Food

DESTINATION DUBAI – Part 2

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DESTINATION DUBAI – Part 2

THE DESERT SAFARI

If you have read Part 1 of my trip at Sukanya’s Blog (https://sukanyaramanujan.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/guest-post-destination-dubai-by-mathangi-jeyabal/)

– let’s take off from where we stopped last. While locals at Dubai might not really be gung ho about the Desert Safari (they must have done it a zillion times) – as a tourist , it is something that you cannot miss. There are innumerable choices to book a desert safari – right from something that looks really affordable to the ones that make your eyes pop out (are they throwing in a camel for free or what?). Jokes apart – read the reviews and pick the one that suits your budget and maybe a bit more. We went with Orient Tours , and I was happy with the whole experience as you might infer on further reading of this post.

If you fix a slightly upscale option – you get picked up from your residence in the vehicle of your choice (we got a really smooth Land cruiser / you can even opt for a Hummer) and are driven to the outskirts of the city. You pretty much observe the well planned out city’s landscapes fading out as you enter desert territory – arid conditions, prickly bushes and miles and miles of nothingness. You get a pit stop – where you can stock up on some snacks / coffee etc and then you go further into the land of fantastic sand dunes.

You are really not prepared for the first experience of dune bashing as they call it – where your driver simply plunges vehicle et al right from the top of the sand dune till the bottom. Once you get used to it – you secretly start wishing the dunes get higher and higher and your drop gets steeper and steeper. Your driver will stop at half point to let some air out of the tires so as to get a better grip driving up slope. Its no fun when you are halfway up there and realize you are tumbling back down uncontrollably. Its useful to check on the cars that go ahead (there are many of them that stick to a particular route) – to have a fair idea of what’s coming next.

Did the car behind ya get stuck?
Did the car behind ya get stuck?
Steep fall
Tracks ahoy !
Tracks ahoy !

Your tourist and Facebook friendly driver lets you get out at the most photo friendly spots – giving you sufficient time for selfies/ groupfies and what not!

Groupfie time! Random tourists
Groupfie time! Random tourists

The sand surprisingly is not so hot to your bare feet and is almost silky smooth. There are many almost virgin sand dunes, where your footprints do leave the first imprints making you hope it stays there embedded in the sands of time ( wishful thinking eh ?) Kids and adults just go crazy here deciding to climb up and slide down – forget inhibitions and think childhood memories .

Footprints in the sands of time...
Footprints in the sands of time…

Post play time is a visit to the camel farm, a chance to see some exotic, fat lipped “Camelus dromedaries”, lazily chewing something and giving you the shifty eye. They are willing to be petted and photographed with and are absolutely friendly.

Camelus Dromedarius - yep its a camel!
Camelus Dromedarius – yep its a camel!

Your last stop is the actual camp at the desert. As the sun sets, you are under the vast skies , in small tents – you can either put your feet up and relax, or go sand dune sledding, get your hands painted with henna, hold a captive falcon, get a hookah fix,watch some sand art before dinner is served. Sadly there are not many options for the vegan or vegetarian population, but if you like your proteins (read meat) you are in for a treat. The food was good, the activities make you tired and you are ready to call it a day – when you are invited to a treat of some Arabian music, traditional dances including a voluptuous belly dance.

Henna time
Henna time
Dinner is served!
Dinner is served!
This guy did quite a number...
This guy did quite a number…
And so did she !
And so did she !
The sun sets over the desert ... time to wrap up!
The sun sets over the desert … time to wrap up!

. As you get dropped at your residence you sleep well happy in the thought that it was a day well spent.

My next post is about the extravagant gold souks and enchanting spice markets… don’t forget to watch out for this space…

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The Madras Market…

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The Madras Market is finally here! After days, nay weeks of constant reminders, vendor verifications and just the eager anticipation of the event – it has finally materialised! Yes , yes… click and portal to brick and mortar and all that jargon… but come take a virtual tour on day 1 of the Madras Market (initiative of the Chennai Shopping group – a group that has helped narrow the gap between many a shopper and vendor along with some good relations to boot )

Ample car parking.. thank god!
Ample car parking.. thank god!

Anyone who tries to venture into a mall or any other popular hangout over the weekend will shudder at the thought of parking. Definitely a point in favour of Madras Market.

SONY DSCGet your ticket and some gift vouchers at the counter too…

Safety and security :) what if your heart couldn't take the variety of goodies on sale :)
Safety and security 🙂 what if your heart couldn’t take the variety of goodies on sale 🙂
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I am entering the Market first paying obeisance to the remover of obstacles… help me find some good deals 🙂 No obstacles there please!

The common theme at the Madras market was of course … errr… Madras / Chennai..duh! Chumbak, Chennai Gaga, and many more stalls which had souvenirs – read bags, stationery, T-shirts, magnets of ‘namma’ Chennai seemed to be popular with both the local crowd and the expats too!

