Sunday, September 4, 2011

Genting Highland calling

Here I was packing my bags early in the morning and getting ready for next adventure.
After checking out and confirming that buses for Genting ply every 30minutes from various bus stations in Kuala lumpur city but closest to China town was Hentian Puduraya bus station. And since it was walkable distance, I carrying my trolley bag and one shoulder bag marched towards what was walkable distance. By the time I reached, I was dripping in sweat !!!!! wow what a walk 
Bus station was bloody bigger than biggest train station in Mumbai and centrally cooled, With information kiosk again coming handy, wasn't difficult at all to get a bus and cable car ticket for Genting.

Buses were pretty comfy and I was on my way to the Esselworld of Malaysia. Unfortunately I got dozed off as soon as bus started the journey as I am not really used to travelling on smooth surface roads !!!  Within 45minutes I was at bus terminal at the base camp of Genting. I still had ample amount of time in my hand as Shriks was to reach directly at Hotel bus terminal from Singapore by 2pm. It was time for quick smoke break for me and also check a Buddhist temple at base camp.

Now onto my experience with cablecar, I was informed by security that my bag was oversize and would need to be deposited at hotel kiosk and would reach my hotel lobby in 30minutes. So depositing my bag I proceeded to third floor to catch cable car. I just fell in love with cable car at first sight and with not much crowd, I had the leisure of travelling with another group or have a cable car all for myself. I opted for second option and was quickly frisked in the car, with door closed automatically I was on my way to heaven.
Its an experience like never before, as we move up and up, we reach for the clouds and forest below becomes denser and denser. Oh boy !!! what a sight !!!! but occasional shake of cable car suspended from the cable really got some butterflies rolling in my stomach. One point I could only see clouds and nothing else just 3 feet ahead of me !!!! truly heavenly experience. 
11 minutes of ride and here I was at Asia's las vegas, best outdoor theme park, biggest hotel at one point of time and most colourful. I asked one of the security personal about direction to hotel lobby and his answer was walk straight for 6 minutes, then climb 3 stories in escalator and then again follow the sign board for a walk of 3 minutes so in all 15minutes walk and I was standing inside GENTING !!!!  so again remembered Johnny walker uncle's word, Keep walking... walk was through different shopping plaza, indoor theme parks. 

Massive is not the word !!!! all these walk does not even make you feel whether its raining, snowing, or its summer time outside. Reached hotel lobby to find 33 counters only to provide you hotel room / reservations and wait time for your number was 10minutes. All this only for one hotel, there are total of 4-5 hotels and total room count of 6000 rooms !!!!! People flocking in droves and of all Nationality.

Amazed I reached first world bus terminal to meet Shriks only to find climate had changed and it was pouring with zero visibility outside. I got first ever taste of Starbucks coffee and best smoke break ever in zero visibility outside.

Met a marwari couple from Nagpur who had finished their trip and were waiting for the bus on the way back to KL and then Mumbai. Shared a smoke with him and clicked pictures, while gaining some titbits about the place and also Langkawi where my new uncle & aunt were on their "n"th honeymoon. LOL 

Finally Shriks arrived from Singapore, It refreshed memories as last we met was 10years back. So here we were waiting in queue to get our room keys which on 21st floor and room number was 2845. wow !!! View from the hotel room was mesmerising, of outdoor theme park and premium Highland hotel only if sky was clear else it was only clouds. Best part was room doesn't have AC. It was chilling cold and it was summer time in KL !!!! 
We decided on checking the place entire day and outdoor theme park next day with casino in the night. Checking different shopping complex,food courts, indoor theme park, we didn't realise it was almost 10pm, Again the food options for a veggie is limited in entire complex and Shriks being a staunch veggie had to survive on only veg pizza with basic toppings !!!! I managed to grab cheese roti cenai and egg fried rice. Tired and excited about tomorrow we bid good night.

Morning we had options for veg breakfast which was included with reservations. Breakfast included rice and hot dal, my favorite while Shriks being half firang with 15years as UK passport holder opted for American breakfast. Meeting some people on tours from KESARI was fun as able to hear local Indian languages Gujarati, Marathi. All charged we were off to outdoor theme park for some amazing signature rides. Everything about Genting was massive in all forms. 

Apart from common rides, we experienced two ride which specially requires mention, one was "flying coater" in which you stand in the coaster which twist and turns while on ride, It left me breathless with heart almost stopping if ride had not stopped in 3minutes.
Second was "space shot" where we get strapped on chair and its open air ride, which goes up slowly giving you a view of entire park till 185 feet and before you can even realise, it drops you down giving a experience of weightlessness. Only words we had in our mouth was " WTF was that" 
I didn't try any of these rides second time !!!! 

