TTL : Thailand for a week

Hi all,

Now, with the Covid restrictions slowly easing up, tourism is bound to pick up pace. The timing is apt for a reminiscence of our trip to Thailand in January, 2020. Our trip was a weeklong one, covering Phuket, Krabi and Bangkok. The details follow below!

The planning began in early December ’19 scoping out the locations, tentative dates and duration of stay. We finalized to go to three places, Phuket, Krabi and Bangkok, spread over a duration of 1 week.

Our journey began from Mumbai to Bangkok. On the evening of arrival, we spent the night at a nearby hotel (Silver Gold Garden, Suvarnabhumi Airport) for we had the flight to Phuket early next morning. This is where our trip began in earnest.


At Phuket, we had booked for 2 nights’ stay at Arya Eightball Records Hotel, Patong. The hotel was clean, simple and served our purpose. We had planned to roam about the entire day on scooter and have a clean place to sleep, nothing fancy.

At Phuket, on the first day, we went to Wat Chalong, The Big Buddha and the Phuket Aquarium.

For the second day at Phuket, on recommendation from our host at the hotel, we booked a 3 Island day tour. It would be an entire day of island hopping to the Phi-Phi Islands and then back. Once we were back, we went to the Thalang Road to take some pictures and then to the Patong beach to find out why it is so (in)famous.

It was quite fun the stay at Phuket. With rolling hills all about and amazing roads, riding a scooter on the twists and turns are quite amazing. One must be a bit careful though, but it is fun.

From Phuket, on the next day, we took a mini-bus/van kind of a vehicle to Krabi. It was cheaper than flying or via boat, but it was more tiresome and time consuming.

At Krabi, we chose to splurge on our stay. We stayed at an apartment booked via AirBnB at Muang. It is a few kms out of the Krabi town, peaceful, serene and very beautiful. At Krabi, we visited the Noppaharat Thara beach, the Ao Nang beach, took a small boat to the Railay Beach. One of the most amazing things to see was a shell cemetery. It is a place where shells, millions of years old have become fossilized and have now become effectively rocks. We also visited the Thapom Resort which is basically a mangrove forest with elevated walkways within to enjoy. It is interesting to see such forests up close, knowing the major significance they have in preventing rogue waves from causing destruction inland.

The sunset at the Nopparahat beach is absolutely spell binding and it makes you feel happy. Try not to miss it.

The next day, we flew to Bangkok. As with the stay at Phuket, we needed a place to go to sleep at night and the Chocolate Mint Box was just the place for it. It was clean, simple and had complimentary breakfast, which was very tasty. At Bangkok, a realization that helped us a lot to save time and money, is to use the extensive and frequent boat service. Do not fall for the Tourist trap of Hop on Hop off boat, rather, travel as the locals do, in the express boats. They are economical and they shall get you from point A to B easily.

At Bangkok, we visited the Wat Arun and the Patpong night market. We made a quick tour to the China Town area too. We skipped the Grand Palace though and instead went to the Asiatique Sky. The place is nice and lively with the giant wheel being the main attraction. The Bangkok Eye provides a birds-eye view of the city and its surroundings.

Apart from all the wonderful places to be, there were loads of amazing things to eat. The place is an absolute paradise for the non vegetarian people. Huge varieties of sea food along with the commonly available meats are for sale. Crocodile meat was also for sale, didn’t try it though. A fruit, which looks like Jackfruit for us back home is the Durian. Apparently it has such a smell, which some love and some hate, that you are not allowed to carry durians in cabs, buses, trains or flights. Someday, am sure I ll find out why it is so.

So, this was a quick recap of our weeklong Thai tour. The final cost to us, including the flights, transfers and boat tours was about ₹1.3 lakhs. So, in about ₹1.5 lakhs, it is possible for a couple to spend a week having fun at Thailand.

The Visa fee was waived at the time we went for our trip, but we paid 200 THB per head to skip the queue. That smoothened up the Visa entry procedure considerably. The people around are helpful and the signboards plentiful. There should be no problems. Booking a scooter is easy. Cost is reasonable, so is the fuel cost. We had to keep our passports as collateral to take the scooters, which feels a bit scary, but then, that’s how things are. One must always ensure that they are decently dressed while entering a place of worship and be respectful to the people. Give respect to earn it.

