Tag Archives: Nature

coastal walk in July

I walk this summer 2020 more than last year. Its partly because I cannot travel. In the first place, I came to work in  Europe with the reason of travelling. In the first year, I was able to travel only 3 countries due to work commitment and shortage of budget. 2nd and early 3rd year, I was busy with my studies. I finished all my exams which I insanely decided to take and now , like other people I am stuck  with covid situation and lock down when I finally able to relax and travel.

The island I am living is called Isle of Man and it is a small island in Irish sea between Ireland and uk. Its a bit bigger than Singapore but only have 80000 population compared to 5 millions in Singapore. Isle of Man have many hidden beaches and glens. This year I decided to walk Raad Ny Foillan , coastal path which is 100 miles in total length. Raad Ny Foillan means way of the gulls in Gaelic. It is interrrupted coastal walk to see the entire nation.

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I am an explorer with zero sense of direction , but I still wander into unknown place all the time. My cousins nicknamed  me Miss the Lost World. But past bad experience has not convinced me to stop exploring. My balance is equally bad as I have small feet compared to my body weight. I had multiple ankle sprains in the past.

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Coastal walk is the best with wild flowers in s

My boyfriend is  always my biggest supporter and my walking talking GPS. He needs a little push in the beginning but able to walk once he becomes fully awake which is a very difficult process. Walking him up needs alarm with snoozes, purposely annoying him by opening the lights and windows, showering him with kisses and last threatening him I would not plan any activities with him next summer. Well, after all these tectics, he still needs 2 hours to be fully awake.

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Squeaky bridge

We went to Port Grenaugh to walk to DerbyHeaven. It is 4.5 miles coastal walk.

 

We were aware it would rain but determined to walk 2 hours none the less. It was rugged coastline with churred rocks and slippery narrow coastal path . One needs to be careful not to step on the shrubs at the edge.

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I am ok with climbing up but not ok with climbing down. Steve had to go ahead of me and I needed to hold his shoulder as support. We found several caves and coves. Some cove are like small private swimming pool as the area is completely surrounded by rock.

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Small cove at the tip of the rock or you have different English word for that. Lol
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I can imagine these rocks were fragmented from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago
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A big cave

Sometimes the pathway ends abruptly as footpath was lost in land erosion..Then we needed to get inside private farm land to continue walking. Its very kind of farmers to allow strangers to pass through their land. I was nervous about cows as I was wearing bright red jacket. When we were young, we were told bulls do not like red color and tend to charge at people wearing one. MY boyfriend said it is a myth .  But I could not do anything as I was wearing bright red shirt underneath jacket. I tried not to look back at staring bulls.  If they could talk, they might have told us to get out.

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The pathway ends with a gate and it belongs to farmers
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Passing through private land

We saw a hidden beach called Port Soldrick.  It was middle of nowhere and formed from a gorge. Gorge is a place between two valleys. I am always excited to find out hidden beaches. My friend told me about name of beach just recently.

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PORT SOLDRICK

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My boyfriend needed to go back as he was working evening shift . I was in dilemma whether I should continue the walk  alone without him. I asked him like a child whether I would be ok to walk alone without him. He showed me direction how to get a bus back to Douglas once I arrive Castle Town. The path ends at Derbyheaven and I need to walk from there to Castle Town to get a bus. At that moment, I thought walking alone may be theraputic to calm myself and good to upgrade my confidence. We parted after kissing and hugging * ( I know its cheesy but we are still very much in love after 3 years of dating ). If he can, my boyfriend would choose to sit and play games all day. But unfortunately, he ended up with crazy girl friend who is restless and tend to get lost easily . So he ends up walking many places with me and he said he enjoys walking with me in nature. When I am with other friends, I miss him a lot.

