Author: Yellow Duckie
Last leg: Lake Manyara ~ Arusha ~ Nairobi
After couple of days chasing the Big 5 in the safari, I must admit that I have had quite enough of the wildlife and can't wait to be home. However, this last safari stop : Lake Manyara, is quite different from the first two (Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park). Upon entering the Lake Manyara National Park, it reminds me alot of the rainforest in Malaysia. It is an area densed with tropical trees.
What is magical about my safari moments here in Lake Manyara is to be surrounded by a pool of elephants (loads of them).

Catching the sunset and sunrise is something one shouldn't miss. and I must admit it's a sight no one can get bored with.

Sunset at Serena Lake Manyara

Sunrise at Serena Lake Manyara
Our safari trips ends at Lake Manyara and one of the interesting place which we stopped by for some Masai blankets really caught my interest: Mti wa Mbu (Mosquito river) . However, the feeling of being there as a tourist (not that I can disguise to be a local) is not a pleasant feeling. You will definitely be slashed through your throat and you literally felt like a piece of meat walking amongst the hungry lions.

One of the interesting fruit that is commonly found is the red bananas. Out of pure curiousity, I have decided to buy some for a try and it costed my 2 USD for 3 pieces of bananas... that's right... 2 USD for 3 pieces (not combs) of banana...obviously I still have not quite gotten over the fact that I have been ripped off. All I can say about the bananas is that there is nothing special about it.
All i can say after three days of hardcore safaris trip is that apart from the safari the journey there is part of the adventure.
Author: Yellow Duckie
Second leg of my tanzania Safari trip: South and Central of Serengeti National Park
The journey from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the Serengeti National Park was plain: cruising through the gravel roads stirring up dust as we go by surrounded by vast green land which has no clear boundary between the earth and the sky at the horizon. Zebras, wild beast and the various types of gazelles are found graving with cautious eye resting on our vehicle as we pass through.

By now, you would have thought that one will be exhausted and bored of seeing these wild animals. I must admit that the excited of spotting the big fives (Lion, Buffalo, Rhinoceros, Leopard and Elephant) still lingers.
The scenery in the Serengeti National Park changes drastically from that in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The vast piece of flat land in the Serengeti National park is defined majority by the common existence of the umbrella accacias.
Highlight of my trip in Serengeti is the catching the sunset..this is definitely a MUST-DO to be added in your safari list.

We did a little side trip to the Olduvai (Oldupai) where the footprint of the existence of the early humankinds was discovered. This side trip was kind of "forced" into our itinerary but I have to admit the sight was quite remarkable. We were at the museum, which I must admit was just a pathetic little shack that house some historical information on the discovery of the footprints, the replica of it and the detail explanation of the excavation works done in the area. I seriously was not intrigued but i supposed it was not too bad as there was a local which gives us some lecture on the area and also the history.

One thing I took notice of while cruising in the Serengeti is the insect repellent which they set around the forest. Thus far, it is here that I saw them and no where else.

Author: Yellow Duckie
One of the kenya's greatest export is Flowers. There is no doubt that fresh beautiful flowers are easily obtained.

My favourite flower stall: Situated at the corner of Brookside Grove Road and School Lane in Nairobi

I believed that he has been around for quiet some time as his flower stall is neither in a busy intersection or the mall yet he is still around. The best part of it was that he does not charge me Mzungu (Foreigner) Price. Just 50 Kenyan Shillings for a bunch. Due to his honesty, I have decided to be a faithful patron of his store :)
Author: Yellow Duckie
First leg of the journey : Nairobi (Kenya)- Namanga (Border Kenya & Tanzania) - Arusha (Tanzania) - Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania)

Hitting off my first “official” road trip in Africa, I was beyond thrilled. We were making our way to catch the animals at the Tanzania National. First destination: Ngorongoro Conservation Area. As recommended by a friend, I had no doubt that this place was fantastic. Being a first timer on safari I seriously had no clue what to expect except that I will get to see wild animals in an “uncage” manner.

Although I was a little apprehensive about traveling by bus to Arusha (the pick up point for some of the national parks in Kenya and Tanzania) at the beginning but topping up an additional USD 560 was totally not what I had in mind to spend. So bus it is. To my surprised, the bus, although has tiny leg space, was really clean. For USD 50 (return) I can’t complain. To give it an additional brownie point about traveling by bus, you’ll get an excellent scenery (and if you are lucky, you;ll get to see some girraffe sticking out their long neck out in the bush) along the way BUT you will have to survived through the bumpy rides...again..for USD 50 return, I can't complain.

