Monday, August 5, 2019

Seragaki Sea Activity Experience



Just before we started!
Going for a holiday to Seragaki? You must consider doing a 2 and a half hours of ocean adventures with Kayak Life. The waters in Seragki are clean and full of beautiful sea life. Even if you don't know swimming you can still do it as the coach/ instructor will take care of all the time if you tell him beforehand.

Also, I saw a blowfish for the first time in my life!! some experience I tell you!

Blowfish and smiling faces behind our masks



Bookings - Very smooth and super quick. You are told at the time of the booking to bring your swimsuit, sunscreen while they provide wet suits, flippers, snorkel mask and beach shoes. (We were carrying our own shoes and mask so we used those). 


The instructor made this ring with his breath!!
Kayaking!!

You pay in cash before starting the adventure. The coach was such a fun personality. he was knowledgeable and genuinely wanted to provide a fantastic experience to us. I am a very nervous swimmer so he suggested I hold on to the floaty and just look down while snorkeling. I was able to enjoy it only because I was not scared because of the coach. 


Also, after kayaking, you park your kayaks on a small island, and they take you to explore a cave on foot. Sometimes during hightide, water in the cave is up to your chest but when we went there the water was shallow. 


We had a fantastic time and highly recommend them.


Beautiful Azure waters
                      

Hyatt Regency Seragaki - Perfect Hotel for R&R




During our latest Japan trip, Seragaki was the last destination. Reaching here was quick and convenient via Bus Limousine service. You can get the tickets from the airport itself.


So, we were thoroughly looking forward to some rest and relaxation. This hotel provided that and some more. We were given an upgrade and access to the Club Lounge (YAY). 
Our mornings started with jumping into the pool. That have three pools, 2 outdoors and 1 indoor. Outdoors they have one infinity pool with saltwater called Lagoon and one Gusuku pool with normal water. Usually, families with kids spend time at the Gusuku pool. We used both equally. The lagoon is quite good. **TIP - If you want to spend a quiet afternoon by the poolside go a little early and grab a spot at the Lagoon.**
( As soon as the hotel opened this pool got fully destroyed during a typhoon and they had to rebuild it) Poolside F&B is excellent.)

Pool Side - PVT party right beside Lagoon, Cold glass of water and the view from Lagoon
The Beach is meh. During low tide, there is hardly any water and it's unswimmable. The hotel cannot do anything about it. Also, in Seragaki the beaches are public beaches not privately owned maybe that's why the hotel cannot do anything to improve it. (I know this because I asked) We did not go to the beach and spent all our days at the pool. If the pools are fully functional then you won't feel bad about missing the beach.

Our room was spacious and also had a big balcony (which is great to dry your swimwear every day). They also have water refilling stations near rooms which I always love as it reduces our plastic bottled water intake.

Our Room
The Club lounge was excellent, we spent time here reading our books and enjoying a hot cuppa/ cold beer, most evenings. 

The restaurants are good but if you want to go to the Japanese or Sushi restaurant I suggest making a prior booking as it gets fully booked. MY PERSONAL EXP - I did not like the local Japanese food at all. The combinations of bitter gourd with everything left me wondering what should I eat, on most nights. I tried the 'best dishes' recommended by the staff but did not like the taste. On the other hand, my husband enjoyed most dishes. So it really depends on person to person. Decide for yourself. 

Japanese Restaurant
All the staff is kind and attentive. A few people don't know English at all but be patient with them as they will fetch an English speaking colleague asap for you. We did not face any problem because of the language barrier.

***For the travelers, you will get proper Rest and Relaxation here. If spending time in the water is the main attraction for you during holidays then definitely inquire beforehand if the pools are fully functional and then make a booking.***

Suggestion for the hotel - Music was missing at the poolside. There can be piped music at the Lagoon during the day and maybe a DJ during sundowner. It will enhance the entire experience by a great deal.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Chengdu 2019 Trip

OMG! Chengdu is stunning! It's been 2 weeks I am back from there but I am still thinking about it. If you are planning a trip to China you must add Chengdu to your itinerary as where else can you see/meet Panda Bears?!

There are many activities, day tours, food tours that one can do in Chengdu. I am sharing my itinerary which includes fun but limited stuff. 


~Explored Jinjiang Area 
~~Wolong Panda Reserve
~~~Huan Huaxi Park, Qintai Road, Jinli Street
~~~~Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre 

Day 1 - Explored Jinjiang Area 

We reached Chengdu around 1pm and were in our hotel by 2:30pm. We were staying in Grand Hyatt and had our lunch at one of the six restaurants the hotel has. For dinner, we decided to explore the night markets around the hotel. We walked and walked, saw streets full of people eating hot pot, skewers, fresh dumplings, crossed many KTV bars (I didn't know KTV is this big in Chengdu). Finally, we picked up a restaurant called 'Zao Men Kan' on Geng Jia Alley. 


