I love to add life to my years. If I can ignite you to live life,grab life,meet people,know them and make the most of it,I can fuel your energy through these pages. Life is precious and so is planet Earth. Tred on it carefully while getting to know her more through travel and environment documentation.
Out of the Blue.....Swiss
Experience the magic of Swiss Gourmet...
Out of the Blue in Mumbai, not
only teased my taste buds with the finest crafted Swiss cuisine at the Swiss Food Festival but took me back a dozen
years to where I had spentone summertime
on the Swiss Alps.
picturesque Terrace hotel was a quaint little resort in the mountains of
Engelberg. A cable car ride to the summit of Mount Titlis up into the high
alpine region with its glaciers and eternal ice was a magnificent ride to the
world's innovative revolving 'Rotair' gondola, where we took in spectacular
sights of the glacier's deep crevasses and gigantic ice boulders.
At the festival,Swiss
fondues,sizzling Swiss skillet, Crispy
rostis, Racklet and potatoe cheese souptook me spinning on that Ice flyer which I had taken a ride on over the
Mt.Titlis then...It was indeed a very nostalgic dinner indeed. A special swiss
chef was flown in to train the very hands which created these dishes and the
sophistication was apparent.
the top, magnificent views of Mount Titlis and the Alps simply sweep you off
your feet.Ensure you have the right pair of shoes on and good warm clothes. Do
take a trip into the Ice Grotto,its amazing if not mesmerizing. I took the Ice
flyer trip whichgot the chilled icy
breeze blowing in my faceand I remember
with excitement I kept kissing the air while flying around.
Switzerland is known for its spectacular
scenery of mountains and lakes and meadows, along with the world famous Swiss
watches, chocolates and cheeses.Considered to be one of the most famous world travel destinations, it is
said that the first cable span carried visitors from the town of Engelberg to
the summit of Mt Titlis in 1927.
romance,arts and great cuisines in
Switzerland, a land of great beauty and wonder popular for its tradition and
A complete Swiss journey awaits you both on your trip to Switzerland and to Out
of the Blue.....try it.....
miss theplethora of beautifully
innovated and designed Fondues, such as the Crack Pepper Fondue, Cettinad
fondue, Desi Fondue and our Festive Delight the “Modak Fondue”.
for Gourmet Sizzlers, Trademark Fondues, BBQ’s, Pastas and Risotto’s, the
restaurant serves food with a flavor of fun, entertainmentand unforgettable memories.
washed down my swiss memories withinnovative “Jaljeera Mojitoes”...amazing twist which took me back a
dozen years ......
Caves in South Africa-. Spectacular underground ancient wonder.
and Stalagmites !
piece I dedicate to my Teachers Mrs.Sahani and Ms Ranjana.
travels by Elsie Gabriel
stands still. I catch my breath as the first view of the gigantic
ancient stalactites and stalagmites open up before me.Immensely massive grey-blue limestone
ceilings and caverns engulf me.
bring back a thousand geographic lessons learned in standard six way back in
school! It is no harm to fall in love in know? Just a little bit of South
Africa has me smitten for sure! Nothing beats a good geography lesson while
traveling, specially for your kids. Pass down all your beloved travel memories
to your next generation and believe you will have nature live in their
I awaken my senses as the guide speaks on. I am really standing in the middle
of the Congo Caves which is one of the worlds greatest natural wonders,
sculptured by nature through the ages - fascinating limestone formations in a
wide variety of colours. An underground wonder world,majestic formation
and a natural historic site in South Africa! The finest dripstone caverns, with
their vast halls and towering formations, is simply over whelming.
sparkling ancient African cave tunnel systems in the Karoo, situated in the Swartberg
Mountains, 30km north of Oudtshoorn, South Africa are the 20 million year-old
Precambrian caves. Africa's largest show cave system is definitely worth a
visit just to see the beautiful crystal and flow structures alone.
the massive system of tunnels and chambers stretch for over four kilometres,
only a quarter of this is open to visitors. You can do a guided standard one
hour tour or tackle the more adventurous one and a half hour tour, which
include some tight squeezes through very narrow passages.
did the standard one hour tour which took me down nine chambers. I felt like
Alice in wonderland slowly treading through secret looming white translucent
chambers. Bewildered and semi lost but loving every moment of it.Listen to your guide.Choose an English speaking one and do not land up with the wrong guide.Be quiet and listen carefully.Absorb the wonder and simply praise God!
