A Frame Within a Frame

 039Banteay Srei, Cambodia.

My Sulfur Bath Experience in Tbilisi

I was wandering around Tbilisi in search of a good place to have dinner when I came across several brick, domed rooftops which happens to be sulfur bathhouses.

I came to understand that these bathhouses are an important part of Tbilisi’s history. Tbilisi got its name from the hot springs that run under this district. According to legend, it was these sulfur springs that made King Vakhtang Georgasali to decide to settle there and make it the new capital.

I must admit, visiting one of these sulfur baths in Georgia was the most embarrassing but also one of the most hilarious experience during my recent travel.

There are five sulfur bathhouses left in Abanotubani district, or so I counted, compared to around more than 60 at the peak of its popularity. I wasn’t sure which to choose but someone approached me and invited me to try it. He lead me to what I never thought was a bathhouse. The exterior was elegant as it was inside. It appears totally different from the other bathhouses. I even thought it was a mosque!😅

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You can choose to go for a public bath or a private room. Even though public bathing will cost me a lot cheaper, bathing with strangers still didn’t sound very appealing to me so I opt for the latter and it’s rented by the hour. One of the staffs accompanied me to my room and I was told that I should dip myself in the water for 20 minutes while waiting for the masseuse to arrive. I must say, I am not very fond of any activity that involves water but I was impressed and felt okay when I came inside the big bathing room. There was a changing room, a toilet, a sitting/waiting area, a pool of hot sulfur water (40°C-50°C), a massage slab and shower. I paid for the room, the towels, shower gel, scrub and massage.

Since I booked a private room, I used it naked. The water was literally hot! As I tried to submerge myself, I already felt like drowning. It’s a small tub/pool but I had some difficulty breathing and I felt like the water’s gonna swallow me whole. Good thing the smell of sulfur wasn’t that strong. When I finally managed to fully submerge myself, it felt like the longest 20 minutes of my life!

Then the masseuse came. A stout fifty-ish woman with an austere face. I watched her walk to the waiting area where she suddenly stopped and stripped her clothes except her underwear. She came in front of the pool with her piercing gaze and pointed to the marble slab at the corner of the room. She then filled in a bucket of water. Naked, I went out of the pool and clumsily made my way to her. I smiled and said hello. She didn’t smile nor reply. She just looked at me and pointed where I should stand. It was awkward as hell!  I moved as instructed and when I turned to face her she was already carrying the bucket and threw the water at me! Ice cold water!!! I literally shrieked out of shock and I even felt furious I screamed why did she do that? She started laughing too hard then and asked me, “Good?” Hell, no! But yes, it was, to be quite honest, a few seconds later! She continued laughing her evil witch, sly laugh. I ended up laughing with her instead. I came to know much later that she also doesn’t know English so you can probably imagine how it was for the rest of my time with her there.

She started to scrub my arms while standing then she let me lay down in the marble slab to exfoliate the rest of my body. After the scrub, she filled in a kind of small sack with soapy water and covered me up with it. It’s the second best part of the whole experience, I felt like a baby and my skin felt softer and smoother.

Then came the best part — the massage! The human moment that I finally managed to totally relax! Her hands were so light but were really very good at what they do. I had a full-body massage and it was so totally worth it! After 20 minutes, she doused me again with buckets and buckets of water as she laughs her evil laugh. After feeling content and satisfied (I guess) throwing water at me, she finally stopped and started gathering all her stuffs in the bucket then left laughing.

I took another dip in the hot pool for a few more minutes and ended up laughing to myself. It was a fun experience. I then showered and got dressed and moments later, the phone rang and my time is up.

I left the bathhouse relaxed, happy and satisfied. Once outside, I remembered I was hungry and so I went on looking for a place to dine in. What happened next is another story that will stay in my heart forever but for now, I’ll keep you with the bathhouse experience.

Have a wonderful day, homo sapiens! 🙂

Giant Trees in Ta Prohm

Being surrounded by trees is a heavenly feeling for me. And it was a really heavenly feeling roaming around Ta Prohm. Huge trees that are hundreds of years old blend and grow out of the temple walls and the giant roots sprawl through the rocks giving the place that surreal atmosphere. These massive trees tower overhead making their leaves filter the sunlight, providing a welcome shade. It’s been said that Ta Prohm was pretty much left the way it was first discovered thus you can’t help but feel a little like Lara Croft. 🙂

I decided to post only about the huge trees here. More of the monastery/temple some other time. My photos can’t give enough justice as to how photogenic the place is but let me share it with you just the same.

A few minutes walk from the West Gate entrance are these two, tall trees. And then…

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This. Then you’ll be entering the main area.

Once you’re inside, lots and lots of massive trees await you.

The next set of photos is a tree leaning to one side. It’s one of my favorites and this was where I started to totally feel the place.

And here comes more giant trees and roots… 🙂

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And of course, it’s not complete without seeing the Tomb Raider Tree! 🙂

And then behind that…

I wanted to show you more but it’s all I have left, a lot of photos got deleted and my SD card got corrupted and I didn’t know what to do then, but still I hope you enjoyed this post.

Happy Thursday, homo sapiens! 🙂

Viewpoint

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This is the spot where Moses is believed to have seen the Promised Land thousands of years ago. I was lucky that the weather was great when I visited that I was also able to enjoy a view of the Dead Sea and few other places such as Bethlehem and Jericho.

The Monastery

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The Monastery – or Al Deir – is the largest structure in Petra. It requires a strenuous trek of more or less 800 steps with seemingly endless uphill slopes and lots of wonderful spots to admire the views. It took me an hour or so to reach the Monastery including tea breaks with some of the vendors selling souvenirs and several Bedouins. The hike was truly worth it and I was thrilled to bits the moment I saw it!

