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  • Wind Down & Take A Sip | 4 Of Our Favorite Hang Out Spots In Singapore (and Halal!)

    It’s been a long week and all you need right now is a cuppa and a friend to talk to. On some nights you might even want to shake it up a little with a drink that comes with a fancy name or tone it down with some macchiato as you catch up with your partner in crime. Whether you are hanging out with your squad or yourself, these cafes set the perfect vibe for you to wind down and take a step away from your hectic world. via GIPHY No.57 Coffee Stand Credit: No.57 Coffee Stand on Facebook Away from the hustle and bustle of Haji Lane, this hidden gem is located along Aliwal Street, unleashing the vintage vibe to anyone who walks in. In this small space, you have the baristas doing their thing on the left and on the right you have a mini vintage flea. Take the stairs up and you’ll find a museum and a photography studio all at once. This space is barely big enough for a 100-people crowd but something about it makes you feel at ease. No.57 is the dream come true of three boys who wanted to build a business together. A space where dreams meet and humans reconnect over the simple things in life. So go get your cup of coffee from the barista guys and keep your eyes open for one of their vintage flea markets. Address: 57 Aliwal Street 199933Opening Hours: 10AM to 9PM (Mon-Sat)                          10Am to 4PM (Sun) Facebook | Instagram Penny University Credit: Penny University on Facebook This place needs no introduction. Imagine this — eggs benedict with perfectly poached eggs, nature’s best sauce (the egg yolk) oozing out and running down your toasts paired with a cup of affogato. Perfection. Nestled along East Coast Rd, Penny University is the ultimate spot for a brunch. Whether you’re having some me time or a catch-up session with your squad, Penny University is the perfect spot to treat your soul and of course, your tummy. Hmm, part of the Mom Squad? Bring your kids along and have them tap in on your not-so-little brunch escape with their little Babyccino treat. Address: 15 Kennedy Street, Kingston, ACT 2604Opening Hours: 7AM to 4PM (Daily) Website | Facebook | Instagram The Great Mischief Credit: The Great Mischief on Instagram Too fancy for a cup of coffee? Take a ride down to The Great Mischief and start pretending you’re in the great Catalunya, Spain. This Catalan-inspired space scores in its aesthetic interior and exterior. The bold colors, neon lights, wild wallpapers and open, airy concept screams Catalunya to anyone who walks past (or in). If coffees are not your thing, settle in for a sip or two of their mocktails. Topping it off with fancy names like the beautiful Lloret De Mar, Barcelona City, and La Rambla. Dig into some tapas while you’re at it and keep your mouth exercising while you listen to your sidekick’s latest update. Address: 30 Madras Street Singapore 208423Opening Hours: 12PM to 4PM | 6PM to 10PM (Mon-Thu)                          12PM to 11PM (Fri & Sat)                          12PM to 5PM (Sundays) Website | Facebook | Instagram Wanderlost Lounge Credit: Wanderlost Lounge - By The Halal Mixologist on Facebook On some nights, being high up on the rooftop lets you wind down a little bit better. Located on the 11th floor, the Wanderlost Lounge lets you in on a whole collection of themed non-alcoholic cocktails named after our favorite childhood books. This space sets the mood just right with the little details, completing every corner of the room. Step out to the open area and soak in the chill ambiance of the lounge. And if you're feeling a little hungry, fill up on some grilled tapas and tacos to go with your drinks.  Address: 15 Enggor street, #12-01, SingaporeOpening Hours: 5.30PM till Late (Mon-Sat) Website | Facebook | Instagram There you go folks! These are four of our favorite hang out spots for a good ol' cup of coffee or a nice fancy drink. Four is really just a handful so we want to know what is your favorite hang out spot. Be it you're in Singapore, Malaysia or even somewhere across the world, tag us @halaltrip on your social media platforms so that we know your recommendations! ...

