According to the census we had in 2010, around 83.5% of Bali’s population adhered to Balinese Hinduism. That is why it is no secret that Bali is likely a home for Hindus, and no wonder we can find hundreds or even thousands of temples spreaded all over this Goddess Island.
Uniquely, every temple has its own name and its own function, and, of course, its own story. But the similarity that occurs between them is only one - the beauty. Every foreigner that comes to Bali for the first time considers the “Gapura (entrance)” as an exotic thing that distinguishes Bali from any other regions in Indonesia or even in the world. Temples are symbols of Bali. Anytime you see an advertisement showing a temple with sea or blue sky as a background, you will soon recognize or guess that it is Bali.
One of my favorite temples in Bali is Pura Taman Ayun. At first, I had a slight misunderstanding regarding the name. ‘Ayun’ in Bahasa Indonesia means ‘to swing’. I used to think and to imagine that the Temples must be placed in super giant swings or something. I checked the construction carefully, meticulously, just to figure out what they mean by saying ‘Swing’. Right after I visited this temple, I understood that the name itself was taken from Balinese, and not Bahasa Indonesia. “Ayun” means “beautiful”. If we translate literally, Pura Taman Ayun means the Temple of The Beautiful Garden. So, please don’t try to find ‘a swing’ like I did because it will be no use.
Where is it?
Pura Taman Ayun is located near the village of Mengwi in the south of Bali. This temple can be easily reached by car (if you rent a car) or by motocycle. By foot is also possible, but only if you are staying around Mengwi - because if you walk from Ubud, you need to go for about 8 kilometers and from Denpasar it will be doubled - 18 kilometers. But, it is okay if you are a real walker.
How much does it cost and how about the guide?
It costs nothing, especially if you use the dollar - $1.50. Here, you can hire a guide; some available languages are Bahasa Indonesian (undoubtedly), English (surely), Japanese, Russian, Spanish and maybe Korean, or Portuguese. It’s been a long time since I went there. Maybe they have added some new languages to attract more tourists from non-English speaking countries.
What is there?
Pura Taman Ayun itself is bordered by the canals, that can only be entered through the bridge from a great Gapura (entrance) which you can directly see right after you walk through the footpath. For your information, we are not allowed to visit the sacred sanctum. BUT, you can take picture from the outer wall by putting your camera high above your head (if your height is 180 cm or more it will be a great advantage).
Inside the main sanctum you will see Meru which is the principal shrines of Balinese temple. Its shape will remind us of a pagoda, but instead of metal, Meru is typically made from wood, and as a rule, it has a multi-layered thatched roofs.
Okay, instead of me waffling on too much, it’s better if you look at some pictures that I took at the location!
Having a rich and long history during its foundation, Moscow undoubtedly has a wealth of museums, architecture, and many other historical elements. This is why visiting Moscow is a must if you are an aficionado of classical ballets, old buildings, theatres and museums. I can guarantee that you will not regret your experience in the capital which sometimes offers you a smattering of museums with free entrance!
Free? How come?
Shortly after the summer begins, museums in Moscow have a special program to attract more visitors by giving free entrance or by opening the museums until midnight. You may check the date of the offers on the website: www.afisha.ru (in Russian).
What is this...
One of the museums that took part in that program was the Zoological Museum of Moscow University. If you read my other post about Paleontological Museum (I hope), you might remember that I mentioned the Zoological Museum there. Yes, this museum is still related to the one in Teply Stan. They both exhibit very similar things, but from different periods of time, (although you will find prehistoric creatures in the Zoological Museum as well).
Where is the location...
The entrance of this museum is attached to the Moscow Lomonosov State University in Nikitskiy Prospekt. However, you may not enter through the university itself - the entrance is on the back part of the main street.
As a rule, the museum, itself, consists of almost a hundred showcases exhibiting all kinds of creatures that have ever existed on our planet, including a full-size mammoth.
How to get there…
Take the metro to Okhotny Ryad station and exit to Mokhovaya Ulitsa. Go straight until you meet the T-Junction, then turn right and walk along the Bolshaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa. You will find the museum right at the corner of the street.