The lushness of the hills in Arusha throws me back to the days when I was standing among the hills in Tuscany and I simply cant believe I am actually in Africa. Tired and exhausted after the 6 hours journey from Nairobi, I was glad that I am finally at Arusha to be picked up by the guide heading off to Ngorongoro Crater for our first destination...little did I know there is another 3 hours journey to go...

Despite the long journey I had to endure, I have to admit that it was all worth it. We had the luxury to stay at the Serena Lodge and I must say, one of the best place with a perfect view of the crater. The night when we arrive, the earth happened to have the view of the biggest moon in the past few decades. With the full sized moon hanging brightly right above the is undescribable how captivating the sight was.

Word of Advise: Catch the sunrise right at your balcony, it's something you will regret if you miss it. If you are staying at the Serena, just walk out to the balcony :)

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is actually inhibited by the Masai Tribe. Along the journey down to the crater, you will be able to catch tastefully dressed Masai selling some souvenirs and often throwing in the bargain to allow you to take a picture with/of him with the selling price offered. Most of them are found herding a flock of cattles which often crosses your path. The sound of the bells hung of the neck of the cattles apparently gave this crater its name, ngoro~ngoro.

Paid USD 4 to get this picture and a bead-woven star for my invisible christmas tree.

I must admit that among all the game drive I have been too thus far, Ngorongoro Crater has indeed got the best view. I was not sure if i was more fascinatinated by the scenery or the overwhelm but since it's my first game drive, it was a little of both that caught my breathless. Although I have read and seen countless safari trips in the books and on the television, I must admit that the experience of being amongst the wild animal is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which I highly recommend.

Stylish ASS :P

The wildbeast at rest...
Author: Yellow Duckie
99.9% of the people who lived or travelled to Stockholm during this time of the year (Dec) told me that it’s awfully cold, dark and depressing. I beg to differ (except on the “cold”). I find Stockholm beautiful. No doubt that it is dark but the advent stars and candles that are displayed at almost all the apartments and offices windows transform the town into a picturesque city.

Christmas markets all over the city simply cast away the darkness that many claimed upon this city and I could hardly find it dark and definitely far from depressing in the midst of this cheerful Christmas spirit displayed. I would definitely recommend a stroll in these markets as you can enjoy the local crafts, food and of course, a glass of warm glog.

One of the things to take note of, as I was told, is the NK windows. Apparently, every year, during Christmas, the NK department store will transfer their display windows into a world of wonders which draws a massive crowd (especially over the weekend) gathering in front of these display to catch a glimpse of the creativity of the artist behind these windows.

Fact Notes (as told by my Swedish colleagues)
Advent Stars: It is a traditional that they hang this stars at their windows as Christmas approaches. Although this is rather commercialized but the reason behind these star goes back to the story of the birth of Jesus. This is the star which the 3 wise men were seeking for.

Candles: Although there is no clue how the seven candles comes about, this is pretty much the decoration you can find displayed at the window. Traditionally, there should be only 4 candles. One candle will be lighted up each week until Christmas, so this means the first candle will be lighted four weeks before Christmas.
Author: Yellow Duckie
When I was first told about this “mysteriously” place, I have decided to make my way there and see it for myself. Situated not far away from Nairobi (about an hour’s drive without the bumps and the stopovers), I was expecting to see this place where gravity does not exist.

To my dismay, this place is just part of the road which we have been traveling on and instead of expecting the water to shoot up towards the sky, it fell straight to the ground just as it should have been when you pour it out from the bottle onto the ground. The only thing which was “so-called” amazing was that the water than reaches the ground tends to run up towards the slope of the road instead of downwards. According to my colleagues, the scientific explanation to this is “Illusion optics” where the higher end of the road is actually far closer to the center of gravity compare the other end of the road which appear (to our naked eyes) to be at the lower inclination of the slope. What ever it is, I could hardly believe that we survived through the bumpy ride to see this…quite a disappointment if you ask me.
Machakos: The so called miraculous place or road...

