Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thailand - Koh Phangaan/ Full Moon Party

When you Google 'top ten parties in the world', Full Moon party is always way up there in the rankings. And for good reason! The problem with words is they generally fall short of conveying the full impact of all things beautiful and fun. The vibe and energy of Koh Phangaan on a full moon night is difficult to explain. My only two cents of wisdom  - your bucket list is incomplete without it!

The fluorescent gear

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thailand - Koh Tao

This one's a story about how fear won. How sometimes we give up, take a bow and admit that this was not meant to be. Scuba Diving. Koh Tao is one of the world's cheapest and best dive sites. I had been steeling myself for this. Snorkeling had not been that big a scare. It had actually been a lot of fun. Barring the initial few seconds of jitters, I had managed pretty well. Even though I say so myself! So I thought - Hell how big a deal can scuba be! Instead of being on the surface, you got to be a few feet below.
Koh Tao

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thailand - Koh Samui

Koh Samui is a long way from Krabi. Here's the route we took -
  • Mini bus from Pak Up hostel to Krabi bus station (30 Baht per head)
  • Bus from Krabi to Surat Thani (3 hours, 140 Baht per head)
  • Seatrans bus + ferry from Surat Thani to Samui Pier (2 hours, 240 Baht per head)
  • Mini bus from pier to Penzy Guesthouse (1 hour, 100 Baht per head)
The total came up to 510 Bahts. On hindsight, we should have just taken the Pak Up hostel offer for 400 Bahts from the hostel to Samui Pier. Would've saved us a lot of running around! Koh Samui is on the east coast of Thailand. Pretty much the hub for heading out to places like Koh Phangaan, Koh Tao and so on. Our plan was to stay a few days and then head out  to Koh Tao for scuba.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thailand - Pum and Krabi

Pum Cooking School and Restaurant. The reason why we have stopped eating Thai food in India (because it is nowhere close to what we ate here!). It is in Phi Phi island (I think they have outlets in other islands too), yet am writing about it in a separate post so that it catches your eye. So that, when you're there in Thailand next time, you plan your trip around eating at Pum! Food is my biggest weakness, and when I go to a new place, it is pretty much the first thing I read about. The outcome is mostly finger-lickin' good. :)

Pum Restaurant

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thailand - Maya Bay

A picture is worth a thousand words, and Maya Bay is worth a million more. If you go to Thailand, this should definitely be on your to-do list. Camping at Maya Bay. This place became famous after 'The Beach' was shot here. Somehow, I can never remember what the movie was about!

Maya Bay!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thailand - Bangkok

Post Europe, we had a travel itch. It's the worst kind of itch. The kind where you can't concentrate on anything! Office walls make you feel murderous and day dreaming is often the only balm. The first month after Europe was spent reliving all that we did there and going through photographs ad infinitum. There were stories to tell and duty free stuff to finish. And some breath to catch, after all the incessant travel. Once the suitcases were unpacked, the laundry was done and mundane daily routine set in, that's when the travel itch started. This time it had to be Thailand. Not the usual get-drunk-party-all-the-time Thailand, but the beach hopper's paradise Thailand. This was our route -

30th March - 8th April => Bangkok (1 day) -> Maya Bay for camping (1 day) -> Krabi (1 day) -> Koh Samui (2 days) - > Koh Tao for Scuba diving (1 day) -> Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party (1 day) -> Back to Bangkok

Friday, July 13, 2012

European Diaries - Rome

This was the end. The last city on our itinerary. I always had a thing for happy endings. Rome was like that. You almost feel like you are in India. A little like Bombay. A little like Delhi. Crowded trains. People warning you of pick-pockets. Too many people just about everywhere. So many that sometimes you've got to just stop and let them walk by! And the city is all about history and food. Needless to say, I absolutely loved Rome.

Rome is confusions galore. The airports don't make sense. You get a day pass for trains, not at the station, but at the newspaper stand! You can't buy a ticket in a bus. The city is all muddled up. And you'll love this city in spite of all this. Or maybe because of all this. We stayed at the Alessandro Hostel, five minutes from the main station Termini. I know I keep saying I loved European hostels, but this one was a stunner. Old palace turned into an ultra modern hostel with a super bar and a roof top restaurant. Rooms were huge and so very comfy! No reason why anyone should spend a ton and stay in a hotel. I did say this was a happy ending right?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

European Diaries - Venice

All I have for Venice are photographs. Beautiful ones. Surreal ones. It is not a place where you go with friends. It is a place where you go with your loved one. Hold hands. Walk on cobbled roads by the canals. Sit in Gondolas with champagne and music. And then you float into an unbelievably beautiful sunset and think  maybe this is what life is all about.

