Rock and Roll Island – Easter Island


With its rough seas and stone moai statues, Easter Island is one of the world’s most isolated places.

easter islandmoai statues

Moai – the name of the giant statues that dot the grassy knolls of Easter Island. Carved out of the island’s volcanic rock nearly 1000 years ago, these enormous stone heads were built to honour the island’s very important people.

First heard about Easter Island while on holiday in Santiago, Chile, is when a documentary about a tiny Polynesian island covered in giant heads and extinct volcanoes. A five-hour flight later, we had touched down at Matavery International Airport to the swishing of grass skirts, cool coconut drinks and leis made of freshly plucked frangipanis.

As the driver had navigated the dirt roads towards the hotel Posada De Mike Rapu, he had occasionally stopped to give way to one of the 6000 wild horses that roam free on the island. Burnt yellow fields rolled quietly towards the roaring ocean; a lone palm tree the only reminder of the thick jungle that once covered this isolated land.

Impressive work ethic: Continue to walk further along the Ara O Te Moai, is the ancient trail once used to transport the moai around the island. There is a huge dented slab of volcanic rock: the Rano Raraku quarry. Most of the moai on the island – estimated around 1000 – were carved from this quarry. Some are very small, while others look around 10 metres tall. When someone important died, the village would request that a moai be made so that person’s mana (good luck and special powers) would protect them. The villagers had to feed and house the workers while they made the state, which could take a year.

fallen moaimoai statue-1

It is an impressive work ethic – and the mammoth job of carving the moai is just the beginning. Most of the moai line the island’s coast, which is up to 11 miles from the quarry, and are strategically placed on platforms to protect the villages from invaders. Even to this day, questions remains about how such a primitive people managed to move hundreds of tonnes of rock around the island.

 

National geographic may have found the answer. It funded an expedition to Easter Island, sending archaeologists on a mission to find out exactly how these enormous statues – the largest weighing more than 80 tonnes – were transported from the quarry. They recreated the scene and realised it is possible the moai walked from their quarries to the platforms around the island.

Nearby, a fallen moai’s head sinks into the soft grass, its empty eye sockets (once made from coral) staring blankly at the blue sky above. The local people believed that if a moai fell while being transported to its new home, its mana was worthless and the moai was to be left where it toppled. Workers would then return to the quarry and start a year’s worth of work all over again.

 

A Birdman in the hand: The sea is swollen before leaving the jetty and by the time fishing boat reaches open waters it’s lathering into a fury. It is not exactly an idyllic day to go snorkelling in the Pacific. The guide cuts the engine beside Motu Nui, a tiny, uninhabited speck in the ocean. There were the ominous-looking cliffs of Easter Island, now being battered by swirling winds.

 

easter island cliffskari kari ballet

Up until 19th century the island held a competition called Birdman contest. Powerful men on the island would order the strongest men from their village to clamber down those high cliffs, swim across here to Motu Nui, collect the first Sooty Tern (an important island bird) egg of the season, swim back and climb back up the cliffs to the village. It was pretty dangerous crossing the water, but first man to make it back with the egg would be the winner; his chef got to be the Birdman and ruler of the island for the year.

 

Towards the other side of Motu Nui, the sea turns back to turquoise, where you can plop into the cool water for snorkelling. The visibility would be perfect yet there would be hardly any fish here, the water around Easter Island eerily devoid of sea life.

 

Show Time: The Kari Kari ballet is widely regarded as the best traditional show on the island.

Courtesy by G.N.

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Feeling Heady In Hyderabad


The Taj Falaknuma Palace – the restored Nizam’s Palace – is yet another jewel in the crown of the city that boasts of the Charminar

taj-falaknuma-palace-courtyardTo enter the Taj Falaknuma Palace involves many steps. You drive to the entrance of the 32-acre palace; then, get on a horse carriage, which takes you to the entrance. You are greeted with vetiver juice. A flag bearer carrying a golden flag-pole bearing a coat of arms marches ahead as you climb the white staircase. Then the rose petal shower.