What are there…
The first floor is dedicated to common animals in our lifetime period such as wolf, tiger, giraffe, rabbit, cock, hen, etc. (We are also animals but unfortunately they haven’t decided to put one of us as a sample.) If you've never seen what a chicken looks like before it's served for your dinner, this museum is a good place to find out.
The second floor is dedicated to insects. Yuck! Not for me to be honest.
Another wing of the building is dedicated to prehistoric creatures such as the mammoth and its friends. Also, you can find some interesting-but-a-bit-disgusting research on anatomy of animals and human. (Personally, I am not able to look at any kinds of organs. Maybe this is why I am a translator, not a forensic doctor.)
This museum is suitable for…
Kids, of course. But it doesn’t mean that adults won't enjoy this museum. To put it in plain English, the museum is suitable for everybody.
Do I like monkeys? Err...yes I do, but only in movies or in pictures. I am a big fan of a pretty well-known movie in Asia “The Monkey King: Journey to the west” and used to imagine that all monkeys in the world could behave like Sun Go Kong: funny, smart, friendly. But, that kind of imagination faded away as soon as I experienced my first encounter with what will be our main theme today, monkeys.
I met my first monkey in Bali, if I am not wrong, it was in Sangeh. The conclusion I drew from that meeting was ‘It was so frightening having them around me, chasing anyone who brought bananas or any other interesting food to their attention’.
After that occasion, I didn’t meet any monkeys during my stay in Indonesia, except perhaps one human who behaved like a monkey - greedy, inconsistent, and a lazy ass.
Some years ago, more than a couple times, I visited Bali again with my husband. To make the most of our short holiday, we decided to give the Monkey Forest Ubud a visit. I felt hesitant, but to show my boyfriend that I was an intrepid girl, I nodded my head heartily, despite the fear that haunted me. Maybe, this visit could dispel the bad impressions about monkeys I developed from the past...
To sum up, we made a beeline to a location that was situated only about 15 minutes away by car from our hotel. I didn’t remember how much we paid for the entrance tickets at that time, but undoubtedly the price for foreigners and the locals are considerably different.
Monkey Forest Ubud has its own official name, Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana. It is open from 08.30 to 18.00 everyday. The entrance fee is about 50.000 IDR (around 3 dollars now).
Daily Life of Monkeys
The Monkey Forest is a real forest with old exotic trees covering spanning across almost the entire area. Even in the hottest day in summer, you won’t feel the heat, as the trees are always ready to protect you. Don’t forget to take off your hat! Monkeys would much like to grab and take it from you!
Don’t get lost in the forest. Pay attention to your route, as the forest consists of many small paths that actually lead to one place (the center), where you can find a small plaza.
What do the monkeys do in their spare time? Check out these pictures about how they wisely spend their time.
What you must and must NOT do in the Monkey Forest:
The one rule is - here, the monkeys are always right. So, behave wisely and don’t take any risks.
Frankly, I am not an aficionado of the hamburger. Since I was a kid, I have preferred fried chicken. The reason might be that I am a real Asian who has never liked bread (any types of bread), or that meat is too hard to be digested by my sensitive tummy. Moreover, I try not to get into the habit of eating too much junk food if there are other choices available.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of small, cheap restaurants in Moscow, I finally gave in. Once or twice a month I can’t turn down the chance to go to Burger King, McDonald's, or another fast food chain. Normally I just have nuggets, a muffin and a cappuccino with a dash of milk.
Then, some months ago, a local friend of mine invited me to visit a Finnish restaurant. For Indonesians who live far far away from Scandinavian countries, Finland sounds so tantalizing. I mean, where could I find a Finnish restaurant in Indonesia? (Nowhere, that's where.) So, I accepted this invitation with great curiosity.
This Finnish restaurant appeared to be a hamburger restaurant. As an amateur foodie (plus the fact that I needed something to write about in my blog), this restaurant was worth a try. After strolling around the capital for about two and a half hours, we eventually turned up in Arbatskaya. Remember - you need to go to Old Arbat to find this uncommon restaurant. From the other side of Arbat (if you pass the metro station ‘Arbatskaya’ it means that you are going in the right direction), you can go straight till you find a Cinnabon bakery; it is on your right-hand side. Hess Burger shares a place with Cinnabon. In spite of that, this restaurant is quite well designed. You can stay on the first floor or go up to the second one. And if you are still hungry after one or two hamburgers, you can get your lip-smacking Cinnabon croissant at the same place.
