FIVE MUST DO ACTIVITIES IN NAINITAL WITH TODDLER

Our short but sweet trip of Nainital would not have been perfect if we would have side-lined our toddler’s interest. With a wide array of fun-filled activities which take place in this scenic Himalayan valley, there are a few options which we must not miss at all. So, our top five picks are as follows:

  1. Visit to the Governor House

Being the only governor’s house open for visitors in India, this place still is not marked as one of the most visited places here. Maybe due to strict time-limits of entry and exit which has to be made in groups at the main gate of the Raj Bhawan which happens at precisely 11 am everyday except Tuesday.

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Governor’s house, Nainital

Constructed on the lines of the Bukinghum palace, this monument is spectacular to look at. The sprawling campus gives it the much needed peaceful surroundings and highlights its beauty. Apart from its own golf ground, it also consists of a marvelous garden and Swimming Pool. Our little one had a great time enjoying the gardens and running uphill/downhill.

2. Boating in the Naini Lake

Boats with peddle were not an option for us due to our naughty kid. So we took the brave step of boarding the vintage gondola boat.Though the boats used in this lake seem to be very risky, but the oarsmen know their job. And contrary to our expectations, we had a wonderful ride. We enjoyed the serenity and beauty and the freshness of the air so much that we took another ride through the lake. Not to mention our toddler loved it.

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Boating in Nainital with a wonderful rainbow in the background

3. Stroll in the Mall Road

No visit to any hill-station in India can be regarded as complete without the customary visit to the mall road. Mall roads are primarily the most busy street of any hill stations where tourists are found in abundance due to the availability of numerous eating & shopping joints. What we loved about the mall road here in Nainital was that it is free of any vehicle, even rickshaw after 6 pm making it a  very interesting place to relax with a kid. We bought a small toy with wheels from a side shop and our kid had a great time riding it throughout the Mall road.

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Mall Road, Nainital (notice the wheel)

4. Visit to the Shyamkhet Tea Garden

People in India are so used to tea gardens in Kerala, that they forget their presence in North India as well (since the terrain for their production is same). But since, I always wanted to visit one, we made our decision to visit this garden. It was just an hour drive. Though it was not a very large garden but it was enough to satisfy our curiosity. We got some really good tea from there as well which they claimed to be free from any chemicals and totally organic.

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Tea Garden of Nainital

5. Visit to the Nainital Zoo

We can never miss any zoo when we are traveling with our baby simply because he is so fond of all the animals. And its always great to let him see all the wild beasts in real. We must say that the Nainital zoo was above our expectation and we were pleased by the staff over there. They also let you adopt an animal and contribute your share to them.

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Nainital Zoo
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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.

Jal Mahal Palace, Jaipur , India

The marvelous and beautiful palace in the Man Sagar lake in Jaipur is known as Jal Mahal. This lake was basically constructed by the rulers to fight famine and shortage of water in Rajasthan as a dam. However, the palace underwent many renovations and now stands as a famous tourist attraction in Jaipur. Though, the palace is a five storied building but only the top floor is exposed. The road corridor connecting the main tourist attractions of Jaipur basically the Amer fort and the Nahargarh fort runs through this road. Generally tourists are not allowed to visit this palace, but we managed to visit it with our little one.

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JAL MAHAL PALACE,JAIPUR,INDIA

We reached the palace by a traditional wooden boat through the clean lake. Our son enjoyed the boat ride and was fascinated to find the sailor using oar to splash water and move the boat forward. The air was misty and refreshing. As soon as we stepped in the palace, we were amazed by its wonderful architecture. There was a narrow corridor running in the periphery of the palace and it was very airy. The ancient Indian Maharajas were wise to come up with such a clever architectural plan. Since there was no electricity, they kept the palaces well ventilated in the center of the lake to make it cooler.

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JAL MAHAL PALACE,JAIPUR,INDIA

After spending sometime in the palace, we went on its terrace and was awed by the gardening done there. We could really imagine how the Maharajas and their allies must be having good time in the past. It was a beautiful view. The Jal Mahal palace provides a picturesque view of the lake , and the surrounding Nahargarh hills. You can also spot small islands in the lake which act as wintering grounds for migratory birds. Overall, the trip to Jal Mahal went very well.

 

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.

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 !!

Continue reading “Trip to Singapore – Why Singapore?”

Breaking Social Stigma related to Traveling

Indian society is graced with oodles of customs and cultural significance. None of which defines how traveling is bad. However, whenever an Indian couple or solo traveler thinks about his plan, the first thing that comes up in the mind is how they will get permission from their parents. In many cases such is not the scenario.People may simply state that they are planning to travel somewhere without asking their family members (the repercussions of which follow even after the whole trip is finished). Indian household regards travel as a luxury. Though this concept is changing slowly but the major population still have the prior view. Its irrespective of the fact whether you are single or married or 30 or 40. Indian parents and the society both are equally concerned about you (however old you may be or however financially independent you may be).

So having a wanderer soul and being mommy at the same time is not easy. The society might regard you as a careless and selfish person who just wants to have fun. Or someone who do not prioritize their child (even when you take care of your child single-handedly 24x7x365 days in a year). So, what I am trying to say is that people will always have their own opinion. So isn’t it better for you to do the same. If travel makes you happy, why feel guilty? Ultimately you are the pillar of the family. Your happiness is directly proportional to the happiness of your spouse and your child. Not only that, travel is a course of learning in itself. It makes your child an observer and patron of varsity.  Travel enhances the creative side of your child as they are able to see unconventional approach to the same thing in different cultures. Most importantly, traveling gives your family time to reconnect. There are scientific researches which show that the average number of words spoken to your child is much more when you are on a trip/vacation. And to add some spice to the list, an escape from the cunning aunt around the corner is always welcome 😉

 

 

Resort Holiday

The best experience one derives in the form of luxury is at a five or seven star resort. Making use of the savings (as we did not go anywhere in the prior years), my partner and I decided to have a luxurious vacation. That is when we planned for Vivanta by Taj – Holiday Village, Goa. Situated in the Bardez area, the location is best for all kind of travelers. You get the chaos of party life once you step out of the resort in the neighboring area of Baga beach. At the same time, you have the advantage of enjoying serenity along with luxury in the resort or in its private beach. We took a whole package along with food for the whole trip since we had planned that we will enjoy the resort fully. The tropical weather added to the lush greenery of the whole property. We took morning and evening strolls on the beach. Our little one spent the days giggling and observing the waves of the sea. The beauty of waves tossing over the sand was unparalleled and so soothing that the idea of the whole holiday made sense. Those tiny happy moments instigated a feeling of greed in me. Greed for more such moments and holidays 😉

Benefit of resort holiday with baby :

  1. Very co-operative and humble staff willing to help you at all times
  2. You get different healthy options for baby food
  3. Safe and Clean
  4. You are able to enjoy the property at least in case the baby is not feeling very happy
  5. Various child-centered amenities like babysitting services, bottle sterilization services , etc
  6. AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHS