Travel With Your Job
Winners of GoUNESCO Travel Challenge 2013 we share our ways and tips.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Herança Goesa- Best Place to stay in Diu

I rarely write reviews more because of my laziness to click pictures when I am staying at any place than for any other reason. This time I managed to pull out the camera while in the room and click some photographs.


Basic Info

Our place of choice in Diu was Herança Goesa. After a draining walk from the Airport the guest house was a blessing for its quick room allocation and friendly owners. The guest house is owned by an Indo-Portugese family living on the ground floor. There are 5 rooms on the first floor and two on the ground. All the First floor rooms have twin beds and double bed is available on the ground floor.

Location


It is perhaps the best location if you intend to see the city and churches. It is around 8 Km form the Nagoa beach but Jalandhar beach and INS Kukri memorial beach are nearby. You are just behind the two famous churches of Diu, the St. Thomas church and St. Paul's Church. It is around 10 minutes walk to the shops and waterfront, pharmacy is nearby and so are a few food options without going to the waterfront.

Room and costs




If there is anything you will hear about the place it will be its cleanliness and people are not lying. The room was far better cleaned compared to some hotels I have stayed at for double the price.
As I previously mentioned the room had twin beds. The beds were comfortable though we did miss covers or a light duvet as the night got a bit cold for us with windows open. A table with two chairs id the only other furniture in the room. Minimal and sufficient furniture does not clutter the room and there was good circulation space in the room. There is no closet which could be locked but the space is good for unpacking your luggage.
Toilet and bath were like the other areas clean and well provided for. There is a small gas heater which get hot water running. If there is any thing I did not like it was the state of plumbing fixtures. Some minor repairs or replacements would greatly help.
Both the room and toilet are well ventilated, some may even say that it was too ventilated. The windows had clear glass and flimsy curtains made it difficult to change inside the room without fearing for your modesty.
Room has a fan which served us well and we were did not desire air conditioning at any point against our experience in Goa. Plug points are there near the bed and the table, definitely where we want them.
There were no towels or toilet paper provided there was a big bar of soap in the toilet.
Check in-out time is 10 am though we requested another 30 minutes and they had no issues with it, maybe because it was off season. Gate closing time is 11:30 pm.
The room cost us 600 per night.

Food

They do breakfast and dinners but kitchen was to be opened from next month so we walked around for food. Due to its proximity to the waterfront food options are always nearby.



Common Areas

There is a terrace (next to our room) with common table and an ashtray. You can also go up to the roof which along with a nice view has pleasant breeze in the night.

Final Call

We loved the place it was quiet, comfortable and never far away from anything but the airport and Nagoa beach. We met a french guy who comes to Diu every year for twenty odd years and has lived here for past seven. Ask for the rooms with the balcony they were occupied when we went. Definitely the place to live in when all you want is good accommodation for reasonable price.

Monday, July 21, 2014

How we Planned our Honeymoon- for less than 1000$

This is one of the chapters from my book Work Travel Live. The book will be available by the month end and you should be signing up if you want it.

This chapter will show you how to use the skills we learnt to plan and execute your trip to your liking. While we were planning for our honeymoon none of us had money to spend over a lakh on one trip so we decided to see how efficiently we can manage it.
Our goal as always was to reduce the fixed costs of flights and accommodation. With me being a vegetarian food was a concern. We were to say the least highly inefficient in our planning and travel still we managed to keep the trip within our pockets.

Transport


Our marriage dates were decided in July 2010 and we booked our first flight tickets in August 2010. Our trip dates were in February next year. Yes almost six months before our trip we booked our first tickets. Air Asia had just introduced itself in India and it was an opportunity like never before. We paid a total of 20000 for our return flights (to KL) combined along with luxury bus to Penang and flight back. We had really wanted to do a night in houseboat and it became easy with Air Asia’s direct and cheapest flight to Kochi. We then took a flight back to Delhi which cost us an additional 6500 combined.
We got two very important benefits of booking flights this early. Firstly we got great prices partly due to promotions and also by spreading our flights over a few months we never felt as if a big chunk of money was lost in a single click.
We combined both air and road transport. Though the costs were almost similar it let us see some new sights we would have missed if we flew into Penang instead of taking the bus.

