A Food Post from Goa

After traveling twice with food bloggers on trips to Jaipur and Goa, I am slowly noticing food. Otherwise more than 10 years of hostel food simply killed all my taste buds. After almost ten years of travel, I am trying to revive it. Goa is known for its seafood but I am a vegetarian. However, I ventured to taste a mouth full of different types of fish on this trip. So, here I go with a food post from Goa!


Fried Vegetables

One of the first places that we stopped at was Ritz Classic Patto for lunch. I was the only vegetarian on the table. I ordered a vegetable xacuti with rice and fried vegetables for starters. The trouble was that the portions were big and I could not finish everything alone! And I still do not like to leave food on the table.


The Goan Thali

This was the Goan Thali at the Ritz Classic Patto. People who ordered it wondered how were they ever going to finish it! I did taste the fish, just a small bite. I can actually take a bite of fish at times, but the trouble with me is that I cannot finish a complete fish dish ever. I do not go near any other meat, And there is no logic behind these decisions. It is just based on what I feel like doing.


The Dessert

This was my dessert at the Ritz Classic Patto. Since I did not click a picture of the name, I have promptly forgotten the it. I surely need to improve my notekeeping for my posts!


Cashew and Peas Pulao

As a vegetarian one of the dishes I enjoyed was the cashew and peas pulao by OCoquerio at Goa Coconut and Cashew Festival 2015.


Fried Mushrooms

Later we dined at OCoquerio Restaurant as well. One of my firm favorites are mushroom in all its guises. I quite liked the fried mushrooms at the place.


Coffee with Canon

I particularly liked the local cafes in Goa. While walking through Fontainhas we stumbled upon the Urban Cafe, a cozy little place where I had my coffee with Canon! If you are in the area do check it out, you will recognize it by its colorful walls quite easily. There lemon cake is also quite good.


Blueberry Cheesecake

I am very partial to cheesecakes, especially the blueberry ones. I had this excellent piece at Destination One  Escapade by the Calangute Beach. Actually the only food that truly excites me is dessert!


Baileys at Nyex, Anjuna

We visited Club Nyex at Anjuna. It has newly opened and is right by the beach. The Baileys that they served me wa excellent. Actually as I like Amarula a lot I went with Baileys. I was quite happy with my choice of drink.



However, for me the biggest food story from Goa is Kokum. We visited a cashew farm near Bicholim. The farm owner Mr. Joshi gave us Kokum Fruits to carry home. I tasted Sol Kadhi in Goa. So not only Chhavi and I enjoyed the fruits, I decided to make Sol Kahdi out of the fruit skin.


My First Attempt at Making Sol Kadhi

I dried the skins patiently and then searched for a recipe on the net. This glass full of Sol Kahdi was result of my effort. My elder nephew Dilip and I quite enjoyed it.

So this is an attempt to get back to enjoying food after probably ten years of being indifferent to it! I hope I will continue on the path of rediscovering food.

PS. I was invited by Goa Tourism on this trip.

The Beautiful Umbrellas of Chiang Mai

I took notice of the beautiful Thai umbrellas from my early trips to Thailand. Chiang Mai was the place where I acquired a closer acquaintance with them. We visited the Bo Sang Handicraft Center on the San Kamphaeng Road just a little outside Chiang Mai. So come along with me and discover (or rediscover) the hand made umbrellas of Chiang Mai.


Rom Borsang

Rom means umbrella in Thai. So ‘rom’ is the famous handicraft of Borsang village in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The handicraft center had eye catching displays of umbrellas. They also take you through the umbrella making process. one of the best explanations of the umbrella making process can be read here.


The Spirit House

But before we get into umbrella making, you might have noticed the spirit houses outside Thai homes or work places. It is an offering to the spirits dwelling that might be dwelling in the area and may get disturbed because of a new house or workplace coming up! A spirit house is a peace offering to the spirits of the area.


The Sa Paper

The two key ingredients of the umbrella are the sa paper and the wooden frame. Sa is Thai for mulberry. So the Sa bark is taken off the tree and boiled. It is then pounded by wooden mallets. It is further treated. Finally they are dried in the frame on wooden frames.


The Wooden Umbrella Frames

These are the wooden frames on which the umbrellas are mounted. Both the paper and the frame are handmade.


