Monthly Archives: September 2012
It was the end of the year and I had let the year win. Exhausted, fed up and trudging along at a miserable pace- the year showed no signs of ending. It was on one such a week where Aditya asked me what my plans were for the next week. Life had become so routine that I recited my daily schedule in a single breath. “Not really,” he said. My Dad and him had taken my life in their very able hands and planned a perfect break-ation!
So it was off to Bali. I had never been to Indonesia before and was very, very excited. We arrived in Bali and checked in to luxurious Melia Bali in the Exclusive Nusa Dua. Nusa Dua is home to luxury hotel properties and Melia Bali was a magnificently beautiful hotel with a private beach and gorgeous lagoon pool that was so, so inviting! Now Nusa Dua is more serene and is rather private so it is a bit cut away from all the action and madness of Bali but we had come here for a break and it was absolutely perfect for us! Ubud , in the hills is also wonderfully luxurious and relaxing but I’m a beach girl and Nusa Dua was PERFECT for us!
For more of the action and fun head to Kuta. Kuta also has several hotels, but none of them have their own beaches. It is also a more touristy part of Bali and so much as I loved hanging out in Kuta during the day, I absolutely loved heading back to my beautiful paradise in Nusa Dua to have romantic dinners on the beach with my husband! Kuta has great shopping and drinking and bargains! It is very touristy, always bustling and always fun.
Nusa Dua was quiet, relaxing and the perfect unwind.
Indonesia is a Hindu Country. They are so proud about the culture, the religion and their temples, it’s hard not to be proud of how well preserved the culture is. Furniture is made on shops along the road and is amazingly cheap , hardy and perfectly crafted. However shipping is often a problem and most of the local artisans would rather have you take responsibility for the shipping entirely and as a tourist with very few days in a country- that’s often not something you can do. Next time I go back, I’ll research the shipping plans better; so I can pick up some amazing furniture or a beautifully crafted Lord Ganesha!
Obviously in Bali , it’s all about the sea. So after a quick city tour we were in the sea and racing each other till we couldn’t see land any more!
And then we discovered white water rafting. We were picked up with 3 other couples and taken to the Ayung River and then we had to walk down ridiculously steep steps. A quick change and even quicker set of instructions later we were off on our own learning how to deal with the rapids and weaving our way through the river. At one point, we were allowed to get off and swim and the cool water after a hard bit of rowing was so refreshing we didn’t want to get out! After the rowing, you are taken for a quick bite to eat and something to drink and packed into the bus again and sent back to the hotel. What I really loved was a group of Japanese tourists who had used the river as a treasure hunt-team building experience. Different teams would rush to points on a map and pick up clues. Fun, exhilarating and a huge team building experience and suddenly I wished we had come with the whole family. Nothing like a good , fun competition to make a fun day even better!
Bali is beautiful, unspoiled and serene. It’s the perfect quick getaway from Singapore or Malaysia and a place I definitely must go back to! The sun shone brighter in Bali. My smile was bigger in Bali and I relaxed so completely in Bali!
Best Times To Travel- RIGHT NOW! ALWAYS ! ANY TIME! But on a more serious note…May to October is the best time to travel to Bali. Bali is always warm….so pack lots of shorts and lots of swimwear.
Price Factor-: $300 a night for a good hotel! But check the fine print. Several don’t have private beaches/ all the facilities you’d like! So choose well!
IMPORTANT NOTE-: ONE DOLLAR is approximately 9500 INDONESIAN RUPIAH. SO WHEN YOU’RE TIPPING, DON’T BE STINGY WITH THE TIPS AND EXPECT A SMILE AFTER TIPPING SOMEONE 10/20 RUPIAH! THAT ISN’T MORE THAN A FEW CENTS!
ALSO A COKE BOTTLE IS APPROXIMATELY 20,000 RUPIAH!
The Edinburgh Diaries Continued
So now that your in Edinburgh, what should you do?- apart from catching some of the best theatre, comedy and musical performances at The Fringe Festival!
Here are a couple of MUST DO’S!
- Walk the Royal Mile (several times)! Street theatre, live statues and the most incredible collection of artistes all around you! Get inspired!
- You must go eat at the Elephant House cafe – where JK Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book!Look around you Edinburgh reeks of inspiration…may be you can write your own novel/ novelette here too!
- A day trip to Loch ness and experience the beautiful Scottish Highlands!
- If you like grand military spectacles complete with a marching band, fireworks and a spectacular lighting display ; then stand in the hour long lines and catch the Edinburgh Military tattoo
- Explore the gorgeous Edinburgh Castle at your own pace and linger through the church and lawns in the Castle!
- Explore Edinburgh’s underground and buried past with a chilling Ghost tour under the city! We did! And I even saw a ghost! I swear!
- Enjoy the Scotch Whisky Experience just to see how Scotch and Whisky is made (if your just a casual taster) or visit one of the many distilleries in and around Edinburgh if you are a more serious whisky drinker!
- Take a day travel pass and keep hopping off the bus and exploring Edinburgh on your own. Museums, gardens. monuments,Edinburgh is an old city with an old city charm!
