Tag Archives: travel

Travel tips for Summer

Should I say yaay or naay?  Summer hols are here again but so is the heat. Even though the heat is killing, It is the best  time to travel.  As kids get a long break from school, and we all feel the need to take that break from our routine mundane life. Its time  to have some fun and let loose. Many of us like to spend the summer making travel plans and going to exciting places with friends and family. Family vacation travel can be enriching, enjoyable and exciting–but only if you’re organized. Sharing some travel tips with you.

 

 

Travel Hacks to make your life easier!

1. Arrive at the airport two hours ahead of time for a domestic flight, and at least three hours ahead of time for an international flight.

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2. Do not ever neglect protecting your body from the heat. When you are outside, use proper lip balm, they get chapped invariably.

3. Use a hat or an umbrella for shade and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s glare.

 

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4. Google about the place you visit before hand, added knowledge is beneficial. And in Rome do what the Romans do, just let loose 🙂 ;D

5. Make copies of all of your credit cards, important identification information, including your medical insurance cards, and your traveler’s checks. Take one copy with you (pack it separately from the cards themselves) and leave one copy at home.

 

 

6. A recent boat incident where a happy birthday party turned out disastrous, compels me to write this very important tip. Whenever you are on a boat wear a life jacket and have on person on board that knows how to swim.

 

 

Tips to pack your bags.

1. Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space.

2.  Don’t carry all valuables in a single bag.

3. Switch to travel sized bottles of toiletries.

4. Use pill containers as jewelry organizers.

5.Use spectacle cases to carry chargers and headphone.

6. Carry some emergency medication like crocins , anti-acids and a few packets of oral rehydration powder.

7. Pack snacks if traveling with children, they get hungry all the time.

8. Do not forget adapters, chargers and  batteries too. You don’t want to spend foreign currency buying the things you have at home.So Pack your bags, get set and go…….. Do let me know in the comments below if you found my post informative, or share with all the readers some of your travel tips.

Its Ciao from Sweetannu !!


Monsoon Getaways near Mumbai

With the onset of June, every morning I peep through the window to see whether is sunny or rainy. What a beautiful morning to wake up to thunder and the sound of rain today!! The Rain God has finally shown mercy by showering rain!!
Pray that we have a healthy monsoon in the catchment areas and abundance of water to last throughout the year. Time to say bye bye to the scorching  heat and welcome the damp chilly cold. What a moment it would be to just get into your car and drive away out of Mumbai. Seeing Waterfalls along the way and enjoying the lush greenery.

Getaway over the weekend, so check out some places close by where you can live your Monsoon dreams.

1. Karnala-  48 Kms via Sion-Panvel Expressway

Karnala is situated at a distance of about 10 km from Panvel. The two major attractions for tourists here are the Karnala Bird Sanctuary and the Karnala Fort.  The Karnala Fort is of much historical significance as it overlooked the Bor Pass, which connects the Konkan coast to the interior districts of Maharashtra.

 

2. Matheran- 83 kms  via Sion-Panvel Expressway.

Matheran is a celebrated hill station and a great weekend place near Mumbai. It is situated in the Karjat district of Maharashtra and is also the smallest hill station of India. Situated in the lush green Western Ghats, the elevation of the region is around 80 m above sea level. The best part of no vehicles in the Hill station and scenic beauty is breathtaking.

 

3. Pawna – 107.8 km via Kodambakkam – Mumbai Highway

Located within a close proximity to Maval in Maharashtra, Pavana Lake came into existence after the Pavana Dam was built. Tucked away amidst the Sahyadri Ranges, this soon getting all the attentions from the nature lovers, usual backpackers, campers and other classes of visitors to the region. An ideal camping destination, this stunning water body along with the vicinity is also known for activities like parasailing, kayaking, windsurfing and boating.



4. Jawahar- 145 Kms from Mumbai

Far from the madding crowd, Jawahar is an excellent weekend getaway from Mumbai. Jawahar beckons travelers looking for  “non-touristy” hill stations near Mumbai.
This quaint and pretty hill station has a deep-rooted cultural background since it is where the Warli tribe resides. The Warli paintings, a traditional craft of this tribe has achieved fame far and wide for its unique designs and unusual themes. These designs are now replicated on different products even outside the country.
Psst- I have visited this place many years back with my school gang of Girls.

 

5. Korigad- 20 Kms from Lonavla

Korigad is a hill fort located in Pune district, Maharashtra, India. Its date of construction is not known but likely predates 1500. It is about 923 m above sea level. The planned township of Aamby Valley is built over the fort’s southern and eastern foothills. The closest village is Peth Shahpur, about 1 km (0.62 mi) north.

