Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas

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Hello all,

This is not really a blog post, but just a quick way of reaching out to everyone possible and wishing you and your loved ones – Merry Christmas!

Christmas is so much more meaningful when you are with near & dear ones, when you spend it with people who are a huge part of your life. My personal request to all of you would be that this Christmas, pick up the phone and speak to that one person who at some point in your life meant a lot to you but for whatever reason (or simply with time ) you both have lost touch. Even if one person is reminded / inspired by this post, and is able to restore a relationship, I’d be delighted!

We live in a tough world any which way, let’s add some Christmas cheer to it! The world really needs it.

Stay happy everyone.

Lots of love,

The Silent Hummer,

Franchua D’Souza

 

Mama Mia, how can I resist you!

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On this lazy Sunday afternoon as I lay in bed with my feet stretched out to the cupboard next to it, I’m thinking mozarella cheese. I’m thinking Burrata cheese. I’m thinking home made pasta. I’m thinking a glass of fancy red wine. I’m thinking some great music. I’m thinking great company. I’m thinking of a great Italian pasta bar in Hong Kong. Oh wait, I’m transported to Pici (Pronounced as Peachy)!

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If you’ve read my previous travel posts, you will know that I’m not a big fan of South East Asian cuisines. Considering it is an acquired taste, I think my palette is opening up to it, but I can’t say I’m fond of it yet. Thankfully Hongkong has so many options available, I survived it without missing Indian food.

Here’s another thing about me. I’ve never gone trekking in my life, well at least not until Hong Kong happened. On one of my days there, the inner athletic in me decided to go trekking on the Dragon’s back. A legit 4 hour morning trek with a few stops to admire and click the scenic views.

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It was certainly a personal accomplishment and what better way than to celebrate it with some great Italian food!

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If you’re in Hong Kong, you’re probably well acquainted with Pici. Initially I called it everything from PC to Picki to pishi. On being seated, I finally gathered some courage and decided to get it out of the way with and asked what’s the place actually called! Peachy it is!

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It is hard to miss Pici. If you’ve not visited it yet, I strongly suggest you give it a shot. It’s definitely worth the hype. The food for one is amaaaaaaazing, I mean I’m actually drooling thinking about that burrata cheese and gnocchi Al pesto pasta right now! I’m not a Tiramisu or Panna Cotta fan generally, but boy! I really did enjoy my dessert too here. Did I mention they’ve got some interesting cocktails?

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Pici is well located and that’s another plus point. The place has got such a relaxing feel and vibe to it, the music and decor certainly add to it. The staff is warm and welcoming, happy to give their recommendations when needed. And the fact that you get to see your pasta being made in front of you is just so cool.

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This restaurant is all about a great experience. Having been able to have super fun conversations with strangers, I won’t be shy in saying this restaurant can actually be an ideal place for a first date/tenth date.. Whatever! I mean this is where I got to know about the ‘Brad Pitt returning to Jennifer Aniston’ rumour. Don’t forget to make a reservation in advance, I tell you! You can thank me later.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you’re visiting Hong Kong, you should definitely put this on your list of restaurants that need to be visited.

I’ll keep sharing tidbits from my Hong Kong trip here on the blog. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Lots of love,

The Silent Hummer

Franchua D’Souza

It’s a small world

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When one hears of Hong Kong, it’s imperative that Disneyland comes to mind. At least that was the case with me. I couldn’t wait to see Mickey & Minnie Mouse and try all those exciting rides.

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Hongkong Disneyland is no less than any fantasy world. It transports you to a completely different world where kids and adults are left amused. Disney characters that we’ve all watched as kids come to life and how! I personally enjoyed watching the parade (even though I could only tell a few characters by their names).

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What’s the point going to Disneyland and not trying those wonderful rides, right? I can boast of doing most of them, and if given a chance would love to experience them again. From the many rides I attempted, the “Big Grizzly Mountain Mining Co” was my favorite. The others that should definitely be tried are The Iron man ride, Star wars ride, Toy Story & It’s a small world.

