Phuket & Bangkok in a week

So you know that thing where you are jobless and then decide to go crazy and spend your savings on a random trip instead of saving up? No, just me?

Well anyway, Thailand turned out to be my spontaneous trip. I literally had nothing planned, no itinerary, nada. I booked my tickets and landed up at the Suvarnabhumi airport hoping that the Visa on process would not go on for too long, since I had a flight to Phuket in another two hours. Turns out I was wrong. After what felt like an eternity(I think it took 1 and half hours), and no, I didn’t miss my connecting flight, I was in Phuket!

I decided to take a shuttle bus from the airport to my hostel(initially hostel in Phuket). The ride was pretty uneventful and I reached my hostel in an hour. The hostel itself was right next to the beach and after reading great reviews on hostel world, I was pretty excited to stay here. I was pretty dismayed when I quickly figured out that the hostel was initially much empty. I unloaded my bags and decided to head out to the beach. I decided to sit at a beach shack and grab a bite while watching the world go by, when I saw things were getting prettttyyy cloudy.

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Few hours in and the rain still hadn’t stopped. Considering I was feeling pretty fearless, I decided to walk through the rain and get back to my hostel. Fortunately for me, things were starting to look up already. I had a roommate! A boy from Egypt. We quickly decided to grab some dinner and visit one of the pubs in Bangla Street and boy was it a treat!

From the lady boys, to the men calling us in for massages and luring us to watch the ping pong show, Bangla Street is always bustling with activity. We decided to head into his favourite bar called Illusion. They were playing hip hop music and I was sold. The next day I had my trip to the islands(James bond and the surrounding islands).

Day 2

I had arranged for the tour via my hostel, so after the scary wake up call from the hostel staff at 6 am, I was on my way to see the islands. I made some friends with some ladies visiting in from Malaysia, and fortunately after I met them I did not have to resort to taking my own selfies. 😀

The tour ended by around 4 and I had booked my tickets to Simon’s cabaret considering I had decided to skip the ping pong show.

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As a patron of the arts, I quite enjoyed the show although I did notice the crowd was mostly locals and I didn’t see any tourists around. Anyhow, after the show, I decided to walk back to my hostel, and I ended up visiting a food stall kinda area. Some pad thai for me please!img_20180627_193021058

I end up back at the hostel and now I have two roommates! An italian has joined the midst. We decide to head out again for a second dinner. And from 3 people, we went on to becoming a 6 member group!screenshot_20180627-222503

Needless to say we ended up at Illusion again, and we all decided to call it a night by 1 am.

Day 3

Another early morning for me. This time I had decided to take a Scuba diving course. Whilst there was some confusion regarding the pickup, they finally did show to pick me up an hour later. This time, we were off to visit Phi Phi Islands.

Considering this was my first dive, I have to say I had a terrible experience. Will I go diving again? Probably not.

I went back to the hostel pretty dejected and decided to spend the evening having a quite dinner.

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Day 4

I decided to spend the first half of the day simply ambling around, and later left to the airport to catch my flight to Bangkok. It was time to experience city life now.This time I took the public bus to get to my hostel(Once again hostel). The hostel was pretty hard to find, but all’s well that ends well. This hostel turned out to be a bit strange and was honestly not my favourite place to stay. They initially gave me a bed that was on top which turned out to be an experience close to climbing mount everest. I quickly asked them to change my bed. Anyhow, the people I had for roommates at this hostel were super weird and the whole time I was there, all I heard was them complaining about Thailand. I knew I had to head out and quick. I realised that the hostel was pretty close to all the famous food joints so I headed to the first famous one. Krua Apsorn.

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One crab omlette and a pad thai later, I headed back to the hostel. I then decided to head out to the famous “Ratchada Train night market where I met a fairly handsome german man, who took me to a place called “sorry, I’m gay”. Many many drinks later, I was ready to call it a night.

