Friday, September 28, 2012

Trip to Alleppey (Alappuzha)

Its 28-Sep-2012 8:30 PM, Nikhil and Runai reached Kalada G4 Bus Stop in Madiwala, Bangalore. We will visit Alleppey which is locally known as Alappuzha for a one day trip in boathouse. We are all very excited about it and wanted for a long time. Anyway I too joined them after 10 min and at 9:00 PM, Akshata joined us. It started to drizzle a bit. Our bus comes at 9:30 PM and we all board the bus. It was the last row in Volvo and my suggestion, never ever book last row in Volvo. Anyway bus started at 9:50 PM and they played a movie "Mallu Singh". Halfway through, we all were snoring.
Next day 29-Sep-2012, we got up at 6:00 AM, we just reached Chirangara (Megha's house). Finally we reached Oliviya Travels, Alleppey at 9:30 AM. Nikhil called up Mr. Tony (owner of our boathouse Angel Queen Houseboats). He told us to wait near his office at 11:00 AM. So we went straight to a restaurant. We had Appam, Idyappam, Parota, Veg Curry, Egg Curry and Chana Masala.
There comes Mr. Tony's uncle and at 11:00 AM, another person comes in and asked us to seat in a auto which will drop us near the boathouse. We did as prompted and when we reached the place, it was like hundreds of boathouse all anchored together. Ours were anchored far behind. So we had to hop from one boat to another to reach our boat.
Boat House Entrance

We were very excited once we were in our boat and went all around the boat. It had 2 bedroom, 1 kitchen, 1 dinning hall and 1 upper deck. It was just like a 2 BHK apartment. There were 3 persons. one for driving, 1 for cooking and another for helping. There were 2 ACs in bedroom and each had double bed. There were TV, dining table and sofa. I think they are competing with hotel rooms.
Alleppey Back Water

Other Hose Boat

Alleppey Back Water

We started at 12:30 PM and hurray. We took bath and start headed toward the deck. For first one hour, it was very crowded with different houseboats. After an hour we were the only one in the middle of backwater. At 1:30 PM, the boat was anchored near a strip of land for lunch. It was one of the awesome preparation. There were rice, sambar, 2 veg dish, fish fry, pacheri, salad, curd, pickle and fruit.

After we relished the food, we started thinking about dinner. We asked the person what he is going to prepare for dinner. He told fried rice and chicken. We were not too very kicked about the menu, so we requested him whether he can prepare some authentic malayali recipe. He was OK with it and asked us our suggestion. We told him if it can be same like lunch + chicken. He told it is fine and only thing is that there is no fish. So if we want, we can buy from nearby shop in between strip land. We were OK with that, so we started walking in that narrow strip of land for 5 min and there we reached the shop. They had Pomfret, Seer fish and Tiger prawn. Those prawns I have never seen in my life. The size was just like lobster. We asked our cook, what is comfortable with and he told us that if we want gravy, then we should take seer fish and if we want it fried, then we should take pomfret. Prawns is optional. Believe me, those fishes were not even 1 hour old from water. It was so very fresh. So we got 1 kg Pomfret for Rs. 700 which was just 4 pieces. The boatwala told us to wait near the shop. He will bring the boat here. We waited for the boat to come for 5 minutes. In the meantime, we got biscuits and chips from another shop nearby in that strip. Our boat came and we hoped in.

Next till 5 PM, we were all around water and in middle Nikhil was driving the boat for 15 min. The view was awesome and lot of picture happened.
Evening View

At 5 PM, boat was anchored and it seems boat owners house is next to the boat. We ordered for toddy (local malayali booze). It was ok ok. At 7:00 PM they fried those fishes and gave to us. At 8:30 PM thet served dinner. We sat on the deck and went to sleep at 2:00 AM. They kept the AC running, so room was nice and cozy.
Next day 30-Sep-2012, I got up at 8:00 AM and took bath. When I went to deck, I saw all others were already there. At 9:00 AM, we were served breakfast. Its idly, sambar and coffee.
At 10:00 AM, they started the boat and we went all around. At 12 o'clock, we came back to same place where we started. There we saw our boat owner was waiting there. The boat house experience was awesome. This was the first travel experience, where I did nothing other that relaxing, eating and talking.
Anyway we came to auto stand and took an auto to drop us in Oliviya for Rs. 35. we waited there for an hour, but the shop was closed. So Nikhil told us to go walking to nearby Revi Karuna Karan Memorial Museum and we will take an auto to bus stand to find a clock room and from there he will come to the museum.
The museum was a private property and entry charge is Rs. 100 per person. There are 2 persons who will take visitors in group as a guide. No photography allowed inside. I can't imagine how on earth a person can buy so many costly items from around the world and keep it in museum. One person rightly asked "Is it Revi Karuna Karan goes only to souvenir shops when visiting any places and nowhere else?". You get to see gold, silver, ivory and any kind of precious gems in bulk.
Anyway we came out of the place after burning our eyes and took an auto to go the beach. Our intention was not to sit in the beach because it was very very hot, but rather sit in a restaurant nearby and eat some sea food and get cooled by sea breeze. We got down near Coffee House and paid him Rs. 25. Don't go with the name. It sells chicken, mutton and everything except fish. So it did not meet our criteria, we went asking people where we can find a restaurant. There we are after walking for a km in that hot sun, we went to a restaurant, We ordered, 2 chicken biryani, prawn masala, 2 fish fry, 1 meal and beef fry. It was nice lunch and came out of the place at 2:30 PM.
We went straight to the beach and sat under a tree till 4:00 PM. Then we went to a nearby shop and ordered for 2 lime soda and 2 sarja (layered ice cream with fruits and nuts).
At 5:30 PM, we took another auto and back to main junction. There were 2 big shops for kerala chips. We got 1.5 kg of fresh banana and jackfruit chips for each person from Malabar Chips. We came back to Oliviya which was hardly 0.5 km away. Runai and Nikhil waited there and Akshata and Me went to get water and medicine for Nikhil. You won't belive, since it was Sunday evening, not a single shop was open. We went all around for 1/2 hour and found a medicine shop. We came back to Oliviya and at 6:50 our bus came to take us back in Bangalore.
We reached Bangalore 01-Oct-2012 at 6:30 PM and as usual it was Monday.