Corkscrew, spinner, dinosaur land, boat ride were fun but go carting was amazing.

With entire day coming to end and we were again hungry but again veg option were negligible in park except for one store selling "VEG PIZZA" excited Shriks jumped and ordered it only to find Pizza was ready made and "wafer thin" ROTFL with Shriks abusing for being conned !!!!!!  
With loads of pics clicked for our memoir, we left for our hotel room for a quick nap before heading for Casino.

Casino had dressed code which I was aware while shriks being half firang had only got his "chaddis".   Luckily since I had extra pair so shriks was relieved only to find he was denied entry for not wearing shoes.LMAO as he actually stood there checking if security was allowing others and not him, And also he pointed to one gentleman who was wearing floaters only to be informed that floaters wid socks was allowed. So again me lending him extra pair of socks, We got in Casino, my first while shriks had experienced it in London. Casino was huge with each and every table crowded. Lost 50 RM or 750 INR but it was real fun. 

Last visit was to one of the karaoke open bar where you sip your drink and listen to live performance while indoor theme park train ride rolls over the top with people screaming their lungs out.

We were back with loads of fun and backpack ready to go back to KL for our next tour.
One disappointment was we couldn't ride Awana cable car which takes you to a 4 story Chinese temple on a hill as it only opens on sat/sun. But as saying goes if we had experienced everything in Genting then the charm of coming back for something we missed wouldn't be there. 

So we bid adios to our colourful and massive hotel and to Genting as a whole.
On the way to our next destination Kuala Lumpur....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Accompany me to Chinatown & Putrajaya, Cyberjaya

Month of December, one of my schoolmate or I should say Kindergarten mate Shriks was planning trip to South East Asia during coming summer holidays from July-August in UK. And since Thailand was going to be part of his tour, I gave him some inputs from my previous visits, On other hand I had been planning Malaysia since quite sometime and as Shriks informed that he was also planning Malaysia and Singapore so here it was !!! . Malaysia Trip .We decided to meet in Kuala lumpur and planned our itinerary and confirmed our hotel bookings for our visit across west Malaysia. We also invited another of our K.G mate Manu based in California but due his busy schedule he could not join us.

With Visa in place, I was ready for my vacation to Malaysia. Come August and I was onboard Air-Asia flight bound for Kuala Lumpur.  I waas travelling alone from Mumbai and with slight change in plan, Shriks decided to meet me directly in Genting first and then come with me to KL later.

My flight journey was quiet boring I would say with nothing much to do in 5hours except one Carlsberg beer which I had on the flight. Air hostess were also not so glamorous either ... Lol
"Like I was to get Miss Universe or Miss world serving me on my flight". (Low cost airlines so low wages !! Lol).
I was hoping to click some pics of twin towers from the flight as I was to reach at 9pm KL time but later came to know that airport was 60minutes ride from main city.

Coming out of airport with my luggage was like going on walk in the evening with one hand luggage and one checking bag.!!!!! phew.  I boarded skybus to KL Sentral station, best thing about Air-Asia is they provide bus booking along with flight booking for two destination in city, 1Utama bus station and KL sentral. I selected KL sentral (as I was travelling alone and didn't want to take chances with Utama) and also it was one station from where you can not only reach various parts of city but also to Singapore in south and Thailand in North.
I took cab from Sentral to my hotel in China town only to find shops closed and roads deserted. I was really disappointed and started regretting my choice of hotel location. I was actually getting goose bumps on seeing deserted roads. WTF !!!!!
On checking with hotel manager, came to know that except certain popular areas which are open till wee hours,this city sleeps at 11pm unlike Thailand which wakes up at 11pm !!!!!!! Nothing much to do and tired with my journey, I had one odd pegs of JW which I was carrying from India and went off to sleep hoping that morning should be exciting.
Up at around 9ish in morning, I had plans to go to my office in Cyberjaya and also meet one of college buddy who was now working in IBM.
I had gujju breakfast in morning with mommy packing so many "theplas" that I could have it for breakfast, lunch & dinner for two days !!!

Day 1 in KL, I decided to check China town first before heading to Cyberjaya, Petaling street which is part of heritage buildings in KL has 100 year history  was right opposite my hotel, with bargain shops open, I was feeling relaxed as my trip would not be a waste.

