Are you a Foodie?

by Mridula on August 30, 2014

in Canon D550,Food,Photography,Thailand

Is food the high point of your travels? In spite of traveling a fair bit, I am almost never excited about food. I squarely blame it on the mess food of the hostels I stayed in. I mean how about a lizard in the omelette? Also, I guess being a vegetarian plays a role. In South Africa some people would joke that there was ample grass all around for us, so they were not bothered about feeding us!  But there is an advantage of not being a foodie. I can eat any vegetarian stuff, plus eggs, I hardly ever get upset about food. But then this post is about food, good food, food from Thailand.

Noodles and Egg

Make Your Own Noodle Soup

I actually like trying local food, the trouble is it is often non-veg in many parts of the world. When I found a soup counter at the Ramada Plaza, Menam Riverside in Bangkok, I did give it a try. I mixed the soup, noodles and the eggs and it worked out quite well. But such occasions when I get to experiment with local food are rare.

Sea Food

Nice Looking Sea Food

I could click this colorful looking sea food but I would not try it. I have liked prawns a few times I went near them. I can actually eat fish in small quantities but if I was asked to finish a dish, I would not be able to.

Desserts

Desserts

Most of the hotels have large dessert spreads (Ramada Plaza, Bangkok, was no exception) that usually is my undoing. There was a time when I would load my plate and think nothing about it. Sadly gone are those days. I hardly get any exercise, so I have to be careful about the desserts I eat! Not that it has made any difference to my weight!

cake

Cakes are a Delight!

I am really fond of cakes and pastries. Indian sweets rank even higher. But I only clicked this excellent looking cake. I stayed away from eating it. But the weighing machine tells me it really serves no purpose!

Cheese Cakes

I Swear by Cheese Cakes

Well instead of the cake I polished off the cheese cake, I at least ate half of it, OK if not half of it, it felt like the half of it. It seems the only food I want to talk about is sweet, the desserts. Is there a name for people who are not foodies but feel that a single dessert can completely change the complexion of a day?

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This year starting from March till about now, I traveled a lot. When I traveled a lot I would crib because I was traveling too much, which would leave me very tired. Then for the past two weeks I have been at home. So, now I am getting nostalgic about traveling and then, you guessed it right, I crib again! So this is a nostalgic Skywatch Friday, featuring the Amman Citadel in Jordan. I visited Jordan in May 2014.

 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Blue Skies at the Amman Citadel, Jordan #Canon550D

The Amman Citadel is ancient, said to be occupied since neolithic period. It is also known as Jabal al-Qal’a. One meaning of Jabal is a hill. This citadel is on one of the seven hills which constituted the original city of Amman. It is said to have passed influence of three religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is a popular tourist destination in Amman. The main ruins which you can see above is the Temple of Hercules.

Amman Citadel, Jordan

Amman Citadel Premises, Jordan #Lumia1020

The citadel is spread in a vast area and has many places of interest. Jordan Archaeological Museum is within the grounds. Umayyad palace, a huge water tank and a mosque are other points of interest. Visiting this place would require some amount of walking.

View of the Amman City from Amman Citadel

View of the Amman City from Amman Citadel #Canon550D

The view of the city from the  Amman Citadel is quite impressive. The day we visited the place it was not too crowded. The weather was nice, we had clear blue skies and a nice breeze. The sun was happy to lord over the sky. As the place is quite huge it never felt crowded. Almost everyone climbed up the ruins to get photographed next to the pillars of the Temple of Hercules.

I had left my zoom lens in the bus itself, as I never thought I would need it at this spot. Guess what? There were birds around the place and I did kick myself for not carrying the lens around. But that is a minor regret. Overall, it was a wonderful half day that I spent at the Amman Citadel.

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I usually don’t bother much about hotels when I travel alone or if we are all adults. But with two kids in Hong Kong I was worried about everything. More so when both are brats and I was the only adult on the trip. I did the trip Makemytrip and they booked me with the Royal View Hotel. I checked their reviews on Tripadvisor before leaving and my feeling was that we would do fine.

