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Kanchipuram

Posted by Seshu Thalluri on December 7, 2009

It had been a long awaited dream of my wife to go to Kanchipuram after our marraige and finally we executed our plans last weekend.

We started on Saturday early morning, a little after 6am from HAL, Bangalore. It took us 7am to hit NH7, due to some confusion in the route. The highway was really great and we reached Kanchipuram by 11am after crossing 3-4 toll-gates and taking a break for around 45min for breakfast. The best part, there was not even a single speed-breaker except for the toll-gates and we just ripped through. Only trouble was, we didn’t find any decent restaurant for a long time and picked up something from the road-side, not expecting to find anything later on.  But, to our surprise, a few restaurants started appearing after we crossed a total of over 100 km.

As it was a weekend, there was quite some crowd in Kanchipuram and we had a lot of traffic to deal with in the town. We had planned for Abhishekam at Kanchi Amman Temple around 4:30pm that day and it went off well. After that, we went to Sarvana Bhavan Restaurant, which my wife keeps claiming to be the best ever South Indian restaurant in India. And it surely lived up to those tall expectations. We just got so hooked to this place that, all the three meals on the next day were at Sarvana Bhavan, with the afternoon special south indian meals being the best of its kind. Saturday evening was dedicated to shopping of silk sarees. As expected, our women folk didn’t finalize on anything after making that guy pull out at least a 100 sarees.

On Sunday morning, we went to one of the many nadi jyothisham astrologers, which was my only interest to go to Kanchipuram. We searched for over half-an-hour to find the place and though it looked very skeptical, we went ahead purely on my insistence.  The nadi astrologer first took my thumb print and got some matching palm leaves. Immediately after that, he asked me the day-of-the-week I was born. Obviously, I was not aware and had to tell my complete DOB so that he can find out in the computer. This really gave away a lot  and my father-in-law, who was always insisting that I don’t give any birth details was disappointed. After that, he kept asking me questions like starting-ending letters of my father’s-name/mother’s-name/wife’s name/my-name/number-of-siblings/number-of-children/girl-boy child etc. This went on for almost an hour untill he found a plam leaf which supposedly matched the best with my description.  Based on the matched palm leaf, I got my predictions recorded in a CD within the next 10-15 min.  The fact that, these predictions overlapped with 90% of my predictions done based on my birth-chart in my hometome is either a miraculous coincidence or a complete deceit by the nadi-astrologer. My father-in-laws suspicion was, if  the astrologer knows my birth date, there is no need of all those palm leaves, as he can get my predictions only based on birth date using any of the available software on the internet.

As our Saturday shopping didn’t lead to buying anything, we again went back to it on Sunday afternoon. After shopping for another 2-3 hours, we finally came back to our hotel and had a good rest. In the evening, we went to Vishnu-Kanchi, which is about 5 km away. Here, there was an amazing temple and was very peaceful too. After that, we bid adieu to our in-laws at the bus-station and got back to Sarvana Bhavan for our last meal of the trip.  Our return drive to Bangalore started on early Sunday morning around 7am and we reached home by around 12pm with a short break in-between for a quick snack.

Route: Innovative Multiplex on Outer Ring Road – Left Towards Sarjapur – Take right after 10 Km – Dead End take right – At the Circle, take right towards athibele – Dead End (Flyover construction) take left on to NH7 – At Krishnagiri, go on the first flyover and go under the second flyover towards left connecting to NH4 – Keep going straight on NH4 which lead to SH – You hit a deviation towards right to Kanchipuram, which is 70km before Chennai – Take that to reach the destination

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Best Of Books

Posted by Seshu Thalluri on June 6, 2009

  • Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  • Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  • The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
  • The Dilbert Principle, Scott Adams

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Lepakshi and Puttaparthi

Posted by Seshu Thalluri on June 9, 2008

It has been a while since we had gone on a long trip. So, when my parents visited us in Bangalore, it was ideal for us to venture out on a weekend.

Lepakshi is about 140 km and Puttaparthi is about 160km from Bangalore. We need to take NH7 from Bangalore. About 40km before we enter puttaparthi, we need to take a left turn for Lepakshi from the main road. This is just after the Karnataka-AP Check Post. Lepakshi is almost 15km inside after taking the turn.

