Monday, November 30, 2015

2 wonderful experiences - Year 2015

Had 2 wonderful experiences this year. Something that was out of the routine. Something that I hadn't done in years. Something that was not much adventure but I still loved it. Both of these two experiences demand a separate post on the blog and I will write about them. But the kind of happiness that I have got for these two experiences remind me of only one thing. These reinforce the idea of experimenting more in life while I can.

So I changed ob this year and my new job requires me to travel a bit. I was apprehensive initially. I haven't traveled without family in a long long while. Either Seona (my 5 year old) or Mala was always with me whenever I traveled. I missed them badly during my travels. However, I did enjoy as well. So bakc to the 2 experiences.

1. I got a chance to travel in one of the best & luxurious modes of transport with 5 star comforts. It was a journey onboard Singapore Airlines A380 business class from Singapore to London. A wonderful 13 hours flight. An amazing experience. I must say I have not had as yummy Chicken Stay on land as I had cruising at 38000 feet above in air.

                                                       Onboard SQ A 380 SIN- LHR

2. I stayed in one of the cheapest available places to stay. It was a shared accommodation. A Hostel. After spending thousands of dollars on hotels in different countries, knowing that I am traveling alone on this trip, and after a lot of contemplation I booked a hostel for my 2 nights stay in London as a tourist. It was not the cheapest hostel available. In fact it was one of the costliest hostels but I decided not to do too much adventure. Was I happy about my decision? Oh yes! It was such an amazing stay at Park Villa Hostel. I loved every moment of it. The staff, the rooms, the decor, the breakfast, the informal atmosphere. Everything about it. I am definitely going to stay in a hostel again. Here are some photographs of the two wonderful experiences.....

                                                    The beautiful room at Park Villa Hostel
                                                             Wall art at Hostel reception

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Forgive, Forget, Kindess

I am not well read about the subject. I have not done extensive research on the 1993 Mumbai blasts. I have neither read a lot about the Yakub Menon case and I never thought much about it. But amongst all this noise & hype that was created in last few days about "Forgiving Yakub Menon", I did think about something. I thought about forgiveness. The media and so many other people came on road to request for/raise demand for forgiveness of Yakub Menon , a man convicted as one of the key conspirators of serial bomb blasts. How many of these people & the media on a daily basis:

  1. Forgive someone who accidentally hits them while walking, driving?
  2. Forgive someone who has unintentionally hurt  you?
  3. Forgive someone who genuinely accepts their mistake and try to mend their ways

In my opinion, what is required is a change of mindset. The media should focus  on maybe starting  a kindness & forgiveness movement. To forgive and forget those small things which hurt you and others in the process. To help yourself and your neighbors and friends in little things. To offer seats on Bus, Trains to those who need it more (Pregnant, old, Disabled). To offer food and work to someone who needs it. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Magnificent .. Eerie.. beautiful Siem Reap

This was pending for a long time. When we moved to Singapore back in 2010, I thought that I will utilize this opportunity to travel as much as possible. I would see all the countries around.  On and off we have been traveling. But a trip to Cambodia, Vietnam was long due. So last month when we were tired, wanted a break, looking for a quick escape from busy work life we decided it has to be something new. A new country, So Cambodia it was. I booked the tickets without giving a second thought to it. And am I glad that I took this decision.

To justify the subject line... the temples were magnificent because they were huge, beautiful, historical and each temple had a different story to tell. They were Eerie because... if you stand in a secluded corner of such huge temples and think about the huge broken stone boulders lying around you and the headless statues.. it does appear eerie. And beautiful it was the people, the place, the food.

A quick snapshot
  • Dates: 15th May to 18th May
  • Was it the best season? No, it was very hot.
  • Hotel We stayed in: Golden Temple hotel. Read Review here
  • Did We Enjoy? Yes. It is a beautiful place with wonderful people.

Such an amazing, mysterious, lovely, historical, magnificent place. Three cheers for the wonderful hospitality of Cambodians as well. After booking the tickets, I took some time to book the hotel. Read a number of reviews and then finalized the Golden Temple Hotel as our abode for 3 nights in Cambodia.  Glad I took this decision. Though It was a bit costlier than other amazing looking cheaper hotels but the staff of the hotel made it worthwhile. Must highlight that my wife loved the sticky rice that they serve in Welcome basket with welcome drink. I requested for it again on my last day of stay and even though they had run out of it in the hotel, they sent someone to their partner hotel to pick it up for us. & it was again complimentary. Hats Off.

During the days before the trip, Gaurav tried to remind me that the Cambodia temples, Khmer Rogue and all the history associated was a part of our textbooks in school. But as I am... couldn't think of anything that I read at that time. So I decided to read a bit about it and then take the trip as it came.