I hope that you enjoyed the account of our trip. More to follow soon.

Cheers!!

How to shoot a timelapse sequence?

First, we begin with what a time lapse video is.
This is a video of a span of time which is compressed to a few seconds or minutes to observe a slow change in the setting. The best examples of time lapse videos (commonly called as simply timelapse) are the ones which show the making of huge structures or those of a day transitioning to night and vice versa.

Next, how do we make one.
Timelapse are basically made of multiple photos, taken over a long period of time, and then stitched back together to make a video. The speed of the video is set in such a manner so that the video appears to be fluid and the resultant time of the video becomes a few seconds.

For this to be done, we need a device which is capable of taking photos at a fixed interval. So, either a camera with built in option for interval shooting, or an intervalometer which can be coupled with the camera. Below are some photos and their explanation. The camera being used here is a Nikon D7200.

Photo Shooting Menu In Nikon D7200
Interval Timer Shooting option

The photo above shows a setting where 699 photos shall be taken, with a 10 second interval between them. So, total exposure time is 6990 seconds. The setting can be done as shown in the below photos.

One should pay attention to the fact that using these settings you can change only the number of photos being taken, not the photo’s settings. So, the ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed and Focus has to be set by the user first.

Once the number of photos are taken, they must be processed to produce a timelapse video. There are multiple options to achieve this. Quick google searches lead to many paid and free options easily and the instructions are quite straightforward.

A calculation must be understood here. The relation between the number of frames and resultant video.

In the case we have here, we have a total of 699 frames, over a span of 6990 seconds. For a smooth video, it must be played back at about 30 fps (frames per seconds). So, my resultant video is going to be approximately, 699/30 = 23.3 seconds long. So, I shall be representing 6990 seconds, i.e almost 2 hours worth of exposure in about 24 seconds.

Add a music to the video which is fitting to it, and Voila! You have your timelapse! Check out the one I made using the settings explained above.

Timelapse video of a seedling unfurling

Offcourse there are apps available now in which all you must do is set the phone at a particular location, dial in the time you want the resultant video to be, or the exposure time, and once the exposure is done, the app returns you a expertly made video. In fact, some DSLRs also come with this option of inbuilt timelapse. Mine comes with the interval timer option only. Anyway, I hope the post is useful to anyone who wants to know about the wonderful thing a timelapse is.

Feel free to let me know of your thoughts in the comments below.

Till the next post,

Cheers!!

Solar Eclipse From Vadodara

Solar eclipse is one of the natural phenomenons which draws awe every time it is visible.
In the recent past, we were lucky enough to be able to witness a partial solar eclipse from Vadodara, Gujarat, India.

We didn’t use any special devices or gears to capture the eclipse rather than use the basic settings used to shoot the sun, namely, smallest aperture and a reasonably fast shutter speed.

What are the camera settings for capturing solar eclipse?
F/36, 1/1600s and ISO 100 later, the outcome is as below!

As always, general precautions must be followed while looking at the sun. We used double polarized glasses to view the sun, though for little amount of time at a stretch.

An upcoming solar eclipse is scheduled in June 2020. Hopefully it shall be visible from Vadodara and more pictures of the same shall be shared.

Cheers!!

Ganesh Visarjan 2019: Vadodara

Since staying in Maharasthra, I have found Ganesh Chaturthi and the subsequent Visarjan quite a huge celebration. Off course, comparing the likes of Laalbaagcha Raja or Chinchpoklicha Chintamani is not justified, but here in Vadodara, the celebrations are vibrant and filled with enthusiasm.

This time, I had the opportunity to cover a part of the visarjan at the Gotri lake at Gotri.

I loved the way each idol would be loaded on the platform and taken to the middle of the lake and then ceremoniously dunked in the water. This ensures a better immersion and hence a more complete dissolution of the idol. Let’s have a look.

I hear that the Sur Sagar lake hosts much bigger idols and draws a bigger crowd, hope to cover it next year.

The Mumbai Visarjan post can be found here.

Until next time,
Cheers!!

TTL : Kelwa Beach

It has been months since the last post and a lot has happened in my life since then. It is time that the posts must continue, once more!

