Next stop … who knows.

Sun day Fun day at the Pinnacles – Western Australia

We took a two drive north from Perth to the Nambung National Park. This place is famous for its discovery in the desert that is called “The Pinnacles. This is a major natural attraction in the Coral Coast region and a “must see”.  My Travelling companion and I were delighted that we got an opportunity to have a family outing at the famous park.

When we arrived at the Pinnacles we saw some thousands limestone pillars of different sizes and shapes spread over a vast area on yellow sand dunes. This scene is so unique as well as fascinating that you wonder in awe at these limestone columns. Along side the park you can see the idyllic deep blue Indian Ocean and sandy beach which stretches for miles.

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You may wonder what exactly are the Pinnacles? They are natural processes which have been formed over millions of years after the sea receded and left deposits of sea shells. Over time the costal winds blew the sand around exposing the pillars which can be found in unique formations. We enjoyed driving around the park by car in a marked track and took in the alien like scenes as we viewed the unusual shaped pillars. We stopped every now and then to take out some fantastic photographs.

Next we drove a little further north to Cervantes a small crayfishing town fringed by beautiful clean beach which in summer must be packed with bathers and perfect for windsurfying and other water activities. Since we were the winter visitors it was pretty quiet on the beach except for a few tourists.

We couldn’t leave this town before stopping for lunch at the Lobster Shack which is a well known in this area for great sea food.  We ate some delicious juicy grilled lobsters and tasty fish and chips. What a delightful meal !


It took us two hours to drive back to Perth. This was a real fun Sunday, enjoyable in every sense of the word and something to cherish and remind us of our visit to this natural wonder.

So fellow travelers follow us as we continue to have fun and enjoy new adventures.  Stay tuned for our next adventure.




Western Australia Botanic Garden and King’s Park is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. This well kept park is massive, wide spread and beautifully laid out. We went to check it out and we learned a lot about plants.  It was a good learning experience and it provided my Travelling companion and myself the much needed exercise we deserved as we walked along the pavement in and around the manicured lawns.

There are many different walks in the park.  We decided to do the Discover the Western Australian Botanic  Gardens and do a walk amongst the treetops on the Lotterywest Federation Walkway and we were not disappointed.  We had picked a glorious day to go there. The sun was shining and since it was early we didn’t encounter too many people on the walkway except for a few joggers.

The park is on an elevation so it provided fantastic views of the city and across the Swan River. The botanic gardens are filled with plants, trees and flowers that are native to Western Australia. The walk also provided us with information about Aboriginal culture and their connection with nature. We even saw a  Boab tree which has an interesting shape. It is difficult to give you a sense of what we saw on our walk through the gardens so I hope my pictures will speak for itself. I may say flowers were blooming even in winter in the western part of Australia. So I can imagine how pretty it would look in summer.

The park provides a great environment for walkers, joggers, having a picnic or enjoying the tranquility of nature.  There are activities throughout the year.  In September there is the annual King’s Park Festival and during the summer you can enjoy an outdoor concert, film or even a play. The natural beauty of this place would draw me to visit this park again and again.

So long fellow travelers and lovers of nature we hope to keep on travelling and discovering more every day.





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Eating out in Perth

I love eating at home in a casual setting with family and occasionally I enjoy cooking special dishes that my  family enjoy but eating out has a charm of its own.  Perth city center definitely has some good places to dine and entertain family and friends. So we had a Friday night out at Hawkers  Cusine the popular Perth Malaysian restaurant in Northbridge. image For starters the place was crowded.  Hawkers do not take reservations, they are assured of hungry patrons who are more than willing to wait in line to be called up when a table becomes available. They also have a BYOB policy which was great. Now since our friend had dinned at Hawkers Cuisine several times before she suggested a variety of every conceivable Malaysian dish she thought we should enjoy. To our surprise when the food arrived it was something to behold.  Our dishes were served to our table in slow successions as we enjoyed and as savoured each course one by one. For starters we had Laksa a delicious soup with Singapore noodles it was tasty and delicious and filling.  Then came the main courses one after the other . We had the Beef Rendang which was tender with a tasty sauce, Marmite chicken,  Hawker’s Fried rice, Roti Canai, Golden Butter Prawns, Singapore Chilli Crab, two vegetables dishes green beans and a sauterred spinach.  For me it was all about the crab dish.  Most patrons of Hawkers rave about their rock crab preparation.  To our good luck a shipment of crab was delivered to the restaurant just while we were placing our order.  When the time came for dessert, you can very well guess none of us could not a eat morsel more and we had to pass up on that. What an excellent  evening in great company, lively chatter and sumptuous food. Who could ask for more. My Travelling  partner and I are greatful to have met wonderful people, loving family and friends as we keep travelling and experiencing different cuisines on our journey. Till then fellow travelers we will continue travelling. image image image

Thailand here we come again !

