when AMBITION slaps you squarely on your face! … 2 years on

since I am not into New Year resolutions, but very much into tracking and benchmarking …  
{oh yeah, I read your mind! Thank you for that look too – heh heh}
…  let’s see what has happened since the first post of “when AMBITION slaps you squarely on your face!” made its first appearance in this space (read HERE). I’ll also include my unbiased (yeah! rite) opinion or personal POV of each – where applicable – as I make my way down this list that was drawn up in no particular order possibly during one of my few sober days in college.

2 years (and a bit) on… 2 years (and a bit) older.
762 days later …but anyways, let’s get started :

visit the following places
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Taj Mahal
I literally took a deep breath and clasps my palms together … before realising I was doing it and promptly return my fingers to the key board. Yes. It was that bad. My most memorable time in Agra was the two nights I spent with the Persian descendant (what else??? but) carpet maker. I had carpet / wool burns on my fingers but I continued gaily to hand weave a Persian carpet … Adil was his name. Though not particularly highly educated, Adil was well read and a very wise and religious man in a non-domineering manner. With every knot he made, he would say a prayer under his breath. Whilst I sat beside him, he would tell me stories from the Qu’ran and that of his travels as a guest speaker …
The Taj itself was spectacular only when put squarely in perspective that it is a tomb. Therefore, as a tomb, it is majestic and amazing … and darn! where can I find a fine gentlemen like Shahjahan?

The spot I secured (thanks to WT and Reza … and our kiasuness) was priceless … darn! why didn’t I think of charging every person who said “errr… excuse me, can I stand there and take a photo” 10Rs? That would have subsidised, if not covered the exorbitant entry fee – but oh, I suppose the ‘surgical operating room type slippers’ and the bottled drink sort of justified the entrance fee – some what!
Cairo Citadel and Pyramid of Giza and Sphinx 
I have very vague recollection of these places frankly … but I remembered the sea of very annoying tourists, the traffic and time taken that just sapped my little remaining energy off work. Yes, I was chauffeured around. Heck! I was chauffeured around a lot for work crossing the Red Sea a few times in a week – of which I saw none of, only waking up at strategic makeshift goal posts where four to six heavily armed guards stood guard to inspect every vehicle that passed through… yes, those were the good ol’ days of life working in the Middle East… and nope, it’s not as scary as it seems …or else I wouldn’t be dozing off at the back seat of the car all the time. :)
Nonetheless, this is a place I would definitely want to do the entire circuit again and take photos for keeps. I’m thinking of a super wide angle lens. I’m thinking off season period.
Angkor Wat
BIG-CHEAP – ahhh… that’s truly value for money. Loved the varied architectural design, from the crude tumbling stone slabs of Ta Phrom to the intricate lattice-like carvings of Banteay Srei (Citadel of Women). Putting aside the throngs of tourist, cliche elephant rides, and booger smudge faces of bare foot kids running after you in American accent, it’s a good long weekend get-away with a tinee-weeny dash of Indiana Jones  or Lara Croft : Tomb Raider wannabe.

But definitely NO more AMOK Fish for me or you’ll see me run AMOK!
Machu Picchu
{yet to be discovered}
 though a trusted friend of mine visited it and classified it under our “Mona Lisa Rating” !!!
{yet to find it!!!}
It’s beyond me why I’ve not gone to the Stonehenge having visited England extensively for more than 5 times. Not to mentioned Val and I devoted 3 years to tracking down Hadrian Wall! Well, not 1,095 days, but 3 trips, each spanning around 2 weeks … and we have not found either. Don’t ask! : )
Petra – the Nabatean empire
{yet to be discovered}

Red Sea  
I generally do not like beaches, water sports, snorkeling and diving. I have no inclination to dive or snorkle. I get the creeps looking at corals moving with the underwater currents. Most sea life (save for those that gets served up as dinner) looks disgustingly unappealing to me. But for a brief Jacques-Yves Cousteau moment, I decided to give the Red Sea a try. Well, for one, I was there and I can. Also it was one opportunity to be ‘part’ of the Biblical Book of Exodus, Darius the Great, Alexander the Great … and who knows possible Penelope the Great {ok . ok . NOT! sheesh … joooking}

It was really a Conde Nast traveler experience – crystal clear water, colourful fishes and corals which I could stomach looking at since they weren’t moving as vividly due to the almost non-existence currents. Its also possibly the only place where you’d see bikini clad ladies (in that part of the world in the 1990s) … and eweeeeeee… lots of rich retired wrinkled-up prunes on floats sipping on turquoise and orange coloured concoctions with a paper umbrella stuck on the glass’ rim. Verdict: I floated easily!!! I enjoyed it.

