All I ask you, is let me be there

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Hi everyone,

The only thing on my mind right now is Travel. OK, not the only thing. But I really want to go out, explore, meet new people, make travel pals, and see the world. It’s not only about seeing the popular and fancy destinations, but I look forward to the simple and humble ones too. I want to have experiences, I want to tell stories.

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Travel has taught me so much. As I look back, I’ve noticed how I’ve evolved as a traveler, right from chalking out the entire itinerary days in advance, to packing accordingly, to learning to navigate through Google maps (I’m still terrible at this), and to realizing that souvenirs are not meant to be bought like you’re Santa Claus. While planning your stay, Sure, it’s easy to just book the first fancy hotel you see on the list and trust that everything will be perfect in terms of amenities, safety, and service. But that comes with a huge price! If you have the moolah, why not, right? But it’s a different experience altogether researching about the locations you’d be visiting, their distance from your hotel to help you save International travel time, the offers going on etc. I can proudly say that I’ve loved my stay at the luxurious Parisian in Macau and in the same breath admit that I have saved a huge bit by staying at the Atlas, a hostel in Hong Kong on my last day there. The key is planning right. At the Parisian I enjoyed the fancy buffet, some time to myself by the poolside , those fine dining meals, gambled at the 360° Casino and even explored the Venitian property (as the properties are linked internally) with the gandola rides and strutted in and out of those high end luxury shopping stores. The Eiffel Tower within the Parisian property, especially in the evening was an ethereal experience too, completely worth it’s hype. The reasons behind picking a hostel on the other hand was, one to know what it was like to live in a hostel, and two, because as per our itinerary we were to be out & about the entire day and all we needed was a decent place to wash up & rest when we returned late at night. It worked out perfectly. Of course, we checked reviews about safety, service, the staff etc and then finalized on it.

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The Parisian- Macau

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Breakfast like a king

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Cuz tea, why noy?

To me, travelling is much more than a relaxed holiday. It’s more learning & discovering, whether it is about different cultures, different types of societies, food, fashion, languages or anything else. Honestly none of my trips Abroad have ever been with the intention of going easy or relaxing. The only relaxation time is either at the spa or when it’s bed time!

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Beer spa at @SenseofTouch Hongkong!

Just thinking about it, is getting me pepped up. I should be making a list of destinations I would like to visit soon. Hoping it all comes together even sooner! I think I deserve a trip to say the least.
If you love travel , or you’re planning a trip let me know how do you go about it? What kind of a traveler are you? I want to know all about it!

Lots of Love,

The Silent Hummer
Franchua D’Souza

Doing that thing you do

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Hi all,

Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful Christmas season. The year has almost wrapped up & honestly I couldn’t be more thankful for that. I think I’m otherwise a kind person, so when I say 2018 has beaten the shit out of me, you should believe.

Anyway now that I’m glad it’s coming to an end, to keep some distracting thoughts away I started thinking about plans for the coming year. Not resolutions per se, but more like a bucket list. In the past I’ve attempted making a list of things I’d like to accomplish but I’ve somehow put it away after drafting 2-3 points. Maybe I should’ve tried after chugging some chilled beer, well it’s never too late!

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Bucket list for 2019:

– Visit Pondicherry in South India. I’m keen on exploring those French colonies on bicycles and seeing the beautiful Auroville ashram. I will be picky about whom I go with here because honestly I wanted to do a solo trip.

– Take up a new class. There are a couple of things that seem interesting but I need to figure how feasible it really is with my work timings. I’m thinking of contemporary dance, learning a musical instrument, or even attending a bar tending workshop.

– 2018 has damaged my hair (and me) and by the looks of it, it’s beyond repair. I’m thinking maybe Hair spa? Need to do a little research on how this works.

– Here’s a fact that I often use to get away from the marriage topic. I cannot cook. And that’s 100% true, I don’t know how to prepare a single dish from scratch, let alone an entire meal.  No plans of marriage for me, but it certainly wouldn’t harm to learn some easy to cook recipes.

