Friday, February 28, 2014

Travel Diaries: BR Hills

BR Hills is a tiger reserve located 250KM off Bangalore. Was looking for an ideal getaway place for the weekend and read about BR Hills. Did some research and found “Gorukana, the eco-tourist resort” to be an interesting stay. Got in touch with the team and booked a cottage by paying 50% of the amount in advance. 

Booked a cab for a roundtrip from Bangalore for around (5.5K INR). The Gorukana Team helped me arrange a Cab. Started at around 8AM from Bangalore and it took about 4Hrs to reach Gorukana at BR Hills. The staff were really trained and helpful. The front-desk staff was extremely courteous and offered welcome drinks. I checked into a cozy little cottage by around 12.30PM. 

They have around more than half-a-dozen of those cottages apart from tree-houses and tent houses. Each cottage is named after an animal and I stayed in the Tiger. The cottage is a small duplex, which had a king-size bed on the ground floor and 2 separate beds on the upper deck. Cottage also has a balcony which faces the lake. 

By then it was lunch time; I went to the cafeteria and saw a decent spread of good food including some local cuisine and desserts. 

By around 4PM , we were set for a wildlife drive on my car along with an in-house tour guide. The actual safari was closed for this season to prevent forest fire risks and will reopen only by August 2014. Couldn't see too much of wildlife, but the drive was pleasant. 

Later, high-tea and dinner at the cafeteria.

Woke up early in morning and after a hot black coffee, took a stroll within the premises. 
They do offer complimentary, as well as paid Spa treatments in here.

After breakfast went to visit a local temple.

Checked out at around 11.30AM. 

Verdict: Highly recommended. Brilliant atmos for chilling; Peaceful ambience, Excellent support staff and good food. My timing wasn't great as this was a dry season, Would recommend visiting on a welcoming season. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Travel Diaries: Singapore (Part 2)

Woke up late as I had plans to visit Universal Studios and Sentosa that day. Had a quick bite from the neighborhood 7-Eleven Shop and walked over to the nearest MRT station,Lavender. Got on the green lane and went to Outram Park Station and then switched to the purple lane till Harbor Front Station. You can get a UniRail from HF Station which will take you right to Sentosa island where Universal Studios is located. 

As I had the Express Pass, I could bypass larger queues thus save the enormous waiting time for all attractions. Universal Studios has a wide range of interesting rides and attractions including the Jurassic Rapids, Water World, Shrek 4D and many other thrill rides.


Later, Had my lunch at the Discovery Food Court. To read more about my experience with Discovery, click here.

Right across, and on the other side of the island lies Sentosa- The theme park. Sentosa is an amazing spot to relax and have fun. It offers some of the best practical shows, beaches and museums. One shall never miss the magical water show "Song of the Sea".

After the long, tiring but memorable day, I went back to Foch Road and took a short walk to have some street food. Made a stop at Beach Road Scissor Cut Curry Rice shop and later at Jelan Besar Street for the magical Kong Kee Mutton Soup

Next up: Singapore City, China Town and More.. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Confessions #06

From 2007 to 2008 my favorite pass-time was, going to a doctor; pretend to have symptoms of an impossibly-combined ailment and confuse them out of their sanity.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Travel Diaries: Singapore (Part 1)

By mid of july 2010, I was officially off my 4 year old job, hence had a lot of free time and a huge severance in hand. Travel was always on top of my list, so choosing the right destination was the only question left. I’ve been to Singapore many times before, but always as a guest or a transiting passenger. But every time, I enjoyed the coziness of Singapore and the wonderful range of food it offered. And hence I chose, Singapore once again. 

Preparing for the trip:

As always, the trip started with an exhaustive session of preparing my customized itinerary. First step was getting the Visa. Unlike Bangkok, you cant get a Visa on Arrival from Singapore. So I reached out to my travel agent in Bangalore who took care of my Visa (3000INR Approx). I booked my tickets via MakemyTrip for Singapore Airlines. I had plans for 4 days of visit and so had to find a place to stay there for 3 Nights. I reserved a room online at Hotel 81 Elegance, Foch Road. The tariff was around 100SD per day and the total came out to an even 300SD. Also in my pre-booking list was Singapore Zoo, Safari and Universal Studios. Went to respective websites and booked a package deal for Singapore Zoo+Night Safari+Jurong Bird Park (65SD) and an express pass entry for Universal Studios (100SD). Also took a print out of Singapore’s MRT/BTS Transport Service Map and clipped it on the itinerary. As I had a well thought out plan and already made most of my payments online, I didn't bother taking a lot of cash with me.I always do travel lightly, so all I had was one single piece of backpack (packed with a couple of cloths, toiletries,  a 5D Mark 2, 2 lenses, iPad, Money and needed documents).

Flying and Arriving:

The reason for choosing the non-stop Singapore Airlines was to avoid any hassles of a transit and it indeed was a smooth trip as expected. The flight left Bangalore airport at around 11.45PM Indian Time and it landed in Singapore Changi Airport by 6.15 AM Singapore Time. Got the passport stamped at Terminal 2 itself and I was out of the airport in less than 20minutes. 

Changi Airport Terminal 2

Day 1:

My hotel would let me checkin only at 12PM, so I had a fair amount of time to spare in the morning. After all my morning routines including Coffee, I went down to the MRT station right under Terminal 3. The idea was spend my morning in Singapore Zoo. The MRT Route Map came handy. Got on the green lane and went all the way upto City Hall. Did a transfer to the red lane and went to Ang Mo Kio. Walked down to the nearest bus stop and got onto Bus:138 which took me right to the Singapore Zoo. 

Singapore Metro Rail Route Map

Its an amazing place to stroll, if you are a nature lover. Beautiful animals in wonderful spaces which is rather close to their natural habitat. A Map will come handy as the area is vast and there is a chance that you might miss out on many attractions.

After spending half my day there walking around in the bright sun, I was too tired for an MRT Ride to the hotel. I chose a taxi to take me to Foch Road and by around 1PM, I checked in at Hotel 81 Elegance. The room was small but cozy and thats all I wanted- a place to keep my stuff and rest. 

Took a long hot shower and stepped out for lunch. Right opposite the hotel, was this amazing hawker centre called Lavender Food Court. It had a lot of variety by various vendors serving delicious yet cheap local cuisine. 

Went back to the hotel after the comforting lunch and slept for a while. By around 6.30PM I got out to visit Singapore Zoo again, but this time, for its Night Safari. 

I took a cab to the Zoo. The night safari is a tram ride where you see nocturnal wildlife in its natural living space. The location is near the Day Zoo but the map is different with added walking trails and excellent dining options. 

After the ride, trail and dinner at Ulu Ulu (Read more about the food here), I went back to the hotel on a cab (45SD Approx). 

Next up: Universal Studios, Sentosa and More......