Been to Gujurat, India? I loved it!

Opening of Navratri 2006 - longest dance festival in the world (nine nights)

Just one of the sweet dishes I had when I went to breakfast at the residence of  Shri Narenda Modi, The Honourable Chief Minister of the Government of Gujarat

I am expecting to go back there in November 2010. With a  population of over 55 million, and birthplace of Gandhi, Wikipedia also tells me  . . .

Gujarat borders with Pakistan to the north-west, bounded by the Arabian Sea to the southwest, the state of Rajasthan to the northeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and by Maharashtra, Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli[9][10] The Arabian Sea makes up the state’s western coast. The capital, Gandhinagar is a planned city. Gujarat has an area of 75,686 sq mi (196,077 km²).” to the south. Historically, the North was known as Anarta, the Kathiawad peninsula, “Saurastra”, and the South as “Lata”. Gujarat was also known as Pratichya and Varuna.

Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Gujurat, India

Just one of the impressive halls in the palace

India has great golf courses all over the country: in the mountains, plains, deserts and beach resorts.  I also discovered one in a Maharajas’ backyard, in Gujarat. Lakshmi Vilas Palace Estate has its own golf course developed by the prince some eighty years ago.

I’m told peacocks are often seen strutting around as if they owned it, and our guide also tells me the membership at this club is so full and desirable that “If you believe in rebirth, you need to sign up for membership now, then come back to claim it in two more lifetimes.”

The palace was built in 1890, in a mixture of several styles (Mogul, Rajasthan, and Western) and is still the residence of the royal family: it has a large collection of old armoury and sculptures in bronze, marble & terracotta. It took an Italian master craftsman nearly a year to complete the mosaic tile floor in the ballroom – and where club members are admitted to attend concerts put on by the Maharaja. I’m also told a British architect was hired to design the palace – unfortunately there were errors in the structure and legend say he suicided from shame soon after it was finished.

Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Gujurat, India | Kiwi-travel-writer: a world-wide, freelance, blogging, travel-writer

Golf in India – including in this Maharaja’s backyard.
a palace that is evidently much, much parger than Buckingham Palace

My painted toenails are heading into a sea-cave

I am at the other end of these red-painted toes - heading into the sea caves in Thailand - a must do event!

While staying at Diamond Cliff Resort & Spa on Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand I had a cruise cruise by a private speedboat through Phang Nga Bay, a national marine park that has stunning natural scenery.

Firstly, we explored remote sea caves aboard inflatable sea canoes, reassuringly paddled by experienced “captains” .

I also visited James Bond Island (Koh Tapu), one of the many strange and beautiful limestone karsts of Phang Nga bay. This one has achieved fame since being used as the location for Scaramanga’s secret hideaway in the film  ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’.

We also cruised through  mangrove forests and then on to Koh Panyi, a sea gypsy village built on stilts over the sea –  a Muslim gypsy village which is bustling with hordes of tourists at lunchtime, dining and shopping for trinkets. After lunch the island transforms back to a tranquil community of fishing families.

Thanks to Thai Airways and Thai Tourism for their hospitality to me.