– Commit to a charitable cause. It’s been on my mind for sometime now. I want to spend my time with the old & the lonely, with under privileged kids, with cancer patients. And I do not want it to be a Birthday or a Lenten or a Christmas deed. I want to definitely commit to this. If possible, I request you to add this to your bucket list too.

– A tattoo. For close to 2 years, I’ve pushed the thought away. But maybe the tattoo was destined to happen in 2019. Hint : It will have a musical sign for sure.

– Take mom on a holiday, whether domestic or International doesn’t matter, but a nice pampered vacay is what we need. Look at us from the recent Goa trip!

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– Post a lot more here on the blog

– Maybe get a life!

I’ve tried to keep my bucket list as basic and achievable as possible.  I really don’t care about things like Bungee jumping off a cliff or sky diving or scuba diving or seeing the Eiffel Tower. Maybe at some point I did, but with time these things have changed.

Let me know what do you look forward to in 2019.

Anyway wishing you all a fantastic end to 2018. Be happy, be safe. Travel a lot, read and blog a lot more!

Lots of love,

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

 

 

Take it easy

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Dear Life,

From whatever I’ve known and experienced so far, I’ve been fortunate to have a happy and positive Life with very little to complain about. You have shown me some extra ordinary times, and then you’ve made sure I see them terrible ones too. You’ve made me realize the importance of simple and predominant things like family, education and spirituality; yet your teachings have also carefully taught me how loved ones, text books and faith can fail me. Through personal experiences, you’ve made me cognizant of how powerful the mind and the heart is, but through others you’ve even shown me how sharp and equally powerful the tongue or even a pen can be.

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Like many people, in my case too I’ve often complained how the grass has been greener on the other side. Looks, talent, study ranks, income etc, constant comparison with others did bring me down. But with time I’ve accepted that the grass is green where it is watered. Today I feel much more at ease with exactly those same points I cribbed about. Today I know that more than these or the “oh-so-tempting- materialistic things” , it’s virtues like patience, calmness, integrity, and overall humanity that will make me a better person.

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I can’t thank you enough for introducing me to some wonderful people along the path, people that live by example, people whom I look up to, people whom I can relate to. On the other hand , you’ve also taken away some of my very own , people who meant the world to me, people whom I called good friends, people who I connected with, thereby making me cherish the people I’m left with even more. You’ve made me believe in the Universe, and believe that whoever is meant to be in my life, will be in it anyway.

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Thank you for teaching me in your own unique ways to not be dependent on anyone or anything. For teaching me that life in fact does go on, even after I lose my most precious people/ things. I’m proud of how easily I’ve given up habits I never thought I would. It showed me that with the right amount of determination, I could have strong will power.
I’m so grateful that you’ve made me a person with an extremely high level of tolerance, sometimes it amazes me to think of how composed I was in the most stressful situations. While I’m at it, I need to Thank you for making me passionate about Music, Travel and of course Blogging. They all have this magical calming effect on me. They help divert my mind and give me some amount of strength.

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I truly hope as we continue our journey ahead, you continue to be kind to me. Phases get difficult and stressful at times, and there are those days when I feel like nothing good is happening. Take me through it successfully without letting me give up or break down. Lets be as relaxed as possible , and focus on taking it easy.

Yours truly,
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

The tide is high

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Recently while baby sitting my 7 year old neighbor , I found a smart way of keeping her occupied by giving her the #Colgatemagicalstories exercise and I was blown away by her imagination.

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After helping her cut out the pictures from the Colgate pack, I asked her to weave a story around the cut outs for me. And she did, beautifully.

Here goes her story :

Many many years ago merchants used to travel from one place to another by ship. As their journey used to last for days, they would keep all their treasures in an allotted place and would only unload it on reaching their destination. During the day they enjoyed watching the blue waters and the beautiful sea creatures. Some loved watching the Dolphins while some were excited seeing the gold fish and the breathtaking sun sets.

One night when everyone was asleep, as a Dolphin was taking its routine jumps, it bumped into Little Gold and they got talking.

Little Gold : Ow! That hurt Dolph! Why do you keep jumping around? Aren’t you sleepy?
Dolph: Hey Little Gold, I’m sorry about that. And no I’m not sleepy, I enjoy my night jumps. Watching the stars makes me happy.
Little Gold : (looks up towards the sky) Yes, the night sky looks gorgeous.

