Lovely Bali

After a 3 hour flight from KL to Bali, the first thing that Bhupesh said on the Indonesian land was “Man! Its damn Humid!”. But I was too excited to notice. My research had warned me that it wasn’t a good time to go to Bali, weather wise of course, a good time is from March to Oct; But I was so enthusiastic to be undertaking this vacation as under a promise of celebrating each wedding anniversary at an exotic location, I just had to be in Bali on the 6th one. I said “ Na, I feel quite pleasant”. The VOA and Immigration hardly took any time. I guess may be the airport was meagerly populated only because it wasn’t the peak season to be here. Anyways, I actually never like to be at a crowded place. So it was all proving to be a good start.

We were going to stay at Ayana Resort & Spa Bali and the pictures on the web were simply out of the world. As soon as I had seen the pictures & booked the resort 3 months ago, I had hardly had a dream which didn’t involve the resort. I was really praying that it would be, as is promised. I had also made a research on the “Must See places” in Bali and had my itinerary ready, with the help of all my lovely friends who have been to this marvelous island. All was set!

As we reached, we had a lovely welcome with flowers, refreshers and gong sounds, But what I saw on entering the lobby wasn’t what was promised. I stood their still for a moment. O My Gosh! Its prettier & more real than the pictures..its more than promised…I was almost speechless during the check In procedure. I didn’t want to go to the room instead explore the 200 acres resort first, but of course, there was little Aahana with us. I had to give the poor child a little time to relax out her tired self. We spent a few minutes at the room and then headed straight out to explore what we have come to, holding a resort map in hand. It really was huge, exquisite & incomparable.

The Rock Bar

More than 5 pools, 10plus different cuisine restaurants, a Spa on the Rocks, A huge kids area equipped with all kinds of toys and play stations, & most importantly “The Rock Bar” – it was aptly described as 360degree of sheer glamor. I couldn’t have asked for any more a better place to celebrate my love and our 6th wedding anniversary!

We adored the resort too much that we skipped the next day of any sight-seeing. A day later, we decided to make use of my research and the planned itinerary. We booked a cab for the whole day and visited a few places that I had jotted down for the first day. But the heat was too much to bear. By 5PM, all 3 of us were terribly sweating and kind of dehydrated with the scorching sun. Guess we were better off in the resort itself. Relaxing, that was the whole idea of the vacation, we realized. We cannot torture our young lady in this hot weather for all the vacation. So we both gave up on my itinerary and decided to make full use of the resort. There were no complains. It was absolutely relaxed and an incredibly fantastic vacation.

A View from the Rock Bar

Sunset from the Rock Bar

 

The Lovely Little Paradise called Cyprus….

Cyprus!!!…Sigh!!…..A place really close to my heart. I landed in Cyprus a  few days after my wedding in Feb 2006 and stayed there for a little less than 2 years,only…sigh!!..Really only!! You cant have enough of this beautifully romantic place. No wonder I always associate bliss, beauty, peace of mind, romance, a beautiful sea, exotic Mediterranean cuisine,warm & welcoming people…..n so much more to this place.

Like other Europe, the best time to be in Cyprus is from April to Oct. Not that Europe is bad in winters, of course its great,specially if your idea of chilling is having hot freshly brewed coffee while its snowing outside. Personally, I feel Cyprus is at its best with sin(oops) Sun & Sand in summers while it bustles with tourists.

If travelling from India, http://www.emirates.com/, or http://www.gulfair.com/English/Pages/default.aspx are good options. Emirates would be a little higher on pricing, although its totally worth it. With Emirates, you would get a break at Dubai, and with Gulf Air at Bahrain. Both certainly have great airports, and don’t you be disheartened when you enter the airport at Cyprus. It isn’t the most dazzling or trendy of the airports, but that small little country( probably even smaller than an Indian state) that awaits you outside of the airport has a lot to offer & will surely make your vacation a treasured one.

You would enter Cyprus at either Larnaca or Paphos airports. When you see sexy Merc and Limos as cabs…Man you know you in Cyprus! You may also rent a car easily. There are many portals available on the internet and you can make a pre booking online. The highways are great and the directions quite clear.

