Category Archives: Travel

Madame Tussauds is Finally open in India – This is how it looks!

 

Considering the ever growing size of the Indian entertainment industry it was about time the famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum opened in India, . Finally it opened its doors in the capital city Delhi somewhere in Dec’17.

It is prominently located at the Regal Theatre in Connaught Place. Open between 10 am to 6 pm, tickets are priced at Rs 860 and with some luck one can easily book discounted tickets for way cheaper via Nearby.com or Cleartrip.com. Only remember that the tickets are mostly non refundable, so once booked its better to be there.

All of 3 floors, the museum is decked up with celebrities from all industries like movies, politics, sports, etc and it is definitely a great way to send the Saturday morning getting star struck and getting clicked with the stars. Great place to go with family or friends, sometimes analyzing or over analyzing for that matter, trying to find flaws with your favorite stars but mostly appreciating the fine work of wax art.

Some of the celebrity wax statues on display:

Hollywood

Cruising on a bike – Tom Cruise
The very charming – Richard Gere

My personal favorite – Will Smith
Beyonce
Kim Kardashian
The stunning Marilyn Monroe
Kate Winslet
Angelina Jolie
Another favorite – Anne Hathaway

The very gorgeous Scarlett Johansson!

Music

Believe it or not this is Justin Bieber
Asha Bhosle
The King of Pop – Micheal Jackson
Sonu Nigam
The Table Maestro – Zakir Hussain

Bollywood

The ever gorgeous – Madhubala and hands down the most beautiful of all the wax statues there.
Ranbir KapoorThe Evergreen – Madhuri Dixit

Of course Amitabh Bachchan was there too!

Anil Kapoor

Sports

The Master Blaster – Sachin Tendulkar
Milkha Singh
Kapil Sharma

Politics

The very Respectable – Late APJ Abdul Kalam
Honorable Prime Minister – Narendra Modi
Father of the Nation –
Mahatma Gandhi

Ones gone wrong

It goes without saying that the art work on display is a process of intricate detail and perfection. Having said that there are a couple of statues that look close to be like the celebrity intended to be created but not so there, like the following.

I must admit it did require me to look at the name label beside the statue to be sure it was Lady Gaga.

 

I think the gorgeous Kate Winslet could use a little more work to look closer to the real her.

JLo – Jennifer Lopez’s statue no doubt is stunning although it does not quite look like her. Just saying!

JLo

Know How

The museum rightfully does have a section dedicated to the inception and history of the wax museum and a brief description of what goes behind creation of these magnificent wax models. 

A small tuck shop is also available, you can easily have your hand shaped into a wax model as a souvenir starting at Rs 350. The exit way has a gallery full of merchandise, perfect to be bought as takeaway memories or as gift items. Also you can have your pictures framed and printed!

My Take

I left the place star struck. Although my concluding thoughts were that there were quite a few great personalities missing, such as A.R Rahman, Hann Zimmer, Rabindranath Tagore, etc. It would be great if gradually Madame Tussauds starts adding not just contemporary personalities but also the non contemporary personalities who have reached legendary heights in their own industry.

Possible Best Places to Visit in the United States in 2018

Possible Best Places to Visit in the United States in 2018

Entering into this New Year brings some new resolutions and definitely some new traveling goals. Being in the working class and a parent I know how hard life would be mainly in a fast-paced country like US. There are many things one could do for their mental health, but research shows that traveling and visiting new places do wonders for you, as you make memories with your loved ones.

In this article, I have discussed few places to visit while you are in America. Trust me you would not regret this.

DISNEY WORLD

Have your little ones with you? Your yes or no to this answer would not make any here. Disney world is a dream for everyone out there. Does not matter what age you are in, the magic will drag you to this place. With the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Pandora, Epcot, Hollywood Studio, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, there is so much you do not want to miss. My only concern is, do you have a perfect costume or not? Because you have to fit in, don’t you?

SAN DIEGO

San Diego is a city in California and the eighth largest city in the United States. You will find everything you are looking in a place to fall in love in San Diego. If you love museums and historic sites this city is for you. If you are a nature lover, there are a number of parks to visit too.  But what excites me most about San Diego is the sailing experience you can have. I, myself love water and sunsets.  I take my kids on kayaking trips offend. So, for my family and me, San Diego was a memorable place to be.

