Machu Pichu :)

Well, firstly wow.
Secondly, wow.
Thirdly, wow.

Machu Pichu seriously made me think so much more of the Incas. Well, lets just say I’m not the most enthusiastic person when it comes to exploring or even looking at ruins. So, when in January I was told that we would be going to Machu Pichu, I wasn’t over the top. But when we were there, I WAS MIND BLOWN! It was incredible! The fact that they built it between mountains!

First, let me make you a little bit jealous.

DSC_7956

Now let me tell you that after 4 hours, I nearly fainted.

Two days before we went, the weather was terrible! But we were extremely lucky! My mom’s prayers worked!

It was a pretty tiring walk. But, it was worth it. We went at a decent-early time, so we reached around 7AM. There weren’t too many people at first, but by 930-10AM, it was FULL! What was a real bummer was the fact that there were no water stations, inside or outside the monument. Also, there were no toilets inside, only outside the gate. Even those were paid toilets! We pay so much to see the monument and then pay more to use the tolets, which aren’t even very clean. Its the biggest wonder of the modern world! Outrageous!

Continuing…

Its amazing to think, that up so high in the mountains, they cut through many, and built a place for sacred purposes. They grew crops here, in the middle of mountains. They brought bricks, from over 10 kilometers below. Wow.

The walk altogether was very tiring and lasted about 2-3 hours with a lot of climbing up and down. There were llamas too, which made the scenery even better. The ruins in this monument are much larger than they seem. I hated that part. I wasn’t interested in it at all. What I loved was the height scenery. But more or less, here are the beautiful pictures….                                                                         DSC_7667

DSC_7682

DSC_7836

DSC_7932

IMG_3722

Naturally, you’d expect this article is over here. Wrong. So now, *reminder that I’m only writing more because my mom thought I’d   written too less.*

Here’s my ‘Once In a Lifetime Machu Pichu Experience’, I wouldn’t say its a once in a lifetime experience. Its not THAT hard to get to. Its very beautiful, and its not likely that I’ll come back to Peru, but I’m not going to assume that I won’t ever come back.

So, I was amazed. Thrilled. Tired. A little bored during the ruins. But lucky to have seen this beautiful architecture. Whats really amazing is the fact that its in between mountains! It sets the scenery a hundred times better! Imagine a hundred years ago, people lifting bricks up a mountain to build a sacred area.

 

 

I was nearly KILLED by a SEA LION??!!??

Nah, Sea Lions are cuties.                                                                                   But I nearly died.

Let me start from the beginning. We were on Isabella Island of the beautiful island- Galapagos. It was only our second day here, we had reached yesterday. I really wanted to start snorkeling fast. My father did not want to start snorkeling today, as we were going to Los Tunnels tomorrow. Lost Tunnels is the real snorkeling in Isabella Island. But I wanted to get started already! So, we went for an Island called Tintoreras. My dad was not expecting anything, to be honest. That’s typical him. In his mind, whatever he chooses is going to be awesome, whatever I choose is already garbage. But, he was surprised, like he always is when I’m right.

It started off great. We first walked around on the Island- Tintoreras. It was like another planet. But what was amazing about it? We saw 30-70 white tip reef sharks in one go! Sharks rest during the day, and hunt in the night. That means they also sleep in the day, so, they spend their day time in shallow waters, where they cannot drown. There was also a huge ray, baby marine iguanas (which we were completely used to by now) and a sea turtle.

IMG_3154    IMG_3143

Then, it was time to get into the water!!!

At first, me and my dad were totally disappointed!(My Mom didn’t come on this half day trip) There was absolutely nothing! But, things changed when our wonderful guide, Richard, came into the water and helped us.

First, he took us to a place where there were thousands of beautiful fishes! Sadly, I don’t have any pictures because I don’t have a waterproof camera. Then, we saw some starfish and 10 rays! So beautiful.

Then, I was nearly killed.                                                                                   By a Sea Lion.

