Monday, July 29, 2019

Asia - Myanmar to Udaipur, India, Thursday, March 1, 2018

Leg one of our travels to India.  This charter first, then to the "Mother Ship."

We have two flights today to reach India.  First is our chartered flight back to Yangon.  Yangon used to be called Rangoon, but after the British left, the people of Rangoon wanted to separate themselves from the British name and changed to Yangon.  Anyway, while in Yangon, we had our daily temple tour of the Shwedagon Pagoda.  Goodie goodie!  Can hardly wait.  Shoes and socks had to be removed.  I was wearing stockings that would require me to totally undress.  Wasn't feeling it, so I did a Pagoda pass.  The folks who went check it out came out hot, tired, grumpy and sweaty.  It's a holiday here and the place was packed and HOT!  So I didn't miss anything.

My tour of Shwedagon.  Took this photo of a photo in the check in center while the others were inside roasting.  

After the quick tour of Shwedagon, we were back on our jet heading to Udaipur India, the last stop on our Asia tour. 

Our crew aboard our NatGeo plane.

After landing safely in Udaipur and spending about as much time clearing Indian immigration as our flying time, we arrived for a sunset boat ride across Lake Pichola to the Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel.  Along the way, we passed the Palace Hotel, located on an island in Lake Pichola.  This is were a James Bond movie, "Octopussy"was filmed.   

We arrived just in time for a sunset cruise to the hotel.

Waiting to board our little boat.

Sunset photo of David and Jenny waiting to hop aboard our little boat.

Life Jackets were required to cross the lake.  Lorri is rocking hers!!

The Palace Hotel, located in the middle of the lake, is where the James Bond film, Octopussy, was filmed.

We docked at The Oberoi where a grand reception was arranged for us complete with Camels, Elephants, horses and a band.

But first ... a trek through the banyan tree jungle.  Beautiful.

This camel doesn't look all that excited.

This camel is praying that I don't jump on board.  So am I!!

Lorri and the camels.

Doesn't everybody need a camel selfie??

Our lovely home while in Udaipur.  Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel.

The inside of the hotel is as beautiful as the outside.

This beautiful fountain/sundial terraces up to my room.
As I mentioned, we arrived at sunset.  That's happy hour time, so we met in the bar for our usual happy hour before a fabulous Indian dinner.  I love Indian food.  They use such tasty spices in their dishes.  

Happy hour AGAIN!  Love this tradition and it's one of the true highlights of these trips.  Where's Pat?

Oh my gosh!  Indian food is so delicious.  Here is the chef who prepared this feast for us tonight.  He likes to mingle with the people while getting their food so he can explain each dish.  They take such pride in their work.

This cute little terrace in my room overlooks the pool

Pool is just outside my terrace.

Loved this little bay window looking out at the pool.  I didn't even know this was here until the next day when I opened the drapes.  

My bedroom.  Bay widow is beyond the drapes.  Found it this morning.

Sitting room.

Loved this claw foot tub and dressing area.  I've really had some nice tubs in my hotels along the way.  Too bad I never take the time.  I'm usually rushed into the shower and off to go.  Such a waste.  

Saturday, March 3, 2018

This morning, we had several options.  I chose the one that did NOT include a temple tour.  Stevie, Lorri, Pat, Midge and I opted for the horseback ride through a small village.  It sounded like a good idea at the time, but we didn't realize it would be like a kids pony ride, with a handler holding the reins and walking us through the dusty countryside.  But hey ... it beat the heck out of another darn temple. 

I hope this video works.  Shows our grand welcome at the horseback riding stable.  First, Midge gets a flower lei, next a red dot on her forehead, then rose pedals are thrown into her face.  Not sure is this is a blessing or an insult as they are chanting something as they toss the pedals.

Pat gets lei'd.

After being properly "received," we get equipped for the ride.

Good to go with helmets.

The Indian folks are big on face masks.  The trail is expected to be quite dusty.  Pat made the right choice.