HAWAIIAN ISLAND

As mentioned before, I love the sea. While standing in front of the majestic ocean, I always think how tiny me and my problems are. Hawaiian is the largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Kohala, Kona, Kau, Puna, Hilo and Hamakua Coast are the places you cannot forget in a lifetime.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Spectacular, breathtaking and a view to die for are the words are the words that would best describe this place. Conifers, mountains and the wildlife meeting the ocean are the highlights of this place. You would love every single thing here, even the smell of it.

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS

The Great Smoky Mountains are located in Caroline boarders. There is an amazing diversity of life in this place. Black bears, wildflowers enhancing the enchantment of the place and cades cove is all you can be looking forward to an ideal vacation. Hiking and camping are the highlights of this place.

NEW ORLEANS

Along the Mississippi River, this full of life place name New Orleans is located. I am a huge fan of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, would not lie, when I discussed with my family to visit this spot, the reason for me selecting this place was a hope to see vampires or so. Thankfully I did not encounter any of this because I did not know what to do next. But I was not disappointed at all. The city is full of life. Their nightlife and festive enthusiasm is something worth it.

ATLANTA

Atlanta is the capital of the state Georgia. Georgia Aquarium, Fox Theatre, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Piedmont Park, Oakland Cemetery, World of Coco-Cola, Zoo Atlanta and makes you fall in love with this place.

ORLANDO

Are you a theme park lover? Orlando is a place to be for you. Orlando is known as the capital of theme park world. Beautiful sites everywhere is a place where you must be. Not all the time you want amusement. Sometimes you just want to sit back and relax while enjoying the view.

SEDONA

There is always that one family member who loves art. And you have to take out some time for making their trip worthwhile too. If your family is no exception, then Sedona should be included in your itinerary, because Sedona is known for its art mostly. Following is the list of Sedona`s art galleries:

  • Exposures International Gallery
  • Sedona Arts Center
  • Lanning Gallery, Sedona Fine Art
  • Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
  • Goldenstein Gallery
  • Turquoise Tortoise Gallery
  • Rowe Fine Art Gallery
  • ALT Gallery
  • Visions Fine Art
  • Greg Lawson’s “Passion For Place” Gallery
  • The Melting Point
  • James Ratliff Gallery
  • Eclectic Image Gallery
  • Sedona, AZ, USA
  • Touchstone Gallery
  • Village Gallery Of Local Artists
  • Honshin Fine Art
  • Gallery Of Modern Masters
  • Sedona Giclee Gallery And Printer
  • Son Silver West Galleries Inc
  • Renee Taylor Gallery

Along with numerous of options for your art enthusiast, Sedona is also an ideal place for you if you love hiking. So, no one is missing their fun in Sedona.

SEATTLE

Seattle is the city of arts, entertainment, and other leisure activities. The highlight of this place is- The Experience Music Project, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Underground Tour, Centurylink Stadium and much more. This aesthetic beauty is a must go for you and your family.

 

Author bio: Tom is a blogger and a nature lover. He is obsessed with traveling and adventures and that too with his family. He believes that water has a steady hold of him. He regularly writes about his experiences at http://kayakcritic.net/

 

5 Unique Activities That Puts UAE In the Top Travel Category

5 Unique Activities That Puts the UAE into Top Travel Category!

Why do people book tickets to UAE countries during their holidays each year? There’s a good reason for this and the reason is this – the kind of activities and attractions you find in the UAE are extremely unique. You cannot find them elsewhere, and the whole ambience of sheer luxury on top of everything else just pulls people in. Wouldn’t you like to know exactly what’s so unique about the UAE that people keep visiting time and again? Here are five unique activities that you can enjoy only in the UAE. Read on and let us know what you think!

Sunset View From the Highest Point:

The highest point in the world right now is the Burj Khalifa, at 829 meters. Imagine being able to stand on levels 124, 125 and 148 from the At the Top Observatory, surrounded top, bottom and sides by clear glass. There’ll be nothing between you and the outside except glass. The experience of standing here and enjoying the superb desert sunrise is something that belies belief. It’s magical. The incredible 360-degree views of the city bathed in the golden hues of the setting sun makes such a sight that people return to Dubai, just to experience this view time and again in person.