 

 

 6. Kalsubai – 152.8 km via NH 3 and NH 3

It takes 3 hours to reach Kalsubai summit  from Bari Village. Food can be arranged at base village by local villagers. Kalsubai Trekking Route is always full of people visiting it for various reason some to conquer the highest peak in Maharashtra, some trek to Kalsubai to visit Mandir and offer prayers to local deity Kalsubai. During Monsoon place is covered with fog and wind.

 

7. Chinchoti falls – 50 Kms

Chinchoti is  generally visited by picnickers through Kaman village on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway. Very few people know the jungle path through Tungareshwar. In fact there are two jungle routes meeting at different spots near Chinchoti waterfalls. The track is narrow jungle path and one can easily get lost without the help of escorts. The sound of the rains drops and orchestra of insects gives an eerie but adventurous feeling throughout this trek.

 

8. Murud/ Janjira – 165 kms from Mumbai

Murud Janjira is a picturesque little fishing village on the lush western coast of Maharashtra,  one time capital of the former state of Janjira. Janjira is the Marathi corruption of the Arabic jazirah meaning an island. Though the whole area was once called Janjira, the name truly referred to the mighty island fortress in the sea.

I had been here during the last monsoon season. The drive is long but picturesque. It was a beautiful getaway. We had had a pleasant stay at Golden Swan Resort http://www.goldenswan.com/index.html

So what you waiting for?? Maximize your weekends this Monsoon with short weekend Getaways and try something Hatke. Strike out some items from your travel bucket list just like I plan to do.


My Scintillating Singapore Story

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

Hello everyone,
It had been quite a while since my last travel post so SweetAnnu is excited to do a travel story. This May we visited Singapore, the tourist’s paradise. This city has much to offer, there was never a dull moment on our entire trip. So read on……..
Day 1:
The day started late but with loads of excitement, remembering to pack every little thing that could be needed for out trip. And guess what I forgot, Yes….. My Selfie stick. Nonetheless I have tried to take some cool selfies to tell my story.  It was a sleepless night but a good Air India flight. Watched a great movie ‘ Chalk and Duster’ along with the delicious Kheema pau served inflight.

                                                 Singapore Here we come!!!

 

Day 2 :
Singapore impressed me in the first look. Smooth and highly efficient baggage transfer with a swift immigration was truly commendable. The cab ride through the city was enjoyable, in matter of minutes we reached our Hotel Village Albert Court. Our room was not that spacious for three people but the bed was extremely comfortable. We were allowed an early check in to rest our weary bones.

                                               Clicking Selfies is loads of fun

We got ready for the sight seeing trip in the second half of the day. A visit to Marine Bay Sands for the Sky park tour and later to the Gardens by the Bay. The view from the top was breath taking. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, a futuristic city, a well planned city, a city in a Garden. Yes, This was Scintillating Singapore. The Flower dome, Cloud forest and Supertrees left me in total amazement.

 

Day 3:
We were heading to Jurong Bird Park in the morning. I was all set to make some new feathery friends. We interacted with birds, fed them and watched some really cute birds from close proximity. A thrilling experience watching those intelligent parrots swoop down and fly through those small rings.

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Check this selfie, actually behind me. As  I smile for the camera  Johnny and Zee were attracting birds to come and feed on the worms. Haa 🙂

 

In the afternoon we took the Metro train to China Town for a combination of street shopping  and street food. Maxwell hawker centre could not be missed for the Anthony Bourdain famed chicken rice. The highlight was the evening stroll at Clarke Quay and finished the day with dining on Singapore Chilli crabs at Jumbo.

 

Day 4:
In the morning we visited Orchard Street, the upmarket shopping destination of Singapore. Brushed up my knowledge of all the top brands of the world. The malls are so huge with excellent window displays.

Later on it was the trip to Singapore  Zoo, I heard so many good things about. Best of all I would be seeing a giraffe in reality for the first time in my life. The night safari was so crowded with tourists. It took us quite a while to get on the tram itself. But seeing all those animals at night in their natural habitat was totally worth it. We dined on some Malaysian n Singaporean fare. Feeling so complete.

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You may be looking at the Irani family pose happily at the Singapore zoo. But look closely and check who photo bombed our picture. Haa yes, it was mama Giraffe. She was sucha cutie.

 

 

Day 5:
It was a date with the skies and the stars. The Singapore Flyer was an enriching experience. To get a view of the city in a capsule that moves slowly. I could marvel the beauty of the city from above.

                                   Singapore Flyer was an experience of a lifetime!

Singapore’s national icon is the Merlion, half lion and half fish. I did well to take unique picture with the Merlion inspite of the hot sunny afternoon.

