N E W E D I T I O N O F O U R T O U R D R
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OUR TOURTO SOUTH EAST ASIA
DR. SHRINIWAS KASHALIKAR
The initial enquiry about tour (on a cup coffee) was pleasant at Sachin travels. The atmosphere was not formal or indifferent as against some other tour agents/companies.
The SE2 tour including Hong Kong and Macau was selected and soon booked also.
Initial thoughts on tour were little bit skeptical; especially with respect to the usual and familiar nature of cities, characterized by annoying crowding, pollution and the jam packed and tiring or grueling program of tour. There was also apprehension about food, breakfast and exhaustive traveling.
On 10th July; we reached the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport at about 12 midnight.
We met our group leaders Prashant Ramaraje and Amol Shevade. Both are quite affable. They did never reflect snobbish, negligent, timid, belligerent, confused, or anxious attitude. They were confident and reassuring.
The usual procedures of checking in, immigration and boarding were untimely and patience testing. But this is probably inseparable from air travel.
The show, pomp and the vanity on airport reflect the abundance and affluence amidst agony and apathy of the vast majority of Indians. Even the urinals surrounding the airport endorse and
confirm this observation. The bickering and verbal abuses prevailed as is the case in any crowded and mismanaged set up. But I feel that that the global rise of spiritual renaissance probably cannot be resisted even by the toughest of evil forces in coming future.
11th JulyWe were quite comfortable in Hong Kong flight and reached Hong Kong in time i.e. at about by the Cathe Pacific flight no. CX 684 at 12:30 pm on 11th July. From Mumbai Hong Kong is about 4200 km away.
We found cleanliness and discipline coupled with elegance and warmth through out the airport.
We were received by Eric; our tour guide on airport. We visited a restaurant in a crowded downtown area of Hong Kong and had reasonably good Indian lunch; mostly Punjabi variety. The pudina chutney was very tasty.
The market places in Hong Kong were full of raw meat and dead bodies of birds kept for sale. Stinking smell of these pervaded and caused some degree of sub-clinical nausea. Though unwelcome; we tolerated this!
After lunch we checked in a nearby excellent hotel viz. Royal View Hotel and had peaceful evening that engaged us in “Star Avenue” visit.
Star Avenue is a sea face area in the city where you find hand impressions in
cement concrete of several stars such as Bruce Lee. There is a statue of Bruce Lee also.
The buildings all over Hong Kong are adorned by garlands of flickering or steady colorful lighting. The people from all over the world moving around in different attire and in cheerful moods, elevated one’s spirit as well!
But this external appearance could well prove to be deceptive if one went to the inner core of these people, because; subjective and individualistic pleasures are definitely attractive and compelling as compared to inertia and indolence and poverty and perversions. But the global spiritual renaissance or global blossoming i.e. “inclusive happiness” is the inevitable next step to this glamour
and glitter that tempted millions of tourists from all over the world.
We had dinner in another restaurant which was also Indian but somewhat different and with better eating and seating arrangement.
Our night in Hong Kong was very peaceful and free of mundane and nagging preoccupations common to day to day routine! 12th JulyThe morning breakfast was conspicuous by the presence of fruits of a different variety and different sauces. The non vegetarian breakfast is common in most of the countries I had visited earlier and hence I was not shockingly upset or put off by the presence of meat for non-vegetarian customers.
We enjoyed the city tour that included the Victoria Peak, Aberdeen (Fishing) village, Ripples Bay and Jewellary Factory Outlet.
The ripples or repulse bay is outstanding by virtue of the presence of cleanliness and presence of Buddha and other Chinese idols. This is really great tourist attraction. I began to get absorbed in the past of India and its influence on the world and the sway; the enlightenment of Buddha had on the regions in south East Asia.
In the afternoon we had a catamaran; ready to sail us to Macao. Hong Kong was handed over by Britain to China in 1997 whereas Macau was handed over by Portuguese to China in 1999. One
country and two systems prevailed in Hong Kong and Macau.
