Posted in Reflections

The beautiful hanoi

Xin Chao !!

I had Vietnam in my travel list since long and finally was able to make it. In the midst of busy work schedule, we tried to squeeze in few days and planned for a 4 day trip to Hanoi, Vietnam.

We can find all in one -a mix of metro lifestyle, ancient Vietnam culture and beautiful views of nature here. We had 1.5 days in Hanoi city and 2 days in halong bay on a cruise. We booked our hotel close to haon kiem lake which is the most happening place. We could just walk along the lake in the evenings and it is bustling with tourists.

Capture

There were random musical performances, some rock show happening, someone playing violin and dancing, street food stalls and lot of shops for shopping all along the road. For all those hopping freaks, this place has all the HiFi brands along with small street shops. The lake is beautifully illuminated in the night and if you are the person whose idea of romantic evening is a walk, then this is the best place.

The next day we booked a tour to ninh bin. It is around 2 hours from hanoi and is called the halong bay on land. The King Kong movie skull island was shot in this area. It is a beautiful picturesque expanse of water with paddy fields on both sides and limestone caves on the border. We had a boat ride through the lake, Tam coc – meaning 3 caves. On the way we go below the cave and the experience is amazing. We can touch the cave ceiling just by rising our hands. The calm waters, paddy fields, green majestic mountains, the experience will be forever etched in my memory.

nin

(Aerial view.. Tam coc in summer)

The same day we also visited the temples (Pagoda) of the king and queen of ninh bin who later founded the city of Hanoi. Legend is that when the king came to the city near the red River, he saw something like a rising dragon from the river. Thus the city was named “Thang long” which means the rising dragon. After the French came and occupied, this was renamed as Hanoi.

We reached back to Hanoi by 7pm. Point to note, Hanoi gives a tough competition to Bangalore in terms of traffic :p . After resting for a while, we went to explore the weekend night market near our hotel. Even at 10pm in the night, the streets were bustling with tourists and locals. The street stalls sold souvenirs, bags, clothes, electronic items, what not, at very cheap prices. The restaurants have extended their seating to the roads and everyone was happily sitting on the streets, chatting away, eating street food and drinking. It was like a scene out of the Korean dramas I watch. Since am a vegetarian, i was not able to enjoy it much. However if you are a food explorer, it is the best place for you.

The next day we were all excited for the cruise. There was limousine sent to pick us up from the hotel, to reach the harbour to board the cruise. Ours was a 4 star cruise for 1 night-2 days. As soon as we boarded, the cruise manager Ronald wished all of us in our own languages. There were people from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Germany, UK. The crew did a small welcome performance in traditional Vietnam style and then we were introduced to the crew members.

We then proceeded to our cabins. The cruise had 3 floors, with each cabin having a balcony facing the sea. The room was amazing with comfortable bed and beautiful view from window and balcony.

By this time we were really hungry and proceeded to lunch in the restaurant. I must say food on the cruise would be a feast for those who eat non-veg (with Asian, sea food). For me, they were generous to prepare special vegetarian items – veg sushi rolls, fried noodles. Once the tummies are happy, we went to the sundeck to enjoy the view.

The view is breathtaking. Huge expanse of water with small islets. Supposedly the James bond movie was shot here. Far away from the din of city life, nothing but the nature to look at and nothing but the peace to experience…

After a while, the cruise stopped at a cave (limestone cave) which has around 800 steps. While we climbed the steps, the view inside the cave became stunning and stunning. The halong bay is supposed to have many such small islands and caves. Itseems the hurricanes from phillippines are stopped or slowed down because of these mountains. Our guide showed us the imprint of a hurricane on the cieling of the cave. The cave has amazing rock formations, which can be interpreted by the creative mind. There was a turtle, a laughing Buddha, a couple kissing, a gorilla, a sparkling stone, no boundaries to imagination. The important one was the form of a dragon bending down from the cieling. Apparently falling dragon or Ha long is how the area got it’s name.

The next stop was to a lagoon, which was water surrounded by mountains on all sides, with just a small opening to enter. We went through boats or kayaks inside and the view was beautiful.

Once we are back to the cruise, we could rest until dinner. The dinner was on the restaurant along with live music. We enjoyed listening to few songs and contently closed the day.

The next day, we woke up early to see the sunrise on the deck followed by a session of Tai-chi. It was fun and tiring too. After that we had light tea and biscuits and went to visit an island. There was a small hill which we climbed to reach the top from which we can see the entire halong bay. It was super hot and a good place for tanning enthusiasts. We just spent some time on the beach and water and hid ourselves from the sun later. Once we are back in cruise, there is buffet breakfast followed by checkout.

