Umesh Phuyal  

My Memories


My Trip to Italy

(24 Jan - 28 Jan 2006)

Finally, I returned back safely.

From the very start, the trip was getting bizarre. We planned a three day trip one month back, looking at the schedules of lectures, hoping that time would be just after the exam and there would be no lectures. But, as the date for the trip approaced, the exams got cancelled; and more lectures were scheduled on the same week. We had to contact the professors requesting cancellation of the lectures. The three AITians were getting popular in the department.

Day 1: 24 Jan

Our flight is at 9:30am. But the airport is quite far, there is no public transport and the shuttle runs from Paris at 6:15am. The only way to catch that is to catch 4:57am train, but it's already 4:45am and we have not yet left the apartment. Train station is some 15 to 20 minutes-- run with bags and empty stomach.

Flights are generally not in time. Thirty minutes more to wait is nothing for them but painful for us. We got the experience of revolving around ROME three times on air because the flight couldn't land in heavy wind.

First day was planned well. I had already printed maps and details, so all went as planned. Rome is a beautiful city, more beautiful than Paris. Pizza, Pasta and Spaghettis are quite famous in restaurants here.

First day, we visited the Coliseum, St. Maria Maggiore, Victoria Square (Piazza Vittoria), the Spanish Steps etc. In the night, we went to St Peter's Square in the Vatican City. I think this is the most beautiful place I have seen during this trip.

Then we started traveling around the Vatican City. While we were going back to the room, we wanted to explore a new route and were out of map a number of times. We finally reached hotel room at around 1 am.

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Day 2: Jan 25

After breakfast, a route was defined and we started walking, as we had not yet realized that was not a good route to take. We went to Castle St. Angelo which looks nice in the bank of the river Tiber. The St. Peter's square is straightly visible from here. After the Castle, we headed towards the St. Peter's square as somebody had told that Pope comes out at 12:10. But, the next moment we knew it is not today, but tomorrow. We then visited the interior of St. Peter's Basilica where the tomb of all popes is kept. After that we headed towards Vatican Museum, but it was closed that day at 12:20. Very sad! At this moment we realized the route was not good.


So, the rest of the day was unluckily free. Then we headed for the Baths of Caracalla but taking the wrong way and walking along the side of the Palatino Hills, we reached the Roman Forum. After visiting there, we realized we would've missed a great place if we had not mistaken our way. We went to Pantheon all the way along Capitoline museums, Vittoria Emanuele Monument etc. It was almost the time to return back to catch the flight to Venice.

Around 10 pm, we landed at the Venice airport. From airport to hotel was planned but the map was wrong. So we were going round and round for a long time though the hotel was very near after getting off the shuttle bus. We checked in the hotel at around midnight.

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Day 3: Jan 26

Last day according to the plan in Italy is the day for Venice. Venice is nice with all the waterways. It is quite small city, so we could cover almost all part of it including Campo S Rocco, Santa Maria Della Salute, beautiful San Marco square, and the historic Ponte Rialto. We went back to the airport by train and then bus. The weather was quite cold and it started to snow outside.

We checked in for the flight back to Paris, but to our surprise, we had to wait more than two hours before the flight finally got cancelled because of bad weather. We understood that was the worst airlines when they did not do anything for it and just left all passengers on their own. The airlines information counter staff asked whether we would like to take next-day flight back to Paris from another airport 220 km from there or wait 2 days for the next flight from the same airport as all other flights were already full. We decided to take the shorter way- fly back from other airport next day.

After exploring the map and address of the other airport, it appeared to be near Milan. We went back to Main Train station in the midnight and we knew the next train to Milan is at 6:04 am. We searched for a cheap hotel to take a rest of less than 5 hours.

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Day 4: Jan 27

First train to Milan started running as scheduled. The more we traveled, the more snow we could see outside. It looked quite nice though we were wondering where we were going to go, no plans, no maps, no hotel, nothing. Train started slowing down indicating the delay in arrival. It arrived Milan Centrale at around 11:00 am, about one and half hour later than scheduled time. The station was too cold with about 50 cm of snow. We were not well prepared for the snow. After roaming here and there for sometime we could guess that it is impossible for a plane to fly from this city. We had no solution in mind, what to do and what not to do. We tried to enquire about the airport and we knew it is closed with all the flights grounded. After second cancellation of flight, it was not wise to wait to fly from there. So we booked for the next train to Paris, which was at 11:35 pm. And obviously, the tickets were quite expensive as we wanted to buy the tickets on the day of travel. We were ready to pay the train fare four times more than the flight and we were ready to travel 8 hours train for 1 hour flying distance. We did not care about the flight anymore.

Now that we have the train tickets in hands, it's time to see Milan when we are already here. The Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) is very nice, and it looks even more beautiful in snow. We also visited a castle. Our friends were happy to take pictures and videos with Ferrari in one of the only three Ferrari showrooms in Italy.

We got back to the station to take 11:35 pm train, waited until about 1 am and got to know that the train is cancelled because of heavy snow. Next train was in the morning 6:43. With no other solution, we spent the night in the station.

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Day 5: Jan 28

In the morning, there were Red Cross volunteers distributing bread and tea to snow victims. First time in my life, I had the experience to be in the queue of victims waiting for a tea.

The train started in time but obviously our ticket was not for this train but for one which was in fact cancelled. So we didn't have guaranteed seats there. I had to change the seat 4 times leaving it to its owner, and finally sat in the second class seat although I had a first class ticket. It was not a night train, so there were no sleeping places or similar facilities even though we paid for the night train supposed to run the day before.

