Bundi-The less known facts

A hidden gem of Rajasthan which is raw, less explored and culturally very rich. The commercialization has not reached its wicked side yet.

To experience real Bundi live in the old city near to the Bundi Palace/Taragarh fort which is approximate 6km (15 min) from the railway station. Train is the most convinient way to arrive in Bundi from Delhi, Udaipur, Kota, Jaipur or Chittorgarh.

My pick for the accommodation will definitely be Dev Niwas. The heritage hotel has stunning views of the fort and the old city. The Staff is courteous and the food is finger licking good. Some specialities to try is Laal maas and gatte ki sabji.

They have rooms for all budget travelers starting Rs 1000 to rs 7000. And all the sights are accessible on foot.

In the morning you will have a gala time watchig the langurs taking long leaps from one house to the other.

On the walk to the fort around 8am, you can see small local shops selling samosas, kachoris, tea, jalebi and some namkeens. You will find cafes but not the polished ones like in Udaipur. The cafe are run by the young lads of the local family and the food is cooked by either their mums or sister. The extension on the balcony or porch with the colorful furniture and some greens are enough to get you the traveler’s vibe.

That’s not it, there are couple of historic sites to keep your day busy. My favourite was the Rani ji ki baoli- reallu amusing that in olden days people had the imagination and creativity to build a stepwell for everyone’s convinience.

Its is an excellent weekend getaway for people who want to experience raw culture.

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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 me😁. 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.

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.

2 N/2D Singapore in Rs 25000

This was a well in advance planned trip. I was preparing for this trip since February. And after waiting for months, it was the day. And the cost mentioned includes my air tickets.😎

To save time I took a connecting flight from Chennai. For those who do not know, I reside in Delhi. But to my luck, our Air India flight got delayed. But nonetheless, we ( me n my mom) had a good time eating, drinking and watching movies in the dream liner. It is a 4 hrs flight and we started at 2 pm from Chennai, when we reached Singapore it was already 8:30 pm local time.

We were already drained and wished for limousine to drop us at our hostel. But Singapore is an expensive city and if one wants to stick to a budget one has to be very cautious of the expenditure. I had the MRT map (metro line) with me, we bought a 3 days pass for local transport which costed me 30 SGD per person, out of which 10 SGD were refundable on the ticket return. This is a free pass on MRT, LRT and the buses. A 2 days pass is also available.

MRT map

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With the backpacks we started walking and changing the metro lines to reach our hostel (the New Society backpack) which is a decent hostel with great location just a 8 min walk from the purple line station(Farrer park- city square exit). Perks-all the tourist attractions were within approach. That night we had a good sleep to renew our self for the next day.

We were all ready to bring out the kids in us and relive the apu ghar days but only at larger level. Universal studio was first on our list. Its a whole day engagement and you will come out exhausted. They have seven sections, each with a universal studio’s movie theme. Some rides were exhilarating and not meant for faint hearts, but some you could do with a 2 year old.

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Tip: Book packages/entrance fees through klook for discounted rates.

In eve we explored the night safari, which is at the outskirts of the city. Its a different experience, because the animals are roaming without the enclosure and before you guys get jitters let me clarify that there were no carnivores. Post 11 PM there are no public transport available , then Uber is your last resort.

(If you are short of time , you can skip night safari).

Singapore is a beautifully constructed and a clean city. One could walk barefoot for miles and not get their feet dirty. Its a place to visit if you are with your kids and want to see how a developed country looks and to have some family time.

The 2nd day we explore the below: (everything is accessible via metro line)

CHINA TOWN-In the pricey city of Singapore this place is a heaven for budget shoppers. Starting from souvenir magnets to minion soft toys which (cost like 15-20 SGD in Universal studio) can be bought under 8-10 SGD.

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CLARKE QUAY- Is dining and pub area right next to the offices. Its a good place to chill with a meal costing somewhere between 18-30 SGD. Its more lively during evenings.

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GARDENS BY THE BAY: Singapore is constructed so aesthetically that its a treat to eyes. They understand the importance of fauna and have made it green wherever they could. Gardens by the bay is another magnificent creation. They also have light and sound show in the eve.

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MARINA BAY PROMENADE- At 8 and 9 PM there is a laser light show with symphony. It is an amazing experience and best is that its free for Public.

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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 did😁

Shillong & Guwahati 

This was the day to explore the capital. While walking the streets I wondered how humans themselves spoil the surroundings they live in. Buildings, shops and markets have destroyed the climate and the beauty of the town. The exteriors/ countryside are marvelous, rich in greenery but the centre of the town is crowded and conjusted. Since the lanes are narrow, it’s better to walk, else one would be stuck in long traffic jams.

