Saturday, 31 March 2012

!ncredible !ndia - The Golden Triangle

Our January visit to India finished with a whistle-stop tour of the Golden Triangle in Rajashtan. We travelled by rail, air and road between the three points of the triangle - Delhi, Jaipur & Agra - and we did come away with a different view of India.  Frankly, we love it even more.  Our travels culminated with a visit to the majestic Taj Mahal, in Agra, and we have to start our story there....

The Taj Mahal

Waking just before dawn, we walked through the foggy back streets of Agra to the Western Entrance Gate of the Taj Mahal, among the first visitors to arrive, silently queuing for our tickets.  Men and women queued separately, quiet and subdued, waiting for the daybreak gate opening.  Security is tight, and all visitors were searched extensively before entry.  Still dark, we entered through a forecourt providing glimpses of the Taj through the arched entrance.  The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emporer, Shan Jahan,  and is a beautiful white marble mausoleum to the memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

We've all heard of this wonder, and sometimes you expect a lifetime of hype to over-shadow reality.  Here, this is not the case.  The Taj is sensational.

Monday, 26 March 2012

All Things Change

Regular readers will notice the change in appearance of these pages.  We loved the look and feel of the old style, but have been forced to update so we can use some of the new Blogger features.

First up you will notice that there are tabs near the top of the page, that provide direct acces to some of the information most frequently searched on this blog.   Secondly we can now use the "Read more..." function to mask additional text and images on lengthy stories.

Please let us know if anything can't be read or is not functional, we'll be working on more updates and improvements soon.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

!ncredible !ndia - Goa

Calangute Beach at sunset, where we dined each evening - very nice.
Neil's Consulting work for Space Matrix takes him to India for two weeks every month. Occasionally Ley travels with him and on the free weekends we get to explore. Our last visit together saw us traveling along the south west coast.

Going to Goa 

Goa is a magical, mystical place, its variety and appeal to all travelers is extremely powerful.  With its beautiful beaches, sunsets, feral back packers, aging hippies and Portuguese old world charm. It is really hard not to relax and chill out here.

After breakfast on the beach, we walked into the main street and hired a motor bike to do a little local exploring.  Armed with Google maps in the iPhone, dressed for the beach, we headed off.  The only request was that we wear a helmet if we ride on the "big" road.  We discovered beautiful sapphire blue bays, gorgeous rain forest gullies, local villages with old men sitting around drinking cups of chai, a sunburst of beautiful sari clad women and dusky children playing naked along the roads.  We also saw a lot of very chilled out old hippies, either riding "Harley" type bikes or wandering around the small villages and of course back packers of all ages.  But overwhelmingly was the number of Indian tourists here.

 It was a wonderful day, riding around with the wind in our hair, something we would never do in any other country in the world...Goa really gets into your soul!

Monday, 5 March 2012

How Time Flies

Christmas, New Year and now it is March.  What happened in between?

Holiday Time
Nai Harn Bay in Phuket is one of our favourite anchorages - many cruisers gather here to celebrate Christmas.  We partied at the beach-side cafe at Ao Sane Beach on Christmas Eve and sat down to a long and sumptuous lunch on the aft deck of MV Mandella 11 on Christmas day.  With us were the crews from SV Sandy, Catchastar and Sea Bunny and we enjoyed a fine traditional Christmas.  With strong trade winds and sunny skies we really felt like we were "cruising" again.

SV Sea Bunny and Crystal Blues motored away from the building trade winds to the quiet anchorage of Panwa Bali to see in the New Year.  Phuket really knows how to light up the sky on New Years Eve and we were blessed with a 240 degree panorama of fireworks.  We love watching the beautiful Thai lanterns that grace the sky and float on the wind over the colourful flashes and booms of the beach side fireworks.

Work Time
Neil at work
Neil's break was all too short as his clients, projects and the AV design team in India continued to work between Christmas and New Year.  Each day Neil would set up office in the cockpit, using Thailand's cheap, reliable internet access and tethering his laptop and iPad to the iPhone hotspot.  Conference calls, emails, budgets and design work carried on as usual, just in a very different setting.

Our Tohatsu outboard also chose this time to play up.  The engine was revving out and only put-putting around slowly.  Once we hoisted the engine up on our high tech work bench the problem was discovered.  The bush in the propeller was sheared and a replacement propeller was found in our spare parts stores and fitted.  No more put-putting, we were back to zooming!

Turtle Time
Photo from Phuket Gazette
In early December a sick turtle was seen at Yacht Haven Marina.  Concerned cruisers called the Phuket Marine Biological Centre and an ambulance arrived to catch and deliver the ill Green Sea Turtle to the Centre, see the full story here.

A few weeks later it was announced over the local radio that the turtle had made a full recovery.  It's illness resulted from digesting a plastic bag, mistaking it for a jelly fish.  Jelly fish are abundant in these warm tropical waters and are a major food source for  the turtles.

Really, only here in Thailand would they send a regular human ambulance, to rescue a stranded turtle !  Its great being back here.