parts of the caves are lost in absolute darkness, a deep stillness, a constant
temperature and high humidity; it is a world with its own unique scenery of
calcite masterpieces formed by gently dripping water. Each chamber displays a
limestone masterpiece; created by the forces of nature. There are five basic
limestone deposits found along this route namely Dripstone, Flowstone,
Rimstone, Roof Crystals, and Shelfstone.
seeping through the upper-surface of the cave absorbed carbon dioxide,
producing a mild carbonic acid, which is able to dissolve small quantities of
the calcium carbonate in limestone, changing it into soluble calcium
Copyright all pictures@elsiegabriel.
the cave it encounters air with a lower carbon dioxide partial pressure. To
restore its balance, a water droplet discharges carbon dioxide. As the calcium
bicarbonate can no longer be retained in the solution, it is deposited in the
form of tiny limestone crystals known as calcite. This ongoing process builds
up calcite deposits, which in turn produce the cave formations.Some parts of the caves are just a little moist so look out for wet walls and floors.
slow droplet formation calcite is deposited against the ceiling, resulting in
the growth of stalactites hanging downwards. With more rapid droplet formation,
water containing calcite in solution falls to the floor, resulting in the
building up of a stalagmite from below.
Stalactites and stalagmites that form
vertically opposite each other, may eventually unite to form beautiful
In all, there are almost nine caves with nine
landings to which standard visitors are allowed. Each spacious hall vary in
size but are approximately over 90 metres long, 50 metres wide at its widest
point, and between 14 and 18 metres high.
On one particular landing my eyes were drawn
to a tall, slender stalagmite which rises nearly 10 metres towards the
ceilings. One such formation was the Cleopatra's Needle. Still active and
growing, the Needle is estimated to be in excess of 150 000 years old am told.
Stay away from noisy tourists and after hearing what the guide has to inform you,explore and take in the sights.
down, again near the base of another staircase stands an impressive formation
known as The Pulpit of a Great Cathedral, replete with angel's wings,
sculptured by nature's own .The largest, an ancient formation some 500 000
years old, is known as The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Beyond it stands a soaring
column some 13 metres high and approximately 250 000 years old,they say.
the next chamber, provides fantasy for the younger generation. Coloured lights
illumine the Fairy Queen's Palace . The roof of the Crystal Palace on another
chamber is decorated with "Hanging crystal gardens", adorned with
ice-like crystals and weirdly contorted helictites. A light to the left reveals
a translucent crystal wall. There are several other huge formations like the
Madonna and child, The Heavy Stage Curtains, and The Petrified Weeping Willow
Tree among many many more. The Cango Caves are an absolute must for all
tourists visiting South Africa, if you miss the Caves, you might as well have
Few guidelines for the Cango Caves
· Wear comfortable footwear and light clothing - it's a warm cave at
around 18 degrees Celsius and humid too.
· Arrive early to study the literature and see the display boards.
· Use other personal facilities before you start the cave tour.
· It's a one kilometer walk, with 416 stairs on a full tour, and
lasts about one and a half hours.
· The tunnel section at the back called the devil's chimney borders
an extreme narrow adventure, only try it if you are extremely slim and fit.
· Take the family only through the first nine chambers, rest is not
advisable for small children.
· Take plenty of photos.
· Do not chip or break off any pieces of the stalactites and
· Listen carefully to the guide providing useful information.
How to get here -
caves are approximately 28 km north of Oudtshoorn on the R328. The nearest airport
is George Airport in South Africa, approximately 50 km away. Entry to South
Africa is of course through Johannesburg international airport which has direct
flights from Mumbai and Delhi, here in India.
Best time to visit
Cango Caves are open throughout the year, except on Christmas Day.
you are planning for a trip then do think aboutSouth Africa where you will meet the deep, gigantic, pre-historic,
amazing caves. Those who are willing to open up the geography books and live
the pages within, this spectacular historical wonder is a must visit to South
Africa at least once in your lifetime!
Lots of chatter and bargaining, fruits, vegetables and fresh produce
everywhere, no we are not at a supermarket, we are in the middle of a canal!
Water water every where and we are in a canoe kind of boat floating, meandering
our way betweenmany other such boats,
shopping in the middle of a waterway! More than a dozen boats passing each
other with loads of fascinating indigenous stuff for sale,all on one narrow
canal. The whole atmosphere is intoxicating and contagious, I got into the
chaotic shopping mood at once bargaining for some incense and coconut carved
show pieces. Some shoppers were held captive by vendor boats selling fresh
flowers, coconut candy and lots oftropical fruits. The simple raw Mango’s sliced up in a plastic bag made
the most sales....
