Category Archives: travel

Isle of Man part IV ( Cregneash village )

Cregneash
Cregneash village

The Cregneash village lies near Port Erin which is south part of island called Isle of Man .

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The entire village was left as the way it was since 200 years ago just to attract tourists and to preserve the life style of villagers in peaceful nature. Cregneash has become an open-air folk museum. The surrounding fields are now once more in cultivation and visitors can again see the landscape of old time again. Cregneash is also a living village where people live and work.

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very pretty white houses of Cregneash with thatch roof

 

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Cregneash area surrounded by grazing fields and hills

Visitors can see traditional rural skills and crafts being practiced. They can learn new things and remember some old skills such as milking cows, reaping and ploughing using ox wheel carts  etc.

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the shed storing some equipment used by villagers

 

The Cregneish folk were just like a great fisher-family entirely left to themselves and a little disturbed by the outside waves of modern life with its rush and hectic pace. They were frugal, hardy and sea-toiling men, whose lives were divided between mackerel fishing and the harvesting of their little oat and potato crofts. ( Charles Reader-1901)

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When you walk inside the small village, you can instantly fee the ease and peaceful surroundings. You can browse inside the displayed houses and sheds which store tools for agricultural and construction. You can see the small cozy bedrooms with weaved fabric on the bed and little cots for babies etc.

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the bed room of typical Cregneash family
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the living room with fire inside
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like other parts of Europe, collection of Chinaware show wealth of family
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Living room of another Manx house

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It gave me the impression that the villagers are pious Christians as I can see displays of quotes about God in the rooms of houses.

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a small church for community.

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inside the church

Other interesting animals you can see are Manx Loaghtan Sheep which has multiple horns ( having from 2 to 6). This breed is native to the Isle of Man and is one of the rarest breeds of sheep in the British isles, nearly becoming extinct in 1950 ( only 43 surviving ) ,in 1956 The Manx National Trust acquired their first sheep and started a breeding program to save the breed.

loghtan sheep

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The name LOAGHTAN comes from two Manx words “ lugh” ( mouse) and “ dhoan” ( brown ) which described the light brown colour of the sheep.

They are very hardy mountain breed, well able to withstand harsh winters and they regularly produce twin lambs. They are an official rare breed but as they become more popular, their numbers are rising, so providing an assured future for this unique animal. Now, there are still fewer than 1,500 registered breeding females in the United Kingdom.

Another distinguished animals you can see in Isle of Man especially Cregneash village is the Manx cat which are entirely tailless or only have a small stub of a tail. The animal originates from Isle of Man , with a naturally occurring mutation that shortens the tail. They were known in the island since early 19th century. There are lots of legends explaining why Manx cat are tailless and some believe Manx cats are hybrid between cats and rabbits referring to the cabbit” folktale.

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One of the reason Cregneash culture is maintained and  preserved is because of well known Manx poet called Ned Beg Hom Ray ( Edward Faragher ) who grew up in Cregneash and devoted whole life to Manx language and poetry. His family lived in Cregneash for many years, in particular in the tiny cottage which is now displayed as the museum.

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He became famous outside Cregneash because of his talent for writing poetry and hymns in Manx, his translations of Aesop’s Fables into Manx and his numerous contributions to Charles Reader’s Manx folklore collections.

Faragher family were a family of fishermen for generations untold. There was little English taught and known in Cregneash, his mother being the only person who could converse with strangers. His father was a fair scholar, and wrote all the letters to the Cregneash people, and that was a great thing then. The family being large-there were twelve children-he had to go to sea very young and joined his father’s boat, fishing with him for seven years . ( Charles Reader-1901)

For a short time, he went to Liverpool to become a safe-maker, working amongst Welshmen, who were worse English speakers than himself, and he learnt but little English there. His longing, however , for the sea and his heather-clad hills was too over-powering , and he returned again to Cregneish, and fished for mackerel at Kinsale and on the West coast of Ireland for 25 spring seasons. He has been shipwrecked and narrowly saved and weathered great storms in his rough voyages. ( Charles Reader-1901)

They are dwelling in the high, rocky upland, amidst purple heather and gorse, and you can see the wild dashing and splashing breakers, and hear the roaring from the sea caves. The winter time is there rough and desolate, and the fishing is then resting, and they draw closer to their glimmering turf fires to tell weird stories and gruesome legends. It was here in this mountain loneliness, so rich in natural scenery, that he grew up, and there is no man in the island that loves his native soil more intensely , or is fonder of the contemplation of nature. ( Charles Reader-1901)

The people of Cregneash gathered a great deal at other people’s houses, and one of their favorite diversions was the telling of stories about fairies and ” bugganes”…. heard people declare that they had seen the fairies in the form of little men in red caps. Bugganes are monsters covered with coarse hair and have red scary eyes.

