Showing posts with label 2015. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2015. Show all posts

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Christmas 2015 - Day 3, Bhopal to Delhi

4:45 AM Started the journey towards Delhi.
5:25 AM Crossed Sanchi
5:33 AM Crossed Vidisha
6:30 AM Saw one dbaha fellow lighting up his stove, decided to have a tea, just around Rahatgarh.
7:10 AMCrossed Khurai
7:30 AM Crossed Khimlasa
7:45 AM Crossed Malthone
8:01 AMFound a dhaba open, decided to try my luck for breakfast. He was willing to make some aloo parathas. The place was not great, no toilets but the food was cooked fresh and there were no other options around. For some strange reasons all the hotels and dhaba's in this region give you extremely small qualities of chai. You are almost required to have two of them for any practial effect.
Hot aloo parathas
8:35 AM Crossed Lalitpur
This region of country is extremely problematic to drive. You change the state multiple times and you see trucks lined up on border multiple times.
9:30 AM Turned towards Gwalior rather than Shivpuri. I had heard that it is better option compared to the actual N-S corridor which goes via Shivpuri
10:10 AM Crossed Datia
11:35 AM Crossed Gwalior
1:30 PM Entered outskirts of Agra. Crossing Agra is extremely messy. I don't understand why there is no decent byepass. May be there is this belief that if you are coming to Agra, you must be going to visit Taj.

2:30 PM Crossed Agra and entered Yamuna Expressway. I found YEW to be an extremely overrated expressway. First of all the speed limit is just 100, there is very little traffic on the road and the tolls are extremely high. None of the petrol stations in expressway were willing to accept credit cards.
4:30 PMI was in Noida
Since my destination for the day was a hotel near internation airport, I had to cross the whole city to reach there. I was advised to exit YEW at Palwal and then byepass most of the city but I missed that exist and ended up having to traverse the whole city.
6:00 PM I reached the hotel and checked in.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Christmas 2015 - Day 2, Hyderabad to Bhopal

The plan was to get up early and continue on the journey to Bhopal.
4:45 AM As I got ready to leave, realized that by car exit has been blocked another. Took a good 10 minutes to get the keys and get back on the road.

4:50 AM Was on ORR
Road side breakfast
5:10 AM Exited ORR and joined the Nagpur Road.
5:41 AM Stopped at a road side hotel which had some hot idlies and coffee ready. Did the breakfast there.
Started back in 10 minutes.
7:00 AM Byepassed Nizamabad
7:45 AM Byepassed Nirmal
8:20 AM Crossed Adilabad
8:50 AM Crossed the border
10:00 AM Crossed Hinganghat
11:00 AMEntered Nagpur, decided to get into the city and try some restaurant. Found a Haldirams closest to the highway and went there for lunch.
Haldirams at Nagpur
Stopped for approximately 50 minutes. The food was all right but not great.
12:30 PM Crossed Savner
2:00 PM Crossed Betul
3:30 PM Crossed Itarsi
4:00 PM Crossed Itarsi
4:45 PM Crossed Obaidullagunj
5:10 PM Crossed Mandideep
6:00PM Was at home in Bhopal. Overall an interesting and evenless drive. There are not many food places on the way. Most petrol bunks won't accept credit cards. There is one in Itarsi that does it.

Christmas 2015 - Day 1, Bengaluru to Hyderabad

I was driving along, so started after half days work in office.
1:45 PM I started from home towards Hyderabad. I am used to starting the drive early in the morning, this time I was starting in afternoon and the traffic at the start of the drive was a great dampner.