Most people don't speak English in Chengdu and this restaurant was no different. Even the menu is in Chinese! But they do their best to you feel comfortable. They called a guy from there merchandise store to take our order who spoke basic English. We managed to make him understand what we wanted to eat and he ticked items on the menu for us. To be honest we were not sure what he ordered for us and if he understood what we were trying to tell him through actions. But whatever arrived at our table, was delicious. That's why your food can be a hit or a miss in street markets. Be patient and figure out ways to make them understand. 

I think I am eating chicken here
Tofu with Garlic and spring Onion


Clams in some kind of Sichuan sauce
Day 2 - Volunteer at Wolong Panda Reserve
I can't articulate in words about this experience. Will write another blog on that. But to say the least, it was once in a lifetime experience. We asked our hotel to arrange for this who found us an agent who took care of everything. This is because if you don't involve a travel agent you will have to deal with a lot of things on your own, like travel to the reserve (which is 2 hours drive from Central Chengdu), arrange a medical certificate, food inside the reserve, coordinating the pick up time etc. So, we decided to book through the hotel, it's just less headache but slightly more expensive.

Process

To get an advance booking you need to provide your passport copy to the hotel and they will share it with the travel agent. We were picked up by the diver and our guide sharp at 7am. The drive to the reserve was beautiful, it was quick as we slept for an hour. :)

As soon as we reached, every formality was handled by the guide, we filled a form, got our uniforms (overalls), gloves and I believe our medical certificate was taken care off by our guide who was in the bookings room with our passports. Don't know what she did but we were not asked for anything apart from our passports. Then we paid $2200 per head to the agent and off we went to the first task. They have the full day planned for you so just surrender, don't get worried thinking 'what am I doing next'. 

Experience - We cleaned the outdoor space of the cage, clearing pada high fiber poop, broken bamboo sticks, and just cleaning the space by removing anything which should not be there. Remember, poop goes in one bin and sticks, leaves goes in another. Do not mix them as it is weighed by the caretaker in order to monitor Panda's health. Then we cleaned the indoor space while the panda was sent out to munch on the fresh bamboo we kept for her.

After cleaning, the panda was inside again where we fed her carrots and biscuits (corn, soybean and rice). This was an incredible experience. We got a chance to get close to this gorgeous animal. You have to maintain one arm distance from the bars and you are not allowed to touch the panda but you are close enough to be able to notice and admire this beautiful creature.

Post this we were taken to see the panda nursery. They had two areas dedicated for them, one for three-month-old pandas and another one for 7-month-old ones. The younger ones were so damn cute, they behave just like a human baby. One was on a swing, few were climbing the stairs made for them, pulling each other. It was incredibly cute!


We had delicious lunch in the staff pantry and did some more work, fed the pandas again, made biscuits for them and were free around 3:30pm.

On our way back we went to see Six Senses hotel because we read about it beautiful decor and design. Had a cup of tea there and bounced. 

Reached hotel around 8pm.








Day 3 - Huan Huaxi Park, Qintai Road, Jinli Street, Temple of Marquis Wu

The Huan Huaxi park is BEAUTIFUL. It is a huge park with multiple entries we entered from Qinghua road entrance. This park is visited mostly by locals and it was full of families, elderly people walking hand in hand, kids. We kept walking across the park and hit an area with heavy vegetation and a river running right across it. This part was inhabited by numerous birds. We were awestruck by the magnificent cranes that we found a spot to stand and just watched them go by their routine. It was calming and very relaxing. You MUST go here if you have time and want to do something relaxing. If you like to be in nature you will love it.

From here, we walked from here to the Qintai Road which is a short 20-min walk away from the park. This area is an accumulation of old wooden historic buildings. A few are converted into hotels and a few have restaurants, shops.. a lot of shops actually. It's pretty to look at in the night and if you don't want to buy anything best is to go there in the evening for a quick walk and pictures. That's it. You don't need more than an hour here if you just want to see the place. We were in and out in half an hour.







From here we took a taxi to Jinli Street Market which was the highlight of the day for me. It's a market with small narrow lanes spilled with all sorts of shops.. food, chili sauce, tea, garments, hats, hand made products, hot pot cubes, accessories, bars, restaurants, Chinese traditional clothes and a lot more. It's full of people, not just the main lane but every alley, every street. We didn't mind the crowd at all, that's half the charm of this place. The vibe is very unique. It's more than a shopping spot.. it's an experience.