Making the Wooden Frame

The making of the frame requires complex hole drilling in the pieces of wood, which is what this woman was doing with dexterity!


Bo Sand Handicraft Center

Finally the paper after further treatment is mounted on the frame and then painted. We were told that it is the process of making it waterproof that makes the Chiang Mai umbrellas unique. It is done with persimmon fruit and oil but the exact formula is a secret.


A Beautiful Display

The painted umbrellas are a delight to watch. It was with a lot of difficulty I managed not to buy one to carry home.


Hand Fans

The factory also had other artifacts as well, hand fans caught my eye too! Conversing with the people working there was difficult as we did not speak each-other’s language but they were quite cheerful about me going around clicking pictures.


The Paints for the Umbrella

An array of paints were to be seen all around the place! And they not only specialized painting on the umbrellas but on other stuff too.

An Artisan at Bo Sang

For example, this beautiful lady offered to paint my white cell phone in the ravishing colors of Chiang Mai. She could do it on my jeans or handbag too! But the chicken that I am, I did not take up on the offer. I now wonder if I should have taken it up!

That Aimless Walk at Harangi Backwaters

I have said it often, I love to walk, all kinds of walks, but more than anything else, the aimless walk. The evening I went walking around Harangi backwaters (Kushal Nagar, Coorg, Karnataka) sky provided enough drama for me to keep up with my Sky Watch Friday post!

The Overcast Sky


The Overcast Skies at Harangi Backwaters

To begin with the sky was overcast. However my attention was diverted by the monks who were present in numbers. Some of them were playing football! The mystery was solved when the Sai Vishram (my hosts) staff informed me that Bylakuppe Monastery was close by.

The Gathering Clouds


The Lone Tree

The landscape throughout was beautiful. And yet the small white stuff you see on the ground was trash! I wonder why can’t we keep our public spaces clean. I only saw the monks cleaning after them when they were going. And the skies were busy gathering clouds!

The Threatening Clouds


The Threatening Clouds at Harangi Backwaters, Karnataka

Half way through my walk the clouds started to threaten! We hurried back. Rather my companions hurried back with my SLR. I walked leisurely with my waterproof cell phone! I eventually got caught in the downpour. I went in the RV to change, thinking that it was going to be a very watery end to the day.

The Change in the Weather


The Change in the Weather!

However, within the short time that it took me to change, the weather managed to change its mood. It was breaking through. Nagaraja, one of the staff members of Sai Visharm remarked, “the rain came only to get us!”

The Monks Go Home


The Glow in the Sky

With the break in weather, I was hoping for some drama in the sky. But the football game was over. The monks were headed home!

The Glow in the Sky


The Beautiful Harangi Backwaters

For me the joy of travel lies in these small things, like watching the weather change its mood and the monks waving at me as they went!

Bhawa Spa, Bangkok

It is raining spas on Travel Tales from India these days. I have been to three spas in last two months and by my standards that is  lot. When I was in Thailand (on invitation from TAT New Delhi) I visited the Bhawa Spa, Bangkok. I wonder how they do it, but the ambience itself does something to make you relaxed.


The Spa Oils

We were presented with a refreshing drink with soothed me down even further. We were going for an aromatherapy massage. The ladies explained the virtue of the various oils. Papaya and almond caught my attention as it was meant for dry skin! I have to say there were better smelling oils but I am beyond the days when I would pick them up just by smell!


A Display in the Waiting Area of Bhawa Spa

The waiting area was beautifully decorated. There was an outdoor swimming pool which caught my attention. They had spa products for sale as well.


The Swimming Pool at the Bhawa Spa

I have to admit I visited a spa for the first time, in connection with my blogging I think in 2008. I was extremely reluctant to begin with. But spas have grown on me gradually! There were two team members for whom it was a first time in a spa. Talking about first times in a spa, the best piece I have read is by Prasad NP.


The Foot Massage Essentails

The massage started with a relaxing foot massage. The setting of the room automatically made me switch on the princess mode! The foot massage was followed by a full body massage. I had an wonderful one hour where gradually my various aches and pains, which I didn’t even know existed, started melting away.