  • 5 Best Destinations For A Winter Experience

    For the next few months, we are going to experience a lovely cold weather. Yes, you feel tempted to retreat to your into your home with a cozy blanket and hot drink, but whether you like or dislike winter, you cannot deny the beauty it brings out around the world, during December. And since the cold weather is something everyone is going to experience, why not do it in style and more excitement? The winter holiday experience in some countries are so beautiful, it takes your breath away. These are seasonal holiday destinations. So make sure that you don't miss out on the chance to explore your horizons. There are many places around the world you can visit for the best winter holidays and guarantees a good time with many activities and for sightseeing. These are the top 5 destinations you can have a wonderful winter experience in.   Credit - giphy.com   Plitvice National Park, Croatia Picture credit - youtube.com The Plitvice National Park is Croatia's single most popular attraction, with justification. Let your imagination run wild and conjure up an image of 16 beautiful turquoise lakes, with water cascading down in a series of waterfalls, hemmed in by densely forested hills. And now, imagine it all beautifully frozen and snowcapped. Paints a pretty picture, doesn't it? You could experience this crystallised beauty only once a year and other people seems to have the same idea. Its one of the best European destinations visited by tourists. Nowadays these lakes are bursting at the seems with fish and water snakes, while herons frequent the shores of the quieter, northern part of the system, and deer, bears, wolves and wild boar throng the forests above. The visit to the park is highly organized with well-laid out paths, regular shuttle buses and ferry rides to main points of interest. When travelling through the mountainous parts of Croatia, the deeper you go in, the more you encounter snow, making it your perfect winter wonderland! The main route during winter is to take the path along the canyon and to hike. You can make snow angels and even have snowball fights! You are never too old for them ;) One of the best restaurants in Plitvice is the "Licka Kuca" restaurant. It has many wonderful reviews about its food and services. Although, before you dine, check if it ticks all your boxes. You can never be too careful about meals far away from home. If you are visiting- If the weather conditions are “normal” you have the boats running on the upper lakes and the tour guides are also available. The admission fees are reduced. Opening hours are shorter Bring warm clothes and proper footwear, especially if there is snow. Skiing at Plitvice is a possibility in the village 'Mukinje'. There is one slope with a T-lift and a few smaller hills, which are mainly used for kids on slides. Ski equipment and slides can be rented at the skiing centre where you can also find a restaurant called "Skijaliste Bistro Vucnica". During winter season most of the hotels run by National park Plitvice are closed, the only one, which is open whole year around, is hotel Jezero. But there are of course other options one of which is cottages. There is one cottage recommended in Smoljanac, which is about 5 km from entrance 1. If you visit without a car, your first priority for accommodation should be Rastovaca. Other options are Grabovac and Rakovica where you have quite a few lovely bungalows.   Banff National Park, Canada Picture credit - banffnationalpark.com The Banff National Park is most famous Canadian Rockies Park and Canada's leading tourist attraction. The main attraction of Banff National Park is undoubtedly Lake Moraine, located 15 km from Lake Louise. The lake's crystal clear water reflects the snowcapped valley of the Ten Peaks. It also has a 1500 km trail, which you can use to hike and go camping as well. Since the actual town of Banff which, transforms into a Christmas village with colourful lights, decorations and horse-drawn carriages for visitors is close by, you can spend a couple of days browsing the stores along Banff Avenue and throughout downtown Banff to find gifts for your loved ones and also stock up on supplies. It is December after all! Two popular roads within the park offer magnificent panoramas: from Banff to Lake Louise is a far preferable route to the parallel Trans-Canada Highway, and the much longer Icefields Parkway leads from Lake Louise to Jasper. Both are lined with trails long and short, waterfalls, lakes, canyons, viewpoints, pull-offs and a seemingly unending procession of majestic mountain, river, glacier and forest scenery. The towering mountains, snow-covered trees, frozen lakes and outdoor skating rinks make spending the winter holidays in the rocky mountains quite special. Lake Louise gives such a magical feel during winter, with a blanket of glistening snow and complete solitude. "The Banff Springs" and "The Rimrock" are known for their fabulous buffets and Christmas dinners. Also be sure to check out "The Maple Leaf Grill", "The Juniper Hotel & Bistro" and "Chinook Restaurant" at the Banff Park Lodge if you find yourself in need of a good, filling meal. To look out for - There’s world-class skiing with choices of three mountains. All three resorts, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay are open. Lake Louise is a cross-country skiing paradise. Ski rentals are available through Chateau Mountain Sports within the hotel; lessons or guided skiing tours can be arranged through the concierge. If you’re not into skiing, but want to experience some fun and thrill in the snow you can try tubing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort or the Mount Norquay Ski Resort in Banff. Snowshoeing is also available at