Fastest Ferrari Ride: 

The Ferrari World Park in Abu Dhabi offers the fastest Ferrari ride you’ve experienced in your life. If you’ve always wondered just how the Formula One race drivers zoom carelessly around corners in some of the most expensive cars in the world, now you’ll get to know how. Feel the thrill of being in the shoes of a Scuderia Ferrari driver. If you’ve got an appetite for G-force and velocity, come to Ferrari World and be driven in one of the top racing Ferraris on campus in the same racing style as you see on Formula One. Speed around corners, be slammed back in your seat and in general, experience that combination of fear, euphoria and utter rush of adrenalin that car race drivers experience. Go round and round on the tracks screaming away as your family and friends watch in envy!

Desert Activities from Morning to Overnight: 

One of the most unique things you can do in the UAE is to sign up for a desert safari. The mystical, magical deserts of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Fujairah are incredible. If you sign up for a Desert Safari Abu Dhabi, you can check out the tallest dune in the UAE – the Moreeb dune (Al Moreb Hill). You can sign up for morning, evening or overnight safaris. No matter which safari you sign up for, the first stop is at the desert camel camp, where you’ll learn how to ride camels on the soft sands. Then follow some wonderful desert adventures – dune bashing, dune driving, sand boarding, quad biking and so on. The evening and overnight safaris include in-tent entertainment – Tanura and belly dancing shows and henna painting. You can sit back with a shisha pipe and relax like a true Bedouin in your Arab robes enjoying the amazing sunset, and then enjoy a fabulous buffet continental and Emirati dinner. Overnight safari customers can enjoy a wonderful night spent under the fabulous Arabian Desert sky. Additional activities include sunset and sunrise photography and desert trek in the night.

 

Explore The Biggest Shopping Mall: 

The incredible Dubai Mall is a small city in and of itself; it has over 1200 retail outlets and hundreds of eateries and fine restaurants in the food court as well. The Dubai Mall is an all-in-one destination – shopping, entertainment, food, relaxation and education.

  • The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo:  is located at the Dubai Mall. It is the best way to get up close to the wonderful marine world; the aquarium houses more than 33,000 sea creatures including a range of deadly sharks. The most interesting thing about the aquarium is the long acrylic tunnel that delves for several meters under the sea.
  • Grand Atrium: Here you’ll see a beautiful replica of the Dubai Creek Tower along with its grand architecture.
  • KidZania: A kiddie-sized grownup world where kids can enjoy working in serious jobs and learning about grownup life.
  • Dubai Ice Rink: Huge ice rink where regular competitions and events are conducted
  • Dino: Dubai has a 155 million year-old dino skeleton at The Souk Dome
  • Reel Cinemas: Boasts of 22 screens and fabulous seats and sound quality.
  • The Emirates A380 Experience: A flight simulator that allows you to fly a state-of-the-art Emirates A380 flight.
  • The Dubai Fountain: Spectacular water, lights and sound shows several times a day set to fantastic music just outside the Burj Khalifa on top of the enormous Burj Lake.

Unique Upcoming Attraction

Several unique attractions are coming up in Dubai and here are two of the top ones on the list!

  • World’s First Floating Resort: Dubai’s new floating resort will be built about 2.5 miles offshore and will cost the city $680 million. It will be a modern take on Italy’s own Floating City. This new fabulous floating resort will house 3,000 guests per day, who will arrive by helicopter, boat or seaplane to the resort. After registration, the guests will be taken to their rooms via a romantic gondola which will traverse the resort’s man made, winding water canals. Here are some interesting details:
  • The resort will span four decks, one of which will be totally underwater, offering magnificent views of the gondolas passing above and the incredible coral reefs below.  
  • The resort will have 414 cabins; multiple boutique shops; 12 or more restaurants and bars, 12 floating beaches
  • There’ll be 24 pools, of which some will have acrylic bottoms so you can check out all the coral reefs.  
  • There’s also the planned world’s first underwater spa

Construction will begin in early 2018 and will be completed by 2020 and we simply cannot wait!

  • World’s First Flying Taxi: Dubai has engineered the world’s first flying taxi, and is ready to begin trails by the end of this year. The emirate plans to have a fully-operational driverless flying taxi servicing passengers all over Dubai by 2022. The drone taxis will take off from various points, pick up people at designated points and soar over the city, very close to iconic skylines such as the Burj Khalifa.

Author Bio:
Akshay Koranne is a travel blogger who loves travelling across the world and sharing the experiences through blogs and articles. Apart from blogging and travelling he likes spending his time in playing Chess and Cricket.

Shantiniketan – An Art Lover’s Paradise

Shantiniketan – An Art Lover’s Paradise

‘Shantiniketan’ meaning ‘Adobe of Shanti or peace’ is a place true to its name and a true art, nature and peace lover’s paradise.

