Back to the Skies – Heathrow to Rome Fiumicino

Last July I had the opportunity to fly again after 6 months in semi London lockdown, a time in which I was prevented to witness the sky splendour from an aircraft window seat. Although it wasn’t that bad since I had time learn some new skills, and have some travel reminiscences, but still I wanted to return to sky!. I am grateful for the countless travel experiences that I would not change for the world… or in fact… I would change for the world!,

Well, I was keen to start travelling the moment airports and destinations opened their frontiers. So I followed updates day-to-day. I realise that sometimes is easy for us, as to criticize about the management of this virus in terms on travel governments regulation, but at the same time I recognise that this virus has taken us all by surprise, it has taken over the world, a world where airlines and airports have seen the major challenge of all times.

The first city I wanted to visit again was Rome since I have amazing friends there and the region itself has unlimited blessings of nature and cultural spots. As soon as feasible flights were available I reserved my flights and there I went to delight in Italian culture and cordiality once again.

London Heathrow

I flew from London Heathrow Terminal 2 directly to Rome Fiumicino with Alitalia, on-board the Airbus 321. In normal circumstances flights from Sky Team airlines depart from Terminal 4, but due to the current situation, airlines frequencies have changed dramatically and utilisation of resources at airports too. Ensure you always check your departing terminal at the time of doing your web check-in. This will allow you to be on time and have a pleasant airport experience.

The cost of this round trip airline ticket was GBP226, from which GBP76 was the actual fare, GBP13 Air Passenger Duty, and the rest were a list of various other jet fuel surcharges and airport taxes. It did not include checked baggage, only hand baggage, which was fine for me.

Travelling to Heathrow airport was stress-free by tube. Upon arrival the navigation process was prompt and efficient, only travellers are allowed in the terminal. There was a counter with sanitising gel and facemask complimentary for passengers.

As I was entering the baggage drop area, I was handed a paper health check questionnaire, which I had to fill and hand over before proceeding to be allowed to travel to Italy. Maybe it would have been better for Alitalia to create an online form for such questionnaire to be actioned at the time of web check-in,

The ambience of Heathrow felt bizarre to me, I travel from Heathrow regularly and one way or another I like the convergence of people, over 80 million inquisitive minds normally cross-paths at this airport per year. The normal dynamism has always been unique, so alive, so busy… but not that day, that day it felt restrained, passive, and at times gloomy.

Temperature checks were being undertaken to all passengers at the boarding gate and boarding was carried out by groups (according to your seat number). The aircraft was the Airbus 321, from the A320 family, best sellers for short hauls flights. Upon entering the plane was spotless, with stylishly renovated interiors.

Middle seats were left empty, which I think would be a short term procedure, while things get back to normal since this is not sustainable for airlines economics, I was thrilled to have more space though.

Arrival AT Rome Fiumicino AIRPORT

The flight went smoothly without any particular differences pre-Covid apart from being at half occupancy and people wearing facemasks. Upon arrival at Rome Fiumicino airport, it was relaxed process, no additional health checks and no further questions were asked, (I guess with the initial airport form at Heathrow was enough for the Italian authorities). I was now ready to enjoy Marina di Cerveteri, a coastal location 40 km of Rome, where my dearest friend Mile lives. Happy days!

Fiumicino International Airport is named after the one of the most famous renaissance painter, Leonardo da Vinci. The normally serves as middle hub for Italy, with over 45 million passengers per year. The feeling was also of unusual calmness.

Departing back to London:

My flight was departing form Terminal 1 at Fiumicino, and when I entered the terminal I had the chance to appreciate briefly some great pieces, which illustrate the legacy of Leonardo Da Vinci. These can be appreciated in the departure area. The exhibition was called “The wings of Leonardo. The genius and flight”, and was inaugurated in May last year with pieces such as. “The Flying Man” the aim of the exhibition was to recreate the artist genius mind and the first flying machines in history. I think is a great initiative to bring cultural heritage and art to the airports of the world, I love It.!

I checked out other piece such as Vitruvian Man, Da Vinci believed that the human body is an analogy for the workings of the universe, I can agree with him!

I also checked out a gorgeous piece, which I particularly liked called ”el abrazo” by the Argentinian artist Alejandro Marmo. This piece of art showed me about people experience at an airport, good bye hugs, and welcome hugs, overall emotional hugs, those that we have been missing so much this year but that will return soon. Well that was my personal interpretation anyway.

Thanks for reading!

“In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path – the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.”  Amit Ray

Love

❤️

from

Jenny

Note: Several airlines have irresistible flights offer to travel to Italy and several other countries. If you need advice or best destination to travel to at the moment, please contact me as I offer bespoke travel advice.

The Cotswolds Outstanding Hike – 30 Km – Bledington – Icomb – Bourton-On-The-Water- Oxfordshire Pathway – June 20

Today I gratefully share with you, a beautiful hiking experience, a 9 hours hike Oxfordshire Way, that I had the pleasure to take on with my very good friend Misha and her partner Martin. They are both skilled hikers so I am always inspired whenever Misha invites me over to join her wonderful escapades.

The day started with me taking a 30-minute bike ride from West London to Paddington Station, where I met my hiking companions. The train ticket off-peak return to Moreton-in-Marsh station cost GBP42.80. I knew this hike was about to be challenging as I did not sleep well the night before, but then again I was glad to share another venture in the countryside of gorgeous England.

My friend Misha proposed that we get off one station before Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham and start the hike from there. We arrived at 11:20 am and were straight on our way. 

The first town we stopped at was Bledington, a scenic town located in the Evenlode Valley, which crosses part of the Oxfordshire Way. We stopped by the stunning Church of St Leonard, originally built in the 12th century, this stone building is one of the jewels churches in the Cotswolds, and it is a Grade I listed building (awarded to those buildings of exceptional interest). Although we were not allowed in due to closure, it was enjoyable to observe its stone-medieval outer view. 

