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Travel Shenanigans And Much More

Goes well with a cup of chai or coffee

Goa – The travel destination since 80’s

There are a billion people in India, from different destinations, landscapes and culture. Yet Goa remains one of the popular destinations in the country for all age groups to take a break from their regular life. One can argue things have changed since 80’s and that the cliches of Goa and the crowded party scenes are not that “happening” but that’s not all Goa has to offer. Anyone who truly knows Goa knows that.

I first visited Goa with my parents when I was 6 years old. I grew up in Chennai and had been to beaches many many times before. And yet there was something about Goa’s beaches and it’s beautiful relaxing waves that still reminds of a great holiday! Since then I have made multiple trips Goa, with friends, family and with my boyfriend/husband; sometimes twice in a year too. Never once getting tired of the place.

Goa has changed a lot since then but if looked closely you can find the charm hidden away from the spotlights. This time when I visited in February, I rolled down the window of the car and immediately filled the car with the familiar humid air and salty smell I love. The view of the tall palm trees, the tiny little chapels on the side of the roads and I am home almost instantly.

My love for Goa is inspired from a lot of trips with different people and many new experiences each time. But for anyone visiting the place for the first time might take some useful tips from this blog.

My take on Goa with 5 important Q’s – Why? When? Where? What? How?

Why?

Why Not? Goa is not just popular for its beaches. It has a number of options from variety of food options to rich history left by the Portuguese to beautiful forts and churches. There is a lot of development in the city now compared to just 5 years back which makes the entire city more infrastructure friendly and convenient to travel from one end to another. The food options are just brilliant and local Konkan food is simply out of the world experience! And if that does not float your boat there is always the wide lane roads along side the beaches. Simply walk around and stop when you find serenity. You don’t need a set itinerary to enjoy Goa, which is the best part!

When?

Although Goa is beautiful to enjoy anytime of the year, it depends on what you enjoy the most. If it’s the calm serene Goa experience then probably Feb – Apr or Sep – Oct would be a great time to visit without the party crowd or the usual summer holiday crowds getting to you. If you enjoy monsoon, greenery and drizzling rain drops out on the front porch while enjoying a good book then Jun – Aug is your time. Or if you want to enjoy the good party scenes in Goa and what to catch the latest DJ around the block then Nov – Jan is your time to visit Goa. The whole year offers something to everyone. You just find time and make your trip!

Where?

This can get tricky. Where you stay in Goa should depend on what kind of Holiday you love. If you love the calm beaches and less crowded areas, stay in southern part of Goa. The beaches are beautiful, private and a lot cleaner too. I love spending alone time at the beaches here. But the northern parts of Goa are not a total nightmare too. There are places where you can get a nice stay by the beach that is not too crowded. However the northern end is mostly picked for its beach shacks, parties and a lot of shopping. Plan your stay depending on where your preference lies.

What?

If you Google – things to do in Goa you are in for a lot of confusion. But it really depends on what you love about a holiday. Apart the usual sipping on beer or cocktail on the beach, you can take a lot of heritage sight seeing which is quite interesting. Take a trip to see all the forts one day and explore the night markets. Check out the Sunday mass and open markets. Drive down to south Goa and visit the Vasco de gama. Some serene and clean beaches in south Goa can transport you to a whole other world. And if you are ever looking for some extra action check out the casinos docked in the river. They are fun and you never know you might get to win something at the end of the night. The only issue you might face would be the time to do all the things on your list.

How?

To work your way around Goa, a scooter is probably the best way! It’s always fun and something about renting a scooter on holiday makes you feel free. Not only is it cheap way to commute, it beats the traffic during peak hours. Use any driving licence and rent the scooter for as many days as needed. Of course for a long distance commute it might not be ideal. Go for a taxi or auto rickshaw for longer distance.

These are the list of all the things I have done in Goa and don’t mind repeating because each year I come back with a new found love for the place. Sometimes it takes me back to the 6 year old kid inside crazy in love with the beaches or sometimes the grown up me feels the warm hugs from the waves calming every nerve in my body.

~ Until my next visit to Goa ~

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The Bali Trip!

First of all, nope, this is not the extended version of Eat Pray Love.

Although, most of the blogs I read before leaving to Bali sounded that way! That’s because Bali has made that image for itself. So has most of the places in India where people travel to “find themselves”. More power to them. Finding yourself or at least making an effort is a good way to give yourself a break.

My trip to Bali was not one of them. It was a sudden and random places I visited with a girlfriend. It was a her birthday and she had been wanting to travel some place new. Having never travelled outside the country before, it was a new experience for her.