Let me take you all to Kelwa Beach at Palghar, Maharashtra.
About 100 km out of Mumbai is this beach on the western coast of the country. The route is quite scenic and both the driver and the rider would enjoy the route. Some twists and turns along the road, a wide road and some natural beauty to keep one company. Following the route using Google Maps is easy and hassle-free.
The place is quite amazing for a one-day trip with friends. Come, have a look!

As with all beaches, do not forget to carry loads of water and sunscreen. Have a beach ball along and you shall be having quite a nice time out there.
The beach is frequented by locals mostly and is generally peaceful.

Go on, have a good time! Until the next post..
Cheers!!

The PetFed Mumbai 2019: Part 1

PetFed is one of the most popular pet meet that is organized annually at various locations around the country. Pets of all shapes, sizes and breeds are welcome and there are multiple events organized for them.

This year’s, PetFed Mumbai was organized on 19th and 20th of January. Below are some of the photos from the first day of the event to help bring back memories of the wonderful time spent in company of the furballs. Enjoy!

What I found quite amazing is that there were quite a few number of pets around and there was remarkably less snapping and fighting amongst them, they all got along so well. Kudos to the owners s who have trained their pets to behave well.

More photos from day 2 shall be uploaded soon.
Cheers!!

Dry Ice!

Hi there all. It has been quite sometime since the last post, I ll blame the hectic work schedules and in some effect, laziness for the same.
Anyway, today we discuss, Dry Ice. Frozen Carbon Dioxide, when made into pellets to be used for cooling duty, is known as Dry Ice. 

Dry Ice is of interest to us photographers since it produces thick smoke, when it comes in contact with water.

And the best bit, the smoke is cold, and heavier than air, so it flows!

This gives the opportunity to use the flowing smoke creatively. It can be used to provide artificial smoke in photos, to be used to as a background or otherwise. 

So, there you have it, the secret to thick billowing smoke in the photos. Have fun it. Be careful though, it is carbon dioxide, so, preferably do not inhale a lot of it, and experiment in an open space.

Cheers!!

Mandarin Oak’s Noodle Class

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Faaso’s inviting me to a Noodle Making class. It was straightforward, if I wanted to join in, I was to fill out a form and be at the said location that Saturday. I was not ready to give up on an invitation to free lunch :p

Off course, I had my camera with me while I attended the class, and I was not disappointed by my subjects at all.
Behold, snapshots from the amazing noodle making class.

Our trainer for the day was Ms. Nidhi J, who is an amazing lady, a chef and a mompreneur. 

The class ended with us gorging on momos (dimsums), chicken fried rice, chilly chicken and iced tea hosted by the Mandarin Oak. Perks of moonlighting as a reviewer on Zomato 🙂

Next post, should be one about a trip to a beach! 

Cheers!!

From the food bowl of India!

Hi there,

In this post, let me take you to the fields of my village. My village, Birati, is located in Hooghly district in West Bengal, India. Agriculture is still pretty much the mainstay source of income for the majority of the population out there.

I was there for a couple of days last month, and it was the beginning of the rice plantation season. So, here is what transplantation of paddy looks like. Transplantation is when the saplings of paddy are moved from the nursery where they germinate to the fields where they shall actually grow to become lush green paddy.

A tubewell coupled with a motor to irrigate the fields

Man carrying a produce of earlier crops

Testing the Autofocus on my camera!

My father and uncles on the way to a field inspection

Transplantation in progress

Man with a bunch of paddy saplings

Transplantation of paddy saplings in progress

In about three months time, these fields will turn golden yellow and the rice plants shall be ready to be cut, sheafed, thrashed, and go on to become edible rice grains. That is also the time around Durga Puja, so, I will be in my village for the same. An update can be expected on this topic. Plus, posts with insights into a Durga Puja at a bengali household shall be up too.

I was at a noodle making workshop lately. While learning how to make noodles, some amazing photo opportunities did come up, and I shall share them here, in the next post. Stay tuned.

Cheers!!

TTL: Sassoon Docks

I had become quite restless at the lack of what I perceived as apt content for a blog post and it was making me jittery. A text out of the blue from dear old Subhanjana asking about Sassoon Docks was the best thing that happened a couple of days back. I realized that it had been more than a year, here in Mumbai, and I was yet to pay one of the largest fish market of the place and the first wet dock of Mumbai a visit. I called up Haldar if she would be interested to join in, and she was. So, Sunday was the planned day.

