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We arrived Nuwara Eliya, a popular hill retreat in Sri Lanka. Stayed at Grand Hotel, the hotel has nice plant sculptures, loved dinosaur most.

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Excuse me, I have never seen this type of wash room. At hotel lobby, Ladies wash room, haha.

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My bed at Grand Hotel. The room has heater… yeah!

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Nice view from room window. They covered the flower seedling from direct sun light, the garden should look pretty in summer then.

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Gregory Lake. I enjoyed leisure walk in nice weather.

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Horse riding in Gregory lake.

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Lakeside  holiday chalet

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Many European style of hotels in Nuwara Eliya

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The busy small town in Nuwara Eliya.

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We went to historical town Kandy next day. Colourful elephant carvings in Wood Craft gallery in Kandy

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In Kandy, we had been to Gem stone gallery, Batik gallery, Wood craft gallery and Elephant camp. The are rather small-scaled and  commercialized. Every August, a Buddhist festival Esala Perahera will be held at Kandy. Did you see the Golden roof Buddhist temple in the picture?

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Checked-in Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel in Colombo. Hotel room amenities is fairly complete, typical business hotel.

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Love provided bath salt… I had relaxing baths and rest.

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I lacked of interest to shop in Colombo actually, only went to Odel department store near by. This is small high-end department store, merchandise price is indeed lower compared to most countries, especially garment. However, many designs are also more on Indian’s style. Some of my group members went to House of Fashion – Branded Garment Outlet Store, didn’t have much luck to find what they liked due to the garment style too, but they bought some toys, childrenswear and men shirt at incredible low price.

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Street view of Colombo city

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While my yellow-skin was rarely seen in most smaller towns, I was friendly approached by people whenever I was alone in park, temple, hotel… many curious where I was from. They were guessing, Chinese or Japanese? (I can’t only understand these two words, haha)

All metered taxis in Sri Lanka called tuk-tuk, I took once from Odel to hotel, it really felt differently compared to similar vehicle in Thailand. I mean, I felt stable and relax on the tuk-tuk  in Colombo city; but I felt stimulating and little panic while taking tuk-tuk in Bangkok city. Why? I don’t know if any difference on the vehicle structure, however their driving style is the main reason here.  In Bangkok, many people tend to drive fast and in dangerous snake move… road is wide. In Colombo, most roads are narrow, drivers normally drive slower with their own set of traffic rules.

Generally I love this memorable Sri Lanka trip. Blessed with the beautiful places I stayed, amazing natural scenes and friendliness of people. It is so good to have this exotic exploration.

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 Hello Kirchhayn bungalow. It looked so much beautiful in day time!

 

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Outside of my room door.

 

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Dining room. Hmn… the meal always served half to an hour late than the scheduled time. So try to tell them the time earlier than the planned time.

 

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I liked how they usually prepared the pineapple.

 

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The living room. Every corner in this bungalow is full of antiques!

 

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Study room. Free Wifi is available in living room, rest room and study room.

 

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Rest room. Our tea factory tour cancelled because factory was closed on full-moon. We had full day to kill in this bungalow. Sounds boring?

 

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We amazed how large the bungalow. Despite some games are available in the bungalow for adult and children…

 

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Grass tennis court, swimming pool, grass hockey, rose garden, nature walk, sun bathing…. Or tea plantation around the bungalow.

 

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This is British colonial style of bungalow, Beautiful.

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We had a walk in tea plantation after breakfast. The weather is warm in day time with cooling breeze in the hill.

 

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Our guide leading us in the front.  

 

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A Japanese temple on the hill.

 

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Buddhist temples in the hills

 

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A helicopter parking lot in the tea plantation.

 

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After two-hour walking in tea plantation, we were on our leisure. My bath tub is largest and deepest seriously, children can just swim in it! That was why I think this was nanny’s room previously. Unfortunately, the bath tub looked old and not clean enough, else I really wanted to have a dip.

 

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Another guests (a couple) found their way for private time especially we were big group with children occupied the bungalow. They can have their meal at front yard but we need larger table.

 

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The water in swimming pool is so cold. Guess who visited the swimming pool most frequently? Villages dogs. The servant told me not to put the shoes outside the door, dogs like to play with them. 

 

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We have fresh roses in our room and bungalow. These roses are as big as my small fist!

