Gili Trawangan ‘fall in love’

One of the three mini islands near Lombok has a charm that can make anybody fall in love with it. Its a no motor vehicle island. Horse carts and bicycles are the only mode of transportation.

The island has magical powers to make you stay more than you plan to. The water is as blue as the sky.

WHAT I DID apart from chilling and meeting travelers:-

Every eve: Sunset

The sunset would be the most memorable one of your life with hues of orange, yellow, purple, blue.. The glittering water when sun is setting is breathtaking. It makes you forget time and all the worries. The restaurants have an amazing sit out areas with bean bags to enhance your experience.

On Day 1- Island bicycle tour

During the day enjoy a healthy breakfast by the poolside of your hotel. Later rent a bicycle, pack swimming necessities and go for an island tour, which can be covered in 1.5hrs if at all your mind is not lured by the pristine blue waters calling you to take a dip.

On Day 2- Snorkeling

Snorkeling tour are offered by all shanty located every 10 feet. Costing around 100K per person for a group boat, which will cover the statue point, turtle and the corals. Getting off the boat 3 times is a task for people like me who are scared of depths, but its worth the experience. (They provide life jackets for non/amateur swimmers ๐Ÿ˜Ž) Once in the waters you would become a part of the marine and wouldn’t want to hop back in the boat.

Every night- Eat, drink and party

The island has a variety of eating options ranging from fine dinning to street food, to restaurants with special dinner offers.’Ocean 2‘ is a good budget restaurant with waterside seating for dinner. They circulate an offer of any pasta at 25K and pizza at 35K. Yes there is a catch, the portion size is small. But you can fill up with the complimentary soup and salad counter. If looking for fancy dine then ‘Egoiste‘ and ‘The roast house‘ are some options.

Want to have a drink and chat , or sit alone and listen to live music, or want to dance till you drop, Gili T is an amalgamation of all. Open bar with a DJ and a fire juggler performance is where I went the 1st night. Amazing vibe, straight drinks for 30K and cocktails for 40K, funny Bartender (Harry) and decent crowd,what else can you ask for.

Nasi goreng with a view

The 2nd night I stepped into the ‘Irish pub’ as it had all the young travelers. But this is not it, if you still want to party more, ‘Jiggy boat party’ will fulfill your wish. Its a yacht party starting at 2pm and ends at 8pm. 1st drink is on the house, charges per person is approx 150K.

Where I stayed- The Laxmi villas

I know the name sounds boring but the boutique villa was a small paradise. Also it fit my budget. Its a 10 min walk from the ferry point. The rooms are clean, air conditioned and bathroom has hot and cold shower.

Gili T has a lot of hostels as well, naming some ‘Gili Divers’, ‘Gili castle’ , ‘Beach Bum’, ‘M box’, ‘Gili mansion’. They all are well maintained hostels with air conditioned dormitories.

Gili air and Gili meno are neighboring small and much more peaceful islands. Choice is yours…

Advertisements

Charisma of Paro (Bhutan)

Learning and experiencing butanese culture was of my major interest. I booked myself in a Homestay- Ama’s village lodge, a bit away from the Paro main town. A traditional bhutanese farmstay, with two dogs in the back yard, barn and wooden planks stacked at one end and agriculture field with new crops on the rear end of the house made it the perfect choice.

The room I stayed in, had traditional paintings on the wall, an interconnecting room (which obviously I din’t need). Also our room had a prayer room, which we sneaked in when grandma came to worship. It looked like a mini monastery with the statues of lord “Buddha” and ‘Padmasambhava’ and the chanting instruments.

None of the rural bhutanese houses have bathrooms attached to the rooms. They are usually constructed away from the sleeping rooms, somewhere in the corridors.

What’s in Paro??

The Tigers nest

It has always been an Instagram destination. But dint know that the complete hike can be so much more than an insta perfect pic.

The base is about 9km from city center. The ticket costs Rs 500. You could take up the support sticks or ponyโ€™s to take you up but then whatโ€™s the fun. Some eatables, sport shoes, warm jacket and a fit body is all you need to complete the hike in 3hrs.

Itโ€™s a steep route but I chose shortcuts, they pump the adrelin, hell out of me. The shortcuts through the narrow paths amongst the pine with ravine on one side and trees on other is exhilarating.

Quick altitude accent might make the head heavy.

There are storage rooms for bags & cameras. You can not take your belongings inside the temple premises. And there are no shops/cafe. Keep enough edibles.

Taktsang cafe is mid way, so if you are not on budget, definitely experience the dining amidst the jungle and fog while admiring the tigers nest.

The monastery is enlightening if you go with belief . A guide will accompany you inside(included in the ticket). They would walk you through the history and importance of each temple.

Post the trek I was so hungry that I could eat like a whale. So our driver took us to a low cost restaurant that served buffet lunch.