And before we knew it, the tickets were booked and we were off to Bali. May is a good month for anyone planning a trip. It is not that hot and not that rainy. Our itinerary was planned by an agent but we adjusted them according to our flexibility. This turned out to be a lot convenient and us not having to make to a fixed schedule each day.

Nusa Dua Side:

The first day, after we landed, both of us were so tired, we just reached out hotel and dropped our bags and gave into the holiday to take us over. Started off with drinks at the bar and food from the room service, as slow as the day could get. We had a heavy agenda packed for next few days to cover both main ends of Bali.

Of course, Bali has a lot more to offer than the regular tourist spots. But the 2 main ends are Nusa Dua and Kuta. We are first timers decided to do the usual stuff and leave the explorers inside to take a break. All we wanted  was to let Bali take over our next few days and make the best of our week.

Nusa Dua is the calmer and more relaxed end of Bali or as it is perceived to be. While Kuta is the more hipper and happening tourist crowd. Like I mentioned before and will do again, there is a lot more than just these spots in Bali. All you need is your adventurous mind, a strong-willed heart, abundance of time and some penny for making it a trip of a lifetime! 

On our second day, we spent the time driving around Bali and tried out rafting in the Ayung River. The walk to the rafting was quite a hike and my first time trying water rafting. Its true, any sport is a lot harder and a lot fun than it looks. Post the raft, we were so famished, the driver took us to a nice spot over looking the Kintamani Volcano for lunch. Now who wouldn’t kill for this view & beer 😉

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We continued our day to the Teman Village to taste the original Bali Coffee and explore their various spice estate and gardens. To be honest, all highland regions and tea estates have this in India but their famous speciality is the Lemur coffee which was not my cup. I am a chai girl and will go for that filter kaapi on occasional days.

Our day ended with some local culture and the famous Kecak and Fire Dance in Bali. It depicts a part of the story from Ramayana, the story of good over evil. We were familiar with the story but what was fascinating was how the artists depicted the story each night for a different audience with nothing but professionalism and commitment to the art form. We knew they did this each night and managed to put up a great show by amazing the audience with the fire acts and the beautiful smiles. Here is a quick shot of an hour-long performance –

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Well, that was a long day, huh?

Temple Spots:

Next day, we headed to a few temple spots. We were familiar with the temple scenes in India. The offerings, the prayer, the different gods and goddess and their stories. Since majority of the country follows Hinduism, we were not as fascinated by the stories and rituals as they were the same as in India.

But there was something different. Bali has temples in the most unique spots of them all. I haven’t been to one such in India. Yes, I have been to some nice temples where the architecture or the peaceful scenes have brought me faith in the existence of a higher power. While the temples in Bali, simply took my breath away. They were either by the side of a cliff or in the middle of a lake or ocean. There was a presence of water around the temple in one way or another. Ocean side is beautiful on its own. With a beautiful temple by the ocean, it was difficult not to be stumped and be amazed at the wonderful creations by man and nature combined! Sadly, we were not allowed inside any temples however it was mostly outside that I found more interesting.

Four of my favorite temples we visited are listed here –

Taman Ayun Temple: Located in the city but not as popular as other. Must see for its beautiful gardens on a bright sunny day.

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Uluwantu Temple: A picturesque view with a temple on a cliff. Simply divine. Beware of the monkeys who rule the temple.IMG_0988

Tanah Lot: The most popular temples of them all. There are multiple locations where the temple is visible from. But for me, personally, the temple in the next cliff was more beautiful and serene compared to the actual one.IMG_1193

Ulun Danu Temple: Although we didn’t cover this on the same day as the others, this is my favourite one of them all. We didn’t have this on our itinerary and on our last day of the trip we made an impromptu decision to visit this temple. And, what a mistake it would have been to miss this beauty. IMG_1518

Our day ended with the famous Balinese massage at a fancy spot in Nusa Dua. We were both physically and spiritually at peace as we wrapped up our day.

Kuta Side:

We reached Kuta side of the island and managed to catch some local tourist scene. It was just as a usual beach side road with the two-wheelers running, bikini babes, local watering holes and the beach wears, souvenir shops at every corner. We managed to get some water sports done – snorkelling and sea-walk which turned out to be kinda fun. The water was not completely clear but we managed to get some good pictures under water. Next few days was nothing but hanging at the hotel pool, shopping, eating out and drinking. The best end to the trip was the sunset at Kuta beach which was the nice and quite end to our short and quick trip.

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I will be back to Bali some day to explore more locations, more temples, more local cultures and a lot more beach!