You know you are Indian if...some witty stuff here
You know you are Indian if…some witty stuff here
T Shirts with an element of the local flavour
T Shirts with an element of the local flavour
Loved these quaint kettles...absolute old world charm
Loved these quaint kettles…absolute old world charm
Moving from clothes to more functional items... these woven muli utility baskets were a big hit with many
Moving to more functional items… these woven muli utility baskets were a big hit with many
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Functional.. yea.. but what is that? Absolutely gorgeous jewellery up for grabs at many stalls.. and worth its price too 🙂 I loved these jhumkas a lot!
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Well if you got to look into your jewels in peace.. make sure junior is occupied! Board games and stalls for different hobbies galore…
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Angry birds and Chota Bheem were the next theme in rage… bags, stationery and even a suitcase!
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If just the souvenirs did not appeal to you – you could actually play the game live with the catapulting birds… no crazy sound effects though!
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For the more adventurous at heart – venture into the world of Zorbing!
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When it is glucose run down time – stick one of these kandy swirls to raise the energy levels 🙂
or if you're looking to move away from the exotic and to something that has survived the test of time - fluorescent pink clouds of cotton candy... who could surpass that temptation!?
or if you’re looking to move away from the exotic and to something that has survived the test of time – fluorescent pink clouds of cotton candy… who could surpass that temptation!?
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Kids and adults give in to them equally and wind up on a sweet note…

I have to mention the patient artists who were doing their own creative thing by way of caricatures and mehndi – putting a smile on the face of many. Plus the stage that was being set up for the evening’s concert. The food court had a variety of items that would satiate your sweet tooth as well as your continental and spicy one too… What was lacking was maybe a juice stall… With the sun beating down the way it did today – even the humble lime soda would have made top biz… people who were thirsty gave in to ice golas or regular mineral water…As a stall had mentioned on its merchandise – Chennai “land of four summers”

Hopefully same time next year too! See ya…

 

Street food in Thailand

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Well, street food in Thailand is quite a thriving market. You can get your fill from the exotic (animal or sea food), the banal rice items, milk, hot soup, fruits … uff! You think of it, and it might be in one of the by-lanes next to your hotel, shopping area, or even close to the pharmacy. Most of their eats are not as much fried as they are grilled – and I found that very interesting!

I captured some pictures of food items that looked colorful, interesting and new to my eyes.

Grilled Octopus anyone ?

 

Grilled shrimp on skewer – food on the go!

 

Angry birds – actually angry prawns

 

Crunchy beetles anyone?

 

These Larvae were a hot sell !

And finally the food we understand best… Just down every street of exoticism , you can also find….

A Mcdonalds!

 

…. A McDonalds! A Language that speaks to every faint-hearted tourist 🙂

 

 

 

The beach by night

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I wouldn’t say that these are the best photos. But it is rather interesting to look at the same / similar subjects during daytime and the night…

The horses by night...
This beauty stood out in the darkness...
The sweet seller by night... moved away from the waves
Stationary merry-go-round...
Maybe a spin will help the wheel of fortune favour us...
Just the horns glowing in the dark draw our attention to this vendor...

Food options by night…

Mumbai Cha(a)t with a touch of Tamil...And yes it should be "Bhel" poori 🙂
Maybe the witches cast a 'spell' on the 'spelling' options...
Steamed groundnuts...
The famous bajji stalls ... I clicked this picture because I rather liked the multi-coloured cap this chap was sporting...
She sells sea shells on the sea shore - could have never used it more aptly!
The Lighthouse that witnesses these scenes day in and out... by morn and night.

Chez Don Giovanni…

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A rooftop restaurant at Puducherry, great view of the sea and the city, excellent wind in your face and great comfort food. This hotel is located on the rooftop of Hotel Corbellis on Mission Street.

Don’t let the simple furniture and decor, cane chairs and chequered sheets, fool you into downplaying your expectations. This place has some genuine Italian food –  we decided to go for the Garlic bread, Lasagne and Roast chicken, with a very tasty dip that came along. The bread and the Lasagne was fresh – nothing tasted pre-cooked or pre-heated.The lime water soda though, was nothing to write home about. Rates were also quite reasonable – An average meal for two set us back by Rs.750. My friend and I decided to skip the dessert a cause de reasonably sufficient portions.

The view from the restaurant..
Your garnishing 😉
Appetizing - this Foccacia!
Authentic Lasagne
Another vibrant and colourful dish..
The Chef's (in yellow) recommendations..

On the whole a nice place- the ambience, the view, and definitely the breeze and the food. Things you could do there as we take an idea from some of the others there – read a book, sip some wine and just forget the world around you – (except when you come back to reality to take a bite). Or you could simply go there in large groups with a large appetite. Definitely worth your while!