This isn’t a big country and a 10 day tour would be enough to cover it all. But for most certain, once you feel the magic this place spells, you are bound to come back again,  if not extending your vacationSmile

Cyprus is divided in two parts, occupied by Turk Cypriots to the north and the Greek Cypriots in the south. You need separate Visas, as well. The culture in these two areas is way different too. You may like to refer to the culture, etiquette, and language tips here, http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/cyprus-country-profile.html

There are a number of castles, archaeological sites, tombs of past kings, monasteries, harbors, bars, pubs, discs, museums, shopping places and lovely beaches, all through Cyprus, in every city. A vacation in Cyprus, I believe is not much about sight seeing, Its majorly about exploring how beautiful this place is while biking /driving, the serene nature trails, the amazing waves of the Mediterranean & great cuisine variety & of course, the motto – the beer must flowSmile

Yet, the following info would help you plan your trip city by city. A 2 day stay at each city is sufficient. Must Visit Places in Cyprus are: Ayia Napa & Paphos.

Places to see in Southern(Greek) Cyprus:

Larnaca: This is a charming town. The Main promenade is lined up with beautiful palm trees, full of cafes and bars.CTO Tours give a good Larnaca city tour.

To name a few sights:

Pierides Archaeological Foundation Museum

Church of Agios Lazaros

Byzantine Museum

Larnaca Fort

Tourist Submarine Dive site

Tudor Inn – British restaurant. There are a few good Indian/Pakistani restaurants too

The beach right next to the Larnaca international airport is a must see. Its fascinating to see the plane land so close to you.

Limassol: or lemesos, as it is called sometimes is the second biggest city in the country and with a night life only second to that of Ayia Napa.An hour drive from Larnaca would bring you to this city offering lovely seaside cityscape,  stylish cafes, shops, restaurants, taverns, lapped by the Mediterranean stretch to the south.

Courion Beach – The monstrous waves make this beach a special place. Its just beautiful to just sit by the side of this beach and feel how deep the sea isSmile. Pine Tree is an Indian restaurant nearby.

Fassouri Water Park – Great to enjoy a family time.

Good Places to Eat include: Syrian Arab Friendship Club, Raj Tandoor, Alaska, Cleopatra and many more….

Lemesos Medieval castle, Archaeological Museum, Bear Factory, the Time Elevator, Folk Art Museum are some other good sights to see here

Troodos: These mountains are another 50 minutes or so, drive from Limassol. They are great & snow covered in winters offering a great ski experience. You will love the roasted sweet corn here. There are a few camping sites here.

The village of Pissouri: offers you a breath taking view of 20 mile stretch of the sea. Its also famous for its delicious sultana grapes.

Nicosia(or Lefkosia): Perhaps the only divided capital city in the world, this place has a lot to offer to you in terms of the ancient culture of Cyprus. No Beaches, but great to shop for souvenirs and see the cultural heritage.

Places to see: Green Line walk, Famagusta gate, ArchBishop’s Palace, Venetian Walls, Faneromeni Church, Paphos Gate, Ostrich wonderland park, Cyprus Handicrafts Center : are only a few of the things to you may like to consider while you are at Southern Nicosia

Ayia Napa: Man this town rocks!!You can spend as many days of your vacation here and still would crave for more. It boasts of the best night life and the best beaches in Cyprus. There are numerous discs/pubs/bars lined up here.

Must visit places are:

Nissi Beach – This happening beach is bustling with tourists in summers and With all kinds of water sports, transparent golden sand beach, why wouldn’t it?. Napa Bungee is a must try!!

Protaras- Another beautiful  and happening place, 45 mins from Ayia Napa.

Sea caves

Scuba Base

Party Cruises

Paphos: 90 minutes of drive from Limassol and you reach Paphos. This city is considered to be the birth place of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

Baths of aphrodite is a must visit when in Paphos.

KatoPafos is the amongst the best beaches here.

Adonis Falls are other tourist attraction in Paphos , though the ride is a little difficult.

One may also try to biking on Akamas mountain trails.

Coral Bay boasts of white sands with a calm sea.

Latchi Village – A little drive from paphos would take you to this beautiful resort.

KohiNoor – is a great option for Indian cuisine

Aphrodite waterpark and Paphos aquarium are other places to see.

Polis Beach is another 1 or 2 hours drive from Paphos. It’s a great camping site, as well.

Places to see in North(Turk) Cyprus:

North cyprus has a lot of Casinos, bars, Night clubs and Dics too. I believe it’s the long sea side drive that drives you crazy in North CyprusSmile.You can just go n on n on driving here watching some beautiful landscapes on the way. Yet two must visit cities are:

Kyrenia

Kyrenia harbor – is a beautiful place and a major tourist attraction in Kyrenia.