Accommodation


When you are planning your accommodation you dream of comfy beds with luxurious bathrooms. We got both but reduced the costs by taking off things we would not use. We knew we were going to be mostly out and wanted to be close to the city center so we booked Tune hotel which is AirAsia sister concern. The hotel was well maintained and had awesome bed and shower. Its location close to metro station helped us to get around the city easily. Cost for four nights was 4200.
Next hotel in Penang was a bit more luxurious and we paid 3100 for two nights. Both of these being in city center we could walk around and get cheap food to suit my vegetarian requirements. Also they were cheap and easy to reach.
After coming back to India our first night was at youth hostel in a private room that cost us 600/- for the night. I was not really happy with the youth hostel simple quarters; it was our honeymoon after all. Today the accommodation feels just right.
Next day and night was our big honeymoon treat in houseboat which cost us 5000 all inclusive. Except for the youth hostel all other accommodations would not be called backpacker’s haunts. We had luxury and the extra expenditure on the house boat didn’t even register because of the novel experience we had.

Local transport

I would admit had I not been tense about missing our flights we might not have ended up spending on airport taxis. Almost all the airports had buses or other means available. Except for those taxis it was bus and metro all the way. I can’t give you exact figure but it never really went overboard. We walked a lot and free bus service in Penang was a boon.
Also while in Fort Kochi we walked most of town just like in Penang’s Georgetown area.

Food and drinks


This was a big challenge for an Indian vegetarian. Let me explain what that means. I don’t consume meat and eggs but I do take in dairy products. We Indians are a bit too finicky about what we eat and I had dosa and idli almost all days we were there in Penang. I now know the variety of food Penang has on offer and some of them is actually vegetarian. We did not even have cendol.
McD doesn’t serve vegetarian options, I don’t know why. They do so here in India. The only food I could have was a pizza which was too expensive to have every day. I practically survived on fruits. If you can rent an apartment and cook for yourself you are going to be really happy. Even a snack or sandwich prepared for your food sensibilities can be a blessing. Research what food is available and ask the restaurant to cook it as per your requirements. During my next trip to the place I found that most places were ready to switch the meat add-ons for veggies and I was never hungry.
We did not drink a single glass of liquor and were better off without it. It was my first trip outside India and I was far too alert. I am quite sure those cheap beer buckets at china town must be quite inviting. But think before you end up finishing one all by yourself.

Souvenirs

I love to shop, I am a girl but I usually fix price for an item in my mind. If it’s more than that I don’t usually buy it. Along with that I can haggle though I am not great at it like many in our family. This makes the chances of getting what I like at my price better. We ended up with a few 10RM souvenirs and bought some cheap keychain packs for people back home.
Think twice before you buy anything. Those vases do look beautiful but they can break very easily if those airport luggage people don’t handle it well. We found some affordable, beautiful table top fountains in a mall and were about to buy it when Ajay just picked it up. It was too heavy and three of them would burden our already loaded bags. So we left it there and brought back some shot glasses and random souvenirs that people back home liked.
I always suggest buying a few key chains with some imagery on it. This will reduce the cost but you can gift it to people you are not really close with.

Our Mistakes

Before you think it seems possible and let’s do it this way let me tell you about the mistakes we made.

Baggage

This is one of my biggest regrets and was a constant worry especially while checking in. I am sure we could have managed without the loaded bags we were carrying.
I had a bag full of sarees and shoes as we were flying just after our marriage, and I wasn’t keen on leaving it at my in-laws. We were not returning to Hyderabad in near future so it did not make sense.
Now it makes sense. We would have saved up some 1500 that we paid for pre booked check in baggage on Air Asia. We were on the margin and any extra weight would have cost us additional money on the trip. Definitely not a desirable situation.
Apart from cost it was inconvenient. We had stuffed handbags, were wearing our heaviest jackets in the flights and held our breath when the polite ladies were weighing our bags. It is not worth the trouble. I had half a bag full of shoes and wore just two pair entire time.

We could have stayed cheaper


Sure all that we spent wasn’t major but now I feel there were quite a few places we did not look at because their sites did not look good or we thought they were very cheap.
We booked the houseboat through the guy at our youth hostel. I am sure had we waited till we reached Alleppy we could have had a cheaper deal.
This can be a bit risky in case you don’t find accommodation at the last moment, still we were back to our home country and there’s always a way out.

