One of the things that I haven’t yet done and is certainly on my travel bucket list is to cruise! Set sail across the sea and enjoy wilderness into the oblivion like never before. Of course sailing alone would be on the top of that list, however, to begin with a cruise would be the most imperious way to spend a time of my life letting my hair down and relaxing all the way for a week without the hassle of the world. Leaving behind all the worries I’d love to enjoy something that would help me feel rejuvenated again.
So I decided to check out what are some of the best Asia cruises and this is what I’d recommend to be on top of your list.
One of the best things about Asia is that on the Far East cruise you’ll get to see Asia in all its shades. Just last week Cherry Blossom in Japan happened and that is something you shouldn’t miss especially during April. This cruise offers just that. Far East, cherry blossom, buzzing markets in my hometown Mumbai, raving sunsets across beaches in Thailand.
Asia is best known for a wide variety of it’s beauty. The best thing about Asia is that it has diversity to the best of anyone’s reach. There are places that you can’t even imagine and you’d get to cruise among these beautiful views across the sea and cover various landscapes at it’s ports.
If you have trouble deciding where to begin then let size be your guide. Covering an area of more than nine million square kilometres, China has to be a splendid pick as part of their collection of Far East cruise holidays. Certainly beautiful from a cultural stand point too. The country has a history that dates back to more than 4,000 years, making the 15th-century Forbidden City in Beijing an infant as far as the timeline is concerned.
Next in the size line is India, a country of chalk and cheese sights. Anyone with stars in their eyes should head to Film City in Mumbai to perform in a Bollywood movie. Foodies can try a real-deal curry in Madras. Sunseekers, meanwhile, can loose track of time on the beaches of Goa.
Thailand is a smaller country as far as the list of Far East cruise stops. However on the beaches of Koh Samui, the sand is truly white and the water is crystal clear. Then you’ve got Bangkok, a city where twelve-lane motorways and skyscrapers go hand in hand with old ancient temples.
Moving on, you’ll find Japan. This country has a beautiful mixture of past and the future, ancient and cultural as well as modern and technological. Villagers plant rice in the paddy fields in various perfectures at the same time as cartoon-like Harashuku girls try to out-vogue each other in the cosmopolitan cafes of Tokyo.
Once you’ve ticked off the biggest countries in the Far East cruise collection, you can move onto the more pint sized places. Sip jasmine tea in the teahouses of Ho Chi Minh City and worry the bank manager during a spree at the world’s largest department store in Busan, South Korea. Alternatively, spread yourself like butter over the beaches of Penang in Malaysia.
Something worth doing especially if you are in love with Asia! What say?
As soon as I came into the Changi Airport, I could feel the amazing beauty of the country. The spaciousness and the amazing transit from Airport’s Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 to catch the MRT was the beginning of an amazing journey. I entered the train with some more folks and some air hostesses who had arrived via Air Canada flights and were probably heading to their respective hotels. The train just took me in a jiffy to the Terminal from where I got the MRT to go to Pasir Ris. After a bit of struggle operating the MRT card system, I managed to get my ticket and board the MRT. That was something I was going to get used to soon
The place was so vacant and felt so amazingly clean and neat it wasn’t even funny. As soon as I arrived in Singapore on Saturday I checked into my hostel at Costa Sands! As soon as I arrived in Singapore, I truly was Enchanté (French: Delighted to Meet You) Indeed, the country/city/island has a beauty that mesmerizes anyone… The most amazing thing about this place is its penchant for a certain meticulous way of life is what caught my attention. Yet it brings quite a certain delight for first time visitors especially with it’s multitude of cultural diversity and to be able to bump in with almost any kind of people from the world and for that matter to be able to visit places and eat food which is in the truest sense, ethnically and worldly different. Out of the world is the phrase to best express myself in this context.
Being a backpacker, I booked a Youth Hostel (Hosteling International) reservation online well in advance, and here I was at the Costa Sands Resort in Downtown East… One of the most interesting things I felt after staying here in the hostel is that, it wasn’t actually a hostel at all… It was more like a four star hotel with three people staying in one room… Surprisingly, no one was checked in for the first three days and later on, Sam from Taiwan came along… He was here for work and mostly out during the day… But yeah, the overall feeling was great… Loved the discipline and the meticulous way Singapore has built itself. Being quite a small place and with population round about 4.5 million, I guess it’s easier to do… But overall the feel was pretty good as soon as I entered.
Since I’m on the go I’ll go ahead and share my Photo Travelogue for now… I hope you enjoy the beauty of Singapore through my blog and most certainly once I get back home, a beautiful story about the sojourns of Singapore is in order and you shall certainly receive it.
