Ancestral Goa, Big Foot, And Casa Araujo Alvares At Loutolim Goa

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ancestral Goa / Big Foot are an integral part of the South Goa Tour operated by Goa Tourism Development Corporation. The names are catchy and give an impression of some important places which are distinct from the 'beach tourism' that Goa is famous for. My personal experience so far tells me that approximately 99% of the visitors to this tourist 'attraction' are coming through conducted tours only and if that were not the case, this place would not even figure so much in the Goa travel literature. The Wikipedia article on Ancestral Goa calls it a theme park and that is what it very much is. The only good part of this whole set up is an old residence called 'Casa Araujo Alvares' but unfortunately even that 'attraction' is being managed in a very immature way. Anyone who has been to Casa Do Mandarim in Macau will understand the problems with Casa Araujo Alvares. Loutolim itself is wonderful as long as one stays away from its touristy corner. There is a village square where one can see an old post office from the Portuguese days (still working) called 'Communidade of Loutolim', a beautiful church, a very old cemetery, a school, and a park. Its like stepping back in time and spending a few quiet moments in the Goa of olden days. But the tour buses do not bring tourists to this square, what a fraud. Keep reading...

Chotivala Indian Pure Vegetarian Restaurant Pattaya

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Chotivala 100% Pure Vegetarian & Jain Food is the best located Indian vegetarian restaurant in Pattaya. Its right opposite Central Festival Mall on Pattaya Second Road. I say it is best located because Chotivala is easier to find as compared to another 100% vegetarian restaurant very close to Central Festival Mall and also on Second Road - VT Six Vegetarian. VT Six is located inside View Talay Apartment complex and is not so visible from the main road. Chotivala has the best visibility. This small area around Central Festival Mall has another restaurant called 'Madras Darbar' which serves excellent South Indian vegetarian food but unfortunately Madras Darbar is not 100% vegetarian. Chotivala is 100% vegetarian but it has a next door cousin called 'Naan n Curry' which is under the same management but serves both veg and non-veg food. I hope all this is not too confusing. To make it simpler, let me clarify that Chotivala has a separate kitchen so its claim of being 100% Pure Vegetarian is absolutely true. I am a vegetarian and hence love to see so many Indian vegetarian restaurants in popular travel destinations outside India. That said, my first and so far the only visit to Chotivala has not been 100% satisfactory. Keep reading...

Govindam Indian Pure Vegetarian Restaurant Pattaya

Friday, November 6, 2015

2015 has been a good year for Indian pure vegetarian food in Pattaya with the opening of two new restaurants. 'Govindam' 100% Pure Indian Vegetarian is one of them. This restaurant is really good for more than one reasons. Very reasonable pricing is one of them. I generally feel that Indian food in Thailand is unduly expensive and hence the restaurants like Govindam deserve our appreciation. The second reason for my liking of Govindam is its location which is within a 10 minute walk from Central Festival Mall. Its official address is a problem though: 330/1 MOO 10 Near Bella Express Hotel Pattaya Klang Road, Sub District Banglamung, Pattaya City. Frankly speaking this address appears more of a government department than a restaurant and I would have liked a more helpful address than this. Therefore, for the sake of my fellow travellers, here is how to find the place: Come out of Central Festival Mall on Pattaya Second Road and turn left. At the traffic signal, turn right on Central Pattaya Road and remain on the right side of the road. Very soon you will see this restaurant. If you have reached Bella Express Hotel, you have come too far and need to turn back (see location on Google Maps below). Actually, the official address contains the words 'Near Bella Express Hotel' because many tour groups from India stay at Bella Express and the owner of Govindam would like those tourists from India to dine at this restaurant. In my humble opinion, this address is misleading. If you reach Bella Express Hotel and ask their staff about Govindam, they are not able to guide you to this restaurant. Another clarification is in order here - Govindam Restaurant is not in any way related to Govinda's Pattaya - Shri Krishna Vegetarian Restaurant which is run by ISKCON. Keep reading...

Free Boat Ride In Chao Phraya River Bangkok

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Good things seldom come cheap but there are times when they come for free. Yes, it is possible to have a free boat ride in the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. Its available 365 days a year and is free for all. There is one catch though. This free boat is not taking you towards Bangkok's best known riverside attractions like the Grand Palace & Wat Pho. Instead it will take you to an upscale night market that comes to life in the evening in the 10 warehouses of a unique shopping mall called 'Asiatique The Riverfront'. The free boat is a shuttle operated by Asiatique and connects the shopping mall with the Sathorn (Central) Pier located next to the Saphan Taksin BTS Station on Silom Line. In this page I will give necessary information on how to enjoy this free boat ride. Keep reading...

Smart Casino Gambling: How To Protect Winnings and Limit Losses

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Casino gambling is a business for the casino owners. Like any other business, a casino is supposed to make money for its owners and it does, lots of it. Now how does a casino make money? Its simple, when you and I gamble in a casino and lose our money, that money minus their operating expenses becomes the casino's profit. So, can we say a player's loss is the casino's gain? Absolutely. The casino owners, managers, supervisors, dealers, catering staff, none of those people are our friends. They are all just trying to act friendly while their sights are trained at our wallets and our ATM cards. They will earn their bread and butter only and only if you and I lose our money gambling in their casino. And the casino owners' idea of running a casino is not only to earn their bread and butter, their idea is to get rich. Consider this: Sands Macau, the first American-owned casino in Macau that started in 2004, fully recovered the cost of building the project from its first year's profits alone. So my dear friend, should you and I continue doing our best to make them rich? Keep reading...

