Unwanted travel situations

“You learn from your mistakes”. Even after being an avid traveler while on my Indonesia trip I came across many such incidents where I almost acted as a newbee.

Day 2

# Friend’s Mobile lost– can you ever imagine riding a bicycle on a no motor island on sunny day, stoping at a vast clear water sea stretch to take a dip, having a sumptious meal with loaded protien, enjoying a drink at the sunset, then riding back in the pitch dark sandy pathways to your hotel realising suddenly that your phone is missing.

What happened, where did it go, where was it last kept??? Answer – it was all the time in the open, front basket of the bicycle & we only later realised that the basket had a hole in it.

Day 5

#Debit card missing– we flew from Lombok to Bali and directly head to Ubud. And after spending a day in Ubud, I scrolled through my emails to find a notification of a failed transaction from my debit card. I panicked, i thought someone in my hotel must have taken it.

What must have happened people, do you want to take a wild guess.

I had packed my wallet in my backpack that I gave for checkin to the ‘Lion Airlines’. A baggage handler must have extracted my wallet from luggage at Bali airport and quickly took all the cash and visible cards. ‘My card was not internationally enabled’- i suffered a loss of INR 8000.

Day 12

#Situation with the local animals– We were so scared about the belongings that we kept all the cash with us. We were posing with the sunset at Ulluwatu temple, bags kept on the side, a monkey came and took away my camera case along with all the cash in it. Thanks to a gentlemen who helped to bring back the case with all money intact, only with the loss of my lens cap which is still not replaced.

Day 20

#A monster ate my freind’s debit card– here the moster is the ATM machine, on our last day of our trip, we were withdrawing some cash. And neither did we get the currency nor did we get the card back.

Learnings -Always keep your belongings and precious items on your body, preferably in a waist pouch or in a sling bag

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 pony’s to take you up but then what’s the fun. Some eatables, sport shoes, warm jacket and a fit body is all you need to complete the hike in 3hrs.

It’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 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.

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 🤔

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/

 

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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Sri Lanka with GG in Rs32000/ $500 (Yala)

We covered alot of terrains, so how could we miss a National park. Yala is a deroute from the road connecting Ela and Mirissa.

Its a huge territory where the animals rule. We are permitted only in a section of the forest. And I am glad its that way. Like other sactuaries the enterance gate is located 20km from the main town. The experience is incomplete without a ride in an open jeep, its windy and dusty but worth it.

Usualy tourists book a pre-packaged deal. And it is difficult to find a cheaper deal for the jeep if you are jus two. Coz they rent the complete jeep which costs around 8000-15000 SRs.(inclusive of enterance fees). We took an afternoon slot for the safari.

Since the permitted area is more of grasslands,its very easy to spot wildlife. In adittion to the below I spotted an elephant, wild boar, deers(ofcourse) and exotic birds. The guide said that we were lucky to find a leopard in such a clearing. (Lady travelers beware , the guides are big time pile ons, so maintain the correct distance) (Tip: carry multiple sets of camera betteries, mine got exhausted just after I clicked a mongoose😫, hence a mobile cam photo of the Leopord) To add on to the trail, the jeeps take everyone to the beach, swimming isn’t allowed but its good to be at a raw & non touristy beach. After the safari, our jeep dropped us to the town. And we were back to our guest house.