3. Songshan, China
China is such a huge country, so naturally there’s more than one leg/legs picture I’d taken within its vastness.
Looking back on this particular photo marks an important moment to me – I’d originally traveled with a friend from home and our friendship had been fraying for a while, since before we left actually.
It is a shame and in some ways I do miss him, but I remember thinking at this moment I was ready to travel alone.
We had an argument about Songshan and how to get to it, we were stone cold silent in the cable cars up and didn’t speak a word to each other. In the heat, which was still so intense, I perched on this spot to relax and hydrate.
He was behind me with Chinese tourist vendors, trying to sell him the ‘iconic’ karate swords (as Songshan is also home to the famous Shaolin Temple.)
The vendors had taken pictures of him holding the swords in a mortal kombat-type pose, a photo I wouldn’t see until he deleted me on facebook and that was left as his profile picture.
Looking around the mountains, their peacefulness was soothing and refreshing, particularly compared to the hustle and bustle in Shanghai. I wouldn’t have another moment like this until the next picture was taken, and when I had separated from my now former travel buddy.
Fellow travelers; can you tell which beach is in Australia and which beach is in England?
Score extra points by naming the exact beach and location! Both pictures taken by me of course.
Aung San Suu Kyi is probably my favourite of all my nominated awesome females. Daughter to an assassinated general father who negotiated Burma’s independence from the British Empire and Burmese Ambassador mother to India and Nepal, Suu Kyi spent her childhood in Burma, graduated in Politics in India to then go onto study at Oxford and work within the United Nations. She married and mothered two sons, until she returned to Burma after 28 years to attend to her ailing mother, but later lead the pro-democracy movement.
Her call for a democratic government, amidst uprisings violently suppressed by military rule, resulted in her being placed under house arrest; the first time for six years, the second time for 19 months, then the third she was not to be released until after fifteen years.
She was offered her freedom if she left the country but refused. Her husband came to visit her five times in total since she had returned to Burma, but when he was sadly diagnosed with terminal cancer was no longer granted visa. The military junta freed Suu Kyi from house arrest and urged her to visit her husband around this time; she again refused and did not trust their promise that they would allow her back into the country. Her husband died whilst she was still under house arrest.
She was eventually released in 2010, where one of her sons was granted visa to see her for the first time in ten years. Since she was released, she’s continued to fight a peaceful resistance to military rule and corruption of Burma, now Myanmar and encouraged steps closer in building a democratic government.
This year she intends to run for presidency, a position which currently bars her because she is widow and mother to foreign relatives, another new struggle. Yet she continues to inspire me and many others, I refuse to believe her struggles have been in vain.
Look how far Myanmar has come, there is still far to go but Suu Kyi has it within her sights. Peace she says is unattainable, but it’s never been closer.
If you’re making a stop in Malaysia’s uber-urban and urber-trendy capital Kuala Lumpur you might have seen Batu Caves as a recommended attraction in your lonely planet.
My boyfriend and I certainly did, as you might have read in my previous Paradise Cave Vietnam post, we’re quite a big fan of caves.
Batu Caves are one of the more famous Hindu shrines outside of India, hollowed within the limestone hills are dozens of Hindu shrines and statues inside, with an impressive golden 140 ft tall statue of Hindu God Murugan proudly standing outside in front of them.
There are three caves in total at the site, with two at the base of the hill.
The third and most grand however is located up 272 steps (geez what is it about these South East Asian caves and climbing), which you can see just behind Murugan in the first picture above.
Quite steep, but worth it when you finally clamber up there, there are certainly several snapworthy pictures of the striking formation of the cave, that reaches further above you still (even after all of those steps!)
Watch out for the pesky monkeys both on the way up and down, they scurry around the stairs playfully and don’t seem to mind if their path goes between your legs, so mind your step!
Nevertheless, they are a very cute site, especially when you spot a mummy monkey carrying her teenie tiny baby monkey. Rules go: no feeding as they can get vicious, but everyone should know that by now anyway.
What’s also great about the Batu caves is how easily accessible they are from the city.
Don’t get fooled into any tour trips with your hotel or taxi drivers – you can physically hop on the Komuter train for around 4 Ringget from KL Sentral (equivalent to around 74p at time of writing) and be taken straight there.
The station stop (named Batu Caves) is located a few minutes walk away and there is also a creatures of horrors attraction at the base of the hill too, admission included within your ticket if I remember rightly.
This includes the expected creepy crawlies: snakes, spiders, the like. However, this part is really nothing special and if you give it a miss I won’t blame you.
I’d class the Batu Caves as a half day activity worth seeing, there are drink and food stalls around the area with tourist pricing, so better to bring your own.
A great trip which isn’t hours away, hardly costs a thing and won’t take it out of you (apart from those stairs..)