Sunday, 24 March 2013 00:00

Travel Photographs | " The World Less Traveled" by Private Jet

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The Worl Less Traveled

STANFORD TRAVEL STUDY EXPEDITION • January 24 to February 16, 2013

The journey to Cuba, Colombia, Senegal, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, and Fresh Polynesia by a private jet is nothing less than fascinating. Going on this trip was an amazing and exhilarating experience for me. It was an amazing opportunity for me to learn about the vast histories, present political situations and wonderful local cultures of these less visited countries around the world.

The world less traveled map bw

After kicking off in California, we boarded our very own private jet and took off towards the fascinating lands of Cuba, Colombia, Senegal, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, and French Polynesia. Along our amazing journey we not only visited some of the most less travelled yet beautiful places around the world, but we also learned an amazing lot about the cast histories of these areas, the present political situation and the remarkable local cultures of these far off yet mesmerizing places.
The ideal way of visiting all these far off yet beautiful places in a single journey is to travel by private jet. We were travelling by Boeing 757 which was ideally quipped to take us around across the world in this expedition. It was capable of flying over long-ranges which allowed us to directly fly without any layovers and was ideal to land at airports that are much closer to these unseen and hard to access places. It had amazing interiors that could easily accommodate 78 guests in luxurious 2 by 2 spacious, leather seats built in VIP style as compared to usual 233 seats. Along with us was a talented group of expedition staff, trip doctor, and flight crew who made sure that our experience remains extraordinary throughout the journey.

Drum from TahitiTAHITI  From San Jose, CA we arrived to the Polynesian paradise, Tahiti. Among the attractions we explored the Tahiti Islands Museum; the Marae Arahurahu, an ancient temple restored to its original grandeur; the Jardin Vaipahi, lush with orchids, tree ferns and waterfalls; and the Paul Gauguin Memorial and Museum, which honors the painter who captured the soul of the South Seas on canvas in the early 1890s.


Huli Man 3PAPUA NEW GUINEA   We reached Papua New Guinea, home to hundreds of self-sustaining and remote communities which still exist in pretty much the same way as their ancestors. We spent the Monday night in Port Moresby, in the Airways Hotel.
We visited the Highlands in South which is the ancestral residence of the tribe of Huli. We saw the wig men in Huli, sporting their wigs made out of human hair. We also got the opportunity of spending time with the tribal women and got an insight into their lives.
These highlands are a prime location for watching birds and are perfect to spot some of the most exotic bird specimens. These highlands are also a habitat for a dozen or more species of tropics’ omnipresent bird knows as the bird of paradise. Here we stayed in the Ambua Lodge in Southern Highlands.
This lodge is situated some 2100 meters (7000 feet) above the ground in the highlands of South in Papua New Guinea, residence of the clan of Huli. This clan can be seen in their wigs fashioned out of human hair and decorated with the colorful features of the paradise bird. They were the recipient of the PATA’s (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Pacific Heritage Award, which accepted the Lodge of Ambua to be an amazing example of ecologically responsible and culturally sensitive tourism. 


BruneiBRUNEI   We flew to Islamic Sultanate of Brunei through the northwest coast over Borneo. The very first sultan of Brunei rose to the throne in the year 1405, and then his descendents begin ruling the area for as long as 6 centuries. The present sultan of Brunei is one of the richest individuals in the world the people of Brunei have one of the finest standards of life around the world. We enjoyed the show of a traditional Malay dancer and explored the heritage of Brunei in the bustling market of the mosque of Jame Asr’ Hassanil Bolkiah which is one of the grandest mosques in Asia with its magnificent twenty-nine Golden Domes. We had two options to choose from while we stayed in Brunei. You could go abroad while cruising in small boats through the water village of Kampong Ayer on stilts and cross Nurul Iman, the residence of the Sultan build over 2 million sq. ft and includes 1.788 rooms and is the largest and grandest palace in the whole world. Then you can continue your journey through the forests of mangroves looking for Borneo’s exotic proboscis monkeys.
The second option is to explore eastern Brunei, the Banger Area, while cruising across the immaculate rain forests located in the National Park of Ulu Temburong. You can also visit the villages of Iban People who reside in the longhouses around the coast. You can enjoy your stay in the country Club and The Empire Hotel, Brunei. 