Jinli Street Market Entrance
If you wanna buy chili oil from Chengdu try Powerfully Flavored brand. You will find this shop in one of the streets inside the Jinli market. This is how it looks - 

Day 4 - Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre 

Next morning we took a taxi to Chengdu Research Centre which was 40 mins away from central Chengdu. We bought tickets from the counter, $58 per head. We went there a little late so by the time we reached most of the pandas were fed and they were sleepy. Still, we enjoyed just watching them. If you wanna watch them in action reach there by 8am. 











For our last dinner, we opted for hot pot at our hotel. 


That's it!


Happy planning your Chengdu trip :)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Quick Get Away In Nainital


Going up to the hills during Delhi summers is always a good idea, even if it's for a short duration. Last April, to celebrate my father in law's birthday, we decided to spend some time up in Bhowali. We stayed at Himalaica homestay and it was FANTASTIC. That's why even after one year I want to share about that.


This homestay is extraordinary in so many ways!

It's one hour away from Katkodhan railway station. When we reached, we were greeted by Basant the caretaker and three adorable dogs. The permanent staff includes a fantastic chef and 2 caretakers, Madhvi and Basant. The staff is extremely efficient, they are always smiling, always willing to help. They pay attention to your needs and go the extra mile to make you comfortable.
Counting fish 
I had a bad throat when we arrived and asked for some hot water to drink. Later in the night when I went to my room I spotted a jug full of hot water right next to my bedside. How thoughtful is that! :)

The food is delicious. We were a big group of 10 people and there was always a range of dishes we requested them to cook for us. The chef not only prepared a wide variety of food but also did great desserts.

Our last night was 'Bonfire and tandoori night'. The chef made tandoori chicken, tandoori paneer, tandoori veggies and he also made mind-blowing momos as well!
Tandoori chicken
The property is stunning! They have done a great job with the interiors of this huge house. Every corner is beautifully decorated. What attention to detail! Loved it.
'Take me to someplace mystical'
Just one beautiful door
Property grounds
They have water heaters and heated mattresses in every room. The beds are comfortable and the blankets are warm.

One of the dogs, Lama, tends to sneak into your bedroom and sleeps on your bed so remember to keep your bedroom door shut. Lama is adorable though... it's hilarious how he tries to sneak in.
Also, we had two kids with us who had a GREAT time with these 3 dogs! They are very friendly and playful. So, don't worry about the dogs if you plan to come down with your kids.
Surya & Lamma
Such a cute dog!
Vishnu showering his love on Lamma 
Lastly, the lake is 40 mins drive down from here if you want to do the touristy stuff :)

If you are going to Bhowali this is your place.

Things That My Headhunting Job Taught Me


After I moved to Hong Kong I switched my career and joined a headhunting agency. We didn't use 'headhunting' when we spoke to our clients as it is a very aggressive word, instead, we used 'recruitment'. Probably that's why I loved it more because in the end it was not just about making money but also about giving a fantastic service to the people we worked with. 

It job taught me a great deal and I wanna share it here -

1) Don't Assume Anything - This was a revelation about myself, that I assume a huge amount of things in just first few minutes. 

- If a person has a kid, it does not mean they'll be married, they could have a partner or no partner, just them and their kid. It's the 21st century and we have a lot of single parents around. 

- If someone looks s/he belongs to a certain country, it does not mean they are from there. I met a lot of Indian and Chinese people who are not Indian or Chinese. In fact, they were Britishers or Americans or Canadians with Indian or Chinese descent. 

- All people aren't married, some people choose not to get married but are together for decades. 

Awkward! 

These are the things that are ingrained in our brains (at least Asian brains), we should unlearn all this.



2) Dealing with different personalities - I spoke to and met soo many people in a short course that it trained me to identify different personalities and deal with them accordingly. That’s why I think I mostly like people, I understand them better, I know where they are coming from and I know why they say what they say. Of course, there are times when I don’t like someone instantly or someone brushes me the wrong way but I handle it.. like an adult.

3) Don’t judge people - This is different from the first point as judging usually involves a negative feeling. Back then, things like a candidate not picking up a scheduled phone call, not telling me about their job or salary, hiding information…… I used to get pissed. But slowly I realized that it’s okay, someone missed a call more often than not they have a legit issue (a meeting came, boss was around, etc), they need to trust me before giving that information. Will I tell a stranger my salary?




5) Urgency - The most important thing in recruitment. Why? Let me explain through an example - 

Suppose I found a superb candidate for a job. But I don't share her/his profile with a client immediately most likely my competitor will share the SAME candidate with the same client. Lunch can wait, another interview can wait, just take out 2 minutes and share that candidate right away.

The feeling of losing out on a role is terrible.