Macau means goddess of sea. We saw the temple of the goddess called “Maa”. Interestingly the fishermen of Maharashtra worshipped goddess Ekaweera! The roots of religions sprout from the deep seated insecurity, fear, curiosity, love and such other instincts and emotions, common to all mankind. The external manifestations in terms rituals and actual practices of the religions however vary in accordance with many other ramifications of these roots; viz. instincts of bigotry, fanaticism, exploitation, expansionism, aggressiveness, maniacal tendencies, violent bent of mind, imposition and so on, which lead to differences, disputes, destruction and devastation!!
After reaching Macau we were welcomed by Mr. Henry a local guide. We visited the old the old temple, church and the government buildings of the Portuguese rule.
In the evening we took rest for sometime in the hotel and went for visiting the casino Venitia.
The casino sprawls over a vast area and is indeed stupefyingly rich and glamorous. Aesthetically and technologically it is mind boggling. But it is also in stark and painful contrast to the miserable and sick living conditions of billions of your brothers in the world; especially in continents of Africa and other parts of Asia. Hence you do not get bogged down or enthralled but see
through this cacophony of unleashed passions and extreme and unabated effulgence of idiosyncrasies; the dawn of global rejuvenation.
We then went to take dinner and returned to hotel for rest.
13th July 2009. By catamaran we retuned to Hong Kong and visited the Disney land in Hong Kong. The sense of humor and the caring and loving creativity to entertain the children prevailed in every inch of Disney land. The Parade of Disney world friends such Vini de pau and others, the magical world, jungle boat riding, the space mountain ride, the toy car driving, the train ride; were all wonderfully refreshing. The lighting at 8 pm. was beautiful.
The ambience in this area is far too elevating and endearing as compared to Disney World I had visited in USA.
We spent whole afternoon and evening here and after having dinner returned to hotel with refreshed perspective of life.===============================================14th JulyBy CX 723 flight of Cathe pacific of 8:50 am we reached Kuala Lumpur at 12:30 pm. The airport is excellent and we were received by local guide Mr. Yoga; who is originally from Andhra Pradesh in India. We had to wait here for Miss. Geeta who was to arrive by another airline. After sometime we reached the city and had lunch in an Indian restaurant. Some of us got their
currency exchanged for the Malaysian Ringets.
Yoga spoke good English and appeared to be well read and experienced.
As the cable car did not work on that day due maintenance holiday, we went in bus to Ganting Highlands. Ganting means above clouds.
Lim Go Tong; a Chinese settler has creatively developed this area and heavenly entertaining activities.
This has become a great attraction for the tourists all over the world. We went to see a casino here as well.
It seems; every routine activity needs a certain mode of escapism. This is
probably inseparable from individual and global life. Ganting is a great place for an escape from hustle bustle of life submerged in stiff and cut throat competition. Many people spend time in gambling in casino.
This place about 6 to 8000 thousand feet above sea level is pleasantly cold and youthfully romantic.
15th JulyIn Malaysia there are 8 % Hindus. There are signs of Hindu religion every where. This day we spent in enjoying peddle boating and various other rides and lunch and dinner in exotic restaurants.
The lunch and dinner were extravagantly lavish and I felt unnecessary. The
traveling companies should make their tours more economical and accommodate even less affording people. The same hold true for the hotels.
We lived in First World Hotel that inhabited 6118 rooms. The rooms are not lavish however, though they are clean and adequately furnished.
16th JulyWe visited Bantu caves probably 30 lakh years old. You have to climb 272 steps and (if you are above 50 then) confirm and reassert your fitness!
Somewhere in 1880 some Hindus constructed a Subramanian temple here. There world’s tallest idol of Subramanian here and A festival called Tapusayam is celebrated every January.
Around 1.2 millions people from all over the world attend this festival.
We returned to Kuala Lumpur and visited swish watch factory outlet, twin towers, KL tower, Merdeca square, national monument, King’s palace, high court and chocolate factory outlet.
Malaysia exports chocolates, rubber and jasmine rice and tapioca.
The Malaysian language is called Bahasa Malaysia. Bahasa is obviously derived from bhasha and Bahaya (danger) from bhaya and such many other words are from Sanskrit. Other languages are Chinese and English.
In contrast to one’s expectations the climate was full of drizzles and breeze and very pleasant. We stayed in Grand Seasons Hotel.===============================================
17th JulyWe went in bus to Singapore and after the immigration entered the much heard beautiful city nation of Singapore.
