Sunday, 28 February 2016

Travel Photos Series#17-Sika Deer at Nara Park

Sika deer at Nara Park

This is one of the many deer photos I captured at Nara Park, Japan. The hundreds of free roaming sika deer are the main draw of this popular tourist site. Together with the lush greenery, magnificent temples and shrines with their decorative statues and sculptures as the backdrop, the ubiquitous deer offer great photo capturing opportunities for the enthusiasts.

My family thoroughly enjoyed our day trip here. Charlotte loved feeding the deer with the deer crackers and has been asking me when we are returning to the park again :-).

Photo was taken on 26 Nov 2015.      

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Why We Travel?

Scenic Sagano Train Ride at Arashiyama, Japan
I always admire those travelers that have the courage and determination to give up what they had and went to explore the World. It was and will never be an easy decision. Although I am unlikely to do this in my lifetime, I will always try to see the other parts of this planet whenever I have the opportunities.

The older generation of people used to share with us that we shall work hard and earn lots of money when we are young. When we grow old, the money will enable us to enjoy life and travel the world. My philosophy of life is actually exactly the opposite. I think all of us shall see the world when we have the health and physics to do so. We may have the money to travel but our bodies and legs will let us down at certain stages of our life.

I remember very clearly when I visited the Great Wall of China many years ago. The whole bus was overjoyed when we finally set eyes on the magnificent structure. I was determined to climb a section of the Great Wall which would take me to a hill top and a breathtaking aerial view of the surrounding. Almost everyone had left the bus apart from these old couple who huddled together at the back of the vehicle. "Are you coming down to join us?" I asked them. The old man replied me: "The weather outside is too cold for us. Our frail bodies will also not allow us to climb the Great Wall." These words still rung clearly in my ears and acted as a good advice for me to do things whenever I have the abilities and capabilities to do so.  

Charlotte and Japanese Gal

Seeing the World, taking great travel photos, experiencing other culture, savoring great and exotic food, making new friends etc are always common and good enough reasons for our travel trips. But sometimes without realizing, there are also other great reasons for us to do so. I like to share with you on my other reasons here:

Bonding & Learning the Other Sides of Your Family and Friends

Be it traveling with family and friends, traveling together will always help to create the extra cohesiveness among your traveling partners. You have to consider each other interests and feelings when planning the itineraries. Your traveling members may also show you a different side of themselves which you never expect to see in your normal life.

Tet, Bayee & Paulo at Terrace of The Leper King at Siem Reap, Cambodia
For example, during my recent trip to Japan, I was discussing with Alison at a Osaka's train station on the best route getting to a planned destination. We were still in the midst of sorting out the way when Charlotte suddenly pointed to the map and said: "Daddy, I think we shall take this route to our destination. It seems the most direct and shortest." We were really taken aback as we did not expect any input from our young daughter. The  biggest surprise was that she had pointed the solution to us! I would learn later that she had been picking up the  knowledge since our first family trip to Tokyo two years back and would put them to good use for the later trips. Rather than just discussing with my wife, I always want to hear Charlotte's opinions also after this incident!

Dad, Mum and Paulo at a Thrilled Ride at E-Da Theme Park at Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Another good example happened during our trip to Taiwan together with my aged parents. I had included E-Da theme park at Kaohsiung for my daughter but was worried that my parents would be bored. But how wrong I was to be. They (especially my father) thoroughly enjoyed their day and took on the challenging rides whenever they had the chances. This was something I did not expect to see from them.

Knowing Where and Who We Are

It's important to know where and who we are in the planet. This applies especially to the privileged children of our country. They are born with no worries for the basic necessities and are comfortable with their life. Many of them have taken this for granted. Instead of always planning trips to the developed countries, I also try to plan at least a trip per year to visit the less developed countries. These trips served as eye opener for Charlotte that there are less fortunate people in the World and life is not a bed of roses.

Children playing at a ruined temple at Siem Reap, Cambodia
During our trip to Indonesia, Yogyakarta, Charlotte had the chance to see young children working hard under the hot sun to earn a living. She saw children almost the same age as her or some even younger helping out their parents at their stalls or pestering tourists to buy souvenirs from their self-carried stocks. She would then question me: "Daddy, shall these children be studying at this time of the day? Why are they working?"  I took the opportunity to tell how lucky she is to be not working but having a good education at this stage of her life. Not everyone in this world enjoy the same privileges. I feel this is very important and send a strong message to our young ones that they shall strive hard for themselves if they want to have a fruitful life in the future.

Taking Well-Deserved Breaks

When I mean well-deserved breaks, I really mean WELL-DESERVED BREAKS!  I am referring to holiday that really help me recharge my often drained biological batteries. I made mistakes in my early travels and often cramped the itineraries like a can of sardines. In the end, I felt more tired as though I had not taken a holiday at all. The experience taught me to be more relaxed and accommodating when planning for my trips. I learnt that it's perfectly OK not to see everything when visiting a country. The key thing is to enjoy and recuperate. More importantly, Alison and Charlotte would minimize their complaints on my hectic traveling schedules :-P !

Alison and Charlotte at The Fisherman Wharf, Macau


Nothing beat the Satisfaction that I had after every travel to see that everyone has enjoyed the trip. Though I have invested days and sometimes even months to do research and plan for the trips, it is always a happy feeling that we have benefited from the breakaways. The smiles that my parents wore on their faces after the Taiwan trip, the grateful thanks from my traveling mates after the Cambodia venture, the sweet dreams that Charlotte has after the Japan travel, the unending recollection of the good traveling memories with Alison are good enough reasons for the efforts put in to arrange a great trip for everybody.

Sweet Family Photo taken at Umeda Sky Building at Osaka, Japan

So what's your reasons to travel? Do share them in the comment column :-) 

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