I came across century old temple of Sri Mahamariamman with stalls selling garland offerings and diya offerings outside the temple. So start was really good !!!!   I got my first glimpse of Malaysian Ganpati Bappa in the temple. After performing puja for safe and sound journey ahead, I moved ahead.

Found one small eatery run by Tamil family serving meal for office goers, menu had some veg options as well, Jumping with joy and without second thought I decided to do my 'petpuja" now. Menu was rice, rasam, dal with floating curry leaves, egg curry, papaddam, spinach veggy all for 3RM. I actually felt urge of eating pan if I could get one as my tummy was too full.

I checked with locals and found bus available for KL sentral and then connecting trains for Putrajaya Cyberjaya. This is best part of Kuala Lumpur with transportation at its best. Information Kiosk and sign  boards guiding you everywhere. So had my first feel of KL with bus as well as KLIA express train travel, Putrajaya station was huge with information kiosk providing details about places of attraction and since I too had done bit of my homework, I hopped in taxi to Putra mosque, taxi driver hopeing to get more business from me, offered to take me to all places around Putrajaya for 2hours. so here I was on my way to Putra mosque, Selera putra lake with classic view of Seri wawasan bridge, Prime ministers residence, Putra Perdana garden, High court, Ministry of external affairs building. Everything here was grand be it roads or buildings or lakes or mosque. I was getting too delighted and best part was my Chinese taxi driver clicking pictures of me at all the places.

Late afternoon I caught bus U429 to Cyberjaya - Mecca of IT companies and so called intelligent city of Malaysia. Its city in city, Our Infinity park buildings and mindspace looks like miniature model when compared to Cyberjaya. Reaching IBM building was little tough but for guiding help from one IT student Hamid from Iran who guided me with proper directions. Reaching HP office was not tough as now had company of my friend. I had good chat with my friend as we accompanied by his friends sat at Kitchen Village - restaurant sipping cola, found the place full of gaming parlours and on enquiring my friend said the theme of prima avenue was WORK, EAT, PLAY !!! WoW. When are we going to do something similar in India !!!!
Kitchen Village - Cyberjaya

I caught direct bus from Cyberjaya to my hotel as it was already 7pm in evening. On reaching hotel found Chinatown in new looks with night market all litup in full bloom, Excited I got fresh and was off to Chinatown night markets.

Got some Ralph polo Tshirts for a bargain price which would surely make Ralph polo cry !!!!!!  Gucci, Jimmy Choo & other branded ladies bags were available at hunting price which would make your eyes and mouth wide open. Ladies are you listening !!!
China town in evening

Open restaurants flocked by tourist serving everything from Chinese, Malaysian, cuisine, chilled beer was welcome sight except for some places which were also serving fried bugs, ducks, coakroaches, lizards !!!! sure to make a Indian JAIN faint !!!!!
After some light dinner and walk around Chinatown, I reached hotel as had to reach Genting Highland next day to meet Shriks by afternoon, Genting Highland is approx 60minutes bus ride and then another 15minutes cable car ride from Kuala Lumpur city, So I bid goodnight to Chinatown hoping to come back again if time permits.

So here I am signing off my first leg of Kuala lumpur tour. Off to Genting Highland in next leg of my tour.

Enchanting and Truly Asia - Malaysia Trip

One of the my most memorable and topping the list of my adventure trips is my trip to Malaysia.
How much meticulous planning you do to cover most of Malaysia within your stay, it offers you more and more .... One place which stands true by its logo "Truly Asia" where Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and almost everyone will feel at home.

Melting pot of various cultures with magnificent man made attractions like Petronas, KL towers,
Nature parks like butterfly park, Asia's largest aviary for birds, Lake gardens - rain forest in middle of 20th century city !! can you beat that !!!
Night markets for cheap goods like 100 years old Petaling street - Chinatown or street markets in Jalan  masjid India and Chowkit station.
The night clubs, pubs and disc at P.Jalan Ramlee (ramlee street).
The Biggest shopping malls like Suria KLCC, Papillion, Sungei Wang, Times square, Mid valley city and these are just the ones that I could cover or remember.
The world famous BUKIT BINTANG WALK where you can get budget hotels,shops open till midnight, street side food vendors open till 3am.
Experience the home away from home in LITTLE INDIA, home to scores of Tamil population and people of Indian origin where you can get idli, dosai, sugarcane juice, chai and even pan !!!!!!!

