Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kerela in a Week: Allepey, the backwaters


Allepey or Alappuzha as the area is now known, is a town with backwaters and canals. Marco Polo described it as the “Venice of the East” and I now know why.

Thekaddy to Allepey is about 180-200 km and takes a little over 5 hours. The last few days had been packed and we dozed on-off in the first half of our drive. Mid-day saw us out of tea and spice plantations and back among palm and coconut trees – sure sign that we were back around the coasts. When we reached, much of Allepey roads were in water due to the rains and the backwaters had risen above their usual level. We crossed into town and checked into our own houseboat around 2 in the afternoon.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kerela in a Week: Periyar


Munnar to Periyar is about 4 hours drive and we headed there post breakfast to comfortably reach by mid-day. Periyar or Thekkady is a protected area and national reserve for tigers.  There are numerous spice plantations in the area and we stopped at one. There was a short tour where our “guide” pointed out to the various plants.. hibiscus leaves for great hair, herbs for muscle ailments and allergies, aloe vera for the skin and of course cardamom, star anise, coffee beans to name a few.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kerela in a Week: Munnar


Munnar, a hill-station, and yes the traditional tourist point was our next stop from Kochi. The 140 km long journey took us about 4.5 hrs including a quick lunch stop and on 2 en-route waterfalls. The drive was smooth as the roads are quite good- specially considering the battering from the rains. All along the way we noticed that the homes lining these roads were colorful and grand. Colors ranged from the usual crème and grey and red to the daring purple, bright pink and parrot green! Our driver told us that people in Kerela are very house proud- and spend much money on doing up their homes.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Kerela in a Week: Cochin

 Cochin greeted us with a bang. Bang! Bang! Bang! The rain went, bullets from a water pistol, as our flight landed at the Cochin airport. The downpour continued with as much gusto even an hour later as the taxi made twists and turns in Fort Kochi streets. Me and my husband, Sanjay were in Cochin, the starting point of our 11 day vacation - a week long tryst with Kerela before we headed to Goa.

The Itinerary, October 16-16, 2010

Fly from Delhi to Cochin
Days 1 and 2:     Cochin
Day 3 and 4:       Drive to Munnar (4 hrs), Overnight for 2N
Day5:                 Drive to Periyar (4hrs), Overnight
Day 6:                Drive to Allepy (5 hrs), Overnight in houseboat
Day 7:                Drive to Cochin (2 hrs) and catch overnight Rajdhani reaching Goa at 11.00 AM
Days 8-11:         Goa
Fly back to Delhi




Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekend in Amritsar @Day 2

The lights could have been stars. I was standing just at the entrance of the parikrama of the Golden Temple. It was dark at 6.00 am in the morning and the temple glittered in itself and more in the water below. As I walked around the parikrama towards the temple, I must say that a sense of quietness came over me. Hundreds of devotees, the chanting prayer voice and the obvious reverence of the caretakers compelled me to stand aside near the sarovar to soak in the atmosphere all on my own. How often do we have this feeling of calmness in a huge bustle? It needs to be treasured.

Seven of us are visiting the Harminder Sahib or the Golden Temple. Our heads covered with duppatta’s and hankies, we make way slowly towards the temple complex itself with platefuls of ghee drenched prasad. As we approach it, my two year old nephew Aryann, remarks that “ the Golden Temple is very golden”. True it is, almost covered with gold sheets with only few marble pillars to be seen. We enter and bow to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The temple has three storey’s . We climb each and pay our respects. We slowly file out clutching our Prasad donas. It is light now and people are dipping in and out of the sarovar. Aryann, is happy to see the fat fishes while Myra (my year old niece) is happy sitting on Sanjay’s head, getting a balcony view of all the going-on. We spend some time around the parikrama clicking pictures and dipping our feet and hands.

It is time to head back to the hotel for breakfast. There is a selection of Indian and continental options and I opt for Indian. After thick aloo parathas, curd and pickle washed down with tea, I am all set to visit the Jalliahwalah Bagh and maybe some shops.

The Jalliahwallah Bagh is a landmark in India’s freedom fight. A protest was organized against the Rowlatt Act on April 13, 1919. About 20,000 people participated in this and had collected at the Jalliahwalah Bagh, then a private garden. General Dyer, trying to control the crowd, asked his soldiers to fire at the crowd. Many were killed by bullets and more injured in the stampede that ensued. The walls of the Bagh are marked in white boxes depicting areas where bullets were fired. The well where many jumped to save their lives can still be seen. An Amar Jyoti (eternal flame) in the garden marks respect for the martyrs.