Food

We are both big time foodies. While I am the adventurous kind Ajay would not experiment while alone. Scared by sights of hanging seafood in china town I did not even eat roti canai or the other vegetarian fare, though rare were on offer. I strongly suggest you ask people what goes into the thing they are serving you. You would in most cases be able to get them to cook up something for you. Though expect just fries in major food outlets.
There is a high chance that you might not be able to get through to the vendor try somewhere else. I could easily find people speaking Hindi in Malaysia if not English. If you miss out on food you miss out on a lot that the place has to offer.

Don’t repeat our mistakes, do your own and tell us about them. In the next edition maybe I’ll put a few under your name.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Of Tooth Floss and More

Are you thinking what does the headline mean? It is exactly what has been going on in my head past few months that is some random thoughts and a lot of plans. First of let me digress form travel for a bit.
If you have been to a dentist and sat in that chair of horrors you would understand what I am about to rant off. We visited dentist in December yup I rarely if ever need to see dentist and my oral hygiene and teeth are in perfect condition or should I say were. I remember mentioning this in this post. So after the lady gave me a cleaning/scaling which according to her I did not need I now have sensitive teeth. After six+ months of using soft bristles and brushing less than previously I am stuck with sensitive teeth and now I have to make sure I floss and use a mouth wash every day.

Now that you know what has me riled up let us move to another thing that is eating me except for the fact that I have barely updated my blog. We have not had a real trip in over a month Last time we were traveling was in late April when we went diving and since then Nada. Well we did visit my family but I don't really count that as a trip though it was real fun. I can feel I am getting antsy and as a result of a lot of work and irritation over not traveling for a long stretch of time I have finally concluded that Travel is addictive and i might be an addict.

I like to believe that I have *inspired* people to travel more even if they have jobs and specifically if they have a job. In India we are told that school and college are meant for studying and your life awaits you after that. There are very few who actually travel and if there are a few of them who do they are rarely females of our species. So the time you have money (more than what you had in college at least) you are being told you have to work your butt off to make something out of yourself. STOP and think when are you going to actually enjoy your life. With all due respect to the traveling retirees old knees are rarely going to take you up some mountain.
Where am I going with this? Two points which are related to each other closely.
1. Travel now don't put it for later.
2. Travel can be addictive so keep traveling because withdrawal is a b***
Let me elaborate, what is your age right now? If you are over 25 remember your school college days and honestly tell yourself if you can do as many night outs as you could have done back then? Do you crave your bed every night when you were more than satisfied with a corner on the mattress after a late night party? Exactly my point. On our year end trip we slept in train for almost a week and woke up to bumpy jeep safaris, at 27-28 it was fun but I am not sure if i would be inclined to do the same ten years from now with a child in tow. Bottom line travel now, who says you will be walking the earth when you are old.

As I already said we haven't been traveling and my creative energy has suffered many folds. I just don't feel like writing most days and when I do it feels lie a chore after few lines I have a lot of unfinished posts and am trying to finish them off and them polish them some. Another thought that has been plaguing me is how do I want my travel and blogging career to go? 
Anyways what do you have to say about Travel and Dentists!

* Awesome image above by deathtothestockphoto

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Getting SCUBA Certification and clearing some questions

So how is life going on? Mine has been fairly busy some changes a home and a lot of changes in and around work and general life. Travel had taken a back seat past month as we were working towards new goals and to be true things have been going really well. You will hear about it in the Travel digest for June. Yes I have just renamed my monthly travel and life update newsletter and you can definitely expect something new and updated.


I have been dying to share more about our scuba adventure in April end but as you can see I have been all but absent from the blog. In few words- It was awesome. 
Both of us are now proud scuba certified divers. I realized that I have not put up anything in the blog when we got our dive cards a few days back. Scuba diving can be best explained as the calm adventure sport. I have gone rafting in the Ganges, jumped from a cliff, rock climbing and rappelling,  para-sailed, trekked a bit and diving has to be one of the most satisfying yet calming experiences of them all. I am not yet sure that it is counted in adventure sports or not but going by reactions from our near and dear ones it is indeed considered dangerous and an adventure.