 

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The garden could have well-maintained. Look at the before-and-after picture, the garden was full of beautiful lovely flowers in the past and now scattered flowers. The old picture – featuring Bustock family in 1994, was also the only colour picture among of all old pictures.

 

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 A morning dew on flowers making these flowers so lovely adorable

 

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Initially I thought the helpers watering flowers in the morning, but soon found out all plants were wet and the grass was damp and cold. (I hate wearing shoes on the grass)

 

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Guess the gardener didn’t grow the roses as fast as they cut them. The bungalow will look heavenly stunning with many flowers! May be only flower  lover cares about this.

 

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Different roses in the bungalow.

 

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She looked adorable, shy, fully-bloom

 

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Different species, different colours have their own scents. I love the rose scent of this champagne red species.

 

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A hidden path

 

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Said bye to Kirchhayn Bungalow, we moved to Nuwara Eliya on next day morning. On the way driving down to the hill, this young man in black shirt, had amazed us. He managed to wave his bouquet in front of our mini bus at every twist and turn of hill roads. OK, a man tried hard to sell his flowers. On the next turn, again we saw a man in black shirt, waving a similar bouquet…wow… many were hard-selling flowers in this way I thought. Then on another turn, we saw the man again and only realised they were actually the same man. On the 4th turn, the driver stopped the bus and opened the bus door, see if anyone of us buy the flower. SLR1200, negotiated to SLR1000, still a little expensive …. He was rejected. Well, story ended? Driver said he will show up again and he was right! We saw this guy again on 5th turn, and 6th turn….. I was touched by his perseverance and asked the bus stopped, I was sold. 

 

On the final night we had dinner at a respectable friend’s house in Colombo city, who helped organizing the tour for us. He knew more  about flower men in Bandarawela. In fact, some were doing that for their living. In fact, they will continue to do so to the down hill. I guess mostly foreign tourist will be convinced, a very good hard-selling tactic indeed. Nevertheless, I was happy to buy from him at his 6th attempt as he reminded me never give up even life is tough.

 

 

 

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From Yala to Bandarawella takes several hours journey. Some of the group members wanted to visit a famous temple at Kataragama. We didn’t realize the temple complex is so large! We first greeted by a group of school girls, singing and dabbling their feet in the river of the temple complex.

 

 

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Oops! What happened to the elephant?

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Ahh…the three elephants were having their bath in the river. People used coconut skin scrubbing the elephant skin, it seemed like a long, tedious, tiring cleaning process which took more than hour.

 

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Along the river, people washing clothes, bathing themselves, playing in water, changing clothes, picnic… and… elephants pee and poo in the river too! I had a culture shock though I knew a little from TV program before.

 

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Finally, the elephants had done their cleaning. A guy told me this elephant is eldest among the three, he invited me to touch the elephant but I refused politely after seeing what happened in the river. (I was only light-skin Asian in the temple, hence quite high-profile there)

 

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Most Sri Lankan is Buddhist. This very large Kataragama temple has few temples resided. I didn’t join my friends to have a visit inside those temples because I was watching the elephant cleaning but my friends (one group visited the Buddhist temple, another visited Muslim temple) told me the temples were so large, around 1km walking distance inside.

 

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Monkeys in the Kataragama temple complex.

 

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Selling stuff in the Kataragama temple complex

 

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Colourful fruit stalls on the street outside the Kataragama temple complex.

 

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Finally we reached Kirchhayn Bungalow. By the time we reached the bungalow at Bandarawela was already night, as we spent few hours in Kataragama. We truly trusted our driver’s driving skill, the narrow winding hill road had no road light! We did spend some hard time to find the Bungalow! There are five guest rooms in the bungalow, two for family, three for couple. We wanted to book the entire bungalow for private time, however another guest had booked a guest room much earlier than we did, so I forced to stay at a guest room at the back yard, since I was only single in the group. Only if I have an option, I would like to stay at Bustock room as shown in above picture. (“ v)

 

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The chef only started cooking dinner after we reached. We had hot and fresh Sri Lanka dishes.

 

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My bed, the only room without name. I guess this was a nanny room in the old times? Because it was at the back yard, the room was very cold and I couldn’t request a hair dryer after shower since they locked the back yard door at night… no phone  & wifi in room, but I didn’t try hard enough to knock the door of servant room (next to back yard) for help either.

 

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Yew-hoo! We were heading to safari on next day, after took a rest from whale-watching. This is another few hours journey.