In between my booking the trip and traveling to Hong Kong I was invited by Makemytrip to travel to Bhutan. In Bhutan I mentioned that I have booked a trip with them to Hong Kong. Unknown to me they put in a word with the staff of the Royal View Hotel. So, when we arrived I was greeted by their sales manager Rita Leung. They had also upgraded my room to a double bedroom suite on the 11th floor. I got a cake and wishes from the manager of the hotel. Of course ,the kids loved the attention and the soft toys they got from Rita. To this day they miss her. So, first of all I have to say a big thank you to the Royal View Hotel and Makemytrip for making my kiddos first trip abroad so wonderful.

After the trip I realized that having a double bedroom suite was a big plus. That way kids had some space to play and call their own, whereas I too had a room to unwind. Of course they took the master bedroom and I had the kid’s room! Next time if my pocket can afford it, and I am traveling alone with the kids, I would go ahead and book a double bedroom suite!

The Royal View Hotel, Hong Kong

The Royal View Hotel, Hong Kong

Location: The hotel is located on the Castle Peak Road which is about 20 minutes from Disneyland. As the main focus of my trip main was Disneyland, it suited my purpose. The hotel shuttle takes you to Tsuen Wan which connects you to the metro. They charge 10 HK dollars per person for the round trip on the shuttle. Tsuen Wan has a big shopping mall as well which we explored on one occasion. This area is otherwise far away from the Victoria Harbor.

The Master Bedroom

The Master Bedroom

My Room: The double bedroom suite was huge. It was amply supplied with tea. The bathroom had a good shower and ample amenities. We had a balcony too. The house keeping staff was prompt in making my room. The hotel has about 688 rooms. As it was summer vacation time in Hong Kong the hotel was full.

The Breakfast: The hotel provides complimentary breakfast to the guests (at least that was my deal) and they have a decent spread which had continental, and Chinese. My tip to you is to avoid 9.00 am if the hotel is full. We went here at 9.00 am on one day and we had to wait to find a seat. Whereas we went at 9.40 am twice and we were fine. The breakfast was up to 10.30 am when I was staying there.

The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool: The hotel has a big swimming pool where the kids had a great time. When they would let me swim I too enjoyed it. But as Chhavi doesn’t know how to swim as of now, she would continuously demand my attention. Vasu can swim well and would be mostly on her own! The pool was fairly large, you could see people seriously doing their laps. There was an indoor Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room attached to the pool area.

The Lido Beach, Hong Kong

The Lido Beach, Hong Kong

The Lido Beach: The Lido Beach is walking distance from the hotel. Even the kids could walk to it easily. After playing for hours, they could walk back without any trouble as well. There is another beach close by but we would never find time to check it out.

While the Kids were Asleep!

They Don’t Look Like Double Trouble when they Sleep!

Other Amenities: The hotel as a spa and a gym as well but I could not sue it as I was too busy managing double trouble. The good bit was that mostly they would get so tired by the end of the day that they would fall asleep quite early!

Royal View Hotel, Hong Kong

The Royal View from my Room!

The Royal View: Since the kids would fall asleep early, I could take out my tripod and play! This was the night view from my balcony. It was indeed a royal view! I would take a cup of tea out there and watch the lights while the kids were sound asleep!

Overall, for my needs the hotel worked out perfectly well. A big thank you to the hotel staff, to Makemytrip and particularly to Rita Leung for making my kids so happy!

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When our guide for the day told us that the pickup back to the hotel was at 9.30 pm, I had my sincere doubts if the kids would last that long. He was leaving us at the Hong Kong Disneyland. It was 10.00 am, the 9.30 pm pickup otherwise made sense as there are fireworks at 9.00 pm at Disneyland. I made a note of the taxi stand on the way. I knew I would need it, negotiating the metro with two cranky kids and my sense of direction didn’t feel appealing even at the start of the journey.

When my daughter got her passport this year, I was probably more excited than her! I wanted to take her and my niece out, who already had a passport. What better place than Disneyland for the kids, or so I thought.