We then started back to Hanoi and reached in the late afternoon. After resting for a while, we went to see the water puppet show. Since we were flying back the next day, we dint want to miss this. It is a must watch, it was supposedly originated from the locals to entertain themselves during floods. The music, the puppets, the show was amazing. Thus with this amazing experience, our trip ended.

For those who can spare more days, do visit hochiminh city which is accessible by road from hanoi.

Here are some details of use

How to book(from india)

We don’t have a direct flight to Hanoi. However there are many flights connecting via Bangkok or Singapore. Budgetair.com gave the best price compared to yatra or makemytrip

The below link will give you an idea of different types of hotels available based on your preference:luxury or boutique or budget hotels. Once you check that, look at agoda.com for booking. I got pretty good discount for a star hotel for the suite with balcony. Above that we got lucky and got an upgrade to the luxury suite room with terrace.

http://www.vietnam-guide.com/hanoi/top10/top10-hanoi-hotels-spa.htm

For cruise, there are lot of options available online. You can look at the itinerary, look and book accordingly. We went with paradise elegance cruise. The dragon legend cruise is also a good one.

Visa:

We have to apply online on the government website and within a day or 2, we will get the confirmation. We can get a Visa stamped on arrival after showing the confirmation. You only need a valid passport for applying.

https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/vietnam-visa/visa-on-arrival/

Places to visit:

Ho chi Minh masoulem, many museums in Hanoi, trang an or Tam coc tour, perfume Pagoda, halong bay

Shopping:

In the local shops on streets, you can bargain. No issue with the language, most of them can fairly understand English along with supporting gestures. Don’t miss the night market if you are there on weekend

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Posted in Reflections, Uncategorized

The Krishna Key – a gripping read!!

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For all those who are interested in the connection between our mythology and history, this book would definitely appeal to them.

I am not going to reveal the story anyways. Will just give the plot outline to fuel curiosity 🙂 .
So this book is about a professor Ravi Mohan Saini who gets entangled in between a search for the four seals of dwarka left behind by Krishna himself, which apparently hold the key to something ancient and some thing of great use to makind now.

In parallel there is a person who thinks he is the Kalki Avatar and believes that he is eliminating bad by murdering people, ultimately also looking for a key.

Are they both looking for the same thing? Is he the real Kalki Avatar? What is it that is hidden away and where do the seals point to?

The narration is gripping with lot of interesting references to events of the time of Krishna, and ancient scriptures and connecting how all that is not just a mythological story but a real history. The author Ashwin Sanghi talks about how the older generation was far more technologically evolved and many of the things which are depicted as magical or heavenly in out ancient scriptures, could actually be the result of highly technological and scientific abilities which I beyond our understanding now.

The daivi astras, brahmastras said to be used during Mahabharata war could actually be some sort if nuclear weapons. It talks about the 12 jyothirlingas and how the radion degrees in these areas or so high, which could be because of the energy emanating from the material these lingas are formed with. The author says, the bilva Patra (bel leaf) is used to worship Lord Shiva as it has properties of anti radiation.

There are many such interesting references, whether they are facts or fiction am not sure. But it sure is intriguing to know these references and wonder if that could be true.

Below are some excerpts of the book (without spoiling the suspense). It’s absolutely wonderful and an interesting read.

Posted in Reflections, Uncategorized

A change for better !?

Recently my office moved it’s location to electronic city. Now, all those who are familiar with Bangalore will know how far it is from the city. Initially we were all sceptical on how it is going to work out.
We had to catch the office bus at 6:55am. I had never woken up before 7:30 till then. I was not sure how I would accomplish this feat of waking up early, preparing breakfast and catching the bus, and most importantly catching up on sleep.

The first week was a bit hard as the whole day I felt sleep deprived. But slowly it is settling and seems to be helping me to adopt healthy habits.. waking up early, having meals on time and walking a lot. I have to walk few metres to catch the bus, walk from parking to my office tower and back , walk inside campus after lunch 😊.
Upon that, the campus is so beautiful with lots of trees, butterflies, birds, flowers – away from the noise of traffic, one just feels like taking a stroll (if only you can get time off from work 😛).

The one hour bus journey is also helping me get back to my reading and blogging 😊 . So irrespective of some inconveniences, I started loving this new campus and new change in life 😊

After all, the concept of life is to embrace new changes and find reasons to love them. 😊😊😊

(Some pics of the beautiful flowers in campus)

Posted in Reflections

Krishnaa..

Lately I have been watching Mahabharat (of starplus) and I really got addicted to it. I always wanted to know the complete story of mahabharata and this series is so captivating and neatly unfolds the story, I have been recommending everyone to watch it.