Shantiniketan is home to the world famous Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Having stayed at a distance of 160 kms from Shantiniketan in Kolkata for the last 4 years and yet not having visited the place was something that was always at the back of my mind. So recently I finally ended up spending a weekend in this stunning abode of art, culture and literature.  Here I have shared some photos from my weekend stay in Shantiniketan.

The moment you set foot in Bolpur, where Shantiniketan is situated, the first thing one would notice is the vibrant red color of the soil, the reason why it is also called the land of ‘Lal Matti’ meaning land of red soil.

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‘Lal Matti’ – Red soil

In the evening I wandered over the nearby ‘Haat’ meaning flee market. The one is called the Biswa Bangla Haat with proper stalls selling handmade and painted things made by the locals put up for sale. Trust me shopping here is a dream, such reasonable prices and such beautiful work of art on sale, such as hand painted umbrellas and painted wall hangings.

Hand painted umbrella
Local hand painted wall hangings
The permanent shops at the ‘Haat’

After spending some time at the Haat buying local handcrafted things, while wandering around we came across this beautiful park cum boating area called ‘Shyor Bithi’. Not a usual tourist spot, trust me it  a lovely secluded park and a great way to spend sometime in nature. It also have a restaurant, and to my surprise it was serving all cuisines like indian, chinese, even Italian.

Entrance to the park
The beautiful park over looking the boating area

Next morning we left early to visit the very holy ‘KanKalitala’ temple, a hindu temple of great significance for the local people here. It is at a few kms from Bolpur and one can easily hire an auto to take you there. The trip to Kankalitala is worth even if you are not too keen about religious things, the ride to the temple is through untouched villages and fields and such a great way to enjoy the country and village side scene. The streets around the temple is usually buzzing with shops selling offering for Godess Kali, such as colorful hibiscus garlands and incence sticks.

Hibiscus garlands on sale
The village side scene

Finally in the afternoon I ended up in the Visva-Bharati University founded by Rabindranath Tagore who called it Visva-Bharati,  meaning the communion of the world with India. First thing you notice once you enter the campus is huge trees and open spaces with study areas under the trees, one of the most unique things about the university is the concept of teaching under trees, which is still practiced today. There is the museum inside the campus with things Tagore used to use, his writings and other things related to his life on display. It takes well over a good 5-6 hrs to explore the entire campus along with the museum.

Open study areas under the trees
Museum comprising of a permanent display section and the five homes lived in by Tagore,
Art installations in the gardens inside the campus

Inside ‘Kala Bhavana’ a well-known and distinguished centre for Visual Art practice and research in India.

 

Further into the campus there is a section on display showcasing the huts and lifestyle of villagers from all regions in India like how the people in the villages in Orrisa live, how their huts are, etc. Other huts on display are from Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram,etc..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a tiring day spent exploring the University and museum, I headed off the the most interesting part of the trip, to the weekend ‘haat’ which gathers every weekend by the bank of the river there. Trust me you wouldn’t want to miss this for the world. As the evening commences so does the electrifying and infectious atmosphere by the banks of the river. The air is filled with local musicians playing baul music and it is such a festive and joyous feeling all around, almost as if you would want to tap your foot and dance and sing along.Don’t forget to grab an out of the world bengali lunch served in Lotus leaves in the hut style ‘Shakuntala’ restaurant right on the banks of the river beside the haat. Be sure to reach there early fr lunch else expect a long queue or worst id food gets over. I had the best mutton curry and shukto here. Such a great way to have lunch on the banks of the river amidst baul music and hands down delicious home style cooked food served on lotus leaves and terracota vessels.

Some  of the things for sale in the weekend haat. It is common for college kids and others with interest in art to come and sell their art work here. Its is a kingdom of art work, especially for me I did not want the evening to end. Home decor, fabric, bags, sarees what was not there to buy.  Rest assured I am definitely coming back here just to admire the sheer talent and art work display.

Local handircraft on saleAlas! after a soul satisfying trip of Shantniketan, I was off back home but not without visiting the newly opened museum ‘Gitanjali’ very close to Railway station that tells the story of ‘Gitanjali’ (the collection of poems for which Tagore received the Nobel prize) and Tagore.

 

 

 

13 Haunted Vacation Spots to Visit in the United States Before You Die

13 Haunted Vacation Spots to Visit in the United States Before You Die

Some of the best haunted places in US for the thrill seekers! You would not want to miss these places!

