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As the huge flock of ducks wade through the vast waters in rhythm, tails wagging, a blue-green kingfisher waits for tiny fishes on the palm frond of a coconut tree. Her eyes prod the water depths and she concentrates hard. On the narrow squishy bund, hemmed by coconut trees, a boy rides his cycle. A man squats to fish with his rod. Through the narrow inland canal, a lady rows her little boat with ease, as through riding on the road.

the lady and her boat

the lady and her boat

The lake pulses through, touching the lives of all its bounty. To the outsider, the lake and the life around it, is fascinating, novel treasure trove. But to the people who call it a way of life, the waterways and boats make a lifeline.

As I sit back sipping fresh coconut water on the deck of my houseboat on the lake of Vembanad, the largest lake in Kerala, I am swept into a spellbound frenzy of utter calmness. Truly therapeutic.

Alappuzha or Alappey is called the Venice of the east for no small reason. An integral part of Kerala tourism brochures and Kerala’s brand name, Alappey also stands apart in conservation and development of environment, simultaneously. These cluster of islands, separated by cutting lakes, boasts of excellent sun-kissed beaches and aquamarine lagoons in its kitty. This waterway district of Kerala is connected via roadways to Cochin (a port city in Kerala) and by trains (Chennai – Alappey; regular) and air (Cochin International Airport).

 

Life's so

Life’s so

The houseboats are a prime attraction of Alappey; a journey that truly stands for its name. These feature without fail, with the description of Kerala. The house boat is a large wooden boat (or Kettuvallom) that homes rooms and beds with necessities for tourists to detox from the city for two days. The steamers of the boat, catch fresh fish from the lake and cook it in spicy gravy. Small boats ply across gigantic houseboats, a scene so must-see! They wade through the lake, from noon to the next day, as those who hired it, sit back, stretch on the veranda seats and awe into the freshest of air and calmest of moments.

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Backwaters

Backwaters

 

Stepping out of the Alappey train station, a 2 km walk towards the road on its immediate left, takes one to the Alappey main beach. This beach, in the wee hours of morning, was just being touched by sunrays as the sand shone gold. There are shade halls to sit, European restaurants on the road sides that are prepping up for the day and few camels chewing cud, offering a ride or two, to tourists through the beach. From the previous night of cold air, the sand gives small chills. The waves lend its core warmth as I dip my feet into the sea. A bunch of youngsters play volleyball on the beach and a few snack shops on the pavement, swell with the aroma of fresh tea being made. Life was just waking up here. An old dilapidated bridge looks into the sea in one corner

 

Hiring an auto for 30 INR, I move to an area called The Finishing Point, a harbour where the trawlers and houseboats dock. My pre-booked houseboat (single occupancy for a day) was waiting for me, as I climb in, to be welcomed by drinks and cake. As the two caretakers of the boat steers the large beauty into the waters, as the life outside slowly unwinds. I am served piping hot breakfast of Idli, Sambar, vada, tea and fruits. Calmly savouring all that’s on my plate, I do not need to think much here, I just need to relax. It was raining when I decided to take this journey, and I am glad I did. Only because nature lends its best when the rain touches the soil; Alappey is class apart during rains as well.

Beauty this is!

as gorgeous as the nature!

Outside the bund, hemming the lagoons, on the side with no water, paddy fields pranced with the wind, scarecrows looking at the tourists with grumpy eyes.  Flocks of ducks peck at earthworms. Huge cows graze. At certain ends, group of people wait on a raised deck for passenger boats. Fishermen wait patiently on small boats with the rods and peg. Crows swoop in to snatch some. Shops selling cool drinks and fishes open up on the land. A small farm selling fresh water shrimp, has a houseboat parked in front of it. Some men bargain on the price, and my boatmen steered the boat to that end. It was lunch time and then I realized, time never mattered on this boat deck, it just had to go!

Yummy fish fry - a part of the lunch

Yummy fish fry – a part of the lunch

After the heavy lunch of fresh fish and rice, the boatman inquires whether I’d like a vallom ride for 250 INR, through one of the canals on the lake. I was curious as an old boatman appeared in front of me, with his dripping oar and a small boat, swaying on the waves, behind him. This has to be exciting and without thinking much, I jumped at the offer. I slowly balanced myself into the little vallom, as the old boatman, hands me another oar as I was supposed to row as well! I settle myself on the vallom, as the little boat moves cutting through the water, into the canals, surrounding which there were settlements and houses.

Beauty!

Green Beauty!

Because of the rains, all houses were flooded and that was sad to see. It was also surprising that the flooding hardly mattered to the folks inside, they just moved on with their lives! Some folks were fishing, while others washed their clothes. The narrow canal could hardly take in two small boats.

