Sunday, 9 December 2018

Lost with the Parisians - My Paris Experience(Part 2).

Slowly getting accustomed into the European culture and lifestyles was on my mind and I just did that on my first day in the city of art, magic and romance. Opted for an art exhibition by Gustav Klimt at Atelier des Lumières to get things underway. The skip the line ticket here cost me 15 Euro (INR 1200). It was a new form of art I had never been exposed to before and exploring this in a non touristy neighbourhood of  Rue Sant- Maur with a local was a different and very exciting experience. It was also impressive to see the response Parisians have towards art exhibitions. From one neighbourhood to another I continued exploring La Marais and ate a super delicious falafel sandwich at the restaurant called L'As du Fallafel which is at the Jewish quarter at the La Marais neighbourhood in Paris. A good meal here cost me approx 12-13 Euro (INR 1000-1100). Later that evening I had a super awesome Airbnb experience and explored one of Paris's oldest clubs known as 'REX club' with likeminded locals. Entry to the club cost me 15 Euro(INR 1200). All this was just to set the character for the big Europe trip ahead of me. I would surely recommend this to all travelling not necessarily in Europe but also anywhere around the globe to take a day to get accustomed to the lifestyle of the place, the language and the way locals commute, the restaurants and the hangouts they recommend. Again Couch Surfing and Airbnb experiences with locals big recommendation from me. For me it was a great way to get things underway and get a feel of the culture and lifestyles. Of course, falafel is not a French dish but I ended up at this restaurant after getting lost at the La Marais neighbourhood something which was completely unplanned and it turned out to be a brilliant decision. Well, you only get lost to find yourself and I found a new side of mine which is how much I love falafels!

Getting a feel of Paris on my first day with the locals, I started off my second day by visiting the Cathedral Saint Michel Notre Dame, exploring the area and the amazing way in which the walls and pillars are made was a very interesting experience. Later I was out and about heading to the famous Louvre museum. Being out and about Paris was so smooth thanks to my experiences on the first day. Yes, I did enter the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. Entering the Louvre cost 15 Euro(INR 1200), well I can only recommend this if you are a sucker for artistic and renaissance paintings from across the world. Otherwise you can always sit around the glass pyramid and admire the Louvre Palace, the Arc etc. The vibe around the place is positive a good place to watch the sunset between the glass pyramid. It can get crowded during peak hours as it's known to bring the most number of visitors annually (Skip the line entrance ticket is highly recommended here). Also, you can buy a Paris museum pass if you are interested in visiting several museums during your stay. As a tourist you've got to be alert as at crowded places pick pocketing is a common act here and a touristy places are house to many tourist traps and scams. Staying alert and being aware of your surroundings is mandatory by this you can take full advantage of your time and enjoy the iconic monument or the museum. Later on that day I was exploring the boulangeries (bakeries) binging on some authentic croissants , Pain au chocola (a sweet roll consisting of chocolate) and Pain aux raisins (sweet rolls consisting of raisins) and of course coffee! I also explored a few brasseries (brewery). However boulangeries are my recommendation if you want to get the bakery products cheap! when it comes to brasseries I would recommend this instead of restaurants around the touristy places to sit down and get a good meal. It's right there you just have got to walk a street away from the tourist spots and voila! you will find and authentic French boulangerie or brasseries giving you an authentic flavour to your food and also helping you save money compared to the touristy restaurants, making it an happy experience for you! A good breakfast in one of the boulangeries which consisted of 2 types of bread and coffee cost me 8 Euro(INR 650). In my entire stay in Paris I've binged on the several types of breads and explored boulangeries on many occasions. In case for Lunch and Dinner food in Paris is expensive and a good meal with a beverage can easily cost 14-16Euro (INR 1200-1300). With Christmas being a little more than a month away I also got a chance to see a grand decor at The Galeries Lafayette(a French department store chain) later that evening. Enjoying the hustle and bustle of the Parisians here and seeing them prepare for Christmas was a joy to see.

