Category Archives: Tales Across the World

Oriental Delight – Hong Kong’s finest chow!

Best of All, it’s in Hong Kong!

Indeed it is, especially when it comes to its cuisine, especially during your family vacation. Hong Kong truly is a place where all foodies can gorge on something or the other to their liking.

No matter which country you live in, if you’re traveling abroad with your family, then a dinner table or a breakfast table is where we all come together for delicacies galore. A large family meal whether it’s at a large table at a dim sum restaurant on a weekend morning or enjoying dinner in a local restaurant it’s always an hour spent in togetherness. Be it grandparents, parents, children and even kids, everyone loves food in Hong Kong.

While I may not yet have taken a journey across the “Pearl of the Orient”, I’ve heard many a tales of a place, which reflects the impressive nightscape of the city’s light decorations on the skyscrapers along both sides of the Victoria Harbor.

One to beautifully enjoy, sitting in one of the finest dining places across Asia’s world city. The closest I could come to eating Hong Kong cuisine was in Lau Pa Sat, somewhere in Singapore where you’ll find a bunch of cuisines across South East Asia, come together under one roof.

That’s when I realized the chow in Hong Kong must be tried after all! So here’s a list of cuisine that I would call a mighty delight, especially when one’s down in Hong Kong!

The famous Tai Cheong Bakery

Tai Cheong Bakery Hong Kong

If you’re into baked food and particularly fond of egg tarts, then this is the place, even though there’s going to be quite the crowd here, the egg tarts here are worth the queue! Tai Cheong Bakery located around Lyndhurst Terrace in Central, is a must visit for all its baked delicacies. Not to forget for its very eggy-flavoured custard.

Deliciously notorious Pineapple bun of the Kam Wah Café

Kam Wah Cafe

Although the cafe is small, just like any typical char chan tengs in Hong Kong so do not be taken aback by the cramped surroundings and the need to share a table. Cause the food here according to many is worth everything.

Traditionally, a pineapple bun contained no pineapple and earned its name because its chequered top resembles the skin of a pineapple. The top half of the bun is made from cookie-type dough, while the bottom is made from Chinese-style bread dough, which tends to be softer and sweeter than Western bread. To eat it like a local, make a slit in the middle and insert a thick slice of cold butter for instant guilty pleasure. This is known as ‘bo lo yau’ (‘pineapple oil’). Kam Wah Café, churns out a batch every 10 minutes in the morning — a testament to their popularity. It’s located in Bute Street, close to Prince Edward MTR station, Kowloon.

Fishballs for the Sea Food lover in you

Fishballs Hong Kong

Whether it’s late night street food or great restaurants, delicious food is never hard to find in Hong Kong. But some places in Hong Kong, are only known for their special kind of cuisine especially better than fancy restaurants, from what I hear. One such eating spot in Hong Kong is Tai Po. It is located in the New Territories, around 40 minutes by MTR from Central, but it is well worth the visit because it has some of the most delicious food in Hong Kong from what I’ve read.

Almost every one in Hong Kong has a favorite fish ball vendor. Bouncy and fluffy, the best Hong Kong-style fish balls are made with freshly ground fish paste, hand-beaten and slammed to springy perfection. Best enjoyed on a stick with spicy curry sauce, or over rice noodle soup in a specialty restaurant. Hong Kee and Yum Kee, both of which have over 40 years’ history, with fish ball noodles being the only item on their menu. Closest to Tai Po, Market station on the MTR.

Delicious Dim Sums to melt your heart away.

A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, they say. This dish literally does!

A popular family get-together meal, dim sum means ‘touch your heart’ and with as many as 150 items on a restaurant menu, and 2,000 in the entire range, it is a challenge to not find something you love.

There are snack-sized portions of pan-fried, deep-fried, and baked foods served in bamboo containers designed to be eaten communally and washed down with tea. Hence, going for dim sum is known as yum cha, which literally means ‘drinking tea’.