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Yala’s Wild Life Park is most-visited safari in Sri Lanka, known with leopard, variety of birds, elephants, peacock, spotted dear, jackal, crocodiles and etc.

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We were going to check in Chaya Wild Hotel. But hey, looking at the surrounding environment, is the hotel located inside a jungle??

 

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Pheww… the hotel looked “aboriginal” and comfortable. The hotel reception is just next to the swimming pool and safari tour office.

 

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We were shocked when knowing the hotel is just within 10 minutes walking distance from the crocodile pond! (o .O)^

 

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Look at the surrounding of the hotel, we were staying in a hotel in safari park! The hotel staff invited us to see a sleeping leopard via a powerful binoculars at the top roof. If you have binoculars, you can just sit back and relax with glass of beer/wine while searching for animals around with binoculars. Hmn…that was exactly what a group of British tourist doing.

 

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This is my chalet, or the hotel room.

 

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The wildest hotel I have ever stayed. We were warned by hotel staff during check-in. Do call reception for escort if we leave chalet after 7pm and during very early morning. A family in our group stayed at another chalet and they had a light meal outside their chalet, some monkeys attracted by the tasty smell and came to join them. Their neighbour even saw an elephant passed by their chalet! The escort told me that both mild and dangerous animals like rabbit, elephant, snake, crocodiles had been strolling around the hotel premises but basically my chalet was quite “peaceful” during my stay.

 

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The bedroom is romantic decorated.

 

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Spacious bathroom that can accommodate me and few leopards.

 

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I was surprised the mini bar was fully stuffed. Yes, no mini-mart near by.

 

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Again, we were little worried when we saw the jeep was not fenced initially! However, we realised the reason as soon as we enter the safari. We departed from hotel on 5.30am to the ticket office of safari tour as we need to queue up to buy the entrance ticket. There were a lot of jeeps – a lot of tourists, the sky turned light by the time we got the ticket and heading to park entrance. We chose morning tour as we had been advised animals dislike hot sun and tend to hide away from being seen. Morning air is very fresh and less dusty as the sand road is little wet due to rainy night.

 

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The jeep tour is extremely bumpy like horse riding, luckily I didn’t suffer car sick. The jeep driver will help to spot animal along the way and inform us. We managed to spot many wild buffalos, many peacocks, many spotted dears, some beautiful birds, few eagles, few wild chickens, few big lizards, few crocodiles, a water snake and an elephant despite everyone was looking forward to seeing leopard. The driver told us the peacock had sent signal to all leopards to hide away from jeeps. Ya…. We saw one suspicious male peacock stood on tree and howling suspiciously when we were getting near to the suspected leopard’s zone. I guess these wild animals must be getting annoyed from noisy engines sound and a big number of curious human everyday. Now we understand why all jeeps need not to be fenced.

 

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I lost some pictures while transferring files from camera to laptop. Couldn’t recall what this giant rock called. Every jeep will stop by at this beach area for a while. This is also can be BBQ/picnic area.

 

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I had some jungle trekking experiences in rainforest during puberty, this was my first time trekking with jeep, I had fun. The safari tour was approx. SLR3303 per person for our group, jeep + entrance + tax.

 

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I had few “safari” tours in the past, all with fenced jeeps… especially when a big bear shaked the small jeep in a Korea theme park, or tigers were just few meters away from jeep in a Malaysia resort park… but they all feed by human, not wild. This is real safari tour in national park before I can afford a South Africa Safari tour. (“ b)

 

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Well, we left for tea plantation at Bandarawela in afternoon after the safari tour. Hence we had our lunch as early as possible. A large, cute-looking squirrel joined the feast too! Oh.. some small squirrels haunted in the hotel from time to time.

 

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Along the journey to Bandarawela, we spotted several wild elephants…. Yet we were so hard to spot one in safari….

 

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A rainbow! Suddenly I was very easily impressed with any natural scene.

 

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Unlike my other group members who prefer most Indian/Arabian flavour at Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya, I personally liked the meals in Chaya Wild Hotel most. They served more international cuisine and some Sri Lankan flavours, especially liked their variety of salads, every meal they served 90% of different tastes.

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I never thought I would be visiting Sri Lanka one day but life is unpredictable.

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  We were heading to Mirissa Beach, which was nearly 4 hours drive from Colombo airport.

 

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We stayed at a private villa in Mirissa Beach.

