Sunday, December 01, 2013


This one has taken a long time writing, but here it is finally:

A trip was long pending and Thailand seemed a decent enough place to head to. We had 5 days in all and - as we understand now - this is not enough time to see Thailand. Even the little bit that we wanted to see. But no complains. We had a fabulous time.

A couple of friends gave us some great tips about planning the trip, so for a change we had a plan

The plan:

- Give Bangkok and Phuket miss, except for transit
- See as much of Phi Phi and Krabi as possible
- Relax and see more of one place rather than little of many places

Indians do have the "luxury" of a visa on arrival in Bangkok, but we chose to get a visa in advance. It costs slightly more but definitely helps avoid queuing up for a visa in Bangkok and it was quite easy to obtain:
  • Visit the visa site here, fill up the form (make sure you pick the Chennai one if from South India or the Delhi one if from the North), head to the VFS office, and you are done. 
  • You just need to make sure to book hotels and flights in advance. If you are not sure about the hotels, just book some cheaper ones that allow full refund. Get the visa and then cancel the bookings.
  • Make sure you submit the application in time, as the embassy asks for at least 7 days to process the visa. You should get it back in 4-5 days time though.
Our itinerary looked something like this

Day1: Bangalore > Bangkok >Phuket.
Reach Phuket at around noon. Spend the second half doing some local sight seeing.

Day2: Take the early morning boat to Phi Phi Don. 

Day3: Take the afternoon boat from Phi Phi to Krabi

Day4: See more of Krabi

Day5: Leave for Bangkok from Krabi and from there back home.


We had booked into "Deevana Patong", in the patong area. While the hotel is very nice, it is a little distance from the Patong beach, so it is advisable to get a place to stay near the beach if you prefer a taste of Phuket's night-life.
We took the shared mini-bus from the Airport to Patong which cost us 180Baht per head and was much cheaper than hiring a cab. However, be prepared to stop for about 10 minutes mid-journey and listen to a sales pitch about the attractions in and around Patong. 

Phuket has the infamous Bangla road, a crowded Patong beach, a Giant Buddha, a show called Fantasea and some day trips that you can do to some of the nearby islands.

Since we just had an evening we decided to go see the Giant Buddha, which sits atop a hill and affords some good views of Phuket. We hired a 'tuk-tuk' which was a cheaper alternative to hiring a taxi, but took that much more time to climb the hill. The Buddha was still under construction so parts of it were covered, but the view from the top were quite nice.

We visited the Fantasea show in the evening, and this was a mistake. The show/play had no script and was extremely boring. I hate animals being used in shows, and this one had elephants and other animals on stage, that were forced to do some tricks. Waste of time.

Since we did not have that extra day in Phuket, we missed doing the James Bond Island tour that is touted to be a must-see place. We also missed going to Bangla road, but that may not have been such a bad thing.

Phi Phi Don

Phi Phi is a lovely island, about a 2 hour boat ride away from Phuket. We took the morning boat from Phuket to Phi Phi. The day was rainy and it was drizzled through the entire boat ride.

Since we had planned to take the boat to Krabi eventually from Phuket, we bought tickets accordingly. These are flexible tickets and you get them for cheaper if bought together than if you were to buy each trip separately.

Phi-phi don is a tiny island that has no motor vehicles, so if you get a hotel, make sure you get one in walking distance of the main beach (Ton Sai Bay) where the jetty is. The roads are easily navigable by foot and though we stayed at a place in Loh Dalum Bay, the walk was not too bad, as long as it isn't raining.

Phi Phi was awesome, we hired a long-tail boat that took us for a half day trip to the islets around, which included the fantastic Maya bay and the serene Mosquito island. Fortunately the skies had cleared up and we had a great time.

The next day had us scuba diving in what was the beginning of a storm! Both Amruta and I cannot swim, but love the water, so we were happy to dive into the boiling waters under an overcast sky. The experience was fantastic and our instructor was very helpful and patient. I did realise that my ear does not adjust very well to changes in pressure, but it was good fun.

 We went diving via "World Dive Centre". The boat took us to the dive site in the morning, we had two dives, each lasting about an hour with lunch in between. So worth the time and the money.