My dorm at the Costa Sands Resort @ Downtown East
A view from my dorm room
My first meal in Singapore – Mixed Vegetable Garlic Chicken rice… Ate it to my tummy’s fill and yeah, with Chopsticks…
Post lunch I met up with a friend who’s just got a job here recently and started working in Singapore… We strolled around the Marina Bay Area and checked out some amazing sights at the River HangBo festival that was happening.
The view of the other side of the Marina Bay from the Helix Bridge
The amazingly beautiful, Lotus Shaped Arts & Science Center
The beautiful and colourful Hangbo River festival
We strolled around and checked out various interesting installations and walked a bit to the different installations of the astrological signs that were present there… Very beautiful and decorated nicely, this truly showed how much significance the Chinese New Year has during this time of the year in Singapore. In fact, we were lucky enough to get a few chocolates from the Giver of Fortune…. Usually it’s tradition amongst Chinese to give oranges, gifts, red envelopes filled with money, bonuses to the employees by the employers and in this case some chocolates were being distributed by someone dressed as the fortune giving man. (Don’t exactly know what he’s called yet.)
The Chinese giver of fortune
These are actual moving installations, which were moving as if they were playing music, the birds wings were actually moving.
Paper puppets installation at the Hangbo River Festival
Once we were done visiting the place, we headed to grab some food at a local old hawker center… Before that I couldn’t resist but to get a glimpse of the beautiful night by the bay…
Interesting collection of old / antique items found in the Old Hawker center near Marina Bay on your way to the High Flyer…
The Buddha Tooth Relic temple near Chinatown
A beautiful sculpture outside this temple
Chinatown at night… Beautiful lanterns especially since its The Chinese New Year
If you are a Tintin aficionado then this is the place for you to be… From keychains, to mugs, to merchandise to comics to DVDs they have almost everything… A bit expensive of course, but you can take your pick….
If you enjoy partying, and you’re a night crawler, then Clarke Quay is the place to be in Singapore!
Generally on Chinatown, you can go grab a bite at any place… Plenty of them good food places especially on Pagoda street. But one of the best you can find is Chinatown Heritage…. Do go there if you are around Chinatown…
I also happened to check out this amazingly spacious, minimalistic Zen like joint at Tanjong Pagar Rd… A Thai Vegan / Veg food joint… Brilliantly healthy and tasty food that I could eat.
If you like Thai and Veg food, then Whole Earth near Tanjong Pagar is the place to be…
The other side of Clarke Quay is Boat Quay… This place is very popular for its sea food… This is near the Parliament House / Arts House…
The Parliament House
The Arts House
This is the place where you’ll find screenings of great artistic shows and collection of brilliant artwork and something that you’ll enjoy if you are a fan of any form of art.
That’s a Half a century old Morris Minor near the Arts House.
And that’s me standing next to it… My undying love for vintage cars is truly undying… Couldn’t resist…
Some really cool graffiti at the underpass around the Boat Quay / Parliament House area..
Some really interesting building structures on the streets of Singapore
My first time on an international flight… Sitting in the plane looking outside the window… Yes, I always knew this day was going to happen, sometime or later… But NOW, it’s happening NOW!! And I can feel it as I type these words sitting in a still plane, gazing across the window…
Having enjoyed wonderful journeys across Incredible India, this experience will probably be one of my most enchanting ones as I look forward to a destination unknown, unexplored and yet so close to a lot of aspects of our Indian culture and yet so different and I mean flabergastingly different and a lot lot more advanced than the way we share our lives with each other.
Funnily, never expected some mosquitoes to join me as well… Ahh what the heck Let them also enjoy their ride to Singapore…
The feeling as I type this on my iPad is surreal. Surreal as I bid goodbye to the city of dreams to move onto unchartered enchanting territories and fly beyond horizons that will bring a different level of maturity, shades of some exploration that I have yet to carve out as a travel blogger.
This feeling of the journey of life, being truly begun is sinking in… Hope the city of another dreams also has a lot in store for me. For some reason, with the soothing and serene music that’s playing in the background is kind of giving me an inkling… An inkling of something great in store for me, even as I am yet to begin the journey.. Like an alternate, similar universe waiting out there for me…
So, let us see where this heads… For now, signing off… Oh and yeah, also the Mosquitoes on the plane say Hi to you all…
Will blog about my escapades once my trip’s over…
For the Live Blog please follow http://srinistuff.tumblr.com
Well, pretty soon, I’ll be on my way for my first international trip. Yes, the calendar is blocked and the itinerary is about to be made… Looking out for hostels / hotels is already done, sending right emails and checking with people is done. Being a traveler and an avid one within the country has been by far one of the best things to have happened to me. So that’s something I cherish a lot. I have certainly traveled far and wide when it comes to the boundaries of India and its diverse terrains. So, this is something I was looking forward to for a while and that’s when this moment came along.