Back to my story , I walked alone after enjoying newly discovered beach called Port Soldrick. After half km, I ended up at blind end with a locked gate. I frantically called back Steve as there is no bus service from Port Grenaugh to Douglas unless I walk for hours. Steve unfortunately did not pick up the phone. I ran like a goat to catch up with him. Luckily he was waiting for me near the narrow path to be my human walking stick

He said ” I know you need help with this downhill” with a grin. I told him ” may be God does not want me to walk alone ” and I really mean it. Well, I can talk all days how much I love him and I have many reasons to love him. Walking with me is just one of them. 😊

Hnin

Dhoon glen, Isle of Man

Dhoon glen is one of the steepest glen in Isle of Man (an island in the Irish sea between UK and Ireland ). Isle of Man is a small island with 80000 population and the isle has many legends associated with fairies . Many folks believe in fairies and some of them even claim fairies have visited them. But when you visit glens, you develop some delusions that may be fairies do exist there. It is because you can see a dense  canopy of trees,  beautiful wild flowers, tress covered with mosses along rivers and they do look like places for fairies. TO make your imagination wild, some areas have crafted tiny houses and statues, purposely arranged to look like fairy houses. Isle of Man also has a landmark on the main road  to airport where people  say ” hello” to fairies so that you will not have bad luck on the island. Even the buses have installed personal announcement saying ” Hello Fairies ” when the buses pass  that particular landmark.

Dhoon glen is a big glen on the coastal pathway to Ramsey ( northern part of island ). In 1800s, it  used to be a popular  tourist destination as there used to be a small passenger ship ” Manx fairy ” which ran daily  from Douglas to Ramsey and Dhoon bay used to be transit point where tourist could get off the ship in small boats  to spend the time on the beach or to wander in the forests surrounding the glen . In late 19th century, around 8000 visitors by sea and further 42,000 visitors by road visited Dhoon glen in a typical season. When electric Tram arrived in 1897 to isle of man, it boost the number of tourists to Dhoon glen and the glen even started charging tourists 1.5 pence per person . Nowadays, Isle of Man does not have many tourists like before and not many people go to Dhoon glen  as the steps are quite steep ( 190 steps ) and there are many more open glens in Isle of Man where you can reach easily by car. It also adds extra bonus to Dhoon glen because you can still relax there on your own as it is not a crowded place.

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Dhoon bay ( stony beach )
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panorama view of Dhoon bay where boats used to come to drop off tourists

The waterfall half way down the valley is the inner Wooar or Big girl and is one of the highest waterfalls in the island falling over 40 metres ( 130 ft ) in two drops.

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base of waterfall
waterfall lowest
waterfall have large volume of water when there is rain

We went there in May , 2020 in the evening. In isle of man , you can still see the sun till 8 pm in May as it is spring. We had difficulty to park the car that time as there were more than usual number of visitors as it was on Saturday. You can see the Manx tram station ” Dhoon glen ” at the entrance of the glen. After passing the railway, there is a small landing area with big trees where you can sit and relax.

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near the entrance of Dhoon glen beside the main road

Then we went down the stairs on the left side. If you turn to right side, you might end up going to the wrong direction. Stairs are made of Manx stone and they are not the nicest stairs as they are uneven . The pathway can be slippery with dry leaves and mud. Before you go to the area of waterfalls, you need to pass through the forest which is so beautiful as the sun rays falling through the leaves.

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dense canopy of trees before starting of waterfall

After passing through the forest, we walked along the pathway in parallel with the river. The flow of water from the river and tweeting of birds were very soothing to our souls.

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pathway parallel to the river

gorgeous stream

As it is the spring season, we could see wild flowers along the pathway. The flowers are called blue bells and they look like velvet carpet . Blue bells can have other colours such as white and pink.

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can you see the blue bells mingling with grass on the slope and near river bank

We passed through many steps with varying heights and we had to be careful as we could easily slip and fall.

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My friend Denise enjoying the view of river
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My friend Nang carefully crossing the narrow bridge
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beginning of waterfall ( after these small drops, there are two big drops of waterfall, total height 130feet )
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The narrow path before reaching Dhoon bay

We walked past the waterfall towards the beach. The path has small waterfalls which finally lead to two big drops of waterfall. The total height is 130 feet and it was a bit tiring especially for me as I tend to get muscle ache easily . It took me longer time to arrive beach and it was nice to see my friends were settled at the beach and waving at me.