The different types of transport like KLIA expess, Monorail, KL Kommuter, buses and taxis.
This is just in heart of the city of Kuala Lumpur....

The new administrative capital of Malaysia and planned city Putrajaya with huge park - Putra  Perdana, Putra mosque, Seri wawasan bridge
The mecca of IT companies Cyberjaya - Intelligent city which never sleeps, which carries the theme WORK, EAT & PLAY.

Casino cum Hill station with theme parks - Genting Highlands where you can spend days together without even experiencing rain, winter or hot summer. Not to forget the cable car ride which is one hell of a life time experience.
Experience the taste of bygone era of Portuguese, British, Dutch rules in Mallacca.
Grandeur and magnificent and amazing Batu caves with tallest status of LORD MURUGAN standing in full glory.
Enjoy the amazing, duty free LANGKAWI with beautiful beaches, waterfalls, adventure water sports, world famous cable car where you are at 700feet above sea level in heaven. The rainbow sunset on the beach is so magnificent that words fall short to describe it. Underwater aquarium with Penguins The mangroves tour, island hopping tour are some major not to be missed attractions.
PENANG another century old city with still holds the colonial era architectural buildings,

And this is just the west of Malaysia not to forget the eastern part of Malaysia which is even more enchanting with Amazon of Asia BORNEO with its rich rain forest, flora and fauna which is unique in itself, only found here, Mt KINABALU in Kinabalu national park which stands tall and is mecca for trekkers, nature lovers. Inviting you to come and fall in love.

In my trip I could only cover the western part of Malaysia and I am sure that due to time constraint I must have missed so much even in places of my visit but still whatever I could see, experience during my stay will be one memorable trip ever.

So come with me and to enjoy MALAYSIA through my eyes....

Lets go outing to Riverside Farm - Vasind

In one of my previous trips, we had gone to Nilshi - unique, unknown and amazing place all courtesy our leader "uncle" Ghatak, so after few more months of hard work we team members decided to do barter system where in we up our performance for the team and in return "Ghatak uncle" would take us to one more exciting new place. So all agreed and as decided time came for us to get ready for our new trip which was at Riverside farm -  Vasind overlooking Bhatsa river owned by Wayne's family.

Summer months it was. We all team members with our backpacks boarded the local train early in the morning from Dadar on the way to Vasind close to Kalyan junction on central railway route. Vasind is not one of most crowded railway stations and quite like a village types stations akeen to some of the stations on central railway route. As planned, on reaching station we found Wayne waiting in his JEEP, He had come to pick us as his farm was at quite a distance and it passes through narrow Bhatsai village on the banks of Bhatsa river. We all cramped in his JEEP and not so accommodating heavy size people decided to take rickshaw. En route wayne asked to purchase bitings and drinks as per our choice as it will be difficult to get it once at the village and he doesn't keep much stock.

The farmhouse was quite elegantly built one story building with two rooms on ground floor and one dormitory equipped with bedding, a separate standalone kitchen and his family bungalow,huge lawn with swimming pool and Bhatsa river flowing adjoining the farm. He had kayak boat and all equipments for snorkeling at the river and air rifle for night hunting.  So it was gonna be fun, The best part was as informed by Wayne that he doesn't allow two different groups at one time so the whole place was going to ours for one night two days .... wow

As usual we had our in house DJ Ghatak and his equipments for our Long party. Our team at the outing also included our colleague and Ghatak uncles fiance and our to be aunt Yakhan with us, she took immediate charge of our breakfast as we were dead hungry again. Omelets, bread butter, poha flowed non stop of course it was made by cooks at the farm but she single handedly served and managed it all for 9 of us.

Now the party begin, all of us jumped in pool under the brazing hot sun, it was amazing cooling effect.  As it happens in all outings one or two members of our group turned mischievous and got the Kayak boat in the swimming pool. so now kayaking it was, in the pool !!!!!!
Georgy our over sized colleague got lil more adventurous and got in Kayak boat, in all the fun filled atmosphere he forgot his size was too large for the small mouth of Kayak boat and now others not allowing him to get out of the boat. lol... It was hilarious to see Georgy struggling to come out while others wont allow him to do so. Finally we overturned the boat in the pool and Georgy finally managed to come out of the boat. fuming !!!!!!

With music flowing combined with shades of trees in the farm and everyone enjoying with drinks and occasional dip in the pool, we didn't realise that it was already evening.
So it was time for barbeque's. Wayne had made arrangements in advance so evening turned out to be double fun with music in the air accompanied with silence of the forest, drinks and barbeque's ... our party continued till wee hours when i last remembered some of us slept at 4am !!!!

