Monday, 19 August 2013

Ramzan @ M. Ali Road,Bombay

A visit to this place is a must during the holy month of Ramzan.The food,the madness,the crowd cannot be beaten.The place turns into a huge fare during Ramzan.One has to be there to feel the madness.The small lanes lined with sweet and meat shops and people juggling their way through it,is a sight in itself.You would thoroughly enjoy the trip if you love meat and sweets.

The stalls start  preparing the food around 5pm for iftaar and the feast goes till the wee hours of night.The street is visited by common man and many of the celebrities every year.There are hundreds of  food stalls in the Bohri Mohalla and M. Ali Road.
Below the Minar Masjid is the Suleman mithaiwala,the shop is famous for its Malpuas,firni and Malai-Khaja.Malpua is similar to a pancake which is deep fried in ghee.Handful of dry fruits are added to the malpua,there is egg less malpua as well.One cannot finish a malpua alone,it is huge and fills the stomach after a few bites given it is fried in ghee.The shop has a lot of other sweets as well.

Chicken and mutton kebabs stalls can be found on every lane.I sampled some rolls and kebabs from a few shops,they were soft,well cooked with awesome flavors

Oh,the aroma is heavenly as you pass through these small lanes making your way through the crowd;this is what that keeps you going.You know you are heading in the right direction when you get the smell of the freshly grilled kebabs.
The other sweet which i totally loved was the mango firni.The mango flavour added that extra punch to the firni which made it very different from the normal firni.
These guys have kesar firni as well which I forgot to taste but I am sure it would as amazing as the mango one.

I never imagined food could be so inexpensive.For the amount we pay for a dinner in a fine dining restaurant,you could for a month in these shops.

The taste is similar,if not similar it is better.The food is fresh,cooked right in front of your eyes.

I cannot help having a shawarma even on a full stomach,priced at 20INR it was value for money,
There are stalls selling sewaiyan and dry fruits as well for Eid.

After sampling all the kebabs and rolls and a lot of walking.
It was time for some dessert again.I had never tasted jalebis as mouth watering as this one.
The jalebis are made of Mawa and are as tasty as they can get.They come out pipping hot and are sold out in seconds,just like hot jalebis should :).You might have to wait in a queue for your turn as they vanish the moment they arrive.
Soft and juicy,they are just perfect.The mawa takes it another level.
What could not be eaten was parceled,still a lot has to sampled which should be done during the next Ramzan IA.

The best and easiest way to reach this place is by train.The nearest stations are Churchgate/Marine Drive on western railway and Masjid on harbour railway.From the station you can take a taxi or bus.It is very difficult to drive in this area so avoid driving,even taxis do not go in the evenings in this area.

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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Things we did in Bangkok!!

Thailand is our favorite holiday destination.Whenever we are confused and not able to decide our destination, we head to Bangkok.It offers almost everything a holiday destination should offer.The country has some of the most beautiful beaches.We have already spoken about Elephant-village,Tiger-temple,Phuket and Pattaya.Talking about the capital,it buzzes with energy and life.It has a lot to offer and we have only managed to explore very little of this beautiful city.
 Shopping-If you want to buy some good stuff which would not burn a hole in your pocket,Bangkok is the right choice.The place is a shopper's paradise. Indira market is open from 6am in the morning,it is a wholesale market and lot of stalls do not sell a single piece.The market is huge and crowded,yes at 6 in the morning.
Indira Market

Chatuchak-market  is a Mecca for shopper's.It has everything from inexpensive clothes to the high end brands.Siam Square is another stop where you can shop till you drop .It is the heart of the city and has some amazing malls like Siam Paragon,MBK,Big C and Central World etc.

The Siam Square is known for it's fashion.It has a BTS station which makes it easily accessible.Siam Paragon houses some of the renowned international brands.Central World has lot of international brands and some local brands as well,the food court is on the top floor and there are a lot of pretty good restaurants in the malls as well.

If you are a gadget freak,there is a mall exclusively for  you too.Stay in Siam if you love shopping.There are n number of hotels in this area. Baiyoke boutique is one we can vouch for;situated near the famous Indira market.

Safari World-This place is situated on the outskirts of Bangkok,almost an hour drive from Bangkok.

It has 2 parks Safari park and Marine Park.Safari park is a 8KM drive through where you get to see animals in an open area from all over the world.

There is a tiger feeding show as well where in a female feeds the tiger and you can watch them eating as you pass past them.

Marine park is the place where you get to see a number of animal performances.The hot fav being the orangutan show and the dolphin show.You are given a map of the place and timings of the shows so you do not miss out on anything in this huge park.

You get to take pictures with these amazing species too.

We clicked pictures with birds,dolphins,sea lions etc :)
 There is an open bird feeding place.The place is like a big hall and the birds are all over and they get attracted by the food in your hand.

It was so much fun they would sit on your hand,head etc.
The giraffe terrace is an amazing experience.You can buy bananas and sweet potatoes at the counter for 50 Baht and then feed the giraffes.The giraffes love Bananas more than sweet potatoes :P they would fight for the bananas and leave the sweet potatoes.It was so much fun feeding them.
You can get pictures with tigers,birds etc as well.You can pay for it and collect the pictures when you leave the Safari World at the exit.There are shops which sell Safari World souvenirs as well.

You can book a tour or go on your own.We booked a private tour which costs around 1800 Baht per person.A group tour would have around ten people an would be around 1400Baht per person .The tour begins at 9am and ends at 5pm so you basically need a whole day.

China Town-This place is again a shopper's paradise and foodies too.The place has amazing stuff at amazingly low price.