Taj-Falaknuma-Palace-bWalk into the Ritz Carlton in Miami or George V in Paris and all you get is a form asking for your credit card details. Here in the East, we take hospitality much more seriously, garlanding our guests, giving them a welcome drink, offering them attar and sandalwood paste, or, in this instance, showering petals on them.

cn_image_2.size.taj-falaknuma-palace-hyderabad-india-112405-11Built by Vicar Ul-Umra, the prime minister and son-in-law of then the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1893, the Falaknuma (meaning ‘mirror of the sky’) has had a chequered history. Sir Vicar as he was called, built and inhabited it for a mere five years when he heard that the Nizam was coming for tea. Tea extended to dinner and then overnight. Twenty days later, the Nizam was still in residence. What happened next was typical of the tehzeeb or etiquette of the era, when words were pregnant with hidden meaning. Sir Vicar watched his master’s delight in the palace and the curious questions: “How have you built a palace so wonderful?” He intuited that the Nizam coveted the palace that he had bankrupted himself to build and decided to give it to the Nizam as a nasr or offering. “Huzoor, I have built it for you,” said he. That same evening, three generations of Sir Vicar’s family, along with their retinue of staff, moved out of the palace. To give up something so substantial is not easy for any person, but that was the ethos of the era. The Nizam insisted on paying more than what the palace had cost to build. He presented Sir Vicar with Rs 68 lakh (10 lakh = 1 million), small change for a man who was on the cover of Time magazine with the headline, “The richest man in the world.” The Nizam had his own currency, airline, railways, a fleet of Rolls-Royce, some of which were used to dump the household garbage, and the 48-carat Jacob’s diamond that rolled about his table in lieu of a paperweight.

The-Spectacular-Taj-Falaknuma-Palace-in-Hyderabad-11The Nizam’s family used the Falaknuma till after Independence, when they entertained India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1951. After that, the palace fell out of use and into disrepair till the current Nizam’s estranged wife, a princess belonging to the Turkish nobility, decided to restore it. Princess Esra Jah reconciled with her husband, the current Nizam, who lives in Australia, during her son’s wedding. In 2000, she decided to restore the palace in partnership with the Taj Group of Hotels. By then, the palace was in an advanced state of disrepair. Water poured through the roof, rats were running around, the furniture and upholstery were chipped and broken, and cobwebs hung throughout the place. “I was among the first persons to see the palace and it was scary,” says the historian, Mr. Prabhakar.

It took ten years and countless iterations to get the palace back into its pristine glory. The walls were painted a hundred times to match the shade that Princess Esra had in mind: the colour of the sky at dusk. Today, the Falaknuma is a Victorian pastiche of many architectural styles. There are Corinthian columns, Italian frescoes, Carrara marble fountains, Tudor arches, Venetian cut-glass chandeliers, French trompe d’0eil paintings that make cement look like wood, fleur de lis on stained glass windows, English paintings and upholstery. “Not one of the objects or influence is Indian,” says Mr Prabhakar proudly. The result is stunning but a little disconcerting. It is as if the palace was airlifted from Europe and placed atop the hill in Hyderabad.

char minarThe city sparkles far below as Sufi singers sing on the Gol Bangla’s terrace. It is a city built for love, when Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, whose portrait hangs in the Smithsonian, fell in love with a maiden called Bhagmati. In 1591, he moved his capital from Golconda to what was then a tiny village on the banks of the Musi village. He named the new city after his wife, Hyder Mahal. The city was modelled on Esfahan in Iran, with water-bodies for moon-watching, fountains, fragrant gardens and broad boulevards. When the bubonic plague hit the city, Quli Qutb Shah prayed to Allah to release his people from its clutches and built the Charminar (Four Minarets) in gratitude. Diagonally across from the Charminar is the Makkah Masjid, among the holiest shrines in India, built using soil and stones from Mecca. Ten thousand of the faithful can pray together here.

Today, the roads that radiate from the Charminar sell rhinestone-studded lac bangles that are a signature of the city. Countless shops glitter with these coloured gem-like ornaments. Vendors sell burqas, dupattas, vessels, fruits, knives, clothes, Unani medicines, orthopaedic massages and anything else that a person can need. It is a hub of humans and commerce. The Chowmuhallah Palace down the road is quieter. Built over 45 acres in the 18th century, it is now a museum and used for weddings and other ceremonies. Only 14 acres remain since the current Nizam fled to Turkey and then Australia to escape debt payments from his wives and concubines. I attend a wedding there one night. The palace is stunning when lit up at night. Tuberose garlands cast their heady scent and the aroma of slow-cooking biryanis makes the tongue pucker. This is a city that takes it meat seriously. Men can argue for hours over the right technique to cook patther ka gosht, or lamb seared on a stone slab.

lac benglesTextile expert Soraiya Hassan Bose belongs to an old family. Today, she and a band of weavers sell the state’s kalamkari and ikat weaves in her eponymous shop. Hyderabad’s hand-loomed, hand-woven textiles are known throughout the country for their quality.