While at Bledington, we were lucky to come across with the good-looking Aramis the Shetland while he was out on his afternoon walk, sweet little pony. 

We continued then towards Icomb passing by lovely green scenery and a reservoir, where we observed nice tiny dragonflies during their blue-amongst green colourful flights. 

We arrived in Icomb at 1:10 pm and crossed slowly through this quiet Cotswold, which provided us with lovely views of historic cottages and incredible medieval carvings. Misha got excited to see that the local church, St Mary the Virgin, as she wanted to have a private pray and have her sins pardoned, blessed her. 

We crossed through stunning and wavy grassland and had the chance to admire some well-dressed horses around the area. I was astonished, this was seriously a unique view.

We continued towards Wick Rissington following still the Oxfordshire pathway and enjoying more gorgeous views, woodlands, ponds. This village is spread along a lovely green area of half a mile. We found a small yet refreshing stream of water where some local children were happily playing and having fun. This village is considered as “unspoilt” for its stunning Cotswold stone cottages. It was then 2:30 pm, and we continued our way passing by the Greystones Farm Natural Reserve and continue along until our next stop, our lunch stop Bourton on-the-water.

3 pm: Bourton on-the-water: I was pleased to arrive at this fascinating village because it was lunch-resting stop point!. 

As I came into town, I felt sort of walking into a fictional children story. The stone houses, bridges, natural rural vibe, wow.. it all felt rather special. I was gladly surprised to see that many people enjoying their picnics. Although the shops, cafes, restaurants, attractions and hotel were still closed, (this was mid-June 2020), I could still notice the vibrant spirit of the local people.

Everyone seemed joyful in the outdoors relaxing by the shores of the River Windrush, a river than travels through not only this village but also other parts of the Cotswolds and other rural areas to the point to meet the Thames on its journey to London and the sea. 

After lunch, we wandered around the village and discovered that it is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ because of its pretty bridges that crossover the flowing River Windrush passing through the town-centre. 

We continued then our way, leaving behind Bourton-on-The-Water and witnessing more unspoiled fields and natural woodland, passing by Cold Aston, Naunton, we witness water streams and more animals such as horses, sheep and even little tiny frogs!. 

While we walked through Naunton, where we stopped and were peeking at one of the lovely cottages….when suddenly when the lovely owner came out, her name is Mary, and she invited us in the see her beautiful garden and her historic lovely home. She was happy to share her stories about living in the village, and his life back in London.. she also told us the many of the cottages in the Cotswolds now belong to rich bankers from Hong Kong… there you go, you learn something every day.

We thanked Mary for her hospitality and continued our way towards Lower Slaughter and then Upper Slaughter.

Initially, our estimated hiking length was 27 km, but in fact, it had already been 30 km. We then realised that we were behind schedule to get back to Moreton-In –Marsh train station for the last train service to London. It was nearly 9 pm and I was exhausted after 9 hours hike, I definitely did not want to rush! But we were at risk of being stranded.

At that point, I remember fantasising that someone would come across and offer to take us to the train station so we would not miss our last train to London. All types of accommodations in the area were closed due to the Covid restrictions, so it was a bit worrying for a moment. 

But worry not, as it was then when we spotted two ladies driving a Zip-Car, they were noticeably also having a day out around the area. And for some reason, they stopped exactly where we were walking by…Voila, as you know I believe that human solidarity still exists, and it did exist for us that day. Martin approached them and asked them to take us to the train station. And the two pretty ladies, one from France and the other open from the USA kindly gave us the 15 minutes’ drive-ride to Moreton-in-Marsh. We managed to catch the last train at 9:54 pm! Phew. Happy days.

We arrived back in London Paddington 11:30 pm ready for a great night sleep.

 Thank you again for reading my adventures, they are all blessings that the universe allow me to experience.

Blessings to all.

🙏

Jenny

San Basilio de Palenque: Obra maestra del patrimonio oral e intangible de la humanidad por UNESCO

Cientos de viajeros recorren cada día las hermosisimas calles coloniales de Cartagena de Indias, y entre ellos se pasean también un grupo de mujeres muy llamativas, arregladas con faldas coloridas y bombachas, ellas, especialistas en vender sus productos al quien sea que se les atraviese por el camino, lo encantan a uno con su alegría y su carisma., así pues no hay quien les diga que no!. Sus productos incluyen dulces tradicionales como la cocada, y la “alegría”, además de una variedad de frutas tropicales, los cuales llevan en grandes cestas sobre sus cabezas en un juego de equilibrio majestuoso mientras caminan por las calles de la ciudad.

Estas mujeres son las afamadas palenqueras de la ciudad. Bueno, la verdad es que ellas no solo se pasean por Cartagena sino que van por toda la región compartiendo sus delicias y recetas. Recetas que se han transmitido de generación en generación durante más de tres siglos.

Pero, más allá de las palenqueras se esconde una población de tradiciones, de ritmos de música y de africanidad, hoy mi visita es en San Basilio de Palenque.

San Basilio de Palenque.

San Basilio de Palenque es una población donde residen más de 3500 habitantes todos afrodescendientes, allí se respiran aun las tradiciones vivas de nuestra herencia africana.

Al llegar nos esperaba un guía local, un hombre alto y bien alegre, quien nos recibió con una sonrisa y muchos relatos para contar, su legado histórico. La forma como el se expresaba me dio tanta confianza…. su confidencia, carisma y el orgullo de su identidad me llevaron a un viaje 400 años a través del tiempo. Mientras el nos contaba sus relatos, una película mental atravesaba mi pensamientos, realmente la historia de San Basilio de Palenque es una historia de valentía, de lucha  y resiliencia por quienes huyeron de la esclavitud en la época colonial.