From phone accessories to party stuff to girls' accessories the place has everything under one roof.Wear comfortable shoes as you end up spending a whole day here.The street food here is superb.We were lucky enough to visit this place during the Vegetarian festival.
Vegetarian Festival at Chinatown
Restaurant and street stalls put up yellow flags to announce their participation.You will find some mouth watering vegetarian dishes here form tofu patties to spring rolls.

The festival is usually celebrated in the month of October.The iced coffee here is to die for.Do not miss it.We saw a lot of people having it and got tempted to have it and totally loved it.


The Sky bars-The place has quite a few number of sky bars.We choose Vertigo over a lot of other Sky Bars.The reputation of this place is well deserved.It shares its highlight of rooftop dinning with spectacular view with some of the other rooftop bars like Skybar from Hangover 2.

After a long consideration we settled for Vertigo and the place did not disappoint us.The service was impressive,they top up your order with complimentary items.Surprisingly the place did not burn a hole in our pocket.Situated on 62nd floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel,this place is a must visit.Make sure you make a reservation,it is a must.The bar opens at 7pm.

Cafes and Restaurants-The place is known for its Street food.If you are a non vegetarian this place will make your tummy happy.We sampled  a lot of restaurants and cafes as we explored the Siam Square.The streets of Thailand are lined with food stalls.
 Au Bon Pain is the one cafe which we totally fell in love with.
 Siam Paragon has a huge food court and serves almost all the cuisine possible.There are lot of cafes,dessert and ice cream parlours in the mall on all the floors.So when you get tired you can take a break and recharge yourself.
A ride in a tuk-tuk is a must.Do not forget to bargain,you might get ripped otherwise.There were times when we paid 20 Baht and 100 Baht for the same place,sigh.Traffic in Bangkok can get really bad at times,to avoid that take the Sky train.They are quite cheap and fast.
There are  a lot of tourist places like palaces,temples and river cruises.There is a lot more to be explored and we wish to do it soon.

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Monsoon Getaway-Taj Fort Aguada

 There is a reason Goa is one of the most famous holiday destinations, arguably in the world. While most would plan a trip to this place from November to Feb, Goa in monsoons is amazingly beautiful.We have had our best trips in the monsoons in Goa. Deciding the hotel was pretty easy.We had been eying this Taj property since a long time.The pictures looked beautiful and the resort had pretty much everything we needed to enjoy our stay.
The hotel gives complimentary transfer from the Airport to the hotel.The ride is a bit long but the picturesque beauty Goa offered soothed the eyes all the way through our journey.Upon arival, we were received by the Taj representative at the airport and transferred  to the hotel in a Taj mini bus.It takes almost an hour to reach the resort in monsoons.
Guests are received well at the reception in the customary Taj way with shell neck pieces. Kokum was given as the welcome drink.The check-in was smooth as the reception desk representatives were very alert and super polite.The looby is grand and the view is spectacular.The lobby overlooks the sea and the pool and has an outdoor seating area as well.This place has around 145 rooms which are  inspired by the  Goan-Portuguese architecture.

We were not expecting the hotel to have many guests(off-season) but were surprised by the numbers.We loved our room,it had all the basic amenities plus an outdoor seating area.The view was breathtaking with the lush green trees and the sea.
 It rained a lot and we totally loved it.It did stop and gave us some much needed sunshine as well.We then decided to step out and take our fight outside the 4 walls (bahar mil) :P
Taj has 4 properties in Goa.Fort Aguada and Holiday Village are adjacent to each other and you could enjoy the facilities of both properties if you are staying in any one of these.We took a stroll and a dip in Village.Village has a kid's pool and a bigger playing area for kids.So if you want the kids to enjoy,Village is better for you.Else Aguada is the place.
Pool@Holiday Village
Village has a deck overlooking the sea where you can sit and enjoy the view.
It was breezy and the weather totally rocked.They have cars running to and fro from Aguada to Village all day.So you get picked and dropped whenever you want.
This is how Aguada looks from Village.
Taj Aguada gives you a feeling of a real fort on a mountain.The resort overlooks the ramparts of the Fort Aguada.You can walk upto the Fort Aguada's ramparts as well from Taj.There is a gate near the pool.
Aguada has an amazing view from the lobby.We sat for couple of hours as it rained.And it took a dip to get a closer view.
If you want to step out which is not required at all.This is the lane outside the entrance lined by trees-sheer beauty.We took a stroll down the lane.

The food never disappoints us at Taj and the chefs go out of their way to please you.We were given complimentary Thai green curry at Kovalam Taj,just coz they did not have it for Lunch and when we asked again for it for Dinner.Well that's Taj.
Aguada has an Italian restaurant, a seafood specialty restaurant-Morisco,an all day diner-Latitude and 2 Bars.You can have a private meal overlooking the sea as well.The Buffet is priced at 1200 plus taxes per person.The spread is mouthwatering.The chef would make sure you enjoy the meal and ask for the feedback himself.
This is what something we were craving for at an odd hour and they customized it for us.A hot brownie with oodles of hot chocolate topped with some ice-cream, in a chilly weather,as you enjoy the rains of Goa and the very high splashing sea waves.
We couldn't get enough of this place.SFX-the lounge bar,we sat,drank(mocktails and they were amazing) and enjoyed every bit here.It was always full with people literally sleeping over here.The place serves some exotic drinks and seems as if it is just right above the sea.The view amazing,air conditioning effect comes for free here,it was chilly.
The hospitality of Taj has never been met by any of the Hotels we have stayed at,over the world till now.It is embarrassing at times for us,the staff is that polite.We have loved every stay and Taj keeps calling us for more.This staycation was lovely,looking forward to many such ones at Taj.Loved Aguada and would surely be back again soon.

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