Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Back from Istanbul

Turkey flag

Got back from our trip to Istanbul this Friday. We all had a great time and the weather was just perfect (ranging from 12-17 C with light rains). I would definitely recommend it and if time permits; one should also include Antalya in the tour which is also a major tourist attraction of Turkey.

The package was arranged nicely and went smoothly as per the provided plan. It accounted for three days of our six day tour and we visited different places during the remaining three days and I have a good friend to thank, for giving me all the right details.

Ayasofya

I’m going to list down our activities during this week-long trip which others could consider if they are also planning to head out there.

  • Day 1: Guided tour of the city. We were taken to the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar.
  • Day 2: A ship cruise across the Bosporus and we got off the Asian side and were taken by Bus to a nice veiw-point that also had 53 variety of tulips and an excellent view of the coastline. After that we were taken to some souvenir shops and a mall (the mall can be skipped, they are all the same).
  • Day 3: A ship cruise to one of the Princes’ Islands. It was very peaceful and scenic with lots of cafes and stalls and a nice horse carriage ride through the island. Spent the evening on our own exploring the Taksim area and buying souvenirs and stuff.
  • Day 4: Visited Istiklal Avenue that has a lot of shops and stalls. They also have a street that is filled with shops selling musical instruments of all sorts. Almost bought a mouth-organ there.
  • Day 5: Visited the Dolmabahce Palace and then walked over to the Ortakoy Pier right under the Bosporus Bridge. Later on bought tickets for and attended a mesmerizing Sufi music and dance show that consisted of swirling dervishes and a sufi band.
  • Day 6: Visited the Ayasofya Mosque and then the Basilica Cistern (Sunken Palace). On the way back we also went to the Spice Bazaar.

dervish

I would definitely recommend one to get hold of a city map and then utilize the excellent mass transit system they have to move around. Everything is nicely interconnected (subway, trams, rails, etc.).

More pictures, here.

Now in Istanbul

It had been a while since we last went on a proper vacation. So I took off a week from work and we’re now in Istanbul, Turkey. The weather here is amazing right now and slightly chilly in the evenings. That’s a welcome change from the heat that’s finally rearing its ugly head back in Kuwait.

The package consists of 3 days of arranged activities and 3 days free for us. So far we’ve been on the Istanbul city tour yesterday and the Bosporus cruise today. Both were pretty good and you can tell that this is a major tourism hub because there’s a lot of tourists here and the guide says that its pretty much how it is throughout the year. The city tour consisted of a trip to the Blue Mosque (that has six minarets – an interesting story in itself), a visit to the Topkapi Palace and a few hours at the Grand Bazaar. The Bosporus cruise was very scenic and the cool breeze was amazing. Rohail had a great time after displaying some dislike for the cruise boat initially. Tomorrow we’re due for a trip to the Princes’ Islands.

The very first day was a surprise because it was May Day (Labor Day) and apparently they have some violent protests here in Taksim where our hotel is also situated. There were loads of riot police all around and there was a lot of violence going around. We just whiled it out inside the hotel till it was over by evening.

The police patrolling Taksim due to May Day protests

The police patrolling Taksim due to May Day protests

We’ve done our fair share of souvenir shopping and overall the trip is going really great. We plan on visiting Istiklal Avenue on one of the free days to check out the markets and stuff. Amongst the popular stuff we’ve noted here are leather products, carpets and lamp shades. The ‘evil eye‘ or ‘nazir’ is also very commonly seen around here and I’ve also picked up one fridge magnet version of it.

An evil eye product

An evil eye product

Now in Lahore and some updates

Its time for an update. I’ve been very busy lately and have hardly had any time to write. Quite a bit has been going on that I’d like to share.

First of all, we’re on the move once again. Two weeks ago I had to go to Dhaka for two days for a couple of presentations after which I came to Lahore. Maliha and Rohail were supposed to join me from Kuwait in Dubai on my connecting flight from Dhaka to Lahore. However, due to some delays in my flight, we couldn’t make it together. Nevertheless, we got to spend a weekend in Karachi with my parents and sister which is always great; and we are now in Lahore.

On my request the company has given me a really nice accommodation since I’ll be staying for around a month. Hotels just don’t work over extended periods and if you’ve got a kid. Therefore, Rohail is no longer restricted to a hotel room and has plenty of space to run around. The place also has a huge garden a minute’s walk away and its a fairly peaceful and secure area. The bathrooms here are about the size of my bedrooms in Kuwait. Either I have tiny bedrooms there or people have huge bathrooms here!

They have some great restaurants in Lahore (hey, this is the city of the Food Street) and we’ve found a place called Readings that brings in used but in excellent condition books from the US and sells them at real cheap prices. We’ve raided that store twice already and picked up a lot of books for the three of us.