Thailand is such a fantastic holiday destination that this is our second visit to this country. We have been to Chaing Mai in the north and Karabi in the south. This time we decided to vacation at the beach side resort of Patong Bay, in Pukhet.

This beach is beautiful and clean and my Travelling partner and I enjoyed some lovely walks along the beach and taking in amazing sunsets. On the beach we saw plenty of water activities wind surfing was very imagepopular during the day and at dusk it was a treat to watch the skies aglow with displays of fire crackers and candle lit lanterns floating in the air.
















As Thailand is surrounded by ocean, fishing is popular in this country. We looked forward to feasting on seafood everyday. Guess what, we were not disappointed. We ate out every night and  tried a variety of sea food dishes. What was interesting most of the sea food restaurants had freshly caught sea food on display and we picked our choices and the cooks cooked what we had picked according to our request. The meals were delicious and tasty and the freshness of the seafood was something to write home about. We ate lobsters, crabs, tiger shrimp, calamari, snapper and grouper Thai cuisine style.









imageWe also took a stroll down Bangla Road a place buzzing with activity. Here most of the bars can be found and it is packed with tourists who come bar hopping and to socialize. Behind Bangla Road we found an interesting fresh produce  Banzaan Market. One evening we bought our snapper and calmari from the fish market and walked to the first floor restaurant to get is cooked. That was an awesome Thai sea food dinner.










Our stay in Thailand was so relaxed and refreshing if we were not on the beach we were relaxing at the pool side, reading or just soaking in the sun. This is my idea of a holiday eating, drinking and chilling out. I read somewhere booking a holiday to an exciting destination has more meaning to a woman than buying her jewelry. If this is true I must be one lucky woman !

So as I leave Thailand for my next destination I say “laa gon ” ” pop gan mai”. Good bye, see you again !image


My Dream Come True

I always wanted to visit China. I was curious about this vast country its history and its culture and mostly its people and how they live.  So when an opportunity presented itself too good to miss I convinced my travelling companion that we should join this guided tour and see what adventure unfolds this time.

Most of our travelling adventures in the past were done by the two of us on our own, we take time to read, research the country we want to travel by watching Travel DVDs, then plan and outline our route without the help of a travel consultant. However this trip to China we decided to sit back and enjoy the trip and leave the planning to the experts and that is exactly what we did.

The tour began in Beijing, then on to Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Wuxi.  We were accommodated in five star hotels and most of the meals were included. All  our Tour Guides spoke English and the presenters at the different places we visited in China were very knowledgeable and loved to talk about their country.

Each of the places above were very unique and had its own charm. Here are some of the highlights of our trip.  In Beijing we explored historical sites like the Forbidden City and we got an opportunity to climb the Great Wall. For me this was so real to climb the stone steps to the different posts which soldiers many centuries ago, climbed to defend their country. I was surprised at the narrow breadth of the wall. I imagined it to be wider as I had read somewhere that four horses riders could ride side by side at the same time. I think some parts of the Great Wall may be wider at another point.






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In Shanghai I loved the Lingering garden which was an ancient home belonging to a Chinese aristocrat with a garden attached to the house. From the outside it did not look like much but once inside it was beautifully landscaped with waterfalls and plants and flowers.  The place had a peaceful atmosphere and the art of Feng shui was very evident from the interior decor and furnishings.

In Suzhou we were taken to Silk Spinning Mill where we experienced how silk was extracted from the silk coccons and then woven into silk material. Such stops on the trip were educational as well as a place where foreign tourists are taken to buy goods. One has to be careful not to get trapped into buying anything if you don’t want. Go for the experience it is worth it.  We also took an optional Trip in Suzhou to go for a boat ride on the Suzhou Grand Canal.  We saw houses along the canal where people still live and this canal provides the locals another mode of transportation as well as for local produce to move from one village to another that are on the canal route. This was a nice experience which reminded me of our gondola ride in Venice.