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The day I visited HongKong Disneyland, the weather was really hot and humid. Also rushing from one ride to the other to avoid the queue lines didn’t quite help. Here I must mention how well the property is planned, it’s got restaurants and refreshment stalls strategically located. Also, I was so thankful that the staff handed me a map of the place in English!I couldn’t resist from getting some Disneyland merchandise and picked up that cute Mickey hairband you see in my picture. Known for being the practical person that I am, I had to keep convincing myself that I would re-use the hairband somewhere, maybe at a theme party and it wasn’t just an impulsive purchase. In fact I also got some cute souvenirs to gift friends back home.

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Thank you Disneyland for this wonderful experience!I truly had a great time and it has definitely made my HongKong trip so much more special.

 

Lots of love,

The Silent Hummer
Franchua D’Souza

 

Send me the pillow

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I’m unsure if you may agree with me here, but when on a flight, it’s much better to be fast asleep. That way you don’t miss out on your rest hours, plus you feel fresh to go through the day post landing. Of course, I’m talking about those 3+ hours of flying.
Usually, in my case, as soon as the flight takes off and the excitement is done with, my head drops down and my eyes get droopy, in no time I’m fast asleep. This is applicable to a 40 min flight too. My flight routine goes something like this : get seated, wait for take-off, fall asleep, wake up for whatever snack/ meal, fall asleep back (it’s like magic), and wake up just before landing. Perfect.

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This time while flying to #HongKong my eyes behaved in a complete different fashion. They just refused to stay shut! This was even more strange considering I had a freaking tiring day at work and got onto this flight at about 1am! It also didn’t help that the seat was really narrow and the tray table was really really small!

The flight from Mumbai to HongKong was about 6 hours or so, and I had no intention of staying up all night through this one. Also, if you read my previous post, you’d know that from the airport I was to head directly to #ngongping360 and was to spend my entire day there. Just couldn’t afford to be sleepy on Day 1 in HongKong, now could I? Honestly as a traveller, I’m 100% against wasting any of my International time. After all of my previous trips Abroad, I assure you my day starts at 7:30am and ends only in the wee hours of the next day. There’s only exploring and so much more exploring to do.

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So here I was, wide awake like an owl. The things I did to fall asleep are daft (think Mr Bean). I tried counting sheep, I tried watching some absolutely sad stuff on the screen in front of me, I tried counting the number of people I could see awake, I reclined the seat back and forth, I even called for another blanket to keep me warm and cozy. Somewhere in the midst of all this I reminisced my Singapore trip and wondered if this one would be anything like it. Then I thought of sleeping masks too, but wasn’t ready to ruin my pretty eye shadow like that. I have the super power of ruining things / lives, trust me.

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Finally the universe heard me. The angelic air hostess came around serving beverages. 3 glasses of red wine did the trick! One-after-the-other straight! I didn’t even realise when I was in deep slumber. Directly woke up to the Pilot’s announcement just before landing.

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What are your flight experiences like? Do you prefer catching up on your sleep too? Or read? Or watch a movie? Or make conversation with that stranger seated next to you? Tell me all of those things you think of while on a flight. I’m really keen to know.

I’ll post more about my trip in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you may find and follow me on Instagram.

See you around.

Warm regards,
The Silent Hummer
Franchua D’Souza

It’s the climb

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Hong Kong!

It was never on my mind. 7 years back when H&M wasn’t in India, someone had mentioned to me about how shopping was affordable at H&M in #HongKong, I wondered if I’d ever be lucky to get a chance at either, H&M or Hongkong. Years later, the Universe conspired for both to happen 🙂

Having been to other South East Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand & Bali over the last couple of years, I knew that this was going to be an interesting country too. With some prior research, some tourist reviews online and personal advice from people, the go-to list was ready. It did take some alcohol / coffee to understand the maps too.