Galapagos Islands
{yet to be discovered}

African Safari – Serengeti Migration 
Amazon rainforest
{yet to be discovered}


One can’t missed the (Calat) Alhambra – “the red fortress” – set against the backdrop of Sierra Nevada mountain range, it pretty much makes up the entire scenery and focus of Granada that leaves you in awe. Upon entering the fortress itself, every space – from garden to rooms – is a sight to behold and to date no other architecture has left an impression on me as Alhambra did, possibly due to the harmonious blending of natural elements and mad-made ones.
My favourite would be the columns, muqarnas (stalactite-like ceiling decorations) that appears in several chambers with heavily decorated arabesques and calligraphy.The Court of Lions is a close contender, losing out only because of the throngs of tourists it attracts, each and everyone believing he or she will be able to get a great shot of the lion sculptures void of anyone in the photo. errr… heard of postcard people?
Borobudur and Prambanan

This sounds kind of hypocritical, but really, if there weren’t any tomb raiders and artifacts thieves in the world, Borobudur would have been a very rewarding and enriching experience for me. Of the original 504 Buddha statues, more than 300 are damaged (mostly headless) and 43 are missing. Having seen and touched one of those Buddha heads up close and personal as a little girl in grandpa’s study, prior to it being returned to its rightful place, my personal experience of Borobudur was terrifying and ridden with guilt – although it was a crime that I had not committed.
Prambanan was in contrast an exciting 3D zig saw puzzle. Standing at the center of the three main shrines (Trimurti) dedicated to Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Keeper, and Shiva the Destroyer, I felt infinitesimal and was drawn by the stories of Shiva, Durga and Ganesha – thereon my continued fascination, reverence and collection of my beloved Elephant God.
Venice during the Carneval

Makes wonderful superficial pompous dinner conversation. A ‘been there done that’ place that falls in the ‘Mona Lisa category’ of being over-rated. Similar to Paris, here’s to great tourism marketing!

Hadrians Wall by road
twice between 2000 to 2004
Frankly, can’t tell if Val and I finally discovered the rubles. Is it meant to still be erected walls? Anyways, if we didn’t … so what? I’m definitely not doing this again.

routes along the Trans-Siberia rail – from Shanghai/Beijing to Moscow or other way around
{yet to be discovered}
At the rate we are going … travel partners ‘dispute’ over best time and dates to travel … hmmm… should nothing happen, it’ll be my BIG four-‘0’ birthday gift to myself. Now, that’s a long time more to plan. lol

semi-active volcano
Probollingo and Mount Merapi 1996
Can’t recall anything particularly memorable on either hikes. To think of it I don’t even know what inspired this idea … perhaps the half sober state of mind. Perhaps another one of those spur of the moment bragging right ideas.

Outback Australia via Train
{yet to be discovered}
Central Asia with a 4WD Expedition

{yet to be discovered}

authentic Arabian tea house and bazaar
1999 – smoked shishak and danced in Cairo’s
2010 – got ripped off and molested in Marrakech’s Djamaa El Fna during the holy month of Ramadhan!
2011 – bought another Persian carpet from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Is there a rule that says I need to fulfill a list drawn up by someone who seems so distance and alien to me? I wonder …

5 thoughts on “when AMBITION slaps you squarely on your face! … 2 years on

  1. Personally you need a new list if you're going to keep at this. You recent escapades seems more interesting. The old ones are as well, but you seem to have gone up a few notches.

  2. hahahaBut man… you floated in the Red Sea!You know with the red airlines you hate there are good bargains for places you once paid premium airfares plus internal flights to get to.:p

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