Morning again we were joined by some more team members so everyone was up with only handful hours of sleep. We were up early as Wayne took us for dip in the river at another spot nearby where the water current was not strong enough with clean water.
So here it was in Bhatsa river where we enjoyed the swim, dip and laying idly in the lake with water flowing steadily. We also had snorkeling equipment at our disposal for underwater experience.

All in all it was another feather in my adventure trips collection and reason it gets a place in my blog as compared to my various other outings was place was amazing, fun and enjoyment was indescribable. The serene and tranquil environment away from bustling Mumbai life was something that cannot be written or captured in lens but can only be experienced at such unique and not so far away gateways.

So chill out at such gateways sometimes to rejuvenate oneself and start fresh following day at work with more positive and energetic "you".

CIAO !!!

Weekend short trip to Jivdani and Arnala Fort - Virar

In this adventure trip of mine, I added religious flavour to it as for long I was planning to go to one beautiful temple on hillock JIVDANI and also visit less know and not so frequented beach and island of ARNALA located not far from the last station on western front of Mumbai local suburban train VIRAR.

This was in month of Feb when winters in Mumbai were beginning to loose battle against rising summer sun.
Sam and I decided to explore new place as we were getting bored with weekend walkathon. I suggested that we go to JIVDANI temple (Epic tale about JIVDANI temple in wikipedia is really interesting reading) and then explore nearby beach and fort ARNALA.

Sunday morning Sam and I met at Borivali station at 7am and we caught a slow local to Virar. Not so crowded as we were travelling in opposite direction of office goers. We had been to Jivdani quite few time but this time it was after a gap of almost 4 years for both of us. 

The temple is atop a hill and there are more than 1300 steps to climb. Not easy task as steps are uneven, steep and also in circular route, again its quite narrow so people while climbing get tired they generally stand and come in your way which breaks your momentum but nevertheless they also have same religious sentiments as I do, so no complaints.

Sam and I started our climb and within no time we were huffing and puffing !!!! phew what a start and journey had just started. They also have trolley which takes you upto temple but we followed the path taken by majority. Huffing and puffing we finally managed to climb all footsteps which took more than an hour but once you reach the temple sanctum sanctorum, peaceful atmosphere with blowing cool breeze, mind gets diverted from tiredness and you gain your lost strength back in no time.

They say that goddess JIVDANI  has answered prayers of women without child, bringing joy in their life and family so people come either in hope of getting their wish fulfilled or come back after wish is fulfilled to offer their offerings.  May goddess shower her blessing on everyone !!!!!

After offering prayers to holy goddess we just stood there on open deck feeling the freshness in the air, view of entire virar town and forest is amazing. We checked the other temples close by and started our journey back. Climbing down is not a tough job, in fact its a cake walk as compared to the climb.

So now it was time for another interesting visit. Sam had never been to Arnala beach and fort while I have faint memory of coming with my uncle when I was 5years old, so it was like lonng time no see types.
We caught state transport bus to Arnala from Virar station, journey was interesting as it passes through quite a few villages which has not yet been touched by urbanisation and rural feeling sets in.

We reached beach of Arnala which is quite dirty but there are quite few resorts where people frequent with families and friends. But we decided to go to island and found that last boat is at 12.30 in afternoon and return boat in evening starts at 3.30pm. Beach on mainland is lined with fishermen drying their catch and boat to reach on the island is also primitive boat as traffic is only from commoners from the island and not much of tourist.
APATHY and TARDINESS of our state government not developing a beach whereas landlocked states die for a beach and don't get it !!!!

We reached the island and were enquiring about places to visit on the island. One islander whom we spoke with said there was one fort built by Portuguese in 14th century and goddess KALIKA temple were only places apart from peaceful beach. Sam being dead hungry only could think of asking where is a restaurant and answer by the islander was no hotels and restaurants on the island as its a sleepy and quite primitive fisherman folk village. We had just reached island on last boat in afternoon and no way to go back for next 3hours unless we had strength to swim all the way back.

 I could not control my laughter as I had my breakfast in morning and on station while Sam said he got up late so didn't have anything much.

Islander sensing the situation of poor SAM invited us for lunch at his place. After much of yes and no, Islander said he can ask his wife to make some chicken dish and some rice but for a charge. SAM delighted at these words asked for menu !!!!! HAHAHA,

I made SAM understand "beta jo mile woh tere liye bhagwan ka prasad so cant say no" 

So decided on lunch at fishermen cum farmers house whose wife promised to keep lunch ready in one hour we decided to visit ARNALA fort.