Dim Sums Hong Kong

The unique culinary art dim sum originated with the Cantonese in southern China, who over the centuries transformed yum cha from a relaxing respite to a loud and happy dining experience. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises. For many in southern China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. More traditional dim sum restaurants typically serve dim sum until mid-afternoon. However, in modern society, it has become commonplace for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner; various dim sum items are even sold as take-out for students and office workers on the go.

If you’re in Hong Kong then, one must visit Lin Heung Tea House, a century-old joint that’s among the few left that still uses dim sum trolleys. Closer to Wellington Street, it’s again located in Central, Hong Kong Island.

Nothing beats Pizza with a view, especially with your family!

So of course, if you are out of India, with your family, then there’s always that moment when you want to try something closer to home. Okay, maybe not Indian food, but we always try to get something that your taste buds are generally used to. For a lot of us in the family, a Pizza always does the trick! And it’s a hassle free ordeal for the vegetarians in the family. So what if you could top it off with a beautiful view of the harbor?

Harbour View Hong Kong.png

Yeah, Pizza Express near the Ocean Terminal on Canton Road is your place to go to for sure. Decent pizza, great view, amazing food, what more do you want? If you go in the evening, then make sure you grab a window seat for yourself around 7.00 PM to catch the light show up close. And more importantly, the kids will love this place especially the desserts!

Oh and not to mention, this summer, Hong Kong celebrates 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and to celebrate this special offers are available to all Hong Kong visitors from 1st April, 2017 onwards. I guess, that’s why they say, this summer, Best of All, it’s in Hong Kong! 😉

Have you been to Hong Kong yet? Have you tried their cuisine yet? Any other items, a must eat? Tell me in comments! 

Disclaimer: This post has been written in collaboration with Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Of Art, madness and magnificent views

“Nothing is art if it does not come from nature.” – Antoni Gaudí

One of the best things about visiting Barcelona is to be able too see the beauty of the maestro, an artist who is far beyond your extraordinary. Well if you ask me, Barcelona is Gaudí, Gaudí is Barcelona.  Yes, I’m talking about the master architect Antoni Gaudí of the early 20th century who shaped the city with his marvels. Not just his most famous century old work which’ll finish hopefully by the end of this decade, the La Sagardia Familia, but a lot more than that. The sheer marvel of visiting various places in Barcelona to view magnificence of Antoni Gaudí is a fortune that many should seize!

On our visit to Europe and Barcelona, after Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery, I think what caught my eye was Catalan Modernism artworks across the city by this amazing artist. If you intend to visit Barcelona, and have the sailing or seas on your mind, then do take some time out to visit some of the most spectacular works by this master artist.

One such experience is Park Guelle! A must visit if you’re in Barcelona.

IMG_20151006_185109879

All the work of art right from the windmill to the steps to the alligator statue on your way up to the Park Guell terrace, you’d realise the spectacular cuts, the design the beauty of the elements of architecture including colours are inspired by nature, true to his style.

Park Güell is the reflection of Gaudí’s artistic plenitude, which belongs to his naturalist phase (first decade of the 20th century). During this period, the architect perfected his personal style through inspiration from organic shapes. He put into practice a series of new structural solutions rooted in the analysis of geometry.

To that, the Catalan artist adds creative liberty and an imaginative, ornamental creation. Starting from a sort of baroquism, his works acquire a structural richness of forms and volumes, free of the rational rigidity or any sort of classic premisses. In the design of Park Güell, Gaudí unleashed all his architectonic genius and put to practice much of his innovative structural solutions that would become the symbol of his organic style and that would culminate in the creation of the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family!

Some magical moments of this artistic creation, captured in a lens of time! One that I wouldn’t hesitate to re-visit again!

IMG_20151006_192124519

IMG_20151006_191800034

IMG_20151006_193515917_HDR.jpg

The Cape of Castaway Islands

 

Some destinations are just meant to be the ones that define Holidays to a completely different level. Most of the holidays that I plan are for the uniqueness of the destination and what the place has to offer me in perspective to the experience that I usually get. Many a times a vacation is usually to take your time off, unwind and relax to cool your heels off. And then there are others that are clubbed with getting the feel of the local sights and unpack little mysteries and treasures hidden in such a place.