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The boy got me a rose

Day 5

The next day, I had booked a food tour, so I was ramped up for that. However, I did make a mistake of eating heavy before my tour. Pro Tip: Don’t ever do that.

Many many pit stops later, we were done, and I was bursting at the seams.

Day 6

I decided to grab a quick bite with a new found friend and headed back to the airport to go back to India and find a job

I’m aware that the trip was pretty short, but it was brilliant, and I met some amazing people on the way. I do know I’ll be visiting again sometime soon. Until next time.

Adios!

 

My rendezvous with Varkala

I still can’t believe I took such a long hiatus since my last post. What have I been upto in that time? Well, I joined a new job for starters, travelled to Cambodia,Vietnam,Dubai and I’m finally here. Well rested. Well maybe I’ve been a bit stressed lately, but hopefully things will calm down.

In the meanwhile,let me tell you about the lovely weekend I had at Varkala during the last long weekend. Now I’m originally from Kerala, and I’ve been dyiiiing to go there since the longest time. Well, me and my friends were finally able to make the trip, and boy was it worth it!

It started with a bus journey from Bangalore and might I add, a really really long bus journey to Trivandrum. We made a short pit stop at a friends place at Trivandrum, and this was the view from her apartment. Fabulous, isn’t it?

We then took a cab till Varkala and landed at the place we had booked. A place called Nalukettu Heritage Resort. Now, I don’t think the place classifies as a resort. It’s more inclined towards being a home stay.No frills. Nothing fancy, but it was run by a sweet couple named Midhun and arathi, who went beyond their way to make the stay lovely. More about that later.

Once we had freshened up, we headed over to the beach of course. The beach is a 9 min walk from the place we stayed, but we later came to know that there were many other hotels available on the cliff and they all seemed to be a bit nicer than the place we had chosen. Oh well.

The view from the cliff

Day one was basically just spent on the beach, and the cliff. And of course, a lot of food. Seafood!!

This was at a place named Abba
Banoffee pie at Coffee Temple

Day 2

Now day 2 was definitely the highlight of the trip. After having talked to the owner Midhun, he said he would take us on a boat to an island.We were super pumped about this, but before we headed there, we obviously had to wake up for the sunrise.

So we headed to the beach at 6am, did some yoga,got back, had breakfast, and then headed for our mini adventure.

Now, forgive me for this, but I don’t honestly recall the name of the place that we ended up at but boy was it exquisite. Midhun had asked us to pack our swimsuits as there was an area we could go swimming in. Now if you have followed by last blog posts, you’d know that I just learned swimming. So I jump at any opportunity that presents itself where I do get to swim.

Look where I ended up!

I mean I will never ever forget this part of the trip. To be the only ones swimming in the backwaters, and feeling the water around me, the mud beneath my feet. It was indeed an exquisite feeling.We spend a good 3 hours just swimming, and having fun, and by 3 pm, we were dead hungry. Midhun being the gracious host that he was decided to us to a Kallu shappu( Toddy shop). This is basically a place that the locals go to for fiery beef fry and kerala porotta and of course toddy combination. Slurp(for those who don’t know, toddy is liquor made from Coconuts)

The place we went to was called Velliyazcha Kavu.We ended up ordering, fish, beef, chicken, kappa,and Kerala porotta

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Damn, I’m hungry

After this, we headed back to our stay for a siesta, and then by 6, headed out again to see the sunset and to also visit the Varkala aquarium.

Since we had a heavy dinner, we decided to skip it and go for desserts instead and headed to Cafe del Mar. My advice. Please don’t go there. The service is run by some lazy ass waiters who honestly shouldn’t be working as waiters.We went back again to Coffee temple to have our Banoffe Pie but it was a little disappointing this time around. Overall, a bad night! Headed back home a tad disappointed.

Day 3

This was our lazy last day.Once again, we woke up, had a lazy stroll at the beach, headed to another beach. By 3, we headed back to the cliff for a long lunch by the beach. By 5, it was time to wrap things up and get back home.