Getting right into the touristy things on my third day I was heading straight to Paris's most iconic monument and an old friend of mine whom I've never met the 'Tour Eiffel'. Metros and RER's make this place accessible. Stations like Bir Hakeim, Trocadero and Champs de Mars are some of the closest to this monument. Yes, Trocadero is the best place to get a good picture with the Tour Eiffel and heading there at the crack of dawn would be ideal to be away from the crowd. I did manage to get a picture however the weather was not on my side and it was raining so you might notice a few rain drops on my picture. Please be nice I am still a novice photographer. Exploring out and about the Tour Eiffel area I did notice the most extravagant bridge in Paris, 'Pont Alexandre III'. Another iconic figure in Paris connecting the Champs-Elysees quarter to the Tour Eiffel block. A good postcard picture here is guaranteed! As the sunset I made it to the most amazing road in Paris the Champs-Elysees. This place is filled with exciting brands and is home to some of the finest French brands. A treat for a shopaholic and these spots out and about Paris are best explored by foot. If you are here during sunset you can get a breathtaking view of the sunset over yet another iconic monument in Paris the 'Arc de Triomphe'.  Walking around the boulevard near Champs de Mars or exploring the 'Pont Alexandre III' just gives you the best insight into this beautiful city. I would say this for all the countries I have visited that the best experiences are by exploring it on foot! Holds totally true for Paris 100%. In fact I would recommend an investment on a good pair of comfortable walking shoes before heading to Paris. Later that evening I explored the most epic moment of the 'Tour Eiffel' sparkling and glowing. I can say it was the highlight of my trip and I would recommend this is to everybody who visits Paris. It is a sight not to be missed! During the summers hiking up the tower is popular for breathtaking views of the city. Personally, when it comes to monuments I like to admire them from the outside and by setting myself at a cafe or walking around the place or sitting on one of the benches at the many gorgeous boulevards around.

Getting things underway on my last day at Paris, I began my day by exploring an adorable and colourful neighbourhood Rue Cremieux. Here again the credit goes to locals otherwise I would not have been aware of such awesome pockets in Paris. It is certainly a non touristy place and is super fun to walk around this street and admire the colourful houses there. Since it was my last day in Paris, I quickly had breakfast at a boulangerie and was headed from one beautiful place to another I was at Montmartre. This iconic place is known as old Paris and a walk through the cobblestone road from one pink house to another house constructed in an authentic vintage French style, finding hidden gems, popular street art here and enjoying the beauty of this area by nibbling on to a crepe and finally leading to the Sacre-Coeur church has got to be on everybody's itinerary in Paris. The Sacre-Coeur church was one of the most peaceful churches I have ever visited and I totally loved the tranquillity and calm vibe the church had, a good way to end my trip at Paris. Yes my last day was a fast one but I enjoyed keeping up to the pace of the city with the time I had and my fun filled days at Paris were coming to an end. Paris was a great way to begin my journey in Europe and I totally recommend this beautiful city to all. Fun guaranteed here. Yes, I have not seen all of Paris and totally do not mind coming back here sometime again in the future, there is so much to do in this city such as a tour at the catacombs, the river Seine cruise and so many day trips from Paris to neighbouring beautiful places are to name a few which I missed out on. However, for now it gave me all the experiences that I wanted from hanging out with locals to doing the touristy things Paris, you beauty!

Skip the Line; Louvre Museum ticket -
      Big bus hop on - hop off tour -
          Tour Eiffel priority access -

      Paris Museum Pass -

Lost with the Parisians - My Paris Experience(Part 1).

One of the iconic countries of Europe, the French Capital and I am sure Paris is pretty much one of everybody's favourite destination in the west. To me Paris was offering an insight to the culture, tradition, lifestyle of Europe and it was my first destination to get a taste of the European way of living. Dominant history, spectacular art, gorgeous gardens and boulevards, iconic monuments, delicious food and top notch brands of  fashion so much associated with this city and it exactly served its expectations to the tourist in me. Of course, its super expensive but that was the challenge to live in a developed city with a budget and make the most of it. Well, first things first for an Indian passport holder getting into Paris would require a Schengen Visa. VFS Global was my to go for getting my formalities done to obtain the visa. Flights to Europe can be very expensive if booked last minute as it is to many places around the globe and hence I had well planned this and pre booked my flights saving a considerable amount of money. Playing with a budget I could afford Air France airways which is a super comfortable airways with great seats, leg room and they serve delicious meals too. Here, again I opted for flying out of India mid week with a bonus of flying out on Diwali night, this is a hack I use to get my flights cheap. Flights are generally cheap on festivals and on mid week (Tuesday or Wednesday). Also another thing here is to choose your destination carefully. I was also going to be travelling to Italy after France however flights to Paris were cheaper than Italy(Milan, Rome, Florence etc.). Just a Google search of 'Bangalore to Europe' would give you so many options and you could choose among the cheapest.  Air France had a direct flight to Paris from Bangalore avoiding the lay over again making it super convenient. The flight from Bangalore to Paris cost me 225 Euro(INR 18,000). With latest entertainment available to me at my seat my flight to Paris was super comfortable. Big shout out to Air France management and their team. They have done a commendable job.