Despite the disappointment, I can’t deny that the journey itself compensates our disappointments with a few interesting stops along the way:

Field of Camels : With the mark on their humps, these camels obviously have an owner. It was fascinating to be among these gentle animals and not seeing them in the cage. The best thing was that they did not see us as threatening as we got closer, they just went on enjoying their meal.

Scenic : Masai herd. I must admit that after this incident, I was a little upset about the Masai. Truth is, it’s my fault as I was rather ignorant about their customs and beliefs. Right after taking this shot, the owner of this herd, came running after us with a rock in his hand. According to my driver, he was attempting to break the wind shield of our car as we have taken shots of his herd without permission. His rage was the result that something bad happened to his herd the last time one of the “muzungos” (Foreigners) took a picture of his herd. So beware when you want to take pictures, especially of the Masai and their cow (which is deemed more important than women or life itself).

School: We passed by the School where I was told that a tragic incident has kept this school closed for couple of years before it continue to run as its designated role in the community. This incident took place some time ago where a group of boys decided to rape and kill a few of their female schoolmates to show their discontent over the food served in the school. These girls were buried within the school compound and a memorial stone was set up for them.

Road side store: Fresh vegetables and fruits at local prices!
Author: Yellow Duckie
I must admit that to find a true Bahraini Cuisine in Bahrain is not easy. Food found here are either Labanese, Iranian or the American Junk food. According to my Bahraini Colleague, the truly Bahraini food are:

Muhammar - Sweet rice served with dates

Machboos - a dish of meat or fish served with rice

Here are some of the examples of the local flavours which I believe is not uniquely Bahrain's:
Halwa Bahraini - a jelly flavoured with saffron and nuts
Khubz - flatbread
Qoozi - grilled lamb stuffed with rice, boiled eggs and spices
Samboosa - a small, often moon-shaped pastry filled with chickpeas, minced meat or cheese
Sharwama - lamb or chicken carved from a rotating spit and served in a pita wrap
Hammour Fish- a kind of grouper , known to the chinese as "Sek Pan". I thought this fish is so common here that it can be obtained at a cheap price, however I was told this was not the case, although it is common, this fish can fetch up to 7 BD per kg!
Author: Yellow Duckie
Bahrain can be a boring place but today, I changed my mind about this place. Jumping straight out of a meeting with the procurement in the morning, I joined another event that was held at the Bahrain F1 circuit with another bunch of customer. Definitely a bunch who knows how to have fun :)

When F1 is not on, they turn the F1 circuit into a fun park for extreme sports. When they say extreme sports, they do mean Extreme sports, not go-kart( lawn mower machine that goes 80KM/H). They mean lotus engine that runs 180 KM/H ...
... and driving (yes, you actually get to drive them) a HUMMER through tough terrains and incredibly steep slope! I was apprehensive about driving one but I did it anyway, with my high heels and I survived :P

So the next time you feel bored in the kingdom, head straight to the F1 circuit and put your heart to its ultimate test!
Author: Yellow Duckie
11 hurt in camel-bus collision
Author: Yellow Duckie
One of the articles in the Bahrain Tribune (Bahrain Local Newspapers) caught my attention today. It was a picture of the silhouette figures of two children against the backdrop of Sunset on a hill with a pipeline protruding from the end of the hill that bears the following caption:

"CAMPING SEASON: Children play on a waste oil pit at sunset in the desert oil field at Sakhir, Bahrain, where Bahrainis are setting up tents amidst the pipelines and oil wells for the popular winter camping season."
Author: Yellow Duckie
Just when I thought Bahrain is all about the luxury in enjoying the best things in life, I managed to get a glimpse of how life is for the locals. This is the place where things are not over priced and not housed in the shelves of fine luxury malls: Isa Town.
The first time I was here, I couldn't help but to drown myself in the Japanese 100 Yen Concept Store, however it's 650 Fils (~ abt 1.70 USD) I would say as it is fixed at 650 fils for each item, unless specified. Besides this shop, there is a huge electronic haven, a shoe shop and a Lebanese Trading center which turns out to be another super market.

Apart from these, what sets this town to be more realistic (compared to the luxury picture painted to me in Seef Area) are the stores in this area. There are rows of shops that carries goods at a reasonable price and of course, in a less luxury manner. You can find spices, carpets, upholstery, furnitures, antiques and second hand goods! It does feels like the Jatuchak Market in Bangkok except the items sold were alot more less interesting that those in Jatuchak.