We ate almost everyday in "Ton Sai Bay Seafood"  restaurant, which had some great sea food options. Internet reviews show this restaurant in a bad light, but the food was amazing so I would highly recommend this place. The food is easily washed down with a couple of pints of the local Singha Beer :)

The two day stay was just perfect in Phi Phi Don and we left for Krabi by boat that very afternoon.


Krabi is a quiet town, great for just lying back and relaxing. We did stayed at the fantastic Mercure Krabi Deevana, located in Ao Nang, the prime beach area in Krabi. The hotel itself is  a little away from the main beach, but it wasn't a hassle.

The four islands trip which lasts a day is a MUST DO. It was fantastic and included a bit of snorkeling near one of the islands.

We spent the evening shopping and eating at the open market, also called the "Krabi Town Market" which is open till midnight on weekends.

The quail eggs, cocktails in a bamboo and the pork skewers were amazing.

The last day was spent in a spa, getting a much deserved Thai massage and we were ready to head back.

Over all Thailand is a fantastic place, with some very friendly people.We definitely plan to go again. There are loads of places to see and things to do. So make sure you plan a trip there if you haven't already!

Friday, July 26, 2013

An education

I am acquainted with a couple of people, who take great pride in retelling stories about how they were at the receiving end of bad service from either a restaurant or a resort or a store, and how they managed to make the individuals apologise and pay for their misdemeanours (real or perceived).
 Indeed, though I am not given to brag about it, I have faced such issues, myself. 

I recently had an interesting experience:

My mother had to undergo a surgery and we headed to the hospital to get an admission on the eve of the scheduled surgery. Now, this hospital – a branch of a large and well renowned hospital throughout India - was about 40kms outside of Bombay and the drive was tiring.
When we reached the place, the procedure for getting an admission proved to be extremely enigmatic.  We waited around for 3-4hours before the resident doctor even met us. We had little or no information about the procedure, or, if we even would have the surgery as scheduled.

While we were faced with this traumatic experience, a ward boy, Mahesh, came over. He asked us where we were from and enquired about my mom’s health.
We also managed to slide in a few questions, such as- when would the admissions happen?, was there a private ward that we could get? etc
Though he did not know too much about how it all worked, he helped us as much as he could.

After about 5 hours, at 10pm (less than 12 hours before the surgery) we managed to get a private ward and Mahesh came around, to check if everything was okay.
Now, in my experience, this sort of behavior normally indicates that he was expecting some money from me for all the help rendered. So 4 days after the surgery, when we were about to get a discharge, I took Mahesh aside, thanked him and handed him some money.

To my shock, he refused to accept even a single rupee from me! He told me, “I don’t help patients because I expect money from them. I help because I can and not because you would give me money for my help. Please take the money back. Your mother’s health and best wishes are reward enough”

Now, here was a ward boy, young, not very well paid, one of the employees on the lower rungs of the organization and he refused to accept money from me.

Today, I wrote an email to the hospital, telling them how good the service was (except the initial admission bit) and pointed out Mahesh in particular.

In 10 minutes, I got this response from the Director of the organization. He had copied in the entire staff on his response –

 “Dear Apoorv

You have made my day!
 I am so proud and pleased to hear this - all he did was a sincere act of responsibility but in todays world it really stands out. He probably is at the lowest rung in our organization but all of us can learn from him.”

For the Director of such a large organization to respond to an email within minutes of receiving it, for an employee on “it’s lowest rung” to refuse to accept any money. To say I am impressed would be an understatement.

Over the last few weeks I have had an education. This was one among the many lessons. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why there are chances that "Bhaag Milkha bhaag" may be a flop...

As far as I am concerned, 'Bhaag Milkha bhaag' has been the most awaited movie of the year. The teasers in the theatre looked awesome and the music is fantastic!

Farhan Akhtar, good music, great looking cinematography - All the ingredients for a 'Hit', right?
So I thought as well, but imagine my surprise when in one of the trailers I caught sight of Sonam Kapoor in the movie!

Once I had picked up  my jaw from the floor, "The movie may still be salvaged despite Sonam's presence..." I assured myself.

Until I saw Farhan Akhtar do this...

Uh-oh! There goes the movie I thought...

Let me explain.

I have a theory - Any movie that places Sonam on a terrace is a flop. One may go on to extrapolate that, any movie that has Sonam is headed for a flop, but more on that later.

My terrace theory is also backed with certain evidence -


Guess who is running up the stairs headed towards the terrace?

Yes, Sonam.

