Photos: Zooming up Mount Jacinto National Park in Palm Springs cable car

Palm Springs, the home to the Rat Pack in the 50’s and 60’s when they left Hollywood to party hard in the desert. Once the rat pack left, the retirees swarmed in to take over the golf courses, until the mid 90’s when a new generation fell in love with the laid back little city. Palm springs is definitely an oasis of the desert with its boutique hotels, steel and glass bungalows and piano bars serving the perfect martini.

Palm Springs lies in the middle of the Coachella Valley, surrounded by desert and land owned by the Cahullia native americans which allows people to gamble the day/night away in the casinos, but there is so much more to this city of 46,000 people than to just bathe in the sun by the pool and gamble.

We were here to explore the outdoor attractions that Palm springs has to offer. One of the must things to do is to zoom up the mountain to the Mount San Jacinto National Park, where you travel in the revolving aerial tramway. The largest of its kind transporting up to 80 people at a time, transporting them from the valley station at an elevation of 2,643 feet passing through 5 unique life zones to the mountain station at 8,516 feet. The 2 and a half mile trip takes only 10 minutes, rotating twice to give everyone the opportunity of seeing the entire valley.

They say its like taking a trip from Mexico to Alaska in just minutes,with it being 30-40 degrees Farenheit cooler you can see why. It had been a warm day down below, but now with it being rather cold, snow lay on the ground for people to play amongst the pine forest. Making snowmen, sliding on their toboggans and people doing some cross country skiing or snow shoeing.

It was a fun day up top to be had by everyone. My son had never experienced so much snow on the ground, as it melts straight away in Osaka, had one of the best days of his life.

Hours of operation.

Tram cars depart at least every half hour. The first tram-car up Monday through Friday is 10 am. First tram-car up Saturday, Sunday and holidays is 8am. Last tram-car up is 8pm and last tram down is 9.45 pm. Be prepared to wait, we were there in high season and we waited for three hours to ride our tram

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The base of Mount San Jacinto, no snow

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Hitomi at the base

imageMe at the base

imageHere comes the cable car

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Moving up the mountain

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The snow, one of the few places you can surf, swim and ski all within 2 hours, it’s California.

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Nearly at the top

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Arrived, look at the snow

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imageRei with new friends

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Langkawi, the island full of myths

Langkawi an archipelago of 99 islands juts out from the emerald green waters of the Andaman Sea. The rocky limestone peaks of Mount Cincang and Mount Raya form the highest mountains on the island while the rest of the island is covered in lush rainforests or deep green rice fields.

Back in 1987 though Palau Langkawi was virtually an unknown island on the tourist map until Tun Dr Mahatir became Prime Minister who was formerly from the island. He stripped Penang of its duty free zone handing it over to Langkawi, resort development began with the likes of the Berjaya resort being built and tourists started to come. Was this luck or coincidence that this all coincided with the end of Mahsuri’s curse.

Mahsuri was a pretty lady who was falsely accused off adultery. She was sentenced to death without a proper investigation. Mahsuri was tied to a tree and stabbed by a kris (knife) during her execution white blood flowed from her wounds indicating her innocence just before dieing she uttered the words “For this act of injustice Langkawi shall not prosper for seven generations to come.”

Since then Langkawi has been attacked by Siam(Thailand) numerous times. There had been decades of failed crops that followed her death. That was the past and now Langkawi prospers in the future. Mahsuri’s tomb can be seen fenced  in a slab of white marble on the site of her death.

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Mahsuri’s tomb

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Earlier we had ascended the peak of Mount Cincang being towed up by Langkawi’s number one tourist attraction, the cable car. The cable car climbs 919 metres and has one of the steepest gradients in the world at 42 degrees.

From the top on a clear day, the panoramic view covers some of Langkawi ‘s 99 islands as well as spreading as far as Ko Lipe, an island belonging to Thailand. Unfortunately the day that we ascended, the blue sky floundered behind a thick haze preventing a dynamic view.

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From the cable car

Mount Cincang is only separated from Mount Raya, the highest mountain in Langkawi  by Bukit Sawar. It is believed that these mountains were not only people but they were best friends until the da of their children’s wedding when a fight broke out between them. Pots, pans and kitchen utensils were thrown at each others family. A big pot of curry for the wedding  feast fell and seeped into the ground at Kuah(gravy) the capital of Langkawi.

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Mount Raya

The pot of hot water was also thrown and showered down on Air Hangat, water still boils there in the form of hot springs. Eventually Mat Sawyer was able to stop the fight between Mat Cincang and Mount Raya. They were however transformed into mountains with Bukit Sawar being lodged between Mount Cincang and Mount Raya.

Myths and legends make for enchanting stories as you will be enchanted with the surrounding scenery that is known as Langkawi.