The St. Hilarion Castle – A rough climb to the top of this castle gives you a spectacular view of the whole city and the coastline.

ShipWreck Museum

Kyrenia Castle

Famagusta

The Sea Gate

Geek St George Church

The City of Salamis

I thinks that’s all the info I have about this “romanchak” country. Would love to see additions from my friends who are still living in this paradise.

Daxi!!

Kalimera My Friends!!!

Malaysia~~Truely Asia!!

This Tropical country surely Rocks!! Having lived here for almost a year now, I have loads to share with my frenz who plan to have a vacation here. Believe me, its a great destination, spcially for “Resident” Indians – No scarcity of Indian Restaurants( Ranging from High end to “lowest end”), a short 5 hr flight from New Delhi( even lesser from Mumbai/Chennai) and Air Asia(http://www.airasia.com/my/) rightly says – Now everyone can fly, You get flying deals for lesser than u can imagine for an international destination here. Before getting a tourist VISA to Malaysia, pls visit http://www.2malaysia.com/visa.htm, to check if you really require one.

A little about Malaysia’s History, geography and civics[;)] : Malaysia indeed is truely asia, You can see it bubbling and bustling with almost all asian cultures. The main ethnic groups include the Malays, Chinese & Indians(Mainly Tamils and then Punjabis).This makes Malaysia home to many festivals and I guess Malaysians love celebrating all these festivals, throughout the year.It all starts with Christmas & New Year Celebrations, followed by Chinese New Year in Feb,Indian Holi in March, in June starts the celebrations for Malaysian festival Hari Raya for 3 months, Oct & Nov see Diwali decorations all through. The best feature of these festivals is the “SALE” which are genuine and make Malaysia a shopper’s paradise almost throughout the year.

Geographically, Malaysia is divided by the South China Sea in Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia(Sabah & Sarwak).The Peninsular Malaysia is sandwiched between Thailand in the North and Singapore in the south. The most famous tourist destinations in Malaysia are the capital, Kuala lumpur, Langkawi Island, Genting Highlands, Penang and Redang Island.

Culture & Ettiquitte note – Malays are quite warm n friendly. They speak Behasa Melayu and follow Islam. Lone Women travellers are quite safe. Although Malays are quite conservative about women’s attire. This isnt a concern in highly metro and tourist places like KL, Genting, Langkawi etc. But one must be carefule in areas like Penang. The main religion is Islam, but one can find churches and Indian temples too. There are signs outside many mosques indicating who may or may not enter, prohibited dresses etc. Please respect that. Its quite safe , but an extra precaution with your handpurse/gold chains etc is advised, specially when roaming in tourist spots in KL.

Weatherwise, Its quite hot & humid when it is not raining:). These are the only two kind here[:P]. Temp ranges from 21C to 34C.And it can rain without any warnings:). Please come prepared with loads of sunblocks, hats & umbrellas. The highlands can take you to a cool world as well. So if your itinary includes Genting or Cameroon Highlands, its not a bad idea to carry a light woolen as well.

And Most Imp(specially for my vegge Indian frenz):McD doesnt serve the McAllooTikki Burger[:D][:P], or any Veg Burger/wrap or roll for that matter

The buses/train/roads are quite good for interstate travel. KL Sentral is a good place(http://www.klsentral.com.my/), when in Kuala Lumpur to find the connectivities, schedules and prices.KLIA express is a good commute to KL International airport from KL. Buses and Trains are also connected comfortably to Singapore and Thailand.

Cruise is another option to travel from Singapore to Malaysia to Thailand,(Only if you have the time & Money), visit http://www.starcruises.com/newweb/homepage.aspx

The following info might help you plan your itenary for a vacation in Malaysia.

Places not to miss in Kuala Lumpur:

Petronas Twin Towers – This is like the most obvious place to be when in KL. The Suria KLCC mall below the twin towers hosts all the high end brands possible.(So if you dont want ur wife to shop here, just hold her hand[:D]). There is a little park outside with some fountains and water play etc. Indian Restaurant: Spice of India.

