Posts Tagged With: travel planning

When Girls Decide To Travel

Even before I left for Singapore, M and I had been planning a Kerala trip. Crazy, isn’t it? But that’s how I want to be, travelling all the time. Staying at one place makes me restless. And anxious, like I am missing out on a lot by being at home. I must be out there to see all that is there.

So, how much ever my parents try to domesticize me, I don’t stay still; I wander. If not outside my city, then within. My camera and I want to be out of home, on the streets, among ageing monuments, among ignored ruins, among unexplored corners of the city all the time.

So, M, E and I planned this grand tour of Kerala way back in June. This is going to be our 3rd tour together and the next one after Ahmedabad. I didn’t think it was a necessity informing my poor parents and surprisingly, they took it well. After all, you have to learn to take difficulties in your stride and keep moving!

And how did the planning happen? We started with the intent to go to Munnar. How could we resist the rest of Kerala? And so, we enquired and researched. Searched whole day on internet, ignoring persistent phone calls and impatient peers, for gems of Kerala. It became a mission. The most important mission for us. And so, M found Wayanad. And I found Allepey. And E found Pondicherry. Let’s combine it all!, we said, our zesty female spirit refusing to stay calm. We looked at lavish eco resorts, gorgeous food and bright greenery covered in mist, greed rising within us. How could we miss on any of these? Let’s go! Let’s attack all these places! And why not add Coorg too!

Unable to keep our enthusiasm within ourselves, we decided to approach a local who would guide us on the route. And so, E’s colleague from Cunoor was approached. The gentleman that he is, he agreed to give us tips, without scoffing us, atleast on our faces and politely said Ladies, you are planning a quadrangle, which is impossible to cover in 5 days. When E chalked out the route on Google Maps, our intended route indeed was a quadrangle and I realised that our plan was indeed scoff-worthy. At least we gave him the pleasure of secretly sneering at us and talk about our famed sense of direction (or the lack of it).

We ladies were stuck; choosing has never been our forte, which explains the high number of seemingly similar looking shoes and everything else in our cupboards – we basically want everything! Keeping Cochin as a definite place, how do we choose just 2 out of the rest? Allepey is the true sense of Kerala – the Backwaters! I argued. And look at Wayanad. It is so beeaauuttiful, pointed out M. Pondicherry is a French colony! Which means beautiful architecture. I want to go there too! I confused things further. Munnar was forgotten, Coorg was pitched for.

E, always the mediator, suggested a poll. It is scientific and the most popular method of determining widely-held opinions. Even among 3 people. So we voted. Unfortunately, this method failed. M chose Coorg, I chose Allepey and E chose Pondicherry. Back to square one! Now, who will sacrifice?

All of us did in a way and moved a step further – the places were decided. Cochin, Munnar and Allepey. Feeling relief, we moved further to planning the rest of the trip, the most cumbersome of all, logistics. And could this have been done without further chaos? No way. E looked for budget, M looked for convenience and I looked for comfort. I exploded at the thought of a 26 hours train journey and E tried to fit in everything in 5 days. Our troubles only seemed to be increasing.

At last, we arrived at some common agreements and yay!, we were done with the next stage of our planning! We then spent lot many days looking at hotels – their prices, locations, pictures, and reviews, wore out our keyboards with lot of group chatting and managed to finalize on 3 awesome top class resorts that also fitted in our budget. Girl power, yippie!

Before you think that our planning was all chaos and no system, all confusion and no direction, and you are forever going to be forever entertained by our self-deprecating stories, let me show you how girls also plan. We planned each stage at a time – first the places, then the travel plan, then stay plan followed by travel bookings, hotel payments. The next will be daily itineraries and specifics (ie, what to see, eat, shop and do in each town). Responsibilities were divided – E did the travel bookings and I paid for hotels. A detailed sheet has been made listing payments made by each person for record and settling of accounts later on.

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Ha! You see, girls also do such meticulous work.

So far, so good. It’s time to load our company servers again, look at numerous confusing tourism and travel sites for days at work and decide what we want to do/eat/shop/see there.

Kerala, here we come!

