February 27, 2010

Kenya - Tryst with the Indian Ocean

What is a honeymoon without lashing about in the waters huh? And the best part about Kenya was it being coastal offered us the Indian ocean to play in! We headed to Mombassa from Amboseli, a drive which took us close to 6 hours by car. The highway is very good and you will see all trailers going to and from Mombassa, which is the major port on the african east coast. 

City Entrance

As you edge towards Mombassa, you feel the humidity rising and the more familiar tropical coastal weather setting in.Once you enter the city of Mombassa, you see buildings which are easily 50 years old,many run down but still inhabited. The resort we were staying at Voyager, was beach side, a lovely place.. and as we drove towards it, we saw the villas along the beach of all the richest in Mombassa... it was something like the sea facing bunglows in Mumbai... but yes these are way cheaper as our guide told us. Another intersting aspect was that all these villas had very high electric fencing and also 24 hour security at the gate. Anyhow, once we reached the voyager ( which is designed to be like a ship, with decks and cabins for the guests); we had very little time to explore the surrounding areas. The beach was beautiful, and water was the perfect temperature to be swimming in it.. the only issue being that the under currents ended up trhowing out a large amount of sea weed. Anyhow we did see the sunrise and take a long walk on the beach before the crowds hit the beach. The tide rose as we were on our way back and the fun was the hopping and jumping through the corals and crabs which were all along the shore.

Crab hole
Crab entering back into its hideout

We took a city tour too, and went to visit the Fort Jesus, which is the most important monument at Mombassa. This was the point of entry to the country by water and this was also the way used in the slave trade during the later years.That was the last phase of our Kenya trip and I think I am of the opinion that Africa is a great place for unexplored beauty and holidays.  

View from Fort Jesus
 Ruins at Fort Jesus
Typical door architecture at Old town, Mombassa
A pier along Old town
A shop selling african craft items

February 24, 2010

Kenya - Driving through the wild

When I think of Africa, the first thing which comes to my mind is Lion King, Timon and Pumba :) I am a huge disney fan, and I also have a great weakness for animals.. be it tame or wild! 
Once we decided that we shall go to Kenya, the top priority was to have a wonderful safari :), and we had exactly that at Amboseli National Park, Kenya. We researched quite a bit and went with Explorer Kenya, and they did have an amazing driver/guide waiting for us at Nairobi. We stayed at the Amboseli Sentrim Lodge and it was an experience which I shall not forget. 
Amboseli Sentrim Lodge

The tent which was provided, looked quite barren from the outside, but was furnished with african artifacts, rugs and much more. The interiors were beautifully done, and the most amazing aspect as per me was the shower cabinet and its various jet settings! Once we exit the tent, then alone we realize we are in the middle of the jungle, and there were even signs which read " Please do not feed the animals, they are wild and might bite" !! 

Our tent from the outside
Wonderful interiors

We were at Amboseli for 3 days and these 3 days we went on 2 game drives, one following a torrential downpour all through the night. Our two game drives saw completely different terrains due to the rain, but lucky for us that the one before the rains hit ensured that we saw all the animals out in the open. We saw a pack of lions with 5-6 lions, huge african elephants, zebras, deer, giraffes, water buffalos, hyenas, jackals, warthogs, hippos and most importantly I SAW a cheetah chase a deer:) The chase was just amazing... maybe just for 10-15 seconds, but the movement of the cheetah was what I have been seeing for so many years on National Geographic and hoped and wished to see it in real life someday.

Baby Hyena
A Majestic lion lazing in the sun
Herd of elephants crossing the road
The second day drive saw us driving through practically a marshland, and the place looked so different as compared to what we had seen just under 12 hours back. Amboseli is said to easily flood with rains as the water runs down the Mt. Kiliminjaro along with melted snow and the park being at the foothills results in water logging here. Once it rains, the animals are said to move up to slightly higher areas to keep away from all the water and muck created all over the park. The rains did one goood thing, bring out all the fishing birds. We saw egrets, cormorants, pelicans, black-necked cranes, yellow crowned crane and storks, in large numbers too. An interesting fact that I go to know was that, a young pelican has brown feathers and as they grow older, their feathers become white. We saw both baby pelicans with brown feathers and the huge ones with white feathers. There is also a huge variety of migratory birds which visit the Amboseli region during the winter months. 

Baby Pelican
Marshland at Amboseli

And that was my first safari :)

February 18, 2010

Kenya - Our stint with Nairobi

Kenya is a beautiful country, they have so many different terrains in the small area they cover, and being also a coastal country, the weather is almost temperate all through the year. Why did we choose to go to Kenya is a question which has been asked to us by so many people. I wonder why is it so difficult to associate it to a honeymoon, when a honeymoon  is anyhow said to come alive with the sounds of the jungle and that of crashing waves??

Nairobi is a city like many big cities of the world, has its own pockets of beauty and crime. We were told by the hotel staff not to venture out on foot after 5-6 in the evening, and to preferebly be as close as to the hotel as possible after sun down. 

We stayed at the Fairview, it was one of the most luxurious comfortable stays I have had in a long time! They have a huge area to walk, and set amidst the diplomatic area, the quiet and cleanliness does wonders to one's mood! They have a wine cellar which they give a tour of, and the food at the italian restaurant is to die for. And another detail not  to be missed is the Tusker beer, its a wonderful beer, the perfect bitterness and  all in all, I loved it! 

There is a walking safari to be done in Nairobi and also baby animal shelter... these were two places I so wanted to visit, but just could not make it too... we had very little time at Nairobi, and just ended up exploring the city and didn't have time to move beyond to these attractions. 

February 3, 2010

Wedding - Part Deux

I used to wonder what was the bride and groom's role in the wedding other than being the centre of the entire spectacle.  One more thing I realized is that you really do not remember most of the happenings of the day. I missed the beauty of the place, didnt get to meet many people who come to attend, did not enjoy the sumptuous food, and most importantly you have to watch the fun which everyone has at your expense while you sit smiling for the photographers! Eventually when you look back at the photos, you do feel wonderful that all these moments have been captured and they shall always remain with you in an album. Things which you do not even remember was there would come up in the photos and you are left staring... there are so many emotions which you see on the faces of people, those which you never saw on that day. 

The fun and frolic in the wedding when I look back it seems is to throw a shield over all the tension which surrounds it. Being a bride, and from the organising party of the wedding, you see the tension, the last minute arrangements, the caterer misunderstandings and flower errors. And when the groom party is from out of station, that opens up oh so many more avenues for details to be taken care of, and eventually some do manage to go astray. I am not sure if this is true with all, but eventually the tension does rub onto the bride and the happiness paired with organising tensions makes a complete combo of what the bride feels towards the last few 20 odd hours before the wedding. And me ... I did shed a few tears too with all the tension in the air! But, I think B was very supportive, not once did he lose his temper, very patient and getting things done by himself. 

Once the ceremony starts, everything starts to go about in a flurry and you do not kno when everything ended. I do not remember the beauty of the decorations or the flowers or any other arrangements which were made, but I remmeber my parents, their expression. I remember B and his happy smiling face.I remember my friends who thought it most important to be there on that day. I think when I look back, these are the small things which I shall remmeber and not all those things which I did fail to notice.

PS: January - February seem to be travel months for me... went to Kenya honeymooning (aaahhhh) and now have been to Hampi for the first time. And now in Feb I shall be heading to Bombay and Delhi too :) I am yet to do my travel posts on Kenya and Hampi... shall take a lil time but shall be up!