Shopping

Explore the symmetrically aligned shops for souvenir, traditional wear, incense sticks or local produce.

National museum of Paro

The museum showcases the culture of the country. It shuts by 3:30pm.

Read

Grab a seat in one of the cafe on the street of Paro market, order a pot of lemon tea with a piece of delicious carrot cake. Pick out the book you want to read from the book shelf and that’s my ideal holiday.

Paro is a panoramic town with snowclad mountains forming a fencing around. It has people living simple lives , witnessing the real emotions of joy, love and peace. “We” the city dwellers are just existing to earn, real emotions are far away from our knowledge. Hence I travel to keep me sane and maintain my balance.

Guide to layovers at klia2

Air Asia being the economical carrier is my favourite choice to travel with. Yes it ofcourse has somany drawbacks but I am happy to forgoe the luxury if its brings down my flight cost to half. Traveling to south east asia with this airline also brings long hauls.

Klia2 – Kualalumpur airport specially designated to Air asia is well equipped to cater to >5hrs of layover. Strolling through the duty free shops and showrooms can utilize upto 1 hr of your time another 30 min to have a meal and sleeping is the best timekiller.

The international transit/departure hall comprises of facility for all sort of travelllers:

Traveler no.1- Spenders

The people who are happy to spend upto RM 200 to take a nap and freshen up. Sama-sama is a transit hotel located on the 1st floor of the international departure/transit hall. This will be an excellent option for the ‘spenders’. Foodcourt has some delicious options to dine with wine.

Traveler no. 2- Value for money

The travelers looking for one spot to have it all, should straightaway head to the Air asia red lounge. For RM 75 you get breakfast, unlimited tea and coffee, shower rooms, charging points and comfortable bean bags.

Travelet no. 3- Shoestring budget

The airport has free wifi for 24hrs per equipment and the speed is good. Charging points are situated at the ground floor near the wait areas. The waiting halls have connected chairs which are comfy enough to take a nap. If one sleeps like a dog, he will have a tough time with the announcements which dint bother me๐Ÿ˜. Still got time and don’t want to sleep head to the tv lounge (movie/sports). Are you a book worm, downlad ebooks from E-Sentral all for free

Mcdonalds is cheapest for grabbing breakfast. And for snacks – add some hot water to insta noodles at WH Smith.

Bhutan-Punakha & Dochula pass

I might not travel to Bhutan again so had to explore the maximum I could. Punakha was next on my itinerary. One needs to take a permit extension to visit Punakha. Not that there is strict border policing but you still dont want to see the violent side of the peaceful country ๐Ÿค”

The permit can be obtained from the Thimphu immigration/visa office. Punakha is a day trip from Thimphu about 2hrs. A must site stopover is Dochula pass which is 19 km from the capital. It was constructed by the Queen in the memory of the soldiers of war.

You will experience extreme climates enroute Punakha. You would have to layer up at Dochula, but will be left with the last layer of your clothing at Punakha.

The attraction points in Punakha are:

The 370 years old, Punakha Palace

Life connector, the suspension bridge

We took a taxi from Thimphu at 8am, which was arranged by Gakyil hotel. It took us around Punakha and then dropped us to Paro. The driver also stopped at the Paro airport viewpoint. And all this for 4000rs.

Thimphu is midway Punakha and Paro

To know about my Paro adventures keep following….

Visiting Thimpu check this out https://voyagetrails.com/2018/08/11/things-to-do-in-thimphu/

 

Things to do in Thimphu

Located in a valley, ‘Thimphu’ is the capital of the peace loving country of Bhutan. It is the most developed city as well. Thimphu is a smooth drive of 4.5 hrs from Phuntsholing by cab.

The weather in April is cool at night and pleasant during the day. So carry some light woolens.

gakyil

Stay

The hotel we stayed in was ‘Gakyil’ is located at the city center (hence the choice). The market, cafes, banks and clubs are a short walk. Its a 3 star property with clean and well maintained rooms, equipped with bathtub as well. They also have a restaurant serving breakfast buffet and the rest is ala-carte. We booked it a an excellent rate using makemytrip.com

Luxury options are Le Meridien and Taj

Party

Everything shuts at 9 pm except the clubs that opens only at 9๐Ÿ˜‰. Yes you read it correct Thimphu has a couple of clubs- Vivacity, Space 34 and Mojo park. All of them have an entry fee but we ladies have some perks and get free entry on Wednesdays. So girls plan your trip accordingly.

Tuedays are dry days

Eat

International cuisine

The Ambient cafe– the cafe carries a casual vibe with view of the busy streets of Thimphu. Collection of books to read while sipping coffee. My favorite dish was ‘whole wheat waffles with banana and homemade ice cream’

The Zone cafe– go in the eve, it is the hangout place for all the youngsters.

