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Short Travelogues

For those who have been bitten by the travel bug and love to indulge in some armchair travel, here are some interesting travelogues,contributed by GoDubai surfers! Enjoy yourself!
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Fiona, Dubai
My most memorable incident has to be my honeymoon in Kodaikanal, India. As a newly married couple, we travelled to this renowned place by plane and then took a cab drive through lush green mountains and steep roads to this hill station nestled in Tamil Nadu. When we landed there, the setting was truly romantic - clouds all over and the visibility was low. The hotel was perfect and so was the view from the balcony. There were statuettes in the garden and our very own spring gushing by. It was all so wonderful.... until evening crept in - only then we realised that it was brrr... brrrr... too cold and we had to have a heater brought in - which was of no use. Somehow, the night passed - the visits to the bathroom only if necessary. The next morning was lovely, and the hotel organized group tour too - scenic places which can never be forgotten, though we had to wait to catch a view because of the clouds. We returned to the hotel, blessed by the company of warm friends and the memory of lovely landscapes --- but the happiness was short lived. A doctor had to be called in because yours truly couldn't brace the weather. And so it continued through the trip.. a waste of precious time. The drive back to the airport was memorable too, we almost missed being hurtled down the steep mountainside, by a few inches. All in all, a memorable trip, one I'll never forget!

Winning Entry
Bina Khiani, Dubai
Istanbul or Cairo? Our family was divided in their opinion. Sonia and I wanted to go to Cairo to see the Sphinx, and Karan and his dad were more keen to go on a relaxing holiday to Istanbul. Then suddenly with the recent shootings at tourists in Cairo, the decision was made and we headed towards Istanbul which was a much safer place. Istanbul is a beautiful city and its marvellous and massive mosques are an epitome of the magnificence of the Ottoman empire. The Bosphorous adds to the charm of this crowded but well planned city and the warmth and friendliness of the turks, who love tourists, make Istanbul a must for all tourists.
We visited the palaces of the Ottoman Kings and the Magnificent Blue Mosque too, but the crowd due to Eid holidays was unnerving. It seemed as if everyone was out on the streets enjoying the Eid holidays. We decided to abandon the winding queue of tourists waiting to enter the palace and headed for the water-bath area, and to discover the famous gardens of the Blue Mosque. Karan was tired from all the walking of the last few days and opted to remain instead in the garden area of the Blue mosque together with another family who had accompanied us from Dubai. The shopping enthusiasts in our group headed towards the souvenir shop, hoping to get some good bargains.
Suddenly - the glass displays in the souvenir shop seemed to be falling down and there was a loud explosion followed by smoke! It seemed to be coming from the direction where our party were resting in the garden. Confused and trembling with fear , we stepped out of the shop, when we spotted Karan running towards us . His face was covered in blood and blood was gushing out from a deep gash in his palm. It was a bomb explosion - just 5 metres from where they had been sitting. The police cordonned off the entire area and refused to allow us to go and check on the wellbeing of our friends. Everyone was in a state of shock and the police too were unprepared for such a catastrophe.
Gathering our wits together , we headed towards the police car but the officer was looking dazed and confused. We forcibly opened the car door and demanded to be taken to the nearest hospital. In the meantime our friends who had been injured were all being taken by ambulance to the hospital. It was a nightmare! The government hospital ,where we were all taken ,seemed to belong to the medieval ages- they were ill -equipped and the doctors were off-duty. With great difficulty and a lot of string pulling, we finally convinced the investigating police officers to allow us to go to the local American Hospital. Here, the treatment received was excellent but the TV cameras followed us everywhere hoping to get a good coverage for the night newstelecast.. No one had made claims for the bombing and later we heard on the television that it had been the first such incident since 20 years!
We decided to make do with minimal treatment in Istanbul and rush back to Dubai. Directly from the airport Karan and our friend were rushed by ambulance to the American hospital for surgery.We heaved a sigh of relief that we had all managed to escape safely, but today we laugh at the irony of the situation. We had chosen Istanbul over Cairo because it was considered to be a safer place!!!This has been a most unforgettable holiday for all of us.

Suma Rao, Abu Dhabi
Scenes from Mahabharath and Ramayan carved out of stone greeting us as we came out of the airport. Not an unusual sight for an Indian you might say but hey we were in Bali! Seeing familiar things in unexpected places has its own charm. You might not as much mumble a hello to your neighbour in the lift, but meet him in Timbaktu..., you get my point.
Whatever it was that we were seeking, we got it: be it unusual sights - an active volcano mountain Kintamani; Culture - Barong dance depicting Indian epics; relaxation - a leisurely cruise to Lambongan island; weird stuff - ever heard of dead just left under trees; Adventure - sea surfing in Kuta beach; Nature - Monkey forest which is a preserved rain forest; great bargains - this I suspect was one thing that might not have gone down too well with my husband. He heard me say 'This is the last thing I am buying' - too often.
All good things come in small packages. We had a shoe string budget, but our experience was rich, thanks to the richness that Bali has to offer.

Amit Sethi, Dubai
In those days I used to travel a lot between Kuwait and Dubai due to my project.I had changed my flight as I wanted to go early to Dubai. In the plane, I spotted a man who looked familiar. Well built, having a French beard with a robust moustache and wearing a casual denim shirt. I thought it was my old pal from school days, Feroz. Unable to resist myself, I called him. He spotted me and for a moment we just stared at each other. We rushed forward and hugged each other. I had tears in my eyes as I was meeeting my schoolmate after a good 15 years. All the passengers were astounded to see our unusual behaviour. As we were blocking the service gangway, the Airhostesses just stood there watching us, quite amazed! As for us, we could think of nothing else, so involved were we in one another. It was a truly memorable journey for me.

Winning Entry
Miriam, Dubai
For a person who has seen so many doves together only in movies, their first sight at Venice was really breathtaking...
Definitely, the visit to St.Marks Square in Venice was a memorable one. Not so because of any extraordinary happenings, but because of the manner in which people enjoyed ordinary things around them. Unlike the other spectacular sights in Europe, this was not colourful, and yet, the few minutes that we spent there at the Square were really exciting. My little one was on one hand ecstatic, with the new sight, and on the other hand frightened, when the doves circled above her to get food from her hands.
A lady enjoying the sight suddenly found her backside being attacked by doves, the reason being that few boys had come quietly behind her and sprinkled grains on her jacket.
The best vacation is the one that relaxes you and this particular experience got engraved in my mind. Whenever I find myself feeling depressed, I remember this scene and feel refreshed all over again.

Arnold Rodrigues, Ras Al Khaimah
My most memorable travel experience would be when I travelled along with more than 400 youngsters from Dubai, to spend a fortnight in Rome. It was on the ocassion of World Youth Day which is organised once in 2 years. The trip was mainly for Catholics who could travel to Rome to meet the Pope and learn about the history and origin of the Christian religion. The city itself appears exactly as you would imagine from movies like Gladiator. The fountains there are awesome and appear as if nothing has changed from the past. A truly wonderful experience.

Lakshmi Asnani, Dubai
My memorable travel experience occured when I went to Tamil Nadu for a span of 8 days on a conducted tour. The itinerary was ambitious, for we were seeing a different town every day, i.e. Pondicherry, Velankanni, Trichy, Madurai, Rameswaram, Kodaikanal and last but not the least, Kanyakumari. The trip included visiting the Holy Dargah in Nagore, but we couldn't make it due to a landslide and blocked roads.
There were days when our tour guide set the morning alarm for 2.30 am to catch the 4 am bus - and all of us, believe it or not, actually were on time every single day. We visited many temples, Sri Aurobindo's Ashram in Pondicherry to see the Mother and Sri Aurobindo's Samadhi,Kanyakumari and its breathtaking sunrise and sunset...words cannot describe all our awesome experiences in each of these places. For some members of the tour group, having "South Indian" food every day (twice/three times a day) seemed a challenge. Being used to a non-vegeterian diet, there were many light-hearted comments among our group about the seemingly endless times we were served Dosai, Idli, Pongal and Sambar on the meal-inclusive tour.
At the end of the eight days, the tour group were like one big family, and some even hoped that we would probably meet again on a similar tour in future. I might add that we were all from different States in India, of mixed age groups and spoke different native languages, but this did not matter in the very least in our interactions. It is amazing how bonds are formed so quickly with people one doesn't even know existed at the start of the tour!
Thank you for making it possible to share such a wonderful and enriching experience with readers of this column.

Ricky, Dubai
The nicest place I have seen in India is Kashmir. It is the Switzerland of India. We were 12 in number, all students on a vacation trip to Kashmir. We reached there early morning at 4 . When we stood near the foothills of the mighty Himalayas we could see all kinds of flowers and fruits. Kashmir is the home to the daintiest flowers and is the fruit basked of India. We saw some enchanting landscapes and green forests. We also saw many historical monuments, as well as temples. The guide who was guiding us told us that Kashmir is the home of various Gods and Goddesses.
We then left for Dal Lake, famous for its house boats. And from their to the caves of Amarnath, where the temple of Lord Shiva is situated. It is an absolutely stunning sight. It is situated at a height of nearly 15000 feet. We saw hordes of pilgrims on the way. The road was lined with tall deodars and cypress.
Kashmir has some of the best hill stations in the world like Pahalgam, Gulmarg , Sonmarg and Khilanmarg. People who have not seen Kashmir are really missing something.