Quien es el protagonista de esta historia? pues Benkos Biohó, un negro cimarrón grandioso y valiente, originario del Congo,  quien se escapó de una embarcación donde lo llevaban como esclavo para ser vendido cuando pasaba por el rio magdalena. Él se llevó a los que pudo y corriendo se fueron por los montes de María y pasando por la serranía de San Jacinto siguieron hasta llegar y fundar a San Basilio de Palenque.

Fue tal la valentía y liderazgo de Benkos Biohó que trataba siempre de salvar a cuanto esclavo pudiera en su camino; tanto así, que los españoles cansados de ver esto, le prometieron dejarlos en paz si detenía sus intentos de rescate en la región. Así en 1603 se firmó una “capitulación de la paz” entre los españoles y los antiguos esclavos. Bueno y pues muchas cosas mas pasaron después, historias de dolor y de traición, pero aun así este hombre creo historia, creo un sueño de libertad, un sueño que inspira y sobretodo porque es fascinante ver la trascendencia social y cultural cuando uno visita esta población. Imagínese por un momento estar en los zapatos de Benkos Biohó, en una época tan difícil como esa y lograr lo que el logro y  además doscientos años antes de que Colombia lograra su independencia de España.  Me quedo sin palabras..

Hoy en día es un pueblo unico, muy humilde aun,  alli no hay lujos ni hoteles cinco estrellas, sino una manada de alegria e identidad cultural. Su cultura abarcan varias areas, como por ejemplo su idioma, su gastronomía y, por supuesto, su musica. Sus tradiciones han sobrevivido tan intactas, que la UNESCO declaró a San Basilio de Palenque una obra maestra del patrimonio oral e inmaterial de la humanidad en 2005.

Hablar de palenque tambien es hablar de la historia de fusión de las razas africana de se dio lugar hace más de tres siglos, donde los  ex esclavos se unieron y fusionaron el idioma español, portugués, inglés, francés, bantú y pingui para crear asi su propio idioma: el Palenque. También ha sido declarado Lugar de Carácter Nacional e Interés Cultural por el gobierno colombiano.

Un ritmo musical inquebrantable y sus danzas hacen parte de alma de San Basilio de Palenque. Aunque mi visita no tuve la oportunidad de verlos en vivo y en directo, mucho es lo que hay en la redes para el disfrute de mis oídos. Los tambores retumban y los bailarines intensos hacen vibrar cualquier ambiente. La influencia de África es evidente en todas partes, los instrumentos de percusión en el palenque suenan a ritmos como la puya, el mapaleé y hasta la champeta. Aquí incluso la muerte, está marcada con el ritmo de un tambor.

Caminando por la placita principal del pueblo, observamos y nos tomamos una fotos cerca al monumento a Domingo Benkos Biohó. Allí había una ambiente rodeado de mujeres jóvenes, risueñas ella se sientan en grupos y se hacen las unas a las otras sus trenzas, y es que ello también tiene su historia. En el trenzado el pelo se escondía una técnica que se usó en esa época de esclavitud, con el fin de esconder mapas con rutas de escapes y también para ocultar semillas antes de huir con la ilusión de poder plantarlas en algún lugar libre. En esa tarde de caminar, para no solo hubo horas de calor intenso, sino descubrimiento maravilloso de nuestros ancestros, me sentí muy honrada por la oportunidad de estar allí, aprendiendo.

La alegría que se vive allí en San Basilio de Palenque, esta en su tenacidad para bailar estilos como champeta. También en artistas como el Sexteto Tabalá, el maestro Rafael Cassiani, el encanto de canciones como Bullerengue Sentado, Son del Negro se pueden descubrir para aquello que se atreven a visitar esta población. Nuestro guía nos contó que una de las mejores épocas del año para visitar es en octubre, cuando se celebra el Festival de Tambores y Expresiones Culturales, una descripción completa de la cultura musical de San Basilio de Palenque, me están dando ganas de reservarme un boleto para octubre!

Este sin duda ha sido uno de mis experiencias de viaje preferidas. Aprendí muchas cosas de la historia de los orígenes del pueblo y su gran contribución a la historia de Cartagena y me reí mucho durante el viaje gracias a la calidez con la que fuimos recibidos.  Fue un viaje inolvidable y se lo recomiendo a cualquiera que busque experiencias culturales auténticas.

Gracias infinitas por leer mi blog y viajar juntos a traves de estos relatos.

Una tierra del olvido que nunca sera olvidada, tesoro cultural para mi deleite de hoy. 🙂 Jr

 

Yokohama Cultural Interchange & Fujiko F Fujiko Museum – Doraemon

Yokohama Cultural Interchange

Well, we were fortunate to meet a beautiful family in Yokohama, who provided us with their kindness and hospitality beyond limits. We spent two fabulous days in a Japanese-British-Colombian cultural exchange with them, sharing stories, games, laughter, amazing homemade vegan food!! And of course, great museums. I am super grateful to AI and his lovely family for this unforgettable time.

Fujiko F Fujio Museum – Doraemon

For this visit, we were fortunate to be invited by AI and their young children. This afternoon was amazing, together with mums and boys, spent a fabulous day of adventure stories from this famous cartoon Doraemon. It was a super fun afternoon and full of learning.

This museum is entirely dedicated to the work of Fujiko Fujio and includes original works of art, a reading room and a theatre. It has a central axis the character of her most famous manga series Doraemon.

Who is Doraemon? It is a cartoon, very popular and representative in Japan, created by Fujiko Fujio, about 50 years ago!. So much so that it has become a cultural icon and has even adapted to animated series.