After watching this series I have fallen in love again with Shri Krishna. After seeing Krishna as Vishnu’s incarnation and a mythical God so far, it’s so divine to think of Him as a mortal human being. A Human with a magnificent personality – sheer genius with exceptional skill, wisdom, kindness, wit and humour. Each and everyone has to fall in love with Him and become a devotee

Recently I also started reading this book “Krishna Key” which is a fiction and the story revolves around researching and finding some seals which would reveal the ancient secrets present in Krishna’s city of Dwarka. The book talks about how the ancient Indians possessed the technology of sophisticated nuclear weapons which were supposedly used during the mahabharat war.

It tries to find historical references to prove that mahabharata and Krishna are not just mythical stories but incidents that really took place in the past. I cant help but imagine how fortunate those people would be who were able to witness and interact with Govind/Gopal/Madhav/Krishna 🙂

Posted in Reflections

“Run for Nature”

Many runs keep happening in Bangalore to support various causes. I happened to be part of one such run which I really loved the cause. It was organized by “Revive Bangalore” and was to improve the green cover in Bangalore.

Though the running track was just the neighboring roads , the focus was more on promoting the cause. It is always heartening to see so much crowd in the early hours of weekend, assemble in the cold weather giving importance to fitness and health. The atmosphere is always infectious, encouraging you to not stop and motivated to keep going until you reach the finish line.

Today, at the end of the run, each and every one was given a sapling which they can take home. There were mango, guava, jamun and many other types of saplings which would grow into big trees and give good shade. Really loved this idea. After this run, each participant would plant one tree each, atleast for the sake of the free sapling they got. I gave my Jamun sapling to the apartment security bhaiyya to plant it in the garden in our apartment. That means atleast a few hundred more trees are going to get added today 🙂

I felt so happy today and couldn’t stop myself from writing about it..Hope that many such causes come forward, where health is combined with a good cause 🙂

Posted in Reflections

Its all in the mind

brain

Pic credits:  https://www.facebook.com/AwkwardYeti/

Most of us would have heard this statement “Its all in your mind” many a times in life. Today while I was browsing through facebook I came across this brilliant comic strip and it made me think again about this topic.

It happened to me many a times, when I am in a sad or angry state and a well wisher tells me this line. In that state, you get into the defensive state thinking the person is just saying some random words for name sake and doesn’t really understand your feelings. At times it also makes you angry thinking the person is blaming the situation on you. I have been in such situations and felt this way, until I saw it from a outsider point of view. That really changed my perspective.

This happened during a trek  to Himalayas with one of my friends (am sure she would not mind me writing about this – however, I would not want to disclose her identity). Himalayas being so peaceful and serene, everyone visiting the place experiences a different kind of feeling, which is a bit more amplified than in general  – euphoria or emotional or peaceful or nostalgic or enlightened. That place gives  everyone peaceful time to reflect and think about things which otherwise we do not find time in the regular busy life. One of my friends got reminded of a really fateful incident and it affected her emotionally. She started feeling so low and getting into a shell, that it was getting difficult for us to bring her back. What she did not realize was she was physically as strong and was able to complete the designated part of trek each day.

On the last day, she reached the peak which is at an altitude of 16,000 feet, which is not at all an easy feat. She accomplished the goal, reached the summit and the beautiful view was right before her eyes. But she just sat on a rock there, not even looking around, feeling emotional and low. That was when it struck me how brain can play games. Physically she accomplished such an awesome task, but brain was not allowing her to acknowledge and enjoy that. Slowly we tried to explain her the same and after some time she realized what she was missing. That was when she got back and later we really enjoyed the view, took pictures, played with the snow and came back with wonderful memories.

That incident gave me a first hand experience in realizing what friends and family say – on how brain can play games and make you feel things which are not real. You can feel as if you are nothing, inspite of achieving many things. Everytime I get upset, I try to recall and re-tell myself the lesson learnt from this experience. In other words, I try to kick my brain to stop what it is doing and listen to heart 🙂  😛 … Everyone should try to do that 🙂

PS: What I wrote is purely based on my understanding and experiences. There is no scientific base or researched material..

 

 

Posted in Reflections

New life chapter…

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So… It was time to leave office and I was sitting at my office desk, wondering what do I do with all the free time I am going to get from today on after reaching home…

My lil sister with whom I stayed till now moved to a faraway land to chase her dreams.. I just got married (still cant digest the fact ) and my prince Charming is coming from a faraway land to be with me… In the midst of these transitions, I seem to have some me-time for myself..