'Do It Yourself' Trip To Old Goa

Friday, October 23, 2015

The most dis-service the conducted tour operators do to a tourist in Goa is by including Old Goa in the tour of South Goa. What really happens is that the tour bus stops at Old Goa for about 30 minutes and the tour guide tells the tourists only about The Basilica of Bom Jesus (the main attraction shown by the tour operators) & The Archaeological Museum on the other side of the road. By the time the tourists come out of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, their 30 minutes are already up. Yes, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is an important building in Old Goa, but so are several others. The Archaeological Survey of India's guide on Old Goa lists at least 19 monuments in Old Goa and the list will go up to 20 if you wish to include the Museum of Christian Art situated near the Convent of Santa Monica. Apart from the churches and the convents, there are fabulous structures like The Tower & The Ruins of St. Augustine Complex that get missed during this so called 'Old Goa' conducted tour. In this page, I will tell you about how to do this trip on your own easily using public transport from Panjim. Keep reading...

Hotel Menino Regency Panjim Goa Review

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hotel Menino Regency is located in the heart of Panjim City on Dr. Dada Vaidya Road, very close to the City Church (Panjim Church). Its a fantastic location because just a few minutes of walk from here bring one either to the middle of 18th June Road, a shopping & food paradise, or to Dayanand Bandodkar Marg along the river Mandovi. Panjim's inter and intra State bus station - Kadamba Bus Stand - is also not far from here. Still before deciding on booking a room in Menino Regency, I looked at some online guest reviews. No one had said anything terribly bad about it but instead some people had praised the excellent food that was served to them at Menino Regency. So I went ahead and booked a two-day stay in a Deluxe Room at INR 2680 per night including breakfast. I do not know if I am particularly unlucky staying in Panjim hotels or perhaps I tend to compare these hotels with the much cheaper and better hotels in other countries that I often visit. Anyway, this stay of mine at Menino Regency was particularly bad because here I was given a silent message at the time of check-in itself that I was not welcome there. Now the problem with online hotel bookings is that hotels cannot choose their guests. If I had personally requested Menino Regency for a booking, I think they would have refused. I am not 100% sure about the reason, but my intelligent guess is that my religion or my being from North India was the problem. Perhaps I was, along with many other Indians, responsible for Mr. Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister and the stunning defeat of Ms. Sonia Gandhi. These things may seem to be very strange when written in an article that is supposed to be just a hotel review. Well, all I can say here is that there are stranger things in the world than man has dreamed of. I will write some more about this "hate" thing later but before that let us finish the hotel review. Keep reading...

Ginger Hotel Panjim Goa Review

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ginger hotel in Goa (Patto Plaza, Near Kadamba Bus Stand, Panjim) is supposed to be a budget hotel and is also supposed to be good because it is a 'Tata Group' company that owns and operates Ginger hotels in India. The factual position is quite different if one looks at the state of affairs in Ginger Goa. First, look at the price: INR 3224 for a Standard single room (one person only) for one night without breakfast. This rate is not even a peak season rate, this was paid by me in the month of April 2015. Breakfast is not the only thing missing in this rate but also a few other things because this is after all a Ginger property, a sort of 'self-service' class hotel. No personal help in hauling your bags going up or coming down from your room, instead some airport-type trolleys kept near the entrance that a guest may like to use. No bathroom amenities in the room, only liquid soap from dispensers attached to the walls near the sink and the shower. No room-service, and no discounts on the room tariff. The booking sites that offer big discounts on domestic hotel bookings in India usually exclude Ginger hotels from the discount offers. Bookings at Ginger Goa are non-refundable most of the times. Now after all these exclusions, what are the guest rooms at Ginger hotels supposed to include: Clean bedding, air-conditioning, two small water bottles, a tea/coffee maker, a small TV, and a small cupboard. In Ginger Goa, they promise a free WiFi too. How many of these promises are actually kept by the Tata Group, just keep reading to know...

Waterleaf Salon & Wellness Spa Goa

Saturday, October 17, 2015

'Waterleaf Salon & Wellness' was the first spa that I tried in Goa. Later I have been to another three and as per my assessment, Waterleaf would rank at number two out of four. Actually Waterleaf could be on top but due to an inherent problem with them and some other issues, I think it will never be. Let me state this inherent problem first. The location of Waterleaf is awkward. Its official address is: Xenia,  Opp. Basket Ball Ground, Kadamba Depot Road, Alto-Porvorim, Bardez - Goa 403521 (Phone: 91-832-6510303/2411222). This area is outside of Panjim city, in Porvorim, off the highway that connects Panjim with the North Goa beaches of Calangute and Baga. If you are going from Panjim, you need to go beyond hotel Neo Majestic and then take a right turn from some spot on the road. You will be very lucky if you are able to see one of the directional signboards put up by Waterleaf on that route. Otherwise, it is difficult getting there at least for the first time. My cab driver knew the area but still he had to speak to the Waterleaf staff on the phone twice before he could locate the building. The fare charged by the cab driver was outrageous too, INR 400 (non-A.C.) for this distance from Old Old Patto Bridge in Panjim. But after doing everything, when you get there, the quality of the service in Waterleaf is not worth the price they charge. Lack of transparency and an over-smart way of dealing with the customer are other major drawbacks of this establishment. Keep reading for details...

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I left my day job in October 2013 and became a full time blogger. I love travel and hence a travel blog was the obvious place to start from. The result is My second blog is I currently live in Bengaluru, India. - Narinder Singh. (Email:


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