Feeling Heady In Hyderabad


The Taj Falaknuma Palace – the restored Nizam’s Palace – is yet another jewel in the crown of the city that boasts of the Charminar

taj-falaknuma-palace-courtyardTo enter the Taj Falaknuma Palace involves many steps. You drive to the entrance of the 32-acre palace; then, get on a horse carriage, which takes you to the entrance. You are greeted with vetiver juice. A flag bearer carrying a golden flag-pole bearing a coat of arms marches ahead as you climb the white staircase. Then the rose petal shower.

Taj-Falaknuma-Palace-bWalk into the Ritz Carlton in Miami or George V in Paris and all you get is a form asking for your credit card details. Here in the East, we take hospitality much more seriously, garlanding our guests, giving them a welcome drink, offering them attar and sandalwood paste, or, in this instance, showering petals on them.

cn_image_2.size.taj-falaknuma-palace-hyderabad-india-112405-11Built by Vicar Ul-Umra, the prime minister and son-in-law of then the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1893, the Falaknuma (meaning ‘mirror of the sky’) has had a chequered history. Sir Vicar as he was called, built and inhabited it for a mere five years when he heard that the Nizam was coming for tea. Tea extended to dinner and then overnight. Twenty days later, the Nizam was still in residence. What happened next was typical of the tehzeeb or etiquette of the era, when words were pregnant with hidden meaning. Sir Vicar watched his master’s delight in the palace and the curious questions: “How have you built a palace so wonderful?” He intuited that the Nizam coveted the palace that he had bankrupted himself to build and decided to give it to the Nizam as a nasr or offering. “Huzoor, I have built it for you,” said he. That same evening, three generations of Sir Vicar’s family, along with their retinue of staff, moved out of the palace. To give up something so substantial is not easy for any person, but that was the ethos of the era. The Nizam insisted on paying more than what the palace had cost to build. He presented Sir Vicar with Rs 68 lakh (10 lakh = 1 million), small change for a man who was on the cover of Time magazine with the headline, “The richest man in the world.” The Nizam had his own currency, airline, railways, a fleet of Rolls-Royce, some of which were used to dump the household garbage, and the 48-carat Jacob’s diamond that rolled about his table in lieu of a paperweight.

The-Spectacular-Taj-Falaknuma-Palace-in-Hyderabad-11The Nizam’s family used the Falaknuma till after Independence, when they entertained India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1951. After that, the palace fell out of use and into disrepair till the current Nizam’s estranged wife, a princess belonging to the Turkish nobility, decided to restore it. Princess Esra Jah reconciled with her husband, the current Nizam, who lives in Australia, during her son’s wedding. In 2000, she decided to restore the palace in partnership with the Taj Group of Hotels. By then, the palace was in an advanced state of disrepair. Water poured through the roof, rats were running around, the furniture and upholstery were chipped and broken, and cobwebs hung throughout the place. “I was among the first persons to see the palace and it was scary,” says the historian, Mr. Prabhakar.

It took ten years and countless iterations to get the palace back into its pristine glory. The walls were painted a hundred times to match the shade that Princess Esra had in mind: the colour of the sky at dusk. Today, the Falaknuma is a Victorian pastiche of many architectural styles. There are Corinthian columns, Italian frescoes, Carrara marble fountains, Tudor arches, Venetian cut-glass chandeliers, French trompe d’0eil paintings that make cement look like wood, fleur de lis on stained glass windows, English paintings and upholstery. “Not one of the objects or influence is Indian,” says Mr Prabhakar proudly. The result is stunning but a little disconcerting. It is as if the palace was airlifted from Europe and placed atop the hill in Hyderabad.

char minarThe city sparkles far below as Sufi singers sing on the Gol Bangla’s terrace. It is a city built for love, when Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, whose portrait hangs in the Smithsonian, fell in love with a maiden called Bhagmati. In 1591, he moved his capital from Golconda to what was then a tiny village on the banks of the Musi village. He named the new city after his wife, Hyder Mahal. The city was modelled on Esfahan in Iran, with water-bodies for moon-watching, fountains, fragrant gardens and broad boulevards. When the bubonic plague hit the city, Quli Qutb Shah prayed to Allah to release his people from its clutches and built the Charminar (Four Minarets) in gratitude. Diagonally across from the Charminar is the Makkah Masjid, among the holiest shrines in India, built using soil and stones from Mecca. Ten thousand of the faithful can pray together here.

