CHOKI-DHANI (The perfect glimpse of Rajasthan)

Jaipur is one of the most convenient destinations from Delhi when it comes to impromptu travel plans. Good railways, roads and air transportation connect Delhi and Jaipur. So, every time we travel to Jaipur, we try to experience something new. Therefore, this time, we took a trip to the much-acclaimed Choki-Dhani.

Choki-Dhani is a mock village for travellers to have a real time experience of an Indian village. It literally means ‘ special village’. And true to its name, it is a wonderful and unique experience for all tourists.

Choki-Dhani has a unique entertainment style, which includes conventional forms like traditional dancers (who dance with a stack of clay pots on their head). Acrobats who will do their best to provide a spectacular show without any formal training like walking on a tightrope or riding two bicycles at the same time.

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This cultural village has a special section dedicated to children that include fun activities like slides (again, with clay finishing, to give the appearance of a village). They also have a tunnel for kids to hide and play. There are also some swings for the kids.

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Apart from these activities, there are various royal rides like the ride on an elephant, horse-cart and even a camel. Sadly, we were not able to click any good picture of them but they were all fun especially for our little traveler.

HORSE CART

A maze, which is again made up of clay, is present in the center of the village for a thrilling experience. There are different snack shops and souvenir shops throughout the site.

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There are also other areas of interest like the waterfall and boat ride in the man made lake. There is a copy of Vaishno devi temple for the devotees. The epic battle of Haldighati and its glorious history is recreated at Chokhi Dhani cultural village through giant statues and amazing light and sound setting.

 

There are open-air restaurants which give you the perfect surrounding of any village house with walls made up of soil and lights lit by traditional oil lanterns. To add to the experience, the food served is the delicious authentic thali (full Indian meal). There is also a royal Rajasthani thali, which is served in an air-conditioned hall.

At the end, we had great family fun at shooting arcade. They give you wooden rifles and you have to shoot the balloons to gain the gift. What attracted me most was the manual wooden bowling alley, where the people employed were picking the bowling pins and passing it on. The darts and other such feast games were also present.

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Overall, it was an excellent experience with our little one. There was so much to do in so little time as the village opens at five in the evening till eleven in the night. The competitive advantage of this cultural village lies in its effortless layout, which depicts an average Indian village with authentic village stuffs including the numerous Charpai (wooden beds woven with ropes) spread all over the village.

WEEKEND GETAWAY AT AAMBY VALLEY,MAHARASHTRA

Aamby Valley City is one of India’s best-planned city and has been regarded as a benchmark in urban planning and designing. Well connected with roads, its easily accessible, though in order to enter, one must have a booking at any one of its hotels. It’s a picturesque place with lots of amazing spots and that is why it is one of the most favorite places for grand destination weddings. The city incorporates luxury, business convenience, leisure and entertainment.

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Upon entering this luxurious and ultra clean city, we were awed by its resemblance with any European city. The Shayadri mountain range encircles the whole city making it visually attractive. Grand statue of Bharat Maa greeted everyone right at the entrance.

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The Timber Chalets are Swiss-style cottages which are available on rent and make an ideal weekend getaway from Mumbai or Lonavala. The teak wood finishing adorns the cabins completely and makes them very pleasing to look at.

Lush greenery adorns the whole valley. And beautiful structures in the form of huge pillars, elephants and so on are found everywhere in the valley.

Recreational activities in the form of Ayurvedic massages, Disco, various specialized restaurants of vivid cuisines, horse riding, toy-train ride and water taxi (which is actually a bus) gives people of all ages almost everything to have fun over the weekends.

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AAMBY VALLEY

 

How to have a great trip with a Baby

When we become parents, everything around us changes to such an extent that we forget that we are still the same people. I strongly question the mindset of people who think that they cannot travel once they have a kid. How come when we are eating and sleeping and doing all the things we did earlier (with variations of course), we think travel is not meant for us? We just have to be cautious and plan the travel well to have fun with our babies. Some handy pointers for the same will be :

Choosing the location

This is the most important factor contributing to the success of one’s vacation. The location of the vacation must be selected properly after analyzing various factors like : weather, flight time, safety and infrastructure of the place. Most importantly, the place should be baby-friendly with access to pram to most places.

Choosing the flight

The correct flight will be the one which matches the nap time of your baby. We also have to keep in mind the travel time. In case of long flights, we need a stop-over and in case of short flight timings, we must aim for direct flights to further decrease the traveling time.