Gondolas in Venice

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

European Diaries - Salzburg

I reached Salzburg with my Oktoberfest aura and Obelix hat on! Dead tired and sleep deprived, Salzburg was supposed to be our day off to take a breather. I think we had sworn against waking up in the morning and rushing to see some new place. Our plan for Salzburg was to wake up when we can, eat to our heart's content and then stroll. In that very particular order.

River Salzach in Salzburg

Friday, June 8, 2012

European Diaries - Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest! The Mecca for beer lovers. The conversion ground for non beer drinkers. The raison d'etre for our Euro Trip. There was no discussion about this. One of those unsaid and necessary things to do. Planning a trip becomes so easy when you have a stubborn goal in your head. Ours was Oktoberfest and it had to happen in 2011!

Rickshaws in Munich - as we walked towards Oktoberfest
For ignoramus, it is the world's biggest Beer Fest. Hosted every year in Munich in September (yes, not October!). Twenty one tents overflowing with smooth, delicious and different kinds of beer. There is a whole lot of drool-worthy food too. We reached there around 12 in the afternoon, and we could not believe the energy and the frenzy. We were probably the only sober ones there.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

European Diaries - Lauterbrunnen

Nothing, and I really mean nothing, prepares you for the beauty that is Switzerland. As the train weaves through Interlaken, the scenery that unfolds in front of you is humbling. No prizes for guessing what I was up to while the train chugged into Interlaken. I slept like a baby! Paris and all the incessant walking had taken its toll (or so I'd like you to believe). I did wake up in time to see the train entering Lauterbrunnen and I knew the moment I woke up that this was going to be the high point of the trip!

On the way to Lauterbrunnen

Thursday, April 19, 2012

European Diaries - Paris

Paris was absolutely whirlwind! Two days did not do justice to all that we wanted to do. But if you do have two days, do Paris like we did! :)
We traveled to Paris in the most plush train I have ever been in - Thalys Rail! Red lounge chairs, three course meal, wine and the works! I never wanted to get off that train. :)
Food in Thalys Rail :)
I think my high point of the trip to Paris was meeting Pallavi. She brings along a whole lot of warm and fuzzy memories right from my school days. The things we did back then deserves a separate page altogether! Now getting back to the trip, Tour de Paris started with the Eiffel Tower.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

European Diaries - Amsterdam

Forewarning - This post might require parental discretion. :)

If you ask us why we put Amsterdam on the itinerary, there are no two answers for that one. We really wanted to have those wicked space cakes! We researched to no end to find the right place and the rest, as the phrase goes, was 'Legen - wait for it- dary' in true Barney Stinson style! I guess that’s how one says amazing nowadays! ;)
There was a bit of rain as we entered Amsterdam. We stayed at the Flying Pig Downtown hostel. If you ever go there, we definitely recommend the place. It was not that inviting, that it makes you want to stay in all the time. But, it was comfy enough to sleep like a log in the night. The hostel had a very Amsterdam-ish feel to it. Red décor, well located and a lounge full of doped out people. The free breakfast was very nice too!

City of Canals
Music at the City Square

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

European Diaries - Frankfurt and Rhine Valley

Let’s start with the beginning. The beginnings are always fun, right! Brimming with enthusiasm and optimism about a new place. There is something very refreshing about leaving behind the routine that life tends to become on most days. And here we were. 17 days of no looking back. No work and nothing to differentiate between a weekend and a weekday. So, in spite of the crappy delayed flight, we hop-skip-jumped into Frankfurt at 3 pm. I know familiarity breeds comfort for most people, but I absolutely love everything new and different. 
Our first view of Frankfurt

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ignitink Article: A Long Weekend in Munnar

<I wrote this for the Travel & Lifestyle section of the online magazine >
Robert Louis Stevenson read my mind when he said - For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.
I am the Romeo of this great affair; the ardent lover who won’t give up. As is true for all awe-inspiring affairs, this too started with lust. Wanderlust. It swept me off my feet and changed my life. Like true love does. But, this affair has no end. So, there’s no fear.  Thus, I travel relentlessly. Sometimes, aimlessly. And I find happiness in this relentless pursuit. This is about one such pursuit. Some excerpts from my travelogue and some perspective through my lenses. About a long weekend spent in and around Munnar.

Ignitink Article: For the Love of Rasam

<I wrote this for the Travel & Lifestyle section of the online magazine >

As cyclone Thane swept the city with a vengeance, we stood at the Elliot’s beach, with wind in our faces and sand swirling by our feet. The waves were huge and we were drenched and cold. Some call it stupidity. I call it love for this city and its beaches. It is not Goa, but it is quite something. For a Bengali brought up in Bihar, Chennai has slowly and surely become a home far away from home. A potpourri of old and new, this place probably depicts India better than most cities. For those who blanch at the name of this city, come with a clean slate and maybe, just maybe you’ll see the place how I see it. And this is how I see it.