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Trip to Malaysia

On 15-Jun-2012, I saw an ad in newspaper that its Rs. 24k for 2 persons to and fro air fare for Malaysia. That made us interested and we booked ticket for Rs. 28500. It includes 2 persons to and fro ticket from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur + tax + food + bus + luggage + travel insurance. A month later, we got visa stamped for both of us for Rs. 3000. After that we bought a travel book for Malaysia and decided where we want to go. We decided to go to Kuala Lumpur, George Town (Penang) and Ipoh. Then we decided how many days we will stay in each place plus the travel time. After everything was planned, we booked hotels in each place and then booked train ticket in ktmb. Initially I had faced few problems because my HDFC card was not getting approved. Later I used SBI card and all went smooth.
On 16-July-2012, I got cash converted for Rs. 60000 for which I got ~ 3200 ringgit. The conversion was around MYR 1 = RS 18.10. With this we were ready to go for our trip to Malaysia.
Its 03-Nov-2012 9:00 PM, Runai and me were waiting in K.R. Puram Railway Station, Bangalore, India for tarin to Chennai. Train reached at 11:30 PM and as we were about to board the train, thats when I remember that I forgot to carry my credit card with which I have booked hotels and I am suppose to present at the time of Check-In. I was thinking what to do, but Runai made me understand the situation. Anyway lets forgot that and we slept.
Next day 04-Nov-2012, we reached Chennai Central at 05:00 AM. It was still dark and we went to nearby hotel and checked-in. We slept till morning 10:00 AM and then went for breakfast. After freshening ourselves we left the hotel at 12 o'clock and took a taxi to airport. We reached and had to kill time till 3:30 PM. We entered inside the airport and completed all formalities like check-in baggage and immigration check. We went up stare and had to wait till 6:00 PM to board the flight. It was raining very heavily around 5:00 PM and hence an hour delay. The flight was maintained well and we were served food. We thought of sleep for sometime but we couldn't because we were very excited. The flight travel time is around 4 hours and time difference is 2.5 hours i.e. if IST is 6:00 PM, then MY is 8:30 PM.
Next day 05-Nov-2012, we reached Kuala Lumpur at 12:30 AM MY time. We completed all formalities inside the airport. The immigrant officer didn't ask much. Her question was why we came in Malaysia, who is with me and had to show my return flight ticket. We were not sure what to do outside the airport, so decided to stay inside the airport till early morning. At 5:00 AM, we decided to go outside and the lady checked our bags and we were outside. It was still dark. Near the exit gate, there were mini booklets for tourist with maps and locations. We took which was of our interest. Once we came out, we saw it was a busy place and there were lots of restaurants. We went straight to food court and got our first plate of Malaysian cuisine (quay teow and malaysian noodles). Then we came out and waited for the bus which will drop us in KL Sentral. The fare was already paid along with air fare. After waiting for 15 min, a bus came and we boarded. The entire bus was empty except the bus driver and us. Anyway the bus dropped us at KL Sentral around 7:00 AM and it was still dark. The journey took us around 1 hour. KL Sentral is just like Bangalore Majestic Junction.
I will rate it this way. If India stands at 10 in terms of accessibility, modernization, cleanliness, living standard and similar stuff and USA at 100, then Malaysia stands at 50.
KL Sentral is a junction for all commute. It is a huge building with stations at various levels for different types of train. It also has bus stops and market place. It was well organized and it was easy for us to understand where was what. We wanted to keep our bag in clock room, but it was closed, so had to carry it. We wanted to go to Batu Caves, so got ticket for Komuter train costing RM 2 for each ticket and straight to respective station. There we are inside the train and hardly anybody was there. We were reached the place which was the last stop. Just beside the station, was the entrance for Batu Cave. We reached here at 8:30 AM and we say day light.