The Rooms at the Bhawa Spa

The lady who gave me the massage was excellent. She would at appropriate times ask if I was comfortable or not. They also recommended that we take a bath at the beginning of the massage and keep the oil on after the massage.

When we came out, we started comparing notes. One of the first timers told us that he got so surprised by the depth to which his towel was pulled while massaging his lower back that he got up with a jerk and spilled the oil! We laughed and laughed at him and with him!


Mango Sticky Rice!

While we were emerging one by one from the various rooms, Bhawa served us with mango sticky rice for after massage! Now that truly made my day. Mango sticky rice is my favorite Thai dessert. It was an excellent ending to a very relaxing time at the Bhawa Spa, Bangkok.


Of Lunch and Conversations at Bawarchi, Intercontinental, Bangkok

When I travel I usually eat local food. I am a vegetarian but I do not hanker over Indian food while I am traveling. heck I like to travel so much that I could eat just bread and butter and never complain as long I get to see new places or even revisit old ones. But when I get to eat Indian food on in a foreign land once in a while, I thoroughly enjoy it! Bawarchi Intercontinental Bangkok was one such delightful experience because of the food and the conversation!


The Intercontinental, Bangkok

It was one of the Songkran days when we landed at Bawarchi! I was whispering to one of our team-members if I was inappropriately dressed in shorts. I was dressed for Songkran. In walked another dressed and all the unease about my dress vanished straight away! Compared to him I was dressed to meet the queen!

The Beer Saga


I was the Only Woman to Have Beer!

There were five of us in the group, three women and two men. When we were asked for our choice of our beverages three of us opted for beer and two for buttermilk. I was the lone women giving the men company for drinking beer. Arpti and Gairav came up with a tag line for the other two girls- “Buttermilk in Bangkok!” And that became the butt for so many jokes! I was the eldest in the group and other young people would anyway spare me a lot of jokes, but thankfully I was not drinking the buttermilk!

The Food

It started with masala papad and beer for us and buttermilk for the buttermilk girls, Vaishali and Manjulika! After not having Indian food for a few days I had a new appreciation for the masala papad!


Paneer Tikka Ajwaini

The starters were delicious, we had Paneer Tikka ajwaini  and Tandoori Brocolli for vegetarians and Tandoori King Prawn and Tandoori Lamb Chops for the non-vegetarians. The non-vegetarians were of course welcome to the vegetarian options!


Tandoori Broccoli

If you ask my honest opinion I was full with the starters and I would have happily called it a day. By now the buttermilk excitement had gone down. But a new one came up within no time. It was a Tuesday. And many Indians do not eat non-veg food on Tuesday due to religious regions. One of us decided to go ahead and eat it. Within no time she was declared ‘Khuni Darinde.’ We were laughing so much that we had to remind ourself that we might be disturbing others! One of the staff responded- “You guys are in Songkran mood!”


The Main Course

By the time the main course arrived. It was Butter Chicken and Rogan josh for non-vegetarians and Saag Paneer, Daal Makhani and Hyderabadi Biryani for everyone with assorted flat Indian breads. The dessert was Gulab Jamun.

We had so much fun while having the delicious food that we never realized that we were getting late for our Songkran fun! If you are craving Indian food in Thailand in lavish surroundings look no further than Bawarchi.

Seven Things to do in Koh Lanta, Thailand

Koh in Thai means ‘island’. Lanta is a beautiful island in the Krabi Province. I would recommend both Krabi and Koh Lanta highly for a vacation. The beaches are divine and the crowd is not that thick! I also feel not many Indians go there, which is a pity! Let me take you through my seven favorite things to do in Koh Lanta!

The Beautiful Beaches


Kantiang Bay Beach- One of the Many Beautiful Beaches of Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is blessed with many beaches that are truly beautiful. I spent most of my time at Kantiang Bay Beach as it was next to the Pimalai Resort where I was staying. Not too crowded at any point of time, sunsets were special!

Mu Koh Lanta National Park


Mu Koh Lanta National Park

Mu Koh Lanta would work for you if you are looking for peace. I almost had the entire beach that you see in the picture to myself. I went walking along the length of it and saw just one couple! There is a path leading to a lighthouse, which gives the fabulous view of the park!