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My friend Nang waving at me from the beach

The beach is ragged and full of pebbles and stones.

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I found a  big flat stone where I lied down and had a nap as I was very tired at the end of trekking although it was only 2 miles . I looked at the blue sky and thought of my blessings with nature. As usual, I said thank you to the place for having me for a few hours before I left. I will write about other glens as soon as I have enough time. Thank you for reading my blog.

Hnin

Northern Ireland ( Games of Thrones tour)

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.

Belfast

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.

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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.

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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.

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bad ass seagulls

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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.

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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.

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fusion of old and new buildings in Belfast

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.

Northern Ireland tour trip advisor

In between these places, the bus stopped at some scenic places .   Here are the stops along the Giant causeway route .

Ballygally bay and castle

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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.

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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.

( courtesy to Ballagally castle hotel  website )

ballygally castle ghost room

 

Carnlough harbour

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.

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Carnlough community center and there is a good coffee shop around

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.

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Cushendun

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.

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Cushendun port

 

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Cushendun beach
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Cushendun residential area

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.

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Fuldiew seat

Dunluce castle

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Dunluce Medieval Irish Castle

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.

( Courtesy to Dunluce castle  , Discover Northern Ireland )

Giant’s Causeway

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.

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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.

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Info. Giant’s Causeway wishing chair

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 )

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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.

 

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beautiful landscape of Ireland

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Dark Hedges

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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.

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Carrick-a-Rede bridge

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I was scared to cross it, but managed to do it with encouragement of my friend.

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.

Thank you for reading.

Hnin

Maldives part 3. shark bay and chasing Manta Ray

Today 6th Oxctober 2019 is the mile stone of my life . Its because I have swam with hundreds of sharks in Maldives. I am someone who is obsessed with sharks since I was a child. I remember my parents took me to cinema to watch Jaws which was very popular that time. That instilled me with fear of sharks .

But I know there are many harmless sharks and I trust tourist industry will never do anything risky. So I and my boyfriend booked a tour to see Manta rays and sharks.

The tour starts from 9am and it cost 50USD per person. As usual we gathered near  Arena resort office and collected our life jackets and snorkelling gears. At first I was disappointed as the boat for today was quite small and my favorite tour guide whom I met yesterday was not in today. Yesterday we went for another tour and many tour guides followed us. So we had luxury of being looked after by many tour guides and I was worried about safety of small boat as well as number of staff ( only one tour guide ) for our group. But we eventually found out our group have so many friendly people and we began introducing to each other.

The first place was for watching dolphins. If you read my previous post, I have already mentioned about watching a dolphin pod in Maldives part 2. But today, dolphins decided to show us their acrobatic skill. They started to jump in the air one after another and I believe they wanted to entertain us. What intelligent and friendly creatures! I cannot even imagine why anyone should harm them. Some of photos are shared by Alex and Merry who are from China and Indonesia. They are very nice couple and we only met them today .  We clicked on camera and not sure whether we could get good pictures as dolphins appeared in the air unexpectedly and rapidly .  But I believe I did capture some of good photos although images are small.

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dolphin jumping

After dolphin sighting, the guide searched for the mantas to swim with. Both Manta and sharks are nocturnal animals and usually sleep during day time. I am amazed at the way tour guides can see manta from very far. He warned us that Manta rays can swim fast and we need to ready to jump in once he sees one. With that instruction, I decided to give up on it. Haha. First of all, I cannot swim well. Secondly, I need someone to push me back to boat if I drift away from boat. With one guide juggling everything for whole group, I do not trust I could get help . So I watched from the boat. Most of our group did well and managed to see Manta very shortly. Manta ofcos swam away very swiftly like a celebrity chased by paparazis. The tide was very strong and my boyfriend was exhausted after chasing Manta. He could not see very well without his glasses and he ended up swimming without seeing manta.

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For awhile, our tour guide kept on searching mantas but we could not find anymore at that moment after first manta disappeared.  So we decided to go to shark bay to swim with sharks. Our tour guide advised us as follows ” please do not touch sharks. do not pull their tails and do not ride on them”. I was amazed and wonder whether tourists have done that to poor sharks.

When we arrived at shark bay, I was surprised it was very near to resort. We could see big sharks from the boat and they were swimming leisurely. One of our group jumped from the boat and accidentally hit one shark. These sharks are nurse shark and now only realized they are not harmful . They eat squid, stingray and small fish .So they are incapable of killing any human beings.In fact they does bite humans ( most are human fault as men think they are very docile) , 52 times recorded but none of the bites are lethal. They have small mouth with small teeth attached to a large pharynx. Nurse sharks can suck the prey into the large pharynx after swallowing.  nurse shark can live up to 20 years  for female and 15 years for male. . The largest recorded is 302 cm  and average length is 8 to 9 feet  .So the sharks we saw were both young and mature nurse sharks. Our guide brought some food for sharks and once feeding started, all sharks swam towards the boat as if they were used to feeding.

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shark bay

20191006_175512above photo is courtsey to Nim who brought his new drone to the trip. He kindly shared these precious pictures with us and also took group photo for us at the end of trip.

20191006_175704These sharks were not agressive at all although people accidentally touched them while swimming. Now I live to tell sharks can be friendly.

 

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After we swam with the sharks  , we went to the sand bank to have our lunch. It was sunny and quite hot on the sand bank . Thanks to our tour guide, we could sit under parasols and had our lunch. The water was shallow and we could dip in and took photos. Thanks to Merry , we could get some couple photos as well.

At that time, I became warming up to the tour guide and realized he is such a nice person. Izay  made sure all of us photos were taken by him.. But I need to see his photography skills when I receive my pictures. Its amazing that tour guide can do multitasking.

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the sand bank

 

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the sky was dark at that time

I went into the sea and tried to see some fish while my boyfriend tried to recover from sun burn..His scottish skin is very vulnerable to sun burn as he is not used to tropical weather.

After lunch, we took group photo with Nim’s drone and the video was lovely.

20191006_175612After departing Sandy bank, we headed towards another island to drop off two of our group.

Then on the way back , we found a big manta ray unexpectedly. This time only one of us volunteered to swim with Manta ( no need to say that it cannot be me ). Kayleigh from Netherland jumped into the water gracefully although she was aware the water was cold under the drizzles. I went to the front of the boat to see manta from afar while Izay jumped in with her to take picture of her with Manta.

Manta swam very fast to get away and it was fascinating to see as Kayleigh and Izay are very good swimmers.

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Kayleigh chasing Manta
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can you spot Manta?

I did my usual cheating part. Taking selfie with Manta which probably is 10 miles away from me. 😅

20191006_134418.jpgThe sky was very dark on the way as if storms were coming.

The water was turbulent and my boyfriend complained his bums were sore due to bumpy boat ride. But the boatman and tourguide were so chill that it reassured me in a way.

 

I also saw a lot of flying fish and even thought they were waterbirds forawhile.

Finally we safely arrived back to Maafushi and said good bye to each other. I was very glad that I met new friends during this trip.

 

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water challets under construction.

 

On the way back , my boyfriend advised me 100th time to reduce weight and to go to gym so that next time, I will be able to chase manta. Haha. I might need to write another blog about our failing diet plan. Right now, I need to go and have my buffet.

Thanks for reading.

Hnin

Edit. One of my friends told me we should wear wet suit to protect wild life from catching our diseases and we should not wear sun cream before jumping in. I did not find suitable wet suit for me. But I will avoid wearing sun cream next time

Maldives part 2

We decided to do some activities and Arena beach hotel gave us some options of day tours. There are many varieties and we can go to other resort islands where we can drink alcohol unlimited and use swimming pool. We decided not to go other resort islands as we both do not drink alcohol and tours are expensive ( 120 to 160 USD per each from 8 am to 5 pm ).  We chose day tour from 10 am to 3 pm as it is not so tiring and not related to alcohol.

