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!