Lake Louise. If you haven't done it before, don't fret. It’s very easy to learn. One of the easiest trails to try is the Lake Louise Lakeshore with virtually no elevation gain. Another popular trail is to the Fairview Lookout. There’s a hill perfect for tobogganing right next to the Chateau Lake Louise on to the left. Toboggans can be rented from Chateau Mountain Sports within the hotel. Ice-skating on Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful outdoor rinks in the world. The skating rink is usually cleared in early December and an ice castle is built. Skates are available through Chateau Mountain Sports in the Fairmont Chateau Hotel. There are traditional horse-drawn sleigh rides along the lakeside trail to the back of Lake Louise. You can make reservations at the Brewster desk inside the Fairmont Chateau lobby. It is available from early December to mid-April depending on conditions. A leisurely stroll along the snow-covered trail to the back of Lake Louise would be an enchanting experience. It’s a peaceful way to experience the winter surroundings and majestic mountains. Or you can simply read a book in front of a crackling fire at your hotel or soak your stress away in the Banff hot springs. If you're looking for accommodations during your winter ski vacations and Christmas holidays, the condo-style properties are very popular. Some popular are the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort, Hidden Ridge Resort, Douglas Fir Resort and Tunnel Mountain Resort. Due to their high demand, these properties may need to be booked several months in advance, especially if you want to reserve specifically for Christmas or New Years. Ultimate Holiday Experiences can be had at the high-end resort properties such as the Banff Springs, Chateau Lake Louise and Rimrock Hotel.   Richmond Park, UK Picture credit - timeout.com Richmond Park is the biggest park in London is more breathtaking during winter. It's three times the size of New York's Central Park and is teeming with deer’s galloping around; giving it an English countryside feel to it. On the few days the snow falls in London, this is THE place to be. Richmond Park is accessible by public transport and car parking facilities are also available should you rent a car to visit. The park is a top UK site for ancient trees and supports a range of rare species including fungi, birds, beetles, bats, grasses and wildflowers. It is a protected status as a National Nature Reserve. Richmond Park is a site of both national and international importance for wildlife conservation. The best places to visit for meals and snacks are the "Pembroke Lodge", located at the highest point of Richmond Park and "The Roehampton Cafe", which is located at Roehampton gate car park. If you find yourselves in need of quick refreshments, there are refreshment points located near Broomfield Hill and Pen Pond car parks. They serve a wide a range of hot and cold snacks and beverages. The Friends of Richmond Park provides frequent guided walks, which are free of charge. These do not need to be booked ahead unless mentioned otherwise. Imagine the mystical and otherworldly feel you will experience while walking through snow covered trees and paths and with deer’s running wild. I'm sure just listening about it makes you feel heart content. The current itinerary for the walks of 2017 is as follows: 02nd of Sep - Roehampton Gate Car Park 07th of Oct - Sheen Gate Car Park (Deer + Walk the Wall) 04th of Nov - Pembroke Lodge Car Park (Fungi) 02nd of Dec - Pen Ponds Car Park 26th of Dec - Pembroke Lodge Car Park To look out for - The Isabella Plantation is a 40-acre woodland garden set within a Victorian woodland plantation. Located in the gardens are the National Collection of Wilson 50 Kurume Azaleas (introduced to the west from Japan), large collections of Rhododendrons and Camellias, plus many other rare and unusual trees and shrubs. Native plants commonly grow alongside exotics throughout the Plantation. Park cycling is available with bikes for hire. Although, riding in the cold weather would prove to be a tad bit difficult, but it is also good to challenge yourself once in awhile. While cycling you can come across many wildlife at close range. It also has a number of stables where you can get horses to go horse riding. That would truly be an enchanting experience. Who needs a prince charming when you can ride all by yourself in a beautiful environment? There are two playgrounds that are created specifically for children under five and the other for children of all ages. It’s called the Kingston Gate Playground and Petersham Gate Playground, respectively. Nothing can cool your jets like the sport of winter rugby. A section of the grassland to the north of the Roehampton Gate is maintained and laid out with 3 adult pitches. This is available only during winter season. Power kiting is also available. It is a sport where you are pulled along by a kite while sitting in a kite buggy or standing on a land board. Qualified instructors teach this fast growing sport all year round, in the grassy spaces of Richmond Park. Enjoy a Christmas experience to remember in Richmond Park during December, with a classic winter carriage ride, drawn by elegant grey horses. You can enjoy warm refreshments while travelling along with a unique behind-the-scenes visit to the stables.   