Today, the roads that radiate from the Charminar sell rhinestone-studded lac bangles that are a signature of the city. Countless shops glitter with these coloured gem-like ornaments. Vendors sell burqas, dupattas, vessels, fruits, knives, clothes, Unani medicines, orthopaedic massages and anything else that a person can need. It is a hub of humans and commerce. The Chowmuhallah Palace down the road is quieter. Built over 45 acres in the 18th century, it is now a museum and used for weddings and other ceremonies. Only 14 acres remain since the current Nizam fled to Turkey and then Australia to escape debt payments from his wives and concubines. I attend a wedding there one night. The palace is stunning when lit up at night. Tuberose garlands cast their heady scent and the aroma of slow-cooking biryanis makes the tongue pucker. This is a city that takes it meat seriously. Men can argue for hours over the right technique to cook patther ka gosht, or lamb seared on a stone slab.

lac benglesTextile expert Soraiya Hassan Bose belongs to an old family. Today, she and a band of weavers sell the state’s kalamkari and ikat weaves in her eponymous shop. Hyderabad’s hand-loomed, hand-woven textiles are known throughout the country for their quality.

Local fashion designers such as Anand Kabra use the state’s weaves in their designs and infuse it with a modern cut. Jewellery designer Suhani Pittie lives in a heritage mansion that houses her contemporary creations. Both are passionate about their home state and its rich traditions.

There are two Hyderabad today, one is the city around Hussein Sagar Lake; the modern city that attracts IT companies to its Hi-Tec City or Cyberabad. Then, there is the slower, more leisurely city that was created by kings and Nizams; the Hyderabad of slow-cooked meals and exquisite etiquette.

Courtesy by K.T.

Indian Restaurants in Kenya


Searching for Indian meals in Kenya? Below is the list of all the Indian Restaurants in Kenya.

Haandi Restaurant Ltd

Restaurants – Indian
The Mall Mezz Flr
P. O. Box 45398 – 00100 GPO Nairobi.
Tel: (20) – 4448294 Fax: (20) – 4445807

(The mall Shopping centre, Ring Rd, Westlands Mains Kshs 600-995)

An international award winner widely regarded as the best Indian restaurant in Kenya, Haandi has sister restaurants in Kampala, London and Middlesex and sells its own souvenir T-Shirts. The menu reads like a recipe book crossed with a guide to Indian cuisine, and includes a wonderful Mughlai (North Indian) and Tandoori dishes and plenty of vegetarian curries.

Opp Handi is Open House Restaurant – Good one

Chowpaty Pure Vegetarian Restaurant – good

(Shimmers Plaza, Westlands Rd, Westlands; mains Kshs 200-350)

A great Indian vegetarian restaurant. The menu is as much a manifesto as a food list, but the food is excellent and includes lots of South Indian dishes such as dhosa (lentil pancakes stuffed with vegetable curry)

Anghiti Restaurant  – Very Good Mix Veg + Non Veg.

 Rhapta Road, Westland, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 20 3740292

 Royal Kitchen – Mix Veg + Non Veg.

Westlamds road, Nairobi, Kenya

Mughal

Adams Arcade, Ngong Road, Nairobi, Kenya

Khazana  – Good One

AddressLimuru Road, Gigiri, Whispers & Runda | Inside Village Market Foodcourt, Nairobi, Kenya
020 2068818

Anghiti Restaurant Ltd

Restaurants – Indian
New Rehema Hse Gr Flr Rhapta Rd
P. O. Box 66205 – 00800 Westlands Nairobi.
Tel: (20) – 4442553 Fax: (20) – 4449637
Mobile: 734320330

Chowpaty Pure Vegetarian Restaurant


Restaurants – Indian
Diamond Plaza Gr Flr Masari Rd
P. O. Box 38652 – 00623 Parklands Nairobi.
Tel: (20) – 3755050 Fax: (20) – 3748150

Diamond Plaza – Famouse Mru’s Bhajia

M. P. Shah Hospital – Riya’s Restaurant Pure Veg. – Thali also available.

Opposite of M P Shah Hospital – Maharaja also good

 