Touchdown Charles De Gaulle airport, I was excited to embrace the Parisian culture. A four day transportation pass at the tourist information desk cost 28 Euro(INR 2240). Alternatively,  tickets in set of 10's or 20's can be bought depending upon the duration of stay in Paris and  usage of the public transportation, a single ticket which can be used once would cost 1.90 Euro(INR 152) where as a carnet or a bunch of 10 would cost 14.90 Euro(INR 1192) these tickets can be bought at Metro or RER stations from the vending machines and can use it on all modes of transport such as Metro, RER and bus. However, these tickets cannot be transferred from Metro to RER or to Bus or vice-versa (make sure you get your ticket validated before your journey and each ticket is validated for 90 minutes from validation). I was largely dependent on public transport and therefore I opted for the transportation pass which covered my commuting out and about Paris via Metro, RER and Bus. It makes manoeuvring around the city hassle free and very convenient. These transportation passes/visitor pass depending upon your stay in Paris could be opted at the airport or at any Metro or RER stations. However, there is a tourist trap associated with this pass. Unfortunately I was victim to the trap. So, while selling the pass the person at the counter had not informed me to have my name or photograph stuck on it. I was just given the pass and told that I was good to go. On my third day I was checked while leaving the Metro station and I was fined 35 Euro(INR 2800) for not having stuck my photograph on the pass. I feel that I should have been informed about these things when I was purchasing the pass or I should have been sold the pass only if I had a photograph with me. However, I had to succumb to another person's fault and pay a ridiculous fine because at the end of the day I was a tourist in another country and I have to respect their law and rules. I would urge all those travelling to Paris or any other city in Europe(which might have a similar rule) to keep this in mind it and stay alert when it comes to validation of your ticket or pass or keep in mind my experience to avoid a lowsy fine.

Well, when it comes to weather in the French capital you are in for unexpected days if you choose the less popular period of late Autumn like me to travel. Dominantly it is going to be cold and is the best time to show off your coats, jackets, mufflers and caps (one of the reasons I loved visiting Paris, during late fall). However, during my stay I did enjoy the winter sun on a few occasions and did explore the city on an absolute cloudy and gloomy day. Yes woollens are a must and apart from that your hostel or hotel will provide you with umbrellas if it's raining or snowing. Now, in Paris the language spoken widely is French, here Google translate was my go to app when it came to communicating with some shop vendors to ask for directions etc. However, in my experience I did meet a lot of people with whom I could communicate in English making things easy.
Accommodation, staying in this City can be very expensive however it can be beaten with if you look at options such as Couch Surfing or Airbnb's or hostels if you are travelling solo like me. Staying in hotels can be super expensive and it can eat into your budget tremendously. As an alternative Airbnb's can be opted for half the cost of a hotel. When it comes to staying in hostels a good option would be Les Piaules which cost me 95 Euro(INR 7600) which was not too bad in a place like Paris. The vibrant social life in hostels is a great way to make friends and meet people from around the globe which was a bonus for an novice travel blogger and content creator like me I would say. Also, Couch Surfing is one amazing way to save money and living with a local is always a good option in any country or city in the world. Locals give you the best insights of their city and help you by showing you around pockets of the city which you as a tourist would not be able to explore. Paris is Europe's Couch Surfing capital and I believe it is an awesome way to get to know the city better. Also, if not staying you can always hang out with locals and get a pretty good insight of the city. Another option could be Airbnb experience where locals design activities based on their likes and show you a part of the city which a regular city tour would not offer you. I opted for both Couch Surfing hangouts and Airbnb experiences and explored Paris in a totally unique way.
All in all budgeting in a place like Paris can be tricky But you can more or less manage by  living in hostels or Airbnb's where you have access to a kitchen to cook a meal can save a lot of money. Some hotels also have breakfast included which is a good option to fill your stomach before you head out to explore the city. Hanging out with locals as mentioned earlier is another point. When it comes to clothes a carry on baggage always does the trick and you can always do your laundry at the hostel or Airbnb. Again backpacks or small suitcases are easy to carry around and they save you the trouble of using taxis. Taxis are super expensive and one of the worst ways to explore the city cause you get to see nothing. Having a rough idea of what you intend to do in the city also helps you in getting things rolling.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Thrilling Tales, Kabini (Karnataka, India)