Pat's good to go.

Stevie is next up.

Midge with her stallion, and a nice horse too.

Giddy-up!  Let's go.

Lorri is good to go to.

And we're off.  If we get even close to a temple, I'm going to bolt!!

Midge and Stevie lead the way.
The owners of the horse farm entertained us before and after the horse ride with dancers, one of whom danced through shards of glass with a stack of bowls on her head.  Don't see that every day. 

This girl is dancing with all of these bowls balanced on her head.  What you can't see here ... she's dancing on a bed of glass.  Oh, and it's windy too.  What a show!!

After the horse ride, as we were driving back to the hotel, I snapped a couple of photos of how the people really live.  These "shanty" town areas are the "norm."  What a stark contrast to our plush hotel.  The employees of the hotel go through extensive training because, as you can see, they have not been exposed to the lovely hotel, nor it's amenities.  The guides do not want us to see these areas and do their best to keep us isolated from them.  They have no infrastructure here.  No running water.  No toilets.  My God!  I complain when my ice maker doesn't work.  This gives us a new perspective on life, doesn't it??  How blessed are we?  Thank you God.

Even in shanty town, they have satellite dishes!

Laundry is done at the river and carried back to dry on the outside clothes lines.  The same river that they wash dead bodies in.

Cows are sacred here and wander the streets like stray dogs, feeding from the garbage bins.  Obviously, there are no McDonalds here.
How do these animals navigate the high traffic areas?

After our horsie ride, we retuned to the hotel to dust off the trail dirt, have lunch - don't want to miss a meal of this delicious India cuisine - and then we set off for a shopping expedition. 

Lorri, Pat, Julie, Stevie and Midge belly up for another feeding.

Finally, something that we all excel in.  Most of us have a black belt in shopping and we had a shopping list ready to go.  Top of the list ...  a Sari.  We hired a car and had a local guide with us to find all the best shopping spots.  First stop, a shop right outside the gates of the Oberoi, to look at umbrellas.  We didn't buy the umbrellas but bought several pashminas instead.  Next, we found a great textile store for the Sari.  We selected a fabric, got measured up and paid for our Sari's.
Look at these amazing colors to choose from!!

Lorri getting measured and selecting colors.

Pat looks amazing in her Sari. She's so tiny, the poor guy had to wrap her up about a dozen times in the garment.

Lorri ordered a custom jacket also.  Beautiful.

They have promised to deliver them to our hotel by 6:00 tonight.  After we got measured up for the Sari, we loaded up on more pashminas at the textile shop.  

We didn't find enough pashminas at the first stop so we had to buy MORE at this stop.
Then to the costume jewelry store for accessories for tonight's final farewell dinner.  Great success!!  With our shopping done, we went back to the hotel to prepare for tonights Bollywood Gala.   

After I got back to my room and after I'd showered, gotten all of my jewels and shoes on, a thought crossed my mind.  What if the textile shop doesn't deliver the Sari.  I had no receipt and paid cash.   As I sat in the room, ready to go, except for my clothes (the Sari) I thought, "you idiot.  No receipt and you paid cash.  Sorry - no Sari!!"  But low and behold, at 6:03, there was a knock at my door and the Sari arrived.  Whew!!

It took a while for me to figure out how to get Sari'd up, but we managed.  Such fun colors.

The farewell party was SO MUCH FUN!!  We were all dressed in outfits from the area.  Actually, NatGeo had tunics made for us that we were supposed to wear, but the Sari was so much more fun. 

Midge is rockin' her pink hat.  

Happy hour. 

All decked out and ready for the Indian/Bollywood party.

Having a blast at the farewell party.

What fun.  Don't we "Bollywood" up well!!

OK ... so it got ugly early.  But we had a ball.

David and Jenny.

Stevie and her jewels.

Pat's rockin her turban too.

