Monthly Archives: September 2012

Venice: Italy

After our evening tour of Venice, we were ready to discover Venice in day light.On this day we had a nice breakfast in the hotel and headed to the lagoon again.

Once we were on the island, our first stop was to see the how they make Murano glasses. It was a short, but very impressive presentation in the glass workshop. The glassmith first showed everyone how he creates a small vase from raw glass and then moulded it to make a beautiful flower shaped vase. It was really impressive that he could blow on the glass to shape the flower with all of the details in less than 5 minutes.

From the workshop we were taken through a gift shop where they explained about decorative items and jewelleries. I didn’t buy anything but what we realized later is that every other store in Venice sells the glass items. All of the jewellery stores buy their beads from Murano and make their accessories in the shops.

Gondola ride in Venice

Venice is like no other place on earth as no cars are allowed in the city and the fastest way to travel within the city is by boat on the canals. So we went to ride a gondola. It is one of the most popular things to do while in Venice and we were there for the first time so it was really fun.

The boats were beautiful with decoration and cushions. There were a few different types of gondolas and it was so nice to sit and enjoy the romantic experience. It’s true that the best way to see Venice’s gorgeous palaces is from the canal.

Once on the boat and away from the hustle and bustle of the square, we could just enjoy the ride listening to the beautiful serenading by our gondolier. Grand Canal is the largest canal in the city which is almost 3 km long and up to 70 metres wide. Many famous buildings are situated on its banks, including the baroque church of Santa Maria Della Salute, the Accademia Gallery, the Ca’d’Oro and the Grassi, Corner-Spinelli and Grimani Palaces. It is crossed by three bridges: the Accademia, Rialto and Scalzi. The most famous of these is the Rialto, lined with a double row of shops.

Our guide told us that gondoliers, uniforms were changed after the film Summertime where Katherine Hepburn put them in striped shirts with corn hats. We also went to the balcony where Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie shared a kiss in the Tourist and the building that James Bond blew up in Casino Royal. Once the boat ride was over, we had a whole day to discover the Vience on our own.

Standing in the middle of the magnificent piazza San Marco was really amazing. There was the hustle and bustle of tourists everywhere. There is St Mark’s Basilica in one corner, Piazzetta dei Leoncini on another as well as Procuratie Vecchie (Old Law Courts), Procuratie Nuove (New Law Courts) and Clock Tower. Standing on the middle of it all, I felt so happy to be in a place I always wanted to come to and had heard so much about. In the San Marco there were so many pigeons and I decided to stop and take some photos with them. It reminded me so much of Kathmandu Durbar Square.

The piazza San Marco is equally beautiful in day as well as at night.

From there we took a walk and went souvenir shopping. We ended up buying some Venetian masks, a Gondola, key rings and a few other stuffs as well. There were so many choices that you kind of get lost in the shops. Also we saw so many people wearing mask and asking money to take photos with them.

It was almost midday by then so we decided to have something to eat. Our guide had warned us not to sit down in a café as they are super expensive so we decided to get a Sandwich and coffee from a take away shop and went to Piazza San Marco. We had tuna and egg sandwiches and they tasted great. As we were enjoying the view and eating our lunch, two girls wearing orange shirt that said “San Marco Guardian” came to us that sitting out in the public place in the area was not allowed. I was a bit annoyed but as our lunch was almost over, we just got up and went for more sightseeing.

We went to so many small squares and bridges. The houses were pretty with flowers on the balconies. So many designer and leather shops were everywhere making it a heaven for shoppers. I tried my best to avoid fashion shops as I had already bought so many shoes and dresses the day before. I ended up buying a hat as it was hot and I forgot mine in the hotel room.

It was really hot and humid day so I was really tried after few hours so we decided to go to the port and wait for our boat to take us back to the mainland. While we were sitting at the edge of the water, one of our tour friends took this photo for us. That is one of my favourite photos from the day.

Please click here for more photos. 

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100,000 pageview

Hooray!!!!!! One more reason to celebrate!!!

Only last week I celebrated my one year of blogging and now I am pleased to announce that nepaliaustralian has marked 100,000 views. Yes one hundred thousand :). The month of September has one more reason for celebration now.