What happened was that my dad and I were slightly behind, and our guide and two other tourists were ahead because my dad is a slightly slow swimmer and I had to WAIT for him. So then, out of nowhere, a huge sea lion, slightly bigger than me, comes out of nowhere. I was so surprised,  my snorkel came off and I had to put my head above water. Then I see the others laughing saying “That was cool, huh?”. Yeah, it was cool. But, we were still behind. Dad, I blame you. Then, this sea lion keep circling me and swimming around me, so I observe it, and I realize, this was an Alpha Male Sea Lion. So, I got scared. Alpha Male Lions can charge and attack you. They can even bite. They do so because, since you are big, they think you are invading their territory. Then, FINALLY, my dad catches up to ME. GO DAAAADD!! 

This Sea Lion just won’t let me go. It swims next to me, our bodies touching. It comes to me from front, so we both are nose to nose. It charges several times, but I am so scared now, COME ON ALREADY IT SHOWED ME ITS TEETH OF COURSE I’M SCARED! I just dive towards my dad and just swim next to him. But the currents push me away, and this sea lion kicks off my flipper. And the flipper has fallen 10 ft down. My dad tries to get it, but nah, he’s terrible at anything in water. But I got it. I’m proud of myself. And shame on you dad. Just kidding, I love you.

Then, we keep going. And surprise surprise. 4 sea lion cubs, playing around with the other tourists, so I join. (by the way, I should mention, my dad was too scared to go close to them )

Its soooooooooooooooooooooooo fun!!!! I dive, swim and play with them and they are the cutest things EVERRRRR!!!! Then, some PENGUINS join in and I play with them too!!! SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CUTE AND SOOOOOOOOOOOO FUN!!!

Sometimes the journeys you expect to be the least interesting can change your mind.

Everglades

The Everglades is a land that is found nowhere else. It is a mangrove, prairie, lake and wetland. It is a unique wetland. Extensive wildlife is found here, including birds, manatees, fish and the American Alligator. The Everglades is the only place in the world where both Alligators and Crocodiles are found. Here, the fresh water comes from lake Okeechobee through Rivers Shark and Taylor and the salt water comes from the Sea. There are bays all along which means that the fresh and salt water mix and create brackish water.

On the first day, we visited the Gulf Coast Visitors center and took a boat tour where we went through Mangroves and we actually saw a Manatee! Then, we went through the Tamiami trail and through the Loop Road to Homestead, where we were staying. The Loop Road is a drive where you can see Alligators very close to you! We saw 13! It was wonderful! And they were less than 10 ft away from us! One of them was only 3 ft away!

IMG_1469

IMG_1449

Then, we went to Homestead, where we were staying, in a motel called Fairway Inn. It was extremely comfortable. We settled down and relaxed.

The second day we did 4 trails- Anhinga, Gumbo Limbo, Pahayokee and Mahogany Hammock. My father promised me 22 Alligators in the second and third day. We saw only one on the Anhinga trail. It wasn’t too close to us, pretty far away to be honest. The Gumbo Limbo trail focuses on nature. There were various types of plants. The Pahayokee trail showed us how the Native Americans saw the Everglades. Absolutely beautiful. The Mahogany trail shows the huge trees and owls, if you can spot them.

On the third day we went to Shark Valley. No, there are no sharks. In Shark Valley, we took the Tram Tour, where we saw 20 Alligators!! We also saw baby alligators and birds. The ending was very special. We saw an alligator eating another alligator which was smaller. The bigger one looked like a mother because many many babies were around. The smaller one was a youngster that was probably living alone for only some time. Its neck was crushed, bending into the water, its back against the water. We saw the bigger one take bits of the scales, but we never saw any flesh. It was very close to us, less than 10 ft away!

IMG_1682

On the fourth day, we went to the Florida Keys where me and my dad went snorkeling! Then, we went across the 7 mile bridge! I was asleep all along, but they woke me up at the end of the bridge. It was beautiful. The Atlantic Ocean is beautiful.