After a solemn morning, we head to the market streets of Amritsar. We are keen to buy salty snacks, pickles and some of the famous “phulkari” cloth materials. The next and last stop before we catch our train to Delhi is a dhaba. We head to Surjit’s dhaba famous for its fried fish and chicken. I, being a vegetarian, stick to paneer tikka which is super soft and delicious. My roti and dal tadka are quite tasty too and we all dig in.

The afternoon passes and we are soon put still in the train seats. As I am sitting, I realize I am tired. The trip though short was hectic and my eyes are drooping shut. I am unable to enjoy the views from the large train window of the landscape passing by but the pictures of the last 48 hours flash through my sleepy mind- hundreds of us Indians shouting out Vande Matram, a thali of hot food swimming in butter, a flame alit, the silver moon in the dark sky against the very Golden temple!

Weekend in Amritsar@ Day 1

We are on a two day trip to Amritsar- 5 adults and two small children. The Shatabdi train from Delhi to Amritsar departs on time at 7.20 AM for its 6 hour route. It has been long since I have been on a train journey and a large group always means more fun. And fun we have- switching seats, chatting and passing around an unending supply of snacks.

We reach on schedule and head towards the Carlton Inn and Suites, a newly opened hotel barely 5 minutes from the station. The lobby is pleasant and we are very happy with our rooms. The are large and modern with flat screen TVs and bright framed modern art on the walls.

However, we quickly shower and change as we have to be off to the Wagah Border last by 3.00 PM. Wagah Border, is a border gate between India and Pakistan. Every evening at about 5.00 PM there is a parade and ceremony while taking down the national flag before sunset.

We file into an Innova and pick burgers and Pepsi enroute as lunch. The countryside is a slideshow of green sugarcane fields. Yellow flowers indicate some mustard in between. It takes us an hour to reach the Wagah Border. In the least it is a mayhem of cars, rickshaws, hundreds of people, food stalls, kiosks, men selling the tricolor flags and visors to cash in on the temporarily heightened feeling of nationalism everyone feels when here. Security is tight and one cannot carry any bags- not even camera covers. Stuffing any money we have into pockets, we walk towards the entry gates. The personnel check us and file us towards stand.

There are 2 separate sections- one for the men and one for women. The crowd, even on a weekday is astoundingly large. Atleast a thousand people are here, cheering for India and hooting for Pakistan. “Vande Matram”-the sentry calls out and the crowd roars back. “Hindustan….” he goes and the crowd bellows “zindabaad”. Soon they put on patriotic film music and many come down from the stands to dance away. I have never seen anything like this before. It is a spectacle on a scale of its own. The crowd on Pakistan’s side is much smaller.

There is a parade and both the sides together take away their flags. We have been here since over an hour and the heat is now getting to us. We head back towards the car and the city. Dinner is in order and a friend has recommended Prawah da dhabha. It is a completely vegetarian joint. Be prepared for large portions and dollops of ghee and butter! It is soon time to wrap up the day as we are going to the Golden Temple early next morning.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

DC: Out and About

“All the organizations in this book exist….All the rituals, science, artwork and monuments in this book are real.”

- Excerpt from the prologue of Dan Brown’s book Lost Symbol.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am no fan of the Lost Symbol. Infact I would recommend extensive editing. But this prologue kept me going and also piqued my interest in the “symbolic” city of Washington.
I have about a day to see what I can (and the weatherman predicts rain). So what I have done is prioritized. On top of my list are the Capitol, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. That they across each other is a bonus. Armed with the Guide to Washington DC map (and it’s a very good one), my windcheater and camera I head out. Across the street is a bus-stop for the Connector bus. One dollar and I am headed to the Union Station which is the start point of all buses. It takes me about 20 minutes to get there.

I first head to the Supreme Court which is a street away. It is a huge white building I have seen so often in the movies. Past security, I walk down the hallway with busts of all judges. A debate is about to start and it is open to the public for hearing. Regrettably, I am short on time and head down stairs towards the exhibition hall. It has exhibits of how the first US supreme court room looked like.

