Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


The place that I am going to write about today already has massive worshipers. In fact, it is touted as one of the best destinations for travelers. Nightlife, amusement park, tranquil sea sides, desert safari, shopping, exemplary man-made structures…it has everything. You name it, you have it. Dubai is one place to reckon with. It’s almost mind-boggling that how this sprawling desert has urbanized so much in the past few decades, and yet has held onto its novelty. But, don’t worry this is not going to be one of those travel blogs guiding you about places to see in Dubai. This is one place where most of us must have heard a lot of, if not visited till now. Thanks to Google, we already know the iconic landmarks of city.

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Sunset cruise- check; Burj Khalifa- check; Fountain Show- check; Gold souk- check; Desert Safari- check; Sheikh Zayed mosque- check; Yas Island –check; Ferrari World- check.

So, what’s new to write about this fabulous city?

You know your vacation is a success when on the last of the trip you suddenly start wishing if there were few days more…at least few hours.  As I sit down to write this I am experiencing massive toothache because of my erupting wisdom tooth. Even then, my spirit for writing about this city was not letting me sleep. Yes, that’s the word- Spirit. This is what makes a desirable destination different from others.

Travelling is my passion and I had sworn to myself that I will never visit a place more than once. Only because there are many more countries to cover and there isn’t much time. But, this city changed my viewpoint. It made me obsessed to its spirit. Apart from pouncing on the scrumptious and widely-liked Dubai chocolates and loosening my purse strings for gold and perfumes, I was phenomenally refreshed to meet some new people and breaking out of the monotony that we often get trapped to.

I happened to once share cab with a mother-daughter trio. They were originally from Egypt but are now settled in London from a significant time. They too were on a vacation. I befriended them during my trip and, as expected, our first topic of interaction was Bollywood and Shahrukh Khan.  They couldn’t stop praising Dangal and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, the 2016 blockbusters. They wanted to visit India only for Taj Mahal, but I made them understand that India is much more than that. I introduced them to the gamut of soul-pleasing places here and was feeling very proud and content at the same time.  I believe I made some good acquaintances and would like to keep in touch with them.

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Next, I met a very chirpy and frivolous man during my desert safari.  He was driving the Land Cruiser that was accountable for giving us the lifetime experiencing of dunes bashing. Prepared for a unique adrenaline-pumping adventure in the colossal orange-red dunes, we started with our journey. God bless his sense of humour, because his opening line was “Do you have life insurance madam as it is going to be my first attempt.”

I almost underwent a heart in mouth situation in those few seconds. I gulped my fear and voiced my concern timidly, “What do you mean?” He started laughing and didn’t reply. I didn’t know how to react until my husband whispered, “Don’t worry. He is joking.” “Are you sure?” I snapped immediately. “Let’s hope for the best.” I don’t know what that meant, but we started seeing the vivid orange dunes reluctantly. In the next 5 minutes I was sure that he was joking in order to keep us on our toes because he was exceptionally skilled and had expertise in what he was doing. The roller coaster ride in the desert was exhilarating. We were sliding down the slopes; sometimes egging him to stop, sometimes gasping and most of the times giggling. The beautiful desert shimmering like gold is a marvel to capture. As the evening stretched to night, we were guided to enthralling belly dancing and fire show. Later that night, on our way to the hotel, he introduced himself as Mohammad. Apparently he had enacted a negative role in a Tamil movie long ago. But, now it’s been more than 10 years he has been rendering dunes bashing pleasure to all tourists and also giving training to all amateur aspiring drivers.

He kept joking about having multiple girlfriends and how his increasing weight is scary or what would happen if I start driving his car. God knows, when was the last time I met a fun-loving chap like him!

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The conversation that followed that night once again opened my eyes to appreciate the gift of life. Sure, the heart is pumping blood inside but that is not enough to keep you alive. We are not born to lead uneventful and mundane lives. We are work in progress and the only way to keep growing is meeting new people, becoming better each day, inspiring others, taking things lightly, defining yourself and in the process get enriched with a feeling of purpose and happiness. He waived me goodbye saying “Never take life seriously and always be happy. Carry your binoculars along.”

