About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi, Gujarat

We were done with Bhuj and Kutch and before winding up the trip, one last stop was required. That was going to be Mandvi.. Had read about the historic significance of the place and so was quite curious to see them all. 

The first place we headed to was the Vijay Vilas Palace. As we drove into the gates, we spotted a few  camels making their way towards the trees. After picking up tickets [@Rs10 each and Rs50 for the camera] we made our way into the campus. A short walk and you see the majestic Palace in front of you. 

Built way back in 1929 by Rao Vijayraj, this palace is small but has some amazing architecture across the rooms and floors. We started on the ground floor, exploring the space, the corridors and getting a sneak glimpse into what life must have been like back in the day.  Built using red sandstone with one central dome, it also has Bengal domes at the sides, a bastions at the corner, and coloured glass windows all across. The palace resembles a English country home from certain angles, esp the plush garden and the way it is laid out. 

Artisans from Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Bengal were commissioned to work on the Palace, including Mestris and Suthars from Kutch, all of which reflects in the aesthetics of the palace.  

What was meant to originally be a summer abode for the Kutch rulers, the palace thereafter became the Royal family's residence as well. A portion of the palace has been converted to a Resort [but we dint get to visit that property]. And many Bollywood movies have been shot here [ *eye roll*]  

As we made our way up the spiral stair case to the terrace, I noticed how some portions were wood but others were concrete, which made me wonder how much repair work had gone on over the years.  From the terrace, you get a view of the entire area around the palace. The sprawling space some of it remains a forest, other is used by the Resort. All through the palace, the tile work, the flooring, the art work on the pillars, the intricate stone carving & jali work and murals are the highlights of the palace.

While we were walking around the space, a guide kept telling us snippets from the years gone by about the King, his fondness for hunting, the many many photographs of tiger hunting sessions, the stuffed tigers and then showed us the long dining table that could fit more than 20 people. He soon got dramatic and stated this is where the entire team from Lagaan has a meal in the movie in that scene.. and then in this room is where the scene from Lagaan & Hum dil de chuke sanam movie was shot. While I understand that most of the heritage buildings in our country have become renowned for the movies shot in them, I feel sad that history is forgotten. People today relate to places based on which movie was shot there, or which dance sequence they remember... Another aspect that irks me is when the guide tells us "come here and click a photograph, you will be able to get a good selfie here.. and so on"... Sometimes people who travel are so focussed on getting a good shot, that they fail to soak in the place for what it is....  Sigh ... am just venting and this isnt gonna change anything I know! But still.. 

As we left the place, walking back towards our car, I wondered how happy the Royal family were living in this palace.. What was their life like during the earthquake, and since then...  

The palace is 7 km from the center of town, 
Timings- 9am-1pm and 3pm-6pm. 
Entry is Rs.20 per person & Rs50 for camera.. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Things to do in HongKong during a long layover....

[Images courtesy RA & yes he said it was alright for me to use em..]

A friend of mine was travelling to Seattle, via Hong Kong... He had a layover of about 14-16hours in Hong Kong and so asked me to help him plan what he could do in that time frame. 

I haven't been to Hong Kong [ many did tell me I should have spent a day or so in the city before flying back to Chennai when I was coming back from USA, but well did not plan ahead..] so did not know off hand what one could do in that city.. Therefore had to do some research and talk to friends/family to get ideas/inputs. After all that digging around,  here is what I finally put together... 

Things to remember

Most Important: Make sure you have the pre-registration print out (alternate to HK visa)the print out charges in airport is 300 HK$

1.    Take into account immigration time when you land in HK
2.    Check your next flight timing
3.    do you have to pick up baggage or does baggage go straight?
4.    Make sure to return to airport with 1.5hrs to your flight cos there are a gazillion gates and its long walk..
5.    Get octopus card from airport, this is the only place u get the octopus card with ur credit card, otherwise, suffer during whole trip, while going back,   return card and get money refunded back
6.    The metro from Airport to HK city is very convenient, 20 mins, and to-fro ticket for full day - 115 HK$
7.    Airport express train
Travel comfortably between the airport and hong kong Central in just 24 minutes on the Airport Express. Trains depart at 10-minute intervals
Fare – HK$115 [USD14-15]
     7. Use local taxis [ uber is not cheap]

Things you can do during layout in Hong Kong

1) Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade & Sky100 – 
Total of about 4hrs

(a) Taking the Airport Express train to Kowloon Station. From there, go up to ICC 
(International Commerce Centre) - the tallest building in Hong Kong. On 100/F, 
there is Sky100 - a paid sight-seeing spot, allowing you to have a 360-degree view 
of Hong Kong/Kowloon and the harbour. The height is similar to that of the peak 
but from a different angle.

(b) from Sky100 to Tsim shat sui- 3 to 4kms
** Take the Line973 bus from Mody road [10-11mins] or taxi [3-4mins].
** There is a direct bus departing from Mody Road and arriving at Western Harbour Tunnel. Services depart every 20 minutes, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 10m.

2) Ride on Ngong Ping 360 cable car and see the Big Buddha – Total of about 4 hours
** How to go to Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car:
1.             Ride the MTR Station from Tsim Sha Tsui (Tseun Wan Line or the Red Line) and get off at Lai King Interchange [ 20mins ride]
2.             From there, just across is the Tung Chung Line. Ride that line and alight at Tung Chung Station [40min ride]
3.             Exit at Exit B
4.             You would then see the City Gate Outlet Mall, beside it is the entrance going to the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ride
5.             Things to see- Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, Tai O fishing village, etc
6.             If you are up for it, can climb up the steps to the big Buddha.. else roam around down in the streets, eat, shop etc.. the citygate mall is a good place to kill time, have a drink as well..
Cable car ride – 25- 30 mins
Single standard cabin cable car to go up – HD$315 [US$40]

At the hongkong Airport

1)  Aviation Discovery[museum & simulation ] and UA IMAX
Theater [movie] – 2-4hrs

If there are other things one can do, please share them, will include them in the post.. Thanks in advance..