Hong Kong Disneyland

Double Trouble at Disneyland #Lumia1020

It was a hot and humid Sunday when we visited the Hong Kong Disneyland. I know that was nobody’s fault that the day was hot. It was also a Sunday. It was also a long weekend back in India. It was school holiday time in Hong Kong. So, no points for guessing that it was everyone’s idea of fun, to head out to the Disneyland on that Sunday! From the coach parking to the entrance was a short walk. Anyway, both the kids are good at walking, walking was least of my worries.

We saw the Disney characters at the entrance, there was a long queue in case you wanted to get photographed with Mickey. My kids said they would give it a pass. The queue looked daunting.

We stumble into the area called Tomorrowland. The first ride we saw had a 50 minute wait. I chicken out, we walk into a ride called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster. It has a shorter wait and was indoors, which meant air conditioning. The attendants at the ride advised me to sit with Chhavi as each car has two seats. My niece Vasu is big enough to sit alone. We go along the track with guns in our hands trying to blast Zurg and everything else in-between. The kids laugh and I am happy.

The Orbitron, Disneyland, Hong Kong

The Orbitron, Disneyland, Hong Kong #Canon550D

We come out to the same ride I had overlooked , the Orbitron. The kids want to go, they say they don’t mind the wait. I quickly decided that I would let them handle the rides and wait period. If they were happy to wait, I was happy to wait. At the entrance, the staff politely informed us that the wait was 50 minutes. I said thank you and we entered the queue.  The queue was orderly, surprisingly the kids were well behaved, all the kids I mean. There was hardly anyone telling mom and dad that they wanted to do it right now!

We went up in the same car this time as it could seat 4, when our turn came. My niece fiddled with a nob and our craft went up, then she made it come down! It was fun while it lasted, for about  5 minutes. It was a 50 minute wait for a 5 minute ride!

By now we had been out in the sun for more than an hour. The kids were thirsty, they were hungry too. There was a restaurant nearby. Only there was hardly any place to sit. We anyway placed our orders of ice creams and cold drinks and managed to find a seat. The kids polished off the ice cream and told me that they would walk with the drink. I agree.

The Cinderella Carousel, Disneyland, Hong Kong

The Cinderella Carousel, Disneyland, Hong Kong #Canon550D

We stumbled on to the Fantasyland next. We stood in a queue for the Cinderella Carousel. The wait time was about 20 minutes, which meant the ride was not too popular. My daughter said she has done such merry go rounds before. Well, this one looks a lot more posh but she had a point, the basic idea was the same. The kids left the cold drink aside saying they could not finish it. Food was 3 times more expensive in Disneyland compared to the rest of the Hong Kong. I paid in dollars (OK Hong Kong Dollars but still) to buy it and here were two brats leaving it aside! I don’t like cold drinks at all so I could not finish it off for them! You can only bring in water from outside to the park. No outside food is allowed.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Disneyland, Hong Kong

Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Disneyland, Hong Kong #Canon550D

After this fun, we got out and my niece spotted a ride called- Dumbo the Flying Elephant. It had a wait of 60 minute and it was a much smaller version of the Orbitron. I tried to dissuade her but she was firm. So Dumbo the flying elephant it was after a wait for 60 minutes. I forgave her in the end because I saw really grown up ladies in their saris (from India too as we had a chat later) enjoying the ride after standing in the queue, my niece is after all 9 years old! We then went in to see a show called ‘Mickey’s Philhar Magic’. It had a very short wait time, it was in 3D, it was in an air conditioned hall. It was a lot of fun, particularly the AC.

Pixie Hollow, Disneyland, Hong Kong

Pixie Hollow, Disneyland, Hong Kong #Canon550D

By now not only the kids, even I was hungry. We went into the restaurant called the Royal Pavilion. We ordered pasta and drinks. By now I was ordering a little less. I decided I could always buy more stuff but I didn’t wish to see my dollars going waste! I had a minor altercation with Chhavi and the lady at the counter offered both the kids stickers to distract them! That was mighty nice of her.  And that is the only Disney merchandise they got! We sat outside in the shade as there was no vacant seat in the air conditioned hall. It was quite nice actually in the shade. Later with some food inside our stomachs we decided to give the Toy Story Land a try.