The ” buggane” stories were very frightening to the children, and some were told with the idea of keeping children out of mischief.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buggane

When I went to Cregneash in April, some actors were there to display the exact picture of the village 100 years ago and I could take some pictures of them.

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some actors wearing like in World war II

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Near Cregneash, you can also see the Manx artist house with big hand statue, in memory of Edward Ashton Cannell.

Manx artist house

 

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If you have time, you can enjoy a cream tea at the Cregneash tea room in the village. Make sure you bring cash as they cannot accept  credit cards.

 

For me, Cregneash is a must when you visit Isle of Man.

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Vincent vanGogh museum ( 7th may 2018)

I visited van Gogh museum today without any information prior. I love arts but I have no sense of understanding about complicated art . So I bought a ticket from online and thought I would meet a tour guide at the entrance but I found none in the end. It was a chaos as I was also five minutes late for my entrance time. I texted to the tourguide but did not get any . I was panic when I did not get reply from the tour guide.I thought the guide would leave me alone and I would not be able to enter into museum. People were queing outside and it was such a lovely day as the temperature was 27C . One of the ladies even arrived ten minutes later than her arrival time. But the museum staff welcomed us and said its ok to arrive a bit late .  I went inside the museum with other people after showing my online ticket. For audio guide, I needed to pay extra 5 euros as it was not included in my online purchase.

Since from the beginning, I opened audio and I was blown away by detailed collections of his art work plus letters written by him to his brother and other artist. In the end, someone like me who knew nothing about Van goGh ended up being emotional after reading and observing all his work.

The fact that he only sold one painting during his short life span did not console me either. I listened to every audio and I was teary in the end. The ticket mentioned it was one and half hour tour but I spent three hours there looking at his paintings . So I recommend the visitors to have proper rest before going there so that you can spend more time there with clear mind.

In brief, Van goGh was born in 1853 and died in 1890 at the age of 37.  His Father was a pastor who was a devoted protestant.
Vangoh had two brothers and three sisters. His inappropriate behavior as the eldest son made his parents worried. He was a child who spent many hours outdoors observing nature. His parents tried to instill their values of hardwork and getting good reputation as a family into their children. Van Gogh uncle was an art dealer and Vangoh tried to work with him with little success and he was asked to leave the business. His honesty did not give benefit to the business. However his brother became a successful art dealer in Paris and Theo supported Van Gogh both financially and emotionally.
Vangoh and his dad had different opinions on religion and in his letter to Theo, he wrote his reluctance to move back into parents house . He wrote they would regard him as a big dirty shaggy dog which barks all the time. However, he drew the picture of his dad worn out bible one year after his dad’s death.

After his failure in business as an art dealer, his dad tried to put him under religious guidance to follow his footstep as a pastor. Van gogh studied Theology and moved to  , a poor mining village in Belgium. He became emotionally too involved with minors and his religious leaders decided he was not fit to become a pastor.

His true calling as an artist came only when he was 27 and he started studying arts by reading books about colors and observing other people works. He used pen, pencils, chalks and inks. Sometimes, he made his own pencil with great satisfaction. He drew 1100 artworks and only half of them is now in his museum. Theo saw his sketches and encouraged him to devote to painting. Instead of paying him monthly, Theo accepted his paintings and paid him for them or exchanged his paintings with other artists paintings.

His systematic planning and observation contrasted with his impulsive and emotional life of artists. He was also not a solitary artist and wanted to be in touch with other artists whom he greatly admired especially Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard. He wrote letter to another artist Paul Sgnac with affection and gratitude in 1889   after Paul’s visit to him while he was unwell. He wrote that “ the best consolation, if not the only remedy , is , it still seems to me, profound friendships. Thank you again for your visit, which gave me so much pleasure”.

He lived with his parents in Nuenen, a rural poor countryside as he had nowhere to go when he turned 30 which was 3 years after his artist life.
Van Gogh loved rural life. He wrote to his parents that “a peasant who work hard and fight during his work is a civilized person. The more you go into urban life, the more you go into darkness of uncivilization, stupidity and wickedness. Peasant life is quieter , more peaceful and better. Even if they can be cheap to each other, they do not do as badly as they do in cities”.

