A trip to Pattaya, Thailand

thailand pattaya city  akhilsethi blogpost randomnomicsThey say workplace is your second home and whoever has said that, let me tell you – it’s damn true, it’s like home away from your home! Knowingly or unknowingly, we spend more time at workplace as compared to our home and if we have a good family there, it’s like cherry on the cake, isn’t it?

This post is about my recent trip to Pattaya organized by my current employer @IsobarIndia and this wasn’t the first one. Last year, it was Bangkok and prior to that, it was Dubai. You can call it a good retention strategy or whatever but I really like working here. Yes, it’s just my second agency to work with and I’ve already spent more than 3 years here. Ahh…honestly, I didn’t think that I would be spending this much time at my second agency considering the frequent job hopping which is normal in the early part of one’s career in my industry. But, when you get so many good people whom you can learn, unlearn, bond so much…you can’t leave until the next opportunity is too good! 😛

Coming straight to the post –  it was a 3-day trip starting from Delhi to Bangkok and then to Pattaya for the conference as well as the leisure. We took the Air India flight in the afternoon and reached Bangkok by 7:30 pm. Then we went to Pattaya by bus which took around 2 hours. The stay was arranged at one of the luxury 5-star hotels Dusit Thani Pattaya. Fortunately, I got a sea-side room and let me tell you – the view was simply amazing. Do take at some of the pics that I clicked from the room:

akhilsethi randomnomics blogpost pattaya thailand dusit thani hotel

akhilsethi randomnomics blogpost pattaya thailand dusit thani hotel seaside poolside view

akhilsethi randomnomics blogpost pattaya thailand dusit thani hotel seaside view

We checked-in around 11 pm at the hotel, so there weren’t much places to go except one at this point of time. Yes, you guessed it right, we straight-away hit Walking Street. If you don’t know anything about it, check here and here for more details. 😛 I won’t go into much details what we did here, but anyone visiting this part of the world doesn’t miss going here once.

Pattaya is also famous for its spa and massage. Just outside Dusit Thani, there were two spa/massage centres i.e. Savanna (just opposite the road) and Let’s relax (on the left side). Both are good for all the services they provide. And here are their rate cards:

akhilsethi blogpost randomnomics massage centre savanna near dusit thani hotel pattaya akhilsethi blogpost randomnomics massage centre lets relax near dusit thani hotel pattaya

 

 

 

From the looks of it, I think – let’s relax is comparatively better than Savanna.

I won’t go into much details of what else can you do in Pattaya, because there are tons of websites which can give you that kind of information. Some of the other things that I liked about this place were:

a) Songthaew buses: Youakhilsethi blogpost randomnomics  Pattaya's Songtaews buses can even call them autos with cheap fares and high speeds. Don’t forget to take a ride of one of these at-least once as it’s a really good experience. But do check the internet or even from your tour guide on tips for dealing with Pattaya’s Songthaew buses as it can turn out to be a bad experience.

 

 

b) Tesco Lotus MallIt is at a walking distance from the Dusit Thani hotel, just 10 minutes walk from there and is known for its low prices. Here’s how I came to know about it – It was around 7:30 pm and we were thinking of going to a good market where we can do all the shopping and even all the good bargaining 😛 Fortunately, we met our tour guide just at the exit gate of the hotel and he advised us to go to the lotus mall which not only was a big hypermarket but it was very nearby. One of the things I bought from there was a car freshener for around 50 Bahts, not sure the size of the same but the minimum one you have to buy here in India is more than INR 200, so it was a good deal and I latched onto it 😛

c) FamilyMart and 7Eleven: These are 24 hours open shops in Pattaya that are indeed the lifeline of the city. They have everything starting from cookies, chocolates, cold drinks to even the hard drinks. We bought a pack of beer and chips from one of these. Just remember you can buy alcohol only between 11AM to 2PM and 5PM until midnight. This is because of the reason that it should not be available to school kids when they just leave school.

d) Street-food: Apart from this, if you’re a lover of thai food or seafood and don’t mind indulging yourself in tasting the so-called unhygienic street food, do try it. Managed to find a relevant blogpost here that has more details about the same.