Fort is not so massive but nevertheless big and meticulously planned with a separate watch towers to keep eye in all direction. We saw some reconstruction and restoration work being done which was good at least its not being neglected. We decided to walk on periphery wall of the fort which was a long walk but gave a panoramic view of Arabian sea and fishy village down below. Fort had a square shape with small temples built inside the fort. Took around 45minutes for us to complete as we also captured it in our lens.

Now back to our fisherman uncles house, we were served gavthi chicken, with home grown rice and home grown vegetable salad. wow !!!! not only it tasted good but simplicity with which it was made, enhanced our hunger. Thanking our newly made uncle and aunt, xchanging our contact details we bid good bye to them.

It will always be memorable lunch ever for SAM and me. We decided to go back home as nothing much was there to explore and overhead sun had almost dehydrated us. We took boat ride back to mainland and walked our way to bus station from where we took our bus journey back to Virar and train ride back home.
On the way to Virar station we also saw a huge Jain temple at AGASHI village which later I came to know from my Jain neighbours that its oldest Jain temple to be built in Mumbai.

Our trip was memorable in more than one sense, we had amazing and unexpected lunch at equally unexpected place, Also it took me in flashback memory when I had visited the place with my uncle who has long left for heavenly abode.

So friends here I am again finishing one more of my travel adventure trip. Merci et Au revoir

Friday, September 2, 2011

Come join me in Phuket (Paradise in Andaman Sea)

Hola Amigos,

Hope you njoyed trip with us to Bangkok and Pattaya last time.

Here we are again, Me, Victor and joined by two more colleagues PP, DD. off to Thailand once again with Phuket (Paradise in Andaman sea) as our new destination and of course Bangkok being part of our tour.

Month of August 2010, I received call from Victor informing that trip to Phuket is being planned with 2 more of his colleagues joining in. We were becoming the promoters of Thai tourism !!!!!

We flew by Thai airways as Cathay didn't provide right price for the tickets. Only difference we found at Mumbai airport was the opening of Royal challenge lounge which had its own smoking room and one peg of Royal stag whiskey costing more than the quarter bottle in wine shop !!!!!

Boarded the flight with Thai ambience's and Thai beer SINGHA giving us company. We also got the taste of DEWARS scotch whiskey. (Good whiskey tastes better I would say, when Thai air hostess makes the peg !!! overheard one of the passengers comments - partially true when you are njoying singlehood)

Landed at Swarnabhumi and as usual took only 15minutes to get visa on arrival. Now comes the endless wait of 3 hours for flight to Phuket. We finally boarded the flight which was again THAI airways all charged up to see PARADISE in Andaman sea. 1hour 30minutes flight and we were to land at Phuket. Worth a watch is tiny chain of islets and islands from air. Our first look of paradise on earth. Amazing was not the word.

Phuket airstrip and beach runs parallel ....its a wow feeling only when plane stays on the strip and not on the beach while landing....never happened till now though !!!!!

Coming out of the airport, we found all taxi drivers wanted to take us for a ride !!! but bargaining power of Victor gujju  and marwari like me quickly overpowered them, we selected one cab and drove towards our hotel.

I have noticed any where in Thailand they don't really have potholes filled roads even though they get 10times more rain than in India. Time for our ministers to travel to Thailand, of course with their wives !!!!!  LOL

Our cab driver stopped us at his travel office to check some tour offerings in and around Phuket. Again our bargaining power being excellent clinched deal where in we get tour of PHI-PHI island next day, JAMES BOND island 2nd day and cab would drop us at airport from hotel on 3rd day all for 1200baht each. Cheap I would say as only one tour would have cost 800-900 baht each ....
Noticed the girls working were pretty good looking, I even clicked pic or two with them.

View from our hotel room was magnificent all courtesy Victor our tour guide who did all bookings.

First day in Phuket in late afternoon we were off to beach, KATA had some amazing crowd so we were on beach sipping coconut water and vodka for DD and beer from our shacks.
After spending some time with people on beach and of course a dip in ocean, we celebs decided on our next course. DD insisting that he was tired since last 2 months and needed a massage !!!! Me wanted to try BUNGY JUMPING !!! and Victor and PP said they will do both.