Today I would be be meeting my freind and where should we meet?? I had heard a lot about Dylan’s cafe, well it lived up to its reputation. Cozy seating, warm sitout, lovely view and a book shelf. I could have spend the whole day reading and sipping coffee.

Soon Gaby joined me, we ordered breakfast platter and creamy shakes.

I was so full, and needed to walk to digest. On the ground floor of Dylan’s cafe is an outlet showcasing the agricultural production of Meghalaya. I bought black rice, bamboo pickle and tea.

It was now shopping time!! She took me to the plaza where there were imports from Bangkok and I got more stuff to fill my wardrobe. In the evening we went to Living roof-it’s a pub with board games and a pool table. Looked like ‘the’ hangout place for shillong’s youth. This was my last evening in shillong and had to travel to Guwhati the next day. Had dinner with my relatives that evening in nice Chinese restaurant.

Cars were arranged to drop us to Guwahati. We stopped at th Umgot lake.

There are couple of restaurants in the middle on the shillong- guwahati road. That’s why it’s important to plan your meals accordingly.

There was only one thing on my agenda in Guwahati and that was the “Bhramaputra cruise”. It was very warm and I was missing shillong. The cruise costs Rs 300 per person for the upper deck. It is for about 45 min, with live music and menu to order. It was amusing to be sailing on the river about which we studied in our General knowledge classes.

I had booked Ginger hotel for the night, which was the nearest hotel to the ai protection and fit my budget. I had an early morning flight to catch, thanks to Uber, that riding to the airport wasn’t a task.

At the airport before the security check they have economically priced eateries.

Post my breakfast I was ready to fly back to Delhi and join office.

Tourist in my own city

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What a start of a Saturday.. Got up at 5:30am, no cabs available,  had to go to the New delhi railway station to board a train to Saharanpur (my grandparents place)at 6:45 am which I booked in tatkal ,none of the auto drives interstate, finally took a metro till qutab minar, hired an auto, paid him double to convert hus auto in a jet plane and make me reach the station in 15 min, on the station ran like a dog, panting, my calf muscles shaking and I see the train leaving. So many efforts made and all in vain.

“Jab we met” part 2

But why to get disappointed, I decided to explore Delhi which I would have never done if it was a usual weekend.

Had a sumptuous breakfast in Paharganj.

Observed the foreign tourist, overheard there experience throughout their travel in India

Roamed the narrow lanes, looking at the old structures.

Got the ” Basil plant” for which I was looking for long.

Walked towards the metro station which was one km away.

Fought with the Metro Security for not allowing me inside with the plant.

This was just the starting of the day, let’s c what this weekend brings for me….

HAPPY WEEKEND

Nepal(Nagarkot) – Country tucked in the Himalayas *|)@y 3

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Soon started with the day long journey again and our destination was Nagarkot, there isn’t any direct bus, so had to change in Kathmandu again. I found out that the bus had complimentary wifi, I browsed the maps and realized that the ‘Mankamna devi temple’ (which was in our list of attractions ) was on the way. We made up our mind and got down before kathmandu.

It is a wishful temple and very worshipped by the locals. The way to the temple is via cable car. It was a two in one offer, how could we miss it. The fee for the cable ride is INR 350 for Indian nationals, however it is very expensive for non SAARC countries plus you have to wait  in never ending ques to get in the cable car while departure and arrival and also to see the goddess.

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After that we took a 12 seater traveler to reach kathmandu. By then it was already 1830hrs.
We took a local bus to get to the bus stand, and what we got to know was that there are no bus service post 1900hrs.(what era is this 60’s). We had no choice and had to burn a hole in our pockets and hire a cab to nagarkot for NPR 3000. (Fyi – Nagarkot is just 30 km from kathmandu).
It is a small hillstation which was once used by the royal family as a summer retreat. The driver took us to a very nice resort named THE STUPA. After a negotiation, again booked a family room for NPR 3300, which was absolutely worth it for that sort of property.

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We got up early morning in a hope to see the HIMALAYAS , which was our only reason to visit Nagarkot. But the weather disappointed us. It remained dusty throughout our visit to Nepal.
Dissapointed, we continued with our trip….

The Green Kingdom of Madekiri (coorg)

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Small city settled amidst the coffee estates and the deccan hills. It is a very popular hillstation for vacation in South India. The place has got many exotic resorts and experience homestays.

I would definitely recommend coffee estate stays for a different experience.

And if you got the money stay at the Taj Madekeri, the view from their infinity pool is like you are standing at the horizon where earth meets the sky.