The destination? – Singapore!
I’d be down in Singapore in the 3rd week of February and I know there are plenty of places within the city to visit.
So now that I’m gonna be there the planning has become quite the pain, but I know soon I’d be on my way. What’s most important though for me is that ’THE TICKETS ARE BOOKED!’ The hustle and bustle, the packing and booking… Everything will become a major chaotic affair. But now there’s no stopping me! Hopefully I’ll do some sight seeing on the two weekends that I’ll get during that week.. A week which will be mostly spent in being with Social Media Professionals and a lot of interactions to happen at the Social Media Week Singapore 2013 and maybe meeting a couple of friends out there, I’ll spend some of my time visiting a few places out there!
Any specific places that I can go to over the weekend? And maybe if there’s any tourist bus service that you can recommend? For a change, I’ll not research and let the plan take its own course… What say?
Also when I’m down thre stay tuned on My On The Go – Tumbleogue Travelogue…
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine”
Yes indeed, one of these days I need to start reading more pages of this book. Its almost about time that I start going international on my travel. Yes I have a bucket list and there are certainly some places that I’ve bookmarked already and need to plan my travel accordingly.
One of the things that I want to do in Lisbon is take a road trip! And what better way than get a cheap car hire than DealChecker…
I’ve probably written about three or four posts up until now on Hampi! A lot of these contain the historical relevance and the places that one can see and visit as travellers. A lot of times whenever I’ve been to Hampi, I’ve travelled alone and come back to write my experiences and my journey in the historical and archaeological realm of the empire. Some things that I always have cherished and realized about my relationship with this magnificent place was my Kannada roots and of course more recently my understanding of ancestral connections to this place through Late. Shri N.S Rajpurohit, my great grandfather who was part of excavations of the Talikota battlefield, the place where the Vijayanagara empire marked its death.
This time around, during Diwali, with a couple of old friends and a few new ones, we decided to set foot in the Vijayanagara Kingdom… It was quite a bunch of us friends. Some writers, thinkers, some travelers like me, some who were just like me fascinated with Hindu mythology and its symbolical association with historic cultures especially here. So this blog will be more about the journey and some photographs which embellished quite a memory on this entire trip, making it truly special for reminiscing old friendship while building new ones and some very special ones too.
Our first day began when we left Mumbai in a bus to Hospet. We had decided to stay at Hampi Gowri guest house this time around. This is across the Tungabhadra river on the Anjaneya mountain side. From the minute I had started speaking to Mr. Srinivas, my namesake, I had decided to go and stay there. The very helpful and polite manner that he spoke on the phone sounding very helpful and accomodating was something that made me pick this venue in not more than a few minutes of speaking with him. He also offered to pick us up from a destination enroute Hospet, which is towards his side of the town. When we reached there we mostly freshened up and took a walk to the Sanapur Lake, which was nearby and pretty much chilled out. waiting for the day to get over, finish our wonderful home cooked dinner made by Mr. Srinivas’s wife and crash…
Second day began when we set off in our mini van to take the tour of the city. It was very well spent with a guided tour, by me of course visiting the ancient ruins of Hampi and the various places that we ended up taking great pictures and spending some good time talking about their historical and archaeological significance from the standpoint of ancient India. Our day mostly touring and grabbing a quick bite of Chitranna and some mirchi bhaji was very fruitful especially after witnessing the Stone Chariot, our last and the most infamous and quite enchanting monument in this UNESCO World Heritage site. After we returned, thanks to the wonderful arrangement of a camp fire and a barbequeue! A fitting day to a tiring and yet very fun day!