The reason why we know everything about Van Gogh was he wrote 820 letters and most of them towards Theo, his confidant. VAN goGh was not only a great artist but also a talented writer. In his letters, Van Gogh emerges as an intelligent , impassioned man with a great thirst for art and literature. Sometimes; his enthusiasm got the better of him, such as in his religious period ( 1876-1879) . He could hold forth with great zeal, and in so doing lost sight of reality. In vincent days, letters were delivered 2 to 3 times per day and he replied his brother immediately the day after he received his letter in Hague. He sometimes was totally out of money and could afford to buy stamp only with support from Theo.

In Nuenen, Vangoh was 30 plus and he drew everyday pictures of countrymen and women and their children. He said the country women who are exposed to sand, wind and sun are prettier than ladies. He admired their strength , simple life  and earthy life.

He  tried to go to Antwerp , Belgium and Paris to study arts . He met great artists in Paris and realized his Dutch work was too simple. He tried to learn from other artists about modern arts  and he also bought many graphic arts from Japan to study then in details. The japanese artists greatly influenced his work.

He appointed a house called My little Yellow house in Arles , France with the aim of inviting various artists to have art community. Only Paul Gauguin came after many invitations and lived with him in 1888. The yellow house is one of his famous paintings and it depicited how much he enjoyed life that time. There was a restaurant left to his studio where he ate supper everyday. His friend ,a post man lived with family near to his yellow house and all family members became his subjects for portrait painting. He became close to post office staff as he needed to communicate with his brother by post .

Van gogh had done many self portraits for economical reason. At that time, it was expensive to use live models.He used different colors for his eyes . He also painted flowers, fruits, landscapes and trees. He also painted sculptures.He wanted to become a painter of peasant life when he was in Nuenen. He once painted sunflowes in three different tints of yellows. The job had the best result and he was very satisfied and announced that he should be a painter of  sunflowers. Sunflowers are earthy and vibrant. When he died, his brother put sunflowers in his coffin.

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Apart from ordinary people, he painted prostitutes in dignity and admiration. He also asked his brother to buy a painting of prostitue drawn by another artist.

Paul Gaugin and Vangoh  relationship clashed when thry lived together. Two artists had different approach to arts. Paul made arts based on imagination and Van Gogh painted from real life. They had several rows although they admired each other. Paul left yellow house after a serious argument with Van Gogh. Van gogh developed hallucinations and cut his left ear after his friend departure. He presented his ear to a prostitute who called a police. His doctor diagnosed him as having epilepsy with acute mania. His neighbours made a petition to expel him out of yellow house as they found him wandering neighborhood confused. He admitted himself to Mental Institution after second attacks . Even when he was being admitted, he painted landscape of neighborhood such as orchards in blossoms. He wrote that he was allowed to roam neighborhood when he was not very ill.
Van Gogh spent final months of his life in rural Auvers- sur-Oise, near Paris . He painted 75 paintins in 70 days Van Gogh portrayed nature in all of its manifestations; gardens with full of flowers, a close up of waving wheat, and panoramic landscapes filled with emotion  For him, nature was sacred, a sanctuary from which to draw solace, or region strength. He created his masterpiece called starry night while he was not allowed to go outside the room. He painted starry night observing stars behind the iron barred window. It was phenomenal, blue sky mixed with yellow.

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After his hospitalization in the asylum in Saint-Remy, van gogh felt like ‘broken pitcher’ which cannot be amended even so, in between his bouts of mental illness; he worked on steadily and courageously to become a better artist. If he was not allowed to work outside, he painted the view from his room through iton barred window. Or he explored garden where he found endless subjects.

In 1890, he shot himself at chest with a pistol in a field near Auvers and died two days after that with Theo beside him. Twenty people of his acquaintances and friends attended funeral. His family could not due to short notice. It was a chaotic event as the pastor refused to make religious event for his funeral as he took his own life. VAN Gogh who was the son of the pastor did not have a pastor at his funeral. However, he claimed he was lucid when he shot himself and he always wanted to end the life that way. It was a bit strange for me but he kept painting even with his deadly injury.
THE LAST painting he drew was named the roots and it showed his confidence and ability to find beauty and magic in daily life. He was found dead hoding his easel.
My favorite painting is called wheatfield with crows. Van gogh regard wheat as a symbol of eternal cycle of life. Its being sown and grown and reaped in day life. Its like human death.