First of all, today morning was an excellent weather.

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morning view in Maafushi

 

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excellent weather

 

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morning view of Maafushi

After breakfast we gathered at the office of Arena resort and collected our life jackets and snorkelling gears . Then we went to the boat to start our journey.

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harbour of Maafushi

October is already rainy season but we are extremely lucky that we almost got away without rain. There was a short rain only at the end of trip.

We paid 25 USD for each to see turtles , dolphins , snorkelling and lunch at uninhabitated sandy beach. It was really a good deal and the boatmen are skillful and attentive to the tourists.

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our tour guide giving briefing at the start of journey
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very happy Hnin
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island on the way
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a shed on the isolated island, a dream place to live

Then the boat stopped at the coral rich place to snorkel and see fish. A considerate mother brought bread pieces for the fish and we had a chance to see many fish from boat upclose.

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20191005_105214.jpgThen we got off from boat one by one to snorkel. We were advised not to snorkel at shallow water to avoid injuries due to friction with coral. If you look at photos, turquoise water area are shallow and dark blue means deep water. I would recommend wearing water resistant shoes to protect your feet and wear wet suit to protect your body.

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our group snorkelling

20191005_112304.jpgwe found so many colorful fish, blue and yellow, yellow striped with black, purple and pink. I am always awed at mother nature. One thing I notice in Maldives is I hardly see plastic and rubbish floating in the river , unlike other countries in Maldives. The reason is government charge each tourist environmental fee 3 USD per day so that there is budget to clean actively. We saw a ship which was collecting rubbish from sea and all the rubbish go to India for disposal. I hope Maldives keep on doing this and as a tourist, I make sure I do not leave any rubbish behind at any public places.

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After we finished snorkelling for 45 minutes, we headed to another area to see dolphins. In fact one of our tourguides found dolphin with a speed boat and informed our boat man.

I have seen some dolphins in Spain. But this time , there were so many of them at least 30. It was fasinating to see them.

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dophin sighting
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dolphin sighting

After dolphin sighting, the boat stopped at the area where turtles live. We got off the boat and found turtles . They are very lovely creatures and leisurely eating some coral under water. Two of them were quite big. I was curiously looking down to find turtles while a small one was swimming beside me. He even touched my arm with his flippers. I went nuts and I was laughing and screaming out of pure ecstasy. I was advised not to touch any turtle but as it was him who touched me accidentally and I was so happy .

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The current was strong and I could not swim back to the boat as we needed to go further to see turtle. One of our tour guides had to drag me back to the boat.

At the end of the trip, we had a lunch in the boat as it was raining and unable to have lunch on the sand beach as planned. Then  a small boat sent us to a uninhabited island fron our large boat. At the sight of island, we all smiled as it was perfectly beautiful.

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our final destination
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perfect sandy beach

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For me I think uninhabited islands are required for the turtles to lay eggs. We humans encroach into their lands selfishly for centuries. We also notice crabs running around . My boy friend was totally fascinated with behaviour of crabs. He kept on reminding me not to scare them off. In the end he got multiple videos of crabs.

20191005_140914.jpgsome of crabs are very big and you can imagine their size based on the size of holes they created on the sand in below photos.

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We walked around the island and walking finished in 5 minutes time.

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After walking around the island,  I sat on the sand in shallow water and tried to absorb everything around me. My heart was filled with gratitude as usual  ..In fact , leaving that tiny island was difficult.

As soon as we got on the big boat, all of us were very tired . Small kids fell asleep on the boat on the way back. It was a bit tiring under the sun for 5 hours with swimming in the ocean. It was totally worthit.

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water challets on the way back

Thank you for reading.