Fujiko F Fujio Museum - Kawasaki - Doraemon - Jenny Rojas Aug19 (7)

The cartoons are based on various characters, one is a robot cat, named Doraemon, who travels from the future, more precisely since the 22nd century, to help a boy named Nobita Nobi. It also includes characters like Shizuka, Nobita’s friend, and other secondary characters such as Sueno and Takehi, who are part of fantasy adventures. All the stories and adventures keep both adults and children well entertained throughout the whole exhibition.

 

Fujiko F Fujio Museum - Kawasaki - Doraemon - Jenny Rojas Aug19 (1)

The museum is located in Kawasaki, just 25 km from Yokohama. It opened its doors in 2011, keeping the character of Doraemon as its main character.El museo está repleto de libros, bosquejos, dibujos originales y muchas exhibiciones de la historia de Fujiko Fujio y obvio de las aventuras de Doraemon y Nobi.

“Exploring the world together in the best adventure of all”

 

Love from 😍

Jenny

Exploring Tokyo: Megaweb Toyota City showcase & TeamLab Borderless Museum

The next day we were set to explore some places recommended by friends, so we travelled south of the city to an area called Odaiba. This area, built on an artificial island in the bay of Tokyo, comprises large shopping centres and thematic museum ., The area was initially developed to protect the city of the attacks by the sea in the 17th century but nowadays is visited by both locals and tourists alike.

 

Megaweb Toyota City showcase

Here we arrived purely by chance since it is right next to the TeamLab Borderless museum, so we take the opportunity to take a walk around enjoying the exhibitions and the games.

Toyota Museum Center -Megaweb Toyota City showcase - Jenny Rojas - Aug19 (7)

This museum is located inside the Palette Town shopping centre in Odaiba. Upon entering this museum, we immediately began a unique car experience. I am sure that my brother would have loved to have been here as he adores anything to do with cars.

The area comprises three zones: one zone is to observe the latest Toyota models, the second zone is for driving enthusiasts who can test the latest models. It was great to see the expression and happy faces of the ones trying on these latest models, here adults become children. 

In this zone, there is also a game’s section where children can play for free video games.

 

Toyota Museum – Motomachi

And the last section, my favourite by far, we did learn a lot about the history of Toyota. We explored the different related exhibitions, such as the history of Motomachi, the Toyota production plant, which opened in August 1959. Here we share the photos of this area:

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TeamLab Borderless Museum

The visit to this museum was recommended by a colleague from the industry, a specialist in Japan. It was, without a doubt, one of the most incredible visits during my stay in Tokyo. It is unlike any museum I have ever seen before, phenomenal.

The visit was like entering a parallel world of colours and bizarre sensations. Both Felipe and I were stunned by the interactive visualization we were experiencing. I remember the first thing I saw was a lot of flowers, flowers on the ceiling, walls, moving flowers that you played with coloured lights while people stared in amazement at these beautiful displays.

This museum has an area of ​​32 thousand square meters, which because we live it, allows us to create fascinating spaces of colours and shapes, like a forest of history, nature and art all combined, which connects, vibrates and communicates sensations to the body, really phenomenal.

I also remember a room full of mirrors or led lights where the light and dark games were made a party contrasts.

It is an experience that I will never forget, I recommend it for both children and adults.

Borderless World – Click me:

At one point, I felt a bit of a journey of illusion around the world, scampering, examining, discovering and sharpening my senses with my reactions and those observed by other visitors. Three hours quite entertaining indeed.

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“Colour in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic. “Antoni Gaudi Read

Love from

🌈

Jenny

From Hong Kong Airport Chek Lap Kok to Tokyo & Pokemon Store

After our fantastic travel experience in Hong Kong, we were ready for the next adventure: Tokyo, a destination chosen by my little boy.

As I commented on my last entry, it was straightforward and inexpensive to get to Hong Kong airport from Tseung Kwan o. Once there, well, I studied the airport a little.

My son’s motivation to go to Tokyo was merely based on wanting to check out the Tokyo Pokemon Mega Store and buy as much stuff he could afford with his savings and travel points. He is a follower and master player of everything related to Pokemon.

 

Hong Kong Airport (HKG)

The airport is built on reclaimed land on the island of Chek Lap Kok, which is why it is also known by this name. Its size is similar to that of London Heathrow Airport, giant and immaculate, it is also well signposted, and it is effortless to navigate. This airport is a crucial connection centre to China and the rest of Asia.

This mini clip, where my little one walks happily is from the Interior of Midfield Concourse, which is located west of Terminal 1 between the two existing runways. As you can see, the area was practically empty, spotless and we felt very comfortable while waiting for the flight. It did not seem busy at all, so I thought it is incredible that they handle more than 70 million passengers a year, it feels quite spacious.

I know that many people might not be interested in learning about airports, but for me, they mean an impressive point of convergence, where so many parallel stories occur at once. I find it fascinating how, during their evolution, they manage to operate, grow and maintain themselves in an industry as vulnerable and dynamic as aviation. Today the biggest challenge is that this operation is increasingly ecological and sustainable for the benefit of our entire society.

We reach At the Midfield Concourse via the internal automated subway. Hong Kong Airlines, our airline of the day, has been using this area since the airport opened in 2015.

 

Hong Kong Airlines (HX)

For this trip, I booked a flight with the least expensive option that was Hong Kong Express at the time, when I got to the boarding gate I asked if they could allow me first to enter the plane and they did. So here it is.

Hong Kong Express is a low-cost airline, these types of airlines are known as LCC, and that day we flew aboard their Airbus 320. Their entire fleet of 24 aircraft is from the Airbus 320 family. The whole travel experience from booking, onboard, meals, excellent service and punctuality was superior that most European carriers.