Recently, while I was browsing some such interesting discovered, I came across something on FirstChoice and found it certainly one of the most fascinating locations. The Cape of Castaway Islands, as I’d like to call it,  it’s the Island country Cape Verde!

Interesting find and most certainly a promising destination for it gives you the feel of a vacation destination and also makes for the best cultural and local experiences off the coasts of Western Africa. Interestingly, it is one of the most diverse Island countries you would see considering there are so many things to do out here…

Officially known as The Republic of Cabo Verde it spans across an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean.  Interestingly and not surprisingly, in the 15th Century, Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the uninhabited islands thus being, the first European settlement in the tropics. Ideally located for the Atlantic slave trade, the islands grew prosperous and often attracted privateers and pirates, among them Sir Francis Drake in the 1580s.

Some very interesting places in this country are one of the most romanticized, yet unknown. Thanks to the 10 tiny islands in the Atlantic being below the radar. And since it’s just off the west coast of Africa, which means sunshine’s a given pretty much year-round. I’d recommend these few destinations to ease off, unwind and soak in the sunshine while you’re here.

Boa Vista

Aptly called Boa Vista, which means ‘Beautiful View,’ this destination is the most easterly island and it’s a strong contender for the best of the bunch. The reason? This 55-kilometre coastline that has everything from small, rocky bays to huge sandy stretches  and you certainly  could have been airlifted from the Caribbean. Out on the water, conditions are perfect for kite and windsurfing. And below the glassy surface, there’s a rainbow of marine life to get to know.

boavista

Beach Life at Boa Vista

If you’re tired of Boa Vista, then there’s also the Santa Monica Beach that is popular with everyone. It’s in Curralinho, to the south of the island, which means the water here is really sheltered. And the name? The locals reckon Santa Monica’s 18-kilometre stretch looks a lot like the Californian version. While you’re here, pay a visit to the island’s capital, Sal Rei. Pastel-painted houses, cobbled streets and rickety old shops are the staple ingredients here. Other than that you also have the option to Sail over to the deserted island of Sal Rei,Hop on a boat and go whale-watching, Sip the local wine in Sao Filipe on Fogo Island.

Sal

This place is still early doors for this necklace of rocks in the Atlantic. To give you an idea, they’re 2 hours south of the Canaries, just off the west coast of Africa. Thanks to their history and location, you’ll find an exotic mix of African and Portuguese cultures on each island. And wherever you head, you’re guaranteed untouched beaches – there aren’t many people around here to share them with.

sal

The island of Sal – Cape Verde’s most cosmopolitan – is dotted with little towns like Santa Maria, where the cobbled streets are dotted with surf shops, market stalls and rainbow-painted restaurants. There’s also a square packed with al fresco cafés. The white-sand beach is the big star, though. It stretches for 8 kilometres and ticks off beach bars and sand dunes along the way. There are plenty of things that you could do other than these when you’re here in Sal, especially if you want to enjoy something off beat – Learning to fish, Going on a trip to watch sea turtles in a catamaran, enjoying a great lobster dinner or better yet, go Big Game Fishing.

Underwater Worlds

Underwater worlds

If you’re a beach person and love water then Life below the surface is always exciting to see. Here you can do that with a glass-bottomed boat without needing to pull on a snorkel and flippers. Cape Verde has rich, fertile waters off its shores, so as you glide over the waves you’ll get to see schools of fishes, turtles and stingrays, and even a creaking shipwreck.

Viana Desert

Viana Desert

If you’re tired of the beach, then exploring through Viana Desert should be a must do on your list. Deserto de Viana, as it’s popularly called covers about 30 per cent of Boa Vista and is almost entirely uninhabited. Made up of wind-sculptured dunes and red rocks, it’s a playground for quad biking and 4×4 safaris. For the best bounce going, head south – the dunes here reach heights of 50 metres.