It is beautiful beyond imagination. The beauty of human creativity and wisdom is not only manifesting in the principles of peace, progress, democracy, development and justice adopted here, but their expression and implementation. Singapore is a practical exemplification and endorsement of the fact that if wisdom and enlightenment governs then
the ultimate beauty of nature of and human creativity are manifested in social and personal life.
At the hotel Mr. Bhajan Singh received and guided to an Indian restaurant.
We visited night safari. There was a live show to demonstrate friendship of man, animals and environment. It was good. This was followed by a tour in open vehicle to see the wild animals in open. Though safe, this was quite thrilling but little frightening too, for an urbanized individual. At the hotel Mr. Bhajan Singh received and guided to an Indian restaurant. We stayed in Grand Plaza Park hotel.18th July
We visited Singapore flyer Merlion Park, like mermaid this is a lion head with body of fish. This is a national symbol. You can see the beauty of sea and river. From here we went to Chinese temple, which is enchanting and absorbs you in the aura of unifying and pious past. We saw the place where Netaji Subhash delivered his speeches.Then we enjoyed MRT ride. We visited gems factory,
In the evening we went to Sentosa Island by cable car, where we saw under water world and two three D and four D shows in the theatres viz. travel through woods and pirates.
You have two pay 13 Singapore dollars each per person for these shows. The special effects in cinematography and
special movements and vibrations in seats and actual sprinkles of water make these shows special in terms of experience; but not worth the cost of tickets. Further, the arrangement for waiting is certainly not matching the elegance of Singapore in every other respect. The waiting is grueling and tests your patience.
The musical fountain show viz. song of sea is on the sea beach and astounding display of technology and creativity. The laser display and the fire work thereafter are extraordinary. There is a great message also in simple words with respect to unity and united efforts towards common welfare and grand goal.
We stayed in Grand Plaza after dinner in Singapore.
==============================================19th JulyWe visited Jurong Bird Park, where there were live shows of training of vultures, parrots and other birds. The parrots sing songs in three languages!Feeding the birds is wonderful.
We returned to take our lunch and dispersed to do things of our choice such as purchasing etc.We chose to walk in the after noon and went through the area called Little India.The area has obviously many Indians especially South Indians and many Asians.This is really crowded area and you see footpath vendors and remind you the area of Matunga in Mumbai. However I doubt if there are thing such dwelling
and performing the morning activities on footpaths. We had dinner in river view restaurant and later had the fun of enjoying night life Singapore in a Cruz.
20th JulyAfter breakfast we proceeded to airport to reach at about 10:30 and take CX 712 Cathe Pacific flight to reach Bangkok at 3:55.
The courtesy and humility of employees on the airport has begun to dry up. We are received by our tour guide Diya a Thai girl. She would pronounce tour as “tool” however could pronounce travel in a proper way!
The Royal Benja Hotel is in a crowded and not so likable area.
Nothing in evening except dinner in a restaurant called Indian Curry Pot.
After breakfast proceed to Pattaya.
The traveling arrangements made by Sachin travels are excellent.
On the way we visited the gems factory. We moved in open vehicles through artificially created caves to highlight the development of civilization and barter system and also the mining progress and cutting and designing of gems and precious stones.
After this we visited Nang Choong park, which is beautiful and sprawls over 500 acres of land. We saw the mock boxing show and beautifully choreographed Thai tap
dance through bamboos. The presentation was excellent.
The most charming and exciting was elephant show! Elephants played basket ball, foot ball and even drew picture of heart and write the words “LOVE” by their trunk.
We returned to hotel and some people opted to go for an adult Russian show and we visited Big C mall.===============================================22nd July
Our tour guide Diya said, “Good boys go to heaven and bad boys come to Pattaya”!
Today we visited Coral Island, watch colorful fishes through the glass bottom
of canoe, enjoyed speed boat ride and parasailing!
The experience of parasailing was exciting but not adventurous! The protective belts and really protective as you are very tightly fastened to the ropes of the parachute! However it is important that the tour guides give you an idea about what to do, in a proper manner. When I was asked to keep running I kept on running even in the sky!May be; I was too sincere and too obedient beyond expectations, but such running only added to the tiring and uneasiness. What is actually need is to just keep moving so that you do not get dragged and as soon as you take of you are only to enjoy the movement in the sky!