Hess Burger has lots of choices that are perfectly portioned and deceptively simple, starting from a double burger with two slices of beef to a mouth-watering soy or veggie tortilla specially made for vegetarians. My favorite is the chicken tortilla. The crisp-on-the-outside skin of the tortilla is just perfect for covering what is inside - the full topping consists of lettuce, chicken fillet strips, onion, tomato, Greek-style cheese cubes, AND a handful of jalapeño. They said that it was just the right amount, but don’t believe it! Hess Burger is the very generous compared to any other restaurants.
I went up to the second floor where there was nobody hanging around just to find a circuit breaker. The second floor is even more simple, not so different from other fast food restaurants. But that doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change the fact that I was gobbling a toothsome hamburger.
The price is affordable and reasonable enough, so you don’t need to break your budget just to have lunch here.
I am not a part of Booking.com’s team. I don’t work for them, and this article is not sponsored by this site. It’s just my recommendation in case somebody needs it.
Finding a nice, modest, and cheap hotel in Vietnam is very easy. To be honest, I find it more difficult to get a hotel in my own homeland. In some big cities like Jakarta, Bandung, and so forth, the prices are rising drastically every year. Bali is not an exception, although it has more options compared to other regions in Indonesia. This makes perfect sense as Bali is one of the most visited destinations in Indonesia, so there is fierce competition among hotels to offer the best price or best facilities to attract visitors. As a result, we, as customers, can choose the best and the cheapest one.
Okay, I will put this off for the next post (maybe). Now it’s time to make a short list about where to stay when you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City.
DISTRICT ONE - Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien
The most raucous district in Ho Chi Minh City (correct me if I am wrong) is Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien. According to my local friend, district one is specially dedicated to tourists, backpackers, entertainment seekers, and nightlife lovers. Real Vietnamese (local tourists) are hardly found in this area. Instead, you will find a bevy of international tourists strolling around this district.
District one offers a handful of affordable, modest, but nice hotels/hostels. I’ve been to Vietnam four times and each time I went around the Pham Ngu Lao or Bui Vien streets in district one. Not only is district one cheap and full of facilities, but it is also a strategic location. A short walk away, you will see a grand market (Ben Thanh) where you can get some souvenirs for a really great price. Also, several tourist sites such as the Cathedral and the Central Post Office can easily be reached by foot. For the traveler who wants to meander to Cambodia or to continue their journey to Da Lat, Nha Trang, Mui Ne or even Hanoi, the buses will take you straight to those destinations from this district.
What I don’t like in district one is the noise, especially the deafening sound of loudspeakers from the nightclubs. I am not a party animal and have really sensitive ears, so I am easily disturbed by the sound. Fortunately, most of the hotels I stayed in had soundproof walls. Thank God...
I love, undoubtedly, five star hotels. Yet my budget never allows me to book a hotel that costs more than 60 USD per day (especially if I travel by myself). But, don’t worry about it. In Vietnam, in spite of its low price, the hotels/hostels have nice amenities, and are well-designed and clean! And most of those hotels also provide a full breakfast specially made for their guests. How generous!
I have stayed in this hotel twice. First, when I travelled with my family, and second when I was off with my buddy. The location is quite remote. If you don’t watch carefully, you might pass the signboard that hangs right on the side road to the hotel. Don’t judge the book by its cover!
The hotel might seem small, but the room was spacious enough and the bathroom was really clean. I do care about the bathroom a lot because if the bathroom is dirty, the other parts of the room MUST BE dirty as well (that’s my opinion). Unfortunately, the hotel doesn’t provide either an elevator or escalator. So, if you are suffering from backache, weak legs, or laziness, you'd better ask the receptionist to put you on the first or second floor. Last time, I hit the jackpot - 4th floor!
Breakfast? Full breakfast. Even though I can’t categorize this breakfast as either Continental or American, I can guarantee that you will get 2 eggs (sunny side up/omelette), toast, fruit and juice. Or if you want some noodles, you can request them. You can also help yourself to more toast. So, I beg you, please don’t be silly by saying that they should vary their breakfast. For this price, getting such a complete dish is more than enough!