 

“Sentosa Island” is the main tourist spot of which the country is famous for. This whole island is like a dreamland, free from all real life chaos and is the true essence of spending quality time with family. We landed on the island with the help of a cable car through which we could see the the whole of Singapore and beyond. A day well spent watching shows and enjoying the various rides. The adventurous trip to Sentosa concluded with the awesome show- Wings of Time.

 

                                         Had super fun crazy fun at madame Tussauds.

 

Day 6:
The Universal Studio, Singapore  has lots to offer children and the child in you. I thoroughly enjoyed  running  from one ride to another, watching shows, parades and clicking loads of pictures. Enjoyed this once in a lifetime experience. I danced along with the cute Minion parade. The day passed so quickly and there was so much more to do.

 

 

Day 7:
The day started with bumper breakfast at the Albert Court Dining Hall. We were all packed with heavy bags and a heavy heart to leave this beautiful city. Enriched with the  culture, modernity and honesty of Singapore. Did some last minute shopping at Princess Street, Burgis before drop off at Changi Airport. There was so much to do and see at Changi airport itself. One of the world’s best airport.

 

It was an awesome vacation. I would not change a single thing about it. The beauty of Singapore made me realize there is much more than petty things in life. One should widen their horizons by traveling. Singapore has really made a difference in my life…

So its Bye from sweetAnnu…

P.S- I have a two year visa, God knows if Singapore is calling again 🙂 🙂

Salar Jung Museum Mesmerizes!!

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A Collage of my Hyderabad trip highlights

I was hoping that our recent decision to take a short family trip to the city of Hyderabad was the right one. Wanting to add one more Indian destination that I have traveled to, this venture was on. It would be fun to explore Hyderabad that reveal an exciting blend of cultures, history and modernity like nothing else does.
Yes, there’s certainly lots to see and do in and around Hyderabad. The Chaumalla Palace, Charminar, Golconda fort, shopping for bangles and the Irani chai with Osmania biscuits that melt in your mouth. Yes there was more….

 

One such attraction being the Salar Jung Museum was on our list of must visit places when in Hyderabad.   SweetAnnu was so impressed by it that decided to do a blogpost.

THE SALAR JUNG MUSEUM

 Housing the largest one-man collection of antiques in the world, the Salar Jung Museum is known throughout India for its vast collection that encompasses works from across the world, dating back to the 1st Century.

Check out my clicks  to see the 10 best exhibits at Salar Jung Musuem according to me. 🙂

 

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1. Natraj Statue- The big size Nataraj displayed in the gallery depicts Lord Siva performing Ananda Tandava symbolizing five features of the Lord i.e., creation, preservation, destruction, salvation and omnipotence.

 

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2. The Mephistopheles Statue- Another sculpture that immediately catches your attention is the wooden sculpture named Mephistopheles, which is a double statue, carved out of a single piece of wood. Taken from a famous book by Goethe, it just make me rub my eyes in disbelief.

 

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3. Furnitures-  Exquisite hand crafted chairs and furniture of every size and shape got me so fascinated and transformed me to another era. Well crafted Thrones, tables, tables and so much more.

 

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4. Marble Statue Rebecca- Italian sculptor Benzoni’s Veiled Rebecca is another highlight, which depicts the artist’s supernatural skill at chiseling marble to look like a thin, transparent veil on a woman’s face. Don’t miss this for anything even if your feet hurt walking the long corridors of the museum.

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5. Clocks- The Salar Jung Museum possesses a good number of clocks collected from different European countries such as France, England, Switzerland, Germany, Holland etc. The variety includes the Bird cage clocks, Bracket clocks, Grandfather clocks, Skeleton clocks, etc. Not to forget the Nizam of Hyderabad’s musical Clock  where a miniature toy figure comes out of the clock striking a gong as many times as it is the hours of the day.

 

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6. Tapestry and textiles- Rich tradition of Indian textile through varied specimens of fabric as well as costumes, belonging to the last three centuries. Some in quite bad shape but worth admiring.

 

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7. Paintings- Oil and water paintings form an important part of the European collections. You cant stop gazing at some and end up in a discussion on what the painter wanted to portray and tell  through it.
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8. China and Porcelain – Among the European countries which took to producing porcelain, France stands out for its exquisite works of art, which dominated the world for a long time. The porcelain objects particularly from the place called ‘Sevres’ holds highest place among the ceramics. Each piece was so delicately crafted, I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

 

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9.Moghul Painting- Some fine examples of Mughal miniatures are displayed in this gallery. Looks like I found my 18th Century Jahangir painted on ivory with this Selfie.