The common world

‘I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world’ Albert Camus

Hong Kong & Iceland

Our 2018 travel was weird, unplanned and sudden! Out of the blue we were traveling to HK mid year and then to Iceland in Dec. Although they were in our bucket list to do some year they were definitely not planned together.

HK and Iceland are not common and on the outside might look like totally different places. They are different continents, different regions & seem separated without a lot of common history.

I was thinking about our travels to both these places last year and realised most places have a lot in common than what meets the eye.

There are just so so many ways Hong Kong is similar to Iceland but of course with their respective challenges it might seem different on the outside.

And voila! I got a blog!

I wonder if anyone has anything to say about this. If they do, I wonder if we are wired in the same way (we should meet).

My Views:

Population

Despite the higher and obvious population crisis in Hong Kong that was prevailing, it has continued to grow at a rapid pace with many having to leave the city to move to suburbs or survive in the crowd. Iceland, on the other hand, has been extremely scarce in population however the number of tourists visiting the country each year has increased the population to match the numbers. Same threat for both places and probably now applies for rest of the world too!

Cost of living

HK and Iceland have crossed their records in the increased cost of living each year. Renting apartments is an expensive deal even for living in an apartment the size of matchbox. In HK, lower than middle class is forced to move out of the city or stay homeless. And Iceland has increased the rent rapidly each year to accommodate all the tourists visiting the country. If you are looking to rent an apartment for your stay in Reykjavik, be prepared to pay exuberant costs for central locations during peak season.

Tech Savvy

Keeping in with the general assumptions that HK has a lot of advancement in technology, staying well connected and keeping in line with the latest trend, it was a surprise that Iceland was almost right there. With all places supporting card and going cashless, advanced apps to GPS and wifi enabled transport services. It is a bitter sweet experience for travellers like me who don’t get an opportunity get lost in a foreign country!

Natural threats

Iceland is not new to this category. From earthquakes to volcanos to flooding and snow storm or blizzards, it has seen it all. It is only impressive that Iceland has made it to the top tourist location despite these threats and the credit goes to their disaster management system and the lovely folks of Iceland who understand that nature is above them all and it can’t be taken for granted. HK has been suffering from serious natural disasters lately with hurricane and typhoon being reported several times last year. Although they might not be as prone to dangerous as Iceland they are equally deadly.

Shopping and Fashion

HK is THE place for shoppers across the globe! The cheap variety and abundance of clothing options make it irresistible for non-shoppers to make a stop! Iceland on the other hand has a unique classic touch to its clothing that is almost unavailable anywhere else in the world. As a shopper you want to own unique and eye catchy items more than redundant ones. I won’t comment on the price for commodities in Iceland and HK as they are miles apart!

While these are just a hand full of observations I had. I’m sure they have a lot more in common like food, culture, history and politics too!

The world we live in a only so small and with the connectivity it is only getting smaller. Take a break and go on an adventure this year! Let that be your resolution. You might learn the world is more simple than you think!

All the pictures inserted in the blog are street art forms from both HK and Reykjavik! Yet another thing common!

Happy Friday y’all!

2018 Throwback!

Having started this blog in 2018 and not writing a word I figured I might as well continue in 2019! (goals or what!?!)

A lot happened last year but here are my highlights-

  • A good Europe holiday – Iceland!
  • City holiday – Hong Kong
  • Made new friends
  • Started dancing again from scratch
  • Kept writing (not proud of this!)
  • Finishing 2 Murakami’s
  • Impromptu road trips
  • Got better at cooking
  • Catching up with old friends
  • Donations for good cause

You may think life ain’t that great now but believe me until I actually wrote these down point by point I didn’t think it was a great year either.

It is possible that you are doing just fine without being aware about it.

I will end this quick blog with one of my major take aways for life from Iceland –

‘Sometimes all we need is a massive scale of nature to remind us how small we are’

A despicable choice

Still wondering…

why I don’t have one of these already in life?

why I m starting one now?

And if it is a possible start of something interesting.. or will I shut it down like many others in the past!

I am human and I keep changing my mind more often than anything I can think of! But a lot of thoughts get accumulated in my mind every now and then and like most humans I find penning down my thoughts an easy way to understand myself better.

Isn’t that a pickle! We create these thoughts and they come from within us but still only understand it better when the desried outlet is available.

Ofcourse not all the thoughts can be expressed in words. Some use art to express their thoughts while some use weed! Who cares as long as they are able to express it.

I am procrastinating as always. If I do not get to the end of my blog now I will possibily open up all my thoughts in a single blog and have nothing to write about and eventually shut down this blog too.

It has been a terribly sad and depressing start but I do not care about where I start! I do wanna see where I finish. And, finger-crossed, this blog site makes the cut!

Adios, for now!

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