IMG_1574

Oh, and then came Magical Miami, but that is another story.

NASA: To Infinity and Beyond

It started off with the big NASA globe at the entrance. That itself made me feel so much energy.

IMG_1364

Then, we began by taking the famous Bus Tour which takes you to the Saturn V/ Apollo center and gives you a whole glimpse of the Center. The Saturn V/ Apollo Center begins with a small video of how the moon mission began. Then, we got to sit in the actual command center for the actual Apollo 8 launch, which was the first successful Apollo mission to go to the moon an come back.  It did not land on the moon (that was the Apollo 11) it orbited the moon. After that, we saw the actual Saturn V, which was a rocket used from the Apollo 4 to 17 missions. It was the biggest and most powerful rocket ever flown. It was massive!! THEN I TOUCHED AN ACTUAL MOON ROCK! Its not big, its actually very small. But it was part of the moon!! I actually touched a part of the moon!

IMG_1321

After that, we watched a video-presentation of the Apollo 11’s launch and how Neil Armstrong said “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It really gave me goosebumps and slightly made me cry. After that, we went back to the main Visitor’s Center and participated in the Astronaut Encounter, where a REAL astronaut (Bob Cenker, for us) talks about a topic (He talked about his experience of going into space), then you get to ask questions and get pictures. It was a true blessing. I met and talked to someone who went into space.

IMG_1368

Then, we went to the Atlantis center, where we saw the real space shuttle Atlantis, which flew into space 33 times, and holds that record. Its massive. In the Atlantis center, you can also play some games involving Astronaut skills as well as the Shuttle Launch Experience. The Shuttle Launch experience involves a simulation of what it feels like launching into space. Its amazing.

IMG_1339

After that, we watched 2 IMax movies- Journey to Space and Hubble Telescope. The 3D vision is wonderful, and both movies are excellent. Then, we went to the Rocket Garden, where many rockets that were used are put up, it was mind blowing. Then, we went to another presentation called Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted. It focuses on the fact that NASA wants to explore life on Mars, based on the condition of our planet today. Since most astronauts have done at least 10 years of astronomy and space travel, they are old now and want to teach the next generation, my generation. So, they want new astronauts who are willing to give up their lives for discovering the world. And that presentation made me feel emotional.

Throughout the whole experience, I thought about how it would be to be an astronaut. I was willing to risk my life to explore the world. Everyone says I am a curious person, and very different. I have thought about being and astronaut before, but I haven’t ever felt so strong about it before. I still have a long way to go, but it might be my profession. Nobody knows. But NASA knows more than anyone or anything.

 

 

📍new york’16

Firstly, this leg of New York was very short. It was just 5 days. We are going to come back in the third week of July. The next time it will be for a week. New York is beautiful! I’ve always wanted to go there! Also, its the land of Taylor Swift and so many other of my favorite singers and idols! Actually, we reached New York on the 12th of April, but I didn’t write anything. So, I’m writing it right now.

We reached in the late afternoon- around 3 in New York time and midnight in India. We were staying at a close school friend of my dad’s house- Sanjay Uncle. It was a very comfortable stay. That day, we just relaxed and then went to an Indian restaurant for dinner with Sanjay Uncle and his girlfriend- Rodica. It was wonderful.

The next day we unpacked and relaxed and wrote our blogs and settled down. We went for a walk in the neighborhood in the evening. It was absolutely beautiful. There was a small waterfall nearby too. That night, we went out for dinner again with Sanjay Uncle to a Japanese restaurant where they cook the food right at the table! Its soooooooo cool!!!

The next day was the big day for me! The City!!! We saw Times Square- Day and Night, the Pubic Library, Bryant Park, Central Park, Grand Central station and Radio City Music Hall. It was amazing! It felt like home to me! Here are some pictures:

Grand Central
Grand Central
Bryant Park is Beuatiful!
Bryant Park is Beautiful!
Radio City made me feel like I was there throughout all the concerts and shows I saw.
Radio City made me feel like I was there throughout all the concerts and shows I saw.
Times Square- The lights never will blind me!
Times Square- The lights never will blind me!