We started from Bangalore around 8am. As we stay near the old airport, we took the outer ring road, through the KR Puram fly over until Hebbal and from there, we continued on the NH7 route. For the first time, we had a look at the international airport which has come up on the outskirts of Bangalore. The airport was exactly 45km from old airport. Whew..Thats too long for comfort !

The ride was very pleasing as was the weather. The roads were pretty decent but for a few bad patches. We reached the AP RTO CheckPost in over 2 hours. From there, we had to take a left turn to Lepakshi. This was almost a single lane road and with very steep/blind curves, we couldn’t speed up much and it took us more than half an hour to cover those 15 km. But it was really worth the effort, as we reached the first halt, where the one of the world’s largest Nandi statue was present. The Nandi was really amazing and the park around was also well maintained. We clicked as many snaps as we could at this place !

The actual Lepakshi temple is 2-3 km further inside from the Nandi statue. There is parking space for some cars just at the entrance of the temple. So, we didn’t need to walk much like other places. One good thing we did after entering the temple was to hire a guide. Otherwise, our visit would have been very boring, as there is not much to see.  We started knowing about the significance and history of each part of the temple from the guide, and it was really interesting. We spent almost an hour at the temple. There is a decent park just adjacent to the temple, where we could relax for a while too. We also found some neat rest rooms at one corner of the park, which we needed badly !

From Lepakshi, we again came back to the main road, as we didn’t want to get lost inside. Probably there might be some shortcut to puttaparthi, but we didn’t explore that. Once we came back to the main road, we had to proceed for almost 40km before taking a right turn for puttaparthi. We were heading to Prashanthi Nilayam, which is the Ashram of Satya Sai Baba. Just when we entered puttaparthi, it started raining so heavily that we just couldn’t get out of the car. Rain didn’t stop for atleast half an hour and our patience ran out. So, we settled for the first Hotel we found, on the main road, which was run by the AP State Tourism Dept. It was a very nice place to stay, but it was almost 1-2 km from the Ashram. We had a quick lunch and hoped the rain will stop. But, it was pouring continuously. We still tried to go into the ashram, instead of lazing in the Hotel room.

The Ashram was like a Township with a number of residential buildings, for mainly the devotees to stay. Right in the middle was a huge darshan hall, and inside this was a Sai Baba Mandir. When we met some devotees, it was really surprising to know that they have almost made this their home. Some of them were staying here for years, some for months and very few were there for just 1-2 days like us. We couldn’t go around much in the rain, so we went back to the Hotel.

When we were inside the Ashram, we got to know some interesting things. One good thing was, there was strict prohibition on giving bribes or putting money anywhere, even inside the temple . This was a great relief from our experience in other places, where people used to ask bribe at every stage and for every small thing. Another good thing was the way things were maintained in the Ashram. Everything was very clean and there were devotees working as volunteers at every corner of the Ashram. So, there was always someone watching and maintaining discipline.

Some things were not so appealing to us and especially to my family. One of them was keeping men and women separate at all the places.  Men and women devotees are supposed to be allocated different rooms. Even at every temple, there is a partition for men and women. There is a separate queue for men and women for entering the Mandir and even some of the roads inside the Ashram was strictly restricted to only women. More surprising for us to know was, there are different timings for men and women to enter the Shopping Mall. I couldn’t go inside the Shopping Mall along with my wife, as only men were allowed during that time. Now, thats very frustrating to say the least.

After getting back to the Hotel, we thought of watching the IPL semifinal, which was going on between Chennai and Punjab. But, unfortunately there was no telecast of SetMax channel in the Hotel room and we missed it. I would have enjoyed the match, as I was supporting Chennai Team 🙂

Next day morning, we woke up early and were inside the Ashram by 7 am. There was luckily no rain, so we could go around the Ashram and see all the places. We wanted to go into the Mandir, but we were told that it will be open again only at 8:30am. The Museum was also supposed to be closed for maintenance work for couple of months. So, we headed back to the Hotel for some quick breakfast and went to the Ashram at around 9:30am. When we tried to enter the darshan hall, we were stopped as the time was over and were told to come in the evening when it will be open again. This was really surprising. We thought that the Mandir and darshan hall will be open throughout the day.  My dad almost pushed inside telling those volunteers that we came all the way to Bangalore and will not be there till evening. Luckily we went in, but my wife and mother were outside, as this entrance was only for men ! They searched around for a women’s entrance and finally managed to get in the Mandir. Whew..So much for entering the Mandir, when Satya Sai Baba wasn’t even there in Puttaparthi. I wonder how strict they will be, where he is there.