My next stop is the Capitol, across the street. The security tells us to throw away all food and drinks on us. There are 2 tour groups of school children and they try to cram all the chocolates they can. I do the same! The inside is large hall of marble with various statues. I head towards the information desk to register for the free tour for the Capitol. The next one is due to start in 10 minutes and they hand me an ID sticker to paste on my collar. We begin with a short movie. It talks about how America began with 13 states uniting, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Civil War. It tells us the Capitol was built but burnt by the British only to be rebuilt again as a sign of the country’s determination and belief in freedom.

Gary is our tour guide, and he takes us around the Capitol. We see the main hall with various paintings, a court room and various chambers and corridors. I am most keen to see the painting inside the Rotunda dome, with George Washington depicted as god and surrounded by 13 angels (representation the 13 united states).

There is a tunnel connecting the Capitol to the Library of Congress; a must visit on my list as I love books. It is a long marble corridor with frames showing its rare books. I enter into the main chamber of the Library and pick up the Visitor’s guide and a Library passport (one can get it stamped by the Info desk to mark the visit). The main hall is beautiful- the carving and painting making me feel as if I am in a grand room in Rome or Greece. There is also a room full of exhibits of the Maya civilization- their calendar, weapons, pottery and a number of odds and ends. There are touch screens where you can know more about the exhibits which interest you. I promise myself I shall return another day with more time!

I could have spent hours here but it is post lunch and I am hungry. I head to the Union Station planning to pick a sandwich and also look at its architecture. The Union Station in beautiful from inside and as soon as I enter I know I am going to spend more time here than initially planned. I stroll down the main hall to the area with a number of cafés and stores. Perched on a barstool I enjoy my coffee and muffin and watch the world go by!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Washington DC: First Impressions

Work has brought me to Washington DC for about 10 days. Though for most part my stay will be spent in office, I am determined to explore some parts of the city during the one weekend I have here.

My flight lands at the Dulles Airport at 3.00 in the afternoon on schedule. Clearing customs is quick and I am soon on my way to Washington Suites, my home for the week. I am lucky to arrive in good weather, the city having seen massive snowfall and extreme cold just the week before. As of now, it is crispy cool with the sun shining bright in a clear blue sky. The drive downtown is pleasant with lots of greenery around. I can spot the Washington Monument and Capitol from a distance. DC promises to be a pleasant stay; a picturesque city sans crowds and skyscrapers.

A 40 minute drive brings me to Washington Suites, located in the heart of the city. The friendly manager welcomes me with freshly baked cookies and I settle in. The suite is more like a one bedroom apartment, with a separate bedroom, living area and kitchen. All facilities are well equipped. I am glad, as being a vegetarian can limit eating options. Also, since there is no room service I know I will be cooking food occasionally.

Done unpacking, I do not want to sleep until late to prevent the jetlag. I decide to head out for a walk and pick some groceries from Trader’s Joe across the street. My jacket and ear muffs are comfortable for the evening cold and I stroll down the streets, admiring the old fashioned brick houses. Trader’s Joe is a delight as it stocks everything you might possible want in your kitchen- milk products, veggies, snacks, herbs, wines, meals-in-a-box…imagine my surprise when I find prepackaged Indian meals like chole and daal.

Not in favor of pre-packed, I pick up some veggies, bread, pasta and the like. For my dinner menu is some soup, salad and toast. I head back and get cracking. Done with dinner, my eyes are drooping. I hit the pillow knowing well that in about 10 hours time I need to be at work!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekend in McLeodganj @Day 3

To Norbulingka: It was our third and last day. Done with a relaxed breakfast at Llamo’s once again, we hired a taxi for the day. Our destination was Dharamshala’s Norbulingka complex. The complex has a monastery, a doll museum, paintings and a tiny café. There are also monks in residence.

The monastery is colorful and picture perfect. More than that, it was peaceful. The Doll Museum is interesting; depicting Tibetan life and culture; a procession, a marriage, King’s ceremony, a domestic scene around a home. Each depiction is in a glass case with an explanation. Next to this is a large room with beautiful Buddhist paintings- the Thangka.

Finally, a prayer hall where we met a cute girl with her mother. This child aged about two was intent on catching the tail of the monastery’s pet dog. Before leaving though, we did enjoy some honey lemon ginger tea under the colorful prayer flags.

Near to the institute, is the Chamunda Devi Temple. We drove to it and paid respects. There is also a small stream running through the temple filled with devotees.