I would leave you with some of the nice pics that I clicked on this memorable trip. If you’ve been to Pattaya or thinking to go there and want to ask something, do drop-in a line in the comments section below and I would be happy to discuss. Till then, Happy Travelling!

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Top Image Courtesy: gemtravels.com

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A trip to Dalhousie and Khajjiar

akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill stationDalhousie is a small hill station in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. According to wikipedia, the town was established in 1854 by the British Empire as a summer retreat for its troops and bureaucrats and was named after Lord Dalhousie who was the British Governor-General in India at that time. It is located on the western edge of the Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas and is surrounded by snow-capped peaks. The best time to visit is from March to May and from October till November end. From December till March, it gets really cold and even the day-boarding schools here also shuts down for 3 months.

You can either go via road or by train. If going by train which we did, you’ll have to go from Pathankot. We took the Dhauladhar express which leaves Old Delhi in night and reaches Pathankot in the morning. Dalhousie is around 85-90 Kms from Pathankot and the usual taxi fare from Pathankot is INR 1850/- if you go with a pre-paid taxi however if you don’t, you can bargain till INR 1600/-. If you want to save money, you can take the state transport bus which will cost you not more than INR 100/-, pretty cheap as compared to taxi fare, isn’t it? 🙂

As far as the places to see in Dalhousie, there are not many, but since the valley is in between the mountains, it gives you incredible views altogether. For local shopping / roaming, you can go to Gandhi Chowk (G.P.O) and Tibetan Market. We also went to St. Francis Church at Subash Chowk . It’s a nice quiet place to sit and just relax.

akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie st. francis church subash chowk        akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie st. francis church subash chowk

And, the main places to visit are:

Khajjiar: It’s another hill station located around 24 Kms from Dalhousie and has a rare combination of three ecosystems: lake, pasture and forest, all in one place. Yes, it’s also called as Mini Switzerland of India. According to wikipedia, On 7 July 1992, Mr. Willy T. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by christening it “Mini Switzerland”. He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar’s distance from the Swiss capital Berne-6194 km. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland.

akhilsethi randomnomics blog Khajjiar himachal pradesh hill station   akhilsethi randomnomics blog Khajjiar himachal pradesh hill station

Dainkund PeakIt’s around 30-45 minutes (15 Kms) drive from Dalhousie to this place. Once you reach this place, you need to park you car to the Air-Force base camp barricade and then there’s a walk to 0.5 Km upwards towards an observation hut which ultimately provides a breath-taking view of the complete Dhauladhar ranges. Another 950 m relatively easy walk from this point, is the Kali Mata temple.

akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill station Dainkund peak  akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill station Dainkund peak

Kala Top Forest Resort: On way to Khajjiar and 11 km from dalhousie you come upon the toll booth which marks the entry to Kalatop wildlife sanctuary. To the left side, is the start of a 3 km gradual sloping upward path to the kalatop forest guest house. The road is not a tar road but is motorable. You can drive the car right up to the guest house for a fee of INR 200. But it is preferred that one walks down as you enjoy the walk through the dense pine forest. If you get lucky, you might get to see few wild animals. During our journey, we saw many langurs. If you want to enjoy the beauty of a forest night, there are also few cottages/rooms available which one can get for around INR 800/- per night here.

akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill station Kala Top 1   akhilsethi randomnomics blog dalhousie himachal pradesh hill station Kala Top

Apart from this, there’s not much to see in Dalhouie. We went to Chamba which is quite far away from Dalhousie. The same is famous for its museum, temples as well as river Ravi.

If you’re a foodie, don’t forget to visit Sher-e-punjab restaurant down the lane on subash Chowk. Actually, there are 3 restaurants with same name here but the one which second-last call themselves as the oldest one. We ordered Butter Chicken and it was too good!