Visit us at, www.adler-tours.com

Insider’s Guide to Mumbai


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Taj Mahal Palace

CALLING MUMBAI A MASH-UP would be an understatement. India’s most populous city is marked by an unrelenting convergence of high and low: Prada-clad women wait for fresh sugar-cane juice at corner street stalls, and luxury high rises overlook psychedelic street murals. In Mumbai (or Bombay, as most locals still call it), you can rub elbows with bankers, diamond merchants and film producers at velvet-roped bars, then step outside to grab some of the world’s best street food and watch the sun set at Chowpatty beach, whose atmosphere turns carnival-like in the evening. Uncomfortably hot in the summer, Mumbai swings into peak travel season now, with foreigners and NRIs (an official-turned-cheeky term for nonresident Indians) showing up in droves for vacations and weddings.

Though extreme poverty blights the city, a rich cultural renaissance is under way. Contemporary art galleries are fast multiplying in Colaba, Mumbai’s southern district. Boutiques from D7 in the western suburb of Bandra down to Bombay Electric and Le Mill in South Mumbai showcase local designers who marry traditional fabrics with edgy silhouettes. The city’s namesake film industry, Bollywood, employs more than 2.5 million people and churns out 700 to 800 movies a year, nearly as many as its American counterpart.

 

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (C.S.T) or The Victoria Terminus Mumbai

  • Significance: It has been declared a ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO.
  • Attraction: Victorian Gothic Style of Architecture
  • Built In: 1888

Located on India’s western coast, Mumbai served as a major port for the Portuguese and then the British from the 16th to 20th centuries. The colonial-style churches and Victorian Gothic buildings that dot the neighborhoods serve as a reminder of the city’s past, while a growing number of modern glass-encased high-rises (including Indian industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s much talked-about $1 billion, 27-story home) look to the future.

Once you’ve had your fill of galleries and fine dining, take a 1-hour ferry ride to visit Elephanta Island, where Hindu and Buddhist rock carvings—some dating back to the sixth century—will leave you awe-struck. Or head over to the stunning Chhatrapati Shivaji (formerly Victoria) train station and watch locals dash at rush hour. Mumbai suffers no shortage of shiny new toys, but it’s the city’s spirit that will have you hooked.

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 Madhur Jaffrey

The Foodie Madhur Jaffrey  Actress, food writer and cookbook author

Rare Eats // Britannia & Co. Parsi food is hard to find outside of private homes. Order the fish patra; and berry pulao, a rice dish made with barberries. And you must have a fresh lime soda. S S Ram Gulam Marg, opposite New Customs House, Fort, 91-22-2261-5264.

Bazaar Fruits // Crawford Market. It’s basically a market of seasonal produce. If you’re there in April or May, you should buy the Alphonso mangoes. Near Abdul Rehman Street, South Mumbai

Coco Central // Konkan Café. Beautiful fish with coconut and red chilis. Everything is shipped from the Konkan coast—they have more than a 100 coconuts shipped in every day. Taj President, 90 Cuffe Parade, vivantabytaj.com

Street Sweets // Bhendi Bazaar. This area is home to the Dawoodi Bohras, a Muslim community whose roots trace to Egypt and Yemen. You will find the most amazing sweets, such as halwa and jalebi (a sweet and crispy pretzel-like disc), in the lanes here. Near Mohammed Ali Road, Bhuleshwar

Restaurant claims to have made world's longest dosa

People carry a 32 feet (9.75m) long dosa, a south Indian crepe made for the promotion of the upcoming movie, “Quick Gun Murugun” in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

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Suketu Mehta

The Novelist Suketu Mehta Author of “Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found”

Snack and Sleep // The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. The grand hotel is back on its feet after being heavily damaged in the 2008 terrorist attacks. I like to go to the Sea Lounge and watch the Parsi families trying to arrange matches between their young over tea. Apollo Bunder Road, Colaba, tajhotels.com

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Daryl Visscher/Redux Pictures for The Wall Street Journal

Taj Mahal Palace

File:Buildings near Nariman Point, Mumbai.jpg

Buildings near Nariman Point, Mumbai

Great Greens // Shree Thaker Bhojanalay. An eating club that originally catered to migrant workers, it is now comfortably air-conditioned and still serving the greatest vegetarian meals I have ever eaten in a restaurant.31, Dadyseth Agiary Marg, Kalbadevi, 91-22-2201-1232