While they were talking they heard a strange sound from somewhere nearby. 

Little Gold : What was that sound Dolph?
Dolph : I don’t know Little Gold. Let me take another jump out of the water and look around. (Dolph took a jump and looked all around)
Dolph : There’s a ship approaching in this direction, but I don’t know anything about that sound we heard.

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While they were talking, Mr Star came rushing towards them.

Little Gold : Oh hello Mr Star. How are you?
Mr Star : Hello Little Gold. I’m a little worried. As I was resting close to the ship, I heard a thud from the ship and woke up.

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Dolph : Oh you heard it too? We were just discussing it. Did you see anything?
Mr Star : (sounding a little worried) Yes, I saw a man dressed weirdly try to get onto the ship. I don’t know why he was awake this late and why he was dressed like that. He looked dangerous.
Dolph : Oh no! That doesn’t sound like good news.
Little Gold : Why do you say that Dolph?
Dolph : Have you heard of Pirates? They’re robbers. They capture everything they can, threaten the people, take all the treasure and escape. I hope this is not a pirate we’re dealing with.
Little Gold : Oh no.. I’m scared now.
Dolph : Hey little gold, don’t be afraid. Maybe we’re wrong. Let’s head towards the ship and see for ourselves. All of us need to stick together, okay.
Mr Star : Dolph is right. We’ll stick together.
Little Gold : Okay.

By the time they headed towards the ship, Dolph took another jump to see if he could spot anything.

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Dolph : Oh my! We were right. The man is a pirate. He’s packing away all the treasure from the ship. Those poor merchants will lose everything they have. We need to do something. Mr Star : Just what I feared.
Little Gold: What do we do now?
Mr Star : I have a plan. You two stay together. I will go find my friend who might be able to help. Don’t do anything until I’m back.

Mr Star left them and went to his sleepy friend Octopus.

Mr Star : Hey Octopus, wake up, wake up! We need your help.
Octopus : Wake up for what? The whole world is sleeping, let me sleep some more.
Mr Star : Oh no, you cannot sleep some more right now. We need your help. Otherwise those poor people will be looted by that Pirate.
Octopus : (Opens eyes wide) Pirate? Where? What are you saying?
Mr. Star : Come with me, I’ll explain everything on the way.

As Mr Star and Octopus were heading towards Dolph and Little Gold, Mr Star explained the whole story to him.

Octopus : We won’t let him get away. This is our environment and we won’t let crimes like this happen until we’re around.
Mr Star: Yes, we can’t let these incidents happen. We need to save those people’s treasures.
Dolph : But what are we going to do? He’s packed almost everything there.

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After packing everything, the pirate decided to first jump into the water and then put the loot  the with the net he put everything in. As soon as he jumped and was about to pull the net down, Octopus immediately used one of his tentacles to grab the pirate, the other to snatch the treasure from him, and the remaining tentacles to hi-five Mr Star, Dolph and Little Gold. The 4 of them threw the Pirate into the deep waters and he knew he had no way back. Octopus even made sure to keep the loot safely back in its place.

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Mr Star, Dolph, Little Gold and Octopus together saved the night for all those on the ship without them even knowing anything.

And after that adventurous swim, they called it a night and fell asleep.

If you’re as amazed with this story as I was, let me know. It brings back fond childhood memories.

Lots of love,

The Silent Hummer

Franchua D’Souza

I have a dream

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A dream to travel. Travel to countless places, both big and small. In order to start making that dream come true, I started off with my recent trip to Singapore. You must read the gist of it here. In today’s post I’m sharing my trip in detail.

For starters, as much as Singapore seems like a small country, it is not! Even if you argue that it is, it’s definitely not one of those Asian countries that can be covered on a 5 day trip. There’s loads to do and many tourist attractions. I tried covering most of those places on my trip, yet there were a few I missed out on. It was like a fight against time.