4) Identifying different accents - This is a fun one. On average, I used to speak to 8 candidates per day based out of different parts of the world. I won't lie, initially, I did not understand a lot of accents but in a few months not only I was able to understand them but also identify. 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Muslim Quarter, Xi'an China

Delicious food! Yum yum yum! Only if you are a non-vegetarian. 




Tip 1 Go there early, around 4:00 PM because during dinner time it is super packed which dampens the experience quite a lot.

Tip 2 Carry your own tissue paper/hands wipes. You wont get any tissues with your meal and you might face difficulties in explaining it to the waiter. When I tried to do some hand gestures they thought I am inquiring about the toilet. 

We went here after starving ourselves the entire day and that's why we were able to try many things.
Delicious lamp skewers with Ice Peak

The lamb skewers are a must have. You will find them in every shop. The meat is juicy and oh so soft. 

Around 5:30-6:00 pm you will see people lining up to have a bun stuffed with minced meat. Select a vendor who is also adding some gravy otherwise you wont like it because it gets very dry without it. We had without the gravy and it was hard to swallow. After that we saw another shop serving gravy, I am assuming it will be good. Also, when you get in the queue there will be a person giving you a coupon. Don't try to be smart and jump the queue, when you reach the main vendor they will ask for this coupon and if you don't have it you will be sent in the end of the queue. haha!


Another good thing about this market is it is clean. In every 10mins you will see sweepers cleaning the floor. 

Must have - All the things you can try! 
If you want to select a few and go for safe options then go for lamb skewers, dumplings in sweet and sour soup, cold noodles in sesame sauce with a drink called Ice peak. 

Dumplings in spicy soup


It was a fantastic experience.
Visited April 2017

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Serene Santorini




I am struggling for words as I don't know what should I write and how should I write to do justice to this magical place. They say if you experience something 'magnificent' it stays with you forever. Visiting Santorini was one such experience. 

We keep reading about how beautiful Santorini is, about it's multicolored cliffs & beaches, about it's blue and white cycladic houses, about it's glorious sunsets but when you actually visit and witness all this with your own eyes it leaves you feeling enigmatic. It is so pretty, so beautiful that you find yourself comprehending whether it's real or a dream. 

Different walkways,  Oia 
We spent four nights in Oia at a B&B called Maria's Place. Maria's place offers a great sunset view and the rooms are tiny but comfortable. Like most of the properties here, this one is also family run. It's owned by a lady called Maria (obviously) but run by Anna who is Maria's husband's sister. Anna's husband acts as a cabbie and handles airport pick up and drop offs.

Little Kittens sleeping at Maria's Place
Oia is known for it's beautiful sunsets. 'Oia Town' is 10-15 minutes walk from Maria's place. During our first evening we spotted cave houses with colorful roofs and cobbled streets leading to churches where street performers were singing merrily. 
Beautiful views from every corner
Stunning!
Oia Town over flows with tourists during sunset time. The main 'sunset point' is usually incredibly crammed up. We did not even try to get there and enjoyed golden-orange sky from one of the cobbled walkways. 
One corner of the cobbled street
Almost every restaurant here offers a stunning sunset view. So picking a restaurant is easy. But a few of them are insanely expensive, go through the menu and prices before picking a restaurant. 

We also explored Fira which is known to be Santorini's nightlife hub. There is a bus station close to Maria's Place & Anna is there to help you with the bus numbers.
Restaurant lane 
Tip - Do not hire cars here. The best of this place can be experienced on foot, by a bus or ATVs. 

Fira has it's own charm. Walking down the narrow streets with peculiar shops and cafes on each side was so.much.fun.! You can find some amazing stuff here to take away with you. We bought original Greek olive oil infused with Garlic (YUM).

In Fira we also booked a sailing tour for the next day. We had to be at the port at a certain time and we were told that it is damn easy to go down the steps to reach the port. Guess what? It wasn't! There are around 200 slippery steps covered with donkey poo. Imagine what slipping here will do to you. Our hands were smelling of the poo for a long time :D
1. On the ship 2.Having lunch at a fisherman's village
We wanted to experience the real essence of Santorini and decided to book an old sailing boat instead of the air conditioned speed boat. Unfortunately, it was extremely hot & sunny that day and there was NO shade at all. It took a while for us to adjust.
Smiles came after a while
There is one more thing that you can't miss in Santorini and that is the wine tasting. We went to Santo Wines vineyard and ordered their set menu which consists of 6 wines, 3 whites and 3 reds. 

Apart from the wines, this vineyard offers a great site for watching the sunset. 

Us, Wines and a drunkard 

Pro tip - Go to Santorini before Mykonos because Mykonos is ten steps ahead of the former and maybe.. just maybe you won't appreciate Santorini as much.

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