Hill Forts at Kumbalgarh, Day 5 begins

23 10 2009

Oh India, why must you be such a contrasting place? You have both the best and the worst of travel. Really you do.

Located 80km North of Udaipur is the formidable hilltop fort of Kumbalgarh. Built during the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, this fort has some of the most impressive fortifications I’ve ever seen. Its huge walls stretch 36km and are still intact. Supposedly this makes them the 2nd longest continuous walls in the world, after China’s Great Wall.

Kumbalgarh Mountaintop Fort

These walls meant that during its entire history, the fort was only defeated once, by the Emperor Akbar, and that was aided by the poisoning of the water supply. Put simply, this is one of the most secure forts around.

Defenses of Kumbalgarh

Kumbalgarh Defenses

Kumbalgarh Defenses

We were in for a bit of a surprise when we arrived, as there was a French film crew filming part of a travel documentary, using a pair of old American mustangs to travel to various forts and around India. More impressive was their use of a camera mounted on a remote control helicopter. A toy that looked very difficult to use, but loads of fun.

Filming at Kumbalgarh

The fort itself used to have a temple at the top of the hill. Unfortunately now the temple is just a bare shell

Kumbalgarh Fort

We spent a good few hours exploring the remains of the old fort and temple complex. Unfortunately much of it is ruins now, but still it remains highly impressive.

Within the vast 36km walls are other settlements and temples. Obviously at 36km long we couldn’t walk the whole walls, in fact we barely had time to do a few hundred meters. There was plenty to be seen in and around the main area. Numerous temples are right there, mostly allowing entry.

Temple at Kumbalgarh

One of my favourite views was through the main entrance/exit doorway of the final set of defences, the entry into the main fort. It opens out and shows the vastness of Rajasthan and the defences of the fort.

Grand Exit

And of course, how could I forget the monkeys? These cheeky buggers were hanging around the entrance, where the restaurants were. They obviously want nothing better than to steal food from tourists.

Monkey at the Fort

After the fort, we endured the next few hour onwards and into Udaipur, our home of the next few days, and the goal of the next post.

The Haechi of Seoul – Gwanghwamun Plaza

6 10 2009

Recently the area in front of Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul has been turned from a 12 lane road into a vast public space, Gwanghwamun Plaza. The old statue of King Sejong is still here, but now is part of a fountain structure.

King Sejong and his Fountians

On a nice hot day, the kids go crazy running around, trying to avoid the water and usually failing.

Upwards Rain?

Strut in those fountains boy

The plaza itself contains more than just the fountains. It is also a vast public exhibition space, both above ground and underground.

Gwanghwamun Plaza

Currently they are exhibiting the Haechi of Seoul. The Haechi is a mythical beast that once protected the palaces of Seoul. Now it is the latest tourist face of the city. They have put at least 20 differently decorated Haechi statues out as an art exhibit. Similar in concept to the decorated cows that were in many cities over the last few years, these seem to have more of a sense of fun.

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Hagia Sophia, in Pink

18 09 2009

Just playing with some filters in aperture and came up with this. Not sure why but I think it works.

The photo is of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Cathedral/Mosque/Museum getting on towards sunset.

Hagia Sophia in Pink

Weekends, shopping and Obama?

3 09 2009

Finally, we have discovered that a long standing rumour is true. Yes, they are real. Really real.

For one of these


we managed to obtain the long rumoured, never before seen (at least by us), mythological


Yes indeedily, they are geniune Obama Socks. Now you’ve seen everything. Only in Korea could you possibly find a treasure such as these, and all for about $1 Australian too.

However thats not the full extent of the bounty. For the same W1000, we also obtained this


W50,000??? Wait, that can’t be right, $1 gives you $50?

Oops, I actually meant these


The amazing W50,000 pair of socks. Some of the most valuable socks ever to be seen in the back streets of Daegu.

On topic (barely), the new W50,000 notes are a godsend. Finally you can carry a reasonable amount of cash with you without needing a huge wallet stuffed with cash. Amazing when you consider that the W10,000 note was introduced in 1973 and so was the top valued not for over 25 years. It ended up being worth about US$10 or so.

It meant to buy even a old 2nd hand car required a huge handful of cash, like this (about W2,000,000)

Photo 44.jpg

Please note, that picture is old. My hair now in no way resembles what you see in that picture.

Apparently the lack of a larger valued note was to reduce corruption, making large cash bribes physically very large. Not that it seemed to stop it happening……

The famous Whirling Dervishes

3 08 2009

This is the real deal, members of the real dervish sect perform the famous dance every evening at their hall in Bursa, Turkey.

All over turkey are fake dervish dancers performing for tourists and charging a small fortune to watch. These guys do it every night for real.

Surprisingly it wasn’t just adults, young kids also take part, seemingly entering the same trance and whirling around with hands up for 10-15 minutes. Unbelievable.

Those that we met are really nice guys, very friendly and willing to talk.

Whirling Dervishes

Whirling Dervishes

Whirling Dervishes

Viagra robot!

3 08 2009

Yes I’ve been lax in posting pics and writing. I’m sorry, but its so nice here I just don’t really have time.

Still, I couldn’t go past this. A genuine Viagra robot as found in the front window of a local pharmacy in Bursa, Turkey.

Viagra Robot!

Incheon Airport, Last flight for the night

24 07 2009

Ah, at last. Its time to leave Korea, for now at least.

We are on the last flight of the day out of Incheon, bound for Istanbul on TK091. A 11.55pm departure with a wonderous 5.50am arrival in Istanbul. Yurgh.

Turkish Flight TK091, 11.55pm

Man is this place boring. For the so called “Hub of Asia” its terrible at night. Everything shuts here at 9pm, so no food other than a crappy snack bar (yay, W18,700 for 2 drinks, a sandwich, 2 donuts and a muffin). Even the duty free shops are mostly closed with a meagre selection available in whats left open. Really really disapointed in Incheon Airport.

Still, chance for a few odd pics in a ghostly terminal. Just messing around putting the camera down on the travelators etc.

Incheon Airport, Ghost Terminal

Incheon Airport, Ghostly travelator

But, at least all of this means that tomorrow morning, probably in about 12 hours we’ll be in Istanbul.