After visiting the Mandir, we thought of going to another Museum, which was outside the Ashram and also visiting the Indoor Sports Centre. But, to our surprise, we got to know that the Museum is open only from 10:30am to 12pm and the Sports Centre from 11:00am to 12pm. That was very weird and we didn’t understand the logic behind such timings. Anyways, we took our car and went to the Museum which was at an altitude behind the Ashram. This was the biggest mistake of the day. The road was single lane until the Museum and there was just no parking space. It seems, people come there in an auto and hence they are not bothered. I struggled to take a reverse on that single lane, with the road at more that 45 degree altitude. I could have almost fallen off the road doing this. Even while I was doing all this circus, the Museum volunteer devotees didn’t even bother to help me or open the gate so that I could turn my car. This was even after requesting them. So much for the discipline instilled in them.

Finally, I managed to turn my car and that itself took so much time that we had to rush through the Museum within 20 min and head to the Indoor Sports Stadium. Here again, they were almost closing it down and my dad had to push through with us to enter the stadium. To our great relief, there was only a single entrance for men and women here.  So, we could go around the place together and get back quickly, as they were closing off all the things.

There are huge wonderful buidlings on the Ashram road like the Hostels, Schools, Music Hall, Space Centre etc. All of them were closed for visitors. Space Centre was supposedly open only on one day of the week and it was not to be the day we were there. We started clicking snaps of all these buildings and started planning our trip back.

After a quick lunch, we started back to Bangalore so that we could reach before it becomes dark. On the way, we stopped at the amazing Medical University and Hospital. We were luckily allowed inside . It was a very serene place and we really cherished this place after the hectic running around since morning.

The drive back was very fast and we reached Bangalore in two hours time. After entering Bangalore, it took us almost one more hour to reach our house due to the traffic which started piling on near Hebbal.

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Melkote

Posted by Seshu Thalluri on November 25, 2007

My in-laws had come over to bangalore and they were very keen on going to the only sri vaishnava temple in south india, which is in Melkote. As my sense of routes within bangalore itself is bad, and I didn’t know any person who had been to Melkote before, I did lot of searching on the net to get a proper route map. Luckily, I got enough details from the internet.

Melkote is almost 150km from our house near airport in bangalore. We need to take the Bangalore-Mysore highway untill Mandya. After Mandya, take a right turn and drive through the two lane town road for almost 40km. There are basically two temples here, one is Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple in the town and other is the Yoganarasimha temple, which it on the top of the hill.

We started early sunday morning at around 7pm. We included me, my wife, her mother and grandmother ! That was quite some responsibility on me. Luckily there was no rain and the weather was really great. As always, we had a good drive on the highway untill Mandya. We also made a stop at kamath lokaruchi for breakfast. But, once we got off the highway and entered the town, it was quite a narrow road and it took us a while to cover that distance of 40km. Finally, we reached Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple at around 10:30. I was really pleased to see that there was not much crowd even on weekend and there was a serene outlook to the place. After the darshan of all the gods in the temple, it was almost 1pm and we were really hungry. As its a small town, we couldn’t find any restaurants around. We packed some puliogare from the roadside stall near the temple and headed for Yoganarasimha temple.

Yoganarasimha temple was quite nearby, but we had to park the car almost near the bottom of the hill and walk all the way to the top. I guess, it was more than 100 steep steps to climb and I was not sure if my in-laws could walk all the way. But to my surprise, they were really determined and managed to walk to the hill top ! The temple was a bit crowded, as there was not much space to move around and we had a quick darshan. After the darshan, while we were looking around to sit for sometime, we just realized how much height we had covered. We could see a wonderful view of the whole town and there was cool breeze all around.

While coming down from the hill, there was a Kalyani (small pond) on the way. We stopped there for the much needed rest and had our puliogare lunch. Though the Kalyani was quite big, it was not so clean and we had to search around quite a bit to find a neat seating place. We stayed there for almost a couple of hours, and started back to Bangalore around 4pm. Though the return drive was a bit tiring due to traffic, it was a really enjoyable trip and we had a good time.

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Sivanasamudra

Posted by Seshu Thalluri on October 2, 2007

After lot of deliberation on a day of political turmoil in the city – 2nd Oct, we set upon a trip to Shivanasamudra. We started our trip around 7:30 in the morning, which is pretty early for us. We had managed to buy some snacks the day before. So, we could race along the Mysore Highway pretty much until 9:00, without a break. We usually stop at the Kamath Hotel or Cafe Coffee Day for breakfast. But, on a national holiday, it looked quite time consuming to try these joints, which are very overcrowded. So, we stopped at a decent eatery on the highway, which was 2-3km before Kamath Hotel. Had a quick snack and continued along the Mysore Highway. My friends advised us against taking the kanakpura route due to bad roads. Instead, we took the Ramanagaram, Channapatna, Maddur route. At Mandya, we took a diversion to the left, which leads to Malavalli. The road from Malavalli is not so good. A couple of long stretches about a km or two were extremely bad. I was just praying that the car will get us through the bad stretch without any puncture. Road to such a popular destination should have been better !

After some searching, we reached the first waterfalls, Gananachukki Falls around 11:00. The crowd was just coming in and we though we reached at the right time. The view of the falls was simply amazing. We completely forgot about the bad roads and everything else. We were just there, enjoying the falls. Its been a while since I have seen these falls at its full steam. We just didn’t want to move from there for a couple of hours.

After that, we headed to Barachukki Falls. And this was even more spectacular, with water gushing at full steam ! One good thing here is, there are no rails along, which block the view of the falls like Gananachukki. So, we felt as if we were very close to the falls, even from a long distance. It was a great experience and we spent a hour here.

We wanted to reach home before dark, as I am not so comfortable driving on the highway at night. So, we started back along the same route around 3pm and stopped at Kamath Hotel for a lunch-snack break. Finally, we reached bangalore before 6pm, which was what I was aiming for. Overall, it was an amazing trip and we will surely not miss the falls during monsoon next year.

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Anantapur Trip

Posted by Seshu Thalluri on April 5, 2007

We were planning to attend Dhananjay’s wedding at Anantapur, which is nearly 200km from Bangalore. After exploring all the travel options, we decided to take our car. One of the main reasons for this was, Anantapur falls on the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway, NH-7 and this stretch of the road was supposed to be really good. Anyways, the decision was made, and we (Me, My wife, Gopi and Praveen) started off from our office in Marathalli at around 3:45pm. As we hoped, the NH7 highway was pretty good, and it was a really cool drive. The only problem was the heat, as it was the beginning of April and was getting into the peak summer zone. We had to bear with the heat untill around 6pm, and after that it was fine. We reached Anantapur by 8pm. I was a bit nervous for the last one hour of our journey, as it was dark and I was driving on the highway. After some calling and searching around, we finally reached the marraige hall by 8:30pm, thanks to the directions of Gopi, who was a localite there for several of his schooling/college years.

We were planning to visit Lepakshi Nandi temple the next day. Its a deviation of about 60km from the route back to Bangalore. But, unfortunately, there was a state wide bandh call on that day, and there were incidents of road blockage. We just couldn’t go anywhere untill afternoon. We attended the wedding in the morning and just stayed back in the Hotel. As Gopi, was not joining us for the return journey, we were even more scared of getting stuck. Finally, we started our return journey at 3pm, after taking a properly sketched road map of getting on to the highway from Gopi. Instead of Gopi, Anil joined us in the return journey. Anil had come along with Adi and others by an overnight bus. It seems, they had arrived in Anantapur around 4 in the morning, and they had some hard time getting the Hotel room. Adi and others, were unlucky even for their return journey, as there were no buses untill 6pm, thanks to the bandh.

We loaded the car with some snacks and water bottles, thanks to the scortching summer heat. Even that couldn’t give us much respite, and we almost drove the whole journey with AC on. And Santro, with AC on, obviously didn’t give us that much speed and pickup. So, it took slightly more time to reach Bangalore, than we expected. We managed to reach Anil’s place by 7:30pm, without taking any breaks in between the journey, owing to my fear of driving on highways at night. We were lucky to get through quickly, even though there was a lot of office traffic, after entering Bangalore.