The next day we went to another friend of my dad’s- Rajneesh Uncle’s house. I enjoyed myself there with my family, Sanjay Uncle and Rajneesh Uncle, Preethi Auntie and Ashwin. We stayed there the night as well. The next morning we did a small and fun trek together, all of us. After that, we said goodbye to them and we left for New Jersey where my mother’s cousin brother lives. There, I played with Atharv, my younger cousin brother and Meera, my cousin sister who is only 2! She is soooooooo cute!! And only after that, the next day after that we made an exit to Orlando. Oh wait, I forgot, the night before that I had dinner at the one and only Cheescake Factory which was absolutely amazing!!

📍universal studios, orlando’16

Basically, the Universal park is divided into two parts- Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure. We spent 3 days in total in both parks altogether. To be honest, The Islands of Adventure is more for younger kids, and Studios has things for everyone! But both are great and have wonderful rides!

IMG_1023

On the first day, we did most of the Universal studios, except for the Harry Potter section and 2 other rides. On the Second day, we spent most of our time in the Harry Potter sections in both parks, and finished whatever was left in Universal Studios, except for one ride. On the last day, today, we did that last ride, and did a few of our favorites and headed to the Islands of Adventure. More info below! (Extra Harry Potter tips and things below as well!)

A lot of these rides say that there are a lot of twists and turns and involve high speed and all that parents get away from. But actually, most of these rides are just simulations, and are not very high speed, and are very fun!

The Best Rides overall were:                                                                             1. Revenge of the Mummy (Indoor Roller-coaster, mid level)                       2. Transformers  (Simulation)                                                                         3. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Simulation)                        4. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Simulation)                               5. Hollywood Rock It! (Outdoor Roller-Coaster, high level)                         6. Dragon Challenge (Outdoor Roller-Coaster, high level)                            7. Despicable Me (Simulation)                                                                       8. Jurassic Park River Adventure (Water Ride,mid level [to me])                 9. The Simpsons Ride (Simulation)                                                                   (Pictures below the Harry potter section)

Harry Potter-…. Everything?!                                                                          So in the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios, it is based on the famous ‘Diagon Alley’, which is the area where you can do all your shopping, if you are. I didn’t do any shopping, except one thing. So what I recommend you do to save time and enjoy yourself is that once you enter, you will see the famous ‘Weasley’s Wizard Weezes’ which was opened by Fred and George Weasley and it full of jokes and fun. Take the turn over there, and head to the Gringotts money exchange. There, they take in either 10 or 20 dollars, how much ever you want to give, and give you Gringotts money. You may feel like this is a waste, but you can use this money, just like regular money anywhere in the Harry Potter section. Then, head to ‘Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment’ where you can get many souvenirs, its not essential, and honestly I do not recommend spending money on these items because you can make them yourself, and they are very expensive! But do take a look around, and get some ideas of things you can make, or just to get an idea. After that, go on the ride- ‘Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts’ which is a simulation ride, which is suitable for everyone! It is very exciting and even my parents love it! Which is saying something! After that, go ahead straight up and take a spin around Knockturn Alley, where the dark spirits go. But, its cool. Be sure to go and take a look in ‘Borgin and Burke’s’ which has dark art things for sale. I do not recommend buying over here because it is much much much more expensive from other stores. I just went everywhere to get ideas of things to make :P. Then, go ahead to Olivanders, where you can get yourself a wand. There are two types of wands- Interactive and Non Interactive. There is an 8 dollar gap between each, but its quite expensive! Both of them! Interactive wands let you do a wee bit of magic from outside stores on the window displays, but once you leave, it doesn’t ever work again, there is no point. If you want to get a wand of someone you love in the series, they are available in Interactive and Non Interactive. I got Fred Weasley’s wand, because the wand chose me. I also felt very attracted to it. “The Wand chooses the Wizard”. Then go ahead to ‘Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions’ where you can get yourself a robe of Hogwarts, or a house robe. Its very expensive-Over 50$ for a robe that you can buy online for 10$ and make for 7$. But do take a look if you like. Then, go over to Quality Quidditch Supplies, which is next to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, where you can get Harry Potter Merchandise at a VERY expensive price, but nonetheless, it is very cool. Then, take the Hogwarts Express to Universal Islands of Adventure and watch the simulation windows that give you an experience of going to Hogwarts. The section of Harry Potter on this side is based on ‘Hogsmeade’ which is near Hogwarts where the children can go to get supplies if they run out in the middle of the year, or to have fun. There, watch the Triwizard Rally, which is a show, lasts about 10 minutes. Go on the Dragon Challenge, which is an outdoor roller-coaster, pretty high speed, I rode these scary rides alone. Also, ride the Flight of the Hippogriff, which is open to all ages, and is okay for anybody. Then, ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is a simulation, and is open to anyone. It is truly amazing. Make sure to drink butterbeer, which is the classic Harry Potter drink, and is amazing.