The most famous of the floating markets is Damnoen Saduak, about 100
kilometers southwest of Bangkok. Check out the floating markets very early in
the morning to get fresh stuff as well as avoid the huge crowds later on along
with the heat of the day.
These canal markets are slowly
vanishing they say, only to the land adjoining the banks being developed or
being replaced by shoppers who frequent the malls. Thailand's remaining
floating markets are an enduring symbol of an ancient Thai culture and
traditional life,it has to be a must on your Thailand trip. Ask for the
floating market trip at any hotel travel counter or even at the airport once
you land at Thailand and take the one most convenient to you.
Every one taking pictures, click
click click, its infectious, you just simply want to capture every colour,
every hue and every vendors floating local shop filled to the brim.
Don’t look down at the canal water under the boat, its obviously not
freshwater and of course do not touch it.But its a country canal alright, they
say there are many such canal floating markets in Thailand,some even connecting
You'll experience rural Thai and the countryside all
in this very cruise by a long-tailed boat to the markets. See the vendors
selling local produce and get an up-close glimpse of everyday rural life in
We got off at many points of interval, to take notes
on the Coconut Sugar candy factory and another break for some good Thai chop
chop. Sweet coconut water and some covered uncut fruit is advisable for the
Simply any and everything on sale! You can expect to
bargain but not more than a couple of bahts.
Coconut sugar candy factory.
Of course for some of you,who want to indulge and
surely want to loosen your purse strings for even a little more than just
curios , if you are okay with buying remakes of Gucci,Prada, Fendi and more of
the international designer bags along side Thai Lichees, Thai mangoes and Thai
balms, Thai Oils,all in that order literally, a true mixed jamboree sale
afloat! Go ahead. Enjoy shopping sitting on the boat and exchanging goods for cash over the water, for
once away from the plastic malls!
I have always been asked that
question…If you were ever stranded on an island what would you do….. well watch
women work on their sea weed farms, hear the thrill of kids betting on
grasshopper fights in a tiny box full of holes, watch fishermen bring in loads
of shiny silver fish, dive deep under the sea and live like a mermaid with all
the colorful fish in the ocean and only surface to get drunk on fermented
coconut water and fresh air!!!!
Hehe..yeah you have to see this
Island to actually believe me…
Only 8 square kilometers and there
are about 7,000 people living on the island year round. Nusa Lembongan is a
beautiful island off the main coast of Bali.Indonesia.What can I say I had a hard time
wanting to really come to civilization…..
I got off on an island called Jungut
Batu during a Bali Hai cruise and didn’t want to come back…..
Jungut Batu villagers work as
seaweed farmers for which they get hefty sums of money from the cosmetic
industry. Seaweed is used for medicines, food stabilizer, cosmetic and gelatin
for ice cream. The chunk of theincome
for the population is derived from seaweed farming. The locals farm ‘Euchema
Cottomi’ a specie of ocean algae, by tying the sprouting algae shoots to
farming plots with rope and flat wood stakes embedded in the seabed. It takes
one month to grow to a size able to be harvested and then three days to sundry.
Normally during the harvest the new sprouts are returned to the bed to begin
the new crop, and then new sprouts get collected from the seabed. The dried seaweed
is kept in large storehouses until it is taken to the mainland and sold for
export to America, Denmark, Japan and Holland.
White stretches of sand as far as
the eyes can see, very remote and filled with jungles. Community life comes
alive when fishermen come home from the sea. But once on the beach again you
can snorkel and dive all day long. I forgot my suntan lotion on that trip I
remember and surfaced looking like the Queen of Spades!! So don’t forget your
sunscreen and hat……everrrr………… when doing an island trip….
Ihad to be carried on all fours to get back on the cruise again to the
main Bali shoreline!! Jus kidddin, I had my pockets full of sea weed andfeet full of sand……what more could I ask for
than a mind full of memories of a lovely island filled with such innocentchildren where I guess the digital world
would take another couple of years to make them lost techno addicts…..
Really…..I can still hear those
crickets chirping inside those bamboo boxes with tiny holes fighting their way
to survival…and the eye balls of those little boys hanging out keeping a close
watch as to who would win? I wonder what they bet on…more sea weed???