Vacations are fun!!

Vacations are fun
Time to soak the sun
Vacations help me rewind
And come back to the grind
Spend some family time
Laugh hysterically when I hear my bro mime
I dance, I groove and I chill
It’s a royal kill.

As promised I am back with my post on my family vacation. The destination has been pleasantly alluring and none other than Dubai. This was my first ever trip to the Middle East. I researched a little on the Internet about the trip and the dress code at the various places. However, I resisted my temptation to google a lot. If you have been following my previous posts, you will be aware by now that I prefer travelling with my mind and heart open to new ideas, locations and people. Thus I preferred to walk the old streets of the city, took the ferry with the locals, travelled by the metro and blended with the local customs. All this, while I stayed at a five-star hotel and had the most exotic food.

Dubai is the second most populous state of UAE with most of its income from tourism. I landed at the Dubai international airport and checked in at my hotel where I received a royal welcome. An early check-in meant I had time to catch on my sleep and wake up refreshed. After a sumptuous meal, I set on a city tour, where I got a feel of the local culture in the Dubai museum. The museum displayed the heritage of the Bedouins, the warrior tribe and the boats used for fishing, which was a major source of income before oil was discovered in the UAE.

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My next day started with a visit to the Dubai mall, with Dubai Aquarium being a major tourist attraction. I spent my time looking at the various fish in the aquarium and walking around the mall. As the weather was good, I had planned for a trip to the 124th floor of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. It was a ride of pleasure as the elevator reached the 124th floor in less then one minute. Watching the sunset from the top was a major disappointment, as the weather had turned bad by then. A visit to the fountain was a must in the itinerary hence it was my next stop.

Burj Khalifa

After visiting all the major attractions, I decided to visit Bur Dubai, the old city of Dubai famous for its Souks. I shopped for a few souvenirs for folks back home. A lovely silk stole/shawl for myself and some more stuff. The Gold souk had jewellery that was huge.

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I needed an adrenaline kick and hence decided to visit the Ferrari world theme park in Abu Dhabi. The major attractions were the Formula Rossa, world’s fastest roller coaster at the speed of 240 kmph and the Speed of Magic. It was the first time I experienced a roller coaster ride and I was thrilled.

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A visit to the desert safari to experience the local costumes and the belly dance by the desert beauty followed by a dance performance by a male dancer was enchanting. A visit to the Jumeirah beach was pleasurable.

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Apart from all the touristy activities, I wanted to experience the city like a local. So, I enjoyed a ferry ride where I interacted with the fishermen that travel daily using it as a means to do so. The early morning jog/walk along the trail of Marina bay and a ride on the camel were unforgettable experiences too.

 

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To pamper myself, I experienced the Arabic perfume making, and a sumptuous dinner on the Dhow cruise.

All in all, a trip worth remembering

Not for thee!

A traveler at heart I have got a chance to travel to USA and UK and most of India, except a few regions of eastern India.

A friend of mine advised me on my first ever such trip to research every nook and cranny and carry all required stuff before I landed in a strange country with unknown natives. I must admit I was spooked because it was my first ever travel overseas, though the accommodation and travel was taken care of by my employer then, but the other things seemed scary at first. I wondered about the itinerary, the food, the documents to be carried and every little detail.I was so anxious that I nearly cancelled my trip. But my supportive family stood by my side and helped me through.It was a long, boring flight and my health seemed to desert me too. The airport food did me no good and my stomach started to rumble in mid-air. The size of flight toilets made it all the more difficult for me.

After all the adventure mid-air, I finally landed at the Heathrow airport and felt a sense of relief. However the motion sickness and jet lag continued while I had to join work the next day.I was fortunate to have an understanding boss and team mates who helped me settle in the initial days and agreed to cook me lovely Indian dishes that helped me get my stamina back.

Over the weekends, my team mates advised me on the must-visit places in and around London and I decided to go solo as most of them had already been there more than once. So I took a map of the underground railways in UK and my passport/visa and started early. I reached the train station just in time for the departing train and made sure I was in the right one. I had decided to visit the Oxford university, the Bath and other locations.The train arrived at the station and I walked out of the station to find myself engulfed by the most wonderful weather in UK. It was a bright sunny day and I decided to walk to the nearest bus stop.

While I was walking I felt a sense of freedom I had never experienced earlier. I was a modern day Indian girl who has a career and life outside home but this was different. Point is that, the more I freed myself from the realms of my anxious thoughts, the more I enjoyed the experience. I was ecstatic to visit one of my most admired universities in the world. I walked along the most beautiful cafes, decided to step inside for a cup of English tea and croissants and made some wonderful friends.

That day I realized that my thoughts burdened me more than the weight of the luggage I was carrying. My friend advised me to carry all my knowledge and belongings with me but I advise all my fellow travellers to ‘Travel Light’. Here travelling light does not indicate that you leave behind your essential kit or your prescribed medication. It has more to do with your mindset. So the next trip you book to that exotic location or the work trip that you cannot escape, take some time out to break away from the routine and experience the locales, leave behind the worries and fears, do not over-analyse and make no mistake of being opinionated about the natives there. Stay positive and live free!! Leave the baggage home!!

Not for Thee

A gadget free trip to God’s Own country

Work-life balance sounds like a corporate junk with the onset of technology. The smart phone keeps buzzing constantly with the notification chimes and well meaning friends poke and ping for a chat, the I Pad sits in a corner waiting to pop up the next viral video and the consistent check of emails comes as natural as a breath in what seems like a normal day.

Weekends are no different with the eyes glued to the idiot box, which tosses out one soap opera after the other. The eye contact has sadly become a thing of the past. What was discovered by us humans to stay connected and bridge the gaps has now led to further distance us from our near and dear ones.

This thought was bothering me for some time now and an extended weekend and a planned vacation presented me with the perfect opportunity to step away from the gadgets and the gizmos.

I travelled with my family to God’s own country Kerala and more precisely, Munnar .While the journey was spent mostly sleeping, the minute I landed in Kerala , I was in awe of the fertile land and tea farms. We reached after sunset and happily hit the snooze button. The following dawn I was awakened to the most breathtaking sunrise I had ever seen.

Without further ado, I readied myself for more excitement. As I was confident that my camera and ever ready to pose family members were all that I required, I quickly switched off all my gizmos. I did not see the need to carry the smart phone, the I Pad or the Ipod with me.

The serene beauty of Munnar was a treat to my eyes and my soul. It sang the most melodious songs that no Ipod could ever construe.

I leave you with some of the pictures I clicked in Munnar, as they are enough to convince you to unplug from the rest of the world and feel heavenly.

This is the sunrise from the balcony of the resort I was staying
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Sunrise, look at the hues
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Tea plantations, tempts me for a perfect cuppa of my favourite chai 🙂
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Random shot
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The road that leads to heaven
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So,when do you plan to visit this fairyland?

Note : This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The Open-prompt for today was: I am sure we have all had days when we’ve just had enough of our smartphones, our televisions, our iPods, our Blackberrys, our laptops, our iPads, and all the other gadgets and gizmos that we use to continuously be online and connected with the rest of the world.
Well, what are those moments that trigger this urge to ‘unplug’, what forces your hand to just go ‘offline’ for a while and relax in the solitude of being ‘disconnected’?
How do you ‘unplug’ yourself?