Alice’s secret..

Welcome to Alice Springs… Uh stay indoors so you don’t get robbed, beat up or killed… Ok, ok it’s not that bad, as long as your back in your room by 9pm! Lol..

After arriving in Alice Springs, which actually has some gorgeous scenery so its shame about the bad rep, we headed into town to have a super quick dinner and rush back to our hostel before 7.30pm. It was quite nice to take a break, we chilled out and watched the film “Traffic” while being told by an Aussie from Melbourne that he couldn’t handle walking down many streets in his city because of the abundance of Indians. Lovely ei?

Don’t worry, Anj took care of him, with a firm “Do you mind, we’re trying to watch a filum?!” πŸ™‚

We made sure we rested up too in our “cottage” at Alice’s Secret Hostel… The secret was that the cottage, Aka a shed in the garden had more holes in it than… (I’ll let you complete that).. Suffice it to say we had to share our abode with Lord knows how many people peering in and of course a cockroach.. Good memories.. πŸ™‚

Anywho, the next day, we started our 2 day, 1 night tour early again, with a 6am pick up!

The first day involved a hell of a lot of driving again, to arrive to our first spot, the Rock, otherwise known as Uluru (the official and Aboriginal name for it)!

It is stunning. Uluru is one massive rock at 348m high, 9km in circumference, in a land where there is hardly any other rocks around it. The crazy thing is, this rock continues a mammoth 4km further into the ground!

That is one big stone. As we walked around (we respected the Aboriginals request not to climb it for their religious beliefs…not that everyone else does the same), and our tour guide explained the stories the Aboriginals have for the creation of this rock, it truly did bring it fully to life. I honestly can’t tell you how happy we were that we had a tour guide for that bit, as I don’t think we would have appreciated the beauty as much!

It is amazing to hear how the Aboriginals live with the belief of living in the now using the natural world for all their needs! No creation of materialistic belongings, no belief that anything belongs to them or living for the future! They believe everything belongs to mother earth and we should be there to look after and preserve it!

Anyway we ended the day watching the sunset over Uluru with a glass of Champagne (okay, okay…Orange Juice) and snacks!… Sweeeet! When we weren’t all being engrossed by the food, we did manage to watch the sheer magic of the whole rock change colours as the sun sets.

As if the day hadn’t been exciting enough, Anjali decided to have a shower! … Yeup, so unusual I know, I was so thankful… KIDDING! .. As she was showering, one of the girls pointed out there was a mouse cruising for chicks in their bathroom. (Apparently it was very cute!!).. For some reason, at that point she got the hell out of there! πŸ™‚ Probably because we’d been told we were more than likely see the mice in our tents anyway, while mini alligator type species would be resting under our tent. Niiice and cosy! Aww.

The next day was a 5am wake up to go in the search for wild Kangaroos and see the Olgas or Kata Tjutu! We saw one Kangaroo!

Gutted! Its better than none.. I guess. πŸ™

To be honest the walk through Kata Tjutu made up for it.

This is quite a tricky walk and infact one lady on our trip, fell and cut her head open, so had to be air lifted out! Crazy! Her husband told us he would have to fork out around Β£3G’s for this! We heard she was okay later, thank God!

Anyway the walk was amazing and when you reach the top, the view is out of this world! You look between 2 Olgas and see the sun rising over the backdrop. It is like it literally came from a post card! Stunning!

And that was it… the end of the road! Well apart from the exciting 6 hours coach journey back to Alice Springs with views of Mt Conner, the Mac-something ranges and a stop off for cheese toasted sandwiches!! Hmm.. (Can you tell Anj added that bit in? Hmm!)

A quick note, one thing we wanted to see, but didn’t have the time to go to on this tour was Kings Canyon (we actually thought it was on this tour), and the Mcdonald ranges from close up, so if you get the chance suggest you spend 4 days there and do it!

Also if you do make it out here to the Red centre, which is kinda more green at the mo.. Make sure you do the free digeridoo workshop… It’s jokes.. We both managed to get sounds of it.. Concerts coming soon to a busking location near you!

Anyway time to leave the Outback now and prepare for the beach part of trip! Bring on Cairns! πŸ™‚

Go Rishi, it’s your birthday…

…Loose your luggage, its your birthday!

Okay okay, so we’re in Singapore, Anj had lovingly spoilt me and organized this part of the trip all for me! πŸ™‚

But after our flight over night, with 8 hour stop over, and after the usual couple of donuts, we waltzed down to the luggage area to find our bags missing!

GUTTED!

Would we get them back? Would we have to wear the same clothes for the next 2 months? Would we have to go shopping and buy a whole new wardrobe? What would we wear after a shower!?

After all these questions ran through my mind…we complained and received 80 quid to survive on for the day!

So off we went to Little India where we took a nice walk around and visited an amazing temple. It had incredible statues and carvings throughout, and we even found a poster advertising a talk taking place by Swamiji (Chinmaya Mission)! Small world!


We then trekked back to our hostel, hoping to discover our bags were back! And guess what they were! Shweeeeet!

So in other words we got paid 80 quid for our luggage to be delivered to our hostel! This was especially sweet since our hostel was on a steep hill, so we avoided the climb with our heavy backpacks!

Anywho, after getting ready and a wonderful meal at an italian restaurant, Anjali took me to this amazing bar right on the top of one of the tallest buildings in Singapore!


Β The views were spectacular, especially at night and we were there till 1 to celebrate my birthday (whoop whoop, I’m now 29). Really special place! Being the partay animals we are though (not), we headed off to the Clarke Quay clubs! Was buzzing with people and all in high spirits! Was a special night!