Mangrove Forests


The Mangrove Forests- Koh Lanta

You can go kayaking along the mangrove channels. I didn’t had the time to do it, but I can imagine what fun it would be. If you are fond of eating fish I was told that the fishermen cook the fresh catch in the local restaurants that dot the walkway of the mangrove area.

Fishermen’s Village


The Fisherman’s Village, Koh Lanta

There is a quaint fisherman’s village in Koh Lanta which is worth exploring. You immediately get a feeling of stepping back in time. The inhabitants are said to be sea gypsies and they hardly interact with tourists. But one is free to roam around and walk through the village.

Lanta Old Town


Lanta Old Town

The old part of Lanta town has fascinating architecture. You can walk across the main street end to end easily. The wooden houses are a feast to the eye. There is a pier to walk through as well. It is a place to sit down at the restaurants and take it slow.



Shopping at Koh Lanta

After five trips to Thailand i would say the whole of Thailand offers great shopping. The conventional wisdom says the shopping is great in Bangkok. Initially I would also leave stuff that I liked, thinking I would pick it up in Bangkok. But then I would never find the same stuff in Bangkok, or I would not have time! My new shopping mantra is that if the price is reasonable, and if I like it, I would not wait for Bangkok. I buy it then and there. I picked up my favorite t-shirt in this shopping complex at Koh Lanta.

Good Food at the Local Restaurants


Swedish Pub and Restaurant at Koh Lanta

I had food at my upmarket resort and I had food at local restaurants. Both were good, but the local restaurants are so much fun. And they always had something for the vegetarian me!  I had pizza at the Swedish Pub and Restaurant and veg noodles at Same Same but Different (it was the name of the restaurant) and both were smashing.

So what are you waiting for? If you are thinking Thailand, think Koh Lanta and Krabi. They are great places for a family vacation.

PS. I visited Koh Lanta on invitation of Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi.

Camping/RV/Caravan/Denali Holiday with Sai Vishram

When I saw the camping trailer and the location of the Harangi Backwaters near Kushal Nagar, Karnataka, I immediately forgot how tired I was! We started at 6.30 am from Balkatmane Spa but here I was all my tiredness completely forgotten! I was excited about my camping holiday with Sai Vishram.


The Camping Trailer at Harangi, Karnataka

I was behaving like a school girl when I went inside the caravan! I explored all the nooks and corners at one go! Denali by Dutchmen is a home in itself!


The Living Area of Denali

It has a large living area with kitchen and TV. There is a master bedroom, two bathrooms and another smaller living area. There is a bunk bed in the smaller living area as well. The sofas unfold as beds too!

While Denali is fully equipped with a kitchen Sai Vishram does the cooking in a house adjacent to the trailer.


Narayan with Food at the Trailer

Narayan not only made good food, he was very fond of feeding the guests as well. He was quite disappointed with me as he said I ate nothing! On the other hand I thought he fed me till I would burst at the seams! As he lived in Mumbai for a long time, he spoke Hindi quite well. And all that was food for one!


Fruits for Dessert

After a heavy meal, thankfully he would give me fruits for dessert! He sensed that I liked fruits so he increased the quantity later on! He also correctly sensed that tea was the way to keep me happy after I asked for the first cup. Then it would materialize on its own, I never had to ask for tea again.


Beautiful Weather at Harangi Backwaters

The weather was lovely the day I stayed there. I was frequently switching between staying indoors and then getting out to enjoy the view!


A Partial View of the Cooking Area of Denali

After lunch the staff retired. I had the huge RV all to myself! I noticed that a lot of cattle come to graze to the campsite. Harangi Backwater is also popular with the locals. Someone or the other would trickle in at all hours of the day! After the siesta it was time to go for an evening walk!


A Most Scenic Football Field

While I was there a football game was in progress and I have to say this was one of the most scenic local football grounds I have ever scene. I immediately remembered my younger nephew Sunil, as he would have been thrilled to be a part of it! There were monks out there in numbers as well. On investigating I was told that Bylakuppe Monastery was nearby and the monks would come to the Harangi Dam’s Backwaters for an outing. As we walked by, the football landed near me. I passed it back and the monks offered me and my two companions mangoes which I happily accepted on everyone’s behalf.


