Back In 2007, My College Gifted Me My First International Trip And Triggered My Travel Blogging

Back  in my college CMS, (Centre for Management Studies) or simply put, Jain College, they found an excellent way to lure the freshers into attending college and performing well. Hence was born the “International Visit” or how it’d come to be known in the college, simply the “IV”. 

The IV would be rewarded to those students who proved their mettle by attending classes, scoring good marks, participating in all the extra curricular and netting a combined top score, and basically being the uncoolest kid in the college! 

But putting in some work to get a free international trip worth thousands? Hell I’d do a Ph’d for that. Besides after paying through our noses for our fancy college, most of us wanted to extract as much as possible out of our half or so million rupees paid to the college.

So, as it happened, I was one of the 80 people to get the coveted IV, and my reward was a trip to Singapore and Malaysia via a layover in Srilanka. In hindsight, these are possibly the last places I’d want to travel to, but almost a decade ago, an international trip was a big deal and Singapore and Malaysia looked like the best countries ever.

This is the post as I’d jotted down in a personal blog, verbatim. (Never mind the bad writing or the formatting. I was 16 and that was probably my first attempt at travel blogging.

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So getting straight into the itinerary, the countries scheduled for us were Singapore , Malaysia AND Sri Lanka!

Day 1 – 10th may
We (about 75 students and 3 staff members and a couple of tour guides) took a flight to Sri Lanka and landed in Negombo which we couldn’t see much of coz it was night and our schedule was tight ( wow it rhymed!) except that it looks very much like a Goa and you’ll see buddha statues all around. We stayed overnight at the hotel “Goldie Sands” in Negombo which is a beach resort. Due to the teachers’ defensive “it’s high tide” we couldn’t really be on the beach, so ended up being packed in our room and chatting the night away, next morning we took a flight to Singapore from the Colombo airport.
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Day 2, 11th May