The flight duration was 4 hours and 30 minutes. We arrived at Narita airport in Tokyo on time and happy with the new adventure that awaited us. Luckily in Tokyo, people do speak more English, compared with people in China. It was easy to get the information to get to our hotel from Keisei Narita SkyAccess Station to Takaracho Station, and airport/train staff were accommodating.

 

Mega Pokemon Store Tokyo:

Not much to say from me, apart from that before my eyes, the store is just like any other toy store, big, full of expensive things and enthusiastic children walking around excitedly. My son’s version would be different than mine, though, for him it was a dream come true. I was happy to see him so happy.

Mega Tienda Pokemon Tokio - By Jenny Rojas (6)

In the Tokyo Mega Store of Pokémon, it is possible to find any Pokémon item you can think of, such as stuffed animals, key chains, cards, cards, clothes and poke balls. It has items from both the new saga and the original ones.

My son had been collecting “travel points”, a system I invented to keep him motivated and interested in learning about the culture in China and Hong Kong. He earned points daily for his interest, for his endurance on walks and also for good behaviour. And so these travel points were redeemable for use in the Pokemon store. Everything worked super well, and he turned out with all this:

“So there’s this boy. He kinda stole my heart. He calls me ‘mom’.”

❤️

Jenny

Cambodia: Angkor Archaeological Site: Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean, Preah Khan – Day Two

Here the itinerary for day two 🙂

1. Early Sunrise (Did not rise for me) @ Angkor Wat

I revisited Angkor Wat temple today since I read that the sunrise is breath-taking. I got up at 4 am and headed towards the temple, as recommended to get the sunrise view. Unfortunately, it was not my lucky day for this view, since the sun never actually rose, it was a pretty cloudy morning…, so the only picture I managed to get was one of the murky blue skies. Still gorgeous, so no complaint at all.

2- Pre Rup

The temple was built in a foothill, designed on a 3-pyramid layout rising to 12 m, it represents Mount Meru, dedicated to Shiva, the temple was erected in 961 by King Rajendravarman II. It is only 6 km East of Angkor Thom so naturally was our next point to visit. The temple was unearthed during the 1930s by French George Trouvé who brought the site back to light from its overly nature-overgrown status.

This enormous brick construction symbolises the five mountain peaks of Mount Meru, the sacred mountain in Hindu mythology, its size, height and warm-toned made it an ideal place to witness the beauty of its countryside surroundings.

4- Angkor Complex - Pre Rub -10th Century by Jenny Rojas - Jun17 (1)

When I visited, it was still early in the day, and I was the only person at that moment, so I took advantage for some solo photos and to contemplate the atmosphere for a bit before leaving for the next visit.

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3- East Mebon: 

East Mebon temple was an island, and as such it was only accessible by boat Standing here today, surrounded by trees, palms and so much nature, I found difficult to imagine this temple in the middle of a gigantic reservoir. I learned an artificial body of water created that island through various embankments which contained over 8 million of cubic water. This construction achieved then the deviation and linking of water-flows around Angkor.

I noticed stone lions, which supposed to be the guardians of the temple bordering the platforms. Also, in the four corners of the temple, I observed the beautifully engraved elephants, which show artistic ability.

The temple remains in service, where believers still pray to the Hindu god Indra to ask for rain at the end of the dry monsoon season in April and May, as such, it is common to see offerings of candles and incense around the site.

4- Ta Som:

We passed this relatively quiet site, built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, on our way to Preah Khan. The temple features three enclosures with big gateways known as “gopuras” and a central sanctuary.

5- Angkor Complex - TAM SON by Jenny Rojas

The highlight when visiting this temple is to see the bizarre-view of a strangler fig growing on one of the gopuras. It seems that nature undoubtedly claiming back from space from history.

7- Angkor Complex - Eastern gopura with strangler fig at Ta Som Temple - by Jenny Rojas (1)
fig growing on one of the gopuras

Along the way, I crossed a central sanctuary and its four corners buildings. Some of the carvings are particularly skilled, especially to those of the female divinities represented in various styles.

5- Neak Pean:

This natural-man made beauty is a large square lake which is surrounded by four smaller ponds. It was built in the second half of the 12th century by king Jayavarman VII, dedicated to Buddhist. It is also believed to have been sacred to Buddha as he reached Nirvana.

11- Day Two - Angkor Complex - Neak Pean - Late 12th Century - by Jenny Rojas

The central pond is an imitation of Lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas, which gives way to the four great rivers of the earth. These rivers are signified at Neak Pean by moulded gargoyles corresponding to the four cardinal points Lake Anavatapta, worshipped in India for its healing powers.

14- Day Two - Angkor Complex - Neak Pean - Late 12th Century - by Jenny Rojas

6- Preah Khan:

Our last visit of the day, and one of the most impressive to my eyes.

1 Angkor Complex - Preah Khan by Jenny Rojas (22)

This temple was built following after the defining battle with the Buddhist King of the Chams. This king belonged to a kingdom in what is now Vietnam, in the year 1191.

The victory secured Jayavarman VIII his position into the most significant period of Khmer prosperity. Its name translates to “the Sacred Sword”.

This impressive structure stretches over an area of 56 hectares. The area still has few traces of t Buddhist figures, which changed into a more Hindu style by the King Jayavarman VIII in the 13th century.

The structure was initially built-up with wooden houses and huts, long gone, where ordinary people lived. The inner sanctuaries seem to look overcrowded among the several temple buildings, including a well-preserved Hall of Dancers.

This temple truly impressed me, and all its aesthetics are unique; for moments, it feels that the overgrowing vegetation and giant trees keep swallowing the ruins!.

