Cerebral Shangrila

Saturday, February 27, 2010

10 Must Visit "Touristy" Countries

Was at the NATAS Travel fair yesterday and it rekindled my desire to "see the world". Before taking the " Road less Traveled", I need to take the " Road Traveled". Here is a list of 10 countries that are in my must see list before I die.

P.S : The list excludes all the countries ( numbering around 20) that I have seen till now.

1. New Zealand - One of the most beautiful countries on the planet. Nature at its pristine best.

2. Japan - A world unto itself. Mt.Fuji, Bullet trains, Kyoto, Tokyo, Japanese cuisine and people.

3. Russia - To quote Churchill " It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma".

4. Turkey - Asia meets Europe. Istanbul. Blue mosque.

5. Egypt - Pyramids, Nile, Alexandria.

6. Netherlands - Amsterdam, Dykes, Flower fields, wind mills, canals, museums.

7. Spain - Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, Museums, Bull fighting.

8. Greece - Islands, Acropolis, Parthenon, Olympia, Delphi.

9. South Africa - Kruger, Durban, Pietermaritzbug, Cape town

10. Peru - Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Titicaca


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Photos from Sanya ( China) Trip

Here it is.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sanya, China - Travel Diary (Travelogue)

They call it the " Hawaii of the Orient" and its for a reason. This beautiful town is blessed with sun-kissed beaches, sunshine all around the year and a pollution free environment. Sanya is located in Hainan, the smallest province in China and lies in the Southernmost tip of China.

The Sanya Airport doesn't serve international flights. So most passengers need to take a domestic flight from Guangzhou ( the closest international airport), Shenzen, Shanghai or Beijing. Sanya is 1 hr flight from Guangzhou. Sanya airport has excellent connectivity to most domestic destinations and what Chinese term as "international destinations" - Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau.

VISA DETAILS : Most nationalities need a visa to enter China. Tourist visas are fairly easy to obtain and can be obtained through an agent.

Tourists flock year-round to Sanya. Sanya has sunny weather year round with upper 20's (c) in Spring, Winter and lower 30's in autumn, summer.
Be prepared to come with plenty of Sunscreen lotion.

The Currency of China is Yuan (renmimbi). There are foreign exchange counters all over.

Of course, they speak Chinese in China. Most taxi drivers, shop owners, tourist operators do not know English. Luckily, all road signs are in English, aiding tourists . Make sure that you carry maps that can guide you. Also carry a translation guide or get the names of attractions written in Mandarin. Sign language is universal and always helps !

Sanya is in Hainan province in the southern most tip of China.


Buses: There are hardly any public buses in Sanya and hence its not a preferred mode of transport ( unless you are relying on tour operators).

Taxis : Taxis are the most relied form of transport . Make sure that you agree on the price before embarking on the trip.
Do remember that most drivers do not know English.

Cars / Bikes : Can be rented and is a good option if you know the island well.

Sanya is GMT + 8 hours.

Since I went to speak at a conference, I stayed at the Hilton resort & spa in Yalong Bay, China. It was a lovely property with its private beach. Can't dream of staying there on a personal trip.

Sanya has a great choice of restaurants. Being a vegetarian, I was lucky since the event organizers took care of my special dietary needs. The Nanshan complex ( which is the biggest tourist attraction) is completely meat free due to its Buddhist roots and is a great place to gorge on oriental veg food.



The Yalong Bay has some of the best ( expensive) hotels and beaches.

Nanshan Complex

This complex is located 40 kms from Sanya and attracts lots of tourists. The highlight of the complex is the 350 feet tall bronze statue of Buddha, perched majestically on the ocean. It is supposed to be the second largest Buddha statue in the world and is truly amazing.

Other highlights in the complex include the Gold & Jade Buddha statue which is 3.8 meters high, costing over 100kg of gold, 120 carat of South African diamond, thousands of pieces of rubies, sapphires, emeralds, corals, boulders, pearls and more than 100kg of jade. You gotta see it to believe it !

The Dharma door of non-duality has some spectacular flower displays, landscaping and provides for some good photo-ops.

The entrance to the complex is Yuan 150. The whole complex might take 3-4 hrs to see on foot. There are battery operated vehicle (fee payable) if you want to do a quick tour.

FINAL WORD : Sanya was spectacular, very different from the other beach towns I have seen in south east Asia. I just wish I had more time to spend but that is asking for too much in a business trip.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Best Budget Smartphone

Planning to buy a budget smart phone this weekend. Toying between a Nokia E63 Vs HTC Tatoo ( No, am not keen on a Blackberry curve).

Any suggestions, anyone?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Trip

Feeling absolutely refreshed after a magnificent trip to Saigon, Vietnam. Vietnam celebrated its new year over the weekend and the entire city was decked with flowers, colors, dances and other festivities. It was simply stunning ! More to follow with photos & travel diary.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Andaz apna apna - yaadein

Was watching andaz apna apna recently - an illogical yet lovable comedy that has achieved cult status. Raj santoshi has generously borrowed from other movies, most notably the Tamil movie "then mazhai".

Like most cult comedy movies some dialogues remain etched in your memory. Here is a sample:

Paresh Rawal is trying to shoot aamir khan and the side kick says :

Side kick : vasco da gama ki gun yeh sir.

Rawal: kis ki mama ki gun?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tiger Airways Promo

Something deep in my heart ( call it a travel freak's oracle) tells me that Tiger airways is going to announce some unbelievable air fares in the next few days ( during Chinese new year long weekend).

Why ? Afterall, the coming year is the year of "Tiger" and Tiger airways' marketing machine wouldn't want to miss that bus(zz). I am all prepared - will fly wherever they will fly me free ( or close to it).

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Dances of Bali - Photo Album


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Back from Sanya, China

I am back in Singapore after a three day trip to Sanya, China. Sanya was beautiful and truly deserves the epithet - " Oriental Hawaii". Though I was on a business trip, managed to get some time for sightseeing.

Photos & Travel diary to follow soon.

P.S : No access to Blogger & Twitter for the past three days since both are banned in China.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

First trip to mainland china

I am going to Sanya, Hainan today. I will be speaking at a technology summit tomorrow. Really look fwd to this trip.

1. Though I have been to hong kong, Macau before, this will be my first trip to the mainland.

2. Sanya is known as china's Hawaii. There is plenty of fodder for my touristy eyes !

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 01, 2010

Geography Trivia

Which country switched to the right hand driving system in the 70's, despite being a former British colony, at the behest of advise from astrologers & soothsayers. The head of state made this switch despite the fact that most existing vehicles were from Britain & Japan ( Both LHD countries).

In fact, Virtually all vehicles are driven with a passenger in place to watch the oncoming traffic and inform the driver as to whether it is safe to overtake or not, as the driver cannot see this from the RHD position!