Crocodiles submerged under the surface of the water, Birds chirping around the beautiful territory of the Kabini River. Leopards scanning and surveys their prey from the lofty trees, elephants deep in the forests in a state of trance and the majestic tiger sitting high up on the throne of the forest of Kabini. Kabini is a wildlife reserve located near Mysore in Karnataka. During the olden days the forest in Kabini were used as hunting grounds by the Wadiyars as hunting was a popular form of entertainment for the kings. Thankfully as time passed by this practice was given up and this forest was protected as a tiger reserve and was called Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Kabini, it a small part of this park and it gets its name from the Kabini River which flows in that area. Of course now this area has a number of fancy resorts where one can have a brilliant experience of living within the woods. I took off on yet another solo journey to this beautiful place to get out of the city stress and completely rejuvenate. As I am from Bangalore for me the easiest and best way to reach here was by road and it took me a good 5 hours to get there. Roads are sweet in this part of the country and the drive is super fun. I opted for Kabini River Lodge a property managed by Jungle Lodges and Resorts. They have several options of accommodation such as cottages, tents and maharaja rooms. They are managed by the Government and are very well maintained in terms of their accommodation, food and their safaris are flawlessly managed with a super group of guides who are well aware of the forests and very knowledgeable towards several things when it comes to safaris and more.

At Kabini river lodge the itinerary is simple, checked in at 12 noon after which lunch was served and I was given time to explore around their property and back waters of the Kabini River which is located right by their property.  At 3 pm they served high tea and put me into a jeep with a group and we were headed for the super thrilling jungle safari. It’s a 3 hour safari into the dense forests of Nagarhole. Animal spotting here is totally based on luck. For me it wasn’t my first jungle safari so I was aware that the outcome does not necessarily need to be positive. Yes we were blessed with a rare sighting of a tigress and it was epic. I was pretty stoked by the sighting and with a mellow beginning to the safari it ended up being a super thrilling experience. In my several years of jungle safari experiences it was my first time to sight a tiger in the wild and I was very happy with this. I’ve been blessed by spotting several leopards and also had the thrill of a tusker charge at my jeep in the past on various occasions this one was another feather on the cap and it was an epic moment as the majestic beast jumped in front of our safari jeep. Back after the safari at the Kabini River Lodge I had time at leisure and could be part of their documentary screening and socialize with the various groups of people there for a while till dinner was served.

The next day they have a wakeup call at the crack of dawn and I was back on a jeep into the national park for another thrilling experience. It turned out to be a mellow trip with a nil sighting apart for a few sambar deer. Well, no complaints as it were good to get into the forests and be with the sounds of nature along with birds chirping and monkeys creating havoc by jumping from tree to tree. Back to the property I was ravenous and breakfast was served. Here at Kabini your meals are well taken care of with a creative variety of food on their menu. They also cater to non vegetarian tastes on all meals. After breakfast I had some time to get some pictures out and about the Kabini River till it was time to check out. It is a comprehensive package with 2 safaris and three meals and two high tea arrangements included with the accommodation.  Several properties in Kabini follow the same routine. A perfect spot to spend a weekend and re energize.  Kabini is beautiful, it’s a thrilling date with Mother Nature and I would recommend this as a must visit in southern India. Kabini is a great place to visit anytime of the year however animal sighting is higher during the months of March, April and May. During, July, August and September monsoon can be experienced in these lush green forests with a lesser sighting. Other months around the year promise a fair experience of the jungle.


1.      Closest airport is Bangalore International Airport (although I can also suggest you Mysore Airport if but the flight frequency are less) Kabini is 265kms from Bangalore Airport and 230 kms from central Bangalore. Closest railway station is Mysore Railway station, which is about 80kms away.
2.      Once you enter the forest areas such as the national park and the resort you’ve taken accommodation, you need to strictly adhere to the forest rules and contribute to preserving the environment.
3.      All the accommodations here do not provide extraordinary amenities and shops here are scarce. If you have any personal requirements make sure you carry them beforehand.
4.      If you carry a camera you will have to pay a fee before entering the national park, your safari guide will take care of this at the entrance.
5.      You can hire a camera lens at is located at Kabini and they offer delivery to your doorstep of the resort. Lens here can be rented for the time of your stay in Kabini.