 

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Though the private bungalow is just next to beach, the sea waves are slightly strong and rather fine for surfing instead of swimming. Not a problem, both sea water and normal water swimming pools are faced to sea view.

 

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The security guard opened the wooden gate for us, so my feet could taste the sea water of India ocean.

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The beach is so clean and unpolluted, after all it is quite private. I felt safe and comfortable to walk on bare feet. Due to raining, We cancelled the plan of seeing turtle eggs laying at night.

 

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My spacious room on second floor. Sleep with air-conditioner and fan on as all windows were tightly closed because I don’t want to be visited by mosquitoes at night. The weather in January is generally nice and warm.

 

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Mirissa is popular for whale-watching, the journey departed from the ‘’port’’ of a fishing village. Don’t be surprised of their ‘’luxury’’ standard, it is two-level anyway and they called it big Observation Boat. We paid USD50 each and I believe our driver had good commission from the price, since we organised the tour last minute with the driver.  However, what we concerned was actually the stability of the boat while  giant whales swam around. Anyhow, where else can we get such price for whale-watching? Please let me know 😉

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 Sri Lankan has their unique way of catching fish, their fishing boat is different from what I have seen.

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Big group of us boarded the upper observation desk. The upper level people have cushion on floor, where the people on first level have sitting chair. Then we “floated” all the way to the whale-watching spot. Some, especially young kids had terrible seasick. We adult had dizzy head at the least, fortunately most of us only had small portion of breakfast before the trip and we didn’t take the served breakfast on boat too.

 

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I managed to survive the 3-hour trip without vomiting. An hour swung to the watching spot, eye-hunting the whale for an hour, and another hour head-floating back to port. The first hour was still tolerable for me because I was excited to the new experience, the second hour was quite uncomfortable because the boat stopped and waiting for whales, thus it swayed badly with sea waves. However, the dizziness was unnoticeable when we were focused on looking whales and busy recording the video. The third hour, basically I was hanging on the handrail and sleeping all the way to the port, felt like sleeping on sleeping net with waves sound music.

Blessed with good weather, we spotted many blue whales. Crews helped us to look for whales, then we gained experience and know how to spot the whale. We didn’t see giant white whale or dolphins on that day. It was interesting trip overall, however I wouldn’t be going the same trip second time, the journey was uncomfortable and my head still feeling heavy after landed.

Continued from Part III…………

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Arriving in metropolitan Munich, I could definitely smell the festive mood of Oktoberfest (The beer festival). The festival is held on an area named Theresienwiese (U-bahn, U4), which is located near Munich’s main train station, Hauptbahnhof. This site has all the info you need to be fun in Oktoberfest. I am non-drinker but the beer tent also serves mineral water (carbonated water) and juice, remember the festival is for all, not just for drinker. (“v)

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We were at Marienplatz, the central Square, also a popular shopping district. A nice sunny day, aroung 15°C in the evening.

The popular Rathaus, we were catching the 5pm Clockenspiel.

From Marienplatz we took U-bahn transited at Karlplatz then got to Theresienwiese. Nice to see many Bavarians in their traditional costume. We bought the multiple-trip ticket €5.40, valid inside white zone and until 6am of next day. The Oktoberfest just next to the exit.

These are those bigger, well-decorated beer tents

As you can see, the place was crowded. In fact, by the time we reached there, we can still enter most of the tents but sorry, no empty seat! It was even a low-traffic Wednesday. If you come at late evening, you cannot even enter the tents because they are closed due to overfilling. Nevertheless, that was still a joy to see Bavarians were celebrating, singing, dancing and beering!

When we wanted to return to train station, we just followed the crowd without any idea which station they were heading to. It was roughly 20 minutes walk, ah, we were going to different train station.

A surprise we saw a beautiful sunset over the bridge

It is Heimeranplatz station. The train station just near by the bridge.

We went to Olympia-Einkaufszentrum near to our hotel. All shops and department store in the shopping mall were closed on 8pm. We came back on next day for some grocery shopping before departure.

Had our dinner in a nice Italian restaurant

The view from my hotel room, did not go to the Olympia park eventhough it was closed to our hotel, fatigue and busy.