Finally, 28th Jan evening, I could see Paris. I was tired, hungry, had beard all over cheeks, but splendid memories of Italy in my head.

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Few experiences from my Malaysia Trip

(10th-14th December 2004)
by Aman Shakya

The Student Union (of AIT) organized a trip to Malaysia just after our final exams. We left AIT on 10th Dec at about 10 PM in two double decker buses. It was very difficult to sleep in the bus. The bus stopped at times at mini marts. We had our lunch next day in a place called Hatyai, near the Malaysian border. There was special table for vegetarians. We reached the border at about 4:00 PM.

It was rainy season in Malaysia, it was gently raining. We changed some money. 1 RM (Malaysian currency Ringgit) = 10.67 Baht. We changed the bus; two Malaysian buses were waiting for us. There were Malaysian guides in the buses. They entertained us, showed us places, told things about the places, served us snacks and drinks.

There are stops for eating at regular intervals in the Malaysian highway. There would be a row of food stalls offering a wide variety of food. Luckily, we can find food of our kind of taste in Malaysia... no food problem as in Thailand. We enjoyed food at few of the stops.

We would learn Malay by ourselves if we stayed few months in Malaysia. They use the English script, we can read anything they have written at places, but the problem is that we don't often understand what is written. The guides also taught us few words.

The major population in Malaysia is Chinese, then come Indians (mostly south Indian) and finally Malay! Malaysia is a Muslim country, girls wear scarf on their head. And good news, they all speak and understand English well, not as in Thailand.

We were heading up towards the Genting highlands. At the night we could see the Malaysian cities lighted as we ascended up the winding roads of the hills. Finally after the long long drive, we got off at about 2:00 AM. From there we were taken up to the Genting highlands in a very big cable car, with our luggage! They call it the Sky way. We checked in our hotel and went to sleep, too tired.

Actually we could go for Casino. There's an entertainment center called Theme park in the Genting highlands. This is the only place with Casino in Malaysia, elsewhere it is not legal. This place is very famous for Casino.

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Next morning we suddenly woke up at about 9:00, almost check out time. We missed our breakfast! The hotel was really very beautiful, artistic and full of entertainment facilities. Lots of things for children like coasters and all, like in Dragon world. And it was fully decorated and lighted up for Christmas.

Then we went by small cable cars. It was a very long cable car line, traveled in it for around 20 mins. There were a lot of these cable cars, spaced at small intervals. It was very enjoyable. We could see the highlands below us. There were many artificial models made on the hills - wild animals, Stone Age people, etc. It was very cold in the Genting highlands; it's 2000m above the sea level. It was misty. The wind was cold at night. Our buses were waiting at the cable car station.

We had breakfast in a fine hotel and headed towards Putrajaya. This is a very newly built city... a beautiful city. Kuala Lumpur (KL) was on the way. We could notice that Malaysia has a thinner population and less traffic compared to Bangkok. Most of the homes are beautiful in architecture. Almost all houses, even all the skyscrapers have sloping roofs. And there would be rows of identical homes. Putrajaya was built because the capital KL started to become crowded. They shifted major government offices to Putrajaya.

In Putrajaya we saw the Prime minister's office, an artistic building - Muslim, Chinese, Indian architecture mixed!! And the most magnificent was the Floating mosque; it's built over a lake. It was very cool in shade but very very hot in sun. Every lamp-post was artistic.

On the way we saw the Palace of golden horses, one of the most expensive hotels in the region. Next we stopped at the Kings palace. Malaysia has 13 states; each has a flag and king! There’s a strange tree in front of the Royal Palace, a coconut tree joins it at top. A yellow flag indicates whether the king is inside the palace or not.

Then we went to the Independent square (datera merdeka). There's the worlds tallest flag. The Supreme Court and a museum were nearby.

In the evening we went towards Kualalumpur. We reached the KLCC (Kuala Lumpur city center) where the world famous Petronas twin towers stand. It is definitely the most magnificent thing in Malaysia. It is the worlds 2nd tallest building (after the tower in Taipei). There are two identical towers joined by a cross bridge. It has 88 storeys. It is mainly made up of steel and glass on the outside. It looks magnificently glowing in the night time. Up to the 4th storey is shopping complexes, above that are all government offices; we are not allowed to go. There was a very big Christmas tree inside. We looked around the shopping complexes. Near the Petronas twin towers is a communication tower appearing equally high. The towers are really the identity of Kuala Lumpur.

We checked into the Grand Seasons hotel at night, the finest hotel we have seen with all sophisticated facilities. We could have a very good view of Kuala Lumpur city from our room. We went to see market at night but unfortunately everything was closed by that time (not as in Bangkok). There are monorails through the Kuala Lumpur city.

After a very fine breakfast in the Hotel we headed towards a cocoa chocolate factory. Malaysia is very famous for chocolates after Switzerland. They gave us small pieces of chocolates for tasting, a wide variety of chocolates.

On our way back, we stopped at the Perak Cave Temple, a Chinese temple. There are big Buddha statues inside. Through the cave, we climbed up the hill. The hill is very high. We could not climb to the top. We were all sweating after climbing up through the cave. At night we reached the Malaysian border. We spent sometime in a duty free shop there. It was a long way back to AIT.

We had movies in the bus. Singing and making a lot of noise with Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis in the bus. We also had to handle 2 small Nepali kid girls throughout the travel. They wouldn't stay without we uncles (me and Umesh)... it was fun.

We reached AIT on 14th at about 2:00PM. It was the longest trip of my life by bus! Around 28 hrs for going and 28 hrs for coming back. However, it was a very good experience overall. Traveled to a foreign country from a foreign country, saw many places and people.


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