These black and white photos are a few a took in New Delhi and Agra, India.
With a couple of free days in New Delhi, and having already visited many of the tourist sites on a previous visit this time was pretty laid-back, relaxing before I went to a conference. But first I have to check out the wildlife!
I left my hotel (and will write a blog about all my various and diverse accommodations I used in India later) and went to Lodi Gardens. My Uber driver got lost despite his GPS and when he dropped me off said ‘I was here last weekend and you will see black swans whites swans – they are beautiful.’ I had not imagined what sort of birds or animals I would see in New Delhi so assumed the swans were left over from colonial days.
Here are the photos of the birds and creatures I saw:
. . . as you can see, not a swan in sight!
Away from Lodhi Park I also saw one monkey, and a gaggle of geese at the cricket grounds at a private school.
Here are a few photos from my quick trip to Timaru, South Canterbury, New Zealand.
It’s only one week until I leave on my next big adventure to Mongolia and Malaysian Borneo! (and the mainland too) I have written a short blog about Mongolia, (see here) a country I’ve never been to, and I plan on posting a photo a day on my kiwi travel writer Instagram and Facebook pages – so #follow me. My blogs will follow once I return to New Zealand after my 5 weeks exploring.
While I have been to many parts of Malaysian Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) and I’m looking forward to revisiting the Rainforest World Music Festival and Bako National Park, I also expect to discover new things in Kuching – including the fishing village of Kampong Buntal – and which is very close to where I’m staying at Damai Beach Resort during the festival. So, watch this space!
I’m of course hoping to see orangutans, proboscis monkeys, wild pigs, and possibly a crocodile or two. My must-eat food list is too long – and once again I’m hopeful my bathroom scales do not show a huge upward number when I return home. Malaysia has such wonderful food and Malaysians are all foodies, and who will always entice you to try this and that and yet another thing.
I’m spending about five days in Penang, which is considered the food capital of Malaysia, and as it’s been a long time since I was there I’m wondering if some of my favourite places will still exist. Feel free to give me advice about your favourites in the comments at the end of this blog.
In Sabah, the northern region of Malaysian Borneo, I will be snorkelling in new areas -Mabul island, and also Gaya island where I will visit the Marine eco-research Centre. Another new place will be the Sabah Tea garden after a short hike and Kinabalu Park – one of Malaysia’s world heritage sites.
Check out blogs I have already written about Malaysia (use the search button on this blog site) and make sure you follow me for five weeks of daily photos – as many of you will know, Malaysia is my favourite Asian country – and who knows, Mongolia – which is a blank canvas for me – could end up on my favourites list too.
Hope to visit this Sarawak sanctuary again in July
It’s time for me to blog about my Borneo adventures in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei so these orangutan are here to announce them: Food, endangered animals, music, orchids and cats, will be the first few topics covered. I will mostly write them in my travel chronological time fame, starting in Kuching and finishing in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah – a trip that took me 8 weeks.
Only about 24 ks from Kuching, Sarawak, the Semenggoh Reserve is a must-visit place. Home to semi-wild orangutans, it was created many years ago for the rehabilitation of orphaned or rescued animals. They no longer do any ‘rehab’ work here but provide food daily for those who want, or need it. I believe they are only given bananas (largely) so they get bored and not rely on the ‘hand-outs’ but learn to eat the food in the forest.
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The recent CubaDupa festival – based in Wellington’s funky Cuba Street – included a wonderful show of “Reynard the Fox” with Orchestra Wellington performing in Hannah’s Courtyard.
Renard is the main character in a literary cycle of many allegorical European fables. Those stories – about Reynard an anthropomorphic red fox and trickster who deceives other anthropomorphic animals for his own advantage – or tries to avoid retaliations from them.
The core of these stories – written during the Middle Ages by multiple authors – are often seen as parodies of medieval literature such as courtly love stories and satires about political and religious institutions.
Gong Xi Fa Cai, Gong Hey Fat Choy, and 新年快乐
It’s not long until the Chinese New Year (28th January 2017) will be celebrated – this year it’s the year of the rooster. I am a rooster.
And, oh no! I have just found out that when it’s the year of your Chinese birth zodiac sign it’s never a good year for you. That fortune in all aspects of your (my) life will not be very good and therefore, we roosters should be careful during 2017 – it’s a fire rooster year.
Apparently 1945 was a wood rooster so maybe I’m safe from a bad year. Also, just so you know a wood rooster is ‘energetic, overconfident, tender and unstable’ I of course, couldn’t comment!
It seems to bring myself good luck in this zodiac year of my birth I need to wear red so will check my wardrobe – I don’t think I have a lot of red although my winter coat is full-length and red, so covers me completely so I’m ok for winter
Red of course is one of the luckiest colours in Chinese culture, standing for prosperity, loyalty, success, and happiness. Apparently, it can also drive away bad luck and evil spirits.
Research tells me I can wear red belts, socks, shoes, or other red clothes. Apparently red underwear is highly recommended but another ‘rule’ that we roosters need to pay attention to, or the red won’t ward off bad luck, is I cannot buy red underwear for myself.
Now you know what I need for gifts this year!
One good thing, as well as wearing red, I also need to wear Jade accessories– so will be wearing more pounamu (NZ Greenstone/Jade) and that’s easy for me.
However, it gets even more complicated, it also seems I need to adjust my furniture and dwellings to face east “to get Tai Sui behind them”.
All I can say is crikey, Gong Xi Fa Cai, Gong Hey Fat Choy and 新年快乐
It’s satisfying ticking off a bucket list item: swimming with manatee – tick.