Aaron Gavin D'Cruz, Dubai
The most unforgettable experience for me would be the time I visited Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace in Mysore. My dad and mom were busy clicking away snaps to glory and I as usual went to explore. (p.s. I was just 8). I saw some artificial ponds outside and went to look for fish. All my mom remembers is that as soon as she clicked a snap ,she heard a big splash. Of course , yours truly had bent a little too much and went headfirst into it. I was almost drowning when somebody pulled me out! I still remember having to sit with wet clothes for the rest of the tour. It was truly an unforgettable experience and it is one I can never forget. I didnt see any fishes but I managed to get myself dirty !!!

Gita Suri, Dubai
My most memorable experience was when we went to Oman in December.The long drive early in the morning was very pleasant and refreshing. Cool winds made us feel fresh and alive! The lovely sight of the sand dunes and a few camels munching nearby within a safe distance of a fenced enclosure and the faint morning light amid the vastness of the desert, was enchanting. It was quite a thrilling experience to cross the border between a range of mountains,with polite efficient officials at the border check-post.It was an enriching experience for our boys who were curious to see the different rock formations and land forms which they had learnt in geography. The small array of shops selling varied items like foodstuff,toys,utensils, other items to attract the passerby and the long lingering rows of beautifully patterned rugs and mud-pots of various shapes and sizes attracted us near the border. On our way back,we bought a beautiful rug and a few pots in memory of our beautiful trip.As we reached the city limits, the glittering lights of the city seemed to beckon us welcoming us back home.

Ryan, Dubai
Most of my holidays have been memorable experiences but the one that stands out was our vacation to Paris. The vacation started off on a wonderful note as Mom won two tickets so we had to get only two tickets for me and my brother and since my parents work for a hotel, the stay went free too. We landed in Paris on a sunny day. The airport seemed huge and magnificent. We visited EuroDisney and had the time of our lives! It was so thrilling to experience the rides, watch the floats - Jumbo, Aladin, Cindrella, Snow White, Herculus, Mini and Mickey etc. After a hectic day at Disney, we went to the Louvre Museum; we had to queue up to see the Mona Lisa, our legs ached and we wished we were in Dubai as we had never seen such long queues. Then we went up the Eiffel Tower. WOW! What a sight that was! The magic of Paris lasted a long long time......I just close my eyes and I am there again.

Venessa, Dubai
My short experience with wildlife was during my honeymoon in the south of India, a place called Thekadi wild life santuary. We travelled from Kodaikanal to Thekadi by a private car, lodged at Periyar House in the forest, a government undertaking. We left our bags in the room, opened all the windows and went down for lunch.
I returned early to our room and to my surprise, I noticed all my fruits bought during my journey, including chocolates, ladoos etc, were missing.. Guess who had been in the room in our absence! Their little paw marks on our clothes gave them away! Yes! We had been visited by monkeys! Apparently they had come through the open windows and taken all our edible items.
We saw a tiger during the later part of the evening. He came to the gates of the hotel. We took a ride on the elephant during the day and went for a boat ride to the animals water hole. It was a beautiful and peaceful experience.

Bhavesh Rajwani, Dubai
It was summer, and people were boarding flights to escape Dubai's blazing summer. My family and I stood in the Dubai Airport enroute to Bangkok. In a few hours, we were in the hotel in Bangkok. After a quick cup of tea, we went out into the street to explore. On our way, we met a man who had a car. He offered to take us around a tour of the place. We agreed. The next day we started exploring. The driver took us to many places. We saw the humungous Sleeping Buddha, the King's castle, Golden Buddha and the amazing floating market. The floating market consisted of many canoe-like boats laden with things, from fruits in packages to toys and pencil-caps. Then we went to a place where they demonstrated an act with snakes. In the end, they showed us the snake's fangs, and before our eyes, forced the snake to bite a container's paper top. The fangs pierced through the paper and the venom flowed into the container. This was how they got the snake's venom. On our way out, we also took a picture with a python. Finally, it was time to leave. We went back to Dubai, but we carried with us the unforgettable memories of Bangkok, The City Of Angels.

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