Monday, 20 August 2018

48 hours in Singapore!

Streets of the dominant ethnic groups of the Chinese, Indians and the Malays that make a large portion of the population of the country, the Singapore river, the quay that took me back to history and the top notch brands and high end restaurants and shopping this Lion City has so much to offer a tourist like me. With 48 hours available to me I explored all these places and tried to make the best of this beautiful place. First up, big recommendation is China Town, originally it was the place where Chinese inhabitants would settle down today as the Chinese are one of the three most popular ethnic communities in Singapore this side of town is heavily popular with various temples and museums that are heritage sites and very well maintained. A good option to binge into various Chinese cuisines and I can definitely say it is a shoppers delight. Easily accessible by MRT from any part of Singapore a good afternoon can be spent walking around China town and enjoying some cocktails on various rooftop restaurants or street restaurants in this part of the City.

Just like China town, Singapore is also heavily dominated by Indians and they are another large ethnic group here. Little India, a place in Singapore where Indian inhabitants would settle when Singapore was just a fishing village is now dominated by them and brings out the feel of India. Hustling and bustling roads, Indian brands all over, hawkers and street vendors all around this place, spending an evening here would just be like being in India. Little India also has Indian hotel groups of MTR and Anand Bhavan serving some of the finest Indian cuisines.

An evening can also be spent on Clarke Quay, where one could opt for the river cruise that take you all around the iconic spots of Singapore such as the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer, Raffles Place etc. The cruise is a good option if you want to finish all these places in a single evening. Clarke Quay is otherwise a very exciting place with its various river side restaurants and the vibe here is very energetic with karaoke and people dancing by the river, good music with delicious food of various continental cuisines and again the perfect place to enjoy good cocktails. To get around all the iconic places mentioned above I would recommend you to walk around if you don't take the cruise, which i opted for the next morning after brunch. Its time consuming but the world history lover in me was very excited to walk around these ancient spots of boat quay which was where the fishermen would live and the iconic luxurious Fullerton along with the Read Bridge. In my opinion a 40 minute boat ride would not do justice to such history. Spending good time here leading up to the evening where I witnessed the jaw dropping awesome fireworks at Marina Bay Sands. Marina Bay Sands, one of the most iconic places in Singapore home to a luxury resort, high end brands, restaurants and one massive casino. Spending the night here is ideal and is what I recommend on one of the evenings in Singapore. Marina Bay Sands is absolutely an architectural marvel. Also the Gardens by the Bay which is a 101 hectares nature park surely has to be on a travellers itinerary of Singapore. It is ridiculously beautiful and was made with the intention  to transform Singapore into 'city in a garden' from being known as 'garden city' in 2005. It is one of Singapore's national icon.  When it comes to shopping, Orchard road and Bugis are significant places where a shopper can go nuts.In Singapore, the GST which you pay while shopping is refundable so keep those invoice copies safe! Also, if time permits you can also opt for the Sentosa Island tour, a resort island in Singapore which has many attractions such as 2 km long sheltered beach, golf courses, Fort Siloso and it also features the famous Universal Studios. I was short on time and hence could not visit Sentosa Islands. However, I recon an entire day to be ideal to explore Sentosa Islands. The MRT in Singapore is well made and can be opted as the mode of transport to get around all these places. 

Straight Outta Bali - Singapore, The Lion City!