 

Thank you very much for reading my blog, and don’t be shy leave a comment.

“Angkor Wat is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.” – António da Madalena, 1586

Love

🙏

from

Jenny

Local Life Full-Day Experience & Out and About in Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Local Life Tour of Hong Kong Full Day Excursion

For this day experience, I decided to use public transport, accompanied by an expert local guide, rather than a private vehicle, firstly because I know I would get the chance to actually have a real feeling of the city, and secondly because the option by private car was particularly costly. That day my local expert guide was Paul.

The experience started with Paul collecting me at Tseung Kwan o, at The Papillons, a fairly new quarter in the New Territories of Hong Kong, with large residential buildings, where my pretty cousin home is located. Paul was punctual, so we set off for a full day of adventures since 9 am. In the beginning, I was slightly concerned about the protest so I did not take my son with me on this one.

 

We travelled east using the MTR, Mass Transit Railway system, which is the standard mode of transport used. This system has 11 metro lines and 93 stations in the metropolitan area. Its “oyster card” London equivalent is called “Octopus” which can also be used to pay for purchases in shops around the city; users can top it up with money as they go.

 

Business District and City Centre

Our first stop was Quarry Bay Station to have a look at some of the highest buildings in the Central business district, such as the ICC with 118 floors. The area is vast, overwhelming, hectic, and pretty much, just like any other big city district centre in the world.

Buildings Central business district Hong Kong - by Jenny Rojas Aug19

We passed by the famous and allegedly “world’s longest outdoor continuous escalator”, which seems to be commonplace to visit and well used by locals to travel up to the hilly streets of Hong Kong. It crosses an altitude of over 135 meters. It has become a sort of a top tourist attraction, so it is easy to find several mini-markets, shops, and restaurants along the way. We also passed by a trams stop as well, a heritage left from the British rule back in 1904, and that is still in used, carrying over 200 thousand people daily.

We then continued walking along Hollywood Road, which I learnt that is something like the Soho area in Hong Kong. Over where we visited the former Central Police Station, called Tai Kwun. Paul told me that this station was completed in 1864, but many additions were also constructed until 1919. I found it a fascinating and educational visit.

Former Central Police Station, called Tai Kwun - Hong Kong - By Jenny Rojas Aug2019

The premises were spotless, layout clear and well-organized to explain the country history, well worth a visit. The complex has been converted into the museum, as a reminder of the British colonial heritage. The area covers two open squares with trendy bars, restaurants, and art galleries.

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There are several popular markets in Kowloon, but Paul recommended to visit some smaller ones, which I found busy and full of all kind of souvenirs and merchandise, bazaar-style, nothing much to say about those.

 

Man Mo Temple

We then continue along Holloway road to arrive at Man Mo Temple, one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most famous temples. As I entered, I had an ambience of calm and peace with relaxing smoky aroma coming from the giant incense coils hanging from the ceiling. The temple is adorned with several ceramic figures and wood carvings as well as various other crafts from traditional Chinese artistry.  Once inside, I had the chance to give thanks for this fantastic trip. I also prayed to the gods for some good fortune. High predictions came into my reading… So I am now looking forward to those!

Man Mo Temple is really a compound of three for three purposes: The left is the Man Mo Temple where the God of Literature and God of Martial Arts are worshipped. The middle is Lit Shing Kung, this one is dedicated to all heavenly gods. And the last one is Kung so, the place where communities get together to resolve any conflicts. The temple is a Grade I Historic Building in Hong Kong as it showcases traditional craftsmanship.

Aberdeen fishermen village

We then took the local bus towards the south of Hong Kong Island to the Aberdeen Fishermen village. Along the way, we passed by a subway were the main signs, posters and various expression political protest expressions, Paul told me that they call it the “Lennon walk”.

5-Hong Kong passing by the socalled Lennon Walk 2 - Aug 2019 - by Jenny Rojas

Upon arrival at the village, I found an incredible contrast as we passed various multi-million luxury yachts and high skyscrapers alongside the fishing boats and families living on their sampans. A curious disparity of the old and the new.

We took a boat ride to arrive for lunch aboard the famous Jumbo Kingdom Floating Restaurant. The food was delicious, and plenty of vegan choice for me. The service was decent without being outstanding since we had to wait for a table for nearly 30 minutes.

After lunch, we took a sampan boat ride around the harbour for about twenty minutes which I found relaxing and picturesque.

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Next visit was The Tin Hau Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, who is revered by fishermen and those who spend their working lives at sea. Few homeless people were begging by the door, which was quite surprising for me.

As I walked through the streets of the city, I was surprised, because we had been walking for hours, taking buses, trains, boats, etc. and I must say that during all that time, I did not see a single demonstration of the so-called “protests”. Paul told me there were loads of fake news out in the media. I can imagine that if China had broken into Hong Kong with tanks, as per in various fake stories this would have caused panic. However, this was not the case at all; everyone seemed to be perfectly fine to my eyes; that was my perception anyway. Bear in mind this was back in August 2019, so for the fact of current reality …I can’t be sure…

I was very grateful as Paul was kind, knowledgeable and very patient. He coped well with me, always taking photos and doing mini clips. I learnt a lot about Hong Kong culture, and I appreciated a lot of his guidance. In the beginning, I thought this day experience with him was quite expensive. However, by the end of my stay in Hong Kong, I came to understand now that life in Hong Kong, it is indeed costly as well.

On another note, I was amazed to find that spoken English in Hong Kong is quite poor, and several people around town do not even talk a little bit. I found this surprising given his British background. We finished the day at 6pm, tired and happy of the great insights provided by Paul.

Out and about the city nightlife

HKG Kowloon Hotel

As per my regular “feed two birds with one scone” approach to travel, I took advantage to do some hotels inspections in Hong Kong to feedback to my colleagues back in the UK.

