An important part of any trip for me is to pick up gifts and souvenirs for friends and family back at home. I love shopping for such gifts and am always on the lookout for items that are local and unique. Things that will actually take you down the memory lane revisiting that place or remind the other person (who’s been the recipient of that gift) of you and that place.
Mumbai has some interesting and unique nooks & corners, one of them being our local Chor Bazaar. “Chor” in Hindi means “thieves” and “Bazaar” means a “market”, hence literally translated “Chor Bazaar” means “Thieves Market”. Per Wikipedia this market is one of the largest flea markets in India and has a fascinating history. Apparently this market was originally called Shor Bazaar, meaning “noisy market”, but with British mispronunciation “shor” became “chor” and the name stuck. Eventually stolen goods started finding their way here and hence this market started living upto its name. These days Chor Bazaar is famous for all kinds of antique / vintage products and other interesting things ranging from clocks, all kinds of instruments, furniture, glassware, brassware, lamps, ceramics, Bollywood posters, ceramics, coins, miniature cars, etc etc. Basically its possible to find anything here from cute to bizarre to the regular. 🙂
I love shopping and have to buy something from every place that I visit. Hence my trip to Chennai was no different. While Chennai was always known for its traditional sarees and gold ornaments, there is now a lot more to it’s shopping than just that. Chennai is evolving and has some interesting brands that you must definitely check out on your next visit here.
Naturally Auroville Boutique – A visit to Auroville is a must for everyone visiting Chennai or Pondicherry. The Auroville boutique stocks products that are made in Auroville and are natural, artistically designed and ecologically sustainable. They have a wide variety of products in home décor, aroma & fragrance, handmade paper deco, organic food etc that make beautiful gifts for yourself and for everyone back at home. I bought a lot of cosmetics, essential oils, fragrant candles, organic food etc for my friends and family and each one of them loved their gifts.
You can check more on them at – http://naturallyaurovillechennai.com/
Dubai is definitely the land of malls where you can’t drive for 10 minutes and not come across a mall. However malls here are not just for shopping, but they are more like an experience (including a cultural one). For some reason it seems like malls here intend to be a means of shopping cum entertainment cum sightseeing. Like the city, nearly every mall in Dubai has something unique to offer from ice rinks to skiing to themes to souks. And each one of them has its own unique charm and attraction.
As far as the actual shopping is concerned, while you find pretty much all the brands here (including the high-end ones) – nothing is cheaper. The only thing we found cheaper were TVs (as compared to India), rest everything was pretty much as it is in India.
Continuing my walking tour from my previous post, walking around wanchai and kowloon, I had two options – either to head towards the Temple Street Night Market or the Ladies Night Market. SInce I had already been once to the Temple Street Night Market (in one of my previous HK visits) I decided to head towards the Ladies Night Market in Mongkok. I took a quick metro and reached Mongkok in about 5 minutes. Now Mongkok is quite a mixture of residential and commercial establishments, where all buildings have shops at the bottom and residences above it. All along the way, you come across typical Hong Kong narrow lanes, crowds, food shops and signages, which I feel are uniquely Hong Kong.
Apart from all other attractions that Bangkok is famous for, there is one particular thing that a lot of Indians swear by. And that’s shopping in this city. It is said that shopping in this city is very cheap and you get loads of amazing stuff. Well, my views differ slightly.
Shopping in Bangkok is relatively cheap (not “very” and the current exchange rate is not helping) for certain stuff such as T-shirts, bags, casual clothes, accessories, TVs etc but if you want to buy the branded stuff, then it is pretty much the same as in India. Though there are benefits – like shopping for brands that are not available in India or their local designers, etc. We shopped quite a bit here and I have listed below my recommendations on this topic –
- Platinum Mall – This is one of the best places to shop for bargain stuff in Bangkok. This is one huge mall with 3 zones and a couple of floors filled with clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, etc etc. This is more of a wholesale market and the way to shop is – there is a certain price for buying 1 item and there is a discount if you buy 3 items of the same kind.
- Good Things – Good stuff at good bargains. We bought shoes, accessories, clothes etc which were good quality and at a good bargain.
- Not So Good Things – This is a huge place and very crowded and chaotic. You have to hunt through a lot of stuff to get what you like.
- How to reach here – Take a BTS Skytrain to Chidlom station and then it is a 15 – 20 minute walk.
Whenever you talk to people about visiting Cambodia, the first thing they say is – “visit the Angkor Wat Temples” and if some people know a bit more than they talk about visiting the Khmer Rouge rule and the killing fields etc in Phnom Penh. But after my trip to Cambodia, I discovered that this country has so much more to offer (apart from the normal touristy stuff mentioned in various websites and guidebooks) that one should definitely incorporate in their travel itineraries. So I have decided to list down a few things that I feel you should definitely keep time for whenever you decide to visit this beautiful country.
- Interact with local people – This is one of my most recommended things to do here. The local population here is very poor (yes I felt that even after coming from India) and have suffered immensely under the Khmer Rouge rule (every person you meet here has lost numerous family members to this tragedy). Still they are open to talk about the history, about what happened, how they lost their family, the politics, how they survived against all odds, etc etc. And the best part is that during this entire conversation, they talk about moving forward and their future plans for their kids. So much so that you really feel like lauding them for their courage, hard work and positivity. This encounter also helped me thank god once again for what I have and am in life. Also, if you are into portrait photography, then you will find very interesting models in people and kids around here.