Soon it was time to back to the bus stop- to catch the dreaded Volvo to Delhi. On the bus stop we met Rahul and Deepti, who were incidentally on the bus on our way to McLeodganj. We chatted and exchanged numbers. Six months down the line we went to Leh together- a fantastic trip it was. All in all, we had a great trip; we relaxed, saw a wonderful place, and unexpectedly climbed a snow capped peak. Travel can gift you so much if you accept with an open mind. Even friends!

Weekend in McLeodganj@ Day 2

Impromptu trek to snow at Triund: The next morning Shambhu told us it had snowed in Triund. Wow! Wish Sanjay had asked for something more! We decided then we just had to trek up to Triund no matter what. We packed a bag with some food, water, torch and clothed ourselves in layers.

But first, we needed to have a good breakfast for the climb. So we headed to town to Llamo’s Croissants. Another cheery place; it has two tiny levels with a balcony. You eat your breakfast on low mattresses and tables. Grab a book and dig into bowls of muesli with curd (sour if I may say so); carrot cakes; hot croissants, chocolate donuts and eggs with fresh juice or tea/coffee. The breakfast is delicious and you can watch all sorts of people.

Triund is about 24 km from McLeodganj. Since we had one day, we were going to cover half the distance by car. The road is narrow and bumpy. A local taxi dropped us at the midpoint where there is a temple and a tiny tea shop. Only trails from here and we began our climb waved off by a local couple. It was 11 in the morning and we were running late. We had about 7 hours at the max. To go up and be back before sunset-after which the temperature drops considerably and the paths and stones become unsafe due zero lighting.

The first half an hour went quickly; but I began to feel my breath puff as we climbed higher. For some time I slowed my pace and then learnt to perch my feet on stone edges and breathe in tune to the climb. Another hour gone by; and it began to drizzle. We saw a tea stall in a distance; there are precisely 2 (next to each other) on this entire route. Our pace quickened and we took shelter under plastic sheet roof. We met a group of 3 friends (a Canadian, American, and German) and shared tea, cookies and conversation. Once the rain slowed we were off again. The trek up is scenic with rich green trees and bright red and pink flowers. The city is below you in a distance and there are stretches where you see no one but yourself.

I was tiring at around 2 and thinking of going back down. Sanjay, however, insisted that we could do this and we must! He pointed out to the snow nearby and then said: “it is just an hour and a half more, and I promise we will have maggi at Triund”. How does one refuse an offer like that? So with a deep breath we set off; I admit was nervous that most people at this point were coming down.

The climb became tougher as we had to climb over rocks versus walking on stone filled trails. The snow made it a slippery and slow climb.  Digging shoe heels and fingers in the snow, we finally reached up at about half past 3. And what an achievement it felt like! Triund was almost a snow field. No civilization except a tiny Daak-house and a tea stall. Someone had made a statue and a snowman. We sat and enjoyed our maggi and tea with the snow people. Soon it was time to head back. The tea stall owner told us we must head down fast and wished us luck.

Down we went; this being tougher than we had anticipated. We were tired from our climb and the pressure to be back down before sunset was constantly on our mind. We prayed for no rain and continued our descent. Luck was on our side, and the clouds cleared for some sun. Having a stick can help considerably as you put less pressure on your knees. We climbed and walked the same trail- seemingly longer. No stop for tea this time. It took us almost 4 hours to reach the point where we had started off- a little longer than our climb up. Thankfully, the taxi driver was waiting and we heaped into it.

It was pretty dark by now but we decided to head to town and not Udeechee for dinner. What don’t we do for good food joints, I tell you! We dragged our almost collapsing legs to Carpe Diem – a place which serves all kinds of yummy food. Carpe Diem means “seize the day”; it is from a famous Latin poem and also the slogan of a group of Middle Ages Knights. How cool is that? Sanjay opted for a Tibetan version of Pad Thai and I think I ate hummus and pita bread. The food was great and we very hungry. Between that, though, I did notice that the place has interesting décor and people. All tables have glass tops under which people have left some mementoes like pictures, comments on tissue paper, a map!

Done with dinner we took an auto back to Udeechee and crashed into bed after a hot shower. Shambhu kindly gave us 2 hot water bags. We slept with those plus our own electric heating pad tucked under legs and backs!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekend in McLeodganj @Day 1

March 20-23, 2009

Off we go: Sanjay and I finally had a long weekend all to ourselves and we were going to make the most of it! So we booked our tickets on the Volvo to McLeodganj- a place on our travel radar since some time. It is about 20km up the mountains from Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh and primarily a Tibetan settlement; filled with monks and foreign students/tourists.