We visited this hotel with my cousin since it has a great central and accessible location near Nathan road, surrounded by trendy shops and restaurants. It is also near the famous Victoria harbour. My feedback is that I found it too big for my taste (over 500 rooms), the personal service is poor. The hotel does not have a fitness centre or swimming pool. Instead, they outsource them from the YMCA building next door.

The rooms are dark and not appealing at all, with basic amenities and quite an eerie feeling. If you want to have a drink and dinner, then I can recommend, as has two restaurants, and one of them is a buffet, which seemed to be a perfect choice, (GBP55pp). However, I don’t recommend staying here.

We then enjoyed a night walk along the hectic streets, stopping by at various street where I found a nice surprise, a sculpture by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, “The Reclining Woman”, located right outside the Peninsula Hotel.

Lastly, we finished with flying colours at the night with some salsa dancing at a local club near the hectic Wyndham Street.

Clear Waters Bay Beach

Next day we enjoyed a family day out with the kid at the small and cosy Clear Waters Bay sandy beach, definitely off beaten track where we spend a beautiful bizarre sunny-showery-cloudy day at the beach.

10-Hong Kong - Clear Waters Bay - Aug2019 - by JennySkyistheLimit (4)

Airport & Good Bye Hong Kong

From Tseung Kwan to Hong Kong Airport Bus Service Aug 2019 - by Jenny Rojas

Next day, we were off to the airport for our next destination, Tokyo. I was lucky to find a good local bus service from Tseung Kwan o, which was extremely cheap, GBP3 per person, rather than the private taxi which could have cost me at least GBP100. The airport in Hong Kong is on the other extreme of where I was staying. Hong Kong International Airport, HKG, built on a piece of reclaimed land on the island of Chek Lap Kok, this is why is also known by this name. Its size is similar to the one in Heathrow. The airport is a significant hub for destinations in China and the rest of Asia.

This mini footage, where my little one is happily walking around is from the Interior of Midfield Concourse, which is located to the west of Terminal 1 between the two existing runways. We reached it via the underground automated people mover. Hong Kong Airlines, our airline of the day (we are travelling to Tokyo) has been using this space since its opening in 2015.

“Life in Hong Kong transcends cultural and culinary borders, such that nothing is truly foreign and nothing doesn’t belong.” Peter Jon Lindberg.

Thanks a lot for reading.

 Love

❤️

From Jenny

Barichara: The most beautiful town in Colombia & Frutos Conciencia Barichara Living Foods of Our Land

Barichara…where she creates a magical world, where I am blessed to be invited from time to time, even when I show up at her Barichara home with twelve members of my beautiful family!

 This trip, to this lovely town called Barichara, in Santander Colombia, was in July 2017 and I remember arriving anxious to see my family, after an 80-day tour around various countries in the world..

..and then Barichara caught me again, I was full of pride to be Colombian. I have no doubt that this is truly a magical place, full of a calm and a peaceful atmosphere, where time seems to have stopped.. almost as if it was taken from one of Gabriel García Márquez books. This is a city reluctant to lose its historical identity, which I had previously visited years ago with my sister Adriana, but it was then time to return.

This has been one of the trips that I have never written about before but which brought me great joys, sentiments, adventures and much friendship, thankful to see this gathering becoming true. Well, as I was telling you a few lines ago, Margarita had invited me times before… and well, then my travelling head, full of ideas, told me that this city could be the ideal point to set up a family trip, and without further ado, I proposed my family to meet me there on the last weekend of that July, to celebrate together with family and friends, the culmination of my fantastic 80-day trip. That was the place then,  where we would enjoy a warm weekend in July, with my great friend Margarita.

Thanks to my family who is exceptional and a little crazy, and mostly so willing to cope with my madness. They grabbed their kids and stuff and embarked on a 300km road trip and almost 7 hours from Bogotá to Barichara, arriving at Margarita’s door, Tu Casa Barichara, a place where they were welcomed with affection, friendship and love for the land.

While they were travelling through the mountainous roads of our beautiful country Colombia, I was leaving San Pedro Ambergis in Belize, happily aboard those birds of metal, sticking my nose to the window as usual. I crossed Panama, Bogotá, and Bucaramanga…. And then 3 more hours by road… phew until finally arriving at dawn, with my eyes on the neck, tired but happy at the entrance door of “Tu Casa Barichara,” with the tremendous illusion of seeing my loved ones and making a mixture of adventurous memories during that weekend in that wonderful land of Santander.

Barichara: The most beautiful town in Colombia

Barichara is a small town in the north of Colombia, in the department of Santander, a city that proudly adorns itself with its cobbled streets and its brownish and colonial architecture, it is also colloquially known in the country as “the most beautiful town in Colombia“, thanks to being one of the best-preserved, where one feels that they have travelled a couple of centuries ago.

Barichara, a place of colours and brown/reddish roofs where churches play a significant role. We passed by the beautiful Chapel of Santa Barbara, which was very close to the main square, there I took the opportunity to take some photos of the family moments. Right in front, there was a sculpture of a cross and oxen ploughing the land symbolizing the activities of this land. This turned out to be also an ideal place to stop to observe the rows of tile roofs that can be seen in Barichara that seem to extend towards that beautiful mountain perspective.

The streets of Barichara gave us a vivid representation of the city, as it was the best way to appreciate it, spending the afternoon hanging around the squares and streets while stopping at some craft stores, or eating ice cream, moments full of scenes for good photos. Barichara also gave us the opportunity to get in touch with ecotourism, nature and beautiful landscapes full of green fields and traces of our colonial past.