Overall, it was a nice trip. Had there been no Bandh, we could have enjoyed the trip even better 🙂

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Palace Estate

Posted by Seshu Thalluri on February 1, 2007

We had been planning to go to Coorg, and after all the research and Outlook Weekender scanning, we finally decided to head to Palace Estate, thanks to Binu’s travelogue. As I am often lost in directions, I was quite relieved when I got the route map from Binu, untill the last mile.

We started from Bangalore early morning, which is 7:30am for us. We couldn’t start earlier than that, even though we planned for 6am. As it was a long weekend, and as our early morning was not so early, we got caught in quite some traffic along the highway. When we reached Kamath Lokaruchi (which is almost 70 kms from our place near Bangalore airport), it was already 9am and was so crowded that the car parking was being done on the opposite side of the road. We skipped this, and headed to Cafe Coffee day, which is just a couple of miles ahead. Luckily, it was not that crowded and we managed to grab a bite quickly. The highway was excellent untill the fork, where road towards left heads to Khushal nagar, eventually to Madikeri. The other road is the one which we took, and it heads towards Virajpet. This road is a bit narrow, and its only two lane. So, it slowed down our journey, thanks to a lot of slow moving vehicles blocking our way. It took us almost a couple of hours to get through this and we breaked at Virajpet town for lunch at around 1 pm. We reached Palace Estate around 3pm. The last stretch of the road was not so good, but, I guess, when we are so close to nature, we shouldn’t expect great roads. We could feel the cool breeze and the great atmosphere during the last one hour of the journey. It made us ignore the quality of roads for a while.

When we arrived at Palace Estate, we were received by the host, Prasad Povanna. He was surprised that we showed up without calling in for directions, thanks to Binu’s route map. We had booked an accomodation in the cottage for Rs.1200/- per day for two days. The cottage was really great, and we had a good estate briefing by Prakash Povanna. It was really interesting to know about how estate works and how coffee plantation is done. After 6pm, the weather became quite chilly and we got into the cottage. As our cottage was in the 1st floor, we has a great view of the surrounding greenery. Around 8pm, we headed for dinner with Prasad Povanna’s family. Thats one the of good parts of being on a homestay. We get to dine with the family, in their dinning room.

Day 2 started off with a typical coorgi breakfast, again with the family. Here, we got to meet other guests too. After breakfast, we started for our trek on to thadianamol peak, which is the highesh point in coorg. We were told that the trek will take almost 2 hours. So, we just carried a water bottle for the trek. But, as it turned out that, we almost took 3 hours for crossing over another hill, enroute to the bottom of the actual hill. Our water reserves were over by then and the heat was getting on to our system at 1pm in the afternoon. It looked like, two more hours to reach the actual peak. So, we dropped the idea and the started heading back to the Estate. We thought of getting back to the Estate quickly, but it took us almost an hour. We couldn’t rush, as there were very steep paths all along the way. After Lunch at the homestay, we headed on a drive around the estate roads, visiting Iguvathappa temple on the way. The atmosphere at the temple was great, and we stayed there was a while. The best part was our drive along the estate roads. We were driving slowly, enjoying the great atmosphere. It is one of the best experiences we ever had.

Day 3, we visited a waterfall, within the estate. We were quite surprised to see a waterfall within the estate. The water is supposed to be very fresh and even drinkable. After breakfast, we headed for our return journey around 9:30 am. We wanted to visit Madikere on our return journey. So, instead of going back on the virajpet route, we headed towards Madikere. Even though the road towards Madikere was OK, it took us almost two and half hours to reach Madikere, due to the ghat roads all along. We visited the Raja Seat, which is the highest point in Madikere. It was a great experience and we just couldn’t get away from it. After that, we visited the nearby Museum, which was OK. Then, we headed towards Khushalnagar. This is one of the worst part of our journey. The roads here were so bad that we got completely stressed. We breaked at the Buddhist Monastry around 3pm. As we were quite tired already, we just had a quick look and started back. It was almost 5pm, when we hit the Mysore-Bangalore highway. Due to the holiday traffic, even this highway was choked. Finally, we managed to reach home by 8:30pm. As an afterthought, we really repented taking the khushal nagar route. It took us almost 11 hours to reach Bangalore on our return journey, including the breaks. So, the next time when we go there, we will surely comeback from Virajpet route.