Things that I did & didn't
  • I didn't book a tour guide. I enjoyed it. But I think having a guide is not a bad idea if you haven't read about the Khmer history. The guides tell some interesting stories about the temples.
  • I  visited Angkor Wat (Sunrise), Ta Prohm, Tomb raider temple, 1000 lingas temple
  • Did a 1.5 kms trek with my 5 year old to reach the Linga temple. The trek was not an easy one.
  • Massage (amazing) - Khmer, Compress  and foot reflex.. all were totally worth it & all spread over my 3 days in Siem reap.
  • Tried the Khmer food. the famous fish amok & chicken Amok. Loved it. Hotel had a nice way to present it and the taste was good. It was better in the pub street though.
  • Realized the influence of Hindu mythology in Cambodian temples. Most of the bridges in Siem Reap had the boundry wall showing the famous Sea churning in hindu mythology (Samudra manthan).
  • Cambodians believe that the apsaras that came out of Samudra Manthan are a part of Cambodian history. All the temple gates have the sculptures of Apsaras engraved.
  • Visited the night market. Buy your souvenirs here. But be prepared to negotiate
  • Pub street. Good live music and Apsara dance in a number of pubs. With Seona, we didn't get a chance to do any pub hopping though. 
  • Old market. Again nice local market. very close from Golden temple hotel. Negotiate and you will get good deals.
  • Tuk Tuk Ride. Seona loved this one the most. In my wife's words "We made the right choice of traveling by Tuk Tuk instead of hiring a car. Even though it is hot, this is the best way of seeing the Citi & temple while on the move."
  • The Killing fields:  Saw these while on the move. There were places where the driver refused to stop Tuk Tuk. He mentioned that these places may still have some landmines from war time. If you are planning a visit to Cambodia, do watch the movie "The Killing fields" before going there. The movie is an interesting one & deeply moving.
  • Landmine museum: Wanted to visit this but had to give it a miss. It closes at 530. We reached at 535 PM after visiting the 1000 lingas temple.

Time for some pictures now

Angkor wat

The beautiful sunrise at Angkor wat

Playing with shadows

The broken statues

The ruins
. It is said that one of the temples that was on the verge of falling down was dismantled with the intent of putting it back together. More than 500,000 pieces of huge stones were carefully removed and a huge map was prepared so that they can be put together back in place. And then the war happened. All the maps and documents were burnt. After the war, It took many many years to put those stones back in place. Computer graphics had to be used. It is said to be one of the biggest jigsaw puzzles man ever tried to solve.
"Ta Prohm" now more famous as shooting location of "The Tomb Raider"
Loved the blue skies
 The door to no where
 "Apsaras" These statues were found on both sides of the doors of temples. The feet direction tells you which side is the door
 Dinner at Golden temple hotel

 One of the headless statues
 And another one
 Samudra manthan (Sea churning) ... one side of the bridge showed the Devtas (gods) and other side showed the asuras (demons). It is said that Apsaras also came out of sea as a result of Samudra manthan.
 "Angkor Thom".. Zoom in to see the mysterious smile of Angkor
 The wonderful trail to reach 1000 lingas temple. I think there are more than 2000 lingas and numerous other carvings here Lord vishnu, Lord Hanuman, Brahma & a number of others . During monsoon all these carvings go under water.
 Ta Prohm again

Wish to do..

Spend more time with my friends and family
Go to India & stay with my parents.
Get M everything and anything that She wishes for...
Relax and lie down
 Learn meditation
Seriously get into at least one sport and excel in that
Learn swimming
 Learn a new language (Mandarin maybe)
Learn Bhangra, & Salsa
                Get fit
  Volunteer for some good cause
 Excel in my job & something outside my job.
                       Have more passive income than the money that I get from my job.
        Do odd jobs while traveling

Not necessarily in the order given above. But I want to do all of the above. Learning dance  & Going to India for sometime are 2 things that I want the most at this time. Running was one of my biggest stress busters and someday I wish to go back to running as well. But knowing the about the ligament tear in my knee, I know it is not gonna happen soon...

will start work on at least 2 of these starting tomorrow i.e. 9th Aug, 15. I will come back to this post in few days time and update again. In pursuit of Happyness

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Earthquake - Soenaspeaks

Seeing the earthquake news on TV.. #Seonaspeaks papa, I don't want earth to shake. I don't want water to come to our house. Are we safe?

I made an almost failed attempt to explain to her that We can hardly do anything about these natural calamities.

May God bless people the people in Nepal... & May god bless the people affected by the earthquake in Japan today.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Deep in thought- easy to pen

Not sure why? But it is very easy for me to pen my thoughts properly or concentrate on something, give my best shot at anything that I am doing WHEN I am upset, worried or tensed about something.

Part of me tells me that it is because at these moments my attention is fixed on either what I am doing at that point of time or on the bigger problem/tension that is riding on my sub conscious. My mind does not wander to any other thoughts at such times.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mr Lee Kuan Yew

The kind of sadness that has followed with the demise of  Singapore ex PM Mr Lee Kuan Yew, I have never experienced  it. Everything in the country seems to be mourning. I have been in this City state for 5 years now. It's so lively so jovial. I can't imagine what it was like 50 years ago when he became first PM of Singapore. The documentaries and video recordings from past show that it was a mud swamp. And it truly was a mud swamp, a fisherman's village, mud houses, unlaid roads, people staying in mud house colonies called Kampungs, a country with no natural resources of its own. It is an amazing transformation. What i see today is a beautiful city with high rise buildings. People travelling in public transport carrying their Coach Prada Gucci and LV's. The country with highest per capita income. 

Have read sometimes and heard from people who say negative about Mr Lee. But would it have been possible without his vision? It's hard to imagine. I think it was not possible. With good comes the bad. There will definitely be some critics. Some people will definitely get unhappy but masses have become happy. I think the sole reason for this happiness is Mr LKY's doing. And yes, for the first time i am  sad with the passing of a public figure. He truly was a great man.

Read more about him, watch more about him
  • Time or Tide
  • Hard Truths
  • Read about the Red Box that he carried
  • Read numerous memoirs that have been written by people from all walks of life
  • Companies giving time off to their employees to see Mr LKY for the last time
  • Queues as long as having a wait of 8 hours to pay him the respects
  • Read about his hard work & passion for Singapore
Hats off & Loads of Respect.....