We danced the night away with the Bollywood performers and then, as if we hadn't had enough to eat and drink, we went to the hotel bar afterwards for more cocktails. When we were satisfied that there was no more Vodka in India, we finally retired for the evening.  Tomorrow, we leave for Dubai and then home.

Back to the bar for more conversation and cocktails.  

We get so much smarter with cocktails.


Chris proving my earlier point about wisdom with booze.

Chris and Midge.

OK ... so it got a bit crazy!!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Best hangover breakfast on the planet!!

Today, we end our journey with National Geographic.  But we still have half a day in India before going to our jet for Dubai.  We had an incredible lunch beside the lake with "Indian Street Food."  The area beside the lake was so colorful and festive and the food was AMAZING!!  I'm sorry to leave these incredible flavors, but if I stay much longer ... I would need a bigger Sari!! 

"Street Food" set up beside the lake.

I love the colorful umbrellas. We should have bought some!!

The food was amazing!!

From our street food spot looking back at the main part of the hotel.

The street food festival was complete with fortune tellers, Henna tattoos, and even a potter's wheel where one could "throw" a pot.  It was a lovely event and a great send off from India. 

Pat and Stevie get Henna tattoos.

Is this gonna hurt?   Not until you try to scrub that crap off!!

"When in India ..."  Ok.  But how long does this stuff last?

"About three weeks????!!!!!"  

Seemed like a good idea at the time.  This should be a big hit when I go for an interview next week with a club that I'm trying to join in Tampa.

And the jewelry shopping continues.

Soon, we loaded our "coach" en route to the airport with a quick stop for a tour of the Royal Family's Palace.   OK, Palace, Stupa, Temple, Monastery, whatever ... I'm OVER it!!  Just take me to the plane.  So we passed on the palace tour and wandered through the local shops instead.  Jen had a fabulous purse that we all wanted, so she took us to the shop to find one.  Unfortunately, they didn't have the color we wanted, but it was a fun detour.  Side note, after we got back to the US, Pat called the shop to see if she could order three of the bags for us.  Pat's a wheeler/dealer, so I was sure she'd get a great price.  But the shop keeper said he'd make a deal and order the purses, but had a limit of 100 bags.  HARD PASS!!

Cute, but we sure don't need 100 of these!!

Back on the plane headed to Dubai.

We had an amazing trip to Asia.   I'll miss these girls.  

We arrived in Dubai on our National Geographic Jet, said our farewells to new friends, and headed to the Dubai airport to catch our commercial Emirate  flight home - nonstop to Orlando.  

Pat and I finally were able to experience the Emirates Lounge at the Dubai airport.  The lounge did not disappoint   It was HUGE!!  With three separate buffet areas and all kinds of interesting foods, we had one last pig fest before boarding our flight back to Orlando.   So by the time I boarded the flight, I was not at all hungry, but totally exhausted.  So when I got on board, I waited until the seat belt sign was turned off, reclined my seat to the lie flat position, put on my eye mask and ear plugs and slept soundly until we landed in Orlando.  Our flight departed Dubai at 2:50 a.m. on the 5th of March, arriving in Orlando at 9:20 a.m. on the 5th of March.   I know that sounds like seven hours, but there is an eight hour time difference between Dubai and Orlando.  So I had a nice 15 hour flight home.


We landed in Orlando, I hopped in a car provided by Emirates and was driven right to my front door.  What service.  

Trip OVER!

And what a fabulous trip it was.  We traveled over 25,000 miles to places I've never been before, met some fabulous people and made many new friends.  

We experienced cultures and religions totally different from our own, tasted foods all over Asia (and by now you should know that I'm not a fan of Asian food, but I actually learned to like some of it), saw tons of temples, (too many). and visited 6 countries totally different from the US.   My take away, we are all human beings regardless of color or shape of eyes.  We all have the capacity to learn from and love each other.  And we all want happiness and peace.   So why can't we make that happen? 

Home, happy and grateful.  Peace out.