Junk Yard
Author: Yellow Duckie
A glass of Latte and a Madazi
A madazi reminds me a lot of the malaysian snack which was sold in the pasar malam (night market) - the "Yau char Kui". I must admit the madazi is alot more nice, crunchy on the outside and soft inside.
Author: Yellow Duckie
Patience is one of the key essence one should have while living in Kenya (as stressed in my tip for survival in Kenya). While having to deal with the banks, ticket reservations and etc, I noticed something about the way Kenyan works. Perhaps I am too quick to judge but I can't help it but to notice it EVERYWHERE : They get distracted easily.

I find it really hard to keep their concentration in finishing their transaction with you. For example, while I was at the bank settling my bank account, the financial customer representative would be working on processing my account and suddenly you see her attention distracted on the issue going on in the next counter. This happens in the bank, at the cashier in the supermarket, at air ticketing office, etc. Now I know why it takes them so long to get things moving.

The only time I get a full attention is when I was at the forex where each counter has its own room :P

Sawa sawa ~ It's OK...
Author: Yellow Duckie
Apart from the heat, it's funny that Zambia actually gives me a sense of comfort. I am not too sure what it is but the clean and smooth roads leading from the airport to the office certainly were the major contributions to how I felt about this place. I was actually impressed. If anyone tells me they are worry about the state of hygiene in Africa, I would probably feel more at ease here than back home in KL.

Zambia is actually beautiful, one thing that caught my eyes were the fire cracker trees (that's what I'd call them) that line the streets of Zambia. They were really stunning!

Zambian has good a great sense of hospitality. I love the genuine warm they have in them and they simply hold no reservations when it comes to showing their smile. The best part of it is that you know that they don't have any hidden agenda in being nice to you.

Lunch at Rasphody (South African Chain Restaurant) in the Arcade was my most memorable moment during my bried stay in Zambia. I was annoyed with the flies that hovers around so I asked the waitress for a candle to keep the flies away. When the waitress left the table to fulfill my request, my colleague simply smirk and said, I hope you get your candle. I then, understood my colleague's remark upon seeing this:

Simply steps on how to make this: First you spray Mortein (strong substances that was intended to kill mosquitoes) into the ashtray, then you grab a bunch of tissue and spray them with more Mortein and put it into the ashtray..tada...there you go, the candle that keep the flies away...the Zambian way.
As nice as this place can but, it's actually quite boring. I don't know how would one survive as there are no major shopping mall, except for some pathetic looking stores at the arcade. I suppose the outdoor activities plays a big part of the filling one's time here.
Author: Yellow Duckie
This trip I have learnt three things about Johannesburg:
Braii , Robots and Tremezzini
Braii: when my colleague text me asking me if I would like to join them for Braii, I was wondering what sort of religious study group it is. To my relieve, it was actually a lovely ritual enjoyed by many ~ BBQ

Robots: According to a dear friend of my, no where in the world call their traffic lights Robots except in Jo'burg. And I believe she is right.
Tremezzini: A round shape sandwich which is common in South Africa.

The discovery I made : Monte Casino. I have heard so much about Monte casino that I had to be there to see it for myself. D was nice enough to take me there for dinner and I was amazed at what I saw. I seriously thought I was in Italy.
The setting is excellent with a casino surrounded by loads of restaurants to spoil your taste buds, shops and an amusement park for the children and young at heart. Food are so cheap here in Jo'burg, I simply can't believe it! I had a kilogram of ribs for only 10 USD!
Author: Yellow Duckie
Stumbled upon this flame grill chicken in Nairobi. I don't see anything different Nando's as it has exactly the same favouring (Lemon & herb, mild peri peri and so on) as Nandos and even their story on how they different the "peri-peri" is the same except that I must admit that Galito's does sound a little blurry... i guess they must be the copycat, after all theirs doesn't taste as nice as Nando's.

Author: Yellow Duckie
Less than 2 weeks in Nairobi, I have learn where to get my groceries:
Nakumatt or Uchumi.
Nakumatt, of course, offers a better range of products compares to Uchumi but price wise, I have no comment as I am still trying to grasp with the huge currency denomination here.

To get fresh fruits and vegetables, I would say get it from Zuchini (there is one next to Nakumatt Junction). This is where you can get fresh vegetables that is not rotten.

So what exactly is the cost of living here ? (I would say it's more expensive that Malaysia for sure!)