More about the Monastery and Petra on my next posts…

Happy Thursday, homo sapiens!

The Temple of Hercules

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This is the Roman temple located in the Amman Citadel. It is more popularly known as the Temple of Hercules. It’s said to have been built in the same period when the Roman Theater was built between 162-166 AD.

Photo of the Day

A view worthy of the 2-hour hike!

Petra, Jordan

Ede House

The Ede (or Rade people) is one among the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam.

Below is a photo of a typical Ede House.

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This Ede Long House was originally built in 1967 and was reconstructed in the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in 2000. The house reflects many aspects of Ede culture. I learned that Ede families are matriarchal. The head of the family is a woman, children bear their mother’s surname, daughters inherit family assets, the groom moves to his bride’s house after marriage, etc. A new compartment is added every time a girl in the house gets married. It is said that the longer the house, the more prosperous the family is.

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An Ede House is divided in two parts: the Gah and the Ok. The Gah, basically the living room, as shown in the photo above, is used for gatherings. Jars and gongs are kept and displayed in this part of the house for the rich Ede families. The Gah occupies around 1/3 to 2/3 of the house and the rest is the Ok, mainly the area for sleeping.

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The most interesting part of the house for me are the staircases. For rich families, there are two staircases in front of the house, one for males which are just plain and another for females, where a crescent and female breasts are carved.

Photo of the Day

Enjoying a view of The Treasury from the top of an opposing cliff. It looks rather tiny from up there. 🙂 But awesome nevertheless.

The Treasury, Petra

After a little more than a kilometer walk in The Siq, you will be fascinated by The Treasury — the most iconic sight in Petra. Despite its name, it is believed to be a royal tomb. I find it hard to believe that this carved structure is more than 2000 years old because the design and details are still very well-preserved.

Bench

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Perfect spot to rest after a long day exploring Petra.

Red Cave Restaurant

I decided to have dinner here in Red Cave Restaurant just a couple of hours ago after reading good reviews about the place. I love the ambiance the moment I came in.

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I have been drinking lemon with mint since I got here and their version is definitely the best!

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I ordered mouhamara for starters…

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And Bedouin Ghaliyah for my main dish…

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The service was good, too. The staffs were friendly and willing to assist you. So all in all, it was a great dining experience for me!


I’d definitely recommend Red Cave Restaurant to everyone visiting Petra. The food is tasty at reasonable prices with hospitality at its best!

Photo of the Day

This photo is one of the many homes lining the walls of the canyons in Little Petra. I liked how casually the Bedouin man sits on his spot. I later had a photo of myself there, too. 😊

Kuan Yin

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The 30.2 meter bronze statue of Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) in Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang.

Happy Thursday!

One of the most amazing things I’ve seen during my trip to Cambodia were the giant trees in the temples. The two photos below are taken from Ta Prohm. There were a lot of giant trees in and out of the temple but I’ll leave you with this one for now. I hope to post more of these huge trees in another entry so watch out for that. 🙂

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Happy Thursday, homo sapiens!

Help! Egypt or India?

Hi there, homo sapiens!

I’m planning for a short trip sometime soon and I’m having a hard time deciding. So, I’m down to two options: Egypt or India.

I’m a budget traveler and I’ll be going solo (most likely) and I just want to go sightseeing. I’m contemplating between Egypt or India. I’ve always wanted to see the great pyramids since I was young and I’m currently residing in the Middle East so I really thought of going. I wonder if 5-7 days is enough for Cairo and Luxor? On the other hand, I’ve been thinking of going to India as well to explore Delhi, the Taj Mahal and some places near it.

If you guys were given these two countries to choose from, which one would you choose and why? I’d be happy to hear from you so please help me decide!

Thanks! 🙂

Putra Mosque & Perdana Putra

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This is the Putra Mosque in Putrajaya, Malaysia. One of the best mosques I’ve seen there when I visited back in 2014.

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Adjacent to the Putra Mosque is the Perdana Putra — the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office.

Bayon Temple

The Bayon Temple was one of my favorites when I visited the Angkor temples in Cambodia.

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It felt surreal exploring this temple while these 200-something faces stare at you, which makes the experience a lot more interesting. 450

Halong Bay

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Souvenir Shop

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A souvenir shop in Hoan Kiem Lake. Hanoi, Vietnam. 

Empty Bench

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Every empty bench has a story…

Pathway

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Listening to the audio guide about the sad stories of some Khmer Rouge survivors in this pathway among the trees surrounding the lake was the most heart-breaking part of my visit in the Killing Fields.

It surely takes time to understand it all.

More banana, please!

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Stone Face

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A couple of giant stone faces in Bayon Temple.

Stone Pathway

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The entrance pathway in the main temple of Angkor Wat.

Killing Tree

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A Chankiri Tree or Killing Tree was a tree in the Cambodian Killing Fields against which children and infants were smashed because their parents were accused of crimes against the Khmer Rouge.

Hanoi Opera House

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One of the beautiful buildings you’ll see in Hanoi.

Chicken Island

Chicken Island, Halong Bay.
Chicken Island, Halong Bay.

Among the thousands of islets of different sizes and shapes in Halong Bay, this Chicken Islet/Island is my favorite. I’ve heard different stories about this islet when I went to Vietnam last May.

I wish I could take photos quite well to bring justice to this beautiful islet but unfortunately, it’s the best I could make of it. So you can just search better photos in the internet or go visit it yourself and be amazed not just by this Chicken Island or Kissing Island (however you want to call it) but the entire Halong Bay.