The next day (my birthday), we received a sudden phonecall from Kish! I couldn’t believe it! Kishan and Meera are ENGAGED! Soooo exciting! And an amazing proposal, which I’ll leave for them to tell the story! CONGRATS guys! (Even though Meera, you know Kish will still always be mine…especially when Brian Mcknights on!)

We then visited Orchard Road to roam the malls. This street is jampacked with shopping center after shopping center! Was a load of window shopping for me and Anj though (especially after the amount we spent in Japan) but it was amazing to see how multicultural Singapore is and how safe it feels to walk around!


Finally we taxied (with a guy who quite obviously was a tour guide in his previous life) all the way to Singapore Zoo! This is a MUST see in Singapore! The animals are not behind cages but actually out in front of you! It was like visiting a wildlife safari, but where you kinda knew you were safe! Amazing experience, filled with monkies, snakes, lions, giraffes, kangaroos, birds, elephants and much much more!

 

 

That finished just in time for us to speed back to little india for dosas, start following the world cup cricket final on our mobile phone and get ready to take our flight to Australia!

The worst thing was we actually got on the plane to travel to Australia just after India started their innings and lost there first 2 wickets! 31-2…crazy!

All I could do was sit there wondering! Did India do it? Are they gonna end their 28 year wait? Will Sachin get his hands on the trophy before he retires?

We landed to find they won! And on top of that Man Utd won, Arsenal drew! I literally wanted to jump up and down on the plane, as I waited to get off! I seriously had to restrain myself!

Overall my 29th Birthday was unforgettable! In one day my best mate got engaged, India won the world cup, Man utd extended their lead at the top, and Anjali spoilt me rotten! Thanks Anj for a wonderful day! (P.S. thanks to all those who sent me their birthday wishes too, I’m lucky to have you all!)

Tokyo calling

“This is the last call for Mr Rishi Raja and Mrs Anjali Raja on Flight AX321 to Tokyo.. ”

Aaah, that’s us… Shit, ruuuun…

… Sorry we’re late, sorry, sorry.. Phew… Cannot believe that we nearly missed our flight to Tokyo because I was too busy looking for books to read! Hehe, jokes, at least we made it, but dammit didn’t even buy a book!

… We arrived in Tokyo at 10.30pm and I realised that if we don’t get to our hostel by 12, they lock the doors and count us as no shows.. Getting through customs and baggage claim took us till 11.25pm and the subway to the city centre takes an hour… This wasn’t looking good… Despite the help from the airport information desk, no-one was answering the hostel phones.. All we could do was turn up there and hope for the best… O wait the last train to our station has left,.. ‘Grr, guess we’ll have to take a cab’… as we made this suggestion to the staff at the train station, he looked at us in panic and told us to get on another train, get as close as possible to our hostel and then take a cab…. I understood why when we got our cab at 1am from Ueno station, 2kms from our hostel for which we paid Β£12!… You DO NOT take cabs in Japan… Literally as we arrived the hostel night staff was leaving… What an eventful welcome to Japan… Sign of things to come? … Naaah! Don’t be silly!

Someone had told us that arriving in Japan feels like you’ve landed on a different planet, and in some ways we certainly felt that… We’ve seen posters with Japanese writing and seen movies showing parts of Japan but being here and seeing every sign in the Japanese language really did make you feel like you’re somewhere very different.. The way the buildings are used is pretty nuts too.. You may pass what looks like an office block, but that 7 floor building may have restaurants on all seven floors so you have to check signs all the way up to find what you fancy! I had to restrain myself from taking photos of every little alley way we passed despite the signs and shop fronts making each turning look like a new work of art.

We spent our first 3 days in and around Tokyo and what a cool city it is too! Rishi and I both fell in love with it.. Lost in translation indeed!… Everything from the red light district in Shinjuku which has an equal number of boys for ‘company’ as women (hmm!) to Asakusa; the old school suburbia on the outskirts of the city.

We were totally sucked in by the fun vibe of the city and the evident love of fashion. It did mean we interspersed our sightseeing with quite a bit of shopping… Alright, alright, we interspersed our shopping with some sightseeing?! … Don’t judge, you’d do the same!!

I personally think we were shopping to compensate for the difficulty getting veggie food in Tokyo! We did manage to find an indian restaurant with a potato and bamboo shoot curry… No that was not a typo.. Was surprisingly good! And the rest of the time we ate pizza and pasta… Such a traumatic experience for me, all those who know me well, know I am very averse to such unhealthy foods! πŸ˜‰

We did see some culture too! We watched the Hare Krishnas… Lol, yes I know in Tokyo!! They were on our way to xxx temple, a beautiful zen temple in the city.. Also we went on a worthwhile side trip to Kamakura, where you can see a different, more relaxed and beautiful part of Japan with many temples and the second largest Bhudda statue in Japan!

Tokyo is less about the sights though and much more about immersing yourself in the culture and lifestyle… You cannot beat a walk down Harajuku on a Sunday to catch the punks, knee high socks clad teenagers and tourists socialising, shopping and gobbling some delicious crepes! Or sitting in one of the little fast food style restaurants, ordering a ‘lunch set’… Or, you could just ride the Yamanote line (aka circle line) and just people watch. (Fyi, trains are on time here!)

Whatever you do, I dare you to try not to love this place and the amazingly friendly people.

There are so many places you go to and you know that if it wasn’t baking hot with the sun shining down, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much… But here in Tokyo, it has been COLD, I mean leggings under trousers cold, and yet it has been soo much fun… (Ok we were lucky that the sun has been out, but trust me it rocks)…

Definitely Japan is already leading the way as our most favourite place so far!!

Anyhow, next stop the mountain town of Takayama… We are taking a Shinkansen bullet train… Looks very cool!!