Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bargaining is an art

Which sadly I dont possess. Nada.
Not at all and sadly if you want to do some street shopping in Hong Kong, you better know how to bargain.... in short be a mean terminator.
While walking down the three infamously named as: "Ladies Market", "Sports Market" and "Electronics Market", i once again realised, I need a mean negotiator with me to get the right price for the knick knacks I wanted to buy.
It completely reminded me of a trip to Bankok, where my friend just said: Point to me what you want and walk away, I will get it for you. Needless to say, she got it for me at less than 70% of the original price quoted to me. Lovely!
Back to my woes....
There was a time in Jaipur on a street shop, when I asked the price of a pair of shoes. I was quoted 125 rs. (About 2$ then), I said, okay, can I get it for 110 rs. The seller burst out laughing and said, "Madam take it for 100 rs. I insist" I was super red and happy. Then comes my husband and sister in law saying: "50 rs. no more" The guy gave it.
Its been that day and today, I am "banned" from any street side shopping without a "mean negotiator" with me.
Now, for some successful shopping here, I need tips.

So friends, please tell me what works? Tips/ guidelines/ to-do's anything?
Please pretty please..

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Breathe a little

Yesterday, Sumit and I went to the infamous Po Lin Monastery. The house of the Big Buddha. We spent and entire day there, taking the cable car (Me being freaked out and fearing the worst on way up), having the delicious 'satwick' food- An authentic spread of buddhist vegetarian Cantonese food, climbing the steps to do the darshan and then taking a moment to breathe it all in.

As we looked around, hand in hand, I realized- How peaceful it really was. After the Monastery, we did a hike, climbed on top of two rocks and sat for a long time looking around to the Gnong Ping Valley and the Shek Pak area on one side and the Lantau Peak on the other. It was breathtaking. Wonderful and serene. No words were spoken, no ooh and no aah's, after the wonderful hike, the only thing that Sumit and I did was hold hands, rest on each other and breathe.
Time did stand still and in the misty clouds, small trees below, and large mountains around me- reminded me- breathe!
When you do visit the Big Buddha, I highly recommend going beyond the monastery and do one of the trails. If you are fitter than I am, then do the straight up hike of 973 m. to the peak. I was huffing and puffing on the foot hills. One can even hike up all the way from base to Big Buddha. A trip that takes 22 minutes by cable car, takes a few hours on the well marked trail. But make it a day trip and enjoy the serenity, the peace and  tranquility. Enjoy the hikes per your liking, feel the fragrant incense around you, close your eyes and let the breeze blow you over!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hong Kong- First Impression

Walking around the streets on Mong kok and exploring the city with nothing else but a camera, water and a map is liberating.
I am in Hong Kong visiting Sumit. So while he slogs in office, I soak in the city completely. V is with her grand parents and uncle in India getting pampered and minus being miserable every other hour since there is no one troubling me with incessant "why's", I am enjoying the city.
My first impression of the city- which of course I will say, begins at the Airport is "Wow" this is plush geen. The landing strip really feels like you are landing on water.... the strip extends on to reclaimed land, and what you see are mountains, sail bots, misty clouds all around you. Breath taking. Trust me, not what I expected at all. Once you are out of the airport, the weather hits you, with its complete humidity, heat and 'OMG' ness. But you love it still.
The drive from the airport to my hotel- in Mong Kok was amazing. There is the sea/ocean on one side, tall mountains on the other. Untill the driver takes the exit, you wonder, where should I look, this side or that.
Mong kok itself is what I though it to be. Streets flanked by stores, Chinese and Cantonese food, street vendors, jewelery stores, lots of people in a rush and a lovely hotel welcoming you to the air conditioned space. Our room being on a higher floor, offers breath taking views of the city.
In the evening I went over to the Hong Kong island/ Central side, met hubby after a couple of weeks and we got chatting, hugging and saying: "wow, we miss V so much" hehe, trust me, first words out of our mouths. We were to meet some friends in SoHo. (Doesn't every city have a SoHo now!!!). The Lan Kwai Fong is amazing as well. Since I was in the after office time, the bars, pubs and restraunts were buzzing with people catching up, relaxing and enjoying. We had delicious Mexican food in SoHo. Yes, we are awesome that way, come all the way to Hong Kong, and my first meal is Mexican. But, with us being Vegetarian, I was really apprehensive about trying Cantonese/ Chinese or local food without some research. But the food was delicious, quantities plentiful and company even more delightful. I met my friend, after 15 years. Yes 15 years and it didnt feel like a day had past. It was so nice. So while we squared nachos, and licked the Gauc, we realized that the place was now shut and the owners were making not so subtle gestures that we better leave. Hehe, good times.
My first impression of Hong Kong was, "Such a mix and match" I cant figure it out if its fast, slow, natural, man made or what? I will figure it out.
But let me say bye for now.. and get back to reading my 'Lonely Planet' guide to figure out where to next. ... Keep you posted.

And yes....this is the first vacation without V by my side. It feels weird, though I am liking it, I didnt realize, I will miss her this much.

Baby... will see you soon, real soon.

For you... pictures will come, promise, but in a bit. Till then hoping you enjoy the lengthy travel memoirs...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

After four long years

This post is post marked, when you read this I will be sitting in my house back in India really enjoying the pampering and relaxation. I am going to India, yohooo, after four long years. It's the first time for V as well. Sadly Sumit will be traveling for work and not joining us, but that is honestly not dampening my spirit.
We have not told my in laws, so it's a surprise for them. Completely. I am just going to show up with V, ring the bell and say "anyone home? " seriously, that's what I am doing.
This trip marks a few firsts for me and us as a family
- after marriage, first trip sans husband to India.
- first trip with V by myself.
- V's first trip to India.
- me leaving V possibly for a week with grand parents while I join Sumit in his travels.
- every thing first time with V in India, I wonder how my reunions with friends is going to be!
And yes missing hubby a lot.

Wow, yes I am excited as hell! I will try blogging, no promises, but I do assure, I will be writing to publish may be later.

Hope you guys take care while I enjoy with V at home.