Santiago Islands

santiago

Cape Verde’s biggest island can count Captain Cook and Sir Francis Drake among its visitors. Nowadays, though, it’s mainly day-trippers heading for the old capital, Cidade Velha. Along with its volcanic beach, you can head for its atmospheric market, National Maritime Museum and church that dates back to 1495.

Islands of Fogo

Fogo

If you love the beaches, but mountains even better, then this is the destination to head to! The name of this sun-shaped island means ‘fire’ in Portuguese, which gives you a good indication of its volcanic status. Its crowning glory is the 160-metre cone of Pico de Fogo, which last burst into life in 1995. Head to the coast to get the best view of it. And while you’re on the island, stop off at the colonial town of Sao Filipe for a taste of Fogo’s wine.

All in all this place is a must visit if your perfect idea for a vacation is much more than regular lazying across the beaches, shopping, or just tasting the local cuisine. Wonderfully diverse, with a bunch of amazing places, this place is a retreat for all travelers who enjoy fascinating places, experiences and destinations across the world!

Picture Courtesy: www.firstchoice.co.uk

Travel Tips for Visiting London

London

Travelling to London in this day and age is a lot easier than in yesteryear. However, with any trip there are always variables that you must consider in order to ensure that your trip goes as safely as possible. With flight times approximately 10 hours from Delhi to London, the last thing you want is to face a series of hurdles upon arrival that you are ill prepared for. So, with all that in mind we have devised a comprehensive list of tips and information to help you on your trip.

The list is mainly focused on helping save money for backpackers as London is reported to be the 15th most expensive city in the world to visit as per English newspaper Daily Mail. And if you’re not careful, you too could fall foul of a series of expensive charges that you could have easily avoided if you’d taken the time to research ways to cut costs and adhere to your budget.

Buy tube or bus tickets immediately…

Taxis or cabs around London are scandalously overpriced, so you must avoid them at all costs unless you’re desperate to get somewhere in a short space of time. Using the tube or bus is relatively affordable compared to the cabs. Also, if you use the tube then you will eliminate the terrible traffic that’s in and around London itself.

Use short stay parking if your relatives are picking you up

This is more of a money saver for both you and any relatives or friends you have if they are picking you up from the airport. Like many leading airports, Gatwick one of London’s largest airports, has advanced parking services. Parking4Less states that Gatwick has short stay options, which can come in handy to drivers. This is useful for anyone who needs to pick you up as they can conveniently park their car for a couple of hours at an affordable price. Note: this is especially ideal if your flight is delayed and they have to wait extra hours.

Always use hostels over expensive hotels

There are so many hostels in and around London that you will never be short of options. However, make sure that you always book reservations in advance. Helpful websites such as Agoda can help you find the ideal hostel for you at a relatively cheap price.

Explore London’s museums

There are so many amazing museums in London; you are really spoilt for choice. But the best thing is there are also so many that are free to enter. Time Out recently published an article that gave their readers a run down of the ‘Top 10 Free Museums in London’. The list features Science Museum, Museum of London, British Museum, Natural History Museum and many more.

I know I am only touching the surface with the above list but hopefully this will initiate some other thought provoking ideas to research when you are planning your visit to London. If you have already visited London, however, by all means leave your travel experiences below in our comments section.

Singaporean Delights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most interesting things on my visit to Singapore was the beauty of the city and of course my trust with the delightful architecture and some interesting sights that I had on my trip. The best thing about Singapore, is that you can get from Point A to Point B with complete ease. The worst thing about Singapore, is that you hate when you leave it. 😉 Most of my trip I either took the metro, or walked across the city wherever I could go. It was so easy that I didn’t have to ask for any directions. In most cases, Google Maps did the job for me. The beauty of this city is the sparseness and the clean roads. But more than that the entire experience has a level of nostalgia that I cannot just share in mere words. The reason I decided to write this post was to remember and relive those memories that I had last year! A few delightful moments in this Photo essay of my trip to Singapore.

A colourful view of theHongbao River festival… Part of Chinese New Year celebrations.