Third day was mostly chilled out. It began with a late rising in the morning and eating our breakfasts, finely cooked Idlis, very tasty and certainly ones that you could gulp down as many as you could and yet feel the craving for more. We had decided to relax a bit since the second day was quite tiring and hectic and probably start slowly to end the day by climbing the famous birthplace of Hanuman, the Anjaneya temple on top of the mountain. We started off by heading to boating point, to cross the river in the famous round small boat of sorts, the coracle or putti as it’s called in Kannada. This was something one of our friends, Rahul wanted to experience and I had to ensure it was done! And quite an experience it was, for me for the second time, but all the more fun especially with good friends around. We also recorded a video, which I’ll upload later! So after which, we visited the Virupaksha temple and returned to the other side to have our lunch and head towards the Laxmi temple and Anjaneya mountain. Climbing the mountain just about the time the sun was setting, was a great experience. Once out there, witnessing entire Hampi, filled with boulders and mountains as if God himself had thrown mountains from the skies was quite overwhelming. Sitting with close friends seeing the sun set, added a perspective to this. On our way back at the foothill of the mountains, we stopped by to drink some coconut water, which I’d say was one of the best out here in the entire trip. We also happened to meet some really down to earth, humble and truly loving family who ran that shop, Govindappa Cold drinks house. Govindappa, his wife and his daughter ran the place. They were very hospitable, friendly, in fact really good people who offered us some bananas also for free. They were decorating the place as the next day was Diwali and we helped them out in some ideas. They really enjoyed it and thanked us as well. It was quite fun hanging out there as it gave us another perspective of how life is. How people like them still exist and how life is more than the materialistic living that most of us pursue out in big cities like Mumbai… Such was the ending to our 3rd day at Hampi. Surreal but true.
With all this amazing experience over a period of 3 days of staying in Hampi, gave us a lot of time as well. A lot of time to talk amongst each other and get to know each other more. A time to share stories of their own, anecdotes from their lives or the books that they read, was certainly an experience that we all enjoyed thoroughly. Some special moments, some fun, a lot of PJs being cracked, and some profound wisdom and knowledge shared amongst all of us friends. It was something that made the trip even more memorable. It gave us time to introspect on our own life and share some of those with each other to learn something remarkable about each other. Our final day was going to be the one where we explored some of the Anjaneya side of Hampi. We decided to rent mopeds, from Mr. Srinivas. They were reasonably priced as well! We set forth towards Anegundi, the old capital of Hampi. On our way back we stopped by at a place nearby the road. There were open fields staring across the horizon for acres and acres of land. Deepika my friend, had suggested that we go walk in the fields. Quite a good idea, I wondered to myself and decided to stop by. We asked a guy who was sitting near the field, he said it wasn’t his, but he told us to go ahead and take a look and that no one would mind. He had a smile on his face and was very happy that we wanted to explore these beautiful fields within his lands. And so we went, played around with the crops in the field, took some good DP worthy pics and went back on our bikes to go towards the other side of the river to explore the Monolithic bull area and probably do some last minute shopping. While the last minute shopping didn’t happen, we had quite a time in yeilding our mopeds on to a motorboat and taking it to and fro. But we managed to catch some really stumptous meal at Geeta River View…
With heavy hearts we bid goodbye to the Kingdom of Vijayanagara as the first day of Diwali came to an end with the brigh orange sun which we could see on our drive back to Hospet. It was an end to this trip, but a beginning of an alliance of a group that is going for some more travels of this sort and of course raring to come back to this beautiful ruins of Hampi…
Thanks to Mr. Srinivas for his hospitality and kindness. His wife for the awesome food, and to Harsha his son who served us and helped us out very diligently. I’d reccomend this place as a must stay and next time I’m down there, it’s going to be the place to stay
Contact details: www.hampigowri.com
Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:
Yes! Yes and Yes!
Before I begin the answer from a travel enthusiast perspective, just some insights to share about Asia and India in general, might give you some perspective pertaining to the question you have asked.
Travel Facts – Asia & India
Some interesting facts about the travel Industry in India & Asia in general.
Over the next few years, Asia — mostly China and India — and Latin America will drive world economic growth, contributing up to 75% of global GDP from 2010 to 2012.
The 2012 outlook for Asian outbound travel is positive. 6 to 8% increase in this year’s expected 14% growth.
In particular India appears to be set for strong growth with 43% planning more outbound travel next year. IPK’s travel confidence of India is at a high 113 points.