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Two school children rowed past us quickly and it was evident they rowed every day. A toddy tapper climbing on a coconut tree on the bund, inquires loudly if I’d like some fresh toddy.

Life in Alappey. A gentleman tries his luck in fishing, in front of his home.

Life in Alappey. A gentleman tries his luck in fishing, in front of his home.

Thanking him, I rowed on. The old boatman was stronger despite his age as I fumbled with my rowing. After a 2 km of rowing the boat, I was tired like never!

As I reach back my houseboat, I am exhausted off all my energy, I needed some snack! The caretakers had prepared some banana fritters and tea by that time that it was licked clean, off my plate in a jiffy! A huge hawk with button eyes and white neck, perches on the tip of the boat deck, paying a visit, but before I could click a photo of it, it flies away, into the patchy blue sky. As I look on, a number of houseboats ply through the water, and they look so mesmerizing from the far.

Yummy yummy banana fritters!

Yummy yummy banana fritters!

Cosy houseboats that have huge houseboats were my service providers for this journey. Their houseboats are big, clean and well maintained as I noticed. The prices for the houseboat services (inclusive of food as per requirement and facilities; excluding the tip) can be availed on their website. This company’s services particularly felt apt for budget travelers. My entire journey from my home and back came in less than 5000 INR and that by no means is a joke. Customization of the trip is also possible and they provide such friendly caretakers that it’s such a warm and serene experience.

That's the drama, clouds!

That’s the drama, clouds!

It is always advised to visit Alappey and have a houseboat journey during rains, because the beauty that your eyes see around you during rains, cannot be measured by any means. I thoroughly enjoyed my food, stay and overall experience. The only qualm I did have was my lack of intuitiveness to carry an umbrella! As simple as that.  Wait to visit Alappey and be spellbound; that’s no hearsay, and that’s a promise!

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highly expressive, roaring appetite for books, food and design; have occasional bouts of flippancy to all things needed. Always hungry for Biryani. Nomad. Binger. Lover.

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India

Why Visit Ooty in Summers?

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Ooty is branded as the Queen of Hills, and it is because of its sheer beauty and radiance. The city is alluring throughout the year, and it makes up for a perfect destination for a year-round trip. Ooty is nestled between the beautiful the Nilgiri Hills and remains one of the favorite tourist destinations for people looking for a low-key travel destination.

The ideal time to visit Ooty is from March to June since the temperature stays below 20 degree Celsius. Although winters can be chilly, the summer is where the colors are at! The monsoon season brings greenery and fresh winds to complement the atmosphere.

Since most people visit Ooty in summers; it makes sense to look for 5 star hotels in Ooty beforehand. Travel websites offer incredible deals on flights, and hotels. You need a one-stop solution for a trip that makes your life easier and convenient.

Here’s a list of places that you should visit on a summer trip to Ooty!

Ride the Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

flickr/lomadi

Constructed by the British in 1908, The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a world heritage site. The 46-km toy train journey commences from Mettupalayam and covers beautiful tunnels, curves, bridges and more to reach Ooty. On the way, a traveler is greeted by beautiful lush green foliage and the Nilgiri hills. The train goes from 300 feet to 7200 feet and will make paint some breathtaking views in your psyche. The valley view is enchanting and magical!

Ooty Lake

Picturesque Emerald Lake

flickr/sankaracs

A popular destination in Ooty, the lake was built in 1825 and is about 2.5km long. One can go for picnics, paddle boating and enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the Nilgiris. Make sure you reach Ooty Lake post lunch to enjoy the summer time breeze!

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Doddabetta Park

Doddabetta Park

flickr/ganuullu

Standing at a peak altitude of 8,600 feet, Doddabetta Peak is the highest point in Southern India. It gives users a breathtaking view of the Nilgiris and is a must visit spot of Ooty. The panoramic views will leave you gasping for breath; such is the beauty of this place.

Pykara Waterfall

Pykara Waterfall

flickr/deepgoswami

Located at about 20kms from Ooty, Pykara Waterfall makes up for a great outing. It is surrounded by pine trees, a lake, and the waterfall itself. People usually come here for picnic and adventurists can do some speed boating on the lake. If you are going with your beloved, the walk through the pine trees is especially magical!

Botanical Garden

ooty botanical garden

flickr/abgpt

The botanical garden is spread over 22 hectares and hosts more than 650 species of flowers and trees. It is a delight for any nature lover, and more so if you are a horticulturist. There is a 20million-year-old tree nested inside which is a major attraction for tourists. A tribe called Toba is settled on the top of the Botanical Garden, and their culture is evident in the surroundings.