Atlas Mountains, Morocco Picture credit - reddit.com The majestic Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa see a total of above 3000m-snow covers from November to April. The 'Mount Toubkal' a.k.a the 'Toubkal Massif' is the most stunning during the winter, when fearless mountaineers don grappling hooks and climb the 4167m summits. This highest Atlas peak is where everyone sets their trekking destination towards. It is also possible to camp out on your trek, as the Atlas Mountains are a series of mountains and plateaus. You can reach trailhead villages in just two hours from Marrakesh, which is the best way to find out the real natural landscapes in Morocco, and the main walking routes are easily followed. Walking just a short distance from the most common starting point – Imlil – you are transported to a very different world. Mountain villages offer a stark contrast to the previous roadside towns with Berber houses stacked one on top of another, appearing to sprout from the rocks, situated on the green scenic deep valleys of the high atlas. The Atlas Mountains makes a wonderful place for trekking holidays where you particularly find a lot of mountains to climb like Mount Toubkal, M’goun Mountains, Jbel Ayachi and Lalla Khedidja. Accommodations if you're staying - Ever since the legendary Kasbah Du Toubkal was introduced, the Atlas Mountains have built a reputation for indulgent and stylish hotels. Whilst it is more expensive, the excellent terraces, lounges and views pull together to create a superb stay. Kasbah Bab Ourika stands out for pure indulgence and majestic situation. Douar Samra wins the charm award hands down with a wonderfully earthy rambling village property. There are hotels are clustered around three broad areas, the Ourika Valley, Ouirgane and Imlil. Ourika Valley is an incredibly picturesque valley but is much more densely populated and heavily frequented by tourist coaches with less good walking options. If you are keen on walking then the Imlil area is recommended by most. The scenery has a dramatic effect, along with cooler temperatures and the village is at the heart of a wonderful network of walking trails.   Harbin, China Harbin is world famous for its largest ice and snow sculpture festival during January. There are participants from every nook and cranny of the world to exhibit their enormous sculptures of snow and ice. Songhua River and nearly all the parks in Harbin are the venues of the festival. This part of China is known for its temperatures dropping below -20 °C, which makes the ideal weather for this festival. As the coldest city in the most northern China, Harbin’s winter is dry, cold and coupled with a longer period of snow covering. You can also spend some nights in beautiful China's Snow Town, skiing in Yabuli, fishing or ice sailing on Songhua River, ice lantern watching, ice and snow sculptures-seeing or experiencing an adventure among the Siberian tigers and more. In its dining field, there is the mixture of Russian style and Chinese style. In Harbin, the "Zhongyang Street" and the "Huanghe Road" are the two centralized dining places. To look out for - Skating is a characteristic sport in Harbin. One important difference of skating from other cities of China is - the playing field is moved to the ice surface. Snow falls early in Harbin and around many ski resorts in Harbin. Yabuli Ski Resort (the best and most convenient place to try downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities), Yabuli Sunshine Holiday Village Ski Resort, Longzhu Erlongshang Ski Resort, Harbin Institute Of Physical Education Skifield, Jihua Changshou Mountain Ski Resort, Pingshan Shenlu Ski Resort are some of Harbin's most popular ski areas. There are many snow bikes and ice-sailings available for rent in the park or on the Songhua River. Winter in Harbin provides you with many opportunities to experience and witness new things such as winter swimming by the local elderly. It is a sport that requires precaution, specialized training and adequate warm-up Even though many might profoundly deny it and no matter how old you are, building a snowman is what everyone absolutely loves to do. With the extremely low temperature and the blanket of snow, you can enjoy building a snowman with your friends or family. Along with making snow angels and snowball fighting. These are activities that never get old! The best place to enjoy hiking is China's Snow Town, where you can hike through the beautiful forests, villages and valleys. Fishing is quite famous around Harbin. You can catch Catfish, Pseudorasbora parva, Lumpfish, Dace almost everywhere the Songhua River. A must have experience when visiting Harbin, is the Siberian Tiger Park. It is a one-time experience where you can get up close and personal with Tigers! During the visit, you will be caged in a specially protected bus or jeep to linger through the fierce tigers to appreciate the exhilarating and breathtaking panorama. Snowmobiling in Harbin is as famous as any other winter sport. There are marked trails for independent trips on snowmobiles around the city. You can contact travel agents or your hotel manager to arrange such trip. The people of Harbin don't hibernate over winter. They create reasons to get out and enjoy the outdoors. One way is with Spring Festival and Lantern Festival, which occur across the country. The two festivals are celebrated in the first month of the traditional Chinese calendar (usually in Feb.). During the festivals, you can see the locals perform Yangko dance or dragon dance in the streets or villages.   Just because its winter and you don't like the cold weather, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on such an adventure! Explore all these destinations and create a mystical and enchanting time for yourself. It will be a memory to last a lifetime. Get out in the cold, drink hot cocoa, and enjoy the snow as if it’s the last thing you would do and I can guarantee that you will have a great time! Live your life and feel alive. Experience everything it has to offer. So pack a bag, don your scarves and gloves and prepare for the best experience, 'cause winter is coming ;)  ...