A colourful view of the Hongbao River festival… Part of Chinese New Year celebrations.

A view of the Lotus shaped Arts Science centre from The Helix Bridge…

A view of the Lotus shaped Arts Science centre from The Helix Bridge…

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple - Chinatown

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple – Chinatown

Tintitn Statue at the Tintin store in Chinatown

Tintin Statue at the Tintin store in Chinatown

A view from Boat Quay

A view from Boat Quay

Chinatown during the day

Chinatown during the day

DBS Building near Marina Bay

DBS Building near Marina Bay

Five Stars Building - Pagoda

Five Stars Building – Pagoda

Fullerton Hotel Near Boat Quay

Fullerton Hotel Near Boat Quay

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

Mustafa Center Near Little India

Mustafa Center Near Little India

Outside Buddha Tooth Relic Temple near Chinatown

Outside Buddha Tooth Relic Temple near Chinatown

Paper Puppets Installation at Hongbao Festival

Paper Puppets Installation at Hongbao Festival

Parliament House

Parliament House

Singapore Flyer - Beautifully lit up Ferris Wheel at night

Singapore Flyer – Beautifully lit up Ferris Wheel at night

Singapore River

Singapore River

Songs of the Sea - A must watch at Sentosa Island

Songs of the Sea – A must watch at Sentosa Island

Sunset at Siloso Beach - Sentosa

Sunset at Siloso Beach – Sentosa

The Merlion and Marina Bay Sands

The Merlion and Marina Bay Sands

 

 

Meandering into the Island of Gods

Sometimes a distant world that you think of in your mind to be one of the best places across this planet, happens to be exactly what you thought of. While many of us realize our travels and escapades bring us closer to the elements of nature and ourselves, it is hard to imagine what it would be like when you are caught away in a place that never ceases to amaze you. Well, to me, Bali was that experience. As soulful and as divine it has been made up to be, it was truly as enchanting as I thought it could be. While the beaches that stretch across the coasts of South Bali give you an experience that would seem like any other island destination, if you look at the nitty gritties of it, it brings you closer to tranquility and rediscovering yourself among the horizons of the ocean.

tumblr_myknfiubG11r34ruqo1_500

Seminyak, Kuta, Bali

Ubud Paddy Field

Ubud Paddy Field

Amazing as it may see, the journey across the diversity of these islands bring you very close to different aspects of nature. Be it the humid, sunny and warm beaches in South Bali or the cold and pleasant breeze hitting your face at Lake Bratan while you take the boat across the lake peeking into the hiding sun across the huge mountains, you are always amazed by the beauty of every granule around you. At sunset if you take a look at the mesmerizing rays at Purah Tanah Lot you will re-imagine your own, a look below the steep sea waves across the mountains of Uluwatu will give you a heavy feeling that you cannot fathom simply because the beauty that you seek to reach out to is so near, yet so far. The trip in Bali gave me a beautiful experience of a land that was clean, magical, enchanting and yet, so very melancholic that you might feel that you’re in heaven but know that some places on our planet can have the beauty and the experience that you wouldn’t get on any ordinary day.

Lake Bratan

Uluwatu Temple, Lake Bratan

Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot

Uluwatu Temple, Bali

Monkey on our way to Uluwatu Temple

Indonesia, Uluwatu, Bali, Paradise, Beach, Uluwatu temple

Uluwatu Temple

The Hindu culture that Bali has is rich and divine and has a unique add and flip to it, be it the Barong Dance or the popular Balinese dance that the women execute beautifully with their hand movements, everything has a taste of Bali to it, pretty much like the taste of beauty that the food in Bali has. Of course while it may seem a little different from any other attributes that the culture has, it has a unique yet enticing similarity to a lot of oriental performances that it gives you a feeling of the historic Asian culture.

