Kuan Yin Temple, Klang

The Kuan Yin Temple in Klang (State of Selangor, Malaysia), was built around 1982, and is reputedly one of the oldest temple in Malaysia. It was nearly demolished due to its dilapidated condition caused by extensive termites infestation but was saved by the Sultan of Selangor, who declared it a state heritage site.

The rebuilding of the temple was carried out around the year 2000 and was financed by wealthy chinese (mostly from Klang) and most of the masonry works and carvings were carried out by workmen and artisans brought over from China.

View of the Kuan Yin Temple, which is located along Jalan Raya Barat, Klang

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Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is an area in south central England, of predominantly rural landscape with rolling hills and picturesque small towns and villages built of cotswold stone, a type of yellow jurassic limestone.

Popular cotswolds towns consisting of historical stone-built villages, stately homes and gardens include Burford, Bourton-on-the-water, Stow-on-the-wold, Chipping, Moreton-in-marsh and various others.

We joined a day tour with VIATOR, departing from Victoria Coach Station, London at about 8.30am. The tour includes lunch and visits to the market towns of Burford, Bourton-on-the-water and Stow-on-the-wold.

BURFORD

Burford, which is about one and a half hours drive from London, is the first market town on the itinerary. The town is centred along the about one kilometre long main road, with small hotels, restaurants and shops selling all kinds of local products.

The main road of Burford

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Volendam & Haarlem

VOLENDAM

Volendam – is a seaside town about an hours drive from Amsterdam. There is a ferry service between Volendam and a nearby island (peninsula). Along the waterfront are many souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants and even a cheese factory. There are also a few stores selling seafood such as herrings (my favourite seafood in the Netherlands).

A working Windmill, near Volendam

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Strasbourg

The futuristic looking Strasbourg Railway Station

Strasbourg is situated on the eastern border of France and Germany and is the official seat of the European Parliament. After a relaxing less than two hours drive from Sembach (Germany), with our car parked at Strasbourg Railway Station and a quick lunch there, we were ready to explore this beautiful town.

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Sembach

Whoever have heard of Sembach? Very few people have I am sure. But this is where we went, to catch up with an old friend who married a local german girl and had stayed there for more than forty years. It is about a five and a half hours drive from Amsterdam.

It is a very small village and the nearest town of any significance is Kaiserslautern in Germany. On the day of our arrival at about 6pm, it was the birthday of my friend’s grandson and so we had a birthday party in a chinese restaurant in Kaiserslautern with the whole extended family.

Happy families celebrating their grandson's/son's birthday
Happy families celebrating their grandson’s/son’s birthday

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Budapest

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, has a history of more than a thousand years. It came into being at the end of the 19th century when the three cities Pest, Buda and Óbuda merged.

Apart for being known for its thermal baths, there are also plenty of other attractions such as the expansive Buda Castle, the majestic Charles Bridge, the Jewish quarters, the Fisherman’s Bastion and of course the Danube river.

We arrived at Budapest Keleti train station in the late afternoon (after a two and a half hours train journey from Vienna). After  locating our pre-booked taxi (advisable as hailing a taxi from the railway station or anywhere is not recommended) and a mere 20 minutes journey later, we arrived at our hotel, the Hotel Palazzo Zichy. Our hotel is opposite a small square where the statute of Vichy (probably some important historical figure in Hungary) occupies center stage and it is close to most of the attractions in Budapest.

Statute of Zichy in the square in front of our hotel

Statute of Zichy in the square in front of our hotel

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Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the largest city and capital of the Netherlands, is also the country’s biggest tourist-draw. However, neither the Dutch government nor the head of state resides in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam was a financial and political powerhouse in the 17th century and most of the city’s famous canals and architecture are from this era. Not only are the canals beautiful, there are also a great means of transport around the city.

The flight from Budapest to Amsterdam by KLM takes about two and a half hours and we arrived at Schipol airport in the late afternoon, where we were pick up by my old friend of more than 40 years, who resides in Amsterdam.

The Central Station of Amsterdam is the main hub of transportation in the Netherlands. Regional and international trains passes through the station all day long and the station is also the transportation center for the city’s trams and buses. Following are photographs of the buildings around the station.

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