On another note, I finally got the iPod Touch 2G (that’s the new one). Its one hell of a slick gadget and I’m totally enjoying the slew of applications that are up for download at the iTunes Store. There’s tons of stuff there ranging from games based on the awesome orientation-sensor (or accelerometer, as they call it) to a copy of the Holy Quran along with multiple recitations. Though what sucks is that in Kuwait we can’t access the US store and therefore we’re deprived of the complete collection. I’ve heard there’s a way around it but so far I’m content with what is available. Along with its music capabilities, you can comfortably watch video content on it as well and this really helped the time tick away while I was stranded at the Dhaka airport for 5 hours on my way to Dubai and then another 5 hours in Dubai due to a missed flight for Karachi. I got a plastic cover from Virgin Megastore temporarily and have ordered the RebelTouch cover on-line which I really like.

I also picked up a Sony H-50 digital camera from Amazon a couple of months ago after my Kodak Z612 got ruined in Cox’s Bazar. Its pretty good and has 9.1 MP with 15x optical zoom. It also has a large vary-angle screen and has an interesting Night Shot mode that sort of works. Along with all the good reviews, what sealed the deal for me was the fact that it came with a lens-hood and a remote control in the box. Here’s what the folks at DigitalCameraReview have to say about it. I also picked up a 4GB memory stick with it that should hold a sufficient amount of content.

For the time being my gadget craving is satiated.

Trip to Ayubia and Nathiagali

View in Ayubia PTDC  hotel

Last weekend, the three of us went to Ayubia and Nathiagali (scenic hill stations in Pakistan) with a good friend of mine from Islamabad, along with his wife and son. We had a great time and his son is about the same age as Rohail so the company was well matched.

While driving from Islamabad towards Ayubia, we could feel the weather get very cool as we climbed up the mountains. The drive was very scenic and we saw a lot of monkeys along the way.

After checking in at a nice hotel in Ayubia, we headed straight for the chair-lifts. It was an interesting experience, especially getting on and off the chair lifts. Not as refined as you would expect. We also went to a trekking path called Pipeline but had to give up mid-way due to rain and hail.

The next day was a brief stop-over for breakfast at Nathiagali where the view is breath-taking. We also touched Murree for some ice-cream on our way back to Islamabad. The trip was hectic (especially for the guy who was driving!) but a lot of fun.

You can see some of the pics here.

Trip to Jamuna bridge

Last Saturday we took a road-trip to the Jamuna bridge. It is the 11th longest bridge in the world (wiki reference). (I wonder how far they maintain these statistics – which is the 87th longest bridge in the world?).

The drive was 3 hours long from Dhaka and very scenic and the clouds reminded me of those you see in the Simpson’s intro.

The bridge itself was interesting, however, the highlight of our trip was an hour-long boat ride on the Jamuna lake. As soon as we reached the destination we started on the boat ride. This was around 4 pm and the weather was amazing. Rohail thoroughly enjoyed himself and was checking out the water and the scenery all around. We also caught a beautiful sunset and we hardly noticed the hour go by. After that we had some snacks at the resort restaurant and then headed back for Dhaka. On the way back we were tired and I mostly slept through it all.

I took a lot of pics which can be viewed here.

In Bangladesh

Since last week I’m in Bangladesh on a project. Since the stay was going to be more than a month; Maliha and Rohail have accompanied me.

The roads here are extremely crowded and generally there’s a lot of poverty. On the flip side; Dhaka is very green and it sure is a nice change from all the sand I’m used to seeing in Kuwait. The weather is also pretty decent and we’ve been going around meeting people and friends. They kept us at a hotel for a week and yesterday, finally moved us to a nicely furnished 3-bedroom apartment, since it was very difficult for Maliha to manage things in a single small hotel room.

Rohail has been enjoying the rides on the cycle-rickshaw here and constantly blabbers and waves around his hands in excitement. It is a commonly used means of transportation and consists of a carriage that is connected to a bicycle. I’ll be putting up pics when I get the chance as things are extremely busy at work currently.

I’m looking forward to catching a weekend when I can go and visit Chittagong, which is a very beautiful and scenic city.

Back from Dubai

I got back from Dubai last week. It was extremely hectic there and worse thing is I couldn’t even attend GITEX. Me and my manager reached the Ramada hotel at 4 am and then we were at the meeting the very next day at 9 am. That day was meetings and normal work and then I was back at the hotel by 6.3o pm.

It became a nightmare to find a taxi to take me to GITEX as apparently all were busy. I was disappointed and thought Dubai could have made better arrangements for transportation as many people were facing this problem. After a while I found a cab and the driver was ready to take me to Mall of Emirates but not GITEX. So, MoE it was and I will be putting up some pics of there soon. The next day was meetings again with a flight back to Kuwait at around midnight.

Bottom line is that I was extremely busy at Dubai and I didn’t get a lot of time to myself there.


Who Am I?

A Pakistani living and working in Kuwait who enjoys movies, gadgets, photography, technology, cars and a good book. This blog is all about things that interest me and what is going on in My Life.

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