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13 Haunted Vacations in the United States to Visit Before You Die

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Varanasi – Photo Journal

Varanasi – Photo Journal

Varanasi is the soul of spiritual India and one of the oldest living cities in the world. It embodies the brilliance of human existence and co-existence. Where else can one witness contrasting religions co-existing, Varanasi – the capital of Hinduism is home to an equally large population of Muslim weavers producing the highly coveted Indian fabric called Banarasi fabric or Banarasi sarees. Where else could one possibly witness the burning of dead bodies by the ghats of Ganges. A Hindu saint, a Muslim weaver and a stray dog can be seen sitting beside each other on the ghats with silent harmony, such is the spirit of Varanasi where each human being is equal just as nature would wish for it to be!

((Just a quick note to my readers, the articles have links integrated into the blogs, you can help me gain some extra bucks by clicking on these links. It is just a way for bloggers to earn some extra bucks that could help fund my further travels. Sorry for interrupting, Read on..))

One would either absolutely love the complex organised chaos of Varanasi or totally hate it. The essence of this city will rip your soul, the raw scenes of the bodies burning on the ghats will churn your brains inside out and compel you to re think about life and your existence. I have shared a few random photos from my time in Varanasi, it is better seen than spoken about!

Preparation for the Evening Aarti at the Dashashwamedh Ghat. The famous evening aarti takes place on this ghat only starting at around 6:45pm every evening, essentially it is a form of worshiping the Ganges.

Many vendors can be seen selling flowers and diyas on the ghats, a diya along with flowers is usually sold for Rs 10, it is holy to light the diya and set the leaf bowls afloat on the Ganges hoping it will fulfill whatever one has wished for which lighting the diya.

The evening aarti in progress, its a magical and soulful experience t witness 7 pandits performing the evening aarti, all in sync with each other. The atmosphere is electrying with holy chants and the harmony of all the people there clapping together in tune with the chants.

Watch the Aarti:

Varanasi illuminates the moment the sun goes down, starting with the evening aarti and hundreds of diyas afloat, Ganges turns into a dancing beauty shimmering through out. The best way to indulge in this time is by a boat ride which will take you along the ghats. The boat men are usually well versed with the history of the ghats and double hat as a guide as well. For foreigners, my tip is do not settle for anything more than Rs 300 for a boat ride on the Ganges.

Manikarnika Ghat is one of the most famous Ghats is Varanasi, it is believed and it is true as well that the fire of this ghat never goes down, there is some human dead body being burnt here throughout the year. It is a unique, life changing and a  raw experience to witness performance of Hindu burial rituals in such close proximity.

At Manikarnika Ghat, clicked from the boat.

Varanasi is equally calming in the morning, the air is fresh and it is beautiful to watch the locals offering prayers in the Ganges and taking a holy dip. At Dashashwamedh Ghat in the morning, the boats are parked by the ghats awaiting to take tourists on boat rides.

From the boat:

The famous Indian local barbers, one can be seen below in the photo, sitting like a king while he waits for his next customer.

The one most popular visual from the ghats of Varanasi is that of a ‘sadhu’ drapped in saffron, I clicked the sadhu with the perfect pose! 

This below is the backside of Brijrama Palace, said to one of the oldest landmarks of the city perched on Darbhanga Ghat, the palace which is now one of the most expensive hotels in Varanasi at approx. Rs 25,000 per night dates back to 1812. It also has one of the oldest elevators installed in India in 1915.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most important and oldest temples in India with a dome still made of gold. Although photography is not allowed in the old Kashi Vishwanath Temple. There is now a newly built Kashi Vishwanath Temple in the sprawling Benaras University. 

Chaotic street traffic of Varanasi  – Nothing can get more thrilling than this, not even a good roller coaster ride :

Any trip to Varanasi is incomplete without indulging on the super delicious food on offer. Below is a drooling Maharaja thali, although this one is vegetarian, still it is one of the best thalis I have ever had at Kaiser Palace – Hotel Surya.

Do not, I repeat do not miss out on having the utterly rich and yummy milk based desserts and drinks, such Kulfi, Lassi, Rabri, Dahi and many more.

The best way to end a delicious meal is by buying yourself a what they popularly call in India ‘masala’ a form of digestive that can be found in several forms such a tiny bullets or flavoured or softened betelnuts, etc. Buying some as a souvenir is always a great idea.

