Friday Finds ☆ Sanjay Gandhi National Park Mumbai India

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Who would’ve known that Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, India would look like another part of India and nothing like the urban areas of Mumbai? It was quite a pleasant surprise to see the lush landscape and lovely nature at Sanjay Gandhi National Park which is about an average of 30 to 50 minute drive from many city areas in Mumbai on any given day (except for when there is traffic on a highway).

Elephanta Island vs. Kanheri Caves at Sanjay Gandhi National Park

☆ Please understand that I’m writing this from a perspective of a mother with a toddler. I am sure that I would have had different perspectives, had I been at a different stage of my life.

My friend and her family came to visit us in Mumbai from another part of the world. They showed an interest in going to Elephanta Island during their stay. I have heard about Elephanta Island and seen the photos of the caves and carved stone statues. It looks very photogenic. I had some thoughts, though. To get to the Elephanta Island, you have to get on a boat from Colaba. My friend and I both have a 3-year-old who would make me nervous near the water. The weather was already hot in March and I could imagine that managing young kids in a very busy touristic area of Colaba waiting for a boat in the heat of the day would be challenging. It would be a full day gig to go to the Elephanta Island. Lastly I prefer avoiding getting on a boat if I could. Then my good friend in Mumbai, Kati, said to me “why don’t you take your friends to Sanjay Gandhi National Park? It’s the same thing.” My light bulb went “ting!”

As for Kanheri Caves at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, once you enter the gate to the park, you drive on a scenic path for about 5 to 10 minutes until you can get all the way to the car park right outside of the entrance to the Kanheri Caves. The monkeys were not aggressive at least when we were there, so I did not have to worry about them approaching my children or myself. Food was not allowed in the park, which makes sense so that we don’t attract monkeys or make them sick. The park was well taken care of and looked very clean. In fact, I don’t remember seeing any trash on the ground of Kanheri Caves. After we finished the walk, we hopped back in our car and drove off. It felt so relaxing to be in the comfortable and cool air-conditioned vehicle where we could access snack and bottled water. My 3-year-old fell fast asleep as soon as the car drove off since he was exhausted after a long walk and lots of climbing. There was no melt-down involved. Isn’t that a key to a successful outing with a toddler?

I could write more about our experiences seeing Kanheri Caves at Sanjay Gandhi National Park. However, instead of my writing, I would like to let the photography do the talking, which is my usual style. I hope you will feel like you have the virtual tour of the beautiful Sanjay Gandhi National Park through my photos on this post.

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The yellow patches on the children’s shirts are mosquito repellant stickers. You can buy them at any pharmacy in India. We did not see any mosquitos outside in the heat during the middle of the day. By the way, as you can see in the photos, our two little 3-year-olds were troopers and did really well climbing the stairs and walking in the heat! They did not ask us to carry them and really enjoyed the hike!

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The view from the hill in Sanjay Gandhi National Park was really beautiful. The land looked quite dry and brown as it was at the end of March which is about 6 months into the dry season. we have not had rain in a long time. This part of the park must look beautiful and much more lush right after the monsoon season ended which is around October. That might be the most beautiful time to visit Sanjay Gandhi National Park. You might be able to see some water falls.

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I am really glad that we went to Kanheri Caves at Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Not to mention the park was beautiful and impressive, Kanheri Caves were really fun for the kids.

DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR…

HAT

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& WATER BOTTLE!

water bottle

We went to Le Pain Quotidien in BKC for lunch. Le pain Quotidien (or LPQ according to locals) in BKC is conveniently located right outside of a Kalanagar Flyover exit. This flyover runs from north to south in the middle of Mumbai all the way down to the Sea Link. Le Pain Quotidien is a great place to stop by for lunch after the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. We always love their kind service and consistently good quality of food. If you plan on going there on a weekend for lunch, I recommend you make a reservation as they get packed for weekend lunch especially on Sundays. You can find their info on this post.

Yilan Taiwan Part 3 ☆ Spring Onion Farm

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On the same day we traveled to Yilan, Taiwan from Taipei on a fast train, our friends, Josh and Kara, took us to a spring onion farm because Yilan is famous for spring onions. (Please give me a few more days to check the name of this place.) Kids got to wear boots and go pick spring onions. As you can see in the photos below, after picking some spring onions, they washed them and then made spring onion/scallion pancakes. Those pancakes were delicious!!! The crispy outside layer has a lovely texture and an accent flavor of scallions spreads in your mouth with each bite. We all scarfed them down.

My son who was 2 at the time was too young to go. Thus, I stayed behind with him. Can you tell he was envious? The spring onion picking only took about 10 minutes. It was really quick.

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I’ve got a comedian in my family.

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The main reason for our visit to Yilan was the National Center For Traditional Arts. Please click here for the post on the National Center For Traditional Arts. As for our accommodation, we stayed at Forte Dong-shan Villa. I recommend Forte Dong-shan Villa if you would like to visit the National Center For Traditional Arts with young children. Please click here for the post about our hotel in Yilan.

Yilan Taiwan Part 2 ☆ Forte Dong-Shan Villa

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Hotel Forte Dong-Shan Villa was great for our small trip to Yilan, an hour train ride from Taipei. It is located in the same premises as the National Center For Traditional Arts which made our trip so much easier to access the National Center For Traditional Arts. For those who stayed there get some free coupons to do the arts and crafts which was a big bonus for our kids. As for the location, the hotel was about 15-minute taxi ride from Luodong Railway Station and the fare was inexpensive. On the second day we checked out of our rooms on the second day after having a breakfast and then walked to the National Center For Traditional Arts for the day filled with fun arts and craft.

Our friends, Kara & Josh, who live in Taipei arranged everything for us for this Yilan Trip. We were so lucky. The room we stayed was a Family Suite. There was a small living area with a sofa, chair and TV. Then there were two bedrooms. One room had a queen size bed and the other room had a bunk bed with a small attic type of space above the top bunk. Kids had a lot of fun going up and down the ladders. We got two rooms as we were two families. Our rooms were connected on the veranda and it was really convenient for us. We were able to play some games in one room after kids went to bed without worrying about our kids.

I don’t have a photo evidence to prove you, but my son drew on the white duvet cover on the queen size bed with a pink marker. I let my son play with a coloring book with markers. He hasn’t done anything too crazy prior to that point, so I didn’t even think to be with him when he was coloring in the bedroom. I was out in the living area. So was my husband. He was resting on a sofa and I was surfing on internet on my iPod Touch using free wifi. By the time my girls and I noticed that my son drew on the duvet cover, it was too late. He has done some pretty good damage. I immediately removed the cover and washed it in the bathroom, but the pink marker only bled and turned the sheet into pink on one side. I gave up and took it to the reception. I paid 500 Taiwan Dollar which is about US$15. At least it could be resolved by paying. There are worse things that could happen to us.

If you make a trip to National Center For Traditional Arts, I highly recommend Forte Dong-Shan Villa for your accommodation. I only brought 35 mm lens, which is not a great lens to take photos of a room. In case you cannot tell, the rooms were quite spacious and comfortable.

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