Information was that one must get to the docks as early as first light to get the fishing trawlers coming in and fishes being unloaded. Since, we had to travel by train and cab to the docks, we were late, and did not get those shots.

What we got were shots of the fishing auctions and the market, with all the chaos and hustle bustle. Enjoy.

Fish Auction in Progress, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Fishes being readied for auctions, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Fishes being readied for auctions, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Fishing Trawlers in the dock, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Fishing Trawlers in the dock, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Fishes for sale in the market, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Basket transfer in progress , Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

As we were walking about taking photos, this lady in the following photos took interest in showing off her merchandises. She also showcased the octopuses. Live octopuses. We were quite excited 🙂

Lady holds up a fish for display, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Lady holds up octopus for display, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Sassoon Docks is also famous for the street art one can find in the location. It was the site for a street art exhibition in November, 2017. There is an art exhibition centre at the docks, which were not open when we were there, so, we shot the walls.

Wall art at Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Wall art at Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Wall art at Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Wall art at Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

Haldar posing in front of a wall art, Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India

As we walked out of the place, I noticed a crow, flying with a fish in its mouth. Lens cap was off already. In one fluid motion, the camera was switched on, tracked the crow and let the continuous high mode fire.
Behold the result:

Flying crow with a fish in mouth, Mumbai

I am mighty impressed by the auto focus system of the Nikon D7200. Am yet to fully understand and use the 3D focussing system properly on the camera.

As we got to Churchgate station, a piece of art caught my eye.

Mural at Churchgate Station, Mumbai, India

Apparently similar installations shall be done in other stations too. That shall be something to look forward to.

A sequel of this post shall follow soon with Haldar’s shots!

Cheers!

To Vietnam: Epilogue

Hi there all,

Recently, I and three of my friends, Manas, Ankita and Ritwik, we went to the amazing country of Vietnam. Detailed accounts of the planning, travel, places we visited, food we ate, what we liked, what we didn’t are typed down in the links below:

  1. Prelude
  2. The Planning
  3. Touchdown – Ho Chi Minh City
  4. Ho Chi Minh City and onwards…
  5. Hoi An by the day!
  6. Hoi An by the night!
  7. Hoi An to Hue
  8. Hue
  9. Hue – Imperial Citadel
  10. Hanoi
  11. Ha Long Bay

You can go through each of the above links or find them all at a glance by following this tag: A week in Vietnam.

There are a few things I wanted to add which I felt is necessary to be known to all the travellers who are planning to make the trip:

  • Plan early and plan meticulously. Go through every blog, website, journal and book that you can find and gather as much information that you can get.
  • Save money for the trip. Yes, Vietnam trip can be done on a shoestring budget, you never know what extra expense you may incurr or rather what new dress shall entice you suddenly. It is always good to have a certain amount of headroom.
  • Travel insurance is a must. No arguments whatsoever.

  • Book through tickets. Cant stress this enough. Book tickets which belong to a single airline. The booking must be point to point, say from Mumbai to HCMC. In case there is a need to change flights, and the journey is in parts, please make sure you have the Visa already. It becomes very frustrating when you have the boarding passes but cannot get past the immigration to transfer the luggage to the next flight.
  • Get a local sim. You may not need the calling facility, but to have internet is a blessing. Most of the places within the country has a good network coverage and speeds are decent.
  • It is generally a better deal to withdraw cash from the ATMs in Vietnam than to trade in USD at restaurants or jewellery stores.

  • You will need to pay USD 25 as visa stamping fee at your port of entry.
  • Do not give up on the opportunity to travel in the train in this country. The trains are smaller, so are the berths. The view is scenic. I can vouch for the Da Nang to Hue.

  • The Ben Thanh market at HCMC is pricey, the food is fine though. A must visit off course, maybe just to enjoy the place. Bargain, and bargain hard. Be ready to be hear “You handsome/pretty, I give you best price…xyz dongs”.
    Despite being pricey, the collection in this place is damn impressive.
  • Try your best to transact in VNDs. Every time you transact in USD, you lose out some value.