Strolling Grounds // Kamala Nehru Park. Everyone calls it the Hanging Gardens. When I’m jet-lagged and up at 5 a.m., I head to the top of the park, which has a fine view of the bay. Ridge Road at the top of Malabar Hill, Malabar Hill

Deep Fry // A. Ramanayak Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding. South Indian home cooking served on banana leaves. They will also let you watch as they fry terrifically crisp potato chips. LBS Market Building, 1st Floor, Matunga, 91-22-2414-2422

Words of Wonder // Strand Book Stall. You go to the Strand to look at books, talk about books, buy books. I sometimes shop for American and British novels there and have them shipped back to New York; it’s still cheaper. Sir P.M. Rd. Fort,strandbookstall.com

Maharashrian Mehdi decoration

the BEST bus in Mumbai

Local Bus Travel

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Anoushka Shankar

The Musician Sitar player, composer and daughter of Ravi Shankar

Sound Stage // Blue Frog. Surreally modern in its décor and design, it’s the only place in India that combines a music-centered auditorium with the casualness of a bar. There are international and Indian artists; usually it’s a live act followed by a DJ. Mathuradas Mill Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, bluefrog.co.in

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Daryl Visscher/Redux Pictures for The Wall Street Journal

Bombay Electric

Super Sands // Juhu Beach. I try to spend a minimum of an hour here. It’s a place where you really get the vastness of the people that call the city home. Everyone lands up on the beach to have an ice cream with their family. You see quite a variety of people. West Mumbai

Star Grazing // Indigo. This restaurant is in a restored bungalow and feels really warm and swanky at the same time. You can do that usual actor spotting, but the food is actually really good. 4 Mandlik Road, Colaba,foodindigo.com

Street Style // Fashion Street. Miles and miles of market stall shopping. I tend to buy several of those simplekurtas (cotton tunics) to wear over jeans, and stop and have street food.MG Road, South Mumbai

Cheeky Chic // Bombay Electric. This shop has really unique clothes and cool accessories, kitschy Indian things. Definitely for people who like clothing with a twist. 1 Reay House, Best Marg, Colaba, bombayelectric.in

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Raymond Bickson

The Hotelier Managing Director and CEO of Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces

Culture Cool // National Centre for the Performing Arts. There is a great mix of established work and experimental, Indian and Western classical. You cannot go wrong. NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, ncpamumbai.com

Abundance of Dishes // Trishna. We bring guests here, and they are stunned by the hundreds of items on the menu. The garlic-butter king crabs are the reason people return again and again. Birla Mansion, Sai Baba Marg (next to Commerce House), Fort, 91-22-2270-3213

Old Worlds // Phillips Antiques. I love to gaze at their beautiful treasures and maps, and check out any new collectibles. From carved cupboards to Gauri heads to oil lamps, it’s an authentic slice of the past. Madam Cama Road (opposite Regal Cinema), Colaba, phillipsantiques.com

Snack Attack // Camy Wafers. My daughters and I just love the fresh potato chips from this Colaba snack shop. 5-6 Oxford House (off Colaba Causeway), Colaba, 91-22-2282-8430

Restau-Disco // Shiro. This restaurant is a wonderful oasis in midtown. Friday night with music from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s is great fun. And the food is delicious.Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, shiro.co.in

Plus Don’t Miss…

Elco Pani Puri Center A legendarypani puri (crispy fried canapés) street stall that went brick and mortar. elcocateringservices.com //

Forest Essentials The place to load up on handmade soaps and creams, many of them laced with sandalwood, rose andmogra (a type of jasmine).forestessentialsindia.com //

Ahilaya A favorite for silk and cotton tunics in pastel hues. 91-22-2202-4053

Natural Ice Cream A must for the seasonal fruit-loaded ice creams likesitaphal (custard apple) and chikoo (sapota). naturalicecreams.in 

Enjoy Singapore Our Way!


Must go

Robertson Quay

If you enjoy soaking up the downtown vibe but appreciate a more laid back night out, I highly recommend this entertainment precinct. The quietest of Singapore’s three quays, you’ll find riverside restaurants and watering holes offering a range of quality cuisine from Australia to Japanese. The former specializes in the iconic Belgian dish of mussels with fires alongside a comprehensive list of beers, while the latter serves up a wicked selection of pizzas in an open kitchen concept such as one layered with mascarpone, mushrooms and black truffle oil

In recent times, the area has also become the haunt of coffee aficionados, who flock to Toby’s Estate and Kith. On the weekends, Robertson Quay transforms into a vibrant brunch spot some of Singapore’s best ones can be found here.