 

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10. Sculptures- The collection of stone sculptures in the Museum is  not so vast however an excellent standing figure of Buddha of 3rd century A.D is at the Museum is here. Don’t miss the one that caught my attention to click a picture.

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I would like to sign off my quoting what our Former President Ms Pratibha Patil had to say on visiting Salar Jung Museum
” An excellent collection! beautiful and fantastic pieces of art, paintings and carvings and many such varieties. It is treasure of our country, needs to be preserved for our future generations.”

My Sri lankan Memories & BrandedBawi- Lanka Diaries: Must Eat

Hello Friends!
It was three years ago in 2011 when my husband and myself  had visited the land of lions, jewels and spices for a holiday. Yes.. Good old Sri Lanka. A lesser known travel destination but fast gaining popularity. Actually it was more like a 25th Anniversary celebration for us both.
This year round my daughter Zenia visited with her friends. It was then when all those memories came gushing to me like flood in Mithi  river. I was giving her tips on hotels, travel places and the beaches. She experienced similar moments and much more, yet her food trail was an amazing one.
In this blog post  I want to relive some of those precious  moments of my trip and also want to repost BrandedBawi blogpost on her Sri Lankan food trails.

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The view from our Hotel balcony in Kandy. It was drizzling through the sunlight. so serene and beautiful.
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The deep blue colour of the ocean at Bentota and the even more bluey sky
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This porcupine had come out for a walk with a lady. He was on a leash. I stopped to pet him.
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The tooth relic temple during a night Pujo ceremony.
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Boating at Bentota, lots of mini islands with interesting activities. A trip through the mangroves was a the best.
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An extended rope bridge the people take to get across. It shakes like crazy and is quite scary.
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The Pinnewala elephant Sanctuary. This cute baby calf must have walked up and down at least a 100 times.
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Our adventurous boatman scooped up a huge jelly fish from the lake . It was so so slimy. Behold Nature!
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Lakshmi the elephant let us pet her and take pictures. Her eyes were so gentle.

Let me introduce you to my daughter Branded Bawi. Zenia Irani is a Clinical Audiologist and Speech Language Pathologist by profession, And a food, lifestyle, and fashion lover by passion. This blog is her personal diary.
Follow her on
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZeniaIrani
Facebook ; https://www.facebook.com/brandedbawi?fref=ts
Instagram: @Branded_Bawi
I would like to reblog  her Sri Lankan food trails

Click on the link and check out her
Lanka Diaries: Must Eat here–> http://www.brandedbawi.com/2015/05/lanka-diaries-must-eat.html

Golden Swan Beach Resort Getaway

There was Sun.
There was Rain.
There was songs.
There was games.
When we girls get together,
its only fun in any weather.

Yes, We all needed a small break at this time of the year to get away from our daily mundane lifestyle and just have some fun.The long weekend in September was perfect for this.So my aunties and sister all decide to take an overnight trip to the http://www.goldenswan.com/beachresort/html/. We were the four Muskeeteers.

I love country roads
I love country roads

The journey was long but full of gossip, scenic views, Selfie, and yummy snacks we had carried to munch. A stopover before Alibaug got us all hungry again to have Usal-pav, Kanda Poha and coffee.Then we set of again to reach our destination “The Golden Swan Beach Resort”.

Hot delicious Kanda Poha
Hot delicious Kanda Poha
Local delicacy-Usal/pav
Local delicacy-Usal/pav

The drive from Alibaug to Murud was relaxing and enjoyable. I felt serenaded by the palms and coastline, however the village roads were full of portholes and gave us our share of a bumpy ride.

The Beautiful drive along the coast
The Beautiful drive along the coast

We reached the resort by noon and were promptly given a welcome and shown to our cottage. We settled in quickly and were ready to explore the place. I loved the cottage style accommodation, it was an AC two rooms with an attached bathroom at the cost of INR 8000/- ( inclusive of tax but no meals).This property is right on the beach and the view from our Verandah was pleasing.

The instant
The instant “at home” feeling

I instantly ran to the hammock and let myself sink into the scenic beauty of the resort. It felt so rustic and the soothing sound of the waves were a massage to my stressed mind.

This was close to heavan
This was close to heaven

The buffet lunch was at INR 360/- , there was veg and non veg fare both, well spiced, good variety and very enjoyable.My aunt Pervin especially enjoyed the dessert of Kala Jamun and mango ice-cream.