If you’re planning to go to Dalhousie and come across this piece and have more questions, do let me know in the comments section below or connect with me here on my twitter handle. Would be happy to help you!

Some more spectacular views of the valley:

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Kasauli (Solan): An Awesome Trip To The Hills

When you work in the media industry where everyday is so damn busy…you try to come early and leave late just because you meet the so-called unrealistic deadlines set by your clients, any kind of vacation or a holiday is like a BLISS. Yes, this was like a much-needed break with my colleagues from the day-today offisial-atyachaar!
Kasauli is a cantonment as well as town, in Solan district in Himachal Pradesh. It is at a distance from 77 kilometres from Shimla, 65 kilometres from Chandigarh, and 300 kilometres from New Delhi which is why it is one of the options for a good summer-break.

Climate-wise, Kasauli has a pleasantly moderate climate. As per Wikipedia, winter temperature is approximately 2 degrees celsius, with summer temperatures rarely exceeding 32 degrees celsius. During the time when I was there, it was around 26 degree celsius (mid-May).

Akhil Sethi Kasauli Trip May 2014Before I go to any trip or a holiday, as an explorer, I try to search for all the information beforehand so that I kind of manage to take the best out of the whole trip. Even for this trip, I tried searching on internet but not much of information was available. I had to go-through many articles to find out what best possible one can do. Hence the purpose of writing this blog-post is also to help those travelers who can get all information Kasauli at one place. So, here’s the information most of the travelers look for:

 

Hotel to consider:

akhil sethi kasauli winnies hotel resort himachal pradeshWe stayed at Winnies Hotel Resort which is not exactly in Kasauli but 6 Km before Kasauli. I must say, the hotel is really good with regards to its room service as well as the food during breakfast, lunch & dinner. However the only not so good thing was the french-fries I ordered at my room during evening time. And so was the feedback of my colleagues too when they ordered something else as evening snacks. Overall it’s a good place to stay however, I did find the per-night room-price bit on a higher side though!

 

Places to visit:

akhil sethi kasauli main marketa) Kasauli main market: Kasauli doesn’t have enough options to roam-around or hang-out with friends. But, if you’re in Kasauli, do visit the main market which is very close to the bus-stand. The market is small but it feels good when you’ve all the time in the world to roam-free. If you’re hungry, just go further where you’ll find Rudra Cafe, an eating joint which is filled with Bob Marley pics and is known for some good chinese food! And, just when you go a bit further (2-3 shops), you’ll find Narinder sweet house, when you can get yummy tasty jalebi.

 

b) Sun-set point & Gilbert Trail: akhil sethi sun-set point kasauli trip gilbert trailSituated around 1 Km up from the bus-stand, sun-set point offers a breath-taking view of the mountains. At this place, you can actually know the distance as well as angle of the nearby locations. Hats-off to its creators.  And, when you move a bit further from the sun-set point, you’ll find a trail leading to another view-point which is known as Gilbert Hill. I’m not sure how many travelers go there as it’s a kind of kacha / risky road of about 600 meters. However the view that you get after the trail finishes is just awesome and all you need to do is to just admire it.

c) Manki point: Earlier I used to think that this is a place where lots of monkeys would be there and hence it’s called the manki point but it’s not like that at all. Situated almost 4 km up to the bus-stand, this is the highest point of Kasauli and has a temple which lies inside the premises of Air-force base hence cameras, mobile-phones aren’t allowed inside the same. Make sure to reach before 4:15 pm as it closes after that and nobody is allowed to enter despite the umpteen no. of requests (yes, that’s from an experience). The view at the top is magnificent and worth-going for any traveler.

My recommendations: Kasauli is a nice quiet place to visit and the trip from Delhi can be completed during the weekend itself. Go for not more than a 2-night stay in Kasauli and if you want to take the most out of your travel here, explore the place by foot and not by car or bus with a good camera in hand. Also don’t forget to try Himachali wines if you love to indulge yourself in good wine-drinking experience.

If you happen to come across this piece and still want any other information on Kasauli, do tweet me here and I will help you!

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