Last but not the least, interested in shopping or  not, it is still worth visiting the local shops in dingy alleys selling stunning intricately woven Banarasi fabric and sarees.

Subtle and pain staking process of weaving a Banarasi saree:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My experience of visiting Varanasi was like a roller coaster ride – thrilling, sometimes a bit scary, mentally and emotionally consuming and definitely one that I will never miss for anything else.

Banasura – Kerala’s Hidden Gem – Guest Post

In the South West corner of India, there is a land of rivers and backwaters named Kerala. A state considered by many as God’s own country because of its exotic wildlife, ancient historical structures and vast nature preserve. It’s history is that of fishermen who have, for centuries, awoken early in the mornings before sunrise, to set
out with their sons into the waters. They would spend the entire morning catching fish and would then bring back any successful bait to their families. The fish would be cleaned, salted and eaten with a small portion of rice, or garnished with crushed chillies and turmaric, if this could afford that as well. Any left-overs would be sold on
the market by mid-day, and after that, everyone would head to bed before sunrise to be ready for an early rise the next day.

Years ago, when I was in my teenage years, my family and I were spending a few weeks in India, visiting family and friends. Suddenly my father decided that we should go on a trip to a jungle in Kerala, and stay in a place called Banasura for a few days. Of course my sister and I were very keen about this and couldn’t wait to leave,
knowing we could futher explore the buzzeling city and it’s chaos when we’d got back. We left in a big bus with not just my family but also all my family’s old friends and their relatives. The journey was about twelve hours long which was funny because we hadn’t traveled more than 300 km. The length of the trip was due to the terrible Indian traffic and the fact that we were trying to navigate our way through a mountain with a 30 ft. long bus. But I must say the ride was well worth it because our destination was more impressive than words could describe. We were surrounded by green mountain
ranges covered with tea plantages, the sky had an unusual purple glow to it and here and there you could see enormous lakes with odd looking branches sticking out of them. It was only then I realized how much I felt aligned with nature by being this secluded, parted from the civilized world I had come from. It’s always an interesting
and sudden change when you step into nature from the busy city life.

Banasura Sagar Kerala by DP Photography

We ended up not doing very much throughout our trip. There was a campfire every night, I learned to play cricket, and also learned that I wasn’t very good at it. In my defense, we were playing on a cliff’s end, so everyone was rather cautious of not falling from it in the process of batting and running. All in all, it was a relaxing
holiday, unlike our usual city trips that include jogging from one museum to the other. Banasura however, was far more stunning than any historical building I’ve ever seen, in fact it’s possibly the most wonderful place I’ve ever been.

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An Evening in Colombo – Photo Journal

Sri Lanka was a surprise package for me, especially so because I did not plan too much around it, it was more like an on the spur plan. Turns out the country does have a lot to offer! Apart from other places I had a short time in Colombo, Some of the highlights of my stay in Colombo in pictures.

Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo: A must visit place in Colombo, the Temple of 1000 Buddhas – Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo.

The Temple of 1000 Buddhas, at Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo
Inside Gangaramaya Temple
Inside Gangaramaya Temple

Inside Gangaramaya Temple

Interesting looking men at Gangaramaya Temple
Luckily found some preparation for a wedding setup going on inside the Temple
Some stunning piece inside the Temple
Yes! unfortunately these are Tusks on display (Elephant teeth)

Streets of Colombo:

A road side shop in Colombo
Interesting looking pickle on sale at a roadside shop


Galle Face Green, Colombo: 
The part of Colombo best to spend a carefree evening after hopping around touristy places. Overlooking the ocean, it is a perfect spot to try some delicious sea food and watch a beautiful sunset.

Seafood at Galle Face Green
Seafood at Galle Face Green
My dinner for the night!
Sunset at Galle Face Green

 

All photos are clicked from my mobile phone so pardon the quality 🙂

Experiences from Sri Lanka – Which I will remember Forever!

