech trees which were planted in 1775 by owner of the property James Stuart. The intention is to create an imposing approach to unwanted visitors. Like other places of Ireland, the folk believed that trees are regularly visited by ghosts.
The place became popular because of Games of Thrones movie. The old trees are surreal and gives very artistic illusion . I am quite upset to see tourists wrote graffiti on the trees.
The highlight of the trip is Carrick-a-Rede Bridge which was situated along Giant Causeway route . The bridge connects mainland and a small island called Carrick-a-Rede. You need to walk around 30 minutes to walk up and down the hills to reach the bridge. At least, you need 1 hour to visit the bridge . The island was formed from volcanic eruption and it was linked to the mainland by a flimsy bridge . The bridge was made of plunks linked each other with wires of ropes.
The bridge was originally used by salmon fishermen during summer . It is no longer used for fishing as salmons are very scarce now. It was used only during summer in the past and dismantled during winters. However, as the site became a tourist attraction, the bridge has been open year round as long as the weather is permissible. Rope access specialists have to check the safety all the time . When the weather is bad, tourists are not allowed to cross the bridge. We need to give entrance fee and need to walk quite a while. There are lots of stairs . The view of the rocky coastline mixed with basalt , hardened larva ( dark rock ) was mesmerizing. I was glad that we had a good weather that time.
When we pass the bridge, it means we are passing through the mouth of volcano. I can imagine the skill of fishermen as they used to cross the road with one hand holding the rope and one hand holding bits and pieces of fishing gear and fish.
The trip lasted for 9 hours and we were tired when we arrived back. Even with that, we managed to go to a buffet dinner and had a fantastic meal.
I will write about tours in Republic of Ireland soon.
Today is the last day of our holiday and both of us are sad..Maldives is the destination which suit us. When we were in Bangkok, we enjoyed bustling town with lots of activities to do plus good food. But Maldives gives us complete rest of our mind and soul which everybody needs. If you are aware, we are in a rat race competing each other and trying to outdo each other. Our mind wander and worry endlessly. A place like Maldives which has nothing much to do apart from swimming and relaxing make our mind rest for awhile. We also have to accept that sea and ocean promotes our mental wellbeing.
Yesterday I went into the ocean and floated with the slow waves in shallow water, my face looking towards the sky. There was a half full moon and many stars . There was a halo around the moon and the wind was gentle..The water was warm and soathing. I was so much comforted by the ocean that I said aloud thank you. I was born in a restricted country called Burma and not allowed to have a passport till 28 years of age. Our previous government regarded all doctors as the country’s property and we were not allowed to have a passport unless they wanted to send us to another country for semina and courses etc. So at the age of 28, I ran away from Burma after getting a passport illegally. What I mean is I was able to travel abroad only at the age of 28 with the awareness that I might not be able to go back there without facing legal actions. I have visited 19 countries since then and I am thankful to this tiny achievement and my travel diaries more than my academic achievement. Nowadays we have democracy and young generations of doctors have more opportunities and freedom compared to our time.
Before my mind wanders again, I want to continue about Maldives , especially Maafushi. Maafushi is a relatively large island ( 1.2 km) and there is still room for infrastructure and development. Its not instagram perfect place but I am so glad to see real lives of people living here. I can see women take part in building up economy as a lot of them were driving motorbikes and trucks. I also saw local girls dancing , shaking their ass in front of public enjoying themselves . They are more outgoing than I thought in spite of a myth that women are suppressed.
So this post is about real life and you will not see many perfect pictures here. Its about Maafushi with migrants, ongoing buildings , scaffolding and sweaty construction workers.
Most of them are from Bangladish and some are from India. But they seem happy to be here. Initially I cannot differentiate between Maldivians and Bangali but they pointed us that Maldivians have darker skin.
owner of local arts shop
I talked to the local shop owner called Suja who witnessed Tsunami in 2004. He owns a shop which sells paintings on the wood, glass and coconut.
According to Suja, on the day of tsunami, water rushed inside his house and he was non chalant about it and did not worry. But then he saw trucks were drifting among big waves and then only he ran towards the mosque holding his young child. The family took refuge on the attic of the mosque. The water came in only a few minutes and the tide went down. He needed to waddle in the muddy water to find his sister who was with another family and found to be safe. Luckily there was no death nor injuries in Maafushi. Only 82 people died out of whole country in 2004 tsunami although damages to houses and infrastructure cost millions. In Maafushi, only 14 houses were destroyed.
Suja refuse to label himself and his staff as artists. But the paintings they made out of wood and coconut are quite impressive and unique.
As I really wanted to buy authentic Maldivian product, I bought a key chain from him made of wood and painting.
Maafushi is also very self sufficient with school, mosques , health care centre and sports centre etc. When I was walking around I saw school children coming out from school with their cute green and white uniforms.
There is also a local bank where you can exchange money. But everywhere you can purchase with USD.
Regarding food, you can have local as well as European and Chinese food easily. I have noticed that a lot of tourists are from mainland China and India. To cater them, a lot of restaurants have display of chinese advertisment and hotels offer vegetarian diet as Indian tourists are vegetarian. I overheard some Indian tourists complaining not enough vegetarian food from hotel buffet and next day, almost every dish became vegetable. Then some of us are like 😫. Indeed, its difficult to satisfy human. But I have to say honestly that Arena beach resort surpassed my expectation ( I did not get any commmission out of hotel )..First of all, they take customers as priority. Their chefs are excellent and even simple meals like pasta is delicious. All vegetarian cusine are tasty like dahl curry , fried rice with vegetable even for non vegs.They also cater lots of salad and fruits for European tourists and their bakery and puddings are yummy.
And Arena resort did not break our bank and only charge considerable price for excellent service. All the waiters are always wanting to help us , even just now we are waiting for the boat at public lounge and one staff came and opened fans and aircon for us. Rooms are clean and provided with coffee , water and toiletaries daily. There is also a place to hang wet clothes at balcony with drainage system.
Entertainment ( acoustic guitarist and singers ) are good and can be equivalent to vocalists from Boracay ( exceptionally musical beach destination ) although they do not sing everyday.
As the island is small, franchise food like KFC and McDonald do not esist here. But if you look around, there are a lot of European food and Chinese restaurants.
A cafe which mimic Hard Rock
We did not have chance to explore the local food as we booked hotel with meal plans. Even breakfast and dinner alone is enough for big eater . Afternoon is our siesta time and we prefer to rest in our room .
Regarding activities, there are a lot of water sports you can do such as kayaking, banana boats, jet ski, fishing, paragliding , water skiing and boarding. Arena beach also has scuba diving courses and activities for both beginners and experienced diving. They have been operating diving excursions for 30 years. You can do night diving and also wreck diving . I feel like going to nearby sandbank with kayak. But my boyfriend complained of backache and decided not to do any of those. Instead, we spent lots of our time swimming or simply sitting in the ocean. We just now found out there is a swimming pool on 8th floor only after we checked out. But we still do not regret our preference on the ocean. To be frank, its the priviledge of warm countries. While in Isle of Man, water of the sea is always cold and I still cannot swim where I live. I also miss my time in Kuantan, Malaysia where dipping in South China sea was my weekly activities.
By the way, please read Maldives part 2 and part 3 to know about excursions to shark bay, turtle watching and swimming with manta rays.
Recreational activities like spa and massage are too expensive to try. Usual price is 58 USD for an hour which is almost the same like Europe..So we did not try it but if you want it, you can easily get massage in Maafushi as I saw 3 spa lounges and 1 gym.
For souvenir , there are many local shops. I was even joking every house opens a shop. Maldives do not produce garment and all are imported from other countries. So prices are above other Asian countries and you need to haggle to get correct price. But we found a shop where we get reasonable price witout hassel of bargaining. I will upload photo of that shop here.
if you want good price, Eloda is ok personally..But ask around before you buy..
The best part is sunset. Its very beautiful to watch it. I am going to miss it very much.
We are grateful to Maldives, its people for their hospitality . We will come back again one day.
real live experience regarding travels, meeting strangers and daily life.