Tour? They can arrange a tour for you. But I prefer to look around first, think, compare, and then decide whether I will use the tour from the hotel or from the other travel agents.
Vintage Hostel Saigon
The hotel, which offers two types of room (private or dormitory room), is perfectly adequate to meet backpackers’ needs: good air conditioner, spacious room, lockers with keys and cards for backpacks, nice bunk beds, and a hearty meal (toast, eggs, fruit, coffee/tea). The price is undoubtedly reasonable (10 USD/night/one bed in dorm room).
The location is very strategic - on the main road, in front of a huge and tantalizing club. Also, a couple steps from the hotel, you can find a smattering of cheap bars and restaurants (try the tiny pizza bar across the hotel - highly recommended).
Pink Tulip Hotel
The hotel is still situated in District one. Yet, I could say that it is more remote than Luan Vu or Vintage Hotel Saigon. Keep your eyes peeled for the small banner with ‘Pink Tulip Hotel and Spa’ writen on it.
As I chose the most inexpensive room (double room without window), I couldn’t and I mustn’t expect that much. The room was quite appreciable, with a king size bed, a television, an en-suite bathroom and a small desk. The bathroom was clean enough, even though, to be frank, it didn’t meet my criteria of cleanliness (I always expect too much if the topic is the bathroom).
Breakfast? They always serve a hearty meal for breakfast. So, don’t worry about starving if you stay in this hotel.
Tour? They offer a good tour at a modest price. On the D-Day, the person from the travel agent (TNT Tour and Travel) will pick us up from the hotel and show us to their office, which is situated a stone's throw away.
Those are my reviews about the hotels. I believe that you can find the most suitable hotel for you in whichever websites (but I am a big fan of booking.com), especially if you have the means.
One of the best ways to get to know the city is by walking its streets with a local resident. I fully agree with this sentiment. But, of course this doesn’t mean that you cannot invite your foreign friends to go with you. What you need to explore a new city is a map, time, money, and guts.
Mobile Apps for routes and places to visit in Moscow
For those who love technology or anything sophisticated, there are plenty of choices of apps that can be downloaded free on Google Play or the App Store. For example, a friend of mine (the same friend that invited me to this restaurant) suggested that I use an application from Meduza Project. If you can speak Russian, this application is really reliable, simple, and complete. Yet, if you only know how to greet people and you are not ready to do anything more complicated than that, I recommend you use Yandex Map. It is really useful, especially if you don’t have a good sense of direction like me.
Just a Map
As everybody knows, in Russia Google is not as popular as Yandex. We still use Google, but sorry to say, Yandex provides more functionality than Google could ever have, including maps, news, film schedules, music, weather forecasts, and currency rates. Regarding the map, you can download it from the App Store or Google Play as usual. Unfortunately, Yandex Map is only available in Russian, so like it or not, you need to learn how to read the cyrillic alphabet to use the app.
How about an application for the metro?
As the most important and most used form of transportation, the metro or subway has its own application available for download. No need to visit yandex.com, take a screenshot of metro routes, or bring your traditional worn out map. Find the simple but really reliable Metro application on your smartphone, especially if you live in Moscow or St. Petersburg. I live in Moscow, so I don’t know what the application looks like for the St. Petersburg area.
Monkeys are almost everywhere in Bali. Sometimes you may meet them on the street close to the tiny jungle, in Pura (Balinese temple), or in a special place dedicated for them, such as the Monkey Forest in Ubud.
Don’t think that they are all friendly! Or that you can stroke them as if you are caressing your pet, don’t you dare do it! Since they live in the open nature, it means that they are likely wild.
How about feeding them?
This kind of question you can ask your driver. Normally, most of them know where or when you are allowed to do that. If they say no, you better keep your generosity until later when you find a safe place to express it.
I met some monkeys on the way to Pura Ulun Danu. The jolly face of my husband when he first saw this ‘smart, fast, a bit cunning’ creature, made our driver stop his car for a time and allowed us to feed the cute little monkeys that were looking for some brunch.
Where can you get the bananas? Don’t worry about it. At the safe places, you will find a bevy of banana sellers with quite competitive prices. Here, use your practical knowledge in bargaining.
After being so generous to some groups of monkeys, we decided to continue our journey to Pura Ulun Danu. As I mentioned before, Pura is a Balinese Temple that is specifically built to worship a god or a goddess, to pray, and to do any other religious things.