We reached Singapore around 1 and were taken for lunch at this Indian restaurant called “Shakunthalas” in little India. If you think Bangalore is green, check out Singapore and fast; the roads are as smooth as glaze paper and the traffic moves as if being controlled by a remote. The skyscrapers and hi-tech buildings dot the Singapore skyline..
After lunch we took off for our hotel ‘Trri star 81 with a guided city tour on the way, when they told us about the history of S’pore.
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The hotel was a neat one with a pool n everything, so right after checkin in most of us went for a swim .in the evening we went for dinner at ‘Bombay Magic’ again in little India and from there to a nearby Mustafa which is like a landmark shoppin centre of s’pore,Don’t go by the hype it’s nothing more than a big bazzar,though the variety and price, perfumes and cosmetics are available at is amazing.Don’t miss the “3 for 10$” shops around little Mustafa,,,they sell some real pretty souvenirs ,like watches, keychains, photoframes most of em with Merlion on it and oriental artifact etc.
we weren’t allowed to go partying to the famous ministry of sound , so spent the night playing cards and chatting with friends in the hotel…Day 3 – 12th may
After an early breakfast in Komalas, we went on a panoramic tour of s’pore city,, we were shown places like the s’pore cricket club, some war memorial and of course the famous “Merlion’ –  a half lion and half fish which came to be the landmark of Singapore which was a fishers village once until that guy who discovered s’pore mistook an animal for a “singh” ( a lion) on the island. We went to china town next where they showed us this old Chinese temple where not even a single nail is used in its construction! We packed in a bit of hurried shopping in the Pagoda street of Chinatown, which sells souvenirs n knick knacks and all things Chinese…worth a visit. We missed our bus coz we didn’t return on the deadline so the 4 of us took a cab ( 10$) to hotel golden landmark where our lunch was to be at.
After lunch we checked out bit of Arab street which sells more of stuff for locals than tourists – passable.
Next we went to the Sentosa Island by cable car to the island amusement park, the view from the cable car is amazing and you can see the gigantic Merlion ( this is not the original one but def more amazing)
We reached Sentosa island in about half a hour n went to the underwater world where you walk through a tunnel surrounded by all types of sea life inside the glass. Here you have a shark going above your head or a sting ray lazing round in a corner. You also get to feed the fishes for 10$. Next was the dolphin show where a couple of dolphins do these stunts and dance steps much to your amusement. You can actually pet the dolphin for another $15 ( in s’pore u might as well be charged for breathing in the air!!) The day ended with this laser-water show called “songs of the sea “ in which u see water fountains churning huge life like laser images and laser lights built around a small shrek like a story and real fireworks display.
After a tiring day we went back to Mustafa for a little shopping ( its open 24/7) and back to the hotel.Day 4 – 13th may
Today we went to what we were cribbing about most about our trip! A water distillation plant called “Newater” which actually looks more like a disco than anything to do with distilling sewage water into potable one! 
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Here we were shown a small documentary on how water is distilled in Singapore and reaches the tap. Our friendly guide also gave us free bottles of the Newwater which we didn’t want to drink!
We had yet another Indian lunch at this restaurant “Bharath” in Mustafa. Since most of us couldn’t really shop there we were taken on a bus window tour of the famous orchard road which houses the high end brands like Louis Vuitton, Armani,Gucci, Guess, Esprit etc. for some actual shopping we went to the Bugis junction which is touted as the biggest street shopping venue in S’pore. Here the malay street mall has some interesting brands and pretty bags, jewellery and other knick knacks. Bargaining happens here and the stuff is pretty neat except that all the shops sell more or less the same stuff. My partner and I bought some bags and shoes n were back in the bus by 7 to take off for Simlim plaza famous for electronics. I made the biggest mistake not buying a digicam here on the advice of our tour guide who told sony cameras are cheaper in Malaysia which turned out to be crap!
After dinner we left for the railway station to board the overnight train for Malaysia.Day 4 14th may
We reached Kuala Lumpur around 8 in the morning and freshened up at the station itself. An hour bus drive later we were at Genting called the “city of entertainment”. Its 3000 ft above sea level and fog covers the sky at all times.We went on the world’s largest cable car ride from there to land to the first world hotel ( the world’s largest hotel with 7000 rooms!) and the famous Genting amusement park which is like a mini city in itself. We tried out the famous roller coaster first which has u lie on your tummy and twist and turn from an amazing height. Scream worthy but only just.
A small toy train takes you inside a pirate themed cave, good for kids.
Another roller coaster. And finally the merry go around with swings which pulls u up n down in the air like a weighing machine, truly the most fun ride there.after freshening up in the hotel we came back to the indoor theme park.
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Its like an enormous 5 star mall which has various shops like bodyshop, Giordano, Esprit, etc along with cafes like Starbucks, Mcdonalds, KFCs and lots of other souvenir and gift shops. There’re gigantic replicas of the Eiffel tower, statue of liberty and Venice like canal with gondolas n all! there’s an indoor roller coaster too !but the best part is the “ snow venture”
It’s a hall made to look like a hill station, temperature is -5 degrees and you can go in only with boots gloves and jackets on!
Inside you can play with snow, see a live snowfall, click with reindeers, seals and penguins! ( though photography is strictly banned we still managed to sneak our cameras inside!) sit inside an igloo or go down slides! This is one thing you just cant miss in Genting.
Genting HIghlands Malaysia
Here there are some interesting shops where u can get glow in the dark tshirts , handmade jewellery made outta REAL human nails and get your hands engraved in ceramic!
The amusement park also houses a casino which we weren’t allowed at thanks to being underage, but most of us went to the inhouse disc “safari” anyway. The ambience here truly lives up to its name with the furniture and all in jungle theme. We’d just started to get it going when our faculty came charging and called us back! But the mood we were in , we went right back in the disc after he’d left and danced till some 2 in the morning! A luxury we cant really enjoy in b’lore anymore!
After some munchies at Mcdonalds we went back to the hotel and slept a most exciting day off.Day 5 – 16th may
After lunch at one the restaurants in Genting we went back to KL. On the way we went to the magnificent Batu caves for which you have to climb up some 200odd stairs. There’re small temples inside the caves and the tranquility here is just amazing. A gigantic lord Murugan statue stands outside the caves.
We stopped by the factory outlet of Swiss watchmakers like Rado, Bretling etc.,though being too expensive nobody really bought anything
From there we went on a city tour of KL city seeing the famous-world’s 2nd highest Petronas twin towers, the Kl towers, king’s palace, lake gardens, national museum etc.
Though not as organized and hi tech as Singapore , Malaysia has an amazing combination of old and new with colonial buildings and skyscrapers scattered all over. We were taken to the famous Butik Bintang area for quick shopping after which we checked into our hotel “Grand continental”.
My roommate and I had the most amazing surprise when we found our room facing the twin towers!Day 6 -17th may
Today we 1st went to the chocolate boutique which sells all sorts of Malaysian chocolates and cookies.Then we went to the batik factory which is like royalty clothing in Malaysia. Batik is an art of drawing motifs on silk. We were shown live demonstration of how its done. Next we went to the Royal Selangor pewter factory, pewter is an alloy of tin and aluminum and used widely in Malaysia. This factory also sold beautiful artifacts made outta pewter. The pieces are exquisite and if you don’t mind the price, go ahead and buy these beauties.
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After lunch at “annlakshami ” in a megacity mall we were taken to the most waited part of the trip! The famous Malaysian shopping!
At around 2 30 in the noon we were dropped off again to the butik bintang plaza to shop to our hearts content until 7 30 !
My partner did a few rounds of checkin out stuff until on a whim we barged in a chinese salon for a haircut! Here we were treated for a royal hair treatment by 19yr old Chinese guys! All for 8 ringgit ( 100 rs)!!

The catch? It took us 3 hours! And by the time we were done we jus had an hour left to do our shopping! So we went on a mad shopping spree after that. The shoes in Sunei Wang plaza are to die for and the prices they’re available at is surprising! by the time we reached “low yat plaza” to buy a laptop ( the prices there are half of India) the shops had closed!! That was a bummer but still I was happy with my shopping and promised myself to come back here soon!Day 7 17th may

After a hurried breakfast in our hotel we took a cab to the airport. Our flight back to Colombo was at 12. I picked up a Ferrari perfume at one of the duty free shops at KL airport and boarded the flight. We reached Colombo at round 2.30.
We went on a city tour of the city though there’s hardly much to see out there.
Then we stopped by at the much recommended “House of fashion” and “Odel” to do some Sri Lankan shopping but it was a major letdown as there’s nothing really to buy and whatever is good is priced skyhigh. The brands like reebok nike n puma are all fake. We came back to our hotel “grand oriental” which overlooked the Colombo port by evening and spent the night there.Day 8 -18mayBeing the last day of the trip there were mixed feelings around. Sad to be going back but happy to be going back home after a week.
We went to a rubber factory “Arpico” which was a real bore, and on the way back picked up some Srilankan souvenirs like key chains and the famous ceylon tea. We had lunch in the hotel itself and left for the airport to board the flight back home. The flight was just an hour long but I’m sure it’ll go down in the history of aviation! We almost shook up the flight with our noise and antics so much so the cabin crew complained to the Indian authorities!
Everyone went on a spree of capturing those last moments of the trip in their cameras and the flight was a mess!
We touched India at around 7…with a round of emotional goodbyes, we were back home.

I didn’t know I’d be going to the trip with strangers, but coming back with friends…

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