2:30 PM Crossed Hebbal flyover and got onto the road towards airport.
2:55 PM Crossed the airport toll.
3:00 PM There was a road blockade by local farmers few kilometers before Chikkaballapur. Waited there for the blockade to lift.
3:50 PM There was no sign of blockade lifting, so decide to explore alternate routes. One route that showed up on google maps was going via Nandi Hills, so decided to take that road.
4:30 PM Joined the NH just after Chikkaballapur. In the whole exercise lost almost one hour.
5:00 PM Crossed Bagepalli
6:10 PM Crossed Anantapur
6:30 PM Saw a new food court called Blue Moon restaurant just before the Reliance. Stopped there for Tea. It is a good clean place for food. Can't comment on the quality of food because I just had tea.
6:50 PM Started towards Hyderabad.
8:00 PM Crossed Kurnool
9:15 PM Stopped at Bharati 97 Food n Fuels. It is one of those rare places on this highway where both petrol station and a decent restaurant with clean toilets etc is there.
10:45 PM Got on to ORR in Hyderabad, the day's stop was at a Oyo Rooms hotel in Gachibowli.  The hotels itself is not great but was sufficient for a night's sleep.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Trip to Andamans - Dussera 2015

Dussera Vacations 2015
There comes a time when you start feeling that you need to go somewhere. The daily work schedule starts taking its toll on you. As schools closed for Dussera, we decided do go somewhere with a beach. It was a toss up between Goa and Andamans. The thing going in favor of Goa was that I could drive there, but Goa beaches don't even hold a candle to Andamans beaches. So the decision was in favor of Andamans and that meant that driving was out of the window.
Depending on the days of vacation, we decided to drop the Cellular Jain from the itinerary because we had been there in our earlier Trip. If you are going there for the first time, it is a must visit place. Here are some photos from my earlier trip to Cellular Jail.

Displays depicting prisoners

Displays depicting prisoners

Displays depicting prisoners

Model of Cellular Jail


Savarkar Cell

Main Gate

Port Blair also has a very interesting aquarium. If one is going there for the first time, it is a must visit place.
If one is interested in beaches in Port Blair, then Corbyn Cove seems to be the popular destination.  In my last trip, I visited the beach but it is nothing compared to other beaches in other islands in Andamans.

Andamans 2015, Day 8, Back to Port Blair

This was the day to return back to Port Blair. We all along assumed that we will take up the morning ferry back to Port Blair, but the barefoot guys had booked 4 PM ferry back. The only problem with the barefoot resort is that it is impossible to extend the checkout because guests come at a fixed time and then you have to leave the room.
Nevertheless we somehow extended the checkout time till 12:30 and then we had to kill time till 2:45 PM when we had to leave for Jetty.
For our return journey we were booked into Makruzz and it is a faster ferry with around one and half hours of travel time.

Even Nicobar tents are made with material from marwar

We were back in Port Blair around 7 PM and just for change of hotel we had booked Hotel Sinclair. In hindsight, that was not a great plan. Here is my review of the hotel.

Andamans 2015, Day 7, Inglish Island, Scuba Dive

This was the dive day. We were supposed to reach dive center early morning and the dive was planned for an island around one and half hours away from Havelock.
Barefoot Scuba are very professional about their job. We reached early, you have to fill some indemnity documentation  and after that they explain the theoretical aspects of Scuba. Then we left for the scuba site. After around one and half hour we arrived at a small island called Inglis island.
Initially there is around 15-20 minutes of training with actual equipment where they cover things like what to do if you lose the regulator, how to remove water from goggles etc. Then the actual dive starts which lasts around 35-40 minutes depending on the comfort level of the diver.
Each individual is accompanied with one instructor and they take care of fiddling with finer aspects of the scuba equipment like adjusting the BCD etc.
Here is a complete video of scuba dive followed by some pictures from the day.

Resort early morning

Walk across the beach

Dive center

Boat ride to island

Learning how to put regulator back

Learning how to put regulator back

Our friendly nemo

Nemo again

Fish in corel

On the way back

Andamans 2015, Day 6, Beach, beach and beach

The dive place was sold out for the day so the whole day was spent on the beach. Here are some of the photos from the day.