Back to our trip. The Volvo ride was pretty uncomfortable to say the least. The seats are not what one would expect and they played the same movie (Vivah) thrice till it stopped each time at the same point after the hero and heroine go for a picnic during courtship! But once we got off at McLeodganj, we knew the trip was going to worth every song we endured.

We were picked up by the hotel car- we were staying at Udeechee Huts in Naddi, an isolated village, about 20km higher up from McLeodganj. Round and round we went till we reached Udeeche Huts- settled on a mountain top with not much on either side. Our hut room was of OK size and clean. The best part was that we had unobstructed views of the Dhauladhar range. Time seems to stand still at such places. Where happiness means looking at snow capped mountains, grazing horses and rosy cheeked children walking to school. And hot chai certainly adds to the charm!

It was just 8 in the morning and we had the whole day to ourselves. We headed down to McLeodganj-walking down the turning roads and then a short cut through the local school and woods.

Exploring McLeodganj: The best part about the town is that it is walk able. There are two main streets running parallel and a few lanes behind. All you have to do is walk and observe. It is a quaint place filled with character. We headed first to the Tsuglag Khang, the Dalai Lama's temple complex at one end. A simple building, it houses statues and paintings of Buddha. So I went in and chanted the Buddhist prayer I learnt from a friend “nam myoho renge kyo” (indicative meaning being “to devote oneself”). Then I went and turned the prayer wheels, something I always do in a Buddhist temple as I find it reassuring for some reason.

It was almost noon and time for lunch. Mcleodganj is a foodie’s paradise. But what you need to do is explore, explore, explore! We headed off to Jimmy’s Café serving mostly Italian food and sandwiches. It is a cheery looking place with old movie posters and shelves lined with books. I picked up one titled “Tales from Tibet” while Sanjay chose his ever favorite Tin Tin. My vegetarian pizza was thin crust and delicious; Sanjay’s chicken sandwich looked wonderful even to me! We read some more and enjoyed ice teas till the sun came down a bit.

We went again strolling down the streets, first to the prayer wheels at the center. These are red and blue and green versus the plain gold in the temple. They line four walls and off I went to turn them round and round.

The streets are filled with cafes, curios and stalls. You can look around for a long time. There are colorful caps, gloves, scarves, bags, Buddhist key-chains, wheels, singing bowls and stone jewellery. But most of the stuff is expensive. This is because of the large number of foreigners in residence plus the tourist inflow which increases substantially every year. So, we window shopped on the streets and walked till we reached the town’s end- which came pretty soon.

We walked a bit further out of town towards the St. John’s church (constructed in 1852) and the memorial of Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India (1862-63) who died while on a tour to McLeodganj. You need to walk down and then take a left. The area befits a black and white Hindi horror movie. Spooky with not a soul in sight; the church stood with its shutters closed with chains. One side were some graves, which we quickly crossed and right behind the memorial. Out of the blue we heard a loud voice from inside the church (this is serious stuff and the absolute truth) and we fled! We slowed our pace once on the main road and then caught an auto (tuk-tuk) up to Naddi.

We were just in time before it started to drizzle and then pour. Sanjay asked Shabhu (the caretaker) if there would be any snowfall and he said there had been none in summer in the last 2 years. It continued to rain and we slept to the sound of raindrops splattering on our roof.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is Häagen-Dazs worth the hype?

After much controversy, Häagen-Dazs, the premium brand of ice cream and yogurts finally landed in India. There is a chic café outlet at the Select City mall in Saket, Delhi. However, we decided to pick up tubs of Haagen-Dazs and London Dairy to do some serious evaluation.

So what is the score? Our choice of flavors were Belgian Chocolate (Haagen-Dazs) and Tiramisu (London Dairy). They both come impressively packaged in good looking tubs, sealed twice with sturdy spoons. A spoonful of the still-frozen ice-cream from both tubs did not taste exceptional. However, the taste changes satisfactorily after you let them be for a few minutes.

Haagen-Dazs is no doubt the creamiest ice-cream I have ever tasted. The flavor is rich and there are fine shaves of chocolate which you just about taste versus the chunks you usually bite into most ice-creams. We let the ice-cream melt completely and it gives us a super-thick and super tasty chocolate milkshake

London Dairy does no justice to tiramisu. It is a bit of vanilla with coffee and chocolate flavors. Not much to write home about and certainly not as creamy as Haagen-Dazs.