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Unfortunately, his brother died only six months after his death with syphilis at the age of 32. Theo behaved as the owner of the drawings and paintings that his brother sent him . Theo was distressed by Van Gogh death in july 1890. His widow 28 year old Jo Van Gogh_ bonger inherited collection of arts and with her effort of selling and lending his paintings to museum, his arts became well known . After Jo death in 1925, Vincent williem, the nephew of Van Gogh  created the Vincent vanGogh foundation and devoted himself to realising the Van Gogh museum , where the family collection found their permanent home in Amsterdam.

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Isle of Man part III ( coastal sightseeing )

When I first moved to Isle of Man, a lot of people asked me ” where are you Hninn?”. When I said ” I am in Isle of Man”, everybody is perplexed. Well, it’s very difficult to explain because I cannot say it’s EU countries as Isle of Man has never been part of EU. It is difficult to say it’s in uk because Isle of Man is not regarded as part of United Kingdom. In short , it is a country which has crown dependency and currently Lord of Mann ( the monarch of Isle of Man ) is Queen Elizabeth. Isle of Man located in the Irish sea between British isles and Ireland.

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the photo by Eric Gaba, ( courtesy to Wikipedia )

 

It is the fifth richest country in the world ( according to GDP ) and islanders, Manx are very proud of their self sufficiency. The country has only around 80,000 populations . It is 56 km long and at its widest, 22 km wide. It has an area of around 572 square kilometres (221 sq mi).

The interesting part of Isle of Man is it’s coastal footpath. There is the arranged coastal walk 100 miles which can be divided into 12 sections.  You can have a walk either 4 days ( strenuous walk ) to 12 days easier walk.

https://www.visitisleofman.com/things-to-do/activities/walking-and-hiking/raad-ny-foillan-coastal-footpath

During the coastal footpath, one can see amazing views, can encounter wild life especially rabbits, seagulls, birds and can hike up hills. I have not done coastal footpath yet as I arrived in the winter time. But I have been either driven or drove along the coastal ride and it has always been my favorite thing to do. In this post, I am going to post plenty of photos I took during my ride. Today, we went to the marine ride , a short coastal ride where you can see sunset . At one area, a car crushed into the divine although the driver ( an experienced teenager ) survived miraculously.

The island has different towns at each direction and you can see various photos taken at various places of island here.

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near Peel castle
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Peel castle built by Vikings

I also advise you to go to the Parade cafe which is built more than a century ago. It is located on the way to Port Erin and has a view of the sea with good food especially delicious fresh fish cuisines.

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me at the rock near Parade cafe

Manx people are very proud of their heritage, but never feel reluctant to open their properties for the sake of tourists who might get interested in entering private property for the sake of viewing the sea. I was visiting Ramsey and I went straight into someone’s yard without knowing it belongs to a private owner. But it seemed like the owner purposely opens her door during day time so that curious tourists can get a glimpse of her backyard amazing view.

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this photo was taken from the private property on the coastal area of Ramsey
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Ramsey

Some photos were simply taken by me while I was having a train ride. So the photos are not focus, but I can’t help sharing them as they are quite beautiful.

 

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During electric train ride
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I took this photo from the train, tourists were taking photos, it is near Ramsey
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near Douglas, Onchan

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Although it is quite crowded , being the center of town, Douglas also has the coastal area called Promonade, it is the sea front coastal area where you can see rows of shops, hotels , restaurants and malls. It is the area where people walk, jog and simply sit for a cup of tea.

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taken from the residential area,  Promonade, Douglas
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Near Onchan
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Promonade, where you can have a stroll

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There is also an area called Marine drive which is a short scenic drive of coastal area in Douglas. This is an ideal place for romantic evening where you can watch sunset or sunrise.

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A car driven by an inexperienced teenager crushed into this divine and he miraculously survived.

 

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on the way to Marine drive
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a place where you can use binoculars ( two big white stands ) to see the island historical landmarks

As a person who lived 3 minutes drive from the beautiful South China sea in South East Asia , I can assure you that the sight of the sea and the sound of the waves always calm my nerves.  Now I live near Irish sea and although it is cold and unimaginable to swim in, I am still deeply fond of sea. And so are other people who are alike me.