~ Thank you for reading my travel trivia in Germany ~


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Continued from Part II……

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Strictly speaking, Rothenburg o.d.T  is true fairy-tale town in Germany. However, from our town Fussen to Rottenburg takes roughly 4.5hours/trip, frankly we really did not have this luxurious time for the visit. If you are driving, then it would be estimated 2hours drive from Neuschwanstein to Rothenburg (source). The travel distance by train will be shorter if departure from Munich which is roughly 2.5hours/trip that involved multiple train transits. Again, we did not have the time while we were in Munich, so just leave this fairy tale town to my future trip.

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Rothenburg

Image credit: here

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Nevertheless, we could still feel the fairy tale atmosphere and find fairy tale features in so many towns of Germany. As we only moved around somewhere near-by, so here I would be sharing the 1-day casual trip from the castle village – Fussen – Oberammergau only.

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Is a rainy day too. This is Alpsee lake just next to yellow-orange Hohenschwangau Castle. In winter, I think people can skate on the frozen lake too. 

 .The King Ludwig II museum next to Alpsee Lake, probably the most classy building in the village

The painting on the restaurant cafe

Other buildings in the village

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Later we took a bus to Fussen town. Due to rainy day, the town was extremely quiet in the morning and only few people were on the street. Here I share the pictures that I took on the first day, a beautiful sunny day and a more lively town. Fussen, being the last stop of Bavaria Romantic Road, is also very close to Austria border.

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The wall painting that you can easily spot, just opposite to the Tourist Information Center

The cheerful bakery

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Then we took  bus 9606 on 12.45pm to Oberammergau, from what I searched from Deutsche Bahn, this is the shortest route to reach Oberammergau from Fussen. The bus also pass by the UNESCO world heritage Wieskirche, the Pilgrimage Church of Wies with spectacular Rococo-style interior. As you can see, I only took a snapshot of the church in the bus.

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After 1.40 hours ride, we were finally reached Oberammergau bahn. Along the bus journey, there were many magnificent scenery of Bavaria Alps and beautiful Bavarian houses, saw a lot of wall-painted houses too. According to what I search online, we have to take bus 9622 to Linderhof palace from Oberammergau but I was not sure if this was the correct bus stop that we need to transit. Anyhow, due to the time constraint we made a decision to forgo Linderhof Palace and chose to explore this village, just for the sake of fairytale story wall painting.

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Is this River Ammer? For Oberammergau is a village set in Ammer River valley

The wind was strong when we got down the bus, we were bone-shaking! Quickly we found a hotel restaurant and had something hot!

I did not see much of Cockoo clock during this trip, perhaps it is more common in Black Forest. I prefer Switzerland-originated Chalet-style of Cockoo clock by the way. Bought few chalet cuckoo clock magnets, lovely!

The village also famous of its Passion Play

A wood craftsmanship telling the story of Jesus birth in a small musuem 

A corner of the village


Many beautiful wall paintings, mostly on commercial building. We only able to identify Brothers Grimm’s   Hansel & Gretel and The little riding hood, may be a bible story too. How about you?

Oberammergau is famous for its woodcarvers too. So many adorable wooden crafts, love them all!

Apart from those wonderful places, this is the bus stop that we would unlikely to forget. Why? We thought returning to Fussen by 5.27pm bus (the shortest bus route back to Fussen) but for unknown reason, the bus never showed up at the end!  We reached the bus stop at 5.05pm and even double-checked with bus driver when we departed at Fussen, in fact we bought a return-ticket. The last bus is on 6.40pm and take nearly 4hours bus-train route to Fussen, anyway we both were waiting until 6pm and realized the 5.27pm bus would not come. Being freezing cold, we decided to take a taxi back (later the taxi driver told us it was 5°C outside (**c).  The cashier at the petrol station mart was extremely kind to help us calling a taxi. The taxi costs us €70, totally worth it because we could not afford to get sick during this busy time. Felt so happy when I saw the castle in the taxi, that said we were nearly “home”!

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Lastly, due to geographically issues, I think the best travel way is to rent a car and drive in Bavaria, especially if you spend number of days there. For some places, there are few connections of public transport needed and might not time efficient. With car, you can enjoy the tour flexibility and the amazing scenic Romantic Road from Würzburg – Füssen. We wish we could but because we both are left-hand driving and unfamiliar with right-hand traffic, we better not to drive here. I had witnessed few people (should be from right-hand traffic country) were driving dangerously in left-hand traffic country, there was once the car was driving toward us in same lane! Scared all the road users.  Haha.

 


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………… Part IV to be continued.

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