RC Racer Car, Disneyland, Hong Kong

RC Racer Car, Disneyland, Hong Kong #Canon550D

My niece was attracted by the RC Racer Roller Coaster. My daughter was below the height restriction. I asked the staff if I could let my niece go alone and they said that was perfectly fine. So off went Vasu, Chhavi and I were waiting at the exit for her to comeback. It was a long wait in the hot sun again, there were a few umbrellas that offered some shade. Chhavi asked me to go inside a shop after waiting for a long time. She said she wanted to be in the AC for a while. She told me she would not ask me to buy something from the shop. I was fidgety inside the shop, what if Vasu came out? So we got out of the shop and within two minutes Vasu came saying she was looking for us! She had fun on that ride, the ride actually looked like a lot of fun. But then I could under no circumstances leave Chhavi and Vasu alone and go for that ride! They would bring half the Disneyland down in that time.

The Toy Story Parade, Disneyland, Hong Kong

The Toy Story Parade, Disneyland, Hong Kong

While we were walking around Chhavi went and attended the toy soldier boot camp! She looked totally clueless and cute! The actors helped her along and ensured that she had a good time.

We then headed for the Toy Solider Para-shoot Drop. It again had a wait time of an hour! By now it was 4.00 pm in the evening and the kids told me that after this ride they wanted to go to the hotel! In this ride you sat in the ‘para shoots’ and dropped from a height, went up again and dropped again a few times. It was mildly exciting for me. But for Chhavi it was dreadfully exciting. Her face would contort when the fall came. After getting out of the ride she started- now if only we had brought papa along, he would have screamed louder than me!” Till she went for this ride, she hardly ever remembered her papa but now suddenly she kept chanting this for the next hour! He is wise though, he refused to venture with two kids to a foreign land!

I asked them if they wanted to sit in air conditioning and eat something and give other rides a try later? Both firmly refused, I guess it was all a bit too much for them. We headed out to the taxi stand and soon we were on our way to the Royal View Hotel. The hotel was quite close by, 20 minutes ride at the most.

Disneyland, Hong Kong

Another Photo Opportunity, Disneyland, Hong Kong #Canon550D

The kids later told me that they would give only 5 out of 10 stars to Disneyland as they had to wait for every ride in the hot sun. If you are planning to go to Disneyland Hong Kong do take a look at the temperature. Also if you can, do not go on a public holiday as every other ride will have about 1 hour wait time. Be aware of height restrictions. The food will cost more!

Overall I think the kids did have fun. It was anyway quite educative for them, the ads of Disneyland and the actual did not match up! As we say in our family, it was indeed a character building exercise!

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What starts and end with muddy feet is a good trek in my definition. The trek to Phraya Nakhon Cave in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province close to Hua Hin) was one such trek. We reached the village Bang Pu which was quaint and lovely. We had to take a boat from the village to reach the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. It was low tide and my feet were clearly muddy by the time I reached the boat! It was so much fun!

Walking at Low Tide

Muddy Feet at the Start of the Trek! #Lumia1020

We were asked to wash our messy feet before we entered the boat. The boat was sparkling clean! The boat ride was short, about 20 minutes or so. The weather was not too hot as there were clouds in the sky, which also meant most of my pictures would have grey skies!

The Boat Ride

The Boat Ride #Lumia1020

The boat ride was quite uneventful, not that I was looking for any extra excitement after the muddy walk. We were deposited at the Hat Laem Sala beach and a short walk would take us to the start of our hike. Our guide Joey gave us water bottles, and soon we were headed for the climb to the Phraya Nakhon Cave. There are clean washrooms available on the national park side of the beach, which are free to use as well.

Before we made any real progress, down came the rain. A few us took shelter where ever we could find it. I was standing under the overhang of a rock. I would not mind getting wet, it is my precious, my camera that doesn’t like rains!

