Bristol vs the world

A travel (and sometimes fashion) blog about exploring Bristol and the rest of the world, one post at a time.

Tag: photography

Balloons!

One of my favourite things about living in Bristol is how, on a clear day, you’re almost guaranteed to see a hot air balloon or three floating in the sky.

And sometimes, on a really special night, you can be sat in the garden with a cup of tea and ten will glide past – a mini balloon fiesta – passing so close that you can hear the roar of the fire in the basket.

You’d think I’d be bored or at least complacent about them by now, but no – and hopefully I never will be. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about a hot air balloon that never fails to make me smile.

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Walking Copenhagen

Christianshavns
Copenhagen harbour

Copenhagen is best seen from the pavement. It’s a city where your journey could take you down a street pock-marked with foosball tables. Where a riverside walk leads you past moored boats painted with happy murals and bursting with flowers on their decks. Where the suddenly slow-moving traffic you pass by is the result of a sausage cart vendor dragging his stand to work.

Copenhagen

Assistens Cemtery, Copenhagen
Assistens Cemetery Copenhagen

We wandered through Assistens Kierkegard, final resting place of Hans Christian Anderson and exactly the lively sort of place you don’t imagine when you think of cemeteries. A sunny afternoon, locals (families, friends, couples) were scattered among the graves – reading, talking, kissing, sleeping – with their bikes at their feet.

Frederiksberg Gardens

We strolled through Frederiksberg Gardens, whose grass stretches for miles, past post-work runners. We climbed its hill and looked down over the city we for which we fell, instantly, head-over-heels in love.

Tante T, Viktoriagade, Copenhangen
Tante T tea
We were typical Brits; in a city known for coffee, we sheltered from the rain in Tante T on Victoriagade, a tea shop filled with chintzy chairs and black and white photographs on the wall. (John, to be fair, did then order a coffee.) They provided an egg timer with different strengths marked at different points, to make sure my coconut-flavoured tea would be just right.

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Illums Bolighaus

We discovered the beautiful Illums Bolighaus, which feels more art gallery than designer furniture shop. We spent an hour drooling and planning which sofas and chairs and lights we’ll buy when we make our first few million.

Lego Nyhavn

We found ourselves in the Lego shop a few streets later, marvelling at their models of Nyhavn and other landmarks and making plastic versions of ourselves. We even managed to represent the almost-a-foot height difference. By giving me a Lego child’s legs.

Copenhagen Latin Quarter by
Latin Quarter by Ania Krasniewska

We took right turns and left turns at random in the Latin Quarter’s bright backstreets full of vintage clothes shops and studenty bars. One of the city’s many cyclists passed us, eating an ice cream.

Copenhagen botanic garden

We slowly circled the lake in the (free) botanic gardens and found ourselves in one of the greenhouses, surrounded by cacti and other spiky, wonky, jutting, alien-like plants.

 

torveshallerne

We resisted eating everything in the Torvehallerne, glass-walled markets with stalls selling coffee and spices and vegetables and larger meals from around the world.

Karriere cocktail bar, Kodbyens

We explored Kodbyens, the meat-packing district, come nightfall. We passed al fresco diners making the most of free blankets (they – the blankets – are a common site in Copenhagen), neon lights flashing from dimly-lit bars and a bonfire outside Karriere cocktail bar. We walked through its plastic flaps, left over from its former life as a butcher’s shop, and sipped a rum cocktail.

We meandered past the large ponds behind the planetarium. Down side-streets full of independent shops. Past small artists’ galleries, prints tempting us from the windows.

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We breathed in the coffee and the hot dogs. We sat on benches and the sides of harbours, not because we were tired, but because we wanted to watch the city go by.

We walked slowly (Copenhagen does not rush). Hand-in-hand. Happy.

Summer graffiti Copenhagen

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Copenhagen
Copenhagen botanic garden

Photo Credits
Assistens Kierkegard (x2): Open City Project
Tante T: Tante T website
Latin Quarter Photo One: Euroshop
Latin Quarter Photo Two: The New Diplomat’s Wife
Torveshallerne: Heather Spalling via Flickr
All others my own, please credit if using.