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Tid bits about tourist attractions visited:

Night safari: If this is your safari debut, it will amaze you. Sitting in that beautiful animal printed tram, you get to look around at the animals that are just a few metres away. For you to understand more about the animal you’re looking at, there is a pre-recorded audio set in the tram to give you an idea and some interesting bits.
Like, did you know Snakes aren’t really sticky and wet? They just appear glossy but are completely dry.

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The Night safari is all about the experience. If you’re looking to bring back photos to show your dear ones back home, probably this isn’t meant for you. Flash Photography is strictly prohibited as it scares/annoys the animals. You don’t want to take a chance with them now, do you?

Universal Studios: Having heard quite a bit about the movie based rides here, it was obligatory to visit the USS.
On entering USS, you are transported to another world altogether. It’s difficult not to stop and take pictures as you walk through to the actual rides. Interesting looking little buildings, Workshops, candy stalls, meet and greets with movie characters, street dances, restaurants, chocolates and souvenir shops etc will catch your attention.

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You need an entire day to explore the USS. The movie based rides are the highlights. Also while you’re at it, might as well visit the Sea Aquarium which is just across the USS.

Sea Aquarium: It’s crazy not to get impressed looking at more than 100,000 underwater animals from 800 species, swimming in 45 million liters of water. Fish lovers, you will want to live here.

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If you’re lucky you will get to see the Octopus go through a whole maze. It’s outstanding!

River safari, Singapore zoo: Though they are 2 different attractions, they can be done one after the other.
The Indian Gharial is worth all the attention it gets.
The river safari depends on your luck as sitting on a river cruise you can’t do much but just hope the animals/ birds appear into sight. The amazon quest ride passes through some interesting species that are just at an arm’s distance away.

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Singapore zoo is a huge spread. There’s a lot of walking to be done, so it’s best to wear sneakers/ walking shoes. It’s easy to lose your way here and hence remember to carry a map of the zoo.

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Do not leave the zoo until you spot the Panda (there are 2 of them – Jia Jia & Kai Kai), the Polar bear and the white tiger.

Merlion Park: This isn’t really a park. Coming to Singapore and not seeing and posing with this fish-lion statue is like having an unaccomplished trip. You can spot the mighty Marina Bay sands Hotel, The domes of Gardens by the bay and even the Singapore Flyer from here. All these places look marvelous at nights, they’re well lit up and stand out.

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China town: In Singapore this is the street you need to visit for souvenirs. The cute buildings, the bright colors everywhere makes this market attractive enough for you to spend some time here. Shopping is an advantage.

Marina Bay Sands: Even if you want, you can’t miss it. This building stands 57 floors tall and it’s infinity pool is a dream! As if the view from the top isn’t enough, imagine swimming like you’re at the edge. It’s quite a high.. pun intended.

The hotel puts up a brilliant light and water show in the evening. It’s approximately a 11 minute show that will have your attention at the water.

Gardens by the bay: Walking into the flower dome, you will be greeted by a thousand plus different flower speicies from all over the world. Nature lovers will want to make this their home.
Besides the Flower dome, the Cloud dome is a surreal experience.

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The best time to go to these as well as walk the OCBC skywalk is during the light and sound show in the evenings. Standing amidst the supertrees is unexplained.

Alive Museum: Situated at the Suntec city mall, this museum will bring out the child in you. It’s 3D art is not just to be admired but makes you one with the paintings. It’s meant for people of all ages.

Hoping this list has given you a gist about the places you should visit while at Singapore.

Food in Singapore:

While I loved my fancy meals at The Black Swan, Loof, Me@OUE, Ce La Vie and KPO cafe, for the times I was out and about exploring, I preferred sticking to Mc Donalds/ KFC/ Burger King etc. The local Singaporean food seemed too strong for my taste buds. Although I went with an open mind to try out local delicacies, the use of fish oil in everything changed my mind. 7/11 was like home when there weren’t any of the above fast food joints available.

 

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Everything mentioned is from my personal experience and I encourage you to have your own. Do share them with me. Reading anything about Singapore makes me happy and brings back good memories.

Lots of love,

The Silent Hummer,
Franchua D’Souza

 

 

I am blogging about my dreams and passions for the Club Mahindra#DreamTrails activity at BlogAdda. You can get a Club Mahindra Membership to own your holidays!