KL Tower – The 4th largest tower in the world.It boasts of a revolving restaurant with a 180 degree view of KL and it really has a spectacularly amazing view after the sun sets, though the food served isnt worth the price[:D]. The other option is to chose the observation deck only. Indian Restaurant: Tandoor

Bukit Bintang Walk – Now thats a happening place after the sun sets, lots of pubs/discs/cafe/massage places to hang out. This is where you can feel the famous KL night life. The Times Square Mall is a great place to shop and also has the largest indoor theme park in Malaysia. Then there is the Low Yat Plaza where you can find all electronics, at a better price.Indian Restaurants: There are many many here. Nawabs, Spice Garden, Passage thru India, to name a few.

Sunway – This is a place which would require all your day. There’s a water park, an extreme adventure park, wildlife park, amusement park and a shopping mall with an ice skating rink. Indian Restaurants:Sagar

Other places to Shop – Mid Valley Megamall, ChinaTown

Things to do in Langkawi:

Langkawi Cable Car & Hanging Bridge – To have the best view of the nearby small islands.  This is simply a great experience.

Underwater World – Just another underwaterworld though.

Pantai Cenang Beach – A beautiful plus happening beach with water sports and many many Indian restaurants here.

Tanjung Rhu Beach – This is an untouched beauty. Most of the beach is private to the resorts like Four Seasons and tanjung Rhu Resort, and there is only a little place for the non -guests at those resorts. So carry a beach mat with you if you are not staying there.

Langkawi Eagle Square – Thats kind of a symbol of langkawi. Nothing much to do here apart from getting a pic clicked.

Island Hopping – Hiring a private yacht or booking on a group yacht is a must do when in langkawi. They serve you food and unlimited drinks on the yacht and you get to see some really beautiful wallpaper sceneries. A little bargain is ok. MYR 260 – 280 is a good price per head.

Other Points to Note – Langkawi is completely dutifree and shopping for your fav perfumes or liquor is completely guilt free. Most of the places in Langkawi efuse to accept cards, so its a good idea to carry the cash for the whole trip.

Genting Highlands:

An Indoor theme park, Loads of Casinos, An Outdoor theme park, Shopping and Restaurants is all to be done at genting. It gets quite cold in here after the evenings. Indian Restaurants – Spice Garden

On the way to Genting Highlands from KL, comes the Batu Caves. This place has a huge statue of Lord Murugan and some270 odd steps to reach the main temple. Kind of an adventure but one must be careful about the monkeys.

I have not visited Penang, Redang & Cameroon Highlands yet. So you can find info on them at

http://www.tourism.gov.my/destinations/list.php?state=penang

http://www.cameronhighland.net/

http://www.redangisland.com/.

Other helpful sites would be

http://www.tourismmalaysiausa.com/

http://travelindependent.info/asia-southeast.htm

http://www.tourism.gov.my/about_malaysia/

Planning Vacations!!!!

Goods The Mornings Amigos[ o Yeah, m stll very not over with the lovely movie]

Very recently, a few of my friends have been contacting me to get info about travel to/vacationing at Malaysia/SingaPore/Thailand. Thanks to me being *free* all the time these days, I have been drafting new mails everytime[;)].

I had made this page almost a week ago but since then couldnt start writing somehow. So when questioned by my hubby last night “What exactly do u plan to put in ur blog??”, the one thing that came to ma mind was,  may be a travel guide, to start with[:)].and He loved the idea. Also, I am inspired by one of my frenz, who lives in the UK. She wrote about travelling tips to London in her exquisite blog, do check this out if you get a chance to visit the English land http://chintangupta.blogspot.com/search/label/London. Her Blog certainly is an inspiration to many I beleive, and in many terms.

Having had the chance to live in/visit some of the most beautiful vacation places in the world, I intend to write about them on this page. These include India, Cyprus,Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Egypt, Israel… and some that I plan to visit in the future.  Ofcourse please do not expect a Nat Geo Travel freak writing here[:D].[ Ok I love Nat geo].

Well ofcourse this isnt the only agenda of my “Press”, as I like to call this page. I plan to share some of my personal experiences too. Well, I havent lived for ages now, but still, I guess all of us have a great deal of lessons learnt, irrespective of our age.My Family, Friends, Teenage Crushes, Relations, Surviving in a college headed by my own dad, my love marraige, the industry I have worked in, being a Momma …have all taught me a lot….and when I look back during my “Me” times….I realise I really have had some amzing experiences that I must share.

Stay tuned. I will be back with my next writeUp soon -> Malaysia – Truely Asia[:D]. This tropical country surely rocks!!

Reema