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu itself is dedicated to Balinese water, lake, and river goddess - Dewi Danu (‘Dewi’ means ‘goddess’ and Danu is the name of the goddess). Until nowadays, this complex of temples has been actively used by Balinese for some ceremonies.
Beside the religious activities, Pura Ulun Danu has become one of the most visited and most iconic landmarks in Bali. Thanks to its stunning design of the temples, perfect surroundings, and also promotions from our government from printing Pura Ulun Danu’s picture on our previous banknotes (50.000 IDR).
Now, don’t forget to bring your jacket. As this Pura is located on the northern part of Bali, which is likely colder than the southern part, and also not so far from the mountains. It would be a wise decision to take your jacket with you.
According to what our driver said, when the tide is low, people can walk to the Lingga Petak temple (the most popular temple among the visitors). Yet, when the tide is high, the temple looks like it is floating on the river. With a mist in the background, I bet you will have a really amazing photo.
Pura Ulun Danu consists of six temples such as Penataran Agung, Dalem Prajapati, Dalem Purwa, Lingga Petak, Taman Beji and one Buddhist stupa. For more information, click this site: http://ulundanuberatan.com/
The Twin Lakes
Our last destination for that day was a lake. Let me correct myself - two lakes. The twin lakes that are situated within striking distance from Pura Ulun Danu - Lake Buyan and Tamblingan. They are twins because they are so close to each other--only separated by a rainforest-covered hill, but connected to each other through the narrow canal.
As we all know, Indonesia has a wealth of volcanoes. People might think that these are just horrible things to be proud of, but we can’t just deny that volcanoes have become part of our life. Volcanoes fertilize our soil, create new species of fruits or vegetables, and form dazzling lakes like these twin lakes.
Not only you can be charmed by its amazing view but, if you who really love to hike, you can hire a local guide to explore these lakes and hills. Don’t imagine using a boat in these lakes like in any other lakes. For the sake of serenity, and for keeping this area from contamination, locals prefer to use traditional boats made from wood, which we usually call 'Perahu' (boat).
Personally, I haven’t tried the boat. First, I never believe anything that floats on the water (not even a luxury cruise ship), and second, I didn’t have enough time because I needed to rush to the car to continue my journey to other parts of Bali!
Making the decision to move to another country was not that hard for me. As a restless person who has a thirst for adventure, and whom I might add, is a bit daredevil, I have always found it exhilarating to live a new life in the middle of millions of unfamiliar people; I enjoy being a total outsider, and discovering something new. Yet, sometimes I remain blissfully ignorant of the consequences that lay ahead. Actually, everybody does. We are often blind with excitement, great expectations, hopes and other positive emotions that will leave sooner or later, once we have arrived to the foreign destination.
A short time ago, I found an interesting article about this global phenomenon: culture shock. Everybody (maybe even Superman) experiences feeling a little lost in a new place. As one who has never feel that way, I congratulate them, maybe they should apply for a superhero’s position in the Avengers.
What is culture shock?
I am not an expert and I will explain culture shock from my amateur point of view.
Russia was not the first country that I moved to. Long time ago, when I was really young, naive, and quite cute, I moved to Spain, and I lived there for about 2 months. If you are amused with the short duration, less than a year of my stay, and feel that it can not be categorized as ‘living’, you need to try it. No matter how long you stay in a place, no matter how close it is from your homeland, moving is moving. You change almost everything.
Yet, for those two months, I didn’t sense any vast differences between my hometown and Spain: the weather was a pleasant temperature and suited me; and the people were friendly and approachable. Looking back, I still don't understand why people dramatize the culture shock.
Then, four years ago, I decided to move to another country with a name that can make you shudder with cold: Russia. Here, I finally experienced the reality of culture shock. . . quite drastically. I felt lost! I didn’t know how to behave, what to do, where to go and what to say!
I discovered that culture shock is when you are totally surprised by the things that occur in your new place. It affects not only the foreigners trying to establish it as their new home, but also the tourists! The reasons vary widely. It might be because the people, the weather, the culture, and other things that can ruin your mood or even your new life. It happens when the reality somehow doesn’t meet your expectation and imagination. The country you dreamt about was not as beautiful as you thought before; the people didn’t welcome you as warm as you dreamt; and everything in your plan goes wrong.