My hault was at a hotel named chinmayee, 3 km away from the town, on virajpet road, rooms are basic but the USP is the view from the balcony.

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If planning to stay there carry some packed food or ready to cook things as food is not available. And the network problem will haunt you coz you would not be able to use Internet.  It’s easy to make phone calls however.

I spent my day chilling at the “PAUSE CAFE” the only cool place apart from CCD in the town, where you can relax for hours with a cup of coffee and  nobody would ask you to leave. The music is good, there bakeries are, a must try.

The town is pretty different from rest of Karnataka, the people speak Coorgi instead of Kannad. The traditional attire is different.

The tourist should come here with the vision of solace not sight seeing, however there are 3 main places which one can visit.

Omkeshwara temple: it is within the city and can be walked to.

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Dubbare Elephant camp: early risers, definitely have an advantage, coz if you want to see elephants bathing, it has to be before 8am. However I was not able to make it for this spot.

Golden temple or  Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery: this is a must visit place, around 30 km away from the madekeri town towards the direction of mysore.

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Enroute mysore from coorg, there is a place called Bylakuppe which is the second largest tibetan  settlement in India. The main monastry which is also called the Golden temple is a worth the detour. The temple is magnificent. It is amazing to see the monks performing the Buddhist religious ceremonies and rituals.

Even though it is a famous tourist destination,  it is maintained very well. This because of the rules. The people can only aquire a piece of land, if they have a paddy field.

For birdwatchers it is an exotic destination to visit. Below is an early morning captured still by me.

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Udaipur- long weekend getaway

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People call it city of lakes, talks about the culture , true it is.  But udaipur is much more than this, in one word it is a “DREAM”. It has the oldest mountain range- the arravalis, the water bodies, forts, hippie yet ethnic style,  temples, roof top lounges, lake side restaurants and If there are tourists who are still looking for a city feel, udaipur has decent multiplex and malls as well.

COMMUTING

The airport  is 30 km away from the city where in the railway station is located within the city. Most convenient is a train from H.Nizamudin Station to udaipur at 1900hrs and the same train can be boarded from udaipur at 1830hrs

The best thing about the city is that it is not spread out,  each and everything is approachable by a tuk tuk or on foot.
*Unusual but they do  not have manual rickshaws.

LODGING

Luxury- the three big brands stand at the Pichola lake. The world famous Taj Lake Palace, Udaivillas by the Oberoi group and then the Leela. Romance hovers Taj lake palace. (If one wants to propose and doest not want to be disappointed by the answer, this is the place for the grand proposal)

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Upscale- the royal family has converted there palace into two hotels. Laxmi villas by the lalit, radisson blue and the Chunda palace are other options.

Budget- there are multiple options to choose from , personal havelis turned into lodges between the price range of INR 500 – 4000 per night.

DINING

EXPENSIVE:Jagmandir- the food is excellent and gives you a royal and unique  experience of dining in the midde of the lake.  The cover charge per couple is around INR 4000 which also includes the ferry charges.

MODERATE:Ambrai- breathtaking location,  panoramic view of the palaces and the Pichola lake with traditional Indian food, what else can someone ask for, being in a city of royalty.

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ECONOMY:Little prince- is a seasonal ‘little restaurant ‘ on the banks of the cannal connecting the two lakes. Serving majorly international cuisine with all sorts of liquor.

The city has a wide variety of cafes and rooftop restaurant serving breakfast starting from a Gujrati dish to a cappuccino with Danish pastry.

SHOPPING (ethnic)

City palace market or the old city market- this is a place for tourists. One can find rajasthani traditional artifacts here.

Haathi pol (haathi means elephant and pol in rajasthani is gate, strage but true)- this is the market area for all the localities. Majorly for apparels.

SIGHTSEEING

The City palace- the main fort which is still the residence of the royal family.  Part of the palace has been converted into a museum and hotels.

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Jagdish Temple- beautiful carvings on the walls will make one awstruck.

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Monsoon palace- A palace once built to keep a track of weather conditions. Is known for its two sided view, the Aging Arravalis and Udaipur city’s arial view.

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Fateh sagar lake- is another lake within the city which is a picnic spot for all the locals. Also the shacks along the lake are called Bombay market as you will get, local delicacies of Mumbai here. Do not forget to try “khullar coffee”.

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Very rightly quoted Udaipur is the ‘Venice of India’. Boating in the Pichola during the sunset, view from the  Tripolia bridge, watching locals on the ghats during ‘Gangaur’, walking through the narrow lanes, exotic breakfast at the cafes and the enriched history will spellbound you in the mystic world. It happened with me, its time for you to explore the beauty…