New Year Greetings With Flowers #MiracleGarden

Happy 2018

I had saved this post for New Year Greetings!

When I entered the Miracle garden, (Dubai) I asked myself: ‘am I dreaming?’ An incredible haven of tranquility, a fiesta of flowers, a riot of colors all around in astonishing shapes and sizes and an innovative display dazzled me!

Miracle Garden

As I was trying to brace myself, William Wordsworth’s lyrics from “The Daffodils” flashed across my mind “ten thousand I saw at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance”… “I gazed and gazed but little thought, what wealth the show to me had brought…”

Miracle Garden

Actually this garden has 45 million blooming flowers and the captivating shapes in which they grow are amazing. I have seen Tulip gardens but their grandeur didn’t enrapture me as much as this one.

Miracle Garden

When I was looking up the options to visit this garden, I came across online booking of tours, which offered a five-hour trip to Global Village and Miracle Garden in $80.00 per person, which included hotel pick up and entrance fees. I thought we would be stuck up for five hours and since I was not very keen to visit Global Village, I chose to work it out myself.

Miracle Garden

We took a taxi from our hotel and reached the garden within half an hour. The entry ticket costs 30 AED per person. After spending an hour at the garden, admiring those who could create this wonder in the middle of a desert and marveling at the maintenance, we walked across the road to visit Butterfly Garden, which was a huge disappointment.

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I would never recommend a visit to Butterfly Garden due to the exorbitantly priced ticket (60 AED per person) to enter and find a few butterflies, in an oppressive humid atmosphere. I think this so called Butterfly Garden is a misnomer! It should be called ‘Test your Patience at a high price.’ I bet nobody would enter!! The moment I entered, I wanted to rush out. It was disgusting!

I had clicked some pictures but didn’t find them worth sharing as there are hardly any butterflies to be seen!

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Since the sun was about to set, we thought let’s visit Global Village too and capture the sunset there. So we took another taxi and reached there within minutes. The entry ticket to this place is just 15 AED.

Designed to attract tourists, this village, as the name suggests showcases the culture and wares of different countries through pavilions, which have been set up to sell their local products and seem to be doing a roaring business. There is too much to see…stroll around, watch the shows, take the rides, try global cuisine, shop the souvenirs. We spent an hour there and were in no mood to stay longer. We clicked some memorable pictures.

Sunset at Global Village
Sunset at Global Village

The whole trip cost us half the amount as compared to the online trip advisors, with the choice of how much time we wanted to spend at each place. Planning skills are indeed rewarding!

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing all my readers a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful 2018.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

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A Spectacular View Of Palm Islands From 52nd Floor. #Dubai

Palm Islands view from 52nd floor
View from 52nd floor of Marriott Harbour Hotel

Draped by a fearless felicity
That defines my ebullient spirit
I could tread treacherous trails
Eager to take in the gales.

Each new path beckons me
Promising joy and thrill
Of adding another folio
To the cryptic book of life.

Pages that stand out are self-written
They smile and glow with our ventures
Infusing delight all around for self-quenchers.
© Balroop Singh, Nov. 2017

The Palm Islands of Dubai, considered to be the 8th wonder of the world is one of the most popular destinations to explore. An eloquent example of superb engineering and affluence, The Palm Islands are man-made marvels, created in the Persian Gulf to expand Dubai’s coastline. They are shaped like a palm tree and their shape can only be seen from an elevated place.

We didn’t take the long route of going to the Palm Gateway Monorail Station to take the Monorail upto the top, to view the major landmarks like themed hotels, Aquaventure Waterpark, Dolphin Bay and the Aquarium because the real thrill lies in viewing the magnificence of man-made palm shape, which cannot be seen from the surface.

Palm Islands - view from 52nd floor

After much research and review reading, I came across The Observatory Bar and Grill, which is situated on the 52nd floor of Marriott Harbour Hotel. My excitement doubled to know that this restaurant offers panoramic views of The Palm Jumeriah and Dubai Marina along with delectable food.

We booked our table for lunch well in advance to be greeted with smiles and were ushered into the magnificient lobby divided into three segments. Most of the tables were laid by the massive windows through which we could look down at the astounding azure landscape, dominated by palm shape, created by incredible planning of master minds.

Palm Islands

An amateur photographer in me was too excited to take as many shots as possible but none of them could capture the whole shape of the so called islands. We couldn’t take our eyes off the serene scenario while we enjoyed the drinks of our choice. Delicious food added an extra zing to my senses! We carried another string of unforgettable memories, shimmering in our souls.

