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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

craftilicious

some more images from the craft fair at Bhubaneswar..

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Bhubaneshwar

I have been trying to get this post and photos up for a while now but my frustratingly slow internet connection at home is driving me mental at the moment and it seems i have to rely on hotel wi fi connections to get any kind of decent speed.

so now i find myself in an echo-y (how do you spell that?) beige hotel room in south delhi, going crazy on high speed internet – i can finally catch up my favourite podcasts (I heart Russell Brand), and really find out whats happening in the celebrity world, Oscar fashions and all.. PHEW..

SO anyway.. Bhubaneswar, a wee town (only 2 million people or something.. tiny!) on the east of India in the state of  Orissa, was my destination for a quick trip last week. i wanted to meet a fair trade group there and also check out the local crafts. while trying to find a good hotel amongst the tired old business hotels or inflated tourist chains that were there, I found the great new budget self-service franchise by Tata, called ‘Ginger’. How’s this for a clean modern set up for a hotel in small town India:

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all for the grand total of Rs.1500 and that bed is freaking comfortable. Oh AND there was a cafe attached to the lobby which means real coffee for breakfast.. wahoo!

But besides all the crafty investigations, the highlight of the trip was a weird circus performance that i was treated to at an All India handicraft exhibition.. I’d spent the past 2 hours being keenly stared at by everyone around me and the finally found someone i could stare at and be part of the audience.

The whole thing started out with these two sweeties, the younger girl must’ve been around 4 or 5, the older about 9 or 10 I think…

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and then mum and big sis came out to perform on a very dodgy and very wobbly bamboo contraption…

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the audience watched, fascinated:

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and the musicians played faster and faster:

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and for her last trick..

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spinning on a small metal pin that sticks out the top of the bamboo pole. while in the lotus position.. and she was spinning fast..

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pretty impressive..

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india travel ideas

I have been getting itchy feet in the last week or two, and have been surfing around the net trying to decide where I would like to go for my next indian holiday.. On the south east coast of India I have only been to Chennai, and that for only a day or two, so i am eager to explore more. Pondicherry is my new fixation.. as is this hotel, part of the Neemrana chain –

Hotel L’Orient

Or then there is the wilderness of Uttarakhand (previously called Uttaranchal), located kind of north east of Nepal – with Himalayan mountain views, the sources of holy rivers the Ganges and the Yamuna, forests and national parks, including the Jim Corbett National Park and Tiger Reserve, access to white water rafting and trekking trips, and the stunning Valley of Flowers:

 Which sounds like a fairytale name and looks just amazing.. something like 500 species of flowers can be found in this valley which is surrounded by snow capped Himalayn mountains and the whole area has been a protected site since the 1930s.It is only open between June to October as the rest of the year it is covered with snow. There is a lovely travel blog post here about the Valley.

Then there is the east of India and the lure of the historical hill station of Darjeeling and the tea plantations in Assam..

(view of Darjeeling, from questhimalaya.com)

or a cool hill station in the south, like Kodaikanal or Ooty.. or a deserted beach in Goa, or a palace in Rajasthan, or the Tibetan plains in Ladakh.. how do you decide where to go when you have such spectacular choices!?!

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through the ol’ facebook i mentioned yesterday, I have come across an old school friend’s blog which is pretty cool. She is a firefighter who is doing a 5 month posting on Antarctica –
Life in the Freezer

how cool is that?

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Cafe Bali

When we left Singapore for Bali my sister sent me a text saying Just make sure you check out Jalan Laksmana (a streetname) and go to Cafe Bali. We tried a couple of days to find this street – laksmana, lakasmana left? right? with no luck and had kind of given up on it till we stumbled across it while looking for somewhere to eat dinner. After the crudeness and colorfulness of Jalan Legian, Laksmana is cool, calm and collected – stylish furniture and designer clothing stores, Italian restaurants, art galleries… and Cafe Bali.