Local fashion designers such as Anand Kabra use the state’s weaves in their designs and infuse it with a modern cut. Jewellery designer Suhani Pittie lives in a heritage mansion that houses her contemporary creations. Both are passionate about their home state and its rich traditions.

There are two Hyderabad today, one is the city around Hussein Sagar Lake; the modern city that attracts IT companies to its Hi-Tec City or Cyberabad. Then, there is the slower, more leisurely city that was created by kings and Nizams; the Hyderabad of slow-cooked meals and exquisite etiquette.

Courtesy by K.T.

OPENING OF KUALA LUMPUR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 2 (KLIA2)


We are pleased to inform you that the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) will fully replace the Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Terminal (KLLCCT) on May 9, 2014.

Its opening, not only dubbed as the right time in lieu of Visit Malaysia Year 2014, but also marks as a strategic move by the country to become one of the global aviation hub and to offer our famous “Selamat Datang” welcome to passengers worldwide.

The huge size of KLIA2, with the size of at least 257,000 square metres (sqm) is able to handle up to 45 million passengers annually. It is also equipped with 60 gates, 8 remote stands, 80 aero-bridges, a third runway as well as a new air traffic control tower dubbed as Tower West.

It also has a built-in retail space of 32,000 sqm, which accommodates 225 retail outlets. That will surely keep the passengers lingering around in the airport to enjoy the services available and to shop.

KLIA2 FLOOR PLAN

KLT2(1)

KLIA2 MAP 

KLT2(2)

 

KLIA EKSPRES SERVICES FOR KLIA2

The same high-speed train service will connect KLIA-KLIA2 and the city. The non-stop train service will take 33 minutes between the airport (KLIA & KLIA2) and KL Sentral in the city.

Convenient Inter-terminal Transfer

Inter-terminal (KLIA & KLIA2) journey will only take 3 minutes.

Note: Our transfer rates to/from KLIA2 will be the same as that of KLIA as the 2 terminals are inter-connected, and in the same location.

 

For Packages please write to us on adler-torus@Hotmail.com 

 

New Mumbai Airport Terminal 2 Guide


1)       MUMBAI AIRPORT (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport)

 

 

Level 1

  • Pick-up Area
  • Lost & Found Baggage
  • Ground Transportation Lobby
  • Direct access to Multi-Level Carpark (MLCP) level 4 & Bus Gates

 

 

Level 2

  • Arrivals & Transit
  • Immigration, Baggage Claim & Customs
  • Duty Free & Meet/Greet Area
  • Direct access to MLCP level 6

 

Level 3

  • Boarding Gates
  • Connectivity to MLCP level 7
  • Retail, Duty Free, F&B

Level 4

  • Departure Concourse & Check-in Islands
  • Departure Immigration, Customs & Security Screening
  • Retail, Duty Free, F&B and Departure Lounges
  • Direct access to MLCP terrace level 10

 

Transportation

  • Elevated Road direct from/to Western Express Highway (WEH).
  • Access from Andheri-Kurla Road.
  • Access by Car, Taxi, Coach, BEST Buses & Autos.
  • Taxi/Car Rentals: Prepaid taxis available at Ground Transportation Lobby at PTB Level 1.

mumbai t2 map

2)       DEPARTURE FORMALITIES

  • After check-in, proceed to Security Screening, Immigration & Customs on PTB Level 4.
  • Beyond the Departure control area:
    –        Lounge guests proceed to Lounge Entrance near Gate 86, on Level 4.
    –        Proceed to boarding gates on Levels 3 or 4.
  • Approximate Distance/ Walking Time:
    –        Check-In counter to Departure Concourse – 150m (5 mins’ walk).
    –        Departure Concourse to furthest Gate 75  – 450m (15 mins’ walk).

3)       AIRPORT LOUNGES (LEVEL 3)

  • Guests can access the lounge on Level 3 (near Gate 86) of the Departure Hall by taking the elevator from Level 4 Departure Hall.

4)       ARRIVING INTO MUMBAI & TRANSFERS TO ONWARD FLIGHTS

  • Passengers arriving into Mumbai proceed to Arrival Immigration & Baggage Claim (Level 2).