Here is a picture of her standing at the terrace

Was the movie a hit? No sir.

Delhi 6

Here is Sonam dancing on the terrace, I did not bother with taking more screenshots, but 20-30% of this movie consists of Sonam on the terrace - either petting a pigeon or dancing or climbing down or regurgitating water on Abhishek Bacchan. You get the point.

Movie? Flop!


Yeah, you thought this one was from Delhi 6? It's from a movie called 'Mausam', which vanished without a trace at the box-office.
Lo behold, it has Sonam on the terrace.

Bhaag Milkha bhaag

Hence when I saw this scene


My heart sank.

Because I knew what was to follow

That is Sonam arriving on the terrace...

and here she is all ready to do what she does best

Siiigghhhh. I have no clue why this obsession with being seen on the terrace.

I am anyway going to watch this one as soon as it is released, but you have been warned.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

More movies

So many movies and so little time blogging, that I need to try out a few short-cuts to catch up ;)

Movies that you can miss

Pirates - Band of misfits -
Yes an animated movie that does not quite cut-it

Hotel Transylvania -
Another disappointing animated film

Safe House -

Jack reacher -
Dumb action flick

W.E. -
Long drawn and boring biopic about someone I do not care about.

Ted -
Totally failed when it crashed against the wall of my expectations

Expendables II -
Supremely average, yet better than part I

Anna Karenina -
Keira Knightley does well, but overall the movie does not sit well on the mind.

The Dictator -
I like Sasha Baron Cohen. But the movie is average at best. I loved Borat, this one does not come close.

Movies that are average and watchable on a lazy weekend

Skyfall -
My favourite Bond movie that does not have Pierce Brosnan in it

Celeste and Jesse forever -

Perks of being a wallflower -
It is an average movie at best. Ignore the hype.

Prometheus - 
I quite liked this one. But nothing great.

Cheerful weather for the wedding - 
Decent movie. Very British, which I liked.

Silver Linings Playbook - 
Okayish. Too American for my liking.

The suspicions of inspector Whicher - 
A TV film about a real life murder case.

Iron Man 3 - 
Average in that one needs to watch it to follow Iron Man. But disappointing villain. 

My Blueberry nights - 
Norah Jones, does a great job. A very watchable film.

Movies that you MUST watch!

Safety not guaranteed - 
An advertisement in a newspaper, that proclaimed that a time traveler needed a companion made the rounds over the internet some years ago. This movie takes off on that premise and is fantastic! There is something interesting about the pretty 

Argo - 
When Ben Affleck gets it right, it works well. He gets this one right.

Hobbit- An unexpected journey - 
Fantastic! If nothing else then for the scene where the Dwarfs sing 'Over the misty mountains'

Get Carter - 
For all those who can only think of Michael Caine as Batman's butler, this movie is a MUST. Caine is perfect as Carter a small time gangster who is out to avenge his brothers death. Loaded with style and awesomeness.

The Sweeney - 
Well, a good watch if you are an action movie fan. This one is an out an out fast paced action movie.

Django Unchained - 
I loved this one. It isn't Tarantino's best, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Christoph Waltz is fantastic.

Seven psycopaths - 
 and Colin Farrel team up again (After the brilliant 'In Bruges') for another dark comedy action. This is one strange movie, but I loved it! :D

The Great Gatsby (2013) - 
I loved this movie. I thought it was a great adaptation of the book with fantastic casting.

Blue Velvet - 
David Lynch is known to make movies that are strange. But this 1986 movie somehow, is awesome. A strange thriller, that hits the right spot. Almost a cult classic.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Lists, and movie lists

I am in London. Been here for 4 weeks and have 5 more to go before I head back. London has thrown all kinds of weather at me, some rotten, some downright awesome and some, well, some very very boring.

Right now, I am being treated to some half-hearted rain. The boring kind. I don't mind gloomy weather. I love it! I am okay with sunshine, as long as it does not last for days altogether. But a mild, half-hearted drizzle is not for me.

I have survived the boredom and the rain, through lists. Lists that tell me what tasks need to get done, at work and back at the apartment. 
I strike those tasks off my list (well, mark them with a green highlighter) and feel like I have achieved something.

Anyway, one of the tasks on my list for today is to blog. I thought the most apt post would be a list. So here goes, the usual...