Stone House

A paradise for history buffs, the Stone House was built in the year of 1822. It hosts several ancient relics and has an amazing architecture to go with it! It is also the first Bungalow of Ooty, and today it hosts the Government Art College in its premises.

If you are scheduling to visit Ooty, then April to June remains the best season for a mesmerizing tourist experience. The weather is pleasant, and you might even get to experience the first glimpse of a monsoon! Visit it in summer and wake up to the misty clouds. A travel website usually makes the process easier, and you can find solutions for all your needs in one place. Yatra, MakeMyTrip, and others are famous in India for their offers and seamless, straightforward services. Ooty is a spellbinding place, and you should put it on your list for a happy summer!

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Growing Economies: Interesting Places Ripe For Investment

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Whether you are looking to move abroad to start a new life or want to take your business into a new and exciting marketplace, there are a few interesting options out there that might be worth checking out. While the ‘safe bets’ of the United States, China, and the major European nations will always be attractive, scratch beneath the bigger economies and you will find plenty of opportunities.

While moving to one of these places on the plane might be something of a risk, it’s also important to remember that being brave can often pay off. Smaller, developing nations can often be home to an exciting environment that offers astonishing rates of growth. Here are some of the best, up and coming areas in the world that might be worth your time.

Malaysia

Petrona towers malaysia

Malaysia might be a small country of 29 million people, but its economy has been showing some encouraging signs in recent years. The nation has worked hard to reduce poverty levels in the past half-century or so, and while it was affected by the global financial crisis in 2009, it has bounced back quickly. Cheap manufacturing costs and little bureaucracy in business regulations means that Malaysia is open for business in a big way.

Czech Republic

Prague czech republic

For such a relatively young nation, the Czech Republic has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and is now one the best opportunities for business people in Europe. It has a GDP of around $205.3 billion and is well known for its welcoming nature towards entrepreneurialism and business. It’s also politically and economically stable and has a reasonably well-developed social backbone that provides citizens with a good life overall.

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Poland

Warsaw Poland

Poland is another European nation well worth checking out if you have a business. The country provides an excellent environment for entrepreneurs. The population is well educated, and Poland also offers one of the most skilled workforces in the world. It’s well-placed, too, with easy access to the rest of Europe. While many Poles moved to different nations when they joined the EU, it’s interesting to note that many are now returning.

Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

Dubai UAE

The UAE has been of interest to many major global companies for many years now. But there are more opportunities there than you might think. Ras Al Khaimah has always lived in the shadow of its neighbors in the United Arab Emirates – Dubai and Abu Dhabi are a good example of this. However, there is a lot of potential in the small emirate known as RAK, thanks in no small part to the leadership of the Al Qasimi family. A quick look at the Al Qasimi family history reveals the influence they have had on the nation-state, and it is now a place that welcomes business opportunities from around the world. It is also one of the fastest growing areas on the planet for tourism, and able to rely less on sales of oil than its sister emirates in the UAE.

Singapore

Singapore

The former British colony is known as one of Asia’s four economic tigers, and there has been incredible growth over the past few years, particularly in the technology and pharmaceutical sectors. With low unemployment and high GDP per capita, it’s easy to see why so many businesses are looking to enter the Asian market head to Singapore first. And you won’t be alone – immigrants are expected to make up half the population by as early as 20130. It’s a dynamic place in the world, full of movers and shakers and is known as one of the most welcoming nations for entrepreneurs.

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India

Mumbai

While India has slipped from its top spot of recent years, it’s still a place where investment can pay off. It’s a fast-growing, diverse economy that has an incredibly skilled workforce. Given its workers are well-educated and English-speaking, it’s a no-brainer for many entrepreneurs who want to invest in technology, business outsourcing, and software. In fact, India is ranked Number 3 in the world for differentiation, and its unique business environments mean that many movers and shakers thrive in the country.

Thailand

Bangkok

It’s well worth investigating Thailand for business opportunities. It’s especially true if you are in the manufacturing or agricultural industries, as these are the two sectors which tend to keep unemployment and poverty low, and the economy has been growing steadily over the past decade or so. Tourism is another industry worth investigating – especially if you have an interest in the more adventurous activities that go down a storm with backpackers and holidaymakers. It’s incredibly welcoming to new businesses moving to the area, too, and if you are looking for a place with something different, Thailand has a lot going for it.