Sunset on the beach

Sunset on the beach

Sunset on the beach

Resort bar

Resort restaurant

Just before sunset

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Andamans 2015, Day 4, Wandoor, Jolly Buoy, Red Skin

This was our last day in Port Blair before we move on to Havelock. We had planned on visiting Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park in Wandoor.
MGMNP is located in Bay of Bengal covering approximately 281.5 sq km area. It is about 30 kms from Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Wandoor is the main entry point into the park which is situated on the park's north western tip.
The lush green mangrove forest alongside the dense tropical rain forests and the enchanting diverse coral reefs with sea grass meadows are a visual treat. The national park harbors the richest coral reefs and associated marine line in the country.
Some important animal species found in the park are
  • Estuarine crocodile
  • Leatherback sea turtle
  • Green turtle
  • Olive ridley turtle
  • Hawksbill turtle
  • Sea cow or Dugong
  • Manta Ray
  • Common Dolphin
  • White bellied sea eagle
Most of the Islands that form  MGMNP are completely protected areas and tourists are allowed only in two islands i.e. Red Skin and Jolly Buoy. These two islands are rotated on six monthly basis. At the time we were there, the island where we were allowed was Red Skin.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Andamans-2015 Day 1 Bengaluru - Chennai - Port Blair

Everytime I have to travel by air, the night before travel, I am reminded of the reasons why I hate air travel in India. For example, I need to travel from Bengaluru to Port Blair, which should not be more than a 3 hours flight. But I have to get up at 3 AM, take a flight to Chennai and I will reach Port Blair only around 2:40 PM. Most of this time you are sitting in a airport which in itself is a make belief world.

I decided to book a cab the night before and I realized that it is impossible to reach a human to book a cab. I seriously believe that this app only world is going to kill us one day. Anyways, tried Ola Cab and they said that for the window that I am looking for a taxi, all the taxis are booked and I should try 15 minute before the journey. Uber just said that only way to book a taxi is 15 minute before journey. Finally Meru app allowed me to book a taxi. Thinking that there is still some hope for this world, I slept.

As I got up, I see a message from Meru with a taxi number etc. We got ready, the taxi had still not arrived  and it was beyond the time that I had booked it for. I opened the Meru app and the location of taxi was in Arabian Sea. I suspected that something was amiss.  I called the taxi driver number, for first few times, nobody picked up and then it went switched off. Now I was getting worried. Tried Uber app, they politely said no taxis are available. Finally tried Ola again and there was a tax near my house which was showing 5 minutes away. I called that guy, he said he is coming. No taxi still and it was half an hour past  my comfortable departure time. Finally few calls and SMSes later, the taxi fellow showed up and we started to Airport.

Bengaluru Airport has been declared a silent airport so there are no announcements, that is a good thing because earlier announcements were anyway hard to understand.
Restaurant at Bengaluru Airport
Finally Indigo announces boarding and there is a complete stampede for boarding. Everybody is standing, pushing and jostling with each other as if it is the end of the world and this is the Noah's Ark in which only one couple from each species will be allowed. After 15 minutes, Indigo realizes that they forgot to get the bus which will take the passengers to the aircraft.
Eventually everything falls in place and we are on board the aircraft for a 40 minute flight. We have already spent 4 hours of a good early morning to take a 40 minute flight.
6:15 AM Left Bengaluru Airport

Chennai Airport Arrival
7:25 AM Chennai Airport has improved quite a lot since I visited it last in the year 2009. It is still nowhere compared to Bengaluru or Delhi. We had to kill good 5 hours on the airport before the flight to Port Blair would be ready.
12:00 PM Left Chennai Airport to Port Blair.
2:15 PM Arrived in Port Blair Airport.
If you book Barefoot at Havelock, they provide complete transit arrangements to/from Port Blair. They will pick you up at the airport, drop at hotel, put you up in ferry, pick up at havelock and all the things above for return journey. In our case the havelock journey was after 4 days, but they still arranged everything. So we saw a friendly face from Barefoot, they dropped us at our hotel in Port Blair. We were staying at Fortune Resort Bay Island. Here is my review of the place.