I’m sure there are other blogs that get that kind of traffic in a month, a week or even a day but for me reaching the milestone of 100,000 feels pretty good.

For a year now, this blog has been my baby and to see it being read and appreciated makes me the happiest person ever.

Here is a list of the top countries  who viewed my blog:

Thank you so much everyone once again for being a part of my journey and I dedicate this post to all you readers.

Thank you, Thank you all!!!

Please help Pushpa Basnet to win CNN Hero 2012

It’s not fair for (these) children to live in a prison because they haven’t done anything wrong…My mission is to make sure no child grows up behind prison walls.” These are the words of Pushpa Basnet, a social worker and Founder/President of Early Childhood Development Centre (ECDC) and Butter Home, non-profit organisations in Kathmandu, Nepal. In Nepal, when there is no local guardian available, an arrested parent often must choose to keep their children in jail with them.

I have talked about Pushpa Basnet before in this post. Please read it to learn more about this amazing human being who has sacrificed her life towards the welfare of children of Nepal.

Now, she has been nominated for CNN Heroes Award 2012 for her effort and contribution and I would like everyone who is reading this post to click the following link and vote for her. Your two minutes can give shelter, hope and smile to thousands of children in need.

http://heroes.cnn.com/

Please help her win.

 

 

Guest blog : Okinawa & Me, A Four Year Love Affair. Well, For Me, At Any Rate

Thank you t for writing this wonderful post for my blog. You can follow him on As long as I’m singing and I am sure you will fall in love with his writing  full of witty sense of humour.

It wasn’t until I was of legal drinking age that I ever left America’s shores. Traveling to Okinawa, where of course, my having reached legal drinking age no longer mattered. Oh well, them’s the breaks I suppose.

Now, it could be said that last bit just now was almost entirely a fabrication of the facts. Especially when considering, that as a native upstate New Yorker I found myself traveling “overseas” in my youth quite often, in the form of quick “are we almost there yet?” jaunts into Canada with my folks. In my mind however, those trips never really counted as “international experiences” of any sort, seeing as – and yeah I’m just gonna say it – Canada really is sort of “America, Junior” after all. You know, the cooler, mellower, easier-going version of America. America with a sense of humor, if you will.

But even that’s not the point to all this. No, no, no. We’ve haven’t gotten there yet. The point to all this, in fact, will start right about here. When I first received my orders to go to Okinawa (what? You didn’t think I would just wake up one day and decide to jump halfway across the globe all on my own, now did you?), I was very upset.

Very. Up. Set.

Upset, partially because I had finally been able to build a life all my own while stationed in North Carolina. One filled with good friends – Tribe – tribe that I had no desire to leave, regardless of the Commandant’s seemingly thinking otherwise. I was also upset because of what I thought I knew about the place that I was being forcibly sent to, which as it turns out, was nothing much at all.

Boom – “Japaneska”

You see, while I could blame my travel-paranoid mother for this, it was more likely than not, my own ignorance that had me thinking that I was going off to spend a year sitting in a hot sticky rice patty, with little to do and even less to drink. The Okinawa that I eventually landed in – with lights, mad discos, madder scooter pilots and all sorts of crazy subculture scenes – never once came to mind when I thought of what it might be like. I was expecting to be thrown back several hundred years into the past, but found myself propelled forward into an acid jazz “slightly-alternative-universe” future instead. One where insanely cute cartoon characters sold bread sticks dipped in strawberry chocolate, and the beer vending machines to be found on almost every corner, never once thought to card you. While the first year there I did so begrudgingly, the second year was lived with abandon (a second year that only ever happened because Poppa Bush was worried about our oil supply being cut off, but that’s a wholly other story altogether). In fact, the second year went so well, I even came back for years three and four all by my lonesome, dressed in civilian garb (what? You didn’t think I’d stay in the Marine Corps forever, now did you?)

In the final analysis, the land I was so dreading going to in the first place, almost never got rid of me. I eventually did come back to the states though. First to see my brother get married, and then to follow suit myself. But only as a result of meeting at their wedding the most beautiful and truest person I have ever known to date, the sister to my brother’s bride. Again, another story for another time – one that I won’t bore you with here.