Carrying proper food items for the baby

Be it a flight, train or car, we must always carry baby-food. We always have hot water in an insulated container along with baby milk powder and other such things which has a larger shelf life,for example vegetable munchies, chips, puffs. Once we are at our destination, we can make healthy food and buy fresh fruits.

Keeping all baby-care products handy

Besides the food and diaper bag,a proper handbag for baby stuffs like toys, pillows, blankets and other such things which either comforts or distracts the baby (in case he is not in a good mood) is also necessary.

Choosing a Proper Hotel

Its best to choose an apartment or a suite over a hotel room. It is advisable as it gives us the flexibility of making different baby food as well as it tends to be bigger, thereby providing a bigger play area for the baby.

Choosing the Itinerary

Visiting all the important sites and vacation spots at a particular location should be done in a leisurely fashion with proper breathing spaces with the baby. Preferring one place a day has better chances of giving you a better holiday rather than squeezing numerous sites and activities on a single day.

Nap Time

Even on vacations, its best to let your child sleep properly so that they enjoy the whole trip. Many of my friends skip nap-time to utilize the maximum holiday time but this always results in making the child cranky who will not enjoy anything he sees or does.

Let the Child Enjoy

If we stick to our cameras and keep posing with our children, there is no point in going for a vacation. Although we should click pictures but we should not overdo them. Until the child finds himself free, he will not be involved in exploring which is what makes a good traveler.

Though, this list works for me and I had great holidays with my baby but there might be more to it.

Sojourn in Italy of India – Lavasa

On a business trip to Pune, we planned to spend a day in Lavasa. Based on the Italian town Portofino, Lavasa is a privately planned city built near Pune. It can be easily said to be one of the most beautiful man-made place in India.

The artistic corridor parallel to the lake has hotels and cafe on one side and lake on the other side. Its a beautiful sight not only in day-time but also at night. There were plenty of activities for children. We arrived by evening and stayed at Mercure hotel. After having a stroll on the riverside, we called it a night and planned for an early day the next day.

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LAVASA AT NIGHT

We were greeted by sumptuous breakfast at the hotel who were helpful in preparing baby food as well. There were variety of options for kids on the lakeside. We started with toy-car ride and then we went for two-seater bicycling. After that, we went for boating in the lake which was quite refreshing in the sun. There was a place with family games options but our little one was too young to enjoy that.

Out of numerous dining options, we chose to have lunch at the Country club which offered a panoramic view of the lakeside and town. The club provides a plethora of leisure facilities that include a world-class spa, restaurants, a pub, a gymnasium and indoor games. The time was well spent over there too and we had fun. In short, top activities to do in Lavasa with a baby will be :

  • Boating
  • Cycling
  • Ride on toy cars
  • Train rides
  • Game arcade

DELICIOUS SINGAPOREAN CUISINE

Someone wisely said – What we eat,reflects the culture of our society.The multicultural ethnicity of Singapore furnishes it with multi-cuisines. Singapore is one of the topmost places when it comes to having options in food. The luscious and mouth-watering Singapore local food is influenced by Chinese, Indian & Western tradition rendering a unique delicacy to all the food menu.

Though we tried almost all famous local food options like Dimsums, Ice Kasang, Biryani, Roti, Chicken rice, and curry puffs; we relished more on the below mentioned items :

  • Kaya toast & soft boiled egg with Tea – It was so yummy and light,just what is required in a tropical climate. It made for most of our breakfasts. The most famous place to have this is ‘Toast Box’.
  • Huanian chicken rice – Served at most of the hawker centers along with presence in food-court of varios malls, it was a spicy and wholesome food. We loved the ones served by ‘ Mini Wok Zhi Char’.
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  • Refreshing coconut ice-cream with berries at Co+Nut+Ink was simply out of the world. I think that it is the first ice-cream to be so healthy.
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  • Nasi Lemak – Though traditionally, Nasi lemak is a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf; there has been many variations to it. For example, the rice can be crispy or may be made soft (as per your requirement)
  • Ice-cream toast is a must for everyone. As traveling require a lot of walking, an ice-cream toast was what energized us in the daily heat. There were numerous vendors in Orchard road who provided different kinds of ice-cream flavored toast at very reasonable rates.

We must have missed on a lot of other food options available but with a baby, we managed to try quite a few of them.