Today I was going through my old e-mails where I had drafted one with the subject 20 things I want to do before I die. It was the year 2013. Interestingly, the 20th point clearly stated ‘Visit Burj Khalifa’.  I didn’t even remember that I made a list like that or I should strike that off now. But, what remained with me is the expression of leap of faith. Nobody knows whether what we dream today may come true or not, but sometimes leaping off the edge will let go the fear of falling. Whenever you start feeling comfortable anywhere, start questioning yourself is this the time to break the pattern. Who knows you may end up soaring high like never before. Just like desert has a dual trait of being hot at daylight and piercingly cold at night, life too is waiting to show you its many faces. You just need to be ready with your binoculars.

UAE, thank you for such a lovely time! I felt affectionately welcomed, with a sense of coming back to you again and again.

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It was only yesterday when I celebrated my silver jubilee with great elan. Or at least it seems so now. Its been 3 years to that. I was about to turn 28 and contemplating whether it is really the time to sluggishly crawl into that “mature” age group. Suddenly it occurred, why not flag off my late 20’s at a place that is embodiment of youthfulness, fun and unending entertainment. So, yes I started my journey for Thailand.

The only apprehension was that Bangkok and Pattaya are mostly associated with adultery and no strings fun. By any stretch of imagination I didn’t know what I was embarking into. But, who cares! I only knew one thing. The best memories of life come from leisured conversation with a stranger, feeling the wind on your face, dipping the toe in sea, getting lost in the distant roar of ocean, and holding the hand of your loved one.

It took me just a week to realize that Thailand is much more than adultery. Picture this, a place to get soaked in nature, strolling wearing your flip flops to beach cafes, sea walking and para gliding in clear blue seas, unspooling your body with a traditional Thai massage, holding a tiger in your hand during wild life safari, and posing reluctantly with your favourite celebrity in Madam Tussaud. And if you have time left after all this then it doesn’t harm to opt for a pole dancing show as well.

Walking Street, Pattaya

On our first day we went to the famous Walking Street at Pattaya. If the craving of grooving to discotheques keeps you awake at night then this is the place for you. Famous primarily for the neon lighting night life, you will find plethora of live music venues, discothèques, go-go bars, and of course nightclubs in this long stretch. Frankly, I was awestruck with the accessibility of so many things at one place. Regularly you will be approached by marketeers with menu card (its actually like a restaurant menu card) that has options of different types of adult sex shows going whole night. You can have your pick or else you can politely say no and enjoy the night at a bar.

I had a gala night. More so, because my birthday was just couple of hours away now. I dropped my guard and danced until we got drenched completely in sweat. This was one night I am never going to forget.

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Noong Nooch, Pattaya

Nong Nooch Garden is landscaped park that is the biggest botanical garden in Southeast Asia. It can easily fall in your all day trip. This 2.4sq.km. area is a theme park that gives you a peak into Thai cultural shows, elephant shows and you even get to sit besides a royal tiger. Taking a nonchalant stroll in this park will remind you of French garden and European Renaissance garden. My soul and spirit got significantly uplifted with the presence of orchid nurseries and topiary garden.

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Traditional Thai Massage

You go to Thailand, and not have a full body massage, is that possible? Me and my husband resigned ourselves to this 2 hours long full body traditional Thai massage. Howbeit, beware when you think of going to any random spa or massage parlour there because most of them adhere to the concept of providing adult services along with massage. Nothing wrong in that, but if that is not your interest area then you have to be careful in picking your destination. We had our hotel receptionist guiding us to one of the most trusted and popular parlours practicing ancient art of Thai massage. The gentle massage had a magical healing effect on our mind and body. It calmed my nervous system and displayed a meditative quality that I am failing to describe in words. Its a thing that has to be experienced, not explained. Do include this in your to-do list whenever you are in Thailand

Underwater World

You do not want to get wet and yet want to get a glimpse of thousand varieties of marine species? No problem; Underwater World in south Pattaya bring you an exclusive slice of marine life. It is one of the largest ocean aquarium in Asia. Stroll around this 100m long underwater tunnel and enjoy the panoramic view of marine life. From shark, starfish, turtle, Guitarfish to Butterfly Fish you will see everything here. If you are willing to shell out some money and have a diving certificate, then you can even go inside the tank and feed the sea creatures with your own hand. The natural light is ideal for having a clear view of species and also for clicking pictures. This is one experience worth all the money!