When does it appear?
It depends on your experience. Some feel it faster than others - as soon as they step in the country. Some feel it after years. Based on the article I’ve read, culture shock moves through four different phases: honeymoon, frustration, adjustment, and acceptance. To read more, please click this link: https://medium.com/global-perspectives/the-4-stages-of-culture-shock-a79957726164
Culture shock impacted me in my first month living in Russia, and it is still present nowadays. I am getting used to more things, but still, sometimes things that I see or I experience firsthand can dismay me just as hard as before.
Let me waffle about myself...
To be honest, I experienced a real culture shock to find myself in a cold, grim, too sophisticated town with a fast pace of lifestyle such Moscow after living on a laid-back and modest town in Indonesia.
For almost a year, I didn’t have any energy, any mood to go outside, to explore Moscow as normal people do. My acquaintances kept asking me why I didn’t take opportunities to enjoy this ancient and stunning capital city. My husband kept encouraging me to pluck up my courage to go shopping alone, wandering alone in my small town. My response to hearing such a speech was that I blamed them for not trying to be in my shoes. (Until now I did, though! :D)
At that time, I spoke almost no Russian. I found it hard to communicate with the local people. Some understood that I am a foreigner, but some just easily judged me and complained since I didn’t understand what they were talking about (stupid people are everywhere). To make it worse, I had a problem when I was in a market, the cashier kept offering me this and that, when I could just answered ‘no’ or ‘yes’. The result jeopardized my situation - people who were standing in line staring at me, thinking that I was so awkward.
I always felt that Russians kept watching me. They do sometimes even nowadays, but, actually it is triggered by curiosity. I look like a ‘Russian from the east’ but at the same time, somehow I look different. Both combinations make their heads turn with their eyes not moving off of me.
In summary, I only stayed at home for about one year. Going out only if my husband accompanied me. When people asked me how I could live like that, my answer was as simple as a pie: I am a bit ‘crazy’ and a nerd, so staying at home for a long time will not make me more crazy than I am now.
In a year, the situation had shockingly changed, or it forced me to change myself drastically. I received an interview in Moscow to be a Bahasa Indonesia teacher that required me to travel alone since my husband could not come along with me. Frankly speaking, I prepared myself a week before, mentally and physically. My town is far enough from the capital, it takes almost two hours to reach the place. It was winter and that was my first time being alone taking the bus, and practicing my rusty Russian.
Was the mission accomplished?
It was. Yet, I still felt the same way. Believe me, dealing with culture shock is not as easy as dealing with your bad hair day. I still feel a bit uncomfortable to go too far alone, I feel sad when stupid people shout at me on the street. At those moments, I really want to leave that city, and I miss my traditional foods, and so forth.
Overcoming culture shock needs time. Not only one, two, or three months. Not even year maybe. The duration varies from one to another. But, at least I started to enjoy living in my new place. I started to open my mind, and to try to understand better the way those people think, to adapt more. I learned to excuse myself if something went wrong and I experience a problem with the locals.
How to deal with the people who are affected by culture shock?
Don’t ever force them to adapt as fast as you wish. You might laugh at them, but when you feel the same, you will stop chuckling, and just sitting on the corner of your room alone, feeling frustrated, and finally understand that it was not that simple as "ABC".
Encourage them to do more activities. You might introduce your culture step by step, introduce your city, food, etc. Or even assist them in learning your language. Make them as comfortable as possible.
Sit. Wait. Believe. If you do these, what you need to do is repeat: just wait and keep doing it. Believe me, your friend or acquaintance will find their own comfort zone soon or later.
Thank you for reading my post!
Jurassic Park is my favorite movie. Even though I have watched this movie many times, I never turn down the opportunity to enjoy this movie again and again whenever it's shown on TV. I love all kinds of things related to dinosaurs. Everybody does, especially kids! It is interesting to know that before us such gigantic, strong, and wild creatures lived and stepped on the same land we do now. Sometimes I even imagine what the Earth would have been like if they hadn't gone extinct.
Driven by my curiosity and a memory of my childhood when I collected miniatures of dinosaurs, I decided to visit a museum, which unfortunately doesn’t exist in Indonesia: a Paleontological Museum.