Dangerous it is, forget the tenets of safe diving and you are in for a rude shock which you might never live to tell. Follow what they tell you and you will not just survive you will be swimming life a fish though with a breathing apparatus.

Before i go deep into what and how diving is let me tell you our motivation to go diving. Flight sales, yup that is what started it all. Indian aviation industry has some how decided that it is going to give heavy discounts to get people to fly. We flew to back to Jaipur in 2000 Rs each and a round trip to Maldives was for less than 10 K. You know us if there's a deal, if its good and we can afford it we always take it. So we started planning our trip and then realized if we did not dive in Maldives it would be a ticket wasted. Don't get me wrong I do believe there's plenty to do in the country apart from diving.

Finally i was able to convince Ajay with a considerable investment of 18000/- it was a huge commitment. This is perhaps the biggest deterrent I have heard of apart from fear of water which you simply have to face at some point of time. So after being certified I take it upon me (though late) to clarify some questions/doubts/misconceptions about scuba diving.

1. Which certification should I choose?

Choose anyone and seriously don't fret. If you like to go along the flow and not take any risks choose PADI. If you would like to save some money choose SSI. Finally it is about going under water and getting your skills right.

2.What if I can't swim?

The instructors will not throw you out of class. our instructors were very cooperative and believe me even if you know how to swim 200m is can be a bit too much if you are not regular (that means me). We were asked to try with fins and snorkel gear and it was smooth for most of us. There were people who struggled but they managed by the end of the day.

3.Is it safe?

It is actually quite safe. Be alert and ALWAYS dive within your limits you will never face a problem. Diving with a buddy (partner of sorts) is the default safety ensuring technique. Accidents can happen but you will be trained for them actually dealing with accidents is all they teach you in the skills, right from loosing your regulator to getting out of air.

4. I am too fat/thin/tall/short/lazy/etc... Can I do it?

You are required to sign a medical form TRUTHFULLY before you start. Most of the above will not disqualify you but if your answer to any of their question s a yes let the instructor know.

5. I am afraid of water what do I do?

Talk to your instructor and build your trust in him/her and in your skills. If you need more practice ask for it. It is not just easy to practice more than once in the pool compare to vast waters of the ocean.

6. Do I need to take any precaution?

A few
  • Don't dive if you have a cold, you will not be able to equalize and it will hurt like a #%*$.
  • Schedule your flight at least 24 hours after your last dive.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation that means if you HAVE to keep is it a beer short than what gets you dizzy. Hangover and sea don't really go together.
  • Go crazy about water, you will need it.
  • Most importantly, never go down in pain if you have any discomfort tell your instructor. Being modest or shy isn't going to help.
7. Should I do the online study part?

SSI online course is free so yeah do it if you have time and you trust yourself to remember it all. It will save a lot of your time. PADI online material is paid though but it will still save you a lot of time.

We did the OWD course and will move on to the advanced sometime this year.You can read more about the courses for SSI and PADI.
If you have a few more questions let us know, though this is not the end of diving posts I have one coming up specifically for divers with long hair (my pain ).

In case you have decided to take your first dive, let me know. If you have had a dive or many share your wisdom with us.

photo credit: Philippe Guillaume via photopin cc

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Travel Inspiration 20- Take a trip together

This photograph of fiver year younger us is something I still cherish. It was my first trip ever with friends and it was awesome. I still think about it and it has moments i can never forget like that time when I cliff jumped in Ganga.

If you want some quality time it is time to hit the road with your friends.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Travel Inspiration 19- Find Your Solace Point


Travel can have many reasons behind it. You can travel for business or leisure, you might be running from something or to something you might be looking for company or you are looking for solace.
Many talk about how travel helps you find yourself, it is true. By challenging your ideas and limits you discover how much more you have to offer to the world and how much more the world has to offer you.
If you disregard the idea that a particular place can help you find the peace within you are missing something. No doubt peace is to be found within you but it is also something that a place can induce in you. Have you visited Mughal monuments without all the rush or sat down at the Taj you would have felt it. Don't rush through your travels and experience. this does not mean that you have to travel slow you just have to travel unhurried.

When was the last time you felt peace while travelling?