Incredible India – Travel Galore
I began exploring India truly about five years ago and I’d say despite traveling to a lot of parts, I hae hardly touched 1/4th of the country so far. An endeavor that makes me want to go on and on till I have set foot across each and every state at least. One of the reasons why I enjoy doing so is cause of it’s geographical and cultural diversity with of course significant historic and mythical relevance to various places. Adds to it’s mystery in its own way. To such an extent that every different place that you travel to within India is a completely different landscape and a cultural expose of sorts. There is a great sense of encompassing travel experience that yuo get when you explore various parts of India. From the beautiful mountains in the Himalayas to the amazing temples and the beaches down south. From the most diverse religious and cultural places across the four corners of the country to the much modern and very well built cities in various metropolis. From the multiple Indian languages spoken in different parts to the very familiar tour guides or audio guidebooks that you’ll get at various heritage sites to help understanding places in the country much better for yourself. India has it all. If you are the type who loves adventure and mountain climbing then you can explore various destinations across the Himalayas which span across the Indo-Nepal-Tibet and Pakistan border you’d love every bit of it. There are practically every kind of geographically diverse landscapes in Leh and Ladakh. If you are interested in culture and meeting new people of ethnic and traditional origin then a trip to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and some remote villages in Harayana, Punjab and some parts of South India would do the trick. Archaeology fans might really enjoy The Ruins of Hampi, various parts of Gujarat and some across India-Pakistan border where Indus valley civilization ruins exist and of course Madhya Pradesh for it’s beautiful terrain and charismatic caves depicting ancient lore of Kama Sutra and love in Khajurao. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore are the metropolis you might want to go to, best serve as connectivity to various different parts and mostly flights to any place in the world or other part of the country are available here. South India give s you a lot of insight on the Hindu cwith it’s various temples and also a great escapade towards nature in God’s own country Kerala will enchant you with it’s beauty. The North East has it’s own charm with various landscapic mountains, monasteries, Buddhist culture and an eye awakening spirituality towards nature and this planet. Then there are the beautiful islands of Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar which are a place in itself. Secluded from most parts of India they lie within the terrains of water a world within their own these places must not be missed. And last but not least, there’s no place like Goa! If you come to India, Goa is a must visit for….
Of course there are pitfalls when it comes to hygiene, beggars, lots of crowd, the problem of communication at times in certain parts. The potential risk of being duped by locals or overpriced at various destinations are certainly there… But if you are aware and well educated about your destination with some planning and research, yo can get along well with any of those situations. Plus that in itself is an experience for you so to speak. Overall, India tourism is trying to create infrastructure and overall awareness for its tourists and travelers. You’ll find a lot of information on this website and also if you carry the India Travel Guide book, which most tourists and travelers from the world carry with themselves you should be good to go. In most places local authorities, police are quite helpful, sometimes you may have issues with the bureaucratic ways of the cops and local authorities, but if all your paper work is good then mostly there are no worries.
So overall I’d say, India is certainly a good travel destination. One thing I’d recommend to watch before you start your journey to India is an interesting six part documentary series by BBC and Micheal Wood called ‘The Story of India.’
Lastly here are some of the places that I’ve visited and shortlisting them for you to show you what I really mean when I wrote this answer. For the detailed answer refer to this: What are the must-see travel destinations in India? (qr.ae) Would give you quite an answer to your question and my explanation to why India is a good travel destination
P.S If nothing else, there’s the Taj Mahal to come to India for!
What are the Places to travel to?
Trek towards Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Saheb (Glacier may not be always there…)
Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand HImalayas
Paragliding in the Solang Valley
Spiritual Quest at the Dalai Lama Temple in Dharamsala/McLeodganj
Shey Palace in Ladakh
Shanti Stupa in Ladakh
Leh Palace in Leh, Ladakh
Nubra Valley in Ladakh
Disket Temple in Nubra Valley in Ladakh
Ride a Bullet to Khardung La in Ladakh *Highest Motorable road 18380 ft
Alchi Gompa – Oldest Monastery in Leh, Ladakh
Indus River Valley in Ladakh
Pangong Tso Lake across Ladakh and China Border
The serene Om beach in Gokarna
Rameshwaram Temple and it’s 1000 Pillars
Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort. Kochi
Boat to Allepy from Kottayam in Kerala
Buland Darwaaza of Fatehpur Sikri
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
Jain temples of Jaisalmer
The Vintage car museum in Udaipur
Matri Mandir in Auroville
Pondicherry & Auoroville Beach
The Garden City – Bangalore
Visit the Ruins of Hampi – A must visit if you are a fan of archaeology and historic ancient culture.
Stone Chariot in the Vittala Temple
Hazara Rama Temple – Carvings from 10th-13th century of Rama
Lakshmi Narsimha statue
Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure… Ancient air conditioned palace
Monolithic Bull, carved out of one Stone
Mythical Lions called Yalli inside Krishna Temple
View the Marina Beach Sunrise in Chennai
Conquer the Mahuli fort during rains in Maharashtra – The Sahayadaris
Charminar in Hyderabad
The Buddha Statue in Lumbini Park in Hyderabad on the Husain Sagar lake
Be part of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai
Lenayadri Hills in Maharashtra – One of the Ashtavinayaka Temples
Ajanta Ellora Caves in Aurangabad
Badrinath Temple in Uttarakhand
Mana Village and Vasudhara Waterfalls – The last indian Village on Indo Tibet Border
Haridwar for it’s cultural and spiritual expose.
Lakshman Jhoola and the Parmarth Temple in Rishikesh