Helen Keller said I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought. 

I have been an anxious person and I was born as a sick child, grew into an anxious teenager and entered into the career with lots of strife and stress. But whenever I walk near the sea, I can forget about material world with greedy people, I can be myself at that moment, drifting my mind completely into the vastness of the sea and can think how little I am and I realize my worries are not significant compared to my love for nature. For all those moments, I am truly thankful and it reminds me how blessed I have been.

Hninn

 

 

Isle of Man ( Random photos )

As my relationship becomes intense and I realize I am spending more and more time with him and less time to do other things like blogging. At the same time, I am quite obsessed with my job which is pretty unhealthy.

Today, My boyfriend asked me why I am not writing the blogs and not using hundreds of pictures in my phone. Well, it is true and now my phone is crammed with lots of photos and I need to put them into blogs so that later, I can come back and look at all photos. Pretty weird, isn’t it? I wonder whether I will remember to come back to blogs and read what I write when I become sixty.

So here are random photos of Isle of Man I took whenever we go out for sightseeing or walks. I can’t remember exactly where I took some of these photos and even with that, I hope readers can see what is the island look like in winter from pictures.

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the view from Ramsey cottage
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national park in isle of Man , these birds can follow you like puppies if you offer them some food

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Peel, isle of Man
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Peel
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Peel castle built in 11th century by Vikings, now owned by national Manx heritage
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statue near Peel castle
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Port Erin
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People kayaking in Port Erin, even with wet suit, it is crazy cold
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Port Erin
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On the way to Port Erin
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on the way to Port Erin
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one of the windy days when I was travelling to Port Erin

Taman Negara , The oldest rain forest of Malaysia

I am recalling some of my memories of travelling  in Jungles. Usually, I regard myself as a xylophile ( someone who loves trees ) and always try to find spots with lots of trees.

I went to a jungle with lots of stories in 2012. The forest is called “ Taman Nagara” which is the biggest national forest of Malaysia. It is estimated to be older than 130 million years and covers 4343  square km. It is believed that there are still endangered species of animals such as Malayan tiger and rare species of birds.

I have to admit that I didn’t go many places there as it was a day trip and I didn’t have enough time to explore the area. I was attending a wedding of my colleagues in a town, Jerantut which is 2 hours drive from the rain forest. So me and my travel partner decided to visit the forest in a short time without proper plan.We drove from Jerantut to Taman Negara and the scenery was very nice along the way.

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Then we arrived at the jetty and met our tour guide Mr lee.

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jetty of Taman Negara

Mr Lee led us to trek, and showed the rain forest. The water was quite shallow that time and lots of birds fluttering around the flowers.

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our tour guide Mr lee

 

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Then we went for the canopy walk. According to the record, it was the longest canopy walk in the world although it was built recently in 1992.

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my friend Raihana, smiling on the canopy walk.

 

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The guide led us for hiking ( I didn’t go for hiking and waited for them at the base of mountain , resting on the bench, luckily I found interesting people , one is a geologist and two are French tourists, they entertained me while my friend was hiking the mountain

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the geologist I met during my trip. He has a lot of knowledge about rain forests and has been in Taman Negara many times.

Then, wee were on the boat again  and visited a village belongs to Orang Asli ( aboriginal people ).The villagers are short, dark and have curly hair. They look more like short people from  Africa, totally different from Orang Asli I found in other places of Malaysia. However, Orang= man, Asli= Origin, so they don’t need to be the same people as different people arrive Malaysia in different places of the country in different time. Our guide Mr Lee said he believes the people are originated from Papua New Guinea.20

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They looked disturbed when we arrived and children were afraid of us. Many of them ran towards their mothers as soon as they found strangers. One kid was so adorable and I asked permission from mom to carry him, but he struggled out of me and I had to return him to his mom. All of them had Tinea infection ( fungal infection ) and their living condition is not very hygiene.

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Most of them were on bare foot as they cant’ afford foot wares. They know how to swim, fish and hunt very well. The guide showed us how to make fire out of two stones and how to shoot arrows.

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the guide showing us how to make fire

But the more interesting part is about the people.