Overall, it was great. Its what I’ve dream’t about my whole life.                                   Picture Gallery:                                                                                                                              

With Stanley Shunpike, the conductor of the Knight Bus! (Harry Potter)
With Stanley Shunpike, the conductor of the Knight Bus! (Harry Potter)
Despicable Me Squad!
Despicable Me Squad!
Gringotts Bank- The safest place on Earth.
Gringotts Bank- The safest place on Earth.
The Dragon liked me too much....
The Dragon liked me too much….
BUTTERBEER!
BUTTERBEER!
Hogwarts (A.K.A- My Home)
Hogwarts (A.K.A- My Home)
It takes time till your wand calls you out of the top 2....
It takes time till your wand calls you out of the top 2….
IMG_1131
With the Durmstrung, Beaubatons and my own schools Witch.
The two houses I belong to!
The two houses I belong to!
IMG_1091
Diagon Alley- where you go before attending a school year at Hogwarts if you are a witch or wizard.
The wand chooses the wizard/witch and the wizard chooses the pose!
I was in the middle of two idiots
With Black Widow and WonderWoman, my #GirlPower Squad was ready to go@
With Black Widow and WonderWoman, my #GirlPower Squad was ready to go!
So Captain America and I became best friends... no big deal.
So Captain America and I became best friends… no big deal.

Keep following my blog to see more of my world tour experiences!

~X Mihika X 

Walking Like an Egyptian ;)

Our big journey started on 6th April. The first stop was Egypt. The land of one of the biggest ancient civilizations. The land that had the mighty river Nile.

From Chennai, we took a flight to Mumbai, from where we headed to Cairo, by air on EgyptAir. On the flight, we had a comfortable sleep. We reached on the 7th morning and were greeted by some friendly people from our hotel- Pyramids View Inn. They took us to our hotel in Giza, which took about 45 minutes. We settled in our room, in absolute awe. Why? The pyramids were right in front of us. There was a small window which gave a view of the pyramids and the sphinx. There was a terrace on top where people ate, which also gave a better view of the Pyramids and Sphinx. We had a wonderful breakfast of bread, jam, falafel and juice.

IMG_0270After that, we got ready and headed to the Pyramids and Sphinx, where we marveled at the beautiful sight. The Pyramids and Sphinx were much bigger than my expectation and I kept wondering how they built such massive buildings 5000 years ago. One thing that no tourist likes in Egypt, is that anywhere in Egypt, are the troublesome vendors. They show you what they are selling, and keep bargaining a price when you simply say “no”. They also walk with you for about 100 meters and keep trying to make you buy whatever they are selling. Sometimes, to seduce you, they start a conversation. They know where different people are from by experience, so in our case they said “India! Amitabh Bachchan! Karina Kapoor!” But the simple thing to do is simply keep walking and ignore them. The same thing happened with the Camel and Horse ride people who give horse and camel rides to reduce walking speed, but we didn’t go on it. We took some beautiful shots, and here are some.
IMG_0337     IMG_0322

IMG_0359  IMG_20160407_112855

IMG_0357  IMG_20160407_124454

We also got the opportunity to go inside a tomb in front of the Pyramids for free. It was very exciting. It was a bit claustrophobic, but we saw the holes where the coffins were placed, but eventually robbed by robbers.

