Happy New Year to all readers of my blog! A new decade begins in the 21st Century! 2010 will be an exciting year for me. I have more travels planned, and I get really excited thinking about where I will be going this year! But before I get carried away with talking about my travel plans for 2010, I’d like to share with you some of the photos I took of the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks.
This is my third consecutive year of watching the fireworks by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and it never ceases to amaze me how beautiful the fireworks display here is during New Year’s Eve! Each year is a different theme. Last year, it was more aboriginal themed, and this year, it is more of “awakening the spirit”. I suppose this has a lot to do with the recent financial crisis which has affected the overall mood of people, especially those who have invested in the markets.
The photos I focused on was mainly the 9PM fireworks, as I had a great view of the harbour from a friend’s balcony in Milsons Point. Check out some of the images of the Sydney NYE fireworks for 2009 below:
Sydney NYE 2009 Fireworks - First shots
Sydney NYE 2009 Fireworks - more 9PM fireworks at the harbour
Sydney NYE 2009 Fireworks - Up close
Sydney NYE 2009 Fireworks - sparkles
Sydney NYE 2009 Fireworks - more 9PM fireworks
Sydney NYE 2009 Fireworks - about to finish
Sydney NYE 2009 Fireworks - to the finale of the 9PM fireworks
Sydney NYE 2009 Fireworks - the smoke after the 9PM fireworks
Happy New Year! - the Harbour Bridge comes alive
More midnight fireworks from the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge is lit up!
More snippets of the Sydney NYE firework 2009
Sydney is definitely in one of the top 10 locations in the world for New Year’s Eve. The amazing fireworks by the beautiful and picturesque harbour and the numerous parties happening all over the city makes it just a cut above the rest. Even if I have spent my third year watching the fireworks in Sydney, I never grew tired of it, as it is just simply superb.
Come and see the fireworks spectacle here in the New Year in Sydney!
I recently read an article from the Sydney Morning Herald about “Where to get your travel credibility” and this really sparked me to write about my views on travel. The article describes how certain travel destinations have become more accessible to tourists, and you can’t say you’re a great traveller just by mentioning these places. Apparently, your travel credibility is measured by the toughness and remoteness of the places that you go to. Being an avid traveller, I totally despise people who talk about their travels for the sake of bragging where they have been and what they have done.
Travel is not about having bragging rights of where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Travel to me is an experience, a personal journey that people embark for themselves to experience different things in different places. It may not necessarily be a very spiritual experience, but the mere fact of seeing something different and being in a different environment offers the mind and soul a whole new perspective. Travel, whether it be for leisure, adventure, luxury, or business, is not an area where you need to build credibility on.
Each person has a different take and reasons for travelling. Some people may want to travel to relax themselves from the usual stresses and pressures of everyday life. Some people may love to travel to seek out new adventures and to experience new cultures. And there will be some people who want to travel for the sake of being said that they have been to certain places. Whatever your purpose or reasons for travel, the whole idea is not to have a scale of how good or “seasoned” a traveller you are. It is all about what you want out of travel.
Travel As Food For The Soul
Travel enriches someone’s knowledge of the world, of perspective, of humanity, and of life. Oftentimes, people tend to live in their own silos and enclosed world that they forget that there is a bigger world out there. When you think you have had the worst job and the worst day of your life, you forget that there are other people in this planet that have it a million times worse than you, and yet, they don’t moan as much. Travel can offer you that experience and realization that it is a matter of perspective. Travel can open people’s eyes, no matter where you go. It may be through a package tour to Africa or some real intrepid adventure through the Amazon rainforest, but the truth is, people who travel can see different things in a different light.
What Travel Means To Me
I may have already said this through the previous paragraphs, but I truly believe that travel is a personal journey in many ways. It’s a journey of discovery of new things, new perspective, new realizations and learnings. I believe people have different ways of discovering and embracing new things, and hence, travel is done in many different ways to suit a person. I believe that every person on this planet has the right to travel, and the right to say that they are a traveller regardless of how they travel. We all travel, one way or another, and there is no scoring system.
So, to those who think certain people have less credibility as a traveller than others, think again. Different people have different agenda for travel, and there is no set standard on what constitutes a fabulous traveller or a great traveller. For all intents and purposes, it all boils down to personal experience.
Have A Fabulous Journey Ahead, whatever it may be!
Machu Picchu has long been one of the places I’ve always wanted to go in this lifetime. Ever since I was a kid, I read it through history books and learned about the ancient Inca empire that once ruled majority of South America. Machu Picchu was a sacred place for the Incas, and it was built in a very isolated area where it was hidden from the rest of the world until it was re-discovered in 1911. I got fascinated by the Inca culture and how they were able to build such great cities in very remote locations that no one from the outside world managed to find it until recently. The ingenuity of the Incas had me wanting to see this mystical place.
I finally fulfilled my dream of seeing Machu Picchu in November last year, when I visited South America for the first time. Getting there was half the fun and excitement. Although Machu Picchu is reasonably accessible by train and coach, it’s not a straight-forward as flying into the city that is literally next door to the ruins.
Getting To Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is accessible from a small town called Aguas Calientes, which is situated about 4 hours away by train from the city of Cuzco. Majority of tourists who come to visit the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu start their journey from Cuzco. Cuzco is an amazing city, a great place to learn about the Inca culture, and perhaps the most preserved Inca city in Peru. Cuzco on its own should be explored in more detail, and I’ll leave this city for another post to tell you more on what it has to offer. From Cuzco, there are 3 alternatives to get to Machu Picchu:
1.) Take the PeruRail train from Cuzco railway station all the way to Aguas Calientes, and then a bus from Aguas Calientes to the ruins of Machu Picchu. This is by far the easiest way to get to Machu Picchu, and offers some spectacular scenery along the way. The train ride from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes takes 4 hours, and the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu takes 25 minutes.
2.) Take the bus from Cuzco to the town of Ollantaytambo, and then catch the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. Then, from Aguas Calientes, take the bus to Machu Picchu. This is, according to some people, a bit of a time saver, as there are buses that go straight to Ollantaytambo through a shorter route than the train. However, you will be catch the same train on Ollantaytambo as the train that started from Cuzco anyway. Perhaps this is also cheaper as buses are generally cheaper in fares than trains.
3.) Trekking – The very popular Inca Trail starts from just outside Cuzco and finishes at Machu Picchu. This is ideal for the adventurous guys who want to see more of the countryside and local Inca life. It takes 4 days to do the trek, but you can hire a porter to carry your backpack gear for you and you can hire tents as part of the package. It’s an experience not to be missed.
The Views From Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is better described through photos than words. The spectacular scenery of the mountains surrounding the ancient ruins, plus, the way it is designed, is much better seen by the eye than read as verbose text on a blog. Below are some of the shots I took during the trip:
Machu Picchu - view from the top
Machu Picchu - at the edge / mountain view
Machu Picchu - original main entrance to the city
Machu Picchu - Llamas roaming and resting
Machu Picchu - Terraces
Machu Picchu Guardhouse
My sister Irene, who travelled with me on this trip, took some great videos of the view, and also of a part of Machu Picchu’s walls that were used as some sort of megaphone. The walls were cleverly designed to resonate sound at a higher pitch, and it only worked when women used it (men’s voice are too low and deep)! Check out the videos below:
View of Machu Picchu (video):
Megaphone Wall video:
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