Month: November 2010

focus and perseverance

The two qualities difficult to come to me. One of my closest friends, lets call him J, is so anti me… he sets his eye on something and works relentlessly to achieve it and he always does it.
Discipline to follow your dreams is important to be a high achiever and to stay happy in life. Success is very individual, defined by people what they believe it is to them. To some it is wealth and all things luxurious a big car, big house. To some it is beautiful loving wife, kids, their education and they’re sorted. To some it is spirituality or to do good to others or respect. To some it is sacrificing it all for their loved ones.
What I like about J is that he has long term goal and sets short term goals that lead him to the bigger goal. I remember when in our undergrad he wanted to learn guitar, he bought one and did it. Then during recession he wanted to stick to IT industry and he struggled and found a job. When he wanted to switch his job and move to a particular city, he worked to prepare for interview, used all his connections to find as much as he could, applied and did it. His steps have moved slowly but steadly, be it his travel plans, marriage, his bike (Bullet), photography, progressing with guitar… whatever it is he has always been able to do it. I don’t want to jinx it so will hit my head or bite my tongue whatever it takes.
The reason J does it and gets it everytime is because he sets a single major goal at a time and keeps working towards it. He sleeps eats thinks breathes just his aspiration and makes sure he gets it.
I think it takes a lot to have this sort of committment, I admire him for this and hope to be able to pick a little bit of this quality.

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Thailand – August 2009

Had it written on my old blog that i’ve now discarded… posting this here

So, where do I begin. I think I should begin from the beginning where it all started, planning and preparation, and actual travel. I want to talk about not only the places I went to but places we considered in Thai and didn’t go to.

It began when Shweta and I were depressed about turning 30 this year. We were talking about how I could come to visit Mumbai and then we could celebrate her birthday which moved to let’s get you out of Mumbai on your birthday and then it moved to let’s get out of India. Thailand was the easiest option – close to India, not overly expensive, good shopping and we could do it by ourselves. We did consider other places like Bali which was very expensive, Manila where Shweta had lived before, Singapore was not the kind of place we were in mood for, Dubai and a few other places.

The first thing we did was to block our tickets through a travel agent. We got a good deal as we did this 2 months before our travel dates. Second was to find out about visa, how it works. For Indians its Visa on Arrival which made it very easy for us.

You can find more about visa at the following links –

http://www.thaivisa.com/visa/tourist-visa.html

and http://www.thaivisa.com/479.0.html

The second link has information on visa on arrival.

Travel agents are good to block tickets, however if your travel dates are confirm travelocity has the best deals –

travelocity.co.in or travelocity.com

I had a friend who had traveled to Thailand multiple times so I went to meet up with her to plan my trip. She told me places of interest and what they hold. Here are the places we figured and my thoughts about them –

Bangkok – Must go, you can do all you want here, there is stuff for singles, backpackers, shoppers, families, historical places and religious places. Time you want to spend here depends on what you want to do and how much. For example, I wanted to explore the Grand palace and some Buddhist temples, we had less time so took a day to cover some of them. Ideally I would have liked to spend at least 2-3 days doing that.

Pattaya – Party place but gets a lot of tourists. I’ve heard the beaches aren’t that clean anymore. Its only about 3 hours away from Bangkok so easy for tourists who want to avoid further travel expense but want to get a feel of Thai beaches. I’ve also heard that this is the place for Ladyboys.

Phuket – Another big tourist destination. Less than an hour by flight from Bangkok and I think almost overnight by train (not sure). We didn’t go to Phuket either. I’ve heard that this is more of a family destination for Indians. I also read on one of the forums that Phuket has good beaches. Phuket also has lot of water sports like jet ski etc.