It's like entering a star wars movie set. A country with rapid developments, skyscrapers everywhere, maintenance of brilliant cleanliness around and with the countries regulatory policies being managed so effortlessly, I was sold on to visit this place and hence is my second destination for my solo trip across south east Asia. With the many people who have talked to me about Singapore, have always praised this country for all the good reasons and it was offering me just that. Again the perfect destination for a solo trip as it came with a lot of making decisions on the go and to live in a country with a rapid lifestyle was what interested me the most. The country is filled with places to visit such as malls, film studios, islands and amazing shopping with widespread availability of several delicious cuisines that filled my touristy belly. With all positives associated to this country in terms of business, trade, tourism and culture there are all chances that this country is where the future will be.  I was headed to this destination for three days completing my solo adventure of a week across south east Asia. Straight out of Bali, I was flying with Air Asia Indonesia and it surely is a very good option to opt for between Bali and Singapore as the duration of the flight is not too troublesome, along with comfortable seats and of course a good budget option. Changi Airport, one of the world's finest airports is well accessible by various modes of public transports. Since I was a solo traveller I opted for the MRT which took me approximately 45 minutes to reach my destination, it approximately cost me 3.50 SGD. You can also get taxi's easily from any of the terminals, 'Grab' taxis are very popular in this part of South East Asia and you can get Grabs depending on your requirement, share or individual without any issue. Taxis to the central part of the city which is 25-30 minutes away can be a more pricier option, I would only recommend it if you have a lot of luggage, as even a share cab can cost you a minimum of 7 SGD which is easily double the price of  the MRT. I had set myself up at Balestier Road, again simply because close proximity to MRT and there was a bus stop right outside my hotel. For accommodation I would recommend Balestier Road, Moulmein Road, Serangoon Road and close by areas as these places offer all types of accommodation depending upon your need budget or fancy  and the big plus point is getting to the spots of interests is absolutely hassle free. From Balestier road it was a 10 minute walk to the Farrer Park MRT from where I could get a rail to China town, Little India, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay Sands. Always opt for MRT over any other mode of transport in Singapore, simply because it is Cheap, efficient and saves a lot of your time. From budget hostels to business hotels to high end hotels these area have it all and living in the heart of the city is always a good decision.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Cafe Hopping In Bali!

Seminyak is one of the fast and crowded areas of Bali, definitely not as crowded as Kuta and Legion but nor as chill as Canggu. However, one of the most recommended places to stay if you are travelling alone or even in a group and want to hang out in cool cafes and beach bars. Of course the number of travel influencers that set base in this area is super high and I met so many people who've just been travelling and making money on the road, living their passion which was so cool! During my stay at Seminyak, I hung out at various cafes and beach bars. First up is Nalu Bowls, a small cute cafe located in a small lane at Seminyak. They serve one of the most delicious smoothie bowls.  A very good option for breakfast, very healthy and delicious. The bowls are decently priced and filling. I had their smoothie bowl known as 'uluwatu' it was delicious. There is also another breakfast hotspot by the name Shelter right about Nalu Bowls which is a good breakfast option. You can also opt for the smoothie bowl from Nalu bowls to be served at Shelter. Next up is Coffee Cartel, one of the days  returning back from sunset at Seminyak I stopped over for a coffee at this cafe, only for the reason that their sit out was awesome right on the street of Seminyak, fabulous location.

Seminyak has many options and one of the famous cafes is Kynd Community, again located on the crowded streets of Seminyak this cafe serves delicious food which is decently priced. This cafe is very popular for its pink walls. Kynd is one of the crowded cafes where you will need to wait in order to get a good seat. Here, I was for brunch and I tasted their dish called 'high rollin' and one of their coolers called 'squashed' It was amazing, please check out this cafe and make sure to get place at their outdoor seating area. Honestly, this is the kind of place which is absolutely flawless, from friendly staff to tasty food to perfect location. Another option for brunch/lunch could be this restaurant in Seminyak called 'Sea Circus'. On the first day I passed a colourful wall but could not realise there was a restaurant behind it. At Sea Circus I had one of the most delicious coconut flavoured ice creams. Pretty decently priced and is crowded during the peak hours. Surely one of my favourite restaurants in Seminyak as I ended up returning to the cafe for dinner on my last day. The staff here is very friendly. Coffee Cartel, Nalu Bowls and Kynd are open only till 6:30 in the evening so if you plan on going make sure you head there for breakfast, brunch or Lunch. Sea Circus is open till late just like the one of the beach bar i visited in Seminyak called 'Potato Head'.

A very fancy beach bar right on the beach at Seminyak, it's got a pool as well. A recommendation for fine dining. Prices here are slightly on the higher side. Another beach bar I visited was Finns, located in Canggu. Finns again is a fancy beach bar also with a pool right on the beach. Here also the prices are more on the higher side, they serve some delicious smoothies though. In Canggu, the place to be is 'The Lawn' it's beautiful and is another beach bar which I can call flawless, as i have written in my earlier blog. If you are in Bali and hanging out in Seminyak and Canggu as per my experiences these are the places to not miss apart from the many other super cafes located in these places. I surely have feasted on the smoothies at these places for which i am not guilty one bit. Another mention would be 'La Favela', walking on the streets of Seminyak and talking to a few locals I learnt about this place which has many floors. Each floor caters to a different genre. From one floor dedicated to partying and another to dining. A very colourful place, with lush green and antique decor. Food here is absolutely delicious and the cocktails are also spot on. La Favela is best to visit after sunset as it comes to life then and is open till late. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Island Life - Nusa Penida