Oh I forgot one sad incident that happened on KATA beach. DD and me decided to take some pictures,  DD while clicking pictures looses his balance due to strong wave and falls in water, ALAS .. OMG !!!! My CANON camera was killed instantly, drowned in sea water. WTF !!!!

 DD and all assuring me that they all had cameras and promised to click more picture of me so that I can put in blogspot and other social networking sites. What an assurance !!!!
Also got another assurance that I would be first in line in doing bungee jumping and if I survived in one piece, they also would try later. I called these people my friends !!!  Almost choked with laughter and heavy heart I decided to be first.

Clothes removed with only boxers in place, written assurance with my signature that if something happens, no one will be responsible except me, company providing this facility decided to give me one Tshirt and take one pic of mine committing suicide when I accomplish my task. I said thankyou, After some lessons of do's and don'ts I climbed the crane to take me only 55feet up in the sky (5floors)

I had emptied my bladder before boarding and by the time I reached at the top, My bladder was full again and feeling of nausea set in now. The instructor travelling with me asked to look straight in front and not down..... I could not look anywhere else but down and all my friends and others who were next in line started cheering me !!!!!! JUMP JUMP ....  I felt like shouting CHU..... upar aake dekh kya haal hai !!!
Since my legs were both tied together with massive rubber rope, instructor asked me to hop a lil and then BINGO ...... I hoped and hoped back again. FUCK !!!! He said either you jump or don't,  you will still get a Tshirt free with no refund for 2000baht and dear friends of mine shouting "don't come down without jumping"
So I asked my instructor to commit one crime while I close my eyes and he did !!!!

 He pushed me down and BOOM !!! My head hit the lake water below and then I was up again oscillating in air hanging upside down. When I opened my eyes I was surrounded by my friends laughing & shouting, but I didn't have words to say. I had turned red with my heart pumping gallons of blood twice as much faster Coming to my senses took me at least 15minutes when I realised that I had done it. No one else did BUNGEE JUMPING after me !!!!

We were off to massage parlours where DD got body massage while I sipped beer still recovering from my suicide attempt.
Back in hotel, We celebrated my successful attempt with pegs of whiskeys and some amazing bitings bought by Victor from 7eleven store.

Next day morning, we were up early for our trip to PHI PHI island, we were on jetty assembly point by 9am with tourist from different hotels gathered. We were off in speed boat with one group of 20people. Me and DD being more adventurous sat in front of the boat even after repeated request by the CAPTAIN that it will be one hell of bumpy ride. But we had company from IRAN so we decided to stay put.

Ride was amazingly bumpy, not for faint heart and not for people with loose grips. On the way we stopped at VIKINGS CAVE which was intact after 150 odd years when VIKINGS first landed here.
Next stop was at KHO PHIPHI island for dip in the sea but beach was too crowded I would say. On the way we stopped for fish feeding, CORALS watching and swimming.
Andaman sea is so picturesque that we couldn't stop clicking pictures of every possible spot we passed by. Afternoon we stopped at island which was completely devastated by Tsunami which stuck Indian Ocean 4 years back with 2000 people died on this island itself. We had our lunch with me being veggie had to survive on rice some curry and juicy pineapple. Rest of the day was on beach for some more dip.
DD and me went exploring the island only to find some amazing rock formation on the beach and green, blue  ocean water, what a heaven it was !!!!! Ride back was even more bumpy but quite an experience.

Next day we were off to another postcard, wall paper beautiful island called JAMES BOND island where shooting of MAN WITH GOLDEN GUN movie had taken place. what a sight.... magnificent

Someone like me has written a BLOG on the island (Happy reading)

In the evening we got foot massage and aroma therapy in our hotel spa which was rejuvenating. Night we were off to BAR hopping as it was last night in Phuket. BAR HOPPING is also an experience in itself with dinner at a one Indian restaurant run by a sardarji from RISHIKESH - HARIDWAR.
We also had a tuk tuk (auto rickshaw ride) of the whole city at 4am in the morning which included tuk tuk race with another tuk tuk carrying other tourist like us.

Next day we packed our bags, bid good bye to PHUKET promising to comeback with our life partners in future and also include KHO SAMUI & KRABI as part of our tour as we found they were nearby islands twice as beautiful and honeymooners paradise.

Our next stop was BANGKOK but this time I was back here more for shopping for everyone at home,  only to enjoy at night at same ol place CHARLIES, BOSSY and SPICE GIRL disc at our hotel AMBASSADOR.
This trip was even more fun with amazing, enchanting, picturesque PHUKET all over us. even though I came back with sunburn marks on face which I think took month to recover completely.