Club Street

Once dotted with Chinese clubs probably why it’s called Club Street where wealthy Chinese men in Singapore met and talked business, this pedestrian’s street with its rows of restored shop houses is now a favorite haunt of trend business executives to relax after office hours. Each restaurant, bar, club, hotel or gallery that lines the street has its own character, theme and décor, while the overall atmosphere is abuzz with chatter and laughter. Unlike Mohd Sultan or Boat Quay, Club Street has a tinge of 19th century colonial Singapore. Located in the Chinatown area.


Bollywood Veggies

Set on a four-hectare plot of agricultural land in the rural north-western suburb of Kranji, Bollywood Veggies  provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s urban jungle, Run by former president of Netball Singapore, Ivy Singh-Lim, the organic farm specializes in local produce cultivated without the aid of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or growth hormones.

Open Wednesday to Sunday from 09.00 till 18.30, this delightful oasis is best explored during he first half of the day when the weather is cooler. Take a leisurely strollor20-minute guided tour around the farm to survey the vast assortment of flora and fauna.

If you are hungry, home cooked meals are available at Poison Ivy Bistro, which uses ingredient plunked straight from the farm. Ivy Singh Lim often makes an appearance at the eatery to reminisce with customers about Singapore’s ‘good ol’ days’.


Night Safari

As the sun sets and darkness blankets the sky, get up close and personal with nocturnal creatures in their natural habitat at the Night Safari. Stretching over 35 hectare of tropical foliage, the safari is now home to 137 animals, 38 percent of which are endangered.

Visitors can choose to explore the safari on foot or by tram, though I would highly recommend venturing on the tram as well as the Leopard Trail, where felines including the elusive clouded leopard and the Malayam civet rest and play

The creatures of the Night Show, where one can catch the cheeky antics of animals are another not to be missed highlight.


Marina Barrage

Located at the mouth of the Singapore River, this urban reservoir opened too much fanfare in 2008 but interest has waned with bigger names like Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay popping up in the vicinity. This destination showcases Singapore’s technological prowess in water storage, and tours to the visitor centre can be arranged for groups. It is open round the clock, but head to the rooftop garden after sunset for panoramic views of Singapore’s ever changing skyline. Pack a camera and a picnic basket too.


The Esplanade

The grand dame of Singapore, the Esplanade hosts plays, dance recitals, concerts every day of the week and is home to the Mosaic Music Festival, Huayi Festival and Bay bests.

Known affectionately as the “the Durian” for its spiky exterior, the Esplanade also provides free performances by local artists in the lobby and the outdoor heater on most evenings, and a spectacular view of the lights of the Marina Bay area from its rooftop garden.

The Singapore River, the Merlion and the Singapore Flyer are within walking distance, which is a pleasure to do in the evening, with the breeze blowing in from the sea.


Marina Bay Sands Theatres

This venue, which houses two theatres, is current favourite haunt for musicals, and it is no surprise considering how some of the world’s best performances have been held here. I laughed and cried during Wicked, the Broadway Musical in March, had my breath taken away by Drum Tao The Art of Drum in August, and at the point of writing this i am looking forward to Avenue Q the Musical on September 29.

The two plush theatres share a spacious, well designed foyer with a magnificent wall made of mirrors. In fact, the beauty of this foyer makes me wish for longer intervals, which i usually spend enjoying a beer while browsing musical collectibles.

Spectacular performances coming up include the Bootleg Beatles (November 8-11) and Jersey Boys (November 20 to February 17, 2012)


Must See

National Museum of Singapore

Having been to some museums in other Asian cities, I have come to appreciate the educational and entertainment value offered by the exhibitors in the National Museum of Singapore. The Living Galleries make for quick and fun excursions through Singapore’s past, and I find the Food showcase particularly interesting. Learn how Singapore’s favorite dishes come to be, while listening to the sounds of street hawkers whipping up their fare.

If you have several hours on your hand, do visit the Singapore History Gallery. It offers visitors two ways to ‘see’ Singapore’s progress from the 14th century to modern times; the events path highlights major events in the city state’s past, while the personal path tells stories through the eyes of the man on the street. I am a fan of this gallery and have gone down both paths twice.