If there is paradise on earth it is the Nusa Penida islands. The place where me and nature were as one single existence. A 200 sq km island which is situated south of Bali, Nusa Penida has so many views and it was very hard to pick a favourite amongst them.  I got to Nusa Penida by boat from Sanur harbour, it's a 30 minute boat ride which involves tossing around to its prime. At Nusa Penida there are many ways to manoeuvre around like renting a bike or you can always opt for a pre booked day tour which will show you around all the places. Odds are that in Nusa Penida there will be a price hike from Bali as rightly they get all their supplies from the island, no vegetables are grown here and most of their produce comes from Bali, bargain to a happy medium always as everybody wants to make a deal there. My tour was pre booked by Ithaka, a Mumbai based team which helped me sort out the places I should be visiting while I was on my trip. They were my travel assistants and, they were spot on with their recommendations to me during my stay. I owe my Nusa Penida experience to them. However, the roads here are unstable, they are treacherous and dangerous. Getting from one place to another takes double the time and if you are unlucky the road might pop a few tyres. I visited Angels Billabong beach, Broken Beach, Crystal Bay beach and the famous Kelingkling beach.  Turquoise blue water I had never seen before the whole experience was ridiculously speechless. Waves on the beaches of Angels Billabong, Broken Beach and Kelingking beach are not kind, mother nature is absolutely beautiful here but with a bad temper. The waves can pull you back into the ocean with ease, and never to be found again. the beaches here are not for novice swimmers. The natural infinity pool at Angels Billabong was closed for us as the waves were getting massive and more dangerous. The Kelingking beach is a replica of a dinosaur shape, one of the most breath taking views. The hike to go down to the Kelingking beach is not easy, you have to pay a price which is cardio of a high level. Also, dangerous as your feet will be on  unstable ground which is very steep and with a short railing on either side. the safety at this beach for the hike is reliant on bamboo sticks.  Personally i did this hike and of course the view from the beach was surely worth it but i strongly recommend you to consider your physical body before opting for the hike cause you can always enjoy the view from the top. For scuba divers and snorkelers I would recommend the waters of Crystal Bay as here the waves are calmer and suitable for swimmers. At Nusa Penida you will not find any fancy restaurants and cafes like Bali, plenty of warungs(restaurants) are located near the various view points and beaches. Gutted to have limited time on the island but i heard and i read online that Atuh beach and the famous beach bungalow of Rumah Pohon are also beautiful with amazing views. Ideally one should live in Nusa Penida for at least one night and visit all the beaches and viewpoints, However if you are short on time like me the day tours are always fun. It's a date with nature, its special and at some spots you must just stop taking pictures or talking to your group members or guide and just witness the sounds of nature, the waves splashing the hard waves, the sound of the wind, its magical! Very happy to have visited this place and humbled by my many experiences here, Nusa Penida is a definite recommendation if you are in Bali. Also, if you are headed to Bali do get in touch with Ithaka as their team is warm and helpful to all your needs and their tours are decently priced compared to what you might be offered in Bali.