The Walk to the Phraya Nakhon Cave

The Walk to the Phraya Nakhon Cave #Lumia1020

The way to the cave is not very long and if you are used to walking/trekking it is totally doable. It goes up for quite sometime though. I was walking in my sneakers and in spite of rain I was fine. The path was not too slippery. At the half way mark there is a beautiful view.

Gulf of Thailand

Gulf of Thailand  #Lumia1020

If you are tired at the mid way, this beautiful view of the Gulf of Thailand greets you along with some wooden benches. I stood there for a while, admired the view and then decided to continue walking as I was not too tired.

The Bridge at Phraya Nakhon Cave

The Bridge at Phraya Nakhon Cave #Canon550D

Even at a leisurely pace it did not take me very long to reach the cave. I was quite fascinated by this bridge like structure within the cave. I tried clicking the dark parts of the cave which had stalactites and stalagmites but the pictures didn’t turn out very well!

Kuha Karuhas pavillon

The Kuha Karuhas Pavilion #Canon550D

There is a beautiful pavilion, the Kuha Karuhas Pavilion inside the cave. It was built by King Rama V in 1890. I realized that it was so old only later, the pavilion is so well maintained that it doesn’t look that old! After spending some time exploring the cave, reluctantly it was time to head back to the beach. I was one of the last person to leave the cave.

Hat Laem Sala Beach

Hat Laem Sala Beach, Aso of TAT New Delhi Walking By! #Lumia1020

I did not stop for long at the mid way while coming down as well. I sat at the Hat Laem Sala Beach and enjoyed the view. While walking back I was lucky as I spotted some wild life as well.

Dusky Leaf Monkey

Dusky Leaf Monkey #Canon550D

There was a group of Dusky Leaf Monkeys playing around in a tree. I stood there for a while but even then I got only this passable shot. The monkeys were quite good at hiding behind the leaves and going about their monkey business!

A Butterfly at  Bang Pu Village

A Butterfly at Bang Pu Village, Thailand #Canon550D

When we got back to the Bang Pu Village our feet were muddy again. While I was waiting my turn at the wash I was distracted by a bunch of butterflies. I was so busy clicking them, I was the last person to wash my feet.

Shacks at the Bang Pu Village, Thailand

Shacks at the Bang Pu Village, Thailand #Lumia1020

The trek to the Phraya Nakhon Cave was an exhilarating half day affair. If you are in the Hua Hin region do give this a try. It was great fun to be outdoors, get our feet muddy and walk to the beautiful cave.

PS. I was invited by Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi on this trip. I had a great time too!

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After a light Indian snacks and chai we started out evening tour at the Tower Clock, close to Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong. There was a small park which looked like a kid’s play area but it was under maintenance. Of course, Chhavi wanted to go there. I had to convince them that even though it was possible to jump over the fence it was not done, they could see there was no one in that area. Then I dragged them to the Victoria Harbor.

My Brats at the Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong

My Brats (also known as Double Trouble) at the Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong #Canon550D

For about five minutes they were speechless and just looked at the view. Then they started. They wanted to jump into the water from the pier. The elder one Vasu also declared, that after all she knew how to swim! With such ideas being floated around me, photography took a very severe beating. It was sunset time but I couldn’t even locate where the sunset was, at least not properly. I could see the general direction of the sunset and others going at it with their tripods. I hurriedly clicked two-three pictures but none of them are going to make it to the blog! Kids and sunsets don’t mix well, not in my case for sure! The brats also refuse most of the times to get clicked. So while they were engrossed in looking at the view, I decided to click a few pictures.

A Ship at the Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong

A Ship at the Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong #Lumia1020

Then my niece pointed out this ship to me, “Look masi a pirate ship!” It was well spotted, I have to say. It served as the foreground for my subsequent photographs! But with kids jumping around and so much water everywhere to fall into, my attention was more on them than on photography. All of us were quite happy to walk around and then later take a ferry to the tram station for visiting ‘The Peak’. It was a beautiful evening, our first in Hong Kong. I hope there are going to be many more trips in the future with my double troubles!

PS. This post is part of Skywatch Friday. Check out the excellent community of sky watchers!

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