Things to remember
- The city starts early and shuts early. Don’t be confused if you still have sunlight at 11 p.m.. The shops still shut at 6 p.m.!
- Even in summer, be prepared for rains and a sudden chill. Carry something warm and carry an umbrella!
- Eating on the Royal mile is expensive… Try George’s Street for some fabulous fine dine options which are far nicer and not ridiculously expensive!
GO BE PART OF THE MADNESS OF THE EDINBURGH FRINGE ONCE!
It’s an experience like none other…! And the city with it’s old world charm and it’s youthful vibrancy is a symphony of experiences, colour and culture! Go to Edinburgh… but PLAN IN ADVANCE!
The Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh is a delightful place to visit but was never on my map of MUST-SEE , MUST-DO places…that was before I discovered the EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL.
Edinburgh plays host in August to the Largest Arts Festival in the world with almost 50,000 shows every year. The entire city welcomes the artistes and audiences during August with an array of colors and tons of warmth! To spend August or even a bit of August in Edinburgh is an experience like none other!
The Royal Mile is the place to be and with thousands of shows happening every 15 minutes choices are aplenty! You are sure to catch some future comic geniuses and a couple of Hollywood superstars who use this festival to help them re-connect with the joys of live performance!
Our play ‘A PERSONAL WAR- STORIES OF THE MUMBAI TERROR ATTACKS,’ premiered at this festival. This was our stepping stone to international acclaim and it was the passion for the arts and the pure love of theatre this city has that spurred us on to receive all the numerous accolades that were so kindly bestowed on this tiny play!
The city is a melting pot for artists. You will find people who understand your madness, your passion and your insanity. With the vibrance and creativity this city has, your own creative soul quite literally sings!
My Must-Do’s in Edinburgh…next week…
I’m a bit under the weather today and dreaming of an incredible trip is only making me feel more nostalgic and a bit sad- MUST TRAVEL NOW!
It was that time of year again- the time when we hadn’t gone for a vacation in far too long to remember and we were each getting on each other’s nerves- that’s the time when we know we have to fly away not just to ee something new but to breathe some fresh air and press the restart button for the both of us! So that’s what we did! I remember going to the Doctor 3 days before leaving . She was furious about some blood test results and was yelling at me like I’d purposely tried to ruin my own health- when my gallant husband stepped in and said- “we’ve had enough. Whatever the problem is, it doesn’t seem to be life threatening so I am going to take my wife and leave. We need a break and trust me everything will look better when we’re back…including her!” I was so grateful for that calm-very- good-looking-head-on-his-shoulders approach to my Doctor and we decided to continue with our travel plans.
This was our first trip to China and we were starting in Beijing!
The Grand Hyatt in Beijing is spectacular and opulent! Right in the heart of the city- it is walking distance from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and that was why it was our only choice and what an amazing choice it was.Part of Oriental Plaza – one of China’s largest commercial complexes and with direct access to the adjacent shopping mall, our first evening was spent exploring the surrounding area despite the fact that we were exhausted! Wangfujing Street, located next to the hotel houses traditional silk shops, tea houses and some fun, cool department stores.
The road outside the hotel is really wide and a hotel employee once told us that this hotel was to serve as a runway if ever the need arose and China was suddenly in an emergency situation or was at war! Crazy, surreal and very prepared- that was also our first impressions of Beijing.
THINGS YOU MUST REMEMBER-: There is a Chinese name and an English name for everything including where you stay…so don’t think you can leave and just say ‘Hyatt’ to the cab driver- TAKE THE HOTEL CARD- it has another name and locals only know the hotel by it’s Chinese name!
The Forbidden City was a 10 minute walk from the hotel and was remarkable. Caught up in the history we didn’t even realise how quickly time flew by! The thrones, the chambers, the halls, the history- all so well preserved , each with a fascinating story as the Palace served as home to the ming Dynasty continuing right up to the Qing dynasty!
And then it was time for the flag lowering ceremony where the People’s Liberation Army of China march in the evening to Tianmen Square and lower the flag! What an incredible sight and how we rushed to keep up! Unreal, an ABSOLUTE MUST DO!
The Hyatt Pool beckoned and we went in to this indoor heated pool with ‘palm trees’ and an almost island type atmosphere and ended the cold Beijing evening with a delightful dip!
The next day we started with a car ride to the Great Wall.Depending on where you’d like to climb the Great Wall from it takes about 1.5- 3 hrs to get there. Once at the wall, we climbed up with moderate amount of effort (based on the location we’d chosen to walk from – the Great Wall can be reached from different locations and the level of climb varies from easy to hard) and enjoyed the rough path, the steep climbs (at times) and the stunning view. But after a couple of hours of walking and some remarkable photographs, we opted to go down the wall via toboggan which was unbelievable!
With a bit of shopping and some incredible chinese tea , we enjoyed a day more in Beijing and it was off to our next adventure!
Best Times To Travel-: March through to September- else it does get a bit chilly!
Price Factor-: $250- $500. STAY 5 STAR AND REMEMBER CARRY THE HOTEL CARD EVERYWHERE!