Why don’t we have a Paleontological Museum? This question has been on my mind for a long time. I guess it is because no dinosaurs occupied our land in that era. Maybe the temperature was too high as always!
Orlov Paleontological Museum
This museum is still part of the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, and still related to the Zoological Museum, situated in the heart of Moscow. And how about this museum? This museum is located in Teply Stan (southern part of Moscow - orange line), which takes about thirty minutes to get to from the center by subway. A really unusual location in the middle of apartment complexes and some shopping centers.
Orlov itself is derived from the name of Academician Yuriy Aleksandrovich Orlov, a Soviet zoologist and paleontologist.
One of the things that I like about this museum is the facade. Like many other buildings in Russia, this museum has an interesting shape and is very suitable for selfie lovers.
The entrance fee is reasonably cheap at only 400-500 rubles. Although for me 500 rubles is enough to eat twice in a fast food restaurant and once in a coffee shop. And in Indonesia, for this amount of money you can eat four times.
Be careful! The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday because they usually do maintenance on Monday and Tuesday.
In the museum, you can rent an audio guide, or if you prefer to go around the museum independently and quietly, enjoying the shrieking kids full of enthusiasm, this is possible as well.
Rooms in The Museum
The exhibition in the museum occupies five main halls, which are connected by the main hall. The most unique thing that you can find in this area is the ceramic panel tower, the ‘Tree of Life’, that becomes a beginning and an end forming a closed sequence. The Tree of Life depicts periods of time starting from the prehistoric to the era of humans. And now let’s explore this museum hall by hall:
1. Introductory Hall
This hall is devoted to particular eras of geologic history of the earth. Here you can find a number of exhibits occupying the whole area. Most of them illustrate the organisms which lived on the earth hundreds of millions of years ago, and now are preserved as fossils. They also describe by pictures the birth of paleontology in Russia and the history of the museum itself.
The explanation is quite thorough and available in two languages - English and Russian. For people who can stand looking at unmoving tiny objects with long explanations, this room will be perfect for them to test their patience.
At the entrance of this hall you will find a life-size skeleton of a mammoth.
2. Precambrian and Early Paleozoic
Precambrian is the stage of earth that stretches from the planet's origins about 4.5 billion years ago until the beginning of the Cambrian period. And what is the Cambrian period? I would like to explain it to you in a simple way, but since I am not a paleontologist, I quote this ‘brief’ explanation from Wikipedia:
The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago (mya) to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, and its base, are somewhat in flux. The period was established (as “Cambrian series”) by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latinised form of Cymru, the Welsh name for Wales, where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed.
Do you understand this? If yes, please kindly explain it to me in the comments.
Briefly, this room is full of exhibits again. Different from the previous one that exhibits pictures and stones, these huge exhibits show you a group of invertebrates, algae, and bacteria - the main creatures that lived during that era. And on the right part of it, you can find the explanation about the development of the plant kingdom, starting from algae to angiosperm.
3. The Late Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic
The exhibits in this hall are mainly dedicated to the evolution of the creatures in the previous hall. According to the explanation that I skim-read, this era is divided into three periods - the Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. To be brief, those are the periods of vertebrates’ evolution - amphibians, reptiles and mammals that also began the next era: Jurassic.
Mesozoic is also known as the “era of dinosaurs” that lasted from 200 to 65 million years ago. The life-size-skeleton casts of different types of dinosaurs are displayed throughout the hall, starting from the fiercest one, T-Rex a.k.a Tarbosaurus in Russia, to the kindest one, brachiosaurus.
This hall is suitable for kids and enthusiastic adults that are curious about how big the dinosaurs were. And yes, they were enormous and that is why I am so grateful that the mesozoic era didn’t last till nowadays. I don’t want dinosaurs like Tarbosaurus in my backyard thank you!
The Cenozoic era began around 65 million years ago and is the current era. At this stage, several groups of organisms that appeared in the previous era achieved their greatest evolutionary success. As a result, this era is known as the “Era of Mammals”, as most of the creatures that had survived the evolution were mammals.