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Trip to Singapore

Posted by Seshu Thalluri on November 29, 2006

We went to Singapore for our first wedding anniversary. We took a package tour called Singapore Surprise from SOTC. Though the package cost was slightly on the higher side, it has been a great experience. We were well taken care of and the tour was stress free. SOTC took care of everything including pickup/drop from/to the airport, hotel accomodation, daily breakfast/dinner and all the local tours. We had to pay only for daily lunch and we stopped over at some good indian restaurants with reasonable rates.

As SOTC has tie up with srilankan airlines, our tour started from Colombo instead of Singapore. We had to stay overnight in Colombo, as we had to take the early morning flight to Singapore. Our stay at Colombo was at a Beach Resort and we had a good time. We started to Singapore early next morning. We reached Singapore at 3:45pm and went straight to Sentosa Island. Here, we stayed over in Rasa Sentosa Resort, which is supposed to be the only beach front hotel in Singapore. The main tour attractions in Sentosa Island were the Dolphin Lagoon (There was a Dolphin show for 30 min), Musical fountain show (Awesome musical fountains showcasing special effects and cartoon figures on the fountains using laser techonogy I guess), Underwater world (It has a huge aquarium, and its a great experience to get so close to all those huge creatures), 4D magic (Its a 4D movie show for 30 min and its great), Carlsberg Sky tower (There is a revolving cabin, which takes us right on top of the tower, which is 131 metres high. We get a great view of the Singapore from here), Cable Car ride (This is again an amazing experience, with a great view of Singapore) and Singapore Museum (It started off with the show on the history of Singapore. The museum has great demo models, which look so real, depicting the history of Singapore right from when the immigrants started coming in, untill this day)

We checkout of Rasa Sentosa on the next day and checked into Swissotel, Stamford at the centre of Singapore. The good thing about this hotel is, it can be located even from a far distance, as its 76 floors tall. Also, there is a Raffles City Mall attached to this hotel itself. On the evening of Day 2, we went to the Night Safari. Here, we took a tram ride, which is about 45 min, inside the santuary. It was a good experience, being very close of the nocturnal animals. We saw everything from owls, deers, elephants, tigers, lions, rhino, hippo, zebra, girrafee and a lots of other animals. There is also an option to take a walk inside the santuary, but we were not so brave enough and were happy with the tram ride. After that, there was an animal show at the amphitheatre for 30 mins, which was not so great. Later, we had an indian dinner at a restaurant in the Night Safari itself.

Our Day 3 started off with a photo session from our hotel room in swissotel, which was on 26th floor. Around 8:30 am, we started off to Jurong Bird park, which hosts 8000 different types of birds. When we reached the bird park, we first took a tram ride inside the park. After that, we attended two shows in the amphitheatre, each showcasing different birds and their skills. These shows are awesome and we had a good time. From Jurong Bird Park, we headed straight to Mustafa, which is a famous shopping mall among Indians in Singapore. Its in a place called Little India, and it has everthing indian. We had a decent lunch at an indian restaurant here, and headed for shopping in Mustafa. After our shopping, we headed back to our hotel. We had some difficulty in getting a taxi, as it was supposed to be office time, and all the taxis were full. All the taxi fares start at $2.50 and in peak ours like office hours, they charge $2 extra. At about 7:30 pm, we had to start off to Hotel Novotel, where our dinner was being arranged. We had a decent Indian dinner there and came back walking to our Hotel (30 min walk), enjoying the night activities in Singapore. As Singapore’s day climate is quite humid and hot, most of the outdoor activities happen in the evening.

Our Day 4 started off with some more shopping around out Hotel. Later, we checked out of the hotel and started off to the airport around noon. At the airport, we claimed the GST refund, which is like the VAT refund and its 4% of the purchase cost. We can claim the refund if we have purchased anything above $300 at a single outlet. We can’t club bills from multiple outlets though ! As we were quite hungry by then, we started hunting for a restaurant and luckily found McDonalds outlet for our lunch. Our flight took off around 3:45pm and we reached Colombo by 5pm local time. We had the next flight from Colombo to Bangalore at 7pm. We reached Bangalore by 8:30 pm. Overall, it was a great experience !


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