  • Around The World with a Marine Navigator

    Around the World with Marine Navigator by Farzaan Ahmed  Explore the world, countries & continents from the vantage point of the Sea with a Marine Navigator Ever felt the wind blowing through your hair? the breeze tousling the strands, caressing your scalp ever so gently, pacifying and invigorating in turns and all that costing nothing? In fact you could be getting paid to exactly do that for several hours a day! That is merchant navy, my life for you. Just when we thought that all careers today required being locked up indoors staring endlessly at computer screens or answering calls in stupefying accents, here is one that offers an outdoor experience combined modern technology in all its varied forms. Well, the inspiration to join the water world doesn’t have to come from a single person. It carries its own rich history behind it, one of the most ancient and curiosity generating professions in the world with the legacy of globally renowned explorers and navigators like Ibn Battuta, Magellan, Marco Polo, Vespucci and others being responsible for the discovery of many nations and beginning the era of worldwide trading across oceans. Is Marine Navy Life For You? Let’s keep the history aside for a while and move on to the modern world; people who can fit the bill. If someone likes to include the elements of physical challenge with team work and travel, then sea life is waiting right here. Here is an insight on how it’s different and unique from rest of the mundane chores we do in land: We get to work in a clean environment (health benefit). We don’t have to commute to work (saves time). When we get back home during vacations, have free time to develop other interests. Last but not the least; I believe merchant navy pays well.   The merchant navy entails the transportation over water of goods. Nowadays it also includes elements of the offshore and cruise industries. Not to be confused with other navy whose main purpose is territorial defence or other similar national interests. On board the ship Now let me take you on board the ship, which is typically manned by a Captain, 7-9 Officers and 10-12 ratings. The captain’s post is through deck officer’s stream. Presently I’m sailing in the rank of THIRD OFFICER in command and I am part of the deck navigational team on board. The Best Part of My Work What interests me the most in my work of exploring and navigation is that whenever we make a passage plan to a new country on a chart, I get very excited. It’s one of my dreams to travel across all the 7 continents and sail over all the 5 oceans. Not very long ago I still remember my 1st port of joining the ship, New York, USA. Well, the journey had begun, the initial hard days of my training on the ship as deck-cadet didn’t deter me and every day of my life on board made me a better person. In the 1st few months I sailed mostly in the North American Territory, New York City, Savannah-Georgia in USA, Kingston in Jamaica; crossed over from the Atlantic Ocean via Panama Canal and went onto the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast to Long Beach, Los Angeles & Oakland, San Francisco in California. Then there was a long voyage across the Pacific Ocean of around 20 days towards East Asian Ports of Shanghai, Shekou in China, HongKong, Keelung in Taiwan and Pusan in South Korea. The tides and roughness of the sea, the surging ocean waves, the rolling and pitching of the heavy seas made me realise that all that glitters is not gold. The rough weather with the Gale storm that I had to face approaching the Coast of Halifax, Canada in Nova Scotia Islands is still my worst experience at sea. Wind Force in beau fort scale 9, rain, hail, frost and the -15 deg Celsius in the snow storm made me sick. Then we crossed over and sailed through the North Atlantic Ocean from Canada into the Mediterranean Sea calling the ports of Barcelona in Spain and Genoa & Livorno in Italy; those were the few times we went to Europe. Next port was Haifa in the Middle East and then onto Asian and African coastline. It was not easy for me to survive as the extreme cold temperatures in most places where I went at that time were new for me and difficult to adapt because I hailed from a tropical climate. Brief observations on some of the places I visited My work has taken me to many places. They include the Ice-peak slopes of Canada, unspoiled wilderness and world famous cities of USA. Western Europe with Spain and Italy was more classical and conventional, whereas Haifa and Jerusalam was