Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Asia's Most Iconic Skyline

Hong Kong's skyline seen from the Peak

With the sole exception of Manhattan there is probably no skyline in the world more iconic than the amazing skyscrapers of "The Pearl of the Orient", nestled in between the South China Sea and the hills of Hong Kong Island. What this awe inspiring skyline tells you, is that you have arrived at one of Asia truly world class cities.

It was a joy to spend 9 days here in early April 2009 - if only we had seen the sun a bit more it would have been the perfect escape from India. As suggested above, this post is dedicated to Hong Kong's out-of-this-world skyline, as seen primarily from the traveller district of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, from the Peak high above the city.

International Finance Centre seen from the Peak, with the district of Kowloon hidden in the haze across the water. Batman jumps out from this building in "The Dark Knight"

Tourists enjoying the fantastic view of the city on the - slightly scary -tram ride up to the peak

The skyline of Hong Kong Island seen from Kowloon on the other side of the water

The view of Hong Kong only gets more impressive at night

The sizes of buildings in Hong Kong can be hard to fathom. Here is just part of one single apartment building

(The pictures on this post were taken on 7 and 9 April 2009)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Corbett National Park

Greater Indian Hornbill in flight

I recently promised that my next post would be from Hong Kong, but I'll have to negate on that for a little while. You see, I had completely forgotten our lovely 2009 trip to Jim Corbett National Park in the state of Uttarakhand.

We went with a group of friends, hoping - but not really expecting - to see the elusive Bengal tiger. Corbett is one of the more successful parks participating in the prestigious Project Tiger, but the tigers, although plentiful, are much more difficult to spot here than in other national parks. In the end we saw plenty of signs of tiger presence, but no actual sightings of this mighty animal, which perhaps was a good thing considering that much of the time we were looking on foot. Our guide had seen a tiger just a few days earlier while walking the exact same route. He told us that "if a tiger comes and sees us walking here, she will probably turn around and walk away" (italics mine!).

Our walking guide listening, looking and even trying to smell for signs of a tiger

We still had a marvellous trip, though, seeing lots of deer, birds, jackals, dancing peacocks and other animals. The personal highlight for me was definitely our sightings of several Greater Indian Hornbills - a magnificent bird, suffering from "Near threatened" status. It is also the state bird of Nitoli's home state of Nagaland, with it's black and white feathers playing an important role for tribal dress and ceremony. But it was also her first time of seeing this fantastic bird in the wild.

Hornbill Picking Fruit

Langur in the air

Langurs using their athletic skills for less peaceful pursuits

Dancing peacock hidden in the high grass of Corbett

Another dancing peacock - this one clearly with some luck in attracting the "chicks"

A handsome male Kalij Pheasant

A female member of the same species, the Kalij Pheasant. Funny how the Bird Kingdom is so opposite to humans - the males are more beautiful.

In the middle of the picture a jackal makes its way across a typical Corbett landscape

Sambar Deer looking out for jackals and other predators from the relative saftey of the high grass

Female Streak-Throated Woodpecker peacking out from behind a branch

Nitoli looking back towards me at an early morning jeep safari

Finally, we also stayed in a nice resort (Jim's Jungle Retreat) with luxury tents and a very enjoyable swimming pool. Combined with the company of good friends this overall made for a very successful trip.

Dinner at the outdoor but covered dining hall

There's even a cinema showing films about the tiger's and the fight for their survival

Our carpeted luxury tent with en-suite bathroom

The lovely pool, making for a great place to cool down between safaris. It's me and Nitoli at the far end of the pool.

(The events in this blog post took place from 6 to 8 March 2009)