Orang Asli people in Taman Negara still holding their belief strong. They never bury the dead bodies and instead carry them to the deep part of the forest. The spiritual leader called Bomoh arranged the journey and he only allows less than two people to follow him so that they can carry the dead body. When they arrive the secret spot, they hang the dead body on the trees. The place is kept as a secret and only Bomoh , chosen spiritual leader knows how to go there. Actually, like other Orang Asli, they are very attached to the forest and willing to remain as spirits inside forest after their death. After Bomoh has done his ritual, he orders his followers to cross the river for seven times so that spirits will not follow them on the way back to village.  Their belief is once you reach the area of spirits, they can follow you on your way back.

Once they arrive back the village, they observe the nature and behavior of the animals . If the animals seem disturbed or get diseases within seven days of arrival, all villagers pack and leave the village, seeking another spot to settle.

Another ritual which makes me amazed is their marriage. Once man and woman wants to get married, the villagers will lock two of them inside the building ( a house / a hut/ any kind of enclosure ) and lock them from outside for 24 hours. And people are not supposed to disturb the couple. If no one demands to get out before 24 hours ( I have no idea how to do that, they must knock the door or shout from inside ), their courtship means successful. Then after completion of 24 hours, the door will be unlocked and the whole village celebrate the marriage by having a feast.  By the way, as I worked in the town which is two hours away from that village, I know they get married very young. One time, my patient who was in labour was only 12 years old. The marriage was arranged by her parents and her husband looked like he was 40 plus. The girl was crying in pain and we couldn’t even ask her the name of her husband because she simply didn’t know and not bother to know as well. She just asked us to call her mom. Usually, most Orang Asli girls  marry young and have a lot of children up to 12- 16 children. They rarely use contraception and a man can get married easily when the wife dies. The men prefer to marry young girls. Nowadays, the government gives priority towards Orang Asli regarding education and health care. All of them can get free health care and education although some of them are not willing to go to towns.  I have a friend who is an Orang Asli girl and she is a doctor. I hope there will be more educated young people in their population in the future.

Another interesting thing is their belief about spirits. They don’t have religion and they usually worship on spirits. As they live in jungle and live on farming and hunting, the favor of spirit is very important to them. For example, you must pray to spirit of river if you want to have fish, and have to be careful not to piss the spirits of land if you want to harvest. The children have to be careful not to venture at night into jungles as the spirits can make them sick etc. Some Organ Asli do sculpture of spirits out of wood and keep at their house. One time, I went to museum to observe these sculptures. The museum was deserted and to save electricity, the room was poorly lit. I looked at the faces of these spirits and it made me feel scared. I was wondering they might see the spirits , otherwise how can they make sculptures out of imagination.

 

I don’t know whether spirits really exist, but the guides who are educated are also very careful about jungle spirits. My guide told me some tour guides lost their way in Taman Negara although they were not far from the village. They believe it is because the spirits hide the way. And a lot of tourists have tragic events in Taman Negara such as drowning. Let me tell you my experience. We took a package tour organized by a well experienced tourist guide.  We were on the boat and observed lots of beautiful birds from the boat.

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before going for swimming

The tour guide allowed us to swim in the river. I was not a good swimmer, in fact I know very little how to swim. So I decided just to waddle in the shallow water. As I wanted to see the trees, I walked further and further away from the crowed. Although I was walking in the shallow water, suddenly I plunged into a deeper part of water. It really made me scared especially the soil of river bed was not sand and very sticky mud. I tried to call out my friend to help me, I felt like I was drowning. She thought I was joking with her as the river looked shallow to her. But I swear that that time, my legs couldn’t reach the floor of river bed anymore and I was struggling to float. And the current, it was pretty strange that I felt that the current was pushing me further only at that particular spot.  I was drifting away from the crowd. My friend herself doesn’t know how to swim , but she is much taller than me. She waddled and walked towards me and finally her hand griped mine. Then she told me “ how come you look so afraid? The water is very shallow.” I can say that that is the most weird thing I have encountered in my life. After she reached me, I felt the water was not deep anymore. It was at the level of my breasts. Suddenly, I could feel that my legs could stand on the ground. It was extremely creepy.

The interesting part is after I came back from Taman Negara, I had a chat with a colleague about the place, just discussing about jungles in general. She was smiling uneasily and said “ oh, Hnin, my parents would never allow me to go there”. I only thought overprotective parents usually don’t allow daughters to travel far. But she continued that “ do you know that my brother who was a swimming champion died in Taman Negara out of drowning. He was 19 that time. That’s the reason my parents didn’t feel good about the place”

Back to our story, after I had nearly drowning experience, I didn’t feel like staying there at night anymore. I nagged my friend to go back. But she was very keen to stay there and finally I gave in. She booked a night safari tour for us  and we were about to observe nocturnal animals . Around 8 pm, the tour guide came and fetched us to go to the palm plantation area. It was not the deep jungle. But we were at the back of the van without roof. The driver told me to hold a bottle and I thought it was like a water bottle. He told me “ this is the holy water and keep it with you. We usually carry it when we have night tour “. So, I gripped the water bottle tightly with me. We found wild pigs, pythons, fogs and lots of birds already resting on the trees.