It’s been over 16 years since I returned, and Okinawa is long gone from me now. But not really. No, the occasional Japanese phrase still finds itself bouncing around in my head for no apparent reason, and I still have a couple of CD’s from The Blue Hearts as well. The memories, while slightly faded of course, are still strong – just ask anyone who’s been unfortunate enough to be stuck in a room with me after I’ve had one (two, three, four or more) cocktails too many. Best of all though, there is a small core group of us from that place and time, now scattered across the globe, who still hang out with each other. Internetally, of course. I can’t say the same for any but one of my old NC crew, but that’s none the matter, as it’s through the friends I met – only as a result of my ever going to Okinawa in the first place – that my tribe is still here for me.

I’ve never been to Nepal or Australia, but now that I know that foreign places are only so if you allow them to be, I wouldn’t mind checking them out either. Who knows, I might even discover that Australia is actually just a cooler, mellower, easier-going version of Canada. I mean any place capable of giving us “Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” has got to have something going for it, right?

•••

Please click here if you are interested to write a guest post for me.

PSY’s Gangnam Style

Unless  you have been hiding under a rock somewhere, you must have heard the PSY’s Gangnam Style song which is playing everywhere.

Gangnam Style is a 2012 Korean pop single by the South Korean rapper PSY. It is widely praised for its humor, catchy rhythm as well as PSY’s unusual dance moves. The song was released on July 15, 2012, when it debuted at number one on the Gaon Chart. The music video has been viewed over 221 million times as of September 19, 2012, making it YouTube’s most watched K-Pop video.

When I heard it the first time, I couldn’t understand the song but when I kept hearing it every day on my local FM station, I had to find out what the song was about.

I really like the song now and hope you will like it too. Share your opinions about it here once you listen to it 🙂

More details about the songs from news.com.au

THE PLACE

Gangnam is the most coveted address in Korea, but less than two generations ago it was little more than some forlorn homes surrounded by flat farmland and drainage ditches.

 

The district of Gangnam, which literally means “south of the river”, is about half the size of Manhattan. About 1 per cent of Seoul’s population lives there, but many of its residents are very rich. The average Gangnam apartment costs about $US716,000 ($685,000), a sum that would take an average South Korean household 18 years to earn. 

The seats of business and government power in Seoul have always been north of the Han River, in the neighbourhoods around the royal palaces, and many old-money families still live there.

Gangnam, however, is new money, the beneficiary of a development boom that began in the 1970s.

As the price of high-rise apartments skyrocketed during a real estate investment frenzy in the early 2000s, landowners and speculators became wealthy practically overnight. The district’s rich families got even richer. 

The new wealth drew the trendiest boutiques and clubs and a proliferation of plastic surgery clinics, but it also provided access to something considered vital in modern South Korea: top-notch education in the form of prestigious private tutoring and schools. Gangnam households spend nearly four times more on education than the national average. 

The notion that Gangnam residents have risen not by following the traditional South Korean virtues of hard work and sacrifice, but simply by living on a coveted piece of geography, irks many.

The neighbourhood’s residents are seen by some as monopolising the country’s best education opportunities, the best cultural offerings and the best infrastructure, while spending big on foreign luxury goods to highlight their wealth. 

“Gangnam inspires both envy and distaste,” said Kim Zakka, a Seoul-based pop music critic.

“Gangnam residents are South Korea’s upper class, but South Koreans consider them self-interested, with no sense of noblesse oblige.”

In a sly, entertaining way, PSY’s song pushes these cultural buttons.

THE GUY 

More mainstream K-Pop performers, already famous in South Korea and across Asia, have tried and failed to crack the American market.So how did PSY – aka Park Jae-sang – a stocky, 34-year-old rapper who was fined nearly $US4500 for smoking marijuana after his 2001 debut, get to be the one teaching Britney Spears how to do the horse-riding dance on American TV? 

“I’m not handsome, I’m not tall, I’m not muscular, I’m not skinny,” PSY recently said on the American Today show. “But I’m sitting here.” He attributed his success to “soul or attitude”. 