In  the province of Hangzhou we visited the Dragon Well Tea plantation we saw how the tender tea leaves were plucked and then roasted by hand. We got to sit for a presentation and then the sales pitch to buy their boxed tea. Here too one has to be aware and avoid buying if it is not what you want. I wish we could actually walk through the gardens and watch workers picking the tea leaves. We did however, take the optional boat ride on the serene West Lake in the evening which was very enchanting.

At Wuxi we visited the Fresh Water Pearl Farm and the Lingshan Grand Buddha. At the Pearl Farm we had to sit through another presentation. I was not too impressed but had to sit through and learn how pearls were formed. After the presentation we were ushered into a room where apparently only foreigh visitors are taken. Here too you have to hear some high sales pitch. They say “no bargaining” but it is always a good idea to bring the price down and have some knowledge of pearls if you are inclined to buy any. The Lingshan Grand Buddha was a unique display of the life of Buddha on a rotation pillar which kept us spellbound.

Our ten day trip ended in Shanghai. We visited the Bund and ended the day with the beautiful Shaighai by night river cruise. Shanghai during the night is breathtaking and amazing sight.  All the tall structures are lit up on both sides of the river banks which provides great photo opportunity.

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No trip to China should end without a trip to the ‘knock out’ market. Here you can find house hold goods, electronics, home decor and other goods at very reasonable rates, bargaining is a must if you want a good deal. Quite a few of our fellow travellers did  shopping here. I could not believe we walked out without buying anything other than eating our lunch there. The prices of the electronic goods were very reasonable and we were tempted to do some purchases.

Overall I would say there were a lots of pro and cons on going on a guided tour. The pros were we got to see many places in ten days which we could not have done on our own. The cons were the food was not always to our taste. I think Chinese food in North America is much tastier. Breakfasts was always the best meal of the day for us as the buffet always provided us with tasty options.

Our trip to China was a real dream come true for me which I will cherish for some time.  So I will keep you posted as we continue on our trip to another country in Asia.

Until my next post, Zaijian my fellow travelers!



Adventures in Vietnam

Vietnam has so much to offer with its rich culture infused by Chinese and French influences that it is one of the top 10  most attractive tourist destinations to visit in Asia. I was very happy when my Travelling companion suggested we go there as our first stop.

Hanoi the capital of Vietnam is very well known for its centuries old architecture. We stayed in the heart of Old Quarter in the midst of “36 streets” a space of ancients streets arranged by trades which you can see even to this day.

As a tourist Hanoi at first sight appears to be a very chaotic place to visit. Crossing the roads can be a nightmare, but there is a sense in this traffic madness.  Busses, scooters, cars, pedestrians all vying for space on the road however, we did not encounter any traffic accident nor road rage among drivers, who were very considerate of pedestrians and had a knack of avoiding themimage. We stayed in the down town core which was walking distance to many points of interest.  This provided us with exercise and the ability to witness the local scenes. Hoan Kiem Lake area with its tree lined boulevard is a major scenic spot and a meeting place to encounter locals. We were approached by many groups of universities students wanting to talk to us a way of improving their English. This is a great opportunity for us too, to meet the locals and get to know some of their culture. Hanoi Kids is a similar organization where students take you around the city and show you points of interest or places to experience unique Vietnamese cuisine. My favorite dish was Pho Bo, noodles with chicken which I found very delicious.

No visit to Vietnam would be complete without a visit to Halong Bay, the lighlight of our trip.  This Bay is recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site. It comprises of 1969 islands formed through geotectonic processs for millions of years surrounded by sea which has untouched natural beauty and exquisite landscapes and rock formations jutting out of the sea.  We took a two days one night cruise, ate some exquisite Vietnamese cuisine, met some wonderful fellow travelers and enjoyed some breath taking views from the deck which is something that will last for a very long time.image

Another side trip that we took was to Ninh Binh. This was the ancient capital Hoa Lu. This place is also known as Halong Bay on land. It was quite an adventure going by row boat on the water way through beautiful landscapes, natural caves very primitive and ancient created by limestone systems. We throughly enjoyed the grandeur of nature and the spectular scenes of this very unique site.