Cowboys and Aliens

Oh avoid this one. Daniel Craig with a bracelet, taking on an alien attack. I wonder what the script writers were thinking. Other than an awesome sounding title, this movie has almost nothing to offer.

The campaign

A funny movie about two rivals campaigning for the elections. Good for a few laughs. It is highly likely that I missed a lot of the inside jokes thanks to my ignorance of American politics. Average, at best.

Crazy on the outside

Well, I had to go back to IMDB to recollect what this movie was about. It's about a good hearted ex-con, played by Tim Allen, who falls for his parole officer, played by Sigourney Weaver. There is the usual confusion, one bad guy, one good deed and everything falls into place. Maybe a movie you want to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon on the television, if there is nothing else playing.


This one is better. It's a war drama. Two brothers, one a good for nothing con played by Jake Gyllenhaal and the other a upright and well loved officer in the army,played by Edward Norton, currently serving in Afghanistan.
The plot follows, that the wife played by the lovely Natalie Portman thinks that her husband has been killed in action and the brother overcome by grief wants to make up for all the bad things he has done, by being there for the family.
The dead brother returns, however and there is a case of great misunderstanding, thanks also to the traumatic experiences he went through when he was missing in action.
Overall, a decent-ish movie, watch it if you like the actors.

Donnie Brasco

Well, Donnie Brasco is great!  Undercover cop- Johnny Depp, who begins to befriend the man (Al Pacino) is he using to infiltrate the mob.Fantastic movie, with two great actors.
A good gangster movie, with a lot of drama and apparently based on a true story, which makes it all the more awesome. I bet, you watch it and you want to go buy a leather jacket, like the one Depp wears in this one.

The sixth sense

Very average, I think I felt this more so because I have watched this after such a long time. But some movies are great no matter when you watch them (Hitchcock comes to mind) and others just seem outdated. This one seems outdated. Manoj Shyamlan lives up down to his potential

Dark City

Loved it! I watched this and thought, "What! How like Matrix, only to realise that it was made before the Matrix". The graphics are not great, but the plot and the direction is taut. Very Blade Runner like.
We follow a guy, who seems to be a serial killer. Only, he has no memory of it, but then in 'Dark City' not everything is as it seems. Oh, and it's got Jennifer Connolly.
One thing for sure, it is NOT a happy movie. Watch it when you are ready for a dark and brooding film.

Godfather II

It's no Godfather. But enough has been said about this movie and I won't say much more, other than do watch it if you haven't yet :)

To Rome with love

Ah Woody Allen, I know some of my friends will refuse to be seen with me, after I have said this, but  I find him slightly over-rated.
'Match point' was great! 'Midnight in Paris' was brilliant as well. "To Rome with Love" is pathetic. The only good thing about the movie? Penelopé Cruz. Enough said.


A typical action movie of the genre where a young boy/girl is hunted down and it is for the protagonist to ensure that she is safe. No one does it quite like "Leon' though and that is an unforgettable movie.
This one though, despite the talented Jason Statham, is very forgettable.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

I watched it just because it's name was so intriguing and also because it has Emily Blunt :D
I liked it.
It's a simple romance about a fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) who is asked by a consultant (Emily Blunt) to help a Sheik set up salmon fishing in Yemen. An romantic comedy/drama set against this unusual backdrop of Salmon fishing in Yemen. It is a pleasant watch. Don't go fishing for the movie, but don't miss it if it shows up on the telly.

Here are a list of movies that I did watch but are so bad, that not a lot needs to be written about them. So do not bother watching these movies:

Abraham Lincoln - Vampire hunter : Horrible
Red Lights - About a clairvoyant and a couple of people out to expose him for the fraud that he is.
Wrath of the Titans - What were Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson thinking?
Looper - Just Pathetic, don't fall for the star studded cast. This is no clever movie. It sucks. Do not fall for it. If you want time travel, there are many more that will sate your interest. Especially the brilliantly made 'Safety not guaranteed', but more on that movie later.

Well, I am going to cheat and review the rest of the movies in the future posts to come. For now I shall mark my task for the day as done!

Sneak peek at the movies still pending on my list:

Safe House
Safety not guaranteed
Pirates - Band of misfits
Cheerful weather for the wedding
Celeste and Jesse forever
Expendables II
Jack reacher
Hobbit- An unexpected journey
perks of being a wallflower
The Sweeney
Get Carter
Django Unchained