Krabi – Beautiful quiet place. We did Bangkok and Krabi and I totally fell in love with this place. Has Phi Phi island which is secluded and good resting place, Maya bay where Leonardo had shot for the beach, Raliegh beach, Lanta which is popular for Scuba. Activities around – snorkel, kayak, ride around the area and lie around on the beach. They don’t have water sports that pollute the sea. Which means you get to do a little less stuff but that also means you get to enjoy what is known to be the cleanest beaches of thai. I can’t validate this as this is the only beach I went to in thai. Maya bay is totally worth it and nothing like relaxing and getting massages by Ao Nang or Raleigh beaches.

Samui and Phangan – Don’t know much about Samui but Phangan is the party place, famous for full moon party.

There are elephant rides around some of these islands but we’ve had enough of those in India, didn’t have much charm in hold for us.

A few more sites that have the best deals –

Hotel – asiarooms.com
Flights in and around Thailand – airasia.com

A few more things to do before travel –

– search blogs and read people blogs instead of tourist site blogs(I used blogsearch.google.com, they have option to select blogs posted in last day, week month etc. This helped find more on swine flu the only deterrent to our travel plans)
– find backpackers forums, they sometimes have information on lesser explored sites that might be of interest
– of course look up the tourist websites of destination of travel, helps to know the more popular places
– check weather reports
– lonely planet has very detailed info on everything what to do and reviews on hotels. My selection of hotel was after reading reviews on asiarooms and lonely planet and looking at the location on the map – distance from places of interest.
– Don’t plan the entire trip but do plan broadly so that you do the travel bookings and know how much luggage you can carry around with you. How much and when you want to shop also needs a little thought. We shopped only beach clothes on our way to Krabi and did our real shopping after we were back. No point carrying all the load around.
– Find out how easily foreign exchange is available or if your cards will work at ATM and if its safe to use them. The only place we used our credit cards was when we shopped at international brand stores and at the airport. When I got back I received a call from my credit card company saying that my card is blocked as it was used in high risk country where a lot of fraud happens, they create fake version of your cards and misuse them. I had my card replaced immediately. Shweta’s card did have some trouble, she received a call that her card had been used in Australia, a country she has never even been to. While its not advisable to carry a lot of Forex, it might be needed or you may need to look for alternatives like traveler’s check.
– Think of your primary objective of traveling, helps plan your trip. For us it was relax, get our minds off the world we live in, eat good food and shop. The one objective I had which didn’t work out well was to meet new people. Reason – the are we stayed in Bkk was full of Indians who were either sleazy or not interested in talking to other Indians. Krabi we did meet a couple and had a few interesting conversations, which I’ll write a bit about when I come to our actual travel.
If your objective is women, Krabi is not really ‘the’ place, you might want to hit pattaya or phuket. If its water sports I’ve heard phuket is the go to place. If its party you might want to stay around party areas of bkk or go to pattaya(from what i read) or samui.
– Keep a day or two for rest, there is a lot of walking you need to do for most of your travels. Thai is good for foot massages, keep getting them once in a while. Its an hour and only 300INR, totally worth it!
– Its helpful to learn a few local language words specially for ‘Thank you’, people always appreciate it. Well for those traveling to India, Thank you has now become an Indian word no one uses the local language for saying thank you anymore.

Checklist of important things for travel, some obvious ones –

– Passport
– Photocopy of passport in each of the bags you carry
– Travel insurance (we used HDFC – very convenient and online)
– Foreign Exchange USD works almost everywhere, if you’re traveling to Europe you can pick Euros instead
– Prints of any bookings : or you would have to hunt for a printer, we had this trouble but our hotel at bangkok had one which was a great help
– Visa docs (if its visa on arrival) I’ve learnt to carry 3-4 passport photos after my china trip. I wanted to stop over at Singapore for weekend and didn’t know if they needed a photograph, I didn’t have one and luckily it wasn’t needed.
– Underclothing, always keep more than you think you’ll need
– clothes needed for the weather
– something to do while waiting or not sleepy etc : I always carry a book, my tarot cards (forgot only during my thai trip), most of the times an ipod. In one of the trips where we were many ppl we carried UNO cards with us.