Page 3 of Bellini Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Malaysia » Langkawi July 13th 2018

We chose the convenience of Langkawi as a beach spot to relax and to clean up from India. There are other, nicer islands hereabouts, but they're much farther from main flight hubs, and this was close enough to paradise. Really the only main drawback is that it isn't safe to swim here because of all the jellies. The short flight from Kuala Lumpur is easy, but it wasn't so easy after a cramped overnight flight from Delhi. We stayed at an Airbnb on the north side of the island, along Tajung Rhu, a mile and a half stretch of sand far from the main tourist center. I really enjoyed the quiet there and don't regret missing out on the cable car, aquarium, and so on. The southern end of the beach has plenty of inexpensive cottages ... read more
Tanjung Rhu
Yard near sunset

Asia » India » National Capital Territory July 8th 2018

Most big Indian cities have terrible reputations, so we didn't test this one much by visiting the local markets and such. We basically used it as a convenient base to get buses, trains and planes to other places- and to stay in the luxury and to take advantage of every perk at the airport Marriott. 1. The metro system is new and efficient, and the airport line is certainly better than anything in the U.S., which sadly isn't saying much, but it's super-comfortable (and very clean), inexpensive, and fast, achieving that difficult trifecta of mass transit. 2. The main train station is guaranteed to provide you with visuals that you can't un-see or un-remember. 3. The heat was oppressive at around 45C (113F), so even the young, middle class area of Connaught Place was difficult to ... read more

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra July 7th 2018

I guess it was good to get there at 6AM, but it was already sweltering, and I had hardly slept the night before in a shoddy room in horrid Agra, where the Tuk-Tuk ride from the train station with homeless children poking us for money led us through chaos even on a Friday when everything was closed, and a new level of sewage smell that pervades all (except perhaps the lovely Joney's Place for any meal), so we enjoyed the tomb aesthetics, momentarily wishing to be the body encased inside, and stayed for maybe an hour before leaving to desperately find a way to escape that circle of hell before our scheduled train at 3:45PM, in the end going with the India flow and taking the advice of a Tuk-Tuk driver to take an 11AM bus ... read more

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Udaipur July 1st 2018

City Impressions Picturesque Udaipur was the setting of the James Bond film Octopussy, and there is no shortage of places in town to watch it on loop: it definitely highlights the city's variety - the palaces, temples, narrow streets, and of course the lakes. This is definitely a more attractive city than Jaipur, in part because it is much smaller, and since we visited in late June / early July, it wasn't very crowded. We really lucked out with the weather - about 90F every day with no rain, much cooler than it had been the week before. Still, it being the low season, many of the best shops and restaurants were closed, and the ones that stayed open desperately touted their product every time I walked past. Motorbikers also take this opportunity to speed 40mph ... read more
Thali at Natraj
City Palace Grounds
Some Temple

Asia » India June 29th 2018

Umaid Bhawan The pre-monsoon heat in Rajasthan makes June part of the low season, when it's easy to score half-price deals on classy hotels that the Rajas in the palaces would have ordered a dozen of their concubines slaughtered just to stay in for a night. Having three sets of eyes on us during the delicious buffet breakfast, ready to leap to meet any of our needs, made it challenging to slide parathas, etc. into our hidden lunch containers. Running in Jaipur? The Collectorate Circle Park has only one thing in common with the old A.E. O’Block Junior High School track: 5 times around equals about one mile. It's in the middle of a 5-10 lane traffic circle (depending on the vehicles currently in it), making access as difficult as putting your hand in and out ... read more
Rolling Chapati!
Old City Scene
Our Room at Umaid Bhawan

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Shimla June 24th 2018

The 10-hour bus from Manali wasn't too bad- the driver only had to slam on the brakes causing luggage to fall 6-8 times and we only passed one overturned van (see photo). THE CITY Shimla is an attractive city that seems to hang off the hills. It reminds me of Valparaiso, Chile. Roads stretch along the slopes horizontally, switchbacking on the edges, while staircases and lifts cross vertically. 7K, pedestrian-only Mall Road is a nice escape from dodging vehicles (though they give too many VIP exceptions, if you ask me), and the Lower Bazaar that runs parallel is an entertaining scene to stroll through. Almost all the tourists in Shimla are Indian, so the town offers more chain stores and expensive, formal restaurants, rather than craft markets, cafes, or bars, like in Manali. The first night ... read more
Almost Left Behind
Overturned Van
Biggest Waste of Money Ever

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh June 21st 2018

Peggy and I completed the 4-day Hampta Pass trek (and then another day for the Lake Chandratal extension, all with Himalayan Trails (; The total cost, including transport, guide, tents and sleeping bags, mules to carry the gear, entrance fees, 3 cooks, and food, was just under $200 per person. There were four others in our group - a British couple and two Indian women. I assume most come to this blog to either browse photos or to get travel information, so I'll spare everyone an exhaustive narrative. Rather than going through our itinerary day by day, which can be found on any tour company's website, here are 10 observations and opinions about the Hampta Pass trek that we couldn't find information about before our trip. 1. Scenery The alpine scenery is impressive and some ... read more
The Perfect Mountain
Meal Prep
At the Pass

Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Manali June 13th 2018

GETTING THERE FROM KULLU AIRPORT We could have taken an 8-hour death bus from Chandigarh on one of the most dangerous roads in the world, but we opted for a semi-sketchy, 30-minute flight to Kullu, and then an hour and a half taxi to Manali. The landing at Kullu Airport is apparently a challenging one, but the weather cooperated. Kullu itself seemed like an interesting town that wouldn't be terrible to get stuck in for a night, but it was easy to prepay a taxi to Manali with set prices from the taxi union. The pre-monsoon road construction and general traffic turned the trip from an hour and a half to two, then three, then four hours. At this point, traffic had been at a standstill for an hour, so we got out and walked the ... read more
The Manali Waterworks
Caption contest?

Asia » India » Punjab June 11th 2018

After a day in Delhi recovering from the long flights from the U.S., Peggy and I took a five-hour train to Chandigarh in a fairly comfortable air conditioned car. We spent two nights at the Red Fox Hotel to break up the journey before flying to Kullu, since we'd read that Chandigarh is India's first planned city, and according to India City Walks, is "a benchmark of modernisation, and is a rich, prosperous and green city, rightly called 'the city beautiful'!" Of course, everything is a matter of context. We were, in fact, able to (somewhat) walk safely along sidewalks and berms to Sukhna Lake and to Nek Chand's Rock Garden, and everyone surprisingly stopped at the red lights. The lake was more or less a muddy reservoir with pleasant gravel trails alongside, but the rock ... read more
Trees in rock garden, with horde
Hauling Water
Sukhna Lake

Middle East » United Arab Emirates August 22nd 2017

Flights from southern Africa to Dubai, and flights from Abu Dhabi to many places are quite cheap, so we decided to make three days of it. It was a pleasant albeit hot stopover from Harare via Kigali, Rwanda, and worth it to see the souks of Dubai, the modern and clean metro and malls, Wiz (Burj) Khalifa, and then a super-easy bus to the Grand Mosque and Abu Dhabi.... read more
Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Inside Grand Mosque
ladies' wear

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