Singapore Trip with baby – Copy 2

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS SINGAPORE & RESORT WORLD SENTOSA

One of the most accurately rated place to visit is the Universal Studio. To avoid the effort of packing and unpacking, we did not stay in Sentosa. Rather we preferred to visit it from our hotel which was located near Clarke Quay. So, to make the most of the day, we reached Universal Studios at around 10 am. It was a breeze to enter as there was no rush. Though I have been to the universal studios located in Paris, but this trip was special as the little one was accompanying us. It was his first ever theme park experience and it went very well.

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FIRST THEME PARK EXPERIENCE OF OUR BABY IN SINGAPORE

As he had not even reached 80 cm mark (so tiny and cute) for his height, there were not many rides, he was allowed onto. But , we made the most of the approved rides. We started with the Madagascar rides and as our little one is very fond of animals (i wonder why all babies love animals), he thoroughly enjoyed it. The first ride was more like a boat ride with beautiful scenarios on the sides and the second one was a go-round ride; both were comfortable with baby.

Canopy flyer in the lost world and treasure hunters in ancient egypt were awesome experiences for our baby too. He loves dinosaurs and was pleased to find so many different kinds around him. (Though he got petrified with a robotic dino on a van who was promoting the shows by roaring loudly) We were able to attend most of the shows like the Rockfellas at the New York and Sesame Street show in Hollywood. Being a weekday and our early arrival accounted for such a great use of time as we did not miss anything. There were ample food options and once we had lunch, our son slept in his pram. That was when we decided to explore Sentosa.

We wanted to go to the Adventure Cove Waterpark, but our little kiddo was not allowed for any of the rides there so we gave it a miss. The whole holiday was supposed to be for our son and therefore we only wanted to do what he loved. So, we took the monorail to the Siloso beach. After walking so much, we just wanted to relax on the beach and by the time, we were all set; our baby was awake and ready to play (its always like this – the moment we think of relaxing,he is awake for more fun). The beach was very clean and was a good place to sit, with sunset views in places. While the little one was busy making a sand-castle, we clicked pictures and enjoyed coconut ice-cream. After a short dip in the sea, we headed back to our hotel.

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RESORT WORLD SENTOSA, SINGAPORE

Trip to Singapore – Why Singapore?

When our son turned 18 months old, we realized that he was ready to travel abroad with us. We did not wanted his exposure to be limited only to India. So, we brainstormed various options for him. As Singapore has always been one of my favorite holiday destination,it was fairly easy to choose it as our first international holiday for our son. (Choosing the destination was easy but convincing my husband to take leave from work was a really tough job. But it was totally worth it.)

Top factors for choosing our first international holiday destination with the little one were:

  1. Flight time : What we thought As it takes only 5-6 hours from Delhi to Singapore, it is convenient to travel. Moreover, we booked overnight flights overlapping our baby’s sleep time. What really happened – Though my baby sleeps by 9 pm in general but it was not until1 am that he slept in the flight. We had to play dough and show him different videos so that the other passengers were not disturbed. To make matters worse, he even vomited once. I don’t know what was I thinking. There can never be a leisure trip with a baby on board. But we reached Singapore.
  2. Status of the country : Singapore is considered to be one of the safest countries with very stable government and policies. You do not want any unplanned adventure with the baby. It was really a very safe place. We used to go for midnight strolls when our baby used to sleep. Taking him in his pram,of course.
  3. Weather : Close proximity to the Equator corresponds to the warm weather throughout the year in Singapore. We traveled when it was winter in India. So, the heat was welcomed in the beginning. But there were occasional showers everyday owing to its island topography.
  4. Infrastructure : What we thought – With state of the art transportation system , you can travel at any point of the day safely. What really happened – We did all the traveling through taxis as though MRT & buses were available, but carrying a pram and baby bag along with a camera bag; traveling by personal taxi was the best bet.
  5. Cultural exposure : With a balance between old and new, Singapore strikes the perfect harmony which gives tourists of all ages and class whatever they desire. It made for a perfect destination for my husband (as he amused himself in geek shopping), my child (with so many parks) & me (any thing is good for me as long as I am not at home).
  6. Places suitable for kids : With a long list of parks and museums, Singapore is a blessing for kids. There was not a single moment when we were out of plan.
  7. Food : Singapore is simply the paradise for foodies. You get delicious cuisines of food including Indian,Chinese, Japanese and Thai. Except for my child (who is a very fussy eater by the way), my husband and I are fond of food and drinks. We like to taste the local food whenever we travel.
  8. Shopping : With a number of malls at the orchard road, there are so many options to shop for the parents as well as the little ones.

I will write a copy of my Singapore trip in next posts. Goodbye for now !!

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