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night safari tour

 

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birds nesting on the tree

We spent the night at a cheap motel and I couldn’t sleep well because I had a very unsettled feeling. The next morning, we drove almost 4 hours back to our town, Kuantan.

The good thing is we met a group of tourists who became our friends .

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with our new friends, Tan Richard, Ding and Simone

But the thing I want to tell you is my feelings after the trip. Once I arrived back home, I took out my camera and tried to download the photos into my laptop . The photos were both day time and night time taken. But when I looked into night time photos, I felt very uneasy feeling as if some images were inside my photo. In one photo, I found a woman sitting on the tree. ( I just wish it’s not real and I just wish it’s all my creepy ideas). Finally I shut down my computer and deleted a lot of photos. For weeks, I felt like there was someone with me, especially when I stood in front of mirror. It was very bad until I was afraid to stand in front of mirror. I called my friends and they shared me some prayers.  Finally with the help of prayers, I no longer feel the woman was around me anymore.

Well, if someone ask me “ do you wana visit Taman Negara again?”. My answer is “ No…..”

cycling in Bagan , Ancient city of Burma

Yesterday, I read a post named “ Silly things I made during my travel “ by a blogger whom I follow.

Then , I was thinking about the silly things I made during my wanderlust years. There are countless number of events  including

Riding a motor bike, unskillfully and had a fall paired with  a fracture of my arm in Thailand,

Going to Komodo national park when I was having period ( Do you know komodo dragons can smell the blood from a few kilometers away and can bite  you straight away as they are forever hungry carnivores. )

Swimming in river of jungle ( Taman Negara ) in Malaysia ( without knowing how to swim ) and almost drowned.

Before you get irritated with my silliness, or should I call it more like stupidity, I would like to write about Amazing Bagan.

Bagan is situated in central part of Burma, standing on the Eastern part of Ayeyarwady River. Bagan Era existed from 107 until 13th century and reined by 55 kings, there are lots of stories behind. For example, there was the time, people left pretty ladies for the human sacrifice at the area of big bird who only wishes to eat beautiful girls.  It makes more sense to think that giant bird cannot be defeated by villages and instead of letting it come to village again and again , runing everything randomly, the villagers decided to choose girls to feed the bird. I was making joke with my best friend that I would not be eaten even if I was born in Bagan that time. Haha. According to the legend, the bird ate 4300 girls until it was killed by a hero. There is a display of the statue of bird as well as the tunnel area where girls used to hide from the bird.

the statue of giant bird
the cave where the bird used to live, the place was transformed into a building with tunnel inside
the entrance of the cave

 

Some pagodas were built by a dedicated hero whose spirit still linger around the pagoda. For example, near Dama Yazaka pagoda, the tourists was taking photos and later he could see the image of a man wearing an ancient attire in his photos. Creepy! Isn’t it?

Damayazaka Pagoda

Some pagodas were built to compensate for the sins of the kings or to show the remorse. For example, King A Laun Si Thu made the mistake of vowing “ I am the most powerful King ever in Bagan” although there are 44 kings previously. He became blind because of his inappropriate statement, punished by the spirits of the previous Kings. To counteract his mistake, he made the statues of 44 Kings in gold and worshipped in the pagoda called “ Kadot Palin “.

Kadot Palin pagoda
Kadot Palin pagoda

Another example is Dhammangyan Gyi pagoda which was built by crule King “ Narya Thu” ruled AD 1163-1165. He killed his father and brother as he wanted to get the power. After the cruel killings, his guilt haunted him and had continuous nightmares. He asked National Counsellor, a monk for the advice to get rid of nightmares. The monk asked him to build the pagoda. To outdo his predecessor, he recruited the best architects from the country and made a statement that “ all the bricks should be strong and should align to adjacent bricks without any gap in between. If a pin can be inserted between two adjacent bricks, the hand of the bricklayer responsible will be chopped off”. The pagoda could withstand the earthquakes even though there is some dark stories behind. ( Bear in mind that, whatever the Kings did, was not reflection of real Buddhism and Buddhism would never allow anyone to kill for any kind of compensation. The building of pagoda cannot compensate for the sins too. It was just a cultural belief of that time )

Dhammanyan Gyi pagoda

Some pagodas have happy stories as they were built by good Kings who ruled the country with rule of Laws and justice.