PSY, whose stage name stems from the first three letters of the word psycho, has always styled himself as a quirky outsider. But he is from a wealthy family and was actually raised and educated south of the Han River, near Gangnam. 

He’s an excellent dancer, a confident rapper and he’s funny, but another reason for his breakthrough could be that less-than-polished image, said Jae-Ha Kim, a Chicago Tribune pop culture columnist and former music critic.South Korean music has scored big in Asia with bands featuring handsome, stylish, makeup-wearing young men, including Super Junior and Boyfriend. But seeing such singers “makes some Americans nervous”, Kim said. 

“People in America are comfortable with Asian guys who look like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, who are good-looking, but they’re not the equivalent of Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves,” Kim said.Part of the initial interest in Gangnam Style, Kim said, was a kind of “freak-show mentality, where people are like, ‘This guy is funny.’ But then you look at his choreography and you realise that you really have to know how to dance to do what he does. He’s really good.”

THE SONG 

PSY, at times wearing sleeveless dress shirts with painted-on untied bowties, repeatedly flouts South Koreans’ popular notions of Gangnam in his video. Instead of cavorting in nightclubs, he parties with retirees on a disco-lighted tour bus. Instead of working out in a high-end health club, he lounges in a sauna with two tattooed gangsters. 

As he struts along with two beautiful models, they’re pelted in the face with massive amounts of wind-blown trash and sticky confetti. The throne from which he delivers his hip-hop swagger is a toilet.The song explores South Koreans’ “love-hate relationship with Gangnam,” said Baak Eun-seok, a pop music critic. 

The rest of South Korea sees Gangnam residents as everything PSY isn’t, he said: good-looking because of plastic surgery, stylish because they can splurge on luxury goods, slim thanks to yoga and personal trainers.”PSY looks like a country bumpkin. He’s a far cry from the so-called ‘Gangnam Style,'” Baak said. “He’s parodying himself.” 

The video abounds with ironic, “not upper-class” images that ordinary South Koreans recognise, said Park Byoung-soo, a social commentator who runs a popular visual art blog. Old men play a Korean board game and middle-age women wear wide-brimmed hats to keep the sun off their faces as they walk backward – a popular way to exercise in South Korea. 

PSY’s character in the video is modelled on the clueless heroes of movies like The Naked Gun and Dumb & Dumber, he told Yonhap news agency earlier this year. He has also said his goal is to “dress classy, but dance cheesy”.Others see more than just a goofy outsider.

“PSY does something in his video that few other artists, Korean or otherwise, do: He parodies the wealthiest, most powerful neighbourhood in South Korea,” writes Sukjong Hong, creative nonfiction fellow at Open City, an online magazine.

Till next post, take care.

M from nepaliaustralia

XOXO

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Featherdale Wildlife Park

As I had written in my last post about discovering more of Australia, we went to Featherdale Wildlife Park in Doonside last weekend. Even though I have lived in Sydney for so long and the park is only 40 minutes’ drive from our place, I had never visited the park before. I went there with my hubby, my cousin S didi, her husband and her 5 years old kid. Out of all of us, my nephew had the most fun being up close with Australian native animals including Koala, Kangaroos, Wallabies, Crocodile, Dingos, Goannas, Penguins, Tasmanian Devils, Wombats, Echidna and many more.

As spring is here we did not need thick jackets and scarfs. It was a nice sunny day too and an easy drive to Doonside. We arrived at the park around 11am and were lucky to get the last parking spot. The entry price for adults is $27 and for kids is $15.

Wallaby

The Featherdale Wildlife Park has an extensive collection of Australian wildlife – birds, mammals, and reptiles. I really like the way they housed the animals, each enclosure reflected the native habitat of the animals, like mountains, grasslands, and coastal region. At the same time, many of the animals like kangaroos, emus, wallabies, peacocks and some birds run free.