Mother Nature, You Scary! Yet very beautiful - Bali, Indonesia

This south east Asian country known as the land of the Gods, known for its surreal sunsets and speechless sunrises. Its lush green tropical rain forests and waterfalls with breathtaking views. The many hidden beaches and the limestone rocks like islands on the turquoise blue water, a blue that is never seen before by me, which is so ridiculously beautiful. Bali was one of my destinations for my first ever solo bag packing trip through south east Asia. But with astonishing beauty comes tantrums and this island of Indonesia does have a high temper. With the build up to the trip my days were filled with reading the news about volcanic eruptions, a small earthquake and many ocean spills. Also,heard the news that the earthquake has hit Lombok, i feel sorry for the people who have suffered during this natural disaster. I can only say, "mother nature, you scary! yet beautiful" Opting for Bali as my first destination for my solo trip was for the only reason that a lot of spontaneity comes with this Island. Bali caters to all genres of travel and that was what excited me the most. It is the kind of destination which gave me the vibe to do whatever that would please me. It offers most of the adventure sports, volcano hikes, some of the world's most stunning beaches and islands with awesome views, a delight for a foodie as the cafes here are so well set up with so many delicious options, or if I were to party or club hop Bali has some of the best beach bars that throw wild parties. It was like i was just going to sit back and choose what I wanted to do and I could just do that. Precisely, the intention of my solo trip to pamper myself with taking decisions for myself from the accommodation to the food to the money I want to spend and to the make new friends on the road and just flowing with the flow. I was headed to the Island for just 5 days but with the limited time available to me, I want to seize the moment and live it to its best and fullest. Yes, my heart beat is racing and adrenalin is pumping!  I got to Bali via FlyScoot a budget airlines and subsidiary of Singapore Airlines. Convenient timings, cheap and efficient was the flight. In Bali my base was Seminyak, one of the uber chill areas of Bali and close proximity to Canggu and Sanur which were my main hangouts and places of interest. My main purpose was to visit all of the southern parts of this Island. Based myself in an apartment with the Kunti group of suites, villas and apartments, again good budget accommodation with lots of space which was absolutely what I wanted in a place like Bali. Well, i spent my first evening at Canggu, at a beach bar called 'the lawn' , a fantastic place and a must visit I would surely recommend. It's by the beach and has a pool, lots of cute white umbrellas on the lawn of their property where you can just  lie down and relax after a swim and witness one of the most speechless sunsets of Bali. The lawn also has an upper deck sitting area where you can have surreal views of the beach. From all the beach bars, cafes and restaurants I visited 'the lawn' is my favourite. I would just want to go back to Bali and sit all my evenings at this beach bar. Also, they serve one of the most delicious smoothies, prices are marginally higher by its worth it! Canggu is one brilliant place to visit in Bali and can be considered as an option to stay like Seminyak. Crowds are lesser here unlike Kuta and Legion. A solo traveller like me met so many amazing people here a good place to make friends and increase your network. If you are heading to Bali Canggu and Seminyak are the places to stay no matter if you are travelling solo or in a group.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Tranquil Goa!

The northernmost part of Goa is unlike the run of the mill Goa we all know. Beaches of Ashwem, Mandrem, Arambol and Querim comprise this side of the western state of India. White sand beaches and breath taking sunsets make this paradise look surreal! The crowd in this happy side of Goa is dominated by many foreigners especially Russians, you won’t be surprised to see menu cards of various shacks and restaurant written in Russian. In this side of Goa I experienced the most susegad kind of holiday. Lying under the scorching heat in one of the popular shacks of Querim beach, around me were many voyagers some were just waking up and getting into pancake craving mode, somewhere further groups of friends were playing music on their loudspeakers and enjoying the view, while elsewhere I could see some taking a morning power nap. Furthermore, at the other side I saw families have their day out with their children who were getting under the waves of the roaring beach in a very spirited way. The surfers were testing the waves with their skills and many couples were getting into the sea splashing water on each other and sharing laughter. The many restaurants on Mandrem beach are set up in an amazing way which would bring out the romantic best out of anybody. Luxurious restaurants and small wooden bridges made above what may look like small mangroves leading my feet to the warm white sand further leading to the turquoise blue water was one of my specific favourites in Goa. Ashwem and Arambol beaches are some of the more popular beaches with mixed crowds of foreigner and Indians.  Popular for its foods and beverages, cafes and shacks attract many here which serve all types of delicious cuisines with a lot of love and happiness. These beaches showed me many fishermen getting hold of their bounty. Oh I was in ‘paradise’ and I wished only if life was the same in the fast city from where I belong. Easily accessible from the capital city of Panjim by road and of course, once here you can always rent a bike to explore the various beaches and hidden gems. Accommodation available here is ample, from budget apartments and cottages to fancy resorts and villas. I had opted for FAB hotels reason being they are neat and clean with easy accessibility to many restaurants, super markets and beaches. I would recommend accommodation at any of the properties on Ashwem or Mandrem beach because of  a location advantage to restaurants, beaches and close proximity to super markets , ATM's and places where one can rent a bike. A must visit restaurant at Mandrem beach would be 'Lazy Dog' for its brilliant set up on the beach, delicious food and its very beautiful pool overlooking the sea. Another recommendation on Ashwem beach would be 'Rai Resort' with a lot of options on the menu card serving almost all cuisines, this resort located bang in front of the beach also offers accommodation. To have a complete experience of this ridiculously beautiful place one must spare at least a week from their regular life, come here and unwind. The night life here is ordinary but the essential feature of this place is dissolving into the beaches by running into the waves, taking naps of the beach beds and enjoying a super chilled mojito trust me that is how tranquil this place is! I recommend all who visit Goa to experience this side as it is 100% worth it.