Categories: South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Singapore The Third Time

Before I realize it, it is time for me to leave for Singapore. I panicked today (like I always do before every foreign trip). I leave from Baroda on 3rd May for Bombay to catch the flight to Singapore on 4th May early morning. I can’t express how excited that vision is – of holding your passport in one hand and the suitcase handle in the other. Before that comes lots of preparation – deciding what clothes to carry (see how this comes on top of the list), packing in utilities, ensuring no essential item is missed out, local travel, currency. I kept thinking I have loads of time and lo behold, I just have 5 days left!

I wasn’t as excited for this trip as I was for my previous 2 trips because Singapore isn’t new to me. I’ve been there 2 times before – both as a tourist and as a local. Having seen Sentosa, Merlion, Night Safari, Little India, Jurong Bird Park, I have also explored their malls – Ion, Vivocity, Tampines & Jurong Point – and food joints. There is still a lot to be done and seen there. This time, I am going to be armed with a brand new SLR and just the image of me clicking photos with it is quite satisfying.

We are going to be spending good 8 days in Singapore. Out of these, my sister (who is going to be our host for these 8 days) will be attending work for 3 days during which time my Mum and I will be on our own. A very careful itinerary has been made (otherwise also needed to decide which ensemble to wear when) mentioning the mall, food joint and sightseeing spot to be visited each day.

Having seen the most apparent parts of Singapore already, I am keen to see below the surface this time. My sister instantly ruled out nature parks and trails. I managed to get Chinatown, Singapore Zoo & Emerald Hill approved.

As I catch hold of whatever piece of paper I can find to quickly make the things-to-carry list, I remember my first foreign trip 5 years ago to SE Asia (Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore). I was so excited that my suitcase was packed and ready to be taken a month before we actually left. I have still preserved the to-take list I had made that time. Since that first foreign trip, I have not seen any dip in my enthusiasm levels. I am as excited as I was that time for every trip hence, whether in India or outside.

The first trip abroad in 2007 was driven by the childish curiosity of seeing what foreign countries were like. The real moment of enlightenment came in 2008 when I visited Switzerland & Paris with my family. That trip me showed me a world that I was actually attached to but still so unknown, different and far away. I had told my parents that time that by 2010, I wish to have 10 countries’ visa stamp on my passport. I managed to have 6 (excluding the multiple Schengen & Singapore visas). My dream from that time was to see the whole world. My eyes had opened to the fact that the world out there is very huge and very different and you can’t die without seeing it. When I took a stand in the last 2 years and went to Australia and Europe even though my family and several friends condemned me for wasting (imagine, spending money for travel means a waste for them) money like this. Very few supported. In my heart I knew I had to go. And I did. I cherished each moment of walking on foreign lands and feeling a part of a world which is much bigger than my hometown.

A friend asked me today how resolute I am towards travel. Will I travel irrespective of company / situation? Am I a compulsive traveller? I was forced to think about it. So, I have been a compulsive traveller till now. If not foreign trips, it is nearby Baroda. Or in Baroda. But the desire of seeing /experiencing something new, the need for being marvelled at staggering new sights & the yearning for being transformed into a different being never eludes me. The quest here is not of travelling but of learning which will always remain eternal for me.

The third visit to Singapore is going to amaze me equally more. I am quite likely to return as a new being.

Some pics taken during my first visit:

Thai, Mala, Sing 3791

Merlion from ropeway to Sentosa

Thai, Mala, Sing 3361

The famous hotel where we were told Shah Rukh Khan always stays when he visits Singapore

Thai, Mala, Sing 3571

The typical coloured windows

Thai, Mala, Sing 3581

A Chinese temple

Thai, Mala, Sing 4081

Sentosa Island

Thai, Mala, Sing 4311

That’s me at the southern most tip of Asia at Sentosa island

Categories: Photography, Singapore | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

When everything falls in place.

I am all set to travel to Bombay (will not call it by any other name). Travelling to Bombay gives me nightmares, these days. Simply because it gets very tiring and the crowd seems to have doubled since I left Bombay. The crowds, the smoke and the vehicle traffic are maddening. One day this city was mine; but now, I feel like a stranger here.

100_2754A photo displayed at the Kalaghoda Fair, Feb 2011

100_2757One of the many old British time buildings at Fort area, now converted into a library. (Bad photo quality. It was during this trip I realized that its time to replace my camera)

Nonetheless, the thought of meeting my kiddo cousin has brightened me up. I have been going over the weekend Bombay plan in my mind again and again. Today morning I mentally tick off the items on the to-do list. Tickets have been printed. The gifts collected. Clothes to be taken selected. Camera battery charged. Everybody informed at work. Somehow, everything has fallen in place. My ticket has got confirmed. The colony auto was available and I booked it, at the last minute, to take me to the station early morning tomorrow. All the gifts and my stuff have been neatly packed. While I was all jittery about the tour a few days back, I can’t believe that all the planning has really gone well! In fact, I have some spare time at my disposal that I am able to sit and write this!