So, time to reflect on the changes in life – new chapters starting in the book of life..some good old memories…Let me look at it this way : My old room-mate left and I am getting a new room-mate 🙂 … As much as I am excited about this new chapter, I miss my li’l sister a lot…a lot and lot!!

We has such great memories, all the fun we had together, shopping sprees, late night chats, stupid talks about intellectual stuff to the extent of start-up ideas 😛 , Korean dramas, dinners, cooking trials, treks, trips, goofy acts, stage performances, flash mobs, coffee chats at office, gossip, CCD hangouts, Car drives, weekend binges and many many more. Inspite of being the little one, she has somehow been my guide and strength for the last couple of years. I am terribly missing her, but knowing that this move is needed in her life and mine, I am trying to move along with the cheese (inspired from ” Who moved my cheese”)…

While I sit back and wait for the new chapter to start in my life, meanwhile let me grab a book and get lost in the imaginary world, get back in touch with my hobby and save myself from the nostalgia of memories with sister !!!

Posted in Reflections

Beautiful Munnar

I couldn’t stop myself from writing about this..Last week we visited Munnar and I absolutely fell in love with the place. The monsoons are just starting and the place looks even more beautiful with on and off showers. The lush greenery, beautiful climate will make anyone feel lost in the beauty of nature 

After what I felt in Himalayas, I felt the same amount of euphoric joy and peace in munnar.. the plantations all around are absolutely beautiful..you can find coffee, tea, cardamom, pepper, pineapple, jackfruit, banana, what not..Anyone planning to go for a hill station, I would definitely recommend munnar.  

We stayed at “Ambady resort ” which is a queit and peaceful estate of 125km full of plantations with just 8 cottages. They prepare all the food, organic from home grown plantation. The cottages are peaceful and interiors are beautifully decorated. 

cottage in Ambady resort

personal patio for each cottage

pineapple plant

tea plantation

coffee plants

tapioca plants

pepper plantation

jackfruit plants

athirapally watertfalls (where bahubali was shot)

Be sure to visit this place atleast once. The natural beauty is spell binding..don’t miss it..

Posted in Reflections, short stories

if only…. (#short story)

ifonly_1

(Image Credits: Google Images)

He was lying there wounded and in pain.. She wanted to go to him, but he dint let her go any closer.. She stood there staring at him helpless and hurt, seeing him suffering.. She wanted to do something, but dint know what to do.. he wouldn’t let her even move close to him .. He said “you have broken my heart..you have hurt me..all your false promises broke me today..you used me” ..

Those words struck her heart and a sharp pain arose ..”I did not know how that happened.. I never wanted to hurt him..I had always tried my best to do all that I can, though I knew it was not enough! But I never wanted to hurt him.. I have always loved him dearly with all my heart” She thought .. She felt guilty, hurt and hopeless

She stood there staring at him with tears in her eyes and no words to defend herself.. He was bleeding and she felt of no use.. He looked at her fiercely and closed the door..For the first time she felt scared of him..She wanted to hold him and rest his head on her lap and tend to his wound, but she was not able to move even an inch .

He was angry and hurt due to her. He dint want to see her. He felt betrayed and hopeless. “I loved her so much and she dint care enough” he thought..

She sat there beside the door thinking of ways to make things right! She wanted to talk, reason out and find some way in which he would open the door and let her in.. But her brain couldn’t think of anything useful.. whatever she said sounded so lame and she was not sure if he even heard her.. Meanwhile a dull pain started in her head and she started feeling difficulty in breathing..

He was able to listen to her every word.. But he felt too numb with hurt to even respond.. He wanted her to do something.. do something and reach out to him.. Make him trust her again.. words were not enough for him…

Hours and hours went by and she couldn’t do anything.. “How can I save him just sitting here and talking.. I dont know what is going on his mind ..What can I do to fix things..” she thought

She felt weak and devoid of energy and her mind was not helping..

Feeling helpless and hopeless, she leaned against the wall and remembered all the good memories they had..

Tired and exhausted, he leaned against the wall and escaped into memories of them together..

Both of them, just remained there until they succumbed to the pain…

If only, the wall between them could be broken…

Posted in Sketches

Lee Min Ho Sketch

 

I had liked Lee Min Ho in “Boys over flowers” and “personal taste”.. But I became a huge fan after watching him in “Faith” … I was in love the character of the Wu-dal-Chi.. The ideal person who even gives up his life to keep his word..

Since then I wanted to make a sketch of him and here it is!! Am not any expert, but I tried my best and this is my best attempt!! After working on it for last 6 hours, I am finally satisfied 🙂 ..

leeminhosk