Hninn

How to travel to Maldives with a budget

First of all, everybody knows Maldives is a luxurious destination and peole spend 800 to 1500 USD per night to stay at a private island resort in the middle of Indian Ocean. But if you have read my previous posts, you must have noticed I am a budget traveller. The reasons are

1) I do not earn a lot to behave like a celebrity

2) I do not believe in extravagant life style and trying to be a minimalist.

First of all, you need to know which flight directly goes to Maldives. For us, we booked air asia 6 weeks earlier which fly directly from Bangkok ( Dan Meong airport ) to Maldives ( Male ) .It cost us 300 GBP for each return ticket including luggage fee and inflight meals. Like I said earlier, its difficult to get cheaper as a lot of people cannot go to Maldives.

 

Secondly, I combed through each and every website for cheap and clean accomodation in Maldives. Maldives have total 26 atolls which are combination of 1192 coral islands  and the largest named , Gang island is merely 14 km long . Some of islands are very far from main airport and needs private jets. So if you want to travel with a buget , please do not choose islands which are middle of nowhere and choose the ones which are accessible with public transport.More than that you might not want to be in a boat for many hours to reach your destination island. The islands which are quite near to Male ( capital of Maldives ) can be found below map.

 

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For us, we choose Arena beach resort at Maafushi island. Maafushi island is 1.5 hour boat ride from Male.The island is only 1.27 km long and can finish walking in 20 to 30 minutes from end to end. Its the second destination if you catch public ferry from Male. To make it clear, I will use the description made by the hotel.

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If you want public transport ( I assume you do as you are reading my article ), you need to know time tables of ferry from Male to your destination. Usually public ferry have vacancy although you need to book 1 hour earlier. Its not possible to book public ferry via internet. If only cost 2 USD per person . Please see below time table.

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Please take note that there are two ferry boats departing from Male’ on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. If 10:00 ferryboat is missed in any of these days, 15:00 ferryboat can still be taken. On other days, only 15:00 ferryboat is available from Male’. There are also two ferryboats departing from Maafushi on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Guests can choose either 7:30 or 12:30 ferryboat in any of these days. On other days, only 7:30 ferryboat is available from Maafushi.
Step-By-Step instructions to reach Arena Beach Hotel & spa Maldives by Ferry Boat

1. All the tourist to Maldives will be arriving to Male’ international airport (Ibrahim Nasir International Airport), so you are too.

2. Catch a ferry to Male’ from the Airport (every 5 minutes there will be a ferry to Male’). It takes just Ten minutes to reach Male’ and will cost USD 1 or MVR 10 per person.

3. Once you arrive to Male’ take a taxi to go “Villingili ferry terminal”. The taxi fare should be about MVR 30 to MVR 40.

4. There will be a scheduled ferry to Maafushi which leaves Male’ at scheduled times (please refer to the above table) on daily basis (except for Friday) from Villingili Ferry Terminal. Guests are required to buy ferryboat ticket from the ticket counter at Villingili Ferry Terminal. Tickets could be bought few minutes before the scheduled time of departure.

5. Guests will enjoy a 1.5 hours Journey with a beautiful scenery of chains of islands and surrounding coral reefs.

Bear in mind, above instruction is intended for people who stay in Maafushi island but your destination might be different. Other instructions are very accurate and helpful. Airport to Male transfer is very efficient and fast. Once you arrive Male, you can go to ferry terminal by getting a taxi. Taxi anywhere cannot be expensive as the islands are very small..Make sure you change USD to MVR at airport to pay for public transport. At our time, we got the rate of 1 USD to 15MVR. Most places accept USD too.

From Male, it took 1 hour for us to get a taxi as they could not understand me. So you might need to show written words Villingilli ferry terminal to them as the taxi drivers can be confused. Eventually the staff from information counter came out and helped us to get a taxi. The taxi driver only charged us usual rate 35MVR and I gave him 50MVR as I like his honesty.

If you like franchise food , Burger King and secrete recipe is at Male. European food is available anywhere although original Maldavian food is similar taste to Indian food. They like dahl and  chick peas with some masala for meat.