Israel

Israel jerusalem

Israel isn’t without its risks, of course, given its location in the complicated Middle East region. But it’s one of the best nations in the world for opportunities in the technology sector and is an incredibly advanced economy. The people are well educated, and Israeli culture has a lot of influence throughout the world in many different areas, including science, the arts, and politics. Yes, there are plenty of terrorist threats to contend with, but as we have seen everywhere else in the world, it’s not just a problem in the Middle East. And the simple fact is that it is a great environment for all kinds of entrepreneurs, and offers a high quality of life to its residents.

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Indonesia

Jakarta Indonesia

The Indonesian Islands cover a vast area in the sweet spot between Asia and Australia, and the archipelagos are a natural bridge between two continents, making it an attractive proposition for many entrepreneurs. Indonesia enjoys the largest economy in the region and is known as one of the world’s richest nations. Major exports include natural gas and crude oil, palm oil, and coffee and cocoa. But it’s also becoming something of a centre for technology in the region, and many entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the super cheap manufacturing costs in Indonesia.

Any of these countries tickle your fancy? Let us know about them in the comments section below.

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Welcome to the Emirates: Things to see in Dubai

Berezhnaya Anna

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Being one of the richest cities in the world, Dubai indeed is like a Cinderella fairy tale. Just until 1940s, the inhabitants searched for pearls in order to change it for food, who would have ever guessed! However, when the Japanese had figured out the way to produce artificial pearls, Dubai lost its crystal-clear shoe and faced the crisis. As I mentioned it as a fairy-tale, later oil was discovered in the region around the city, and beautiful skyscrapers, huge shopping malls and ingenious water were born, calling and luring for tourists. Even though it is not the capital of the United Arab Emirates unlike Abu Dhabi, it is proud of its modern architectural beauty  and is a fairy acknowledged as one of the fanciest resorts ever. Following are the various things to see in Dubai.

1. Burj Khalifa

burj khalifa dubai

flickr/chusico

Have you ever been on 124th floor? If you haven’t, then pack your suitcase and come to see the Burj Khalifa. World’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa reaches the height of 828 m. There is no doubt that your eyes and soul will catch the greatest view from the top, a glimpse of heaven. Inside the giant tower, there are offices and apartments, it even houses the Armani Hotel.

It’s very easy to book a ticket online for the observation desk, enjoy the greatness of Dubai from the top of the world with a glass of champagne.

2. The Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding

The Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding

flickr/lori_greig

Some special characteristics of Emirates’ culture are still not fully understandable by the visitors. The Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding is a place where all the answers are uncovered. “Open doors, open minds” is the tagline which represents the goal of the center: to wipe out the culture and national differences and find common things. A host will give you the understanding of Muslim world and a plunge into new cultural atmosphere will be inevitable for you.

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3. Wild Wadi Water Park

wild wadi water park dubai

flickr/sackerman519

Zig-zag water roads, exciting rides, big-wave pool and a 33m-high Jumeirah Sceirah slide that drops you at the speed of 80km/h – all this is an imaginarium place for adventure lovers. People of all ages find this place magical and exciting. The theme of Wild Wadi Water Park is inspired by Arabian adventurer named Juha and his friend Sinbad – the sailor, who got shipwrecked. Keep an eye on their official website to find a great deal with available discounts. While riding the crazy slides, try to breath deeply and block your nose in time because the trip will blow your mind!

4. The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall

flickr/pyb

After a good relaxing view of sunset at Burj Khalifa, exploring Middle-Eastern culture and water sports comes the shopping time. Your trip to Dubai is not complete without visiting these marvelous shopping malls. And what can be better than to shop and have fun at the same time? Whether you want to shop or not, you will not regret being here.  Spread over 350244 m², consisting of over 1200 shops, Dubai Mall has almost everything for you to have a good time and spend some (or a lot of) money. Dubai Mall is also home to the Gold Souk – the biggest gold market in the world, KidZania, a skating ring – where you can leave your kids while you shop, and The Groove – a street under the moving roof. Above all, Dubai Mall also houses world’s largest indoor aquarium having more than 33000 species of sea inhabitants. You can imagine how gigantic is this mall.

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5. Dubai Fountains

Dubai fountains

flickr/thewilkybarkid

Watching massive Dubai Fountains dancing in a rhythm can only be described as a jaw-dropping experience, It is a night light show where fountains create various colorful patterns! It is the best way to conclude your trip to Dubai. If you come here in winter don’t forget to book a table near the show at The Mango Tree. The water musicians amuse with their strength and glory. They are taller, louder and even bigger than the alike fountains in Vegas. Without any second opinion, it’s a must-see place.

Believe it or not, the second capital of United Arab Emirates is Dubai, the Cinderella. And it is a complete package in itself for a family vacation: relaxation, things to do that you can never do in any other city, distinctive culture and unforgettable adventures.

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