The Weather Turned to Rain

As we walked to the edge of another water body, the weather turned dark. With a lot of reluctance I started walking back. Mid way it started to rain. Nagraja and his friend ran back. I gave them my bag with the DSLR. I was happy to get wet with my water proof cell phone!


The Beautiful Sunset at Harangi Backwaters

I got nicely drenched on my walk back. The monks also packed up along with the football players. They even took the goal posts away! As soon as I got in and changed, the rain vanished leaving behind a most glorious evening sky!

After a heavy dinner (which was a repeat affair as lunch) it was time to crash in my cozy bed room. I was alone inside the RV.


The Master Bedroom, Denali

I was cautioned both by Nagaraja and Narayan to lock the door properly and not to open it. If they would need anything, they would call me on my cell phone and only then come. While I was about to crash at 9.15 pm my fellow blogger Indrani called me. She too has visited the place (as has another friend Shrinidhi) and she asked me if I was all alone! Thankfully I am used to staying in open spaces and I felt safe all the time. I had a peaceful night, once I fell asleep after 10.30 pm I woke up only when it was bright daylight!

I am left wondering that if I enjoyed staying in a stationary Camping Van so much, what would happen if I got to be in one that was moving from place to place! My Camping Holiday with Sai Vishram was a smash hit!

PS. I was invited by Sai Vishram Group on this trip.

Dear Earth Products

You would hardly ever see me talking about anything but travel on this blog. I make exception for books but that is about it! So when I was contacted by Dear Earth about their range of soaps, face wash and other such products I was not very sure what I wanted to do. Then I decided why not, after all I use all these products in my everyday life, so why not try out their’s as well! And it would be fun to do something different for a change. I received four products from them- Bamboo Charcoal Soap, Wild Mint Soap, Tea Tree Face Wash and Bamboo Charcoal Moisturizing Lotion.

I would freely admit that I do not have much experience beyond the normal commercial products when it comes to soaps and the like. And I am completely bowled over by the Dear Earth Products.


Dear Earth Products

My favorite is the Wild Mint Soap. I never imagined that it would be possible to capture the smell of earth in a soap. But that is what Wild Mint does, along with the hint of mint it actually smells of earth! I truly fell head over heals for it!

My next best liked product is the Tea Tree Face Wash. I actually carried it on my recent trips to Goa and Karnataka. It would truly cleanse my face much better than any face wash that I have used till date! The dirt vanishes leaving my face quite clean! It doesn’t dry out my face as well.

I guess it is not the right season for using a moisturizer in North India but I did enjoy the fragrance of the Bamboo Charcoal. It is rich and creamy in texture and it takes sometime for the skin to absorb the lotion. Bamboo Charcoal soap also works well for me.

I was going through the FAQs of the Dear Earth and I am quite impressed by their answer to ‘fairness’ question. I have not seen any other brand take a stand upfront and say they are not a bleach! That answer won me over many times for the honesty and displaying a devil may care attitude about a lucrative market. Their products are also vegan and PETA certified.

However when it came to the prices my middle class upbringing makes me balk. For example the Wild Mint Soap (140 g) is priced at Rs 220.  I understand that it is organic, it is hand made and that it uses cold process and that will make it expensive. But still, it is not easy for me to make the transition to spend this kind of money.

I would surely buy it as a gift for my dear ones for a special occasion. And it is would be easy as I can shop online. But then this is purely me, who is anyway not much into all this. All you young people out there, let me know what would you consider an affordable price for such products?

Sunset at Sai Vishram Beach Resort, Byndoor

I am more partial to sunsets than sunrises! At sunset I am almost always awake, however, it takes such an effort to drag myself out of the bed at a sunrise! It is so natural to be biased towards sunsets then! I was lucky to witness a beautiful sunset at Sai Vishram Beach Resort on my second evening there.

The day I arrived at Sai Vishram Beach Resort, clouds ruled. I had a 2 hour delay in my flight from Delhi and my whole schedule had gone haywire. On top of it I felt very tired. When Adarsha, the resort manager asked me if I would like to go to the beach, I replied in the negative! I am not proud of the fact but I was that tired. However, if there was a possibility of a sunset, I am sure I would have found the energy somehow!

The next day was a different affair. If you have noticed, at sunset, the sea catches the colors of the sky. And I love it! I noticed it for the first time in a trip to Goa back in 2012. Since then I wait for it. And I was not disappointed.