Thai massage is given by Thai masseurs who are trained ladies. They are warm and affable. They are fully dressed. No oil is used and you are massaged with your body completely covered. The massage is soothing, relaxing, healing and rejuvenating (within physiological limits!).
In the evening we visited the Alcazar show presented by artists whom one categorizes as intersexes or eunuchs. This is one way of giving dignity and honor to your citizens irrespective of physical and other factors.
We had dinner in Mumbai magic a huge restaurant managed by and Indian and stayed in hotel Ibis in Pattaya.===============================================
23rd JulyAfter breakfast we proceeded to safari world and see orangutan show, sea lion show, stunt show of cow boys as in Mexican movies, dolphin show and toured through the freely moving wild animals in wild life park in bus.
Afterwards, we visited what is called Mini Siam, where there are models of many wonders in the world.
It is remarkable that there are no models of any monuments from India!
There is a huge idol of Shesha Shayee Narayan near the gate itself.I felt happy to take a photograph here.
After finishing this we proceeded back to Bangkok
24th JulyThe whole day was kept free for those who like to freak out and do purchasing. The night time was kept for Chau Priya river Cruz dinner. The dinner was excellent and here also I felt alienated form the vast majority of children in India who can not participate in such events.
25th JulyToday was the last day of tour. We had City tour of Reclining Buddha temple. The huge golden idols of sitting and reclining Buddha are mind boggling.
One is wonderstruck by the spiritual power that must have manifested in the being of Buddha to have defied time and space and remain victoriously dignified
and worshipped in such marvelous forms and in such remote places!
The palace, monument of democracy and other places were only “seen” from the road and not really visited to get the real feel of them.
After having food we were to relax and/or do purchasing. But the restaurant had some reservations and we were not welcome to relax!
The air-conditioning was switched off and even lights were switched off!
This resentment of the restaurant managers and employees was apparently inexplicable as we were to have dinner in the same restaurant. Some of our senior
passengers were prevented from even drinking water.
The charm in eating in this place had disappeared. Even though, I had taken my anti-diabetic tablets, I decided and in spite of resistance from all skipped my dinner and did not drink water also in this restaurant. Vibha also did not eat.
At around 8:30 we proceeded to airport to catch a flight Cx 709.Cathe Pacific. At night the air host when offered soft drinks I asked for a cup tea. He bluntly refused and said he would provide it later. The curtness and arrogance began to pervade as we began to near Mumbai. I refused for the same too.
26th JulyThe night was not too bad. We landed safely.But all the formalities were waiting to induce stress of pathocracy!
There was a huge blockade right from the time of entry from airplane to the airport right in the transit.
Later some forms were to filled and no body seem to guide any body.There were queues and queues.
The clerks made sarcastic remarks to vent out their perversions and tried to disturb us even more!
Amidst these shackles to growth and development, somehow we managed to reach the pick up point.
Santosh had come to receive us and reach home comfortably. We dropped Mr. and Mrs. Umarani on the way and reached home with deep sense of gratitude for the rejuvenation and new enthusiasm in our life that we could share with others!
August 5 2009.
It has to be said that Sachin ravels is excellent in every respect. I shall surely repeat the same for next tour. The tour managers and tour guides were excellent. But
1. Flights should be more convenient.
2. Hotels and food need not be exorbitantly and unnecessarily lavish.
3. Instead, the tour managers and tour guides could be given more incentives.
4. The brochures should be more detailed.
5. The snacks, though were excellent should be more health promoting and not oily and spicy.
6. All the participants should be introduced right in the beginning.
7. Telecommunication facility should be provided in case of emergency and mentioned so in the brochure to reassure the passengers.
8. Bags need not be provided as they are NOT required and in fact; add to the weight and clumsiness. In stead, prominent badges or labels should be tied or attached to all the bags of the passengers.
9. LASTLY, I SUGGEST Travel agents in general; TO CONDUCT MORE TOURS, WITH GREATER SIMPLICITY, SO THAT MORE PEOPLE CAN PARTICIPATE AND BLOSSOM IN EVERY WAY.
10 BEST WISHES TO ALL!