For Transfer Passengers:

  • Connecting Domestic-to-International Flights – Arriving passengers on domestic flights proceed to collect their checked baggage at Mumbai Domestic Airport, and board the Inter-Terminal Coach to Mumbai International Terminal 2, Level 4. Check-in at Level 4. 
  • Connecting International-to-International Flights – International Transit passengers proceed to International Transfer counter on Arrival Level, PTB Level 2 to check-in. Please remember to present checked baggage receipts (if any) to counter staff.
  • Connecting International-to-domestic Flights Upon collection of checked baggage, arrival passengers proceed to re-check area on Level 2 (if airlines have the facility). Otherwise, passengers must check-in for onward flights at Domestic Terminal. Proceed to the Inter-Terminal Coach area on Level 2 for onwards transfer to Domestic Terminal.

5)       LAND TRANSPORTATION FOR ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES

 

  Departure Arrival

Private Vehicles

Using the elevated road, drop off at PTB Departure Level 4 Kerb side.

Park at the MLCP in front of PTB. The Carpark is linked to PTB Level 4 via walkway.

Pick up at PTB Arrival Kerb side on Level 2 or through MLCP Level 5.

 

Taxis#

Using the elevated road, drop off at PTB Departure Level 4 Kerb side. Ground Transportation Lobby located at PTB Level 1. Fleet Taxis pick-up is through MLCP Level 4.

Private Coaches/ Buses

Using the elevated road, drop off at PTB Departure Level 4 Kerb side. Pick up at PTB Level 1 west side of terminal.

Auto Rickshaws

Drop off through grade level road. Pick-up through grade level road.

# TAB Cab (+91-22-63636363), City Cool Cabs (+91-22-22164466) and MERU (+91-22-44224422)

6)       AIRPORT INFORMATION

  • Airport Information desks are located at PTB Departure Level 4 Kerb side and PTB Arrival Level 1/2.
  • CSIA Airport Information Call Centre at Tel:  91-22-66851010 & http://www.csia.in

**Above all is just for information and are indicative, for further assistance contact on Airport Numbers mentioned above. 

New International Terminal Chennai


chennai

 

Contact 

+91 281 2465237 

For special fares

Heathrow Express – Travel Made Easy

10 of the World’s Top Airport Lounges


Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse, John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York

The feeling that half of Manhattan has joined you at your gate at JFK is over. This March, Virgin Atlantic premiered its new Clubhouse with an Austin Powers-meets-uptown mod cocktail lounge at its heart, complete with a red leather sofa and purple lighting.

But it’s the Clubhouse Spa, featuring Dr. Hauschka products and treatments, that really makes the JFK Clubhouse a standout layover option.

In the end, just like the $17 million flagship at Heathrow airport, this lounge offers everything you need (massages, facials, foot treatments), everything you didn’t know you needed (a Bumble and Bumble salon) and several things that you don’t really need at all but are certainly nice to have (anyone for a game of pool?).

Beyond TSA checkpoint in A Concourse, above boarding gates A4 and A5; virgin-atlantic.com.


British Airways Concorde Room, Heathrow Airport

The decidedly unfashionable herringbone print, velvets and crystal chandeliers of the Concorde Room at Heathrow recall a well-to-do British gentleman’s study in all its relaxed, un-modern glory.

Quite simply, this is a retreat — albeit one with full waiter service, complimentary wines and Champagne and private, hotel-style cabanas with day beds and en-suite bathrooms. If retreating isn’t your habit, book a theater ticket with the concierge, then head to the terrace for a drink from the fabulous Concorde Bar and views of the runway.

Terminal 5; britishairways.com.


Etihad’s Diamond First Class Lounge, Abu Dhabi International Airport

To enter Etihad’s first-class lounge is a dangerous game of choose-your-own-indulgence. Leave the kids at the door. Staff nannies keep little ones busy in the kids’ retreat among colorful beanbags and toys; parents head to the Six Senses Spa for a complimentary treatment.

Then the real decision-making begins. Will it be the Champagne bar for the finest wines and bubbly or the cigar lounge? À la carte dining in a fine-dining atmosphere or dinner at the chef’s table? Just don’t forget the kids.

Terminal 3; etihadairways.com.