IMG_20160407_120701   IMG_20160407_121157

IMG_20160407_121456

After that, we freshened ourselves up from the extremely hot weather and went to have a beautiful lunch at Pizza Hut, which was a minute walk away from us.

That night, we watched the Light and Sound show of the Pyramids and Sphinx  from the terrace of the hotel which was followed by a Good Night’s sleep to an early start in the morning.

IMG_0381 IMG_0386

The second day was planned out with three places in mind- Sakkara, Dashur and the Egyptian Museum. In Sakkara, we saw the Step Pyramid and the Tomb of Ti. The Step Pyramid was much bigger than I had expected. The tomb of Ti was not too different from the others that we saw.

IMG_0427 IMG_0430

After that, we headed to Dashur where we saw the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid. The Red Pyramid was built before the great Pyramid and is said to be smaller, but to me it looked much bigger. There is a special thing is it, where you can go inside. It was very, very, very tiring, dark and claustrophobic. There was not much in it, but the ceiling amazed me. The Bent Pyramid didn’t take much time. Since we were tired, we just looked at it, took 3 pictures, and left. The Bent Pyramid is a different kind of pyramid. The edges are a bit curved, its pretty cool.

IMG_0449

Next, we headed to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It is the main museum of Egypt and has statues, sarcophagi, utensils used, clothing, jewelry, everything! It even has royal mummies! But you have to pay extra to see those, we did. It was absolutely worth it. They were a bit freaky, but cool.  Most of them had their head, hand and leg bandages taken off. The bones had turned to stone and turned black. The eyes were half open, half closed, very freaky. Most of them had chipped, dirty and broken teeth. The museum has animal mummies too, which are open to all. Also, the museum has the one and only King Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus and mask. I am very interested in King Tut.

IMG_20160408_160440 IMG_20160408_161417

The next day we took a train to Luxor. The experience was terrible. Vendors would pass by each cabin and throw whatever they were selling onto your lap and come back later and collect them, or money from those who bought it. People pushed, screamed, smoked. The smoke filled the cabin at times and I am claustrophobic, so it was very hard for me. That being said, we went to the hotel which was very comfortable and  had excellent food. We ate there everyday!

The next day we went to the Karnak temple in the day, and Luxor temple in the evening. The Karnak temple is humongous and has many artifacts. It is very beautiful.

IMG_0480 IMG_0495

IMG_0520

The Luxor temple was done is the evening. It is much smaller then the Karnak temple, but is very beautiful.

IMG_0530 IMG_0536

The next day we went to the Valley of the Kings. There, we saw three tombs. My favorite was Tutmoses III’s. It was built in the high hills, where robbers would not dare to go. He built fake doors and passageways, and it was beautiful.

And then the big day came the next day.

We flew to Gorgeous New York.

 

Pros+Cons of the World Tour?

To be very honest, I am having completely mixed emotions about this. But I am 99% on the pros side….

There are many pros, as well as cons. If I think about it at the moment, I would say that there are way more pros than cons.

The cons aren’t too big, to be honest. Its just leaving my friends. But that doesn’t mean I can’t keep in touch with them. And this experience also teaches me that sometimes you have to let go of people sometimes.

The pros are HUGEEE. I get to go to various parts of the world, I get to see different cultures, eat different kinds of food, see the lifestyle of other places, see the real world and get such a wonderful experience at such a young age.

~X Mihika X