With two Florida locals, and three from Mexico, I cruise some Florida canals looking for a 600-kg creature (1322.77 lb). Sirenia are large marine herbivores and are also called sea cows, manatee, dugong and for sailors, mermaids. It’s not the right season, but a few are permanent residents. We are looking for a fat needle in a large, watery haystack.
The canals are beautiful with expensive real estate and living at the water’s edge are a few ordinary working folks among the rich and famous including John Travolta who has a holiday home here.
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge looks after this part of Kings Bay and many locals object to their speed, and other, restrictions. DJ, our young Captain, calls out to a young guy in a hire boat to slow down, to obey the speed limit – he did, but maybe just until we were out of sight.
Manatees, which lack blubber which allows whales tolerate the cold, have a near-perfect winter refuge here as many of the springs produce large quantities of warm (22 c) water. We’re told that the locals in this de-facto manatee capital of the USA can, from November to March, walk out their doors and see dozens of them swimming or sleeping in the canals.
We pass a boat, with its passengers in the water watching this relative of elephants, but DJ moves on and later, just when I decide my bucket list will not be ticked today, we find a manatee floating on the water like a great grey blimp beside a private jetty.
I’m so excited. The only other manatee I’d seen was in a Disney park many years ago – wildlife in the wild is always different!
“She’s due to pop” our skipper says. It seems no-one has ever seen a birth and a local university has offered $US10, 000 for a video of the event. I immediately check my camera’s video setting, wriggle into a wet suit, then with mask and snorkel on, slip off the back of the boat.
For some reason the water’s very dark at this time of the year which suits the manatee as they can sink and be out of sight quickly.
Keeping well back from this pregnant cow I’m thrilled to be in the water with her. We’d learnt they needed warmth from the sun and her back was out of the water catching sun rays.
Although only a few feet away, the murky water made her hard to see clearly. I just float and admire her while sending mental ‘I love you’, and ‘we won’t hurt you’ messages. We stay in the water for about ten minutes and she’s motionless the whole time. As we get back into the boat she glides slowly into the middle of the canal and I miss her lifting her nostrils to breathe before sinking.
Our boat moves away slowly, heading for the Three Sisters Springs where, in season, photos are taken of the manatees resting in the clear, warm water. It was photos such as them that had put the manatee on my to-experience bucket list.
Once again we slide off the back of the boat, swim past two cruise boats moored between us and the entrance to the springs, then past the barrier that stops boats entering. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop canoes and kayaks and I keep to the edge as many of the boats seem to have passengers who have little control over their direction.
The water is much clearer here and I see how easy it would be to watch them underwater: a reminder that bucket lists sometimes need to be time specific.
Touching protected wild animals, as our captain had suggested we could (none of us did) would never be allowed in many countries, and it’s this ‘swim with manatee’ activity that has conservationists, boaters, some residents, politicians and tour operators arguing over the future of the area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversee all wildlife refuge areas and, manage the manatee population too.
In the video shown before we boarded, we were told ‘don’t disturb resting manatees; don’t block them when they are leaving the roped-off areas (where people are forbidden) and don’t touch.’
Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, believes the situation at Crystal River is harassment of the manatees, and is “in direct violation of both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.” He advocates stricter rules including requiring swimmers to “stop a body length away from manatees” so they are free to interact, or not, with people. “The majority of the dive shops are trying to do a good job” Rose says, and “If they want to be responsible and protect the privilege they have, which is so unique, then fine. If not, the swim-with program should go.”
Some years ago, in Florida, I’d bought a Wyland (marine artist) print of a manatee and baby and now I’ve seen one – without a baby, so no ten thousand dollars for me. With its fat, flat, wrinkled face and sensory whiskers, the manatee looks rather like an overweight dolphin or small whale despite not being related to either.
Vulnerable to extinction, the population in this state is under 5000 and it seems that without stronger conservation efforts, these gentle creatures will be consigned to legend status along with the mermaids.
Like New Zealand’s flightless birds, the manatee evolved in an environment with abundant food and no predators. Now vulnerable, its survival depends on locals and tourists being willing to share its home. If you are travelling in Florida, November is Manatee Awareness month and when you are most likely to see them.
Although it’s a few years since I visited the huge Little Rann of Kutch (staying at The Royal Safari Camp when it was 18 months old) my memories of staying there are still vivid and I often tell people to put Gujarat on their bucket-list.
We enter the ‘camp’ through a traditional red arch and into the facilities by huge one hundred-year old doors. Among some of the fabulous pieces of furniture is a carved wooden chest which, when I ask, I’m told “this is a family heirloom. It was carved from one piece of wood: my father-in-law gave it to us.” Still having my hand-written notes and notebooks is a great resource!
Covering nearly 5000 sq. km, the Little Rann of Kutch is a unique landscape and includes an official Sanctuary to the beautiful wild ass. Related to the zebra, this is the world’s last population of these ass.
Believed to once been a shallow sea, we take a tour of the bare surface of dark silt, encrusted with salts which evidently transforms into a spectacular coastal wetland after the rains and is considered to be a transitional area between marine and terrestrial ecosystems. In the monsoon, it gets flooded for about a month. With no, or little, vegetation, except on the fringes, the ground-cover which requires little water, is dominated by short-living plants.
The land is so arid, I hope we’re not lost!
Note: it was while we were here that fellow travel writer Jon Haggins got the tittle for his book, Chasing Wild Ass
Until I went to Gujarat, India, I did not realise how big birding was in the world – as well as birding blogs, see a blog I wrote about Desert Coursers the resort at Zainabad, Gujarat, India where I stayed a few days.
Near Palmerston North.
Come for a drive in the countryside with me. April 2016. Dairy farm … grass fed stock
I meet sheep on the road
Down into the valley
Cattle look tiny
Rural mail boxes
Old shearing shed and yards
Green swampland. Vital to the region.