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Cave is a limestone cave with a standing hindu god at 42.7 m (140 ft) high, the world's tallest statue of Murugan. One had to climb around 200 to 300 stairs to reach the top. Many does that as an exercise. We also did so along with our luggage on our back. One person came near us and told me that I am doing a very good exercise because I had the luggage with me. After some photographic session, we came down and got a bottle of water which cost us RM 4 (It was costly and actually cheated us. All other place, I paid RM 2). Anyway we spent some time and went to same station and back to KL Sentral. We searched for clock room and promptly got one inside KL Sentral. We kept our heavy luggage and the person informed us to take back our luggage before 9:00 PM. Then we came out of KL Sentral and wanted to see how it looks like outside. There were big apartments and looked very very posh. We wanted to taste some Malaysian food, so went to a local restaurant nearby. You won't believe there were lift and overhead bridge to cross road. We had fish and fish and fish with rice with local varieties. After lunch we came back to KL Sentral and took another train to go to Petronas Towers.
Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers
It is one of the tallest building in the world. The train station is in the basement and once we are inside, it is a huge shopping complex. Its a paradise for shopping enthusiastic people because name a international brand and it is there. After good photo session, we came out and could see the Kuala Lumpur Tower. We did not go there and was little tired too. So took another train and came back to same old KL Sentral. Next we went to search for our hotel which we would be staying on our last day. We went all the way from backside and found our hotel. It was hardly 10 min walk. The place was Brickfield and it was no greater than any street in Chennai. Anyway we had some evening snacks like vada and other south Indian stuff (It was just Malaysian south Indian vs Indian south Indian taste) and concluded with Sarvana Bhavan coffee. If I have to judge, both taste same except price if converted to INR, Malaysian vada was way too high :-) Anyway later part of the evening we did not do much and was too tired and was little sleep deprived. We went back to KL Sentral and wanted to take rest. Runai and I could not keep our eyes open for even 5 min. From last Friday evening, we did not have proper sleep. At 9:00 PM, we took our baggage from clock room, finished our dinner from KFC and then went and confirmed which station will be our train. Our train to Butterworth was at 11:00 PM. We have a Indian mentality, where we are suppose to go to station early and confirm PNR and then wait and wait near the appropriate coach until the train arrives. But here it was very different. The train arrived at 10:57 PM which we can't see because it was underground station but came to know because passenger started coming out of station and then the gate was opened for us to go to station and board the train. Our coach was right in front of the stairs and we went in. It was sleeper coach and well spaced and arranged. There were no rush and handful of people were there. Train started sharp at 11:00 PM, we settled ourself and TT came to check ticket. TT does not check this paper and that paper and sign and mark all over the place like our TT do, rather he had a punching machine with which he made a hole in our printout. In our coach if there were 30 berth, hardly 8-10 passenger were there. I am not used to see something like this in our Indian Railway. Another thing people over here buy train ticket just before they board the train and not like Indian Railway here people get ticket 4 months ahead :-) Anyway I don't know anything after this as I was snooring and as per my guide I know that Butterworth will come next day morning 7:00 AM and it is going to be the last stop.
Its 06-Nov-2012 7:00 AM and still dark, we reached Butterworth station. As per my guide (Malaysia Travel book, Google map printout), we came out of station, which is a small room with hardly few people around. We went straight to the ferry which is 5 min walk in a fly over bridge. There was a small queue and after paying the ticket we went in the ferry and we were the last one to get in and they closed the gate. We are on our way to a small, beautiful, quite and foodie place George Town island.

George Town Penang Island
Combining the mainland and island, it is popularly known as Pennang. Ferry talk approx. 15 min to reach either side. Upper deck of ferry is meant for people and lower deck is meant for cars and bikes. It is nothing fancy and provides basic necessity with a small food counter and a restroom. On your way to George Town, you will see spectacular view of one of the longest bridge in the world on sea which will be on your left.

Penang Bridge
As we reached the island, sun was about to raise and it started to drizzle. We took our umbrella out and started searching for lebuh chulia which is the street name. We asked for direction to a old person and he told he does not know, may be because he did not understand us. Anyway as we turned around, we found that the road on our right is the street we are looking for.
George Town Penang Street

We went straight and crossed a crossing marked as Little India. Basically every city, town has a place known as Little India in Malaysia. We went to a restaurant and had an awesome breakfast. I still miss it. Further down we found our hotel. We went an inquired and the receptionist told us that check in time is 12 noon but we can keep our luggage there. After we were free with bags, we went to tour nearby place. Its a Chinese dominate place and it had n numbers of Chinese temples and each was beautiful in its way. On our way we found Kapitan Keling Mosque but it was closed.
Kapitan Keling Mosque

Kapitan Keling Mosque
So we went further and found Han Jiang Ancestral Temple. It was a beautiful place and we met a lady who was offering her prayer there. She told us all nearby temple and places to visit. We came out and went to the crossing and that lady came behind us to show the direction and we went ahead and she went back. We went to Tong Kheng Seah and it was very well decorated temple. Then we headed toward Cheng Hoe Seah which was little smaller than previous one but again very colorful and then Hock Tek Cheng Sin Temple and later Khoo Kongsi which had a entrance fee where as others did not. The last one was really colorful and beautiful. The best part is all are in same street on your left hand side and at the end of the street it was Masjid Melayu. We started walking back and on the other side which is now our left hand we went into Yap Kongsi
Yap Kongsi

which is small compared to others but again well maintained and decorated and beautiful on its own way. Then we went to Kuan Im Temple. It was a Chinese festival and hundreds of people were offering there prayer. We went in but decided to come next day as it was very busy. One different thing we noticed was incense sticks. Ours are small thin but there it was tall as us and thick as our hand. Then we walked in different direction and went to Lebuh Victoria where we found all government buildings. By now we were hungry and it was 1:00 PM and we wanted to try Chinese food. So went back to same Kuan Im Temple street and there we found a small old Chinese tea shop. In India we drink cup of tea but here people drink small jug of tea by pouring each time in a small cup which is made of just tea leaves and water and nothing else. Anyway after trying it we wanted to try food and our stomach is half full with that tea. We ordered for noodles with meat and each glass of juice and side dish made of fish. The taste was very different compare to our Indian Chinese food but very tasty and yummy. Later we went to our hotel and checked in. We freshened ourselves and came out of the hotel to see other part of the town which is near Komtar building.

People here closes mostly everything by 4:00 PM. Only shops opened are food stalls and food stalls on street and few evening food shops and bakeries. We went inside the Komtar building which is the main bus stop and also shopping complex. We bought few souvenirs for ourselves and then went to Ong Si Thye Guan Tong.

Ong Si Thye Guan Tong

Its again very richly decorated temple. It was closed and we could not go inside the temple. Then we walked back near the jetty and started walking along the shore. It was the place for all old official and memorial buildings. First we went to Clock Tower and then Fort Cornwallis, Light House, Khoo Kongsi,

Khoo Kongsi
Khoo Kongsi Wall
Mahkamah Tinggi (which is the court),

George Town Penang High Court

George Town Penang Town Hall

then few churches (which were already closed because it was 5:00 PM) and then finally St. George's Church. By evening 7:00 PM, we were back in our hotel. We came out at 7:30 PM and walking in lebuh chulia, where every corner there were food stalls. Few stalls we could not try because we don't know what it is, but rather than that, the main difficulty was language problem. We saw that people were telling something to the shop owner and making there own food in front of the stall and the owner is just standing there watching. So we went to other stalls and tried mein ton. It was very tasty. Later we tried in another stall with other variation of noodles. This is the only stall where we found it was Indian guy's (by face), and we could communicate in English. I will say it was not so good type. By now our stomach was full and it was 9:30 PM and streets were empty and back to hotel.
Its 07-Nov-2012, and as usual we went straight to the restaurant for breakfast (which we went yesterday) at 8:00 AM. This time we tried some soupy noodles. It was nice and healty but I am not used to so clear boiled food, so according to me, it was ok. Then we went to Kuan Im Temple (which we could not visit yesterday). We went in though it was bit crowded, but people gave us way to come in and one lady showed us inside. We came out and there we saw a small Banyan tree near the temple gate, were few Indian were sitting with a picture of Hindu god. May be because that area is Little India. Later we went to St. George's Church and went in. We sat there for sometime and people were busy decorating and preparing for some function. A lady came to us and gave us papers and gave us knowledge about the church. Next we went in Muzium Negeri Pulau Pinana. Its a very well maintained, well informative museum and there was entrance fee. Here we came to know lot about Malaysia, specially George Town and about its people. Later we went to another Chinese Temple. I could not get the name because it was marked in Chinese. Next we walked back to Jetty Bus Stand and inquired about bus timing to go to Batu Ferringhi.

Batu Ferringhi
We boarded the bus which was waiting for passenger. In the entire bus, along with us there were 3 more people including driver. The bus over here works a bit like USA, where passenger had to pay in full in the box and will not get any change amount if you pay extra and ticket will be issued by driver. Anyway after an hour, we came to Batu Ferringhi. The road was superb and like some filmy style. On your left is sea and you are in the hill road going in the bus. Its a sea beach with lots of water sports and lot of fancy hotels around. It is purely for tourist. The moment we got down, plenty of local people surrounded us to take us on a ride :-). All were South Indian people who were talking in Tamil among themselves and English with us. I could understand that they are fighting among themselves that who caught us first. We did not entertain them and frankly ride cost was way to high compare to our budget. We went all by our self along the beach and promptly fond a food stall which is of our interest. As I mentioned earlier, George Town is food heaven, we had duck roast, prawn in burnt butter and garlic sauce and noodle + rice. As we were eating, it started to rain very heavily thats when we ordered few more side dishes with fishes. There were few pet cats roaming around. There game was to play hide and sick around our legs and occasionally eat fish from us. After rain stopped, we came out and went to the bus stop, but we found a souvenir shop. We bought few things for our friends and relatives. Later we took another bus further up to reach Teluk Bahang. The bus stop was a small place with very few house around and was the last stop. We went inside and there were just 2 people inside. We saw a board which says local that way and foreigner this way. It was a trekking place, so we returned back. We walked back to the bus stop. One bus told us to get in and he will drop us to the junction and did not take any ticket fare. We got down and we wanted to go to Botanical Garden. After 45 min ride, the driver made us get down to a junction and asked us to take another bus for Botanical Garden. As we got down it started to rain heavily. We had to wait one and half hour for rain to stop. By the time we got up it was 4:30 PM and we know that all will be closed by now. So went back to Komtar building. We walked down to our hotel and after freshening ourselves, we went for a evening walk basically searching for popular local food. By evening most of the restaurants will be closed and street food stall will come up. We went inside a Chinese bakery and tried some of there sweet items. We liked few and ok rating for others. Then went to one shop and it was overly crowded and ad was momo. It was a different experience and delicious one. We sat in the table and the cooks are going round and round the place with moving cooktop. One person is steaming various momos in his trolley. Another person is going around with sweets and the other guy with noodles. If you want anything particular, then you can order separately. We asked for various momo and she gave a plate of momo filled with various items like chicken, fish, sea food and egg and kept a slip with the amount. It was awesome and never forget the taste. Then we tried sweets. Same way she gave various varieties from her trolley and wrote the amount in that same slip. After savoring them, we took the slip in the counter. She adds up all and showed us the calculator which means we are suppose to pay that amount. We came out and went toward the Hotel Malaysia. We went in random direction and later took a local rickshaw to drop us to our hotel. From there we went to another shop, where we tried soupy wanton noodles. Later we tried pork steaks served with sweet peanut sauce. With that we returned back to our hotel. As we were entering our hotel, we found a stall for bike on rent, but now it does not make any sense. With that our day was over.
Its 08-Nov-2012, we were up by 5:00 AM, we checked out from our hotel and straight to jetty. Went to the ferry and back to Butterworth and then waited for train to come. At 7:55 AM, one lady came inside and asked us to board the train. Train left sharp at 8:00 AM and we reached Ipoh at 12 noon. Its a small town and not a too tourist friendly place. The biggest problem was communicating in English and I don't know Chinese. Anyway I had the map, so we started walking toward the hotel. On our way we came across Masjid Sultan Idris Shah II
Pejabat Tabung Haji Negeri Perak

and later went to Chinese restaurant. By now we are familiar with restaurant culture. One person came to us and we told that we want coffee. White Coffee is very famous here. Then we ordered for noodle with pork and chicken in broken English. Guess what, in India we get more of noodle and less of veggies and meat, but here in Malaysia they give more of meat and less of noodle. Anyway after a delightful lunch, we headed toward our hotel as per the map. We inquired a lady police officer and she showed us the direction. We checked in and later inquired about some possible day trip in Ipoh. He told us that car will be provided for us and charge will be 180 ringgit for day trip. We were ok with that, so he asked us to get ready by 8:00 AM tomorrow morning and Mr. Chang will be here with his Toyota Innova. Later we went walking around the city. We went to Masjid Sultan Idris Shah II but could not enter because of some restriction. Then we went to Deman Bandaran Ipoh which I guess is there government building. Then visited clock tower in the center of the city. Next was Mahkamah Tinggi Ipoh which I guess is the court.
Ipoh High Court

Ipoh High Court

Later Kelab Ipoh Diraja which is Royal Ipoh Club. Next was St. Michael's School

St Michael School
and opposite side of the road was Church of St. John The Divine. We were very thirsty by now, so went for some refreshment. Later went to Muzium Darul Ridzuan. This museum talks about Ipoh. Among all these place we could enter clock tower, church and museum, but all other buildings were very beautiful and worth visiting. We went everywhere by walk and these were very nearby buildings. by evening 4 PM all shops were closed and people started coming back home. We too reached our hotel by 4 PM and around 5:30 PM we came out again and saw everything closed, roads were empty. We found nowhere nobody. So while returning back, we saw a inside wide road getting busy with people and hackers were busy pulling there road side stall. It was Ramadan season, so it was something like our mela. Other roads were getting decorated by people who has night eat out stalls. People were slowly coming in. We wanted to try some of there food, but the biggest problem was communication. We understood that we cannot do anything, so went to a restaurant. The lady over here knows English. She asked us what we want and also asked how we want it. It was totally custom made but in Chinese style. It was awesome and mouth watering delicious food. We ordered for noodles, cabbage (size of small onion) with burned butter garlic sauce, prawn in spicy sauce. That was the end of the day and we were off to bed.
Its 09-Nov-2012, we woke up by 6:00 AM and was ready by 8:00 AM, Mr. Chang was there waiting for us downstairs. I tell you, if I every go to Malaysia again for anything, I will make sure that I meet Mr. Chang. He is such a nice, active and lovely person in his retirement age. He asked us, where we want to go for breakfast. Is it some Indian place that we would prefer, but we told that we want to try some local cuisine. Ipoh is dominated by Chinese population, so the culture over here is similar to Chinese stuff. Mr. Chang took us to restaurant which are famous among locals. Along with food we got to talk and interact with local Chinese people. He sat with them all in one table. Many of them were asking Mr. Chang who we are and then when they came to know that we were tourist, they were very eager to make us taste many of their many food. We could taste few and told them that we will try remaining stuff later. I paid bill for us and for him too. Then we started our sight seeing. We went first to Taman Rekreasi Gunung Lang.
Gunung Lang Lake

It is a fresh water lake which is meant for local water reservoir. It was a beautiful lake in between lime stone hills. Next was Perak Tong which is Perak Cave Temple.
Perak Tong

Perak Tong Buddha

Most of these temples are inside lime stone caves. Each one is beautiful in its own way. Next was Gua Kek Look Tong.

Gua Kek Look Tong
Gua Kek Look Tong
Gua Kek Look Tong
Gua Kek Look Tong
Gua Kek Look Tong
It is a huge cave and very beautiful. There are no sun light inside the cave. Backside of the cave is well maintained and is made as a park. Then we went to Miaw Yuan Chan Lin

Miaw Yuan Chan Lin
Miaw Yuan Chan Lin

and here you can see huge rock carving of sleeping Buddha. Then we went to Association Of Pureland Amitabha Buddhist.
Pureland Amitabha Buddist

Its a beautiful temple. The entire temple floor is made of wood and it smells like our sandalwood but different smell. Next was Sam Poh Tong.

Sam Poh Tong
Sam Poh Tong
One of the best place with colorful Chinese temple in the middle of pond. Next was Nam Thean Tong. We had sugar cane juice and Mr. Chang had coconut water. Next was Kellas House.

Kellies Castle
Its a castle which was destroyed in 2nd World War. It is said that the spirit of William Kellie Smith is still wondering inside. With that our trip was over and we are back to the city. Mr. Chang dropped us to our hotel and told us to get ready by 7:00 PM. He will take us to night eat outs which are very popular here. At 7:15 PM we started and he took us to a place which in day time is open parking lot and night it turns into eating place. The place is surrounded by different food stalls and chairs and tables in the center. It was heavily crowded and I guess local people in Ipoh don't cook dinner at home. They prefer to eat outside and socialize. There are groups, like all dad of different family sit together, moms are separate, sons are in different table and daughters in different place. Getting a parking place is difficult. Anyway we 3 found a table and each table is marked with numbers. You can go to any stall and ask them to get food in your table. Here we saw Indian food made by Chinese just like in India we get Chinese food made by Indians. First we ordered for 2 bowls of broth, which was filled with rice and meat. Next we ordered for steaks and later it was cuttle fish in spicy sauce. We paid for each stall from where we got food and started again after an hour. We went round and round in the city. We went to the costliest hotel in Ipoh and parked our car which is just opposite to the river. There we started to walk around. Later we went to other night eating place but did not stop. Mr. Chang dropped us to our hotel around 11:30 PM and asked us to get ready by 7:00 AM tomorrow, so that he can take us to nearby village for great breakfast and later will drop us to railway station at 11:00 AM.
Its 10-Nov-2013, we were ready and checked out from hotel. Mr. Chang took us to a village and there was a small hut and in the open space there were lot of people eating breakfast. We ordered for various items, like noodles with fish balls, spicy curry noodles (and it was very spicy), pork in spicy sauce and fried dumplings. On our way back Mr. Chang asked us to carry Garam Chicken which is very famous in Ipoh and have it on our way to Kuala Lampur. Next we went to Old Town White Coffee shop which is similar to Cafe Coffee Day near the railway station. We had coffee there which was really different. I have learned that they roast the coffee beans in palm oil before grinding it and that gives a different taste. With that he dropped us to the station. We waited for for train to come. We boarded our train at 1:00 PM and saw that it was the same train and same seat in which we came to Ipoh from Butterworth. Anyway at 3:00 PM we reached Kuala Lampur and went to our hotel which was very near to railway station. He had the chicken in our room after freshening ourselves. I tell you, that was one of the best chicken I ever had which is just roasted with salt and just one herb. I don't know what that herb was. We took train for KL Tower. We had to walk for sometime to reach the base of KL Tower which is also known as Menara Kuala Lumpur.
Menara KL

Menara KL Aerial View

Menara KL Aerial View

You get free shuttle service to reach the tower. Once you reach there, you have to get ticket to go on top of the tower. The elevator goes supper fast and shows in meter and not in terms of floor. Within few seconds, we reached the top which is 421 meters and there you get to see entire Kuala Lampur city as birds eye view. Next we walked down to Petronas Twin Towers. We could not go on top because it was closed in the evening. Then we took another train to reach Old Town or China Town which is a shopping place. We bought souvenir for for friends, families and ourselves. It was quite late, so took another train to reach KL Sentral. We had our dinner from Old Town White Coffee. Coffee and noodles were really good but others like lemon tea and similar stuff was so-so. We packed ourselves for the night.
Its 11-Nov-2012, our flight back to Chennai was at 3:00 PM. So we checked out of hotel at 10:00 AM. Had breakfast in same Old Town White Coffee and took a direct bus which will drop us to airport. We reached there by noon and bought chocolate and then boarded our flight. Inside flight after having our lunch, we were still hungry, so we ordered again few other dishes and then Runai bought few items from flight like Passport holder. We reached Chennai, India in the evening. Took a pre paid taxi and back to Chennai Central. Had our dinner in near by place and boarded our train at 11:30 PM.
Its 12-Nov-2012, we are back to KR Puram, Bangalore and back to home.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Trip to Kodaikanal

Its 25-May-2012, we were waiting in Shanti Nagar Bus Stand, Bangalore for our 9:10 PM KSRTC bus. We boarded our bus and the journey is going to be 12 hours. Anyway the bus left at 9:30 PM and after crossing all traffic jam in Bangalore, I went to sleep. I got up multiple times and either the bus was standing in toll gate or some town.
Anyway we reached Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu around 9:30 AM on 26-May-2012.
On the way we could see there are lots of car going up the hill and I expected that its going to be crowded. Also it is a peak season and summer holidays for school. Once we reached the bus stop, we saw that people are moving all over the places and instantly I figured out that getting a hotel is going to be difficult. We started with nearby hotels and they told us they don't have any vacancy. We checked another one and they told us that they can accommodate only on Sunday and room fare is Rs. 1500. So we left there and went to another one, they told us they have vacancy and when I inquired about the fare, they told me that I have 2 choice. One is Rs. 4500 and another one Rs. 6000 and extra person is additional Rs 1000. I had to kick myself out of the place and the hotel did not look like more than Rs. 800 is normal time. Now I know why this hotel is empty. So we went to another one, they told me they too have room and fare is Rs. 2500 plus additional Rs 500 for extra person plus tax of Rs. 400. I said no way and I was about to come out and he told me how much I want to pay. I told them I don't want anything more than Rs. 1500. They inquired few other hotels which they know in behalf of me and after 15 min told me that non are empty. So we started down hill towards the lake. I knew that I will hotel over there more because I came to this place before and most tourist will try to get hotel near bus stand. Luckily just beside BSNL office, we got a hotel J. K. Cottage. They were cleaning the place and I asked them if they have any room available. They told me yes and the fare is Rs. 1500. I am OK and they told us to wait for half an hour, so that they can clean and give it to us. Later we found that their check-out time is 12 noon.
We freshened up and went up hill for our lunch in Spencer Co. Ltd. It was a 3 plate of fried rice and a plate of chicken fry and a plate of egg. They have provided a super quick service. We came out of the place around 12 o'clock. We headed start back to toward the lake and we saw sign board for Bear Shola Fall 2 KM. We started walking and it did not look that far. There were very few people. The way was lush greenery and narrow path. Once we went to the fall, we saw that there was no water. I won't blame the fall rather we went in Summer time, so no rain and no fall. It was a nice place and we returned back from there back to the lake. It took just 1 and half hour.
Bear Shola Fall
Bear Shola Falls Path
Then we saw a sign board for Observatory for 3 KM. Again as usual we started to walk. Frankly speaking its a long way and did not seems 3 KM. I think it was 5 KM. Anyway we reached there. It a space observatory center. There is a timing for entrance. I don't remember much. But approximately 10-12 and 3-5 PM. But people told me that we should visit the place in second half of the day for a good view. At the entrance, you have to enter your details. No camera and cell phone allowed inside. Its a huge area and you have to walk another 1 KM to enter the museum. After what we saw inside, it really worth visiting the place. We entered the place and no visitor was there except few museum people. There were lots of pictures about sun and other planets. But as we entered, few people ran out of the place and one guy was fixing something. We did not understand what just happened. After couple of minutes, the person asked us to look in the white board. There you go. We can see sun spots in the white board and also visualize the earth speed revolving the sun and the sunlight spectrum. The setup is something like this. There is a huge mirror outside the museum. Which they focus inside a small lens inside the building. Then that light passes through few other powerful lens and falls in the white board in football size and we see the sun spots as dark patches in bright light. Also we get to see the light moving, which is the revolution speed of earth. On the opposite side, a small needle like beam is passed through a prism and you get to see that 7 different beautiful color. Then we went to other rooms and there were lots of magnificent pictures.
Color Houses
We started to return back from that place around 4 PM and on the way there was a small temple, which we visited. It was a down slope, so walking down was very easy. Same way mind you walking up hill is that pathetic. Anyway we started to feel hungry. On the way we saw a restaurant and went inside, we asked if they have anything to eat at this off hour and they told us that french fries and onion pkoda is there but have to wait, because they need to cook it. We were ok more because we will get to eat fresh hot stuff. We ordered for 2 plates of french fries and coffee. Fries was really good one. The bill was around Rs. 160.
By the time we came back to lake it was 6 PM. We came across Kodai Cheese factory outlet. We went in and inquired about various products and told them that we will come back next Monday. We wanted to go to Bryant Park which is suppose to be near to the lake. We asked a person for direction and started walking. Surrounding the lake, there is straight smooth road. It is good to stroll around. The park closes at 6 PM and we were late. Frankly speaking it was very very crowded more because it was peak season and thousands and lakhs of people were in that road surrounding the lake. We thought to go around the lake walking. We were walking and walking and walking. We did not anticipated the distance. By the time we reached the junction, it was night 8:30 PM. Anyway we got to get some night picture of the lake. We were dead tired and hungry. We went straight to a restaurant and ordered something like parota type of dish. Later we were discussing about this dinner and it was one of the worst food for the trip. We went to our room and went falt "Good Night".
Night View
27-May-2012, we got up at 8 AM, freshed up and came out of the hotel around 10 PM. We paid the hotel for next day stay and went to get a place for breakfast. We saw a bakery Hilltop Cafe - Bake Restaurant. There were various items on the rack and whatever we ask, they will keep it in a tray, heat it and serve us. I have to say, it is the best bakery I ever found. Remember, I found another one in Kanyakumari. But till date it is the best. The price is very competative and food is of good quality and yummyyyy. Whether it is chicken or sausage or egg or veg, price was approx Rs. 30. We ate there as if we were hungry for 1 week. Anyway after breakfast, we came down to the lake and from nowhere a person came to us and asked us whether we want a cab for sight seeing. Yes we wanted and inquired about the place and rate. He promptly gave us a card which has the rate and places to visit. Basically it is like a package trip. There were 4 packages and the rate was approx Rs. 700, 1000, 1500 and 1500. Then he told us that this rate is as per the department, but he will reduce it. We choose for 3rd 1500 trip and told him that we don't want to go to Bear Shola falls and Observatory.
We started around 11:30 AM. We went straight to Chettiar Park. Its a place of various colorful and beautiful flowers. We spent half hour taking pictures.
Chettiar Park
Chettiar Park Flower
Then we went to Arulmigu Kurinji Andavar Temple. Raj who is our cab driver started to be our tour guide. He told us about the temple and what to see. On left we can see Palani and on right we see Kodai town and inside the temple there is a special tree. Also not to buy anything from nearby shops because they may cheat us.
Arulmigu Kurinji Andavar Temple
Then we went to Upper Lake View. Its an awesome view of Kodai Lake from top.
Upper Lake View
Upper Lake View
Then we crossed Observatory and there we are. Heavy traffic. I can't imagine that. Anyway to cross even a KM, it took 1 hour. Raj then told us that it is going to be like this for rest of the way. So instead we can go for Village View Trip and later we will come back to this same place and he will reduce the price for both this package. The traffic was due to the peak season. So guys never ever go to Kodai in May. We agreed and he diverted. There were nobody in this route because all are fighting to go in usual tourist places.
The first place was a pine forest. He told us that we get down from car and start walking down the slope inside pine forest and he will wait for us down the hill. It was a nice experience. It feels like walking in carpet and clean. Now Raj has turned into photographer. He is now our cab driver + tour guide + photographer. Later we found that he was a photographer previously and since he is born and brought up in Kodai, he knows about all the places.
Pine Forest
Pine Forest
Then we went to a water stream, we have taken lot of pictures.
Next we went to another water stream with pine forest. We got some awesome pictures. Later while returning, I felt something was scratching in my leg.There I saw a big healthy awful looking leach on my leg. Later I found another one climbing my socks. I got some salt from nearby tea stall and applied all over my leg. So guys be careful about leaches over here specially in rainy season. These two water stream has name, but I forgot it and its very nearby to each other.
Next we went to ship deck. The place is so named because the hill slope looks like that. Awesome view. Raj asked us to get down from the car and walk uphill and he will wait for us on top with the car.
Ship Deck
Silent Road
From there we went to further and came across a steep hill, rocky in nature. We started climbing and below Raj has taken some pictures of us like monkeys.
Then Raj told me that there is only one shop for lunch on the way. We got down there. It was around 2:30 PM and they had just 4 packets of rice like lemon rice, curd rice. Just right for us. We also got omelet for each of us. Outside the shop a person was selling plump. I have never tasted such a good plump. Next to the shop, on top of hill a temple was half constructed. We went there too. Then we started our journey.
We went to the Village View. It was such a picturesque place. It looks like the village was made for tourist to take picture.
Village View
From there we started to return back to the same route we came from. By the time, we reached that traffic jam zone, from here we have taken diversion, we see that the road is empty. By the time we traveled 1 KM and taken some twist and turn in hill road, we see that again we are back of traffic.
Traffic Jam
On the we got down from car and started walking. We were faster than the speed of the car in that traffic jam. Raj told us to go to Guna cave walking if we like and he will wait for us in the entrance.
We went to the Guna cave and got us 3 ticket for Rs. 6 and we went in. The gate was about to be closed at 5 PM. This is the place where kamal Hassan has made his moview Guna.
Guna Cave
Guna Cave Other View
Next we went to Pillar Rock. These are huge masses of stone of 500 feet high - Between and Below them, there are several caves - These Rocks are formed due to the pressure excerted from 5 to 10 kilo bar and also due to the temperature for 700 degree centigrade to 1100 degree centigrade.
Pillar Rock
Next we went to another place with some memorial. Frankly speaking I forgot the place name more because there is nothing to see. But we have taken an instance photo from a stall over there.
Next we went to the suicide point. My god it was crowded like anything over there.
Next we went to Liril Fall were that famous Liril ad were taken place.
Liril Fall
By the time we finished all these it was 6:30 PM. On the way, we saw a banyan tree whose age is min 500 years.
It is dark by now and we stood in the middle of the road covered with tree like roof and Raj has taken some nice pictures.
Next we went to Coaker's Walk. The path way is beautiful and there is a telescope through which we can view Saleem. I have no idea on that because, by the time we reached there, the person has closed the room for telescope because it was too dark to see anything through it.
Coakers Walk
That was the last for the day and Raj dropped us in our hotel and around 7:30 PM. We paid Rs 3000 and went to the room. The trip was very memorable and Raj was a very nice person. I have contact with him and do call him sometimes till now.
Around 8:00 PM we came out of our room and went to a place nearby morning Bakery shop and had dhosa with various items. Basically it did not satisfy my hunger, so came out and went straight to the Bakery again. We had lot of stuffs there and returned back to hotel.
28-May-2012, we got up around 8:00 AM. Packed our luggage and checkout the hotel. We requested the hotel and they told us that we can keep our baggage till evening in their reception. We were very grateful because we have our return bus at 6:30 PM that day.
We went straight to a road side hotel to have bread omelet. Then we went to that same bakery for our breakfast.
Later we came to the lake and inquired for cycle. We wanted for double seated cycle and one single one. We inquired for rate to the first person we meet. He told that double seated cycle is Rs 80 and single seated cycle is Rs 50 per hour. We went to one store near the lake where they were issuing tickets for boats. It looked like a government counter. There the rate was Rs. 80 and Rs. 40 for half an hour. Anyway we took that though the deal was bad, but we wanted to check how it feels. We went a round the lake which takes half an hour but those cycles were poorly maintained. After returning those cycle, we went to first person and there we found that those cycles were new.
Kodaikanal Lake
We went were ever we felt like and also made Runai to learn how to cycle. Though she did not learn, but there was surly a tsunami in her thigh muscle. We returned the cycle after 2 hours around 2 PM.
Then we went to the cheese shop and purchased lots of fresh cheese of various kinds.
Then we went to a local gift shop, where items were made by local village women in small cottage industry. We got some Kodai souvenir and by the time we left the shop it was 4 PM.
We went back to our hotel. Settled our luggage and left the place. We walked back to the bus stop. Had quick food dhosa, fried rice, noodles and peeper mushroom two plates.
It was already 6 PM, so we boarded our bus which was already standing there.
29-May-2012, 4:30 AM, we were in silkboard stop in Bangalore and back to home.

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