Gardens by the Bay

Singapore’s latest mega attraction is definitely with a ramble in, especially for tourists who prefer the city-state’s more natural offerings. The sprawling development has ‘super trees’ rising from the ground, which are unmissable when traveling from the airport into town. These 16- story high vertical gardens are captured by over 160,000 plants and also serve Eco friendly functions such as harvesting solar energy through their embedded photovoltaic cells. Don’t miss a visit to the two undulating glass conservatories. The Cloud Forest features a 35m tall waterfall cascading down into lush vegetation in a cool moist environment, while the flower Dome is home to a collection of colorful blooms from Mediterranean regions.

For those who want to kick the adventure up a notch, ascend the OCBC Sky-way for a panoramic view of the gardens and the surrounding city skyline.

I find the gardens more captivating at night, when the ‘trees’ glow in different hues as part of a light and sound show. The park is accessible via a pedestrian bridge from Marina Bay sands or by MRT (Bay front Station).


National Orchid Garden

While we now have a new mega garden, Gardens by the Bay, don’t ever forget the evergreen favorite, National Orchid Garden, located within the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The orchid is Singapore’s national flower and this orchid garden will make you feel you’re seeing the world’s largest orchid show unfold. The variety of orchids on display is just incredible, while the detailed information on each orchid variety is highly educational and interesting. The grounds are lovely and there are also thousands of tropical plants don’t forget the camera!


Little India

This is the second year in the row that I’m recommending visiting Little India, but if you’ve got time to spare on Sunday afternoon or evening, then there’s really no other place better to sample a slice of Singapore’s multicultural mishmash of a society.

Situated to the east of the Singapore River across from Chinatown and north of the Malay district, Kampong Glam, this Tamil ethnic enclave is absolutely swarming with foreign workers from the Indian subcontinent on Sundays. The hordes of workers, eager to meet up with comrades in familiar surroundings in their day off, literally turn the area into you guessed it a veritable semblance of being right smack in India.

That’s not all Little India has to offer though, Mustafa Center, a humongous 24 hours department store, sells everything under the sun at rock bottom process, while Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, built in 1881 and dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, attracts a steady stream of devotees.

Litter India also harbors the best Indian cuisine Singapore has to offer, including vegetarian favorites at Komalas Villas, and the very popular fish head curry at Banana Leaf Apollo.


Haji Lane

Tucked in a nondescript, narrow street in a Muslim enclave on the edge of the city centre, Haji Lance is a Mecca for fashionistas. Lined with hip, eclectic boutiques stocking indie, quirky and vintage collections, Haji Lane is reminiscent of Le Marais in Paris or Carnaby Street in London.

After a hectic day of sashaying though shops, pecking shoppers can stop by Café le Carre for an authentic Middle Eastern meal or Turkish coffee.


Kampong Glam

Singapore’s Malay Arab Quarter since the early 19th century, this historic enclave remains the heart of the country’s Muslim life despite taking on a hip, bohemian air in recent years. Myriad experiences can be had in this atmospheric neighborhood one can shop for scarves, custom a special perfume, smoke sheesha (water pipe), sip an artisan cup of coffee or savor a diverse array of Middle Eastern cuisines ranging from Lebanon to Turkish. Photographers are sure to have a field day in this vibrant district, with iconic architecture such as gold dome Sultan Mosque and rows and rows of giant heritage shop houses.


Haw Par Villa

More an eccentric genius garden than a theme park, and the subject of urban legends, Haw Par Villa was set up by two millionaire brothers in the 1930’s and features over 1,000 status depicting stories and scenes from Chinese folklore, including the famous Journey to the West.

A popular attraction in the 1980s when the park boasted live performances and a water ride, Haw Par Villa barely draws tourists now, despite the free admission. A real shame because the signature exhibit, a stroll through the 10 courts of hell, remains as gruesome and terrifying as ever. Visit for an offbeat, quirky break in pragmatic Singapore.


Must Eat

Ponggol Choon Seng Seafood Restaurant

Despite having dished out fresh seafood dishes to a loyal following of customers since 1956, this restaurant remains humble in its pricing and service is friendly and attentive. It sits in a lovely black and white colonial house on Turnhouse Road, a serene enclave in the Changi area. It is air-conditioned too, so you can dig into its signature seafood dishes such as chili crabs, crabs with salted eggs, black pepper crayfish and crispy baby squids in comfort. The restaurant also whips up an addictive dish of crispy shreds of duck meat wrapped in paper thin popiah skin.