  • Be careful of the notes. The denominations have a lot of zeros. Mostly the shopkeepers return or point out the correct denomination if you are paying excess or less.
  • The paper cut out cards are really interesting.

  • Veg food is rare. Chicken is scarce. Pork and beef galore.
  • Banh Mi is a lifesaver. Pho is bland, to a Bengali palate at least.
  • Pack carefully; for south of the country is warm and cosy, while the north is chilly and grey.

It is a beautiful country, Vietnam and I suggest you do visit it. Respond in the comments if there is any thing that you would want to enquire about.

Cheers!!

To Vietnam: Ha Long bay

It was effectively the last day at Hanoi, for the next day, we would fly back home.

Our day began, yet again with the tour bus picking us up from our AirBnb and we were happy to know that we were headed to Ha Long bay. Our back up plan was Ninh Binh province.

En route, we crossed the Red River and realized that kids, in both our country and theirs, are absolutely same. They get excited to see a bus full of foreigners always 🙂

The Red River, Hanoi, Vietnam

Happy kids waving at us, Hanoi, Vietnam

Now, as we were closing in on the coast, we could see the isles at distance and it was very beautiful! Honestly, it felt very much out of the world.
Soon, we were at the dock, which looked more like a transit station, with people bustling all about. Our tour guide kind of herded us to our boat. As soon as we were seated, we were underway and lunch was served.

Lunch included eggs, chicken, squid, prawns, potatoes, rice rolls and a full fish. Accompanying these was a bowl full of sticky rice and some condiments.

Rice Rolls, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Rolled fried eggs, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Boiled prawns, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Fried chicken, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Squid salad, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Fried potatoes, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Full cooked fish, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Now, that we were well fed, we moved to the upper deck of the boat to take in the views and we were amazed. The islets rising out of the bay, hundreds of them and some even had caves.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

As we cruised on, we approached an encircled area within the bay where there seemed to be a floating jetty of sorts.

Towards the fishing village, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

On that floating jetty, it turned out to be a hub for kayaking or guided boating. Now, neither of us had ever done kayaking, and when offered with the prospect of kayaking, I and Ritwik were beyond ready, immediately. Ankita and Manas were hesitant, but since a boat would take 4 people, and the two of us had left them on the jetty and were donning our life vests already, they got themselves a kayak too. It seemed very easy to kayak, you pedal, you move, simple. Except it was not. Instead of us taking a turn and going towards the caves, we were moving towards the open sea, unable to turn left or right. Finally, we realized that we were horrible kayakers and pedalled back to the jetty. The men took pity on us and let me and Ritwik to the boats. In the meantime, Ankita and Manas, also first timers, had proved that they understood physics better and were already kayaking away to glory.

Boats and kayaks exploring, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Boating on the emerald green waters of the Ha Long bay was nothing short of a cinematic sequence.

Through a cave, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Boating, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

There were collective ooohs and aaaahs as we crossed the caves with limestone karsts and we spotted Ankita and Manas, happily kayaking away.

Ankita and Manas Kayaking, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

We went about boating for some more time and then headed back, on towards the limestone caves.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The limestone caves with their stalactites and stalagmites all about, was eerie and it fueled our imaginations.

Limestone formations in the cave, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Limestone formations in the cave, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The views within and from the top of the hill were just amazing.

We had booked the tour after extensive searches on TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet websites and came across many wonderful options, including this one Halong Bay luxury day tour, which turned out to be quite interesting.

I thank Ankita for being steadfast in her orders to go to Ha Long Bay, no matter what! Glad we carried it out 🙂

That evening, after we were back, we went back to the streets near the Hoan Kiem lake and got sloshed. Tottering, we made our way to a tiny shop, which was closing down, and asked for food. The guy had two options, a roasted quail soup or a beef jerky salad. We took one of each type and wolfed them down. Honestly, they tasted horrible!

Beef Jerky Salad, Hanoi, Vietnam

We had our taxi booked, and the next day, we flew out of Hanoi!

With this, our tour of Vietnam came to an end. It was an amazing experience and a welcome break from the daily grind back home.

In the next post, I shall do a quick recapitulation of the places, and also thrown in the learnings from the trip.

Cheers!!