Canon del Río Suárez y el Gran Cordón de Los Yariguíes - Barichara by Jenny Rojas111

We then stopped for a while at El Mirador where we enjoyed a panorama drawn by the Canon of the Río Suárez and the Gran Cordón de Yariguíes, there the sun gave way to witness the magnificence of the gigantic Andean mountains.

El Camino Real – From Barichara to Guane:

This 8 km trail was built by the indigenous Guanes, and later on, used by the Spanish during the colonial times. The path has become a traditional route, and one recommended to those lucky people visiting this area of the country. It goes from Barichara to Guan. It normally starts at La Calle de la Piedra de Bolívar.

At the time, I had not arrived yet to Barichara, but my family undertook this hike and then told me all details about their experience. It seems to have been a challenging one. The path is full of cobblestone roads with many descents and ascents, which made it difficult to hike since they were together with their young children, who in the end were managed to complete the hike happily. The route allowed them to enjoy this ecotourism experience, full of beautiful scenery and also allowed them to experience a little bit our past, the past of our Guanes aboriginal ancestors.

“In Colombia, there is the most beautiful, authentic and beautiful city, an authentic jewel of our past and our heritage ”JR.

🙏

Jenny

 

Well, now I would like to tell you a little about Margarita’work, who as I told you before, is a great friend who I deeply appreciate and respect for her integrity and love for the land. (By the way, whenever you want to go to Colombia and visit this beautiful city, do contact me and I can gladly advise with your personalised itinerary).

Frutos Conciencia Barichara:  Live and Energy Food

Frutos Conciencia Barichara - Barichara, Margarita and her team

The community group led by Margarita works with science and ethics to heal the body and mind from the roots, where the power of our relationship with food comes from our mother earth, as a connectivity doorway, mother listens to and cares for our body, our spirit and therefore all our surroundings. Frutos Conciencia believes in the opportunity of transforming the world from the delights of natural food. Each powerful cereal mix, made by Margarita and her team of collaborators, includes a variety of fruits, seeds, and leaves, carefully pressed and made to make food a conscious act of well-being and health.

The ingredients are all locally selected, fresh and nutritious, from their own garden or from local peasant production in this region. They are then perfectly blended and fermented to produce true nutritional delights for human consumption. Frutos Conciencia strives to care for relationships with all beings that make possible the realization of this unique product, to provide light and transform lives, those lives that Pachamama has given us, to fill it with the pure food of the earth made with a lot of love.

frutos_conciencia_barichara: https://www.facebook.com/FrutosConCienciaBarichara/

https://www.instagram.com/frutos_conciencia_barichara/
Photos Taken by  @pedromiguelfotografo

 

And if you are still reading, here I share this: My Writings Dedicated To My Friend Margarita Higuera: Frutos Conciencia Founder. Written in September 2019)

”. .. and here we are, taking a breather in time, to pause and take time for ourselves, for me.☝️ Today, I celebrate her life, because she travelled over 8000 km, with her handsome little man.. Ahead in time, through the sky with no limits.. to this part of the ocean,, and thanks to a wonderful gigantic metal bird… An Avianca Dreamliner.. A bit of the story today is about dried fruits, those that she transforms from her gorgeous and fertile Barichara land, thousands of miles away from London, she converts them into delicacies of glory, delicious and super healthy that I can practically taste a piece of heaven. She works entirely an organic product, full of faith, patience, passion and love for the land, Pachamama is her life, her natural state of mind. That day I had the joy of trying some of those delicacies. Mmmm Lucky me!.

In everyday life, she gives herself to others and often even forgets her own needs. She is tremendously kind with that sort of energy that illuminates the whole coast! , ..well that day the Costa Coffee of the Westfield promenade!. I can feel her spirit chit-chatting because of the pleasantness of her thoughts and then she drinks a hot black cup of coffee, in the hot weather like that day! Madness… just because she lives in a different world. We are so different yet in some way alike. Being around Margarita feels like an instant of profound well-being. And while I am sipping my nice iced-soy cappuccino, I listen to the stories of her fantastic yet real-life adventures, I smile and I listen.

That day I escaped work to see this remarkable woman, who I profoundly admire, who lives in a world outside our world, outside our system, in a jewel of a town, frozen in time, called Barichara, in Santander, Colombia, so peaceful and so present. She expresses and smiles by experiences of working the land with her own hands, and of those fortunate to be around her, she has the power of creating, rooted from her curiosity for nature, and then she creates a magical world, where I am blessed to be invited sometimes. (Even when I show up at her Barichara home with 12 members of my family!!!).

Challenges of time, matter not, neither does expired passports.. there are no obstacles to her path of life.. because she carries on, she travels through her routes and beaming along the way… and despite some drawbacks, she inspires peace. She converts the impossible into I’m possible. She is a rock, yet vulnerable to the social modern system we live in.

I write sometimes stories and today she was my story, that one that I really needed to share. Her life is based on living her presence, sometimes a hippy and always happy.. Always a psychologist and forever a friend. Today my writing is dedicated to her “mi niña mangarita” as I call her sometimes, with a heart of gold, thanks for making my day and many other days before today, more joyful and full of calm, hope and comfort…. friendship shall remain within the energy of our souls. Feeling inspired, with a highlighted heart I’m grateful for another blessed day”

How Can YOU Help This Initiative? – Frutos Conciencia Barichara

  1. After reading this article, check their social networks of the project and share it, sometimes we want to help and we don’t know how, well here is the opportunity to help this beautiful community project.
  2. After buying and testing your product you can also share your feedback about it to Margarita and/or even better also share them on all your social networks.
  3. Make your requests, enjoy the mother earth within you.

 

“Mother Earth is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. You carry Mother Earth within you. ” Thich Nhat Hanh

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Love

🙏

Jenny