The Maggie point- in case looking for a quick and eco meal, go to this kiosk which serves pasta, Maggie and sandwiches. Its located near the theater.

Most of the restaurants don’t have a giant welcome gates, the way to them is usually from back of the complexes, through dingy stairs. So one needs to really look hard to find a way

Local cuisine

They don’t have much vegetation but Bhutan has chilies (Datshi) in abundance It is used in majority of the dishes. “Ema” means cheese and Ema datshi is there specialty. Its a must try.

The locals savor “Butter tea” that’s their everyday tea. Slightly pink in color and tastes more like soup and less like normal tea.

Pork is used for main course, because of its lower price and long shelf-life. Chicken is more of an exotic main course.

Don’t be fooled by the pepper in the cruet set, because it ain’t the normal one, every bottle contains the ‘wild sichuan pepper’, which isn’t spicy but numbs your tongue and lips for sometime ๐Ÿ˜

I enjoyed eating the local cuisine and still crave for the cheese preparation.

Shopping

market

Handicraft market is the place for souvenir finders located opposite to the Thimphu visa office. Shops are in the shape of small huts, lined up straight adjacent to each other. The goods sold are ethnic and attractive, ranging from a fridge magnet to costumes.

Bargain well

Then is the main market with complexes and standalone shops. Bhutan doesn’t have a mall yet and is far from the status bragging branded stores. They have shops selling multi items like clothes, jewelry, cosmetics. Most of them are either imported from India or China.

 

Also not so far from the city center is a local bazaar, near the vegetable market. An apt place to buy cheap crockery ,basic footwear, traditional attire(cheap ones), household stuff etc.

Bhutanese people love chewing supari (betalnut), mostly all shops sell this and it smells awful.

Tourist Spots

The Buddha point- 12 km away from the city center, has the Thimphu view.

DSC00678

Tashichodzong- ‘The King’s palace & office’. Open for public in the eve.

DSC00687

Changankha Lakhang- Temple of fertility.

DSC00681

 

Best way to cover these is to hire a taxi Rs 1500-2000 for all these places

This is Thimphu experience from my eyes and ears. Stay tuned to know more about Punakha and Paro.

Top 3 offbeat beaches of Goa

With the flight fares getting cheaper than Rajdhani train 3rd AC ticket, “Goa” is no longer an exotic location which is difficult to reach. While Calangute/ Bagha are over exploited (could be because of closest proximity to Panjim), Anjuna (not shiva valley) and Wagator are on the verge of commercialization. We still have some untrod-den beaches for the fellow backpackers, looking for some placidity.

So if you want to unwind and repose away from the laser lights and the loud DJ’s, here are the options:

Arambol– The northern most beach of Goa. The atmosphere is tranquilizing. It has fewer shacks and hotels. An excellent way of spending a rustic/hippie goa life. Indulge in yoga and ayurveda.

Agonda– My personal favorite in South Goa. It has got beautiful rocky terrain on the extreme ends. The beach has surfing waves, which makes a fun sport even for the non swimmers ( don’t be hard on yourself to try standing on the surfing board). Early morning walks on the wet sands, breathing in the cool breeze and absorbing the amber sunlight is essence of my holiday.

Palolem– It is the most popular beaches of South Goa and I wont deny that it isn’t busy but since its the southern most beach of Goa, it still has got that charm. One can experience a great balance of beach vacation with nightlife. Every Sat they organize a headphone party “Silent noise”. Also not far from the beach is an open air club named the “Leopard valley”. The days can be spent sunbathing and drinking, which makes this an ideal vacation.

Top beaches of Srilanka

As Sri lanka is an island, it has abundance of bay and sands. It definitely has some quite and aloof beaches as well but I would share my experience of the ones I visited.

Looking for Nightlife or Surfing, Mirissa is your places to crash. This beach is vibrant and full of life. Specialy flocked by people of the age group 20-40yrs. Mirissa is absolutely exquisite. It has an array of dinning options (shacks). The accomodation ranges from a hostel to a boutique hotel.

Time for exploring the sea world!! Your destination is Hikkaduwa. Whether you want to go Snorkeling or scuba diving and even if you aren’t trained, this place has all the options to make you a pro. By this I mean Hikkaduwa has a training center which has packages and going via them is ensuring your safety.

For snorkelling you dont have to be a pro, coz the corals are right next to the sandy beach, you could stand at the beach and stare at the pretty school of fish and you don’t even have to enter the waters (In morning).The eateries shut down early, max by 11pm so follow “Early to bed eary to rise, makes the man healthy, wealthy and wise”.

If you are like Uncle Scrooge and longing for a Luxury holiday, pool infront of the sea, aesthetically decorated shopping arcades, plush rooms then Bentota is the place for you. The bay is full of hotels of nothing less than a 4 star. Backpackers keep away, dont stay just take a stroll thats what I did๐Ÿ˜