A morning in Roskilde

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

 

During our time in Copenhagen we decided to make use of the extensive railway network and take a trip out to Roskilde. Perhaps most well-known for its music festival, Roskilde is also a really pleasant area to just wander around. The main street in the town admittedly isn’t hugely exciting, but just beyond that, past towering Roskilde Cathedral, it becomes greener, the buildings more traditional. And then you see the vast fjord beyond. Copenhagen isn’t exactly a hectic city – far from it – but Roskilde is that bit slower, calmer, quieter.

We ambled through a park and down to the Viking Ship Museum, where we spent a good couple of hours looking around the main exhibition and boatyard, clambering over their exhibition ships and trying on the Viking costumes, before eating an ice cream overlooking the fjord.

The perfect way to spend a relaxed morning in Copenhagen.


Roskilde

Roskilde

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde fjord

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

 

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde

 

Getting There
We went by train. Roskilde is in Zone 7, a ticket for which costs DK 108

Viking Ship Museum
Open every day except 24, 25 and 31 December
Open 10-4, or 10-5 22/06-31/08

Prices
Adult: 80 DKK (October-April), 115 (May-September)
Students: 70 DKK (October-April), 100 (May-September)
Children up to 18 go free

Photos
All photos my own, please credit if using

Bako National Park, Sarawak

Bako beach

I have mixed memories of Bako National Park. On the one hand, it was probably the most beautiful place I’ve been lucky enough to visit. On the other, it did give me a distrust of monkeys – or at least macaques – after one made a leaped onto our table and made off with my much-needed chicken leg dinner.

One thing’s for certain: it knows how to make – and leave – an impression (generally for the right reasons).

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Getting to Bako

First thing’s first, you need to get to the Park. Although quicker to grab a taxi or hire a mini-bus with a group, the public buses are by far the cheapest way to get there at RM3.50 one way (around 65p) – and they still only take 35-45 minutes from Kuching (catch it towards the end of Jalan Bazaar/further from the bus station and you’ll save yourself a bit of time). They come once an hour.

However road transport can only take you so far and you’ll be dropped at Kampung Bako. From there, visit the ticketing office to charter a boat to take you on the 30-minute journey to the National Park, past stilt-houses rising out of the water, fishermen, foliage-covered mountains (I told you Bako knows how to make an impression).

Boats cost just under RM50 – about £9 – return. They can fit up to five people so the cheapest thing to do is club up with others on your bus to share one. However your boat driver will ask you for a return journey time so you need to make sure the others on your boat have similar plans for their trip to you. For a bit more flexibility, go it alone (or at least, alone in your group).

Also check the tides before you go – or at least take some waterproof sandals. Although we got dropped off at the National Park’s jetty, the time we wanted to go back happened to be low tide, so the boats couldn’t get up to it. Instead we were picked from the park beach – well, the sea by it. Trousers rolled and bags held above us, we waded back to our boat through the (Singapore bath warm) water and dried our legs in the sun as we were taken back to the bus stop – it may not be glamorous, but it was certainly a memorable way to leave!

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To stay or not to stay

If you’re short on time – or not too bothered about undertaking lots of treks – Bako can be done in a day. Get one of the earliest buses from Kuching and ask your boat driver when the latest is that they’ll pick you up.

But I’d highly recommend an overnight stay. The accommodation is basic and the food isn’t anything to write home about (and that’s if it doesn’t get stolen by cheeky macaques). But it really allows you to make the most of your time in the Park. You can relax with a drink in-between walks, watch the sun set over the beach at park HQ or get up early and enjoy one of the trails before the next day’s visitors really get going.

You can also go on their night trails for a small fee, where a guide will point out wildlife you might not see during the day.  We were exhausted and didn’t, but part of me regrets that decision now.

We booked our accommodation online and confirmed our reservation with the Kuching tourist office when we arrived in the city. Despite this, we did have some problems on checking in, the people working at the Park HQ reception seemingly not being able to find our reservation. However they did honor it. So I’d recommended taking a print-out of your reservation and also phoning to confirm – at least then you know a room should be allocated to you, even if they’re not sure quite where you’re supposed to be saying. This all said, it looked like we were the only people having trouble so I don’t think ours was a common experience – don’t let it put you off!