As soon as we walked in, we were welcomed by lots of birds like Galah, Long billed Corella, Sulphur crested Cockatoo. But my attention was quickly diverted when I saw so many Wallabies running freely. There were many visitors patting and feeding these Wallabies. I waited for our turn and managed to pat, feed and take photos with them too. And my nephew was super excited to see these animals moving free. He kept on screaming ‘Kangaroos’ and we had to keep correcting him that it was Wallabies 🙂

All the animals are native to Australia so you get a lot of information about them as you wander around the park. As we walked on we saw more beautiful birds like parrots, owls, kites, eagles, kookaburras and many more.

feeding Kangaroo

Owl

Koala

As we reached the area where there were lots of cuddly koalas, I was really excited as we got to pat the little fellow. It is nice to be able to touch them and take a picture without having to pay extra unlike other places where they charge $25 just to take a picture with them.

Next stop was a dark hut where they had a place for bats and bilby. The bats looked like they were sleeping but the bilby were just playing around. They looked so cute. My nephew went to see the bats two more times later in the day as he was so excited.

As we walk around we could hear lots of birds making different kinds of noise. At one corner was a big crocodile lazily sun bathing. It was not as big as the one I saw in Sydney Wild Life Park but still looked fierce and dangerous.

The other thing I got to pat that day was the wombats. Wombats are short-legged, muscular native to Australia, approximately 1 metre in length with a short, stubby tail. Even though they are big they looked so cute and their fur is fluffy and soft.

Wombat

Next stop was the reptile area where they house Turtles, Lizards and Snakes. They were a bit creepy but it was fun to see so many different varieties of snakes.  On our way out we saw Emu and peacocks as well.

Emu

Peacocks

From there we went to the farmyard where they had farm animals to play with. They had hens, ducks, pigs, goats, sheep, guinea pigs and many more. Some of the goats were a bit scary as they were really big but I managed to get one white baby goat. He was really gentle so I picked him up. My nephew was so excited to pat him.

Farm animals

As it was lunch time by then, we decide to go to the picnic area and prepare lunch. We had some marinated meat which we barbequed and also had churaa, aloo ko achar and badmas saneko. AS and R Bhinaju were busy with the BBQ so I had some time to entertain my nephew with bubbles. It was fun to see him chasing and trying to catch the bubbles.

After the meat were cooked, we all ate and rested for a while. As always, homemade lunch does a good trick to fill you and satisfy at the same time. There were lots of families with kids enjoying their lunch in the sunny afternoon. For people who didn’t bring their own lunch, fresh hot dogs was available for just $2.50. There was also a small café inside the park.

Echidna

After that we went around and saw more animals like Dingos, Goanna, Penguins, Tasmanian Devils, and Echidna. When we reached Echidna enclosure, we realised that the feeding time for them was a few minutes away so we waited for the keeper to come around. Echidnas are also known as spiny ant eaters. The keeper brought food for them which was minced liver mixed with some water. He gave us some interesting facts about the animal and we were allowed to pat it. Even though their body was covered with spines, if you know how to pat, which the keeper shows how, they seem gentle and you don’t get pricked.

We then went around taking photos, enjoying the area and looking at more animals. Then we all decided that it was time for us to head home.

I’m really happy with our day out. It is definitely a place to go with kids as they get so excited to see all these animals. My nephew’s excitement on the day was priceless.

Teej 2012

Today is the Fasting day of Teej as I have explained in my previous post.

Like every year, this year as well we celebrated Dhar khane din of Teej in Sydney with lots of food and music. Even though we are so far away from home, it feels good to be celebrating Nepali festivals with friends and family here.

As always we donned our red sari and jewelleries and met at one of our friends place. We all cooked a dish for the entrée and dinner.

I baked some cupcakes this year. To mark the day, I even put “HAPPY TEEJ’ on the cup cake.

While the girls danced on Teej songs and had fun, the boys were busy playing cards and enjoying in their own way.

Later in the evening we played a game called Antakshari (literally “from the last letter”: Singing competition where each group sings a song that begins with the letter with which the previous group’s song ended) with girls in one group and boys in the other.

We only sang Nepali songs. There were lots of times when both the team were lost for songs but the final result; Girls won the contest. It was so fun when everyone was racking their brain to get a song and we had lots of old songs. Nice game.

It was a fun celebration. Here are some of the photos from the celebration.

Happy Teej Everyone!!!