Thank you for reading this experience, special in many ways.

You can read more interesting facts about Palm Islands.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

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Image from Youtube

Sunrise – At The Top Of Burj Khalifa

Sunrise from the top of Burj Khalifa

Some moments of joy come uninvited.
Some moments become memorable
Just because we let them be,
Without any expectations.
They never disappoint!

I have never made an effort to watch sunrise except once, which I had shared in an earlier post but watching it from the top of world’s tallest tower seemed special. It was spectacular and exhilarating!

Sunrise from the top of Burj Khalifa

A visit to Burj Khalifa (Dubai) was never on my bucket list. It just got planned at the last moment of our annual visit to India as we were flying Emirates. We thought that a hotel just opposite this Burj would be an ideal place to stay and we chose a room with a view.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

Then I stumbled across a promotional offer of watching sunrise from the 124th floor of this iconic tallest structure in the world. I booked the tickets a week before we started our trip, keeping in view the long queues that you have to deal with.

We woke up very early to keep our rendezvous with the sun.  Jet lag helped us too! Since we were staying in a hotel opposite Burj Khalifa, we could just walk across the road to reach the entry point, which is through The Dubai Mall and you have to walk almost a mile to reach the ticket counter from where the online voucher is converted into a ticket.

A musical climb up the elevator within seconds was a memorable experience worth mentioning. This is the best time to watch the city from the top of Burj Khalifa as a beautiful skyline greets you from the terrace.

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We spent almost an hour, waiting for the splendor of the sun to spread across the sky…an experience of a life time! Each moment has gone down the memory lane, glowing gorgeously orange. I was elated at the choice I had made.

Most of the reviews suggested that the evening time is more appropriate to go up but it gets very crowded at that time.

View from the room
View from our room during the day

I didn’t expect another thrill, which I could watch from the window of my room – the sunset! Just look at the image that I clicked:

Sunset view from my room
Sunset view from our room!

Could I ask for more in a single day? I heart was overflowing with gratitude for my daughter who had suggested the hotel to us.

Thank you for reading one of the memorable experiences I had recently. I have many more to share.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

No Less Than An Adventure!

Life is an adventureWould you call this an adventure?

I did, but one of our friends who was with us, disagreed.

Imagine driving round and round in circles and the navigator of your IPhone saying ‘reached’!

It seemed funny and we did have a hearty laugh but our frustration seemed to mount with each attempt.

I refused to give up and was sure that there was a way to reach the destination.

Were we missing something…turning on the wrong road?

Let me relate the story from the beginning. Our trip to Crater Lake (Oregon) was planned in a hurry but we wanted to make the best of every place of interest on the way rather than driving non-stop and reaching with cramps in our legs and back.

My research yielded two places, out of which we chose Dunsmuir, a city on the upper Sacramento River in California, known as the “Home of the best water on Earth.”

Further research revealed Hedge Creek Falls and Mossbrae Falls (most popular) as the top sights in the city.

We reached by four in the evening and after checking in the place we had booked for the night, we thought it was a good idea to visit Mossbrae Falls. That was the beginning of this adventure.

Web results revealed that it was a 45-minute hike and a 5-minute drive. We chose to drive to the Falls but our phone navigator took us round and round, bringing us back to the place we would start. My friend felt that there was something wrong with my phone and told us to start again, with instructions from her phone! We turned right, as instructed by her navigator, then left and then right and right again according to the names of the roads and reached the same place!

We decided to ask a local who laughed and told us he could tell us ‘how not to get there!’ He warned us that it is illegal to go there because the only path that could lead us to Mossbrae Falls was walking by the rail track.

‘Why is it listed as top attraction!’ I dismissed the thought as quickly as it had flashed.

He advised us to drop the idea of visiting these Falls.

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Disappointed but determined, we came to our lodge and read the reviews on Tripadvisor. One of the reviews exactly mentioned how to get there. It also cautioned about the hazards involved and why people took the risk of visiting these falls. I declared that we would surely try the next morning.

One of our friends, a law abiding freak, was very reluctant to go as the only way to approach the Falls is a walk by the rail track and he considered this a calculated risk. Nothing could deter me.

Why haven’t the authorities developed another track? This thought still reverbrates around me.IMG_4349DSC02218

We parked our car at the Botanical Garden parking and walked back towards Shasta Retreat. We kept walking downhill till we reached a bridge. As instructed by the reviewer, we turned right from the bridge and were at the rail track. It was a single track railway.