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Gems Gallery, Pattaya

Girls pay attention. This one is clearly for you. Visit the world’s biggest jewelry store, the Gems Gallery. Before you dismiss this as yet another jewelry store then make sure that you know that the experience here begins by taking you on a toy train ride wherein a computerized system gives you a 3D effect of bursting of a volcano into lava, making of mineral rocks and finally the cut precious stones. Once the toy ride is over, you can proceed to the store and shop till the day ends.

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Madam Tussads, Bangkok

Well, what to say on this. The name itself is self-explanatory. The photography fanatics can let themselves loose and get themselves clicked with each and every famous personality in the world. You name it, you see it! As expected, even I didn’t give my camera a rest even for a second till the time I was inside.

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Pole Dancing, Nana Street, Bangkok

We were extremely fidgety on experiencing the night life in Bangkok, particularly going to a strip club for pole dancing. Two individuals from India to an unknown city exploring a world that is denied in our country seemed fear-inducing. But then something happened. Now there is a flash back story on this. On our first day, we were waiting in the queue for visa on arrival when my husband pointed out that a celebrity couple was exactly behind us. I shunned him saying he was hallucinating. The couple must be in their 50s. They started talking to us about their itinerary and asked about ours. It was a casual half an hour talk. We waved goodbyes and headed to our respective hotels. Turns out, the couple was actually a known face in Kolkata. The woman was 90’s Doordashan news reader, now a successful dancer with her own dance troop performing all over the world. While her husband owns a production house in Kolkata. My husband was unable to recall their name, but then while scrolling down his Facebook account he saw one of his friends had liked a post from the woman. From her account, we got to know his husband’s name. My husband sent a friend request to him and in couple of minutes there was a message from him. “Hey where are you today?” Lets meet up. You decide the place and let me know.”

Honestly I was not keen for this meet. I tried to justify my reluctance with points like generation gap and dissimilar interests. But, my husband insisted. We decided to meet at Nana Plaza, which is like the Walking Street of Pattaya. After the formal greeting, the couple immediately sprang up. “C’mon why are we wasting time here! Lets go for pole dancing. It’s not that we are here all our lives.” I was choked for a moment to listen that from a man who was my father’s age. But, frankly, I was happy too that finally I got the nudge that I was waiting for.

We entered into AngelWitch Club and within minutes were engulfed into this world of pole dancing. One good thing about these places are that no one is a rambler here. People know what you are here for and they give you that- Entertainment. We went club hopping the whole night. My legs gave away after midnight but the other couple displayed a level of energy that we failed to match up.

Inquisitive enough by now I asked, “Aren’t you tired?” The reply cemented my faith on the saying, age is just a number. “Tired? Guys you are in your 20s. I have a son of your age and my age doesn’t stop me from living life-like a big party. There is no monopoly on feeling young. It is just a state of mind. Its been 25 years we are married and we still feel the mad passion we had for each other. We have next Krabi Island and Kashmir in our list. You are still too young.”

Believe me, I never felt that young and energetic ever in my life. Next day the couple excitingly took us to the Baiyoke sky hotel, the tallest building in Thailand. I was in awe of their child like vehemence. We enjoyed our cocktails at the 84th Floor and had the whole city laid in front of our eyes like house of cards. This night completely nullified my fear for heights. Directly or indirectly, this couple injected a new dose of power in me.

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At the end of every trip my husband has a habit of promising something. Last time, he promised that he will ring in my 28th birthday in the most happening place of Thailand. Today was our last evening at Bangkok. I asked him, “ so what are you promising this time.”

“That I am going to be your best friend always and no matter what numbers tell us, we are never going to be old,” was his reply.

And we burst out laughing. No body knows how your life would pan out so no point living in the fear of doomsday. Thus, the idea of sluggishly moving into the “mature” age group has taken a backseat for now and I came back humming the lyrics of a popular song.

“Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy ’til we see the sun
I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love
And never, never, never stop for anyone
Tonight let’s get some and live while we’re young”

🙂