Swe Inn Temple SMYANMAR   We travelled to Burma, renamed Myanmar in the year 1989, in our private jet. We witnessed a beautiful sunset in Rangoon (Yangon) in Shwedagon Pagoda which was built some 2,500 year ago is now the place where the Eight sacred hair relics of Buddha are present.  On Sunday we flew to Pagan (Bagan) which is the ancient capital. The region was attacked by the Mongol hordes of Kublai Khan in the year 1287, before that there were around 13,000 pagodas, temples and a number of other religious building that were constructed over the storied plains of Irrawaddy River on the east coast. If you visit this region today, you will see more than 2,000 ruins that will take you back in the era that got destroyed after the attack. From here we continued our journey towards the remote area of Inle Lake and checked in the quarters.
The second way we move through the interesting market and floating villages of the Intha people. Here we got to learn about their historic and age old techniques of weaving silk and blacksmithing. In Nga Phe we say jumping cats and observed the unique rowing style of the regional sampan boatman. We checked in to The Traders Hotel while in Rangoon and Aureum Resot and Spa Inle while we were in Inle Lake.


Dakar FortSAUDI ARABIA   We then flew west across the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal to reach Jeddah, the cosmopolitan part of the kingdom built around the Red Sea, in Saudi Arabia. Most of the sites in Jeddah are built along the line of the old walls in the city. We toured the Old city on foot with an expert on the historic preservation in Jeddah. We went to the Souk, local residences, and the city gates and marveled at their carved architecture and ornate designs. We also had the chance to visit King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and had the privilege to meet its students, educators and scientists. We flew northeast towards Mada’in Salih, which is an old Nabataean area and the sister city of Petra. This was one of the prime stations of Hijaz railroads that were built by the Turks in the year 1905 and is known as the popular site of attacks that were led by the famous Lawrence of Arabia. We then returned to Jeddah in the evening and stayed in Intercontinental, Jeddah. 


BeirutLEBANON   Upon arrival, to Limassol, Cyprus which served as the base for our Lebanon visit, we transfered to the church of Panagia tis Aggeloktistis, notable for the 13th century frescoes that decorate the interior. Also explore the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Exceptionally well-preserved, Choirokoita is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the Mediterranean. CYPRUS FOUR SEASONS HOTEL, LIMASSOL. Next day we visited Lebanon's National Museum, which houses one of the world’s best collections of Phoenician art. Walked along the Corniche, the city’s seaside promenade, and view Pigeon Rocks, huge formations which stand like sentinels off the Mediterranean coast. We also explored the historic city center, meticulously reconstructed after it was mostly destroyed during the civil war of the 1970s.


SenegalSENEGAL   We then flew towards Dakar which is the capital of Senegal. We travelled to the village situated near Thies and witnessed the amazing efforts being made by a human rights organization whose mission is to bring social transformation and sustainable development in West Africa. We were welcomed by the villagers doing their traditional dances. Back in the city of Dakar we saw the Presidential palace and the Parliament square. We also attended a private show conducted by a famous bard, or groit, who narrates the local legends through his songs while making tunes on the kora which is an instrument with strings. We stayed at the Radisson Blu hotel in Dakar. 


Cartagena 2COLOMBIA   We flew across the gigantic Atlantic Ocean in out private jet towards the Spanish-colonial are of Cartagena which was a strategic port once which protected the treasures belonging to the New World. This place has now transformed into an amazingly gorgeous city which according to UNESCO is a world heritage. We visited the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, which is a sixteenth century fortress built on a Spanish hilltop. We also saw La Popa convent. We toured the Jesuit convent situated in San Pedro Claver, the museum of Modern Art and the Gold Museum. In the historic quarters, we visited plazas build in Old-World style, chilling Palace Of The Inquisition, baroque churches, and refurbished mansions. You can also spend your time snorkeling in the close by islands of coralline Rosario. You can end your day by indulging in the scrumptious Columbian cuisine at a dinner or a festive reception. We stayed in the Sofital Santa Clara in Cartagena.


Havana carsCUBA   We flew towards Miami from Cartagena in our Private jet, proceeding to Havana in a Charter flight. Cuba, unlike any other island in the Caribbean is a tropical island and has a rich history of defiance. We explored the rich culture of the island which is still undiscovered by a lot of travelers.  In an area where beat-up Studebakers and two-tone Chevrolet Bel Airs work in the streets, we met and communicated with people belonging to contemporary and different walks of Cuban life. We were accompanied by an architectural historian while we walked through the streets of Havana with the sound of Cuban salsa floating through the air. Havana is home to some of the most amazing Spanish Colonial architecture across the western hemisphere. We had an enjoyable time conversing with a resident economist who gave us an insight into the present changes taking place in the economy of Cuba and the history of how their politics developed. We spent our last evening here enjoying the farewell feast and surrounded by the sounds of music wafting through this mesmerizing island. We stayed in the Hotel Parque Central in Havana.

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