The Golden Hour!

I wonder if the father and son knew how beautiful the scene around them looked! From sand to the sky, everything was gold! I have clicked many people at the golden hour but I also wanted to feature in one such picture myself!


Mother and Son Walking on the Beach!

I then clicked the mother and son happily taking a walk by the beach. The desire to feature in such a scene myself was growing enormously now! I hardly care to get my own picture clicked but this evening was different!


The Many Shades of Sea!

I played around with my camera for a while, clicking the many beautiful shades of the sea! The resort serves coffee/tea and snacks by the beach in the evening which was very welcome!


On the Beach!

The solution for getting featured in such beautiful waters was simple in the end! I handed the camera to the fellow blogger Prashanth and ran to pose! So I now have a picture that I cherish!


The Sunset at Sai Vishram Beach Resort!

Finally, the sun decided to call it a day somewhere above the horizon. It went to take rest a few minutes earlier behind the clouds! In a little while it started growing dark. This was a fabulous evening by the beach which I will cherish for a long time!

PS. This post is part of Sky Watch Friday. Check it out.

PPS. I was invited by Sai Vishram Group on this trip.

Balkatmane- A Heritage Spa

As I got a glimpse of Balkatmane, A Heritage Spa in the Beloor Village of Karnataka, I was sold on it. The setting was quiet, the house so beautiful that I immediately felt at peace! As I removed my slippers outside and walked in barefoot, I wish I had more time to spend at the place. I was spending one night at the place. You can check out the location and the prices on the website.


Balkatmane- A Heritage Spa

I was told that the spa has been constructed like a traditional Karnataka home. It had a long corridor going through the center of it. I was greeted with a tilak and a flower by Veena and Vedha, the two massage therapists.


A Room for a Princess!

As soon as I got a glimpse of my room, the first thought was that it must have been meant for a princess! It had a lovely four poster bed and tastefully done. I quickly opened the front door and glanced out of the balcony. Two things caught my attention.


An Easy Chair by a Lovely Window!

And both the things accentuated the princess theme. I loved the easy chair by the beautiful window. This was right outside my room. The pity is that I sat down by it and updated my social media accounts, a very unprincess like thing to do!


The View from the Easy Chair!

The second thing that contributed to the princess theme was the view from the easy chair! From all the balconies the home looks beautiful!


The Spa Room at Balkatmane

I went in for a rejuvenating plus beauty massage. It involved olive oil, honey and oats scrub, mud pack, steam and a herbal bath! It was my second encounter with Ayurveda based massage and I liked what I saw in the mirror! It was also my first experience when there were two massage therapists Veena and Vedha dealing with the treatment simultaneously. I don’t think my body has ever soaked so much olive oil in one day and it liked the results!


A Double Rainbow at Balkatmane Spa!

While I was going through the massage I could hear the rains outside. I was told it was the first one of this season. I looked out of an open door near the dining area and spotted a beautiful rainbow. I ran out with my cell phone and had an amazing time clicking and admiring the rainbow, in that order!


Flowers at Balkatmane Spa

The flowers were drenched in the rain! Everything looked washed and fresh! The property is just six months old so the trees need more time to grow, but many has been planted! There are plans for a pond and a swimming pool too!


A Swing and Flowers!

There is a swing and a lovely flower arrangement which once again complimented my princess theme! I did sit down on the swing for a while and did not update social media!


Nail Polishes on a Platter!

Next on the agenda was a facial. It involved cleansing the face with orange juice and a scrub with orange peels. Then there was a papaya face mask and finally a fruit face mask used. I have been for facials that use cosmetics and I told someone that my face felt so full of chemicals! I actually liked the fruit based facial much more!

Then I admired the plate of nail polish and clicked a photo. So Veena and Vedha offered to put some on my fingers and toes! My princessness quotient was getting higher and higher!


Dinner for One!

Finally there was dinner laid out for me. This is the only Sai Vishram property that serves non-vegetarian food. I am anyway a vegetarian who can eat eggs. They made an effort to feed me dishes of eggs! After a nice meal it was time to crash in my four poster bed feeling completely like a princess!

PS. I was invited by Sai Vishram Group on this trip.