a mixed bag. Navigating in East Asia which includes China, Hong Kong, Taiwan & South Korea was the toughest from a navigator’s point of view due to the heavy traffic density of fishing boats and ships. It is also being one of the world’s busiest transits for shipping trades. Hong Kong’s coastline with a cluster of tiny small islands looks like shining Diwali diyas on the sea shore. USA Let me begin with my first port of call; the most sought after, ethnically diverse and multicultural nations of USA. Natural parks and places of unspeakable beauty and virtually everything in between. New York City, the city that never sleeps is the centre of North American Commerce and Culture. On the west coast, Los Angeles mountains, beaches and of course the traffic. People seem to be busy in their fast life, but are kind and friendly too. The Long Beach Port had a fabulous restaurant ‘Chart House’ where the sea food I had was simply exotic, ‘Shrimp Fresca’ and ‘Fish Fillet’ was one of the best meal I ever had. Canada   Halifax, Canada was a roller coaster ride on ice in sub-zero temperatures. As the port operations were delayed the shipping agent took us to a Ski Club for skiing, my 1st shot at adventure sport. Interestingly I found people not only speaking English but also chattering in French. The agent explained to us that French plays a substantial role in Canada as does Spanish and Latin in other parts of North America. You could also here several other immigrant languages like Mandarin, Cantonese & Tagalog. The Caribbean There is some difference between North America and Central America regions compared to the Caribbean. Panama is the Nexus between North America and South America. Unlike in North America, people here do not have the glamorous lifestyle with the luxuries; they are instead more indigenous, generous and traditional; sticking mostly to their roots. Spain Although I haven’t sailed a lot in the Mediterranean, but the memories of my days in Europe are still afresh. City of Barcelona in Spain with the prolific Soccer Team from La Liga had the streets full of its banners, jerseys, posters and merchandise from the club have left vivid memories. Very near the Port, you could take a walk in the City is which reflects the cultural history of the country. Reflecting the nation’s deep Mediterranean roots the cuisine is mostly seafood; the Basque style –cod, Albacore or Anchovy or the Galician Octopus-based Polbo ‘a’ Feira and Shellfish dishes. The colourful La Rambla Street near the bay has a huge market place with plenty of artefacts and souvenirs to buy. There are also many street performances that entertain the crowds always. Italy Another country I went in that region was the land of Pizza & Parmesan cheese, Italy. Livorno, port in Italy is a modern city in this medieval country. Reputed for the charming fashion labels such as Gucci , Prada , Versace , Armani , Dolce & Gabbana , Valentino to name a few; had display houses in every nook and corner. Undoubtedly it is considered as one of the world’s main fashion capitals. I even got myself one of dose expensive ARMANI leather jackets to keep it in my priced possession. Leaning Tower Of Pisa is a 3 hour drive from Livorno. To witness one of the wonders of the world is truly a breathtaking experience. Haifa and Jerusalem Got a chance to go to the Haifa port. I had more time to go out explore there since the ship stayed there for a few days. There were stringent security checks and measures in most of the areas which does not help when you are a tourist.  Nevertheless,  Jerusalem due to its religious significance is the place to visit. Most speak Arabic and Hebrew, but frankly for me both of them sounded very similar. Along with Masjid Al-Aqsa, there are lot of monasteries, churches, mosques built all around Haifa and Jerusalem which depicts the religious diversity in the architecture of the nation. The cuisine is a mix of Arab, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean, comprising of Pita Bread, Hummus, Shakshouka, and Zaatar, which I am quite familiar with on board. East Asia   Sailing in Asia was mostly in the South Eastern Part; China & Hong Kong. I was more comfortable in Hong Kong, because most of the people speak English along with Mandarin and Cantonese. Hong Kong city looks so small on the map, but when you take at the city from its central subway station it looks like the centre of the world with all its hustle and bustle. Several inhabitants from the subcontinent, made me once feel like I was in India. Hong Kong being the largest of