Old Airport Road Food Centre

For a more authentic local dining experience, look slightly outside the city centre. The variety on offer is hard to beat; rows and rows of almost every Singaporean favorite imaginable can be found in this non air conditioned space, from noodles in prawn and pork rib broth to rojak, a traditional salad of turnip, pineapple, dough sticks and fried bean curd smothered in sweet sauce. It is debatable which stall offers the best wonton noodles (minced meat dumplings), but there are two famous ones that sit just a few spaces apart near the main road. To end off your meal, try one of the many soy-based deserts or crispy banana fritters.

With the recent opening of the circle line (Dakota is the nearest MRT station), the food centre has become a lot more convenient to get to. It is also a stone’s throw away from the indoor stadium, which plays host to many international concerts.


Jumbo seafood

There are two types of crab dishes that are indigenous to Singapore chili crab and black pepper crab. We are proud of them! If possible, order both (but choose a small crab to begin please), one at a time. But if you have appetite for only one, then I’d say (reluctantly), chili crabs.

Go to Jumbo Seafood branch in Dempsey Hill, as by doing this, you will combine a must eat with a must see. Dempsey Hill was formerly an army barrack; it has been rejuvenated with all sorts of F&B outlets and antique shops. Reservations for Jumbo Seafood are recommended.


2am: Dessert bar

If you’re looking for a unique dessert and wine venue to while away till the wee hours of the mornings, then look no further than 2am: Dessertbar, tucked away in a corner of Holland Village.

Open Mondays to Saturdays from 18.00 till 02.00 (hence the branding), the place is helmed by chef – owner Janice Wong, whose groundbreaking dessert creations have been earning rave reviews from some of the world’s most celebrated culinary aficionados.

The place is a haven for trying innovative desserts. Favorites include Basil White Chocolate with Textures of Passion fruit, Purple Potato Puree with Blackberry Parfait and Kayambe H20 (concocted from 72 per cent Michel Cluizel dark chocolate and Evian mineral water). If you’re game enough, go for the 4×4 desserts & Wine Degustation.


Salt Grill & Sky Bar

Australian celebrity chef Luke Mangan’s sixth homage to Pacific Rim Cuisine, Salt Grill & sky Bar, is perched on the 55th to 56th floor of the iconic Ion Orchard.

Salt exudes laid back sophistication, tinged with a hint of glamour. Housed in a vast atrium, the restaurant’s minimalistic interior is decked in white, complemented by a fusion of neutral and deep shades of red. Illuminated blocks of glass, concrete and steel, framed by cathedral like windows, provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic dinner for two. By day, the restaurant is a hub for power lunches.

Dishes are wholesome, unpretentious and suitably sublime, deftly made from the best seasonal Australian produce on offer and accented by bold Asian flavors. Menus are seasonal in nature, and diners have a tantalizing choice of prix fixe, degustation and a la carte selection.

The sky Bar is tiny compared to the immense expanse of restaurant, but it does not disappoint. As with the main dining area, it is invitingly warm, and its cocktails are prepared with flair and taste absolutely divine.


Thasevi Food

A culinary institution synonymous with the ultimate Singaporean comfort food, Thasevi draws Singaporeans of all stripes to its no frills shop in Jalan Kayu for their roti prata, fried discs of dough often eaten drenched in curry. Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper (they open late), the versatile roti prata can be ordered kosong if you want it plain, with egg it you’re a little hungrier, or with banana, for a sweet twist to a savory dish. For the kid in you order a Milo Dinosaur – the chocolate malt drink come topped with a generous heap of Milo powder for a midnight sugar rush.

Vegetarian and Indian Food in Thailand


 

 

Have some dessert then detox !


Legend of India

What

Legend of India is a fine dining restaurant with a bar, flat-screen TV showing Bollywood movies and a desert takeout counter.

Why

There are not many Indian restaurant in the Philippines but this one along Jupiter Street in the Makati business area has become popular among food critics who gush at its authentic and tasty Indian food prepared by chefs who are, of course, Indian nationals.