Finnair Lounge, Helsinki Airport

From felt walls that swallow outside noise to Marimekko tableware to the wireless, mobile phone-charging system PowerKiss (wireless!), the simplicity and thoughtfulness of the Finnair Lounge make it exceptional. A buffet is always on, and in addition to the views, the elegant Finnish and Nordic furniture designs provide their own easy pleasure. For those on the way to Asia, the midnight buffet is particularly elaborate.

Travelers in need of a spa will need to have patience — the Finnair Spa (complete with traditional Finnish saunas) will reopen this winter, but in the meantime there are showers at the lounge.

Terminal T2 between Gates 36 and 37; finnair.com.


Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt Airport

Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal offers its own passport control and security checkpoints, so travelers get personal attention all the way until they walk down the gangplank to the airplane. (Behind security in Departure Area B, there is also a smaller but no less elegant first class lounge for non-Schengen flights.)

Creatively done lighting radiates from behind a black glass wall and from the tops of marble partitions in the restaurant. Everything, from the size of the tables to the marble and oak bar to the monsoon showerheads, is presented generously and thoughtfully.

Next to Terminal 1; lufthansa.com.


The Pier, Hong Kong International Airport

The seasoned traveler will be forgiven for any long-standing preconceptions about eating (or, sadly, not eating) in airports. Thankfully, not far from Gate 62 at Hong Kong International Airport, those expectations will be overturned.

At The Pier — Cathay Pacific’s glass-enclosed first- and business-class break area — you’ll find freshly made Japanese noodles at the Noodle Bar and proper fine dining and modern decor at the first-class Haven restaurant. (There are also two more fully stocked café/bars.)

In addition to the business centers, the WiFi, the leather armchairs and the pebbled showers, a glass of Champagne also goes a long way to ease travel stress.

Gates 62-66, Northwest Concourse; cathaypacific.com.


Qantas First Lounge, Sydney Airport

Modernity, with polished surfaces, clear glass and stainless steel, is the norm of airport luxury today, give or take a Dutch modern knock-off table or two and a leather armchair. Which is why we’re thrilled with the 98-foot, 8,400-plant vertical garden that greets passengers at the Qantas First Lounge at Sydney Airport.

It leaves the air in the atrium feeling cleaner and lighter. Better yet, part of the garden is incorporated into each of the Payot Paris day spa treatment rooms, so you can forget, for the moment, that you’re in transit.

The upper floor of the lounge, designed by Marc Newson and replete with recliners and sofas (in addition to those leather armchairs), also includes an open kitchen restaurant serving food by Australian chef Neil Perry.

International Terminal; qantas.com.au.


Qatar Airways Premium Terminal, Doha International Airport

Doha airport knows how to do things on a massive scale better than anyone, which is why Qatar Airways worked with it to create this first- and business-class terminal cum mall cum hotel.

It includes a handful of worthwhile airport elements (duty-free, fine boutiques) and complements them with the fundamentals of a fine lounge (a full-service Elemis spa, including Jacuzzi and sauna; several restaurants, cafés and bars; private meeting rooms and business centers).

Hotel-style bedroom suites and child entertainment round out the offerings, and the result is truly over the top.

Near main Departures building; qatarairways.com.


Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounges, Singapore Changi International Airport

At Singapore Changi International, as throngs of travelers roll handcarts piled high with suitcases to overflowing check-in lines, Passenger Relations Officers greet first-class passengers of Singapore Airlines curbside, taking their bags, guiding them to an armchair in the first-class check-in lounge and checking them in personally.

Next it’s off to the first-class SilverKris Lounges, where, depending on their mood, guests can choose from meeting rooms, café/bars or 13 Italian-leather slumberettes. Don’t worry — the staff will wake you before your flight.

Terminal 2 on Level 3 (North Wing); Terminal 3 on Level 3; singaporeair.com.


Swiss Lounge, EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg

Guests of the Swiss Lounge can sun themselves under an enormous glass dome, surrounded by bright, simple materials — like chrome and wood — rather than some of the richer, upholstered surfaces found in other first class lounges. The architecture is open, the greenery is plentiful and the staff at the welcome desk is attentive.

Expect warm and cold buffets, leather recliners facing the panoramic windows, a proper European bar and a Japanese bridge in an atrium surrounded by palm trees. Somehow, it all works together impeccably — Priority Pass just voted it the best airport lounge of 2012.

Y Terminal on the Departures Level; swiss.com.

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