But no regrets with another of my adventurous trip coming to an end and getting penned in my BLOGSPOT for some memories to remember for years to come.

Merci beaucoup mon ami / amie. Au revoir

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Weekend Walkathon - Kanheri caves and S.G National Park

Winters are probably best time of the year if you are close to Equator. Especially in western part of India close to Arabian sea where the lowest recorded temperature is 9 degrees Celsius in 50 years record.

Here I am with another location which is probably all schools favorite picnic spots in Mumbai suburbs. Health conscious peoples healthy spot, Nature lovers naturally beautiful spot.

"S.G.National park and less published heritage site with 1000 years history but it has place in Incredible India locations. Kanheri caves."

Honestly I don't fall in category of people who are health conscious but I do sneak in the group sometimes.

Winters had already set on Mumbai so I and my friend Sam decided it was time to be health conscious, We decided to start walkathon weekends and what better place than National park. Even though its a mockery to be called National park but nevertheless it still falls in that category.

Meeting place was decided on the gates of park at 6.30am as we had taken yearly pass for 50 pink Gandhian. Here we started just like many who really take advantage of only park in heart of city where air is still fresh and free.

Walking on the straight road leading to Kanheri caves, Talking and discussing our journey in last 5 years since our days in Convergys.

Let me tell you that initial enthusiasm of walking can really evaporate faster than camphor if you don't really have the will in the heart but will can be easily gained when you see people around you kids, aunties, uncles following Johnny walker TM !!!! keep walking

First place of interest in the journey would be TRIMURTI - Digambar Jain's temple and resting place for their monks. 4-5 stories statue adorns the place.

Keep walking and you would find encroachment done by people who have build huts on the road. But then real fun sets in when you have trees and more trees and fresh cool wintery air.

We kept walking, on the way we found a group of ladies, girls, uncles in late 70s running, jogging, brisk walking  !!!! wearing white Tshirt. We came to know that this was the group who would be participating in Mumbai - Pune Marathon. Amazing !!!!

Sam and I telling each other "Sharam kar Sharam" Lol

Since we didn't have practise of walking we were already dehydrated within 30minutes but we were carrying enough water and Glucon D water to energise us again.

We continued our journey, on the way we found a sign board "Restricted area" and as usual we decided to explore whats in store !!!! found that its BMC water purification plant but we were not allowed in there for security reasons so we turned back on track to our destination.

After walking for almost one hour we reached a elevated road on hillock, trust me that was last thing we expected as we didn't really have energy to climb.But nevertheless we managed to reach starting point of Kanheri caves. In all it was walk of 1.45minutes from National park gate.

Checked some sign boards giving insight about the history of the place and were amazed that there are total of 100 caves which once upon a time was buddhist school and monks from various parts of India used to come to study and stay. Caves have amazing carvings done 1000 years back and still standing tall.

One such cave entrance is so beautifully cut from one rock that its actually a miniature version of world famous heritage site in Jordon - PETRA.
Not that the place was new to us but we were back at this place only after 20 long years !!!!

We decided to explore other caves and found each cave was perfectly planned chamber for person to stay, rain water collection tanks in each cave and beautifully carved steps to reach at the top.

Don't know how those people would have carved rocks with such planning and engineering skills 1000 years back !!!!! lovely..
Finally after inspecting each cave that came our way we finally managed to reach our summit at the top, View from here is so amazing with forest and trees down below and fresh air with sunrise making it more beautiful.

We sat there for more than 30minutes just meditating by closing the eyes.

Finally we decided to start descend back. On the way we found quite few people now,who had come to njoy their picnic or as tourist or like us on walkathon.

We came across some tribal girls were selling star fruit, cucumber which was really fresh and grown organically. We relished them all. We also came across lonely and only stall which was now open selling hot chai and vadapav.

Tea and vadapav combination is deadly tasty but after our one way journey it was all the more tempting to our taste buds.

So finally we started our walkathon back and reaching National park gates in turnaround time of 3hrs 30minutes which was not at all bad for new joinees to naturist club.

But let me tell you the best part was heritage caves sight and coming back after 20years was wonderful, taking our minds in flash back when we had come here as part of school picnics.

We decided to continue our weekend walkathon religiously at least on weekends and occasionally visiting new location of our interest else to get back here to get feel of fresh wintery air.

I still continue with walkathons ... occasionally turning lazy to get up early in the morning but still have kept it as part of my weekend must do !!!!