I’ve been slightly interior design obsessed lately as we are planning house renovations (yes, still and yes I know its been ages and no, it still hasn’t started. wanna come and pack up the house for me?) but this place is gorgeous. I don’t know who owns it and who did the interiors but they just did such a good job of creating a wonderful, calm and stylish interior while still keeping the features of the original old house and not going too modern and funky. Plus it incorporates local Balinese features, and just has a wonderfull calmness about it that I’m sure my photos do not do justice too.. nevertheless, Ladies and Gentlemen, may i present to you Cafe Bali:

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and check this out for a chandelier:

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It all kinda looks like it shouldn’t go together – flowers and frills and a wall of mirrors and white tables with lace table cloths and mismatched white chairs.. but it does, it really works. Plus their coffee rocks.

yum.

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Bali

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We were off.. for a week of togetherness and sunshine and exploring and snorkelling and r e l a x ing.

We took an evening flight from Singapore and finally ended up at the incredible villa we had booked (check out thevillas.net) at around 10pm. We walked in and our jaws dropped. When you book something on the internet you never expect it to be quite as good as it looks do you? But this exceeded all expectations:

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Private pool in a private compound with an open kitchen and dining table, massive bathroom and huge comfy bed in a optionally airconned bedroom.. for one week.. is this paradise? I think so.

we got explored the local streets and beaches for the first couple of days courtesy of The Red Tiger, then upgraded to The Blue Beast  which was The Red Beast for a while but due to a tyre explosion she got substituted:

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We took surfing lessons and attempted to stand up. I was successful a couple of times,  then retired to my sun lounger as a new fashion magazine was calling me. K was more successful and perservering.

The beach was a little crowded in some spots, but not too bad. The beach hawkers were pretty easy going compared to the relentless sales pitches of the Goan hawkers that we are used to.

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We went on a road trip to Ahmed one day, the famed snorkelling spot, and wove through small roads, past beaches and green valleys:

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  We passed Mount Agung, the last eruption of 1963 decimated the surrounding area and left a cloud of black ash over the entire north east side of the island:

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We got so excited about the great snorkelling and yum seafood lunch in Ahmed we fogot to take photos. But trust me it was GOOD. Gorgeous coral reef only metres away from shore and extending about 50m out to sea. We saw all kinds of colourful tropical fish, starfish, seaweeds and then just as I was admiring the weeny little cute jelly fish that were floating round me one stung me right on the inner thigh. ouch. little bastard.

We found the most superb cafe in the world on Jalan Laksmana that will get its own post later today, and we had a night out dancing after drinking a bottle of champagne in our private pool under the stars. We got sunburnt, had massages, ate and ate and ate lots of good food – Indonesian, italian and even found an excellent Greek restaurant, we surfed some more, shopped and siesta-ed. On the final night we went the Oberoi Hotel in Seminyak for a last drink at sunset… what a beautful spot:

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and then.. just like that.. we were on the plane, speeding down the runway, and flying over the lights of Jimbaran Bay. We had a day in Singapore where I picked up a shiny new laptop (!) about which I am super excited.. more news to follow about the exciting plans that it is to be used for!

My tan is starting to fade already and my bag is sore from my first day back in the office sitting at the computer for 9 hours again.. oh holidays! how wonderful, yet how fleeting you are….

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right now

i am sitting on a deep soft comfortable sofa, my laptop balanced on a colorful cushion on my lap. the remains of eggs florentine and a creamy cafe latte are being carried away by my friendly waiter while the ceiling fans slowly whirl above our heads. billie holiday is singing through the stereo system, echoing round the high teak beams of this old colonial building that has been converted into a delicious cafe. I am surrounded by white walls, white ceiling, and white tables with old fashioned white lace tablecloths. The wallpaper is an old fashioned dainty flower print which mirrors the bowls of fresh flowers on every table. Two massive chandeliers dominate the room, one crystal and antique-y, one abstract and modern with spirals carved in egg shaped bowls, each one cupping a small glowing bulb. The traffic noise outside is dulled by the row of palms that line the wide balcony at the entrance. My tummy is full and I am totally relaxed. 10 hours left until I fly out of  Bali and I wish I could stay here forever.

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