Rich creamy Mango ice cream
Rich creamy Mango ice cream

A visit to Janjira fort was on our agenda,after all the fort is the “Janjira” in Murud-Janjira. The last boat would leave at 5pm and we rushed out again after a cup of tea.The boat ride to and fro the fort in the sea was a thrilling experience considering the tide was getting high and natural light was getting dim.The fort was huge and so old.Now in ruins, the fort in its heyday was a full-fledged living fort with all the necessary facilities.We took many pictures on the cannons ,they were still intact in the fort. The Janjira fort is definitely the high point to our trip.

The boat ride to the Fort was the highlight
The boat ride to the Fort was the highlight
The Janjira fort in ruins
The Janjira fort in ruins
Posing with the Canon
Posing with the Cannon

Happy to reach back to our resort ,the evening was still young. We freshened up and lazed around the deckchairs facing the sea,played with the ducks on premises and chatted with some friendly foreign guests.I checked out the other services provided by the resort. they give a whole day internet via wifi for INR 120/- and cycles on hourly rent for INR 75/-. A lovely kiddie park with slides , seesaws and jungle gym , net to play badminton and throw ball , carom and table tennis.

Ducks at the resort
Ducks at the resort

We ordered fish fry, chicken tikka while we played cards and had a few beers on our verandah.The jokes and Galli sessions were on too. After all “girls just wanna have some fun”.The night was relaxing and we all slept well on our cosy beds with clean soft  sheets and pillows.Next morning really got up fresh and hungry.

Outside our cottage
Outside our cottage

I ventured out on the beach to do some stretches, pranayams and click a few selfies.It was Packing  and bath before we got  ready for some breakfast. At just INR 180/- we got Juices-kokam/orange, Cornflakes/milk, Tea/coffee, Upma, hot spicy Potato vadas,Usal/pav, Bread/butter/jam, Eggs to order. I must have eaten 6 of those hot potato bombs,awesomely spiced and tasty.

The Golden Swan beach resort is definitely the finest resorts in Murud-Janjira. Considering it is over 18 years old ,it is well maintained and offers good packages.I definitely recommend it for 2-3 nights with friends, family even kids to get refreshed and rejuvenated.Thank-you  https://www.facebook.com/GoldenSwanBeachResort for this awesome experience,I will cherish and remember all my life.

The happy Gang of Girls
The happy Gang of Girls

My First BangKok trip

“Bangkok” I had heard so many travel stories about this amazing shopper’s paradise from my friends who had visited. My husband who had been there on official visits  and holidays with his friends always told me amazing stories about Bangkok. I  insisted he take me there the next time we plan a holiday, and guess what? He finally  agreed to my demands. Yippee!! In a jiffy, the hotel and flight reservations were done. Thanks to Jaya Travels.  🙂

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The experience on Thai Airways was lovely because the Hostess kept filling my wine glass with my favorite red wine. Oooh, it felt so divine that I completely forgot my fear of flights. Bangkok is very charming and modern. People on the streets just keep walking or eating . Each street has its food stalls and those mixed aromas are so hard to decipher. It took me a day to settle in and accept what will come my way. Some woman eyed my husband and gave me dirty looks. One lady ( or man ) even pinched my husband’s bottom and offered him a discount. Hee hee!!

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shop till you drop
Shop till you drop

The Metro train was the best part of Bangkok , after the first initial hiccups I became a Professional at traveling on it.The time was December last year, the malls , the shop windows all had a festive look . I used to venture out on my own leaving my husband to relax, swim and enjoy the spa treatments available at the hotel .I actually shopped till I dropped. When I came back to the hotel the hotel doctor said I was dehydrated due to fatigue n not having water. Who remembers water when you get to shop?

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The magnificent Reclining Buddha 

Next morning we yet again had a bumper breakfast of eggs, fruit, cornflakes, mashed potato, toast, sausages and lots more. We went to see the Buddhist temples and reclining Buddha to which I made an instant connection .it was breath taking.

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Sipping Bubble tea  n taking selfie in the TukTuk

We also  visited the Ocean park , managed to take the ‘Foot  Massage’,  the Thai women call out in their nasal tones. It was a fabulous experience to travel by local tuktuk through the crowded traffic. The driver needs some specialized skills and you need to keep your heart in your mouth.
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I loved Bangkok because it has so much to offer. Every person comes to Bangkok with a different reason and the experience is fulfilling . At the end of the holiday I had done so much shopping I had to leave behind all my old clothes I had taken from Mumbai. Bags, perfumes, clothes, cosmetics, all picked up in dozens and gifts for all my family friends, colleagues even my maids.

On my way back to the airport I promised myself I will come back only this time to experience some more. With a heavy heart  we boarded the plane. I did save a few Bahts (for my next visit. There was so much more to discover in Amazing Thailand.

The Calypso  Night Cabaret
The Calypso Night Cabaret