We were also fortunate to see the spiritual side of the Vietnamese people. Our Lady of La Vang is a pilgrim site where Our Lady appeared to the Vietnamese Catholics who were being percuated during the tribal wars in the 17th century. This site is about two hours from the city of Hue. We took an overnight sleeper bus ride to Hue which was quite an adventure too as we had never travelled by a sleeper bus. We met some wonderful  fellow travelers from different parts of the world who were very friendly and it was nice to be in a bus with like minded travelers.

Vietnam has lots to offer and we did see quite a few unique things that we had not experienced before on our travel to Asia. Hopefully if opportunity provides we will visit South Vietnam the city of Ho Chi Min where the cuisine is quite different from that of the north.

Until next time fellow travelers, my travel companion and I will keep you posted about our adventures.





Stay, Play, Meet in Nottawasaga Inn- Ontario

Nottawasage Inn and Resort is an interesting place to visit for a quick weekend getaway or for a longer stay. It is an all season hotel in Alliston, Ontario just 45 minutes drive from Toronto.


The resort is located amidst beautiful surroundings and is great location for an event. Last weekend my travelling companion and I attended a “Coming Together” function along with about 225 delegtes at the Resort’s Conference Centre. The accommodation and Meeeting rooms were comfortable the eating and dinning area spacious nicely decorated with suitable Fall setting. The conference was well organized and we had a great time.

This resort is well equipped with many amenities both for indoor and outdoor functions. The Wedding Garden is a good location for a summer time function. On the weekend of our conference two weddings took place in this picturesque location. This hotel has the capacity for many simultanous events and it was a delight to get a glimps of the brides, the wedding party and guests all dressed up. The hotel has a fireplace too for guests lounging in the hotel foyers during the Fall cool nights.


Nottawasage Inn resort covers a large area with plenty of things to do if one wishes to stay active and fit. It has a Sports and Leisure Dome, Fitness center, Rainforest Theme swimming pool area with water slide. Plenty of out door activites to indulge in like a golf course, squash, tennis and Bocce court, soccor fields and even Centre Ice Arena. For those who wish to experience the peace and quiet of the outdoors Nottawasage Resort offers two beautiful nature trails, the Valley Trail and the Briar Hill Trail both sides of the Nottawasage River, for walkers, joggers bird-watchers and snowshoers during the winter.


While we were there we were fortunate to hear the owner of the Resort Lou Biffis speak to us about some of his spiritual experiences.  Most of us did not know, that the resort has a chapel, on the lower level which has a statue of the “Miracle Madona” as Lou calls it. He informed us that visitors to the Chapel come and pray there as they feel an incredible presence. Many visitors experience peace and healing after their visit.


The “Coming Together” weekend at this beautiful location was something to remember for a very long time as we keep on travelling and meeting people !


Time to celebrate – cultural festivities in Toronto

September is a unique month when one can attend or take part in the numerous festivals held to celebrate the end of summer and beginning of Fall in the northern hemisphere.  It also coincides with the harvest festivals celebrated in other parts of the world.

One such celebration is Monthi Fest which is celebrated around the world by the Konkan community of south India particularily the Mangaloreans. This festival is closely linked to the harvest festivals celebrated in southern India like Onam and Pongal.

Monthi Fest is celebrated on September 8 or the weekend around that date, in honour of the Nativity of Our Lady by Christians and other faiths alike This is similar to Bandra Feast that is celebrated in Mumbai, India by people who go on a pilgrimage to Mount Mary a church on a hill and there after to feast at the various food stalls along the route and make merry during the week of celebration.

Monthi Fest is an annual celebration in Toronto where people gather to pray and celebrate with family and friends by eating and drinking special food as they remember their cultural identity through rituals, songs and dances. Children too play a part of showering flower petals while the statue of Our Lady is taken in a procession in the church yard.

The cultural activities takes place in a hall where people gather. Before the meal a special drink called Novem, a preparation made with the newly harvested rice (paddy), which is mixed in milk or coconut milk was served in shot glasses to the guests. People then  cheered and drank to each others health. This ritual goes back to the first grains of the harvest which are blessed and shared in the community and to families as a symbol of Reunion and Thanksgiving.