The final verdict: London Dairy costs about Rs 75 a scoop but that’s besides the point as I did not like it.

Haagen-Dazs tastes great but at Rs 185 a scoop, is steeply priced. I like to have 2 scoops of ice-cream and Rs 400 for an ice-cream cone is pretty expensive. If you have deep pockets go for it; if not head to Gelato or the home grown Gianni and Nirula’s. They taste is as good and cost less than half!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bangkok: Eating, Shopping and Evening-Outs!

Let me warn you at the onset. I am not much of a party person so I probably saw the tamest side of Bangkok. But we had fun and here’s the score!

Eating: Bangkok as you probably know eats everything and you will find all sorts of food and eating joints- from fantastic roof-top restaurants  to road side kiosks. If you are adventurous go for the local stalls. My husband tried a kiosk selling fish dumplings with lots of veggies and hot sauce (something like a bhel-puri). He asked the lady to make it hot, she did and he was soon gulping down a bottle of coke. Spicy in Bangkok can be really spicy. If you are on a budget try Cabbages and Condoms. The food is OK but is the atmosphere which is very pretty with fairy lights and outdoor seating. We also checked out the Sua-Lum Night market and did not like it much. You aren’t missing much if you don't go. Most malls in Bangkok have a food court serving good and varied food. The one in MBK has an Indian outlet too if you are craving for dal-naan-paneer. The fruit milkshakes are a good option too.

Another must to is heading to Sirroco- the roof top restaurant at Lebua for a drink. You can stand on the roof-top with a drink in hand and enjoy the view and the fashionable crowd. A meal here can be very expensive and one might have to book days in advance.

Evening-Outs: Like I said, my review will probably be very tame. If you have a great group of friends , any place can be fun and that applies to Bangkok as well. We checked out a couple of clubs and most were filled with tourist and Thai ladies. No surprise here. The places almost look and feel the same. Dance or enjoy a drink if you want to. We headed out shortly. What I would recommend for an evening out is a dinner cruise. There are a large number of these with a variety of budgets. Most leave between 7.00-8.00 PM, so be sure to make early reservations. It is not the food but the whole experience of Bangkok floating by with lights as you sip your drink and feel the cool air from the boat deck which makes the experience memorable.

After the cruise, we went to Bamboo- a restaurant at the Oriental Hotel where they play jazz after 10.00 PM. Dress code is formal and men must be in trousers and closed shoes. I thoroughly enjoyed the music and the voice of Frankie- the lady on the mike. She even autographed a paper coaster and told me how she wanted to be a singer ever since childhood.

$ Shopping $: There are three types of shopping experiences in Bangkok. First, the high end global brands: There are a number of malls in Bangkok which house global brands like Valentino, Todds, Gucci, Judith Lieber and the second rungs like Calvin Klien, Mango, Guess. If you are looking for bargains or the latest styles you would be better off buying these in US/or asking a relative to do so during sale season. The Bangkok prices are high with barely any promotions running.

The second shopping experience are the local Thai brands. These are housed in Central World, Robinsons, Zen etc. Trendy styles and good quality. An evening blouse might cost anywhere in the range of Bht 1000-2500. They have lots of home products, stationary and accessories. Take a look and you might find something you really like.

The third shopping is the local street bargain shopping which most of us are excited about when we go to Bangkok (including myself). Heading to MBK is almost mandatory. It is a mall with stores as well as kiosks. You will find all sorts of stuff here at good bargains. I found some lovely stoles for Bht 300, comfy cotton Giodarno t-shirts for Bht 350 (on sale) and some very nice bags for Bht 300-500. There are small picks like coin purses (Bht 35), cushions (Bht 200), movie CDs (Bht 50) and many more. If you have the weekend you might want to check out the Chatuchak market. The market comes up on weekends just outside Bangkok and is huge (about 20,000 stalls) and crowded like crazy. You will get anything and everything. Clothes, pets, food, furniture….But be armed with a hat, water and common sense. Having a friend helps immensely.

But if crowds are not for you and you still want to do some street shopping there is hope. Look around your hotel and malls post 6.00 PM. Stalls come up with clothes, CDs, bags etc. Take a look and bargain hard.

Most importantly have loads and loads of fun! We did :)