A long walk on uneven surfaces and on stoney sides, quite narrow at places, with warnings to each other to be careful, go slow and watch out for a train, we kept going till we reached another bridge. We could hear the Mossbrae Falls near by!

They were not very high but looked awesome. Despite the sound produced by falling water, a serenity pervaded all around. Somebody was lying in a hammock, soaking in the damp, breezy, soft spray of water. The river was shallow and we could see the pebbles below the water.

I had read that the pictures do not do any justice as the Falls are much more beautiful than they seem in the pictures. I couldn’t agree more.

IMG_4355 2We were lucky as no train passed by. We met all kinds of people on the way, even those who were carrying little children on their shoulders and one not very old man, walking with two sticks, in the center of the track.

We returned with some delightful memories.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

A Spectacular Marvel Of Nature: #CraterLake

The magnificent Crater Lake

I have seen many lakes – from the breathtaking Tshangu lake in Sikkim (India) near Chinese border to the amazing Pangong lake in Leh near Ladakh in the Himalayas, Dal lake, named as the “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir,” the finger lakes in Buffalo (New York) and many more.

None could elicit as speechless a response from me as the one I visited last week. None could inspire me to share my ethereal experience of being mesmerized by its view.

I have been looking for words to describe the beauty of Crater Lake ever since I set my eyes on this spectacular marvel of nature but words seem to fall apart…should I say exquisite…magnificient or a spiritual delight?

When I looked at it, the first word that came to my mind was WOW! Its pristine glory, its tranquility and its wondrous aura captivated me beyond words. I stood rooted to the ground, frozen, not by the gusty winds and sleet that welcomed us but by its celestial beauty.

“Crater Lake must be seen to be appreciated properly,” said Thomas J. Williams, former superintendent of Crater Lake National Park, “photographs simply cannot depict the majesty of the lake in its setting, the depth of the blue.”

The words of Author, Jack London that I happened to read at the Visitor center at Park Headquarters really resonate with me, “I thought I had gazed upon everything beautiful in nature as I have spent my years traveling thousands of miles to visit the beauty spots of the earth, but I have reached the climax. Never again can I gaze upon the beauty spots of the earth and enjoy them as being the finest thing I have ever seen. Crater Lake is above them above them all.”

Created out of fire, lava and smoke, this unique lake took many years to come to its present form. A caldera was formed when Mount Mazama (a volcano in south-central Oregon) collapsed. Lava eruptions created a central platform, Wizard island and Merriam Cone. Eventually the caldera cooled, allowing rain and snow to accumulate and form a lake.

Wizard Island in Crater Lake
Wizard Island

We watched a 22-minute film about the park’s violent past and its present grandeur. It is shown at the Steel Visitor Center at Park Headquarters.

We drove around the east rim of the lake the day we arrived (many thanks to our amiable hostess who told us)  because it was to be closed to vehicular traffic the next day for repairs. Rim drive, which was built in 1930s, is a 33-mile road that encircles Crater Lake. It offers ‘dramatic views’ of the lake and the park’s volcanic scenery.

Sun and mist played hide and seek and erased the deep blue color of the lake. Sunsets in the park are said to be amazing but we couldn’t savor them. A hushed desire to go again simmers within my heart.

Undeterred by sleet and rain, we hiked to Sun Notch to view The Phantom Ship, an island in the lake, that seems to be sailing away. From easy walks to challenging hikes, Crater National Park, which was established in 1902 has something for everyone – boat tours, trolley tours, camping, fishing, sky gazing, sunsets, wildlife viewing, food and dining in Crater Lake Lodge and even swimming in the ice-cold water of the lake!

Phantom ship & Rhyodacite dome
Mist is trying to hide the Phantom ship & Rhyodacite dome in the lake

We couldn’t enjoy all the activities due to early snow and bad weather on the day we chose to visit but the memories that we carried are permanently etched on our minds.

The drive through the park was a little scary but very beautiful, with thick forest on both sides of the road. We were caught unawares by a sudden snowfall when we decided to drive to Annie’s Restaurant for dinner and had to return empty stomach! But there were no regrets because we had had a sumptuous lunch at the Lodge restaurant and could drive through the thick snow on the slippery road.

The Pinnacles
These pinnacles were formed by volcanic eruptions, another marvel of nature, well preserved!

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.