A visit to one of Beijing’s star attractions and one of its most historically significant buildings turned out to be more than what we expected. Not just a peek into history, we also got a glimpse into everyday Beijing and how its people usually hang out in a park. It was a really nice pleasant afternoon’s walk in the park for all of us, a laidback introduction to Beijing. Yes the buildings were impressive and of course knowing that we walked where emperors once walked was also cool, but we were more captivated by the local people and the fun they were having. Continue reading
BigonTrips was started to document the trips I made with my large family and to prove that independent travel with children in tow need not be expensive nor difficult, that children are very adaptive travelers and with their deep and natural curiosity, can be very rewarding travel companions as well. This and the next couple of posts will go back to the roots of this blog to talk about this as I document our recent trip to China.
We had not traveled as a family for a few years – mainly because it was hard just to co-ordinate everyone’s schedules. Yes the children also had very busy schedules that we had to work around! In the end, we could not travel with all five of the children, due to school vacation calendars clashing. So only four came with us. They range in age from 16 to 7. We chose China over Japan this time because we had traveled to Japan several times already and I wanted to show the children something different. Plus, the parent in me thought – nothing like being in China to bring Chinese lessons to life and hopefully inject some enthusiasm into learning Chinese along the way! Ha.
I’m going to kickstart this series with an overview of the trip, the itinerary we followed, the amount we spent and key highlights and learning points before delving into destination reports. Continue reading
This is the year of the dragon. This is the year I discovered China as a destination. In 2011, I traveled to Japan three times. In 2012, it was China’s turn – the first with that godawful Groupon tour, the second on a media trip for journalists to Jiangsu province and the third, on my own with my family to northern China. If you count Taiwan as part of my overall Chinese experience, then I guess that makes four visits in just one year.
I was actually pretty stoked about going to China. This has surprised everyone who knows me, including me. This is because I really have a love-hate relationship with China and all things Chinese. Continue reading
In a way, perhaps the lemon of an SOM tour was a blessing. We ended the tour late in the afternoon and by then, most of the sights and shops were either closed or closing. From Mozartplatz, we decided to take the long slow walk back to our hotel on the newer side of Salzburg, across the river.
What can I say, the streets were quiet, traffic was light, there seemed to be fewer peole around (where did they all go?) the light was golden, the sky still blue and just like this, Salzburg took on a romantic glow. From here on, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking. Continue reading
I admit it. I am a Sound of Music fan. A big one. I grew up on a diet of re-runs of The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and all those grand old musicals. I know the dialogue by heart and can sing all the songs – in fact we even learned them in school and one of my earliest school-day memories is of earnestly singing My Favourite Things in my nightgown one early Sunday morning to my mother when I was probably about 9 or 10. There I stood, hands clasped in front, my mother watching me with a faint smile on her face. Only now do I suspect she was trying hard not to laugh.
So imagine my glee when this diehard fan realised we were going to the very place where the hills came alive with the sound of music! Salzburg! I could care less about Mozart but I would not miss the SOM (Sound of Music) landmarks! And the best way to do this? A tour… at least that was what I thought. Continue reading
Genteel lakeside strolls aside, there is actually plenty to do in the hills above Hallstatt. In summer, you could easily spend at least a week just taking long hikes through meadows, reaching rugged peaks and stunning views you only see in postcards. The best part is, to make hiking a real and appealing possibility for lazy unfit slackers like me, efficient cable cars and funicular railways easily zip from village to mountaintop in mere minutes, giving me the photo ops without the pain. It was a pity we didn’t plan for more time in Hallstatt. As it turned out, we spent our day almost entirely up in the hills – first in one of Europe’s oldest salt mines and then in an ice cave high up into the mountains. Continue reading
In Hallstatt, you live two ways – either with the water lapping at your doorstep, or perched high above in the narrow steep lanes, tacked on to the hillside. Tough decision. Not going to say much about Hallstatt in this post, but just let the pictures do the talking. I loved the tiny details – doorframes, wall reliefs, flowers in a basket, rusty gates, a garden grown wild, chairs at the water’s edge (above). I hope my pictures do justice to a very lovely place but really, its just best to buy an airticket there and see for yourself. Continue reading