I visited the beautiful island country, Sri Lanka last year December 2016, being from India I was very curious to find out being a neighboring country how different could we possibly be. Well, now I can say we are very different temperamentally, yet so similar in several ways. When we talk or write about a place we usually end up talking and discussing about the places, food and culture. What we miss out is talking about the experiences and encounters with the people and the locals of the place. So today I feel like writing about my experiences with the locals of Sri Lanka, of course not all are great, but few which are, they have really touched me in a special way and I think I will always mention (I still do) these while talking about my stay in Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya

The amusing obsession with Age: This is not really a situation I can classify as good or bad, rather it is plain amusing. I am 29 years old and as per normal society standards (that’s what most people say, I personally don’t believe in society) I do not look like a nearing 30 year old I am often told, not only by people of my country but in general by human standards (so I am always told). But I faced the most profound situations of being reminded that I do not look like my age almost 90% of the time I interacted with a local in Sri Lanka. Not sure if it is treated as an ice-breaker (quite interesting if it is) in the country, but I can almost count several instances where after a quick ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’ the very next line to me was ‘How old are you?’. First 2-3 instances I was baffled, in my mind I was thinking ‘Really?what kind of a question is that!’, but after, I started enjoying it and I used to give hilarious replies, like I am 35, with 2 kids (I am still happily not married with no kids) just for the fun of it. I am still intrigued if it was just me or if there is really something to this. Nevertheless! Very amusing I must admit!

Sigiriya.

As peaceful as can get: Well this might be a relative observation given that I belong to India. India is the epitome of chaos and craziness and every tiny situation is usually addressed with enough drama and noise, especially road and traffic situations. I happened to be a part of a road situation in Sri Lanka and the parallels of a similar in any country (rather any country) would be very different I am sure. So one of the days in Colombo I had taken an auto from my hotel to the railway station. During this ride, we happened to stop at a red traffic signal, unfortunately when the signal turned green due to some reason the auto ended my mildly brushing into a passerby on a cycle (no one was hurt). The events that followed after were thoroughly amazing! the auto driver realized that he had brushed into a cyclist and both of them started talking in a straight face manner in their local language. Very soon the traffic police intervened and after a short discussion us and the cyclist drove to the closest market and to my utter amusement I saw the auto driver got down, signaled me to wait in the auto, went to a local road side shoe store nearby, bought a pair of slippers and gave it to the cyclist. After this we were back on track and soon I was dropped off at the railway station. So! was this how a road rage situation is handled here?? i would infer what happened was that the cyclist must have demanded that a pair of slippers be bought for him and so it was agreed. I could imagine a similar situation in India where such an incident would be noisy with people hurling abuses at each other or even fists. Though I am not really very surprised, since being a Buddhism dominated country it is just befitting for the people here to be so tolerant and non-violent. Either ways I hope the peace remains and spreads on to its neighboring countries as well.

Dambulla Cave Temple

A helping hand: How often does one have the privilege of feeling cared for or to have someone go above the ordinary to help you. I was fortunate enough to have this experience. We had booked a taxi to Nuwara Eliya and during our way back we were discussing our plans of travelling to Sigiriya via a local bus the day after . The driver happened to overhear us and asked us about our plans, upon knowing he was really worried and was trying hard to convince us that going by bus was not a good idea. Later after dropping us back, he called up and arranged for us to go to Sigiriya in a taxi that was going there to pick someone else up for an extremely reasonable price. I couldn’t be more thankful to this find gentleman for taking the initiative and pain to arrange this for us without us even asking for it, just so that we could be safe. The world could use more such heroes who find the safety of others as their responsibility. Blessings to this man!!

 

Koh Phi Phi & Phang Na Bay

Koh Phi Phi Island & Phang Nya Bay

 Well if you are in Phuket for a short stay and do not take these 2 tours, you are surely missing out on a lot of nature’s versatile creation.

One of the days during our stay in Phuket we opted for the Koh Phi Phi Island tour, we had already booked the tour from an agent in the airport for a good bargained price. The day to Koh Phi Phi began really early, the tour guys arranged for pick-up and drop to our hotels, the pick-up happened at 7:00 am, too early after a mad night at Bangla Road. With swollen eyes and an empty stomach and several pick-ups later we headed off to the pier where our speedboat was waiting for us.

 After a complimentary coffee and snacks and a handful of ‘how not to die’ instructions in Thai-lish (Thai + English) language we were off to explore this side of the Krabi province, Koh Phi Phi is ideally a collection of 2 large and few smaller islands as told to us by the cruise guide.

One tip: The seats inside the boat are not allotted, it is on first come first serve basis, so if you are interested to not get charred and burnt sitting outside under the tropical sun, you might as well want to grab a seat inside the cabin area asap. I did the mistake of sitting outside for a better view and ride at the expense of my nose that got tanned severely.

The first leg of the ride is calm overlooking vast expanses of blue as far as one can see, just sea and the sky around and above, it is after a good half hour ride that we could start to notice the pinnacle shaped massive rocks protruding out of the blue, it does look like a place something out of Avatar.