If you’re travelling to Hong Kong and have a whole list of places to visit within a week, you better get started right from the Airport. The best way to start your HK trip is by visiting the beautiful Ngong Ping Village at Lantau Island. Don’t fret looking at Google maps, it’ll show you it’s 2 hours away by the MTR, you don’t need to take that. It’s just about 20mins away by bus S1 from the airport. Oh and worry not about all that luggage you’ve been travelling with because the team at Ngong Ping 360 will make it convenient by letting you drop off the luggage at a counter so that you can enjoy the rest of your time without it. Your luggage will be safe, just hold on to those tags they give you.

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There are a couple of highlights about this place.

1. The crystal glass cable car ride to the island.

This is apparently the world’s longest cable car ride that takes about 25-30mins to finish a distance of 5.7kms. The view is super scenic while passing through all that greenery around you. You can also spot the Airport runway and actually see planes land and take off from time to time.

2. The Big Buddha statue (Tian Tan Buddha). You must be prepared to climb 268 steps to see it up front.

3. The beautiful Ngong Ping Piazza

 

4. The wisdom path.

5. Walking with Buddha : An interesting 20min video about Buddha’s life

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6. A theatrical act by some great performers with an inspiring message (they even have a few dialogues in English besides having subtitles on a screen)

7. A fun 4D ariel ride that will take you through Ngong ping.

9. Po Lin Monastery

The weather was beautiful when I visited Ngong Ping 360 in Lantau Island , in fact it even rained for some time. The view from the Big Buddha is to watch out for. There are a number of restaurants that serve Chinese / Western food so you won’t be hungry for sure. You may also check out some of the stores for souvenirs if you’re not comfortable with street shopping.

To cover all of this you require a good 5 hours, so plan your day accordingly. It’s definitely worth it.

Have you visited this place? Or plan on visiting ? Let me know in the comments below.

If you’re keen on knowing more about my Hong Kong escapade, I strongly suggest you follow my Instagram page.

Instagram handle : franchuadsouza

Stay tuned for more about my trip.

 

Lots of love,

The Silent Hummer.
Franchua D’Souza

 

 

I believe I can fly

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At some point or the other we’ve all wanted to know what it would be like to have wings and defy gravity. Of course the most common/ boring way I’d think of is to take a flight to some place. No matter what you choose from , whether sitting on a ferris wheel, sitting in a plane, bungee jumping , sky diving, parasailing etc, they all make us have butterflies in the stomach. Recently on my Thailand trip I attempted one such adventure and it was one hell of a thrilling experience. If you did get a chance to read my previous post, you’d know I’m talking about none other than Zip-lining!

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img_20161231_132824If you’re visiting Thailand in the near or far future, you definitely need to have this experience in your to- do list. Tree top Asia played host to my friend and I and we absolutely loved the whole #FlightoftheGibbon zip- lining experience. Everything was perfect about the experience- right from the bus pick up from our hotel to the drop back. The guides and other staff members are super fun to hang about with – literally. They make sure they’ll do everything to make you bounce like a monkey while you’re at it and yet you know you can trust them with your life. The 2 guides that left an impression on us were Jacile and Taxi (cute name, right?).

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There were 24 zip-lining stations , starting with the simple and short ones to the the last one of 300 meters. The view from the tree stations is amazzzzzing! You’re literally amidst tree tops. By the time you’re at the last tree station you’re fear has gone and you’re an expert at this. I loved the fact that the guides gave us the confidence to let ourselves loose and go all out taking selfies/ videos etc. They made sure to put safety first and just be super entertaining. As though  zip- lining wasn’t fun enough, we were offered a traditional Thai meal to complete the experience (which by the way was awesome). We even got a chance to visit the zoo..

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We were lucky to be around this group of 10 super enthu people from China, Saudi Arabia, Thailand etc, with the youngest member as old as 5 years! An absolute thrill it was. Zip-lining with Tree Top Asia has certainly been a highlight of my Thai trip and it’s going to be etched in my memory for a long long time.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post, as much as I enjoyed re-living the thrill of zip-lining.

Lots of Love,
The Silent Hummer
Franchua D’Souza

Take me home, to the place I belong

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Hellooo everyone!