I know this wasn’t a long trip, but for those of you who are wondering whether to include Varkala in your travel itinerary, I would say hell yes! I urge you to go. And maybe stay longer than we did. 🙂

Adios.

Pondicherry-Where France meets India

I’ve been to Pondicherry or Pondi as people fondly call it, a couple of times.The first time was when I was in college.I remember hitting the beaches of Auroville, and almost drowning.

This visit thankfully was a bit less dangerous than the first one.After the wedding revelry in Chennai came to an end,me and my college friends decided to head to Pondi for a very small weekend getaway trip.

We didn’t have a lot planned honestly, as this was supposed to be a weekend where we did absolutely nothing. So after having a quick breakfast at our stay(Coromandel heritage), we headed to Pondicherry Museum. Now, I’ll be honest and say this. It was an absolute let down. The place was in shambles, and the artefacts were in various states of decay.If you’ve got a short visit planned like us, then by all means please avoid the museum.

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We then ambled around, took a few photos in front of the governors residence which I may add is a beautiful building in itself, and also stepped into a church on the way.What I do love about Pondicherry is that at times you feel like you are in some part of France. You’ll catch small bits of conversations happening in French,pass by street names in French, beautiful French architecture, and also savour French food.The remnants are everywhere.

Later,we headed out for a boat ride that was arranged by a local near Promenade beach.On arriving, we found that we would be getting into a fishing boat with no life jacket whatsoever.The memories of me almost drowning did come to mind, but I pushed through it. After all,what else can you expect for 1500Rs, so we got onto the boat.It was definitely worth it, and we got to see a close up of the old harbour.After two hours of getting burnt in the sun, we headed back to the hotel,freshened up and then walked to a little french cafe called cafes des arts. We were infact the only Indians in the place when we arrived, and so assumed the food would be authentic.I can’t speak for the others, but I did like my crepes.

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The rest of the evening was spent doing nothing. We walked to the promenade, sat there for a good two hours, and then ambled along.We happend to glimpse upon the Alliance Francaise in Pondicherry, and lo and behold, they were playing a French movie. So we got in, and spent the next hour and half watching the movie(which had sub titles thankfully). By the time, we stepped out it was around 11, and realised that all places would shut soon. So we ran from restaurant to restaurant and got kicked out by everyone of them, until we found one place that would take us in for 20% extra. We took the bait.

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The next morning, my friends woke up early to catch the sunrise(I slept in), and then we headed to baker’s street,the famous french cafe. Unfortunately for us, the service that day was horrible, and the food wasn’t as great as expected either.

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What followed after was another lazy day, followed by driving down to Chennai to catch our respective flights, trains and buses to head back home.

A slice of Cambodia in two weeks

I know I’ve not been active as I promised I would be. It’s been a busy month, and November started on a high note.Me and my boyfriend have been in a long distance relationship for over a year now and we had finally decided to meet up after 7 months of being apart. Since I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have a cash inflow, we decided to go to Cambodia(read cheap).My budget for the whole trip was around 60000 Rs, and fortunately we were able to stay within the budget.Here is how we planned our trip.

Flights and Visa

Our flights were booked 3 months in advance, and were booked separately. He was flying in from Paris,France and I was flying from Bangalore India.The flight from Bangalore to Phnom penh cost me about 220000 Rs. Once that was settled, I got my visa from https://www.evisa.gov.kh/ and the process was super simple, and cost be around 3200 Rs.On landing at the airport,all you have to do is show your e-visa along with your passport and voila, you’re in!

Phnom Penh

Day 1-2

Day 1
So here’s the deal. We didn’t really plan our trip or have a strict itinerary in mind.The idea was to just go with the flow. The only thing pre booked was our stay for 2 nights at PP. So, on arriving at the airport, we got a local sim for 15 dollars, and then got us a cab( I still had some dollars remaining from my US trip). The cab from the airport to our hotel cost us 12$.

We had booked the okay boutique hotel at PP(33 $ per night). The location is pretty ideal, and was at a walking distance to the royal palace, central market and the riverside. We didn’t have a lot planned the first day, so we just explored the central market(Ben got his currency exchanged), and then had dinner at the riverside.The plan for the next day was to visit the S21 and the killing field museum.We got a half day trip planned courtesy our hotel for about 16$( not inclusive of the entry fee).

Day 2
We started by visiting the Choeung Ek Genocidal center. On entering, this is the first thing you see.Majestic, isn’t it. I would highly recommend taking the audio tour. The visit was a humbling experience as well as an emotional one and one that should not be missed.

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Once we were done with the tour, we headed back to our hotel so as to plan our next destination. But before you leave, make sure you visit the Foreign correspondents club or FCC. Yes, it’s expensive, but we loved the place and the ambiance.

Day 3- Kratie

Ben was hell bent on dolphin watching, so the next thing we did was to catch a bus to Kratie. Again, we booked this from the hotel. We got a Sorya bus at around 7 in the morning, and reached kratie by around 3pm.(cost us 20$) We had booked a hostel the previous night, and I don”t remember the precise name(i think it was dolphin hostel) but boy, it was awful. The rooms, the halls all smelled of toilet water, and the it cost us around 18$. Fortunately, we had booked only for a night,so the plan was to check out as soon as possible once we were done with the dolphin watching.

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The food we had so far

Day 4

The next morning, we first went for a trek in the mountainous area with a temple nearby and then headed out to watch the dolphins.Was it worth it? Heck yes! It was fabulous to watch the dolphins in their natural habitat without humans feeding them.

Once that was done, we checked out and headed over to Le Tonle Guesthouse.It was slightly more expensive but the rooms were clean, and comfy and the food was to die for.Don’t forget to try out their Amok!

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Day 5-Off to Siem Reap

There isn’t a direct bus to Siem Reap, so we took a bus till Kampong Chang and then took a connecting bus to Siem Reap. The bus ride was arduous and long, and by the time we reached the hotel, it was around 7pm. We had booked 3 nights at the Angkor Orchid Central Hotel. Once again, the location was ideal, and was extremely close to the night market. Since we didn’t have a lot of time, all we did have dinner and call it a night. The temples were beckoning us for an early start next day.

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Fried Tarantulas at Kampong Chang

Day 6-Temple Hop and Insect Eating time!

It was finally time to visit the one thing that Cambodia was most famous for. The temples. In order to visit the temples, you have to head to the ticket center first, and get your tickets. You can choose between 1 day ticket, 3 day ticket and a 7 day ticket. We chose a 3 day ticket simply because a two day ticket didn’t exist. It cost us 40$ per person.The temple tours start from 5am and end at 5pm. Once we had our tickets, we headed over to the first stop, which was the most famous Angkor Wat temple.Guides are available for hire at the spot, but we decided to go ahead without a guide.The day was hot and just after an hour we were covered in grime and sweat.Few of the complexes we visited that stood out were Pre Rup, and Preah Khan. The sight of the gigantic tree roots growing through the ruins is definitely a sight that is both stunning and mind boggling and was quite unlike anything we had seen before.

One word of advice:The temple visits can get difficult in bad weather since there is a lot of climbing to do, and by 5pm, we were dead beat. However, ben wanted to hire a bike for the next day, so we walked around and finally managed to rent a bike. (you have t submit your passport in order to rent a bike)

After this we took a break and then headed out to the Siem Reap market to find a cafe where we could try out some bugs. Yes, you heard me right. Bugs! I never thought I’d say  this, but it was delicious!! Definitely a must try. The night market is bustling with activity, and pubs are open till late at night. I loved the vibe of the place, and it definitely is a great place to let your hair down.

14938220_10157667339240291_4653825727679566945_n Continue reading “A slice of Cambodia in two weeks”