Mural painting painted AD1183
Thatbyinnyu Pagoda, the tallest pagoda in Bagan with stunning archaeology

I think I am getting lost in the stories of pagoda which can be very long. Really, Bagan has many stories, many types of buildings built in different Eras. When Myanmar Government ordered the residents to move out of area of ancient buildings, the place became deserted at night. It has been a good decision ever as people can destroy our archaeological value.

bagan

When I visited Bagan in 2014, me and my friend decided to cycle in the ancient city as it will give us access to a small lanes and hidden areas. As it was in February, it was not so hot . However, Bagan is always a bit more hotter than other parts of Burma. We hired battery bike and cycled them to various temples. We cycled across the river banks, near pagodas and remnants of unknown buildings, etc. We felt like we were back in the past, exactly 2500 years ago, lost in all old buildings.

me and my best friend
resting before continuing our cycling
me with archaeological remnants

 

 

beautiful Ayeyarwady river
river bank where you can see life style of people
boats are the main transport for some villagers
Htilogminlo pagoda, AD1218( it was built with the wish to get the throne )
we found people getting on hot air balloon,

 

remnants of building
sunset of Ayeyarwady , taken from Bu Phayar

 

But we didn’t notice the battery bike need to be charged. So in the end, the battery ran out and we were stranded in Middle of Nowhere in Bagan. It was quite far from the town and very deserted. As it was getting dark, I recalled stories my friends told me. There are still lots of spirts around Bagan and they decided to come out at night to have a stroll around pagodas. Some are pretty ladies wearing ancient Attire and they like to hire the horse wheel cart. The drivers of these horse wheel cart are used to the spirits and usually allow them to get on the carriage. Upon getting off, the ladies would offer them gold coins in return of gratitude. Some drivers were freaked out and ran away as soon as they see that sort of girls on the road.

horse wheel cart , transport for Bagan
Sulamuni pagoda where you can see the giant heads in each corner of pagoda, it was meant to protect the pagoda

Back to our story, while we were alone on the highway at twilight, I was more concerned about spirits and ghosts than the robbery. As usual, I am full of imagination and I would not know how to react if the spirits came out and talked to us . So we tried to get a lift from passing vehicles. Unfortunately, the road was rarely used by travelers and for a long time, we couldn’t see anyone. Then some private cars passed by us without offering us any lift. Finally, a motor bike stopped for us and offered one of us a lift to go back to town. It means one of us would be left behind with two bikes without battery. None of us wanted to be left alone. So we declined the offer. Then the biker said “ it is getting dark. I am worried for your safety. I will wait until we get another bike. However, who will take care of the bikes? If the bikes are unattended , someone will steal them. You should call to owner”.

So we desperately tried to contact the owner of the bikes. We were worried we would miss the bus as it was only one hour away from the departure time. We were supposed to go back to Yangon on the same day. Finally, the owners of bikes came to rescue us. They took back the bikes so that we could safely go to the bus station with the gentle men who gave us the lift.

 

Next time, I would charge the bike every 4 hours. Don’t worry.

Note: These photos were taken in 2014 before the earthquake of 2016. So some buildings were damaged due to earthquake and you might not find the original pagodas anymore.

 

Beautiful Pindaya Cave, Shan State, Burma

20161229_145145.jpgNow, I wana post photos of Pindaya Cave in Burma. The Cave has legends and its situated near a big lake and people believe angels came and swam in the deep blue water of Lake.

While angles were inside the cave after a good swim, a giant spider closed the entrance with its spider webs and trapped them.

Then a prince appeared and killed the spider. Later, he fell in love with the youngest sister and the angle did not follow his sisters back to Heaven.

However she was forced to go back by her father  . Later the prince went up to Heaven to bring her back.

Anyway, there are lots of Buddha statues and pagodas inside the cave now.

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the view on the way to cave
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The view on the way to cave
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Gorgeous landscape
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These trees are more than hundred years

 

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PONE TA LOTE LAKE

 

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The view from the cave

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