After we arrive at Villingilli ferry terminal, we got tickets and needed to wait 2 hours for our ferries as our flight arrived at 12 noon and our ferry was at 3 pm.  It was Wednesday and there were plenty of vacant seats although Wednesday has only 1 ferry for whole day . There are shops nearby Ferry terminal although their hygiene is questionable. Irritating thing is flies are everywhere due to hot weather. We decided to take only bottled water or drinks .

You might be sort of person who like luxury. But I want to urge every traveller to take public transport for environmental reason. We should do our part while younger generations are trying their best to reduce consumption of energy and resources.More than that, these public ferries are safer. Staff are very considerate and willing to help with big luggages. They do not even expect tips.

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me very happy on public ferry
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Maldivian commute with lots of good

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scenic view from ferry

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When we arrived at Maafushi  , we do not need to take further transport as everywhere is reachable on foot. We are lucky that Arena beach resort staff was there waiting for us to help with luggages. Bless them.

If I have not told you, we booked Arena beach resort with sea view and balcony 2 months ago. As we include two meals per day , the price was 100GBP per day with tax and environmental fee , I gave 760 GBP for 7 nights. Ofcos you can say its not cheap but compared to what other people spend 13000GBP for 7 nights, our budget is an achievable goal.

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our room with sea view and balcony

I will always suggest to take hotel with meal plans as restaurants are not cheap in Maldives. Even water bottles are expensive 1USD for 500 ml water bottle. As Maldive is islamic country , alcohol and bikinis are prohibited in most of public islands like Maafushi. But mind you , we also have bikini beach in Maafushi and you just need to know where you can wear your bikini. There is a floating bar which usually come to island to sell alcohol. But they can ne expensive and one can of beer is 6 USD.

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bikini beach

 

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our buffet at beach

Maldives is beautiful everywhere and even if you stay at public beaches, you cam see shark and some beautiful fish. Its sad to see corals are damaged extensively due to building . some of my travel buddies saw sharks near our resort and I hope I can spot them soon. Today is my day two in Maldives.

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However if you want to go drop dead gorgeous islands, resort can arrange for you to be there whole day with 150 to 180 USD per day. You can also see dolphins, sharks and turtle day trip with 50USD per person. All these arrangement of watersports such as jet ski, para gliding and canoeing can be arranged everywhere.

Here are some of our photos in day two and I will write part 2 later.

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fishing is one of the main income of Maldiviand

 

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lots of resorts in MaaFushi

 

water sports are available anywhere

 

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for foodies

 

souvenirs shops are many where you need to haggle

 

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I really like our meal arrangement at beach with live band. It is totally worth it .

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Love

Hnin

Maughold well, Isle of Man

I went to the Maughold well in Isle of Man which is regarded as a famous destination for pilgrims in British isles. I have been in Isle of Man for almost 2 years but did not realize there are some religious sites and a holy well in Maughold. Maughold  is situated in Northern part of island where there are beautiful scenic beaches surrounded by mountains. It is 3 miles away from Ramsey ( one of major towns in Isle of Man )

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photo credit to the author of https://www.isleofmanfilm.com/location/maughold/

 

I went to Maughold with a couch surfer named Alexy. Alexy has been travelling all over the world and as he was coming to Isle of Man for a few days, I decided to give him a tour around the island.  I was searching website of isle of man called Visitisleofman and found out a short video regarding a holy well.

Please click this link to watch the video.

https://www.visitisleofman.com/things-to-do/kirk-maughold-church-p1312271

In 5th century, an Irish prince called Maughold arrived isle of man. He was mentioned as a leader  who recruited a group of men to do unlawful things . He challenged St Patrick to cure a dead person. Later St Patrick made a dead person to become a live and also baptized Maughold and his crew. Later Maughold was accepted by isle of man people to become the bishop of the island for his effort in religious transformation.

Maughold well was formed by carving of streams of water collected from mountains to drain into the  Irish sea. It is a bowl shaped hollow protected by slabs of stones around. It is not man made well although some amendments were done around to protect the original well  . There are legends that some people cure their illness by drinking water from well or applying holy  water on their body . A woman eye sight was restored by drinking Maughold water and another woman grew her hair back by applying the water on her scalp.