 The boat stops at Maya Bay, popular for the shooting of the movie ‘The Beach’. Here usually they let us go snorkeling for a while with gears provided by them. Although snorkeling here was pretty disappointing as there was no coral nor much fishes around, maybe due to the disturbance caused by the boats. We were served juices and cold drinks in the boat, no restrictions on how many you have, water bottles were provided as well.

We stopped at Phi Phi Don for lunch, the menu comprised of noodles, soup, chicken for main course, vegetables stir fried and a couple of other items, washroom facilities and free water was available as well.

 After lunch and some more time we headed off to the Viking Caves and then over to the Coral Bay. We were given free time here to do as one wishes, while we were lazing around, we saw quite a many people with head down under water. We figured this place as the name suggests was famous for snorkeling, without wasting time we headed off to get our snorkeling gear.

 What happened after that was sheer pleasure, once we started to snorkel we realized this place was abundant with coral life and fishes of beautiful colors and sizes, the water level was waist high with a bed of sharp corals, so be careful to not set your foot anywhere without seeing or you might end up cutting your feet like I did. You can carry a piece of bread or fish food to attract the fishes towards you, something a lot of tourists out there were trying. The beauty of the underwater still remains alive in my eyes. What was lovely about snorkeling here was that since the water is waist high, its safe to snorkel on your own, there are no instructors to direct you or no time limit on how long you remain under water which was the best part.

As we headed back one of the helpers in the boat started throwing some food into the sea, until 2 minutes we could not understand why he was doing. Within 5 minutes we could see a fleet of huge sea birds, not sure about the name of the kind, following our boat and making sharp dives into the water, picking up a piece of food and flying away. Watching them was so liberating, it looked something like a scene out of a Jurassic Park movie.

After our journey back to the Pier we got dropped off back to the hotel, the tour costed us around 1000 THB per head.

Next day early morning we headed off to Phang Nya Bay, the main attraction being James Bond Island.

After a late last night we hardly managed to not miss the pick-up in the morning for the trip. Sleepy eyed and with an empty stomach we pulled ourselves out of bed and headed off to another day at the sea. Having slept on our way to the pier, we woke up directly at our drop off point at the pier. Luckily complimentary coffee and snacks was available as a relief. After a quick safety session by the leaders of the boat, we headed off into the sea. The sun had no mercy on us even early in the morning. We grabbed the front deck under the sun in the speedboat, although this time we were well equipped with loads of sunscreen. Few hours into the ride, we were wide awake, all the sleepy feeling was soon gone as soon as we spotted the rocks protruding out of the waters, quite similar to the scenes out of Avatar. A handsome layer of skin tan later we reached Panak Island, here we climbed into a canoe along with a guide who paddled us into dark caves and into hidden lagoons, the experience was spectacular, this was the first time I was doing something like this and it was such an adventure like experience. We were all handed a helmet with flashlights, it felt nothing lesser than a Nat Geo guy on cave discovery mission. Its fun when the othe canoes pass you by and usually gently nudge into each other, reminded me of striking cars in an amusement park.

We headed off to the world famous James Bond Island after this.

On reaching here first we noticed the 66 foot tall islet called Ko Tapu which seemed to be a tourist hit, as it was crowded with tourists posing for pictures in front of it.

Right across it is the famous rock jutting out of the green waters called the James Bond rock made famous by the scene from the famous 007 movie. We dint really stop here for too long, a few quick snaps later , which is difficult to manage as it gets crowded around the rock, we shopped a little at the local stalls around, it does make sense to buy a thing or two from the local stalls there as it is the source of livelihood for the locals there. We were back into the boat and headed off to the Naka Island.

Lunch was served in the mean while in the boat itself. Well the lunch episode is quite interesting, a good, tempting spread of food was laid out; noodles, a big sea fish grilled and dressed to perfection, vegetables, soup, desserts and quite a few other tempting items. Since we were to busy chit chatting, we thought to get lunch after 5-10 mins. It turns out that after 5-10 mintues, the food was gone, only the fish bones were left behind. The food was attacked by all our hungry co-passengers. Although we managed to eat, but quite a few items were not being refilled, like the grilled fishes. So bad luck for us, but good luck for you guys now that you know what to do..as soon as the food it laid out, go for it ;).

So we had to do without it. So yes, ‘when the food is served’ – Attack! 😉

Few snaps from the canoeing into the caves: