Travel

Singapore

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We utilized this festive season (pre-holiday season) to visit Singapore. A place that is perhaps the cleanest, most disciplined, most organized, and most lawful and mindful. Singapore is a city, country, and a district, as you already know. The citizens show immense respect towards its status by being law-abiding citizens, in the true sense.

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We enjoyed our stay of 4 days by just limiting ourselves to only Singapore. While there are tourists/visitors who intend to visit Malaysia (very close to Singapore) too in their trips, we wanted to take once city at a time. In the end, we felt that not 4 days, but 1 week would be sufficient to experience Singapore in all its glory. We definitely want to go there in the holidays some time. We had the opportunity to watch some exotic animals in their natural habitats, and were very excited to even play with dolphins!

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The food in Singapore is multi-cultural. There is Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and probably a whole lot of other cuisines. We found that other than in the Indian cuisine, there were very few options for vegetarians like us. But whatever few options we were presented with in especially Chinese food, we enjoyed their delicious dishes, and their hospitality.

A city full of life, urban, chic, full of shopping malls, and full of kind, courteous people, Singapore is an amazing place to live in!

 

Benaras

Have you ever been to a place where death is respected more than birth? A place where people go to die? A place where people go to ask for a painless, spiritual death?

Benaras is just that place. On the banks of river Ganges, it has over a million visitors every year, who come to experience the spiritual, pious place. Ganges is considered a goddess’; a mother who feeds all those who go to her. Offering oblations (respects) to a family’s ancestors is considered as the highest religious act, in Benaras.

We had been there last week for offer oblations to our ancestors.

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First travelogue – Ooty – Part I

Life has been good. Unpredictable, as usual. In all its unpredictability, I have decided to post travelogues from now. After all, we visit places atleast three times in a year, and always takes tons of pictures, like everyone.

We took off to Ooty for our anniversary the last week. A good three days at a huge farm is what we did. And when I say huge, I actually mean it. It was a property on 500 acres of a green, green valley in the “Queen of hill stations” – Ooty. For people who have visited India, or lived in India, hill stations are common destinations during summers. Though Bangalore summers may not be severe at all, a hill station like Ooty is quite a respite.

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We took a road trip; it seemed the most sensible thing to do, given the moderate distance of 285 km. While it may not be extremely scenic till about 150 – 170 km, it gets better, and probably the best after you touch the Tiger reserve, Bandipur. We tried capturing lot of landscape on our way, so we could observe differences in terrain as well as cultivation. Ooty is in the state of Tamil Nadu, while Bangalore (where we live) is in Karnataka. So, after Bandipur, it is literally the crossing of one state to another.

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The Tiger reserve is situated in the foot of the Nilgiris (loosely translated Nil (neel) = Blue, and Giri = Mountain/hill). This is where you can start spotting the hills and various allied hillocks all along your way to Ooty. (These hills are alternatively called Madhumalai in Tamil Nadu).

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Ooty is known for four things: fresh produce, Tea, Spices, and Chocolates. The produce here is so fresh that one does not need to even think of cooking it. Literally. The variety of spices, tea and chocolates just makes us indulgent, whenever we visit.

We lived farther from Ooty (almost 25 km), in a small village called Emerald. It is quite a sleepy town, with the farm we lived in being the only functioning place. The surrounding villages are atleast 5 km distant from Emerald, and the only ways to reach them were farm trucks and horses. It was quite weird on the day of our anniversary when the farm owners decided to procure cake from the nearest village bakery. I don’t have very good pictures of the cake, so not posting those here.   When we went on the horse to the next village, all we could cite was acres of green landscape dotted with cattle and a surrounding lake.

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This is our third visit to Ooty, and every time we visit, we find drastic changes. May be it is the frequency with which we visit (once in 3-4 years), or the town’s fast pace of development, we have witnessed so much change. It is no more a sleepy town with stores closing before 8 pm. It is now a bustling town, full of tourists, with stores open late after 10 pm. For visitors like us, who tend to view the town as the same quaint and sleepy one, there are always options like Emerald, where there is absolutely no light or noise after 7 pm. We love Ooty for all its charm and beauty in nature and food.

This post is only the introduction to our visit. Part II coming up soon.

 

Travelogue – Ooty – Part II

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On our way back from Emerald, we noticed some heavy work that goes on after harvest. The town had a special technique to clean root vegetables. We tried capturing some work-moments.

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And then it started raining. And to our dismay, it stopped raining almost immediately. Rains in places I have lived in last for atleast 20 minutes. But the rains in Ooty seemed to have a different style altogether. It started raining at 4.35 pm; it rained so heavy that nothing was even visible beyond 30 meters; going outside would have been extremely difficult even with a raincoat on. At 4.42 pm everything was back to normal. Those seven minutes were no different to the locals though; the farmers kept tugging at weeds, the cattle kept grazing, the horses continued trotting around, and truck drivers kept working. It was as if they knew how much rainfall would happen. Probably it is part of being near to nature.

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