Contact

Tel: (632) 836-4232

E-mail: kegendofindia@ymail.com

Remington Hotel

What

Remington Hotel is the newest addition to Resorts World   Manila’s lodging options. Catering to the budget conscious traveler, it offers 623 standard hotel rooms and 89 serviced apartments.

Why

Guests get access to the same gaming and entertainment complex for less. Published rates are 3,900 pesos (US$93) for a standard room and 4900 pesos for a serviced apartment. Both have a maximum occupancy of two adults and two children.

Indian travelers with dietary concerns can also bring their own food to cook in the serviced apartments, which have microwave ovens, refrigerators and electric kettles.

Contact

Tel: (632) 908-8000

Website: http://www.rwmanila.com

The Farm at San Benito

What

Shroff International Travel care is offering a Health and Wellness package with 20 percent discount for 2D/1N weekday or 3D/2N weekend accommodation at The Farm at San Benito in Batangas, a few hours’ drive from Manila.

Why

Those seeking a rejuvenating experience will find it at the upscale wellness centre, which includes an orientation on holistic health services, daily movement and fitness activities such as yoga, meditation, circuit training and aqua aerobics, daily gourmet breakfast, afternoon tea, healthy snacks and more.

Contact

Tel: (632) 524-2222/3636

Email: msrketing@shrofftravel.com

 

Philippine Airlines’ Swing around

What

The national carrier’s Swingaround package airfare and hotel accommodation until March 31, 2013.

Why

included are the Philippine destination o Manila, Cebu, Boracay and Legazpi City in Albay. An optional in Manila is the Jeepney Tours, which includes airport arrivals and hotel transfers. Sale of packages through ravel consultants is restricted to the country where the tour originates.

Contact

Website: http://www.philippineairlines.com

 

A Bounty of Macanese Delights


Ice World 2012

What

The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel will be hosting Ice World 2012 from May 19 until September 16 at the cotai Expo Hall F. Open from 12.00 to 20.00 daily, the 1,670m2 winter wonderland is kept at -8 degree C. Highlights include a Fairy Tale Forest with a pumpkin carriage against a backdrop of a frozen waterfall and lake, famed international landmarks, an ice labyrinth and a double slide.

Why

Suitable for families of all ages, Ice World provides a cool respite from summer heat, while offering an opportunity to view unique sculptures created by Harbin’s finest ice carvers.

Contact Tel: (853) 2882-8888
Website: http://www.venetianmacao.com


Conrad Macao, Cotao Central

What

Overlooking the Cotai Strip, the luxurious 39-storey hotel opened in April with 636 rooms and suites. Facilities include outdoor heated pools and Jacuzzi with cabanas and daybeds, expansive meeting spaces, a spa and several restaurants. The Conrad Club has 24-hour concierge and butler service.

Why

The resort will suit discerning guests seeking style and luxury, with convenient access to retail, entertainment and dining options on the Cotai Strip.

Contact Tel: (853) 8113-6000
Website http://www.conradmacao.com


Indian Spice

What

The restaurant offers a plethora of North Indian dishes and a new tapas menu featuring an eclectic mix of Indian snacks and papri chaat and bhel puri. Open from 12.00 to 23.00, the 74 pax restaurant also offers outdoor seating amid a landscaped garden with views of water fountains.

Its sister branch, Indian Spice Express, is located at the Grand Canal Shoppes Food Court of the Venetian.

Why

Indian spice provides a gourmet experience and personalized service in intimate surroundings, while Indian Spice Express is ideal for those seeking a break from shopping.

Contact Tel:(853) 2872-2784
Website: http://www.indianspicemacau.com


See Macau Pass

What

This Sightseeing smart card allows users to select three out of five options: a free trip from Hong Kong by TurboJET, entry to Macau Tower Observation Deck, one day tour on the Open Top Bus Macau, Macau Harbour cruise and a Galaxy Macau meal voucher. Additional benefits include discounts at AJ Hackett Macau Tower and tickets to watch House of Dancing Water. Priced at HK $279 for adults (13 years and over) and HK $ 229 for children, the pass iss valid for one month once activated and comes with on pocket guide.

Why

Offering value, convenience and choice, this pass allows users to visit Macau’s attractions with saving of up to 40 per cent.

Contact Tel: (852)2851-4422
Website: http://www.seemacaupass.com

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