The Buffet meal which followed consisted of seven different vegetables preparations with rice and dhal (pulses) served on a banana leaf. We were given disposible plates under the banana leaf to make the eating experience easy.  The food was delicious and tasty, it was catered by Udupi Restaraunt of Toronto which is known for their vegetarian dishes. For desert we had the traditional vorn or payasam a sweet dish made with mung dal ( pulse), coconut milk and jaggery.

The cultural festivities consisted of a variety of Bollywood and other cultural dances with members of the community and their children taken part. The dancers were dressed in colourful costumes and saries and it was a beautiful display of talent. The evening continued with games and dancing.

People came away with fond remembrances of their homeland as they were transported to another world even though for a short period of time.
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Western Australia’s Perth has lots to offer

WA has much to offer especially around the CBD area of Perth. Most of the monuments buildings and cathedrals are all within walking distance of each other and so my companion and I covered many of the places of interest within a few days of our visit to Perth.

Seeing the city on foot is a good experience but if you are not a walker you can always hop on to the CAT buses which offer free bus service around the CBD area. The (Red, Blue, Green and Yellow lines) take you to different areas of the city and are a convenient way of travelling to most of the places of interest.

A good place to begin is the Art Museum which show cases Aboriginal art. It has a  selection of art work done by various artist and painters. I was very impressed by the many displays of pointillism designs. The museum also has some old paintings which traces the history of the first settlers in Perth. Admission is free unless you wish to view the special exhibits on display.

Another interesting place we visited was the Old Court House Law Museum which is located in the Supreme Court Gardens on Barrack Street. This is unique because it is the oldest public building which was constructed in the year 1836. Since I come from a family where the law profession runs in our veins I was interested in the various exhibits showing the history of the Australian legal system dating back to the mid 1800. The Supreme Court of WA which is located near by, has beautiful floral gardens and well manicured lawns surrounding it.

Kings Park and the Botanic Garden is located at the edge of the CBD and it accessible by public transport. This is a must see for visitors because it is an opportunity to learn about Aboriginal history through its nature walks and art work. The park grounds cover hectares of bushland and native wild flowers which is a good learning experience as everything is well marked and it is easy to do a self guided walk at your own pace.

Kings Park is also a place where you find many memorials, statues and plaques honouring the founding fathers and other dignitaries.  It has an impressive war memorial dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the 1st World War. This park also has picnic areas for families and well kept lawns where people can play games. It is open for 24 hours of the day and no entry fee. Many outdoor concerts and summer events take place at Kings Park.

Visitors to Kings Park will not be disappointed with the magnificent views of the city and the Swan River from Mt. Eliza. The views are breath taking to say the least both in the day and at night.

Harbour Town is a shopping centre which is popular with tourist and local alike. It is easy to pass time going through the name brand stores ‘if shopping is your cup of tea’. There are about 100 speciality stores selling shoes and clothes and other house hold things.

We were frequently asked what are impression of Perth was? Looking back at our stay here I would say the CBD is easy to navigate on foot hence we did not require anyone to take us around.  William Street is the main street and it is easy to navigate the city and locate your destination. I assure you will never get lost if you keep this street in mind, it runs into the heart of the city.

The people of Perth are helpful and friendly. There seems to be an attitude of taking things easy, even office goers are not in a rush and will stop at a coffee shop and chat before they head out to work. The bus drivers are polite and smiling, passers by smile or wish us good morning when we go for our morning walk. I hope I am not imagining it but this is what we have encountered so far.

We also experienced a sense of hospitality and service in the community when we visited   ‘Annalakshmi on the Swan’ restaurant located on Elizabeth Quay in down town Perth. It is a dining experience rather unique. This restaurant has been serving the public freshly prepared Indian vegetarian food. Their concept is “Eat as you like and pay as your heart feels”. It serves lunch and dinner all prepared by volunteers. We went there for dinner recently. The food was simple and wholesome and we were surprised to see it rather crowded with patrons enjoying their meals. On the menu that day were two kinds of rice dishes, several vegetable dishes, appam, curried lentils and lentil soup. It has a self service where you help yourself to food from the buffet table as many times as you like. Their one rule is no wastage allowed. That is fair enough considering they do not hand you a bill at the end of your meal but I’m sure most people leave donations before they exit.

There is much more to write about our visit to Perth that will be in my next blog as we keep travelling and experiencing and wanting more.

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