A packed schedule has been made. This weekend break is actually going to be the busiest of all the weekdays. I have the shopping to do (jewellery for my Oz cousins), movie (Kung Fu Panda-2. And the Caramel Popcorn that undoubtedly will accompany us during the movie) and the fun project of painting on canvas shoes (something that we’ve been planning since 3 months now) with my cousin.

Such mini breaks are required. They rejuvenate us and complete the aspects of our life that remain unfulfilled and incomplete in our daily busy lives. It’s important that we enjoy these breaks without worrying about the work back home.

Categories: Bombay / Mumbai, India, Travel | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Planning for a trip. And the fun of it.

When I found out that none of my family members were planning for their July Bali/Singapore trip, I jumped at the opportunity and began my research on preparing their itinerary. Am I crazy, planning so enthusiastically for a trip I am not going on? I like the planning portion of any trip the most. More like daydreaming actually.

After going on 3 foreign vacations and already planning for the next one, I have realized that more than the excitement experienced when you take off for the vacation, the excitement lies in planning for the trip. The research on the places you are visiting, the preparations, informing your friend (updating on Facebook and the subsequent Likes and Oohs & Aaahs of friends), the shopping (‘I need 6 pairs of shorts since I can’t be photographed in the same pair on all the days) and dreaming about your photographs in amazing locales in your new clothes. Yeah, I admit. I’ve done it all.

But that’s the fun of it! I’ve been dreaming about my yet-to-be-finalized trip to Greece and Turkey trip since more than 6 months now (before I even went on my Australia tour in November end). It is so exciting to read about the weather, the food, and the photographs and mentally start planning what you are going to wear where!

My first trip was to south-east Asia in the summer of 2007 with my family. My. The heights of my excitement! My bag was packed up a month in advance. The same thing happened before my Switzerland tour in 2008.

Planning for my recent Australia trip was most thrilling because I was travelling there alone! It was totally my trip. I decided what it shaped into. And so I made n number of to-do and packing lists (I dumped the ‘Things I want to see in Australia’ list because it contained almost everything that is in Australia; not what I could see in a 14-day trip). My packing lists are generally very specific (eg, the red shorts, the yellow spaghetti, the Olay body wash) and so, I packed up all my clothes 1 month in advance. Ha. I marveled at my planning skills.

I also made elaborate to-do lists. I have a day job (which went in sub-consciously daydreaming about my trip) and hence, I had little time left to do all the purchases. I had to buy gifts for the cousins and friend I was visiting; I had to get some more clothes for myself; I had to upload e-books on my Blackberry; I had to buy a charger or new batteries for my camera or a new camera itself! Phew.

And then there were the discussions with friends – on Facebook, at work and otherwise. Everyone seemed to be as excited as me. Everybody planning for me, with me. I also mailed my Aussie cousins and friend almost every day (5 mails per day), interrupting their peaceful, routine lives, stalked them on Gtalk and asked them several questions on what I should bring, what I should wear and how the bookings were shaping up.

Amid all the excitement and discussions and planning came panic. I suddenly realize I had hardly any time left and my to-do and packing lists have become items of admiration of my own work to me. My mind goes blank. Like the excitement, the panic also spreads to my friends (I make sure that happened, knowingly or unknowingly). Now there is alarm everywhere.

To top it all, my parents express their panic all the time. Where are you going to keep your passport & money? Are you sure you won’t lose your passport? Don’t sleep or you’ll miss the flight. Don’t accept tiny packets of white powder from strangers. All leading to a self-doubt – Will I even reach Australia? Blah.

My best buddies come to rescue. I share with them my pending to-do lists and we put dates against each item. They assure me that everything is in line and there is no need to panic but I am still spending sleepless nights. They leave aside their work and help me with my shopping. And yeah, soon everything’s done, without having to actually buy everything on my to-do list.

I look back at all my trip planning phases and my hands are itching to go through such a phase again

PS: I reached Australia safely, with no hassles, and had a super fun time!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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