I may be a little late, but wishing each and every one of you a very Happy New Year! Let’s make the most of 2017!

Firstly I’m super excited writing this post as I have recently returned from my Thai holiday. I’ve had the opportunity to see some wonderful places there, and I’ve soaked in everything I could. Can’t wait to share all the details about my trip.

In Thailand I covered Rayong , Pattaya and Bangkok. Each of them were visibly different from each other and most of the time I had some lovely experiences. Two things that I can happily cross off my bucket list now are Zip lining and sea walking. Both completely differ from each other, One had this whole adrenaline rush taking over while I was zipping through and the other that needed me to be calm under sea  while I walked in it and fed fishes. In  Bangkok, I felt all those happening city vibes and it reminded me of things back home (minus the pat- pong shows). Something I’ve gone a step further in, is eating Thai food. I did not experiment too much with street food but managed to try and enjoy the food at a few restaurants here and there (unlike Singa..).

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Of course I enjoyed my holiday and everything but the one thing I missed besides my loved ones was the food! The first evening after arriving in Bangkok, while walking down the Phloen Chit road, I decided to stop for dinner at this Indian restaurant Bawarchi Indian that served authentic North Indian food. Located at the Intercontinental , I knew there were fewer chances of disappointment. Plus, I really craved Indian food by then.

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It’s funny how when I introduced myself to the VP Mr. Vinay Chawla , he mistook me for an Indian girl who was to come in for an interview that evening. It did seem a bit off with the kind interview questions he put forward, until he realized his boo-boo. 🙂
*good luck to all those that interview here- I hope Mr Chawla doesn’t intimidate you*
Trust me, he was way too kind after that.

Now talking about the restaurant.

Firstly I felt at home, looking at the Indian staff around to greet us and offer the best service they could. The walls, painting, decor, ceiling, the swing, the music set up, the instrumental hindi music that played – everything made me forget that I was actually in Bangkok!  The staff (mostly Indian too) were quick on their feet right from our cocktails to dessert.

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The papadum cones itself along with their dips already set the quotient high. For starters, out of the Tandoor Jhinga (tandoor prawns), Stuffed wild mushrooms, Ajwani mahi tikka (red snapper- again the tandoor way), and murgh tikka (chicken tikka), my favorite was the huge Tandoor Prawn and the mushroom. The spices they used for the tandoor were mouth watering. Loved how it was very Indian, yet had an interesting twist.

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As a mushroom fan, I went on to try the Cream of Mushroom soup. As rightly described in the menu ,it is pretty much a classic creamy soup tampered with some Indian flavour. Don’t be surprised when you find some tadka to your soup.

When you’re in a restaurant that tells you straight that they’re full-on into North Indian kind of food, you must try the Biryani. Exactly the next dish I’m discussing.

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Served in cute little kadais, the portion is just right for 2.  The aroma itself screamed yum! The long grains, the fried onions, the spices in the biryani masala, the earthiness from that chicken in there were bang on! I’m glad this wasn’t a fusion kind of dish.
There cannot be a bigger compliment to a restaurant than for a person who is on holiday, staying at a hotel , is ready to take the food home and eat it the next day for lunch/ dinner, cold if need be, but will have it anyhow. Yes, I took the parcel, err 2 of them- chicken and the Lamb biryani (they get the lamb especially from Mongolia I understand). Did I say it’s yum??

It’s strange and funny how even though I claim I’m stuffed after eating a-lottt of food, I have plenty of space for dessert. It’s like I have a separate compartment within my tummy for it. Indian sweets are mostly extremely high on sugar and rasmalai is no less.But who’s complaining? I had it all. 😀 nuff said.

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I dined here on a Monday evening, the only day there’s no live Indian music. I strongly suggest if you plan on visiting this place, make sure you get to listen to some Indian music too.

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Hope you enjoyed reading my take on #bawarchiindian
If any of you have visited or plan on visiting this restaurant or any place in Thailand, give me a shout in the comments below! I love reading what you’ve to say.

Until my next post..

Lots of love,
The Silent Hummer
Franchua D’Souza