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Treks and trails

On arriving at the Park headquarters, you receive a paper map detailing the 17 walks on offer. This includes a list of how long they are and a rough idea of how long they should take to complete one way. I’ll admit it, we had a good chuckle at that at first. 45 minutes to go 1km? Maybe for someone who’s seriously out of shape…

Turns out, the people who put that map together know what they’re talking about. The trails may not be particularly long, but on many of the routes you’ll find yourself clambering over, up and down steep paths laden with tree roots and rocks. You’re also in the middle of a hot, sticky jungle. And let’s not forget that occasionally you might want to stop to look at some of the plants, wildlife or stunning views (or just to catch your breath and have some water – though I highly recommend a Platypus or similar).

Don’t be put off by this though – we’re of average fitness and probably found the heat and humidity the hardest element to deal with, rather than the treks themselves being hugely difficult. If you’re not a confident walker, you could pack a walking pole (I am a huge fan of walking poles). But there were plenty of people do the trails in flip flops and – in some cases – swimming costumes. I wouldn’t recommend following their example, mind.

There are also some slightly easier trails too; the first one we undertook, to Telok Delima, was often along boardwalk and mostly flat. The park guides at reception should be able to offer advice if you’re not sure what will suit your fitness levels.

And the trails may have been tiring, but absolutely worth it. I’ll let the photos in this entry speak for themselves as to why.

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Telok Delima trail, Bako

What else is there to do

Not content trekking through mangroves and spectacular jungle or relaxing on stunning, secluded beaches? The Park also has an abundance of wildlife. As well as the macaques, we also saw Proboscis monkeys (best looking animals ever?) and silver leaf monkeys also call the area their home. The Park HQ and nearby beach are home to bearded pigs, who you might see snuffling around the cabins or snoozing in the shade. And then there’s the many other insects and small mammals that you might spot. We saw some groups on trips with guides who were pointing out these animals to them, so if you’re a wildlife buff then this could be a worthwhile investment.

Macaques near Bako Park HQ

Wild boar, Bako

In short…

If you’re visiting Kuching, Bako National Park is a must-visit. It’s hard to describe how visiting here makes you feel. I haven’t made it sound like a hugely relaxing experience and yet, despite the sweat, the stickiness, the tricky trails, it somehow is. Probably something to do with getting to the end of a trek and being greeted by almost-empty beaches surrounded by tropical trees, with views of endless water or mountains rising from the sea. Simply breathtaking. (I told you it left an impression!)

Just make sure you eat your dinner inside – or at least away from the sides of the canteen!

Bako Park HQ beach

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Telok Paku trek

Telok Pandan Kecil trekTelok PakuFalling coconuts...947129_10100215658532607_897540613_n

Kuching Waterfront

waterfront

Being a bit of a feline fanatic, it was inevitable that I’d feel a certain fondness for a city whose name – coincidentally, rather than intentionally – means ‘cat city’. They don’t let you forget it either – Kuching has so many cat statues that Lonely Planet lists them as one of its top sites of interest.

But there’s more to Sarawak’s capital than novelty roundabout decorations. And although many use Kuching just as a base for exploring the many nearby nature destinations, it’s worth spending a few days exploring the city itself. This is the first of a few planned posts about our time here, starting with the first place we (admittedly, probably like most visitors  to Kuching) really visited here, the Waterfront.

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This stretch of pedestrianised pavement along Jalan Bazaar has multiple personalities. Until mid-afternoon, it’s restrained and gentle, in contrast to the strains of karaoke that, even before lunch, float across the river. The ideal spot for a quiet stroll and, at lunchtime, to sample some (cheap, tasty and, for some pieces, freshly made – we watched ours be chopped up) spring rolls, chilli sauce and fried bananas from the food carts.

Waterfront food

Sunset casts a spell here. The river is surrounded by mosques and their hauntingly beautiful Calls to Prayer collide on the breeze as sampan (boat) drivers glide across the water.

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As darkness falls, a different kind of music takes over. Buskers playing every kind of instrument invade the pavements and draw huge crowds. Behind them, families, friends and couples promenade, while others line the walls and steps, chatting.

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And that’s all without mentioning the changing view as you walk along – colourful stilt houses become the distinctive Astana government building which becomes mountains rising in the background.

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All in all, not a bad introduction to the Bornean leg of our adventure.

waterfront view

All photos my own – please credit if using