A dozen of eggs ~ USD 2

A Loaf of bread (Normal Length) ~ USD 0.80

1 Litre Fresh Milk ~ USD 1

500 gm Butter ~ USD 5.5

600 g Pork Loin ~ USD 5.6

300 g mince beef ~ USD 1.6

South Africa Oranges ~ USD 2.3 per KG

Potatoes ~ USD 0.50 per KG

Carrots ~ USD 0.40 per KG

Unleaded Petrol ~ USD 1.3 per litre

There are alot of fresh fruits and vegetables here, one will just need to take sometime to get to know what taste good and what does not.

Word of advise, once you found your choice of Milk, STICK to it! Speaking from experience...Brookside dairy product is by far the best. Funny though, Brookside is the area where I live but I have not seen a cow anywhere! Then again... I have only been here slightly more than 1 week.

Author: Yellow Duckie
Author: Yellow Duckie
A cold store is...

a grocery store.
Author: Yellow Duckie
Call me ignorance but it actually took me a while to figure which was the sign that points me to the right toilet door....perhaps it was plain stupidity
Author: Yellow Duckie
Flat arabic bread...extremely delicious to be eaten with any of the "trio" side dish as shown in the next item.

The trio...hommous, Labneh and Mutabal

Sweet dates accompanied by a cup of arabic coffee (gahwaji)

Taboule: A refreshing sourish side dish

Sheesh Kebab
Author: Yellow Duckie
One look at Bahrain, you would have thought that there is nothing much in this barren land. I thought shopping was the only thing in Bahrain that draws the crowd, apart from the liberty of drinking and all other leisure which the Saudis are deprived of in their own country, I was wrong.
Here are my selected sights of interest or activities in Bahrain (which I hope to ticked it all off):

National Museum
Proud to say I have made my way to the National Museum of Bahrain and I am glad that it was really interesting. Within these walls, one will get to know about the history of Bahrain (although this country may seem so small to have any history to begin with, again I was wrong) and indulge in the rich culture of Bahrain. Three things I learnt about Bahrain:
Bahrain is formerly known as Tylos (Greek influence) and later , Dilmun.
Bahrain is like a gold mine for archeologist where thousands of organized tombs were found in this city itself.
Their traditional customs were extremely colourful: I know I made an entry about this but it still surprises me as 99% women in Bahrain dresses in their Black Daffa.

Al Fateh Grand Mosque
Interesting fact as mentioned by the guide about this most is that the carpets is from Scotland, the glass lamps are from France and the marbles, of course, from Italy. Generally, apart from the people that attend the prayers, there is nothing of this mosque is from Bahrain. The interior is nice but it does not have the “wow” factor. However, I must admit that it is actually quite beautiful.

Visit La Fountaine Comtemporary Art Center
One advise when you are here, enjoy a meal at the restaurant. Excellent food with a good ambience. This piece of historical building was converted into a Comtemporary Art Center and is used to host many events. I would say, a perfect place to hold a private function.

Al Jasra House
This is where you can get a glimpse of the traditional Bahrain Architecture. I must say it's quite worth the visit as it is situated nto far from town, just about 25 KM away.

Tree of Life (yet to visit)
A lone mesquite tree that stands in the desert where its source of water is still a mystery. Traveling all the way just to see this tree is probably a waste of time but I supposed there is a difference of being there and seeing it on the picture.

Barbar Temple (yet to visit)
An excavation of an ancient temple. Not too sure if one could just walk in to take a look but I will attempt to do so in my next trip.

Bait al Qur’an (yet to visit)
Carries the most distinctive architecture in Bahrain

Visit the Central Market (yet to visit)
As usual, to me, one can really see the life of the locals in the market place and thus this would be my choice in my next visit to Bahrain

Explore around the small valleys of Bab al Bahrain and Gold Souq
Stay off this place on Friday as most likely you will find yourself walking in the streets with most of the shops closed. You will find alot of electronics, souvenirs, cloths and many other goods. This is an excellent place to spot the trditional Bahrainian shops (as seen in the National Museum).

Taking scenic shot
Although Bahrain seems barren, there are actually a lot of scenic sights which I did not managed to capture as I was in the car. I would really love to go around Bahrain on a clear day to capture these beautiful scenes. The waterfront behind the National Museum is one of the best locations.