Ganesha

tumblr_mynbnmiUdp1r34ruqo1_500

tumblr_mynbl0eDo91r34ruqo1_500

Barong Guy

One experience for me was the Deep Sea Walking in Nusa Dua. It was the first experience of that kind for me, and while I certainly thought it would be something out of the ordinary, I didn’t imagine it to be this beautiful. It didn’t last long, but whatever few moments I had beneath I thoroughly enjoyed them. It felt as though I was out there somewhere in a different realm of space and universe, and pretty much like the Star Trek quote, “To boldly go where no man has gone before” sums it all in the right spirit. Nusa Dua beaches have to be one of the most exotic beaches and the finesse that adds to this place with the exotic resorts that this beach has, will get you to stick to the sand and stay there forever. Didn’t really stay at Nusa Dua, but if I do go there again, certainly, this place calls for a stay over for sure.

Seawalking

While one side of Bali is laden with the most beautiful beaches, the other side or the country side if I may add brings in a joy that most nature lovers seek to enjoy every day of their life. With small roads, paddy fields on both sides of the horizon and huge palm trees to engulf the rays of the sky, Ubud is a place for a quiet and peaceful encounter with your inner sanctity. If you go there during the beginning of the year, you can always rely on the raindrops with the smell of petrichor to engulf your senses and help you breathe in the soaking joy of this beautiful little town if you may. While Goa Gajah is a beautiful place to visit, when you are at Ubud and many Kopi Luwak plantations will reach out to you, one thing you would enjoy in Ubud is but of course, the cycling across the inner roads of this small and quiet country side. Although, I didn’t spend a lot of time in Ubud, I feel, if you have been to a lot of beaches across the world, Ubud is a place you need to spend more time in, when you’re in Bali!

Screenshot_5

Screenshot_3

Screenshot_6

Goa Gajah

Statue

Lady

Without the imagination of an artist, you cannot carve or paint a picturesque memory of the island of gods or bring the joy that God’s paradise in Bali brings to you. So when you’re down there, just forget everything that you know about anything else out there in the entire world. Just let the magic seep in to you in a  heavenly fashion and let go! Rest I trust, the Island of Gods, Bali will do for you.

You Only Live Once – Why Families Should Choose Fun-Loving Florida

Florida has long been a favorite vacation destination for families around the world. Every summer, thousands of fun-and-sun-seeking families  book flights to Florida to enjoy the best of the state. What brings them to the Sunshine State?

789px-Crandon_Park_Modified

Here are just a few reasons why Florida is the place to be this summer.

Welcome to the Sunny State

Warm and welcoming, the climate in Florida is very agreeable to lots of people. They don’t call it the Sunshine State for no reason! Yes, there’s always the chance of rain, of course, but visitors will be pleasantly surprised about how good the weather can be over there.

Bring All Your Family!

We all agree that family is important. It’s also very important in Florida, where thousands of family-oriented activities and attractions have been created to appeal to children (and adults) of all ages. From the educational, such as the exhibits at SeaWorld in Orlando, to hair-raising fun of the many rides and attractions at places such as Universal Studios, no family member will prefer to just stand and watch everyone else have all the fun. Florida has something for everyone.

Life’s a Beach (and a few Everglades!)

800px-Everglades_National_Park_cypress

While a lot of the fun in Florida is undoubtedly man-made, the state’s more natural attractions also hold a lot of appeal. The weather in Florida is so good that it’s given birth to a huge beach culture. The world’s tanning addicts and sun worshipers can also be found each day lounging on Florida’s coastline, including on the South Beach in Miami. It’s not just the beaches that offer visitors somewhere to look around, but also the seas surrounding Florida. Families will be spoilt for choice as whether to pick the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico to explore. Who knows, they may even find some buried treasure in one of the shipwrecks that can be found just off the coast of Florida.

Elsewhere, the Everglades is home to wildlife and local plants , and visitors can choose to explore the untouched side of Florida’s swamp lands, where they’ll also encounter different species of turtle and exotic birds — but watch out for those alligators! You can book day trips via an air-boat tour company to the Everglades.

There’s so much to do on holiday in Florida, so don’t just while away your days there on the beach, relaxing as this may be. Check out what you and your children can do during your time in the state and see what you can discover.