To go to Maughold well, you need to arrive St Maughold church which is 30 minutes drive from Douglas ( capital of Isle of Man ) . You need to take coastal road to Ramsey and on the way, turn to right side to drive towards Maugold village.

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Once you arrive Maughold church which is dated back to 11th century, park the car outside.

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the church has some collections of 5th century celtic heritage if you can go inside and see

 

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Note: this photo is not mine as well and it was obviously taken by a photographer called Peter Killey. ( thanks to Peter in case if you read this post )

The trail to Maughold is on the north eastern part of the church. You just need to follow the trail or foot path. At one point you need to climb down steep .  You don’t need to worry as the trail is covered by a thick grass and even if you fall, you will not get injured badly.

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you go straight ahead and then we turn to the left to go to the well. You need to pass through a small gate.

The pathway is surrounded by beautiful and blue bells and some wildflowers. And the view is not bad at all.

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It was a hazy , rainy day and I could not capture the good photo.

 

 

The well is just immediately above the sea . You do not need physical fitness to arrive there. One the way back will be a bit tiring to climb back. Overall it is less than 15 minutes walk from the church. Even if not for the holy well, the view is worth it. You  just need to be careful and do not walk very close to the cliff as it is nearly 20 feet from the rocky ground .

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beginning of steep decent

 

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The well is immediately just above the sea

 

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The well or cistern covered by stone slabs

 

Normally I am not very good with navigation. But I am glad that I went there with a traveler who likes exploring. The world is an open book and you need to turn the chapter everyday to find out more. As usual,  I picked up energy whenever I can be with nature. I said a little bit of prayers at Maughold well and I felt like I am healed both physically and spiritually to some extent. I want to encourage anybody out there not to lose faith, especially on yourself.

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Discovering new beach near Niarbyl

It has been almost a year I published in my blog. I have not been busy but simply just been lazy. I am also too content and happy with my life right now.

I travelled a few countries when I was away from blogging. I hope I can write all about them later. Right now, I live in an island called Isle of Man..Its a tiny island between uk and Ireland in Irish sea. Mountains and beaches are everywhere. I have been almost every beaches which are well known. But I always prefer going to the places which are off the beaten track.

Yesterday I went to Northern part of island and a friend told me her favorite beach is a pebble beach near Nirabyl. So I requested her to show me the place. We drove to Nirabyl and parked the car near Nirabyl cafe. I asked my boy friend to drive down to the beach instead of parking the car at the restaurant. He said ” no. it will spoil the road”..My boyfriend Steve will never declare himself as conservationist , but he loves nature and tries to keep things the way as they are.

We needed to walk up and down on the hills to arrive the hidden beach..It was windy and a bit cool but tolerable. I always love to see wild flowers on the track.

Some lanes are very narrow and you have to be a bit careful . When we reached the beach, I laid down the picnic mat and thought of sitting down. But we did not have the chance to sit down as the clouds came up on the sky and my boy friend warned us to go back ahead of rain.

There was a small waterfall and a tiny house in the middle of nowhere. It was picture perfect. I wonder whether I could live like that one day , in a tiny house near a beach, but a bit closer to civilizatioon. I would be scared if I had power cut off in that kind of situation if the storm comes.

  1. I love discovering new places and believe life has so much to offer us.  Here are our photos

love

Hnin

Isle of Man part IV ( Cregneash village )

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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

When we met the guard of cregneash village, he explained that the floor of the cottages are made of clay mixed with oxen blood. Sometimes, when you wander barefoot, the soul can become pink color because of oxen blood.

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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

Some houses displays the social status of the owner. For example, there is a double storey  house which is much wider and have some luxurious furniture.  Most houses are very low ceiling to keep warmth and it is also not surprising that many members used to live in a tiny cottage.

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Continue reading Isle of Man part IV ( Cregneash village )

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