the mainstream cities in China is fabulous for shopping. Consumer goods are available at a very reasonable price. My Chinese colleague Chen Jinming took me for sightseeing tour to Shanghai. We had a great time taking pictures of the Shaolin temple and other monasteries. Buddhism and Taoism are the main religions in China. A visit to the Zhuangzu Wushu Martial Arts academy was exciting, just to witness the globally popular and ancient Chinese self defence art of Kung Fu. Our stay in China was cut short, otherwise I would have gone to see the Great Walls. May be next time. South America The best part of my seaman’s life so far, began when I sailed down to the Southern Hemisphere for the 1st time to South America. Past three years I’ve been going there frequently. The culture of the people mainly reflects the Spanish and Portuguese influence. African culture derived from their long history and the influence of United States as the neighbouring continent also has a substantial impact in their development. Soccer in South America Soccer being the prominent form of Sports in the continent, famous players like Pele, Maradona, Ronaldo and Messi are their heroes. Kids in Brazil , Argentina , Peru, Ecuador , Columbia , Chile , Venezuela , Uruguay , Paraguay all were playing football in the streets. It is indeed their 1st passion. Brazil   I joined the ship in the port of Santos, Sao Paolo, Brazil. It is the largest city in the continent. While on shore I left along with the agent to various places like The Santos F.C., football club for which their current superstar Neymar plays. Then we went on a long drive to Rio.  The Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro  is the main attraction for all the tourists who come to there. Portuguese is their mother tongue. It is the only nation that speaks Portuguese, rest of them speak Spanish and latin. Brazil is set in the fabulous backdrop of lush green Amazon forest, which I have tried to capture in my photos, while navigating in the channels between the islands. Argentina San Lorenzo, Argentina, is the home ground for their superstar Messi. I also went to the stadium, where the Argentine played when he was young. I also tried the Argentinean traditional beverage; the herbal tea called Mate and to drink it in bombisha, the small kettle cum container. Also managed to pick a few packets of the tea as souvenirs. Peru & Chile     Port of Callao in Peru with Machu Picchu sanctuary is another world wonder.  The sheep wool cloak also called machu picchu is a collector’s item. The handicrafts and knitted woollen wear is the speciality of the country. The Magellan Straits, which come under the jurisdiction of Chile has snowy peaks and active volcanoes that are part of the Andes Mountain system that shades the length of South America on the western edges. While there is no common consensus on one single national dish here, the Chilean cuisine comprises of Empanadas, Caldillio de congrio (soup made from eel, tomatoes, onion, potatoes and spices). Ecuador & Venezuela Guayaquil in Ecuador has influences from Peru. Puerto Cabello in Venezuela made me like French croissants’ and Pasticho which is the country’s version of lasagna. Cartagena in Columbia had beautiful gardens and vivid wildlife bird sanctuaries with colourful parrots, fierce pelicans and falcons 2 eye-hawk which you cannot see in India. All in all, truly South America is a holiday destination and one of my favourite. The difficulties of a Seafarer I’ve been to countries and cities I can’t pronounce and places on the globe I didn’t know existed. A seafarer’s life is not just all about adventure, exploring and worldwide travel. It is not easy for the faint hearted because we sacrifice a lot and do our best to overcome all the odds and challenges we face at sea. Maintaining relationships, homesickness, seasickness, superior & hierarchy differences, unpredictable accidents and deaths, hard Jobs, no proper sleep, less rest and not the least, the unforgiving weather conditions of the ocean are some of the challenges you have to face. But my passion to survive and triumph in my quest of exploration is larger than those challenges. The determination and perseverance to sustain in tough conditions on board makes mariners, different men altogether. I’ve been on a journey, on a roll but sometimes I got to close my eyes just to open my soul. I still have to discover few more continents like Africa, Australia and Antarctica. By: Farzaan Ahmed  A Marine Navigator...



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