My feedback on the museum:
Overall, this museum offers more than I could ever have imagined. I didn’t think that I would see so many skeletons in life size. I thought that it would just be full of dull explanation. But, believe me, whether you are kids or adults, science lovers or not, this museum is worth the visit.
Traveling by land is always more comfortable than traveling by sea or by air. I believe that boats, ferries, speed boats and other watercraft will always result in an unpleasant journey, like I had when I traveled in Thailand. Thus, I decided that I would avoid sea travel if there are still other options to choose from.
Traveling by plane is undoubtedly fast and sometimes cheap, but what if the country you are traveling to doesn't have reliable airline companies? It wouldn't be a smart idea to put your precious vacation at risk.
So when I traveled around Cambodia, I chose buses as my main form of transportation, even though I really hate riding on the bus. Was it really that bad? Yes, it was. It wasn't because the bus company was bad or the driver was mad, but because I get motion sickness and always feel nauseated if I sit on the bus for more than 2 hours.
The first hour of my trip was fine. I tried to lie back on the chair and sucked on a peppermint candy while thinking positively and optimistically that everything would be fine. Yet, that time, I was so unlucky. The bus moved slowly with constant starting and stopping, disrupting my tummy and causing dizziness. At the same time, I also had to contend with my cramped seat, a stuffy atmosphere because the bus didn’t have good AC, jerky vibrations, and the annoying voices of my chatterbox neighbors that kept talking throughout the journey. Those factors just contributed to my sickness!
I prayed to God and constantly checked my location through Google Maps, just to make sure that we moved closer to the destination. Eventually, I succeeded in overcoming my sickness and arrived at my destination without suffering from the side effects of motion sickness.
The journey was awful, but all the sacrifice paid off very well. In spite of its size, Sihanoukville turned out to be so much more than I had ever expected or imagined about this city. To put it baldly, Sihanoukville was a hidden and unknown paradise. I used to think that this city was just full of crowds and a bunch of motorcycles and cars with stouthearted and intrepid drivers behind the wheels, but I was totally mistaken.
The drivers were so prudent, the road was good (except the road to some of the beaches), the prices of things were okay, and the people were friendly! And the beaches were exquisite!
Here are my brief reviews of the beaches:
Otres Beach 1
Frankly, I didn’t have any idea where to go or which beach I should visit. That’s why I asked the receptionist at the front desk and she suggested that we should go to Sokha Beach. Unfortunately, our tuk-tuk driver from the hotel disagreed and tried to convince us to go to Otres. As we were so credulous, we nodded our heads and agreed to pay 6 dollars for that journey to Otres Beach without any more complaints nor questions.
At first glance, this beach was not so different from any other beaches in the world, especially in Asia. You couldn't directly see the beach as it was hidden by the restaurants and hostels that stretched along the coastline, but it was not that hard to find a way to go through it.
Don’t ever imagine or even hope to see a big sandy area on this beach so you can build your own sandcastle like in the movies. The gap between the restaurant and the water was no more than 3 meters. To tackle this kind of problem, they creatively arranged beach chairs along the seashore in front of the restaurants. So anytime you pick a chair, the waiters will offer you a menu and ask you to order. As an educated person, I bet you wouldn’t refuse them and would buy one or two bottles of beer instead.
I used to think that this kind of settlement was not so comfortable, but I have changed my mind as often as a girl changes her clothes. I do think that it is REALLY comfortable, because I didn’t need to walk far, far away just to swim. I just needed to stretch my legs for about 1-2 meters and then feel the water. There were almost no waves. The water drops off gradually, so it’s safe for people like me who don't know how to swim well.
This beach was entirely different from Otres Beach, even though these three beaches (Serendipity Beach, Ochheuteal Beach, and Otres Beach) were separated only by the rocks. It was a struggle for me to find a good place to swim and sunbathe. As it was located not so far from the ferry port, the water was contaminated by rubbish and other substances that can cause discomfort when you swim. However, you can easily find all kinds of restaurants or cafes in this area.
The name of the beach referred to the name of an opulent hotel that stands in front of it, hiding the beach from sight. Our ingenious tuk-tuk driver found the way to the beach easily and dropped us off close to the entrance. There were not so many people on the beach, and I could count on one hand the number of people who were sitting in the shade. The sand was balmy, the waves just didn’t exist, the water was clear, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the beach was just IMPECCABLE!