South East Asia Chronicles!

2017 was a year full of travel and culinary adventures! From delayed flights to long road trips, scorching heat to sudden downpour, noodle soup to delicious food we didn’t know how to pronounce we experienced it all. So many new flavors, so many new terrains, catching up with old friends and making new ones along the way. 2017 has been nothing short of an adventure! We traveled across 5 countries and 15 cities last year but my favorite stretch was this travel adventure across South East Asia. We had to skip a lot of things and take an easy route (taking flights instead of bus or train) because of serious time constraints. If we get an opportunity to do this all over again we would happily take the difficult one!

We kick-started our trip in Bangkok; Thailand and traveled across Siem Reap, Pakse, Tad Lo, Hua Hin, India and we ended our trip in Bangkok; Thailand.

 

Bangkok, Thailand

  • Visa on arrival: 2000 Baht per person
  • Accommodation: Mad Monkey Hostel, Khao San Road

 

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Good Morning Bangkok! 🙂

They say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I was never a breakfast person until I met this flavorful and delicious bowl of noodle soup! On our first morning in Bangkok while having our cup of chaii we noticed these food carts right outside our hostel. We were curious to know what they were selling, as we walked closer we noticed this man making fresh noodle soup. And breakfast was served! 🙂

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Pork Noodle Soup for breakfast! Right opposite Mad Monkey Hostel

 

Day 1:

We devoured the bowl of noodle soup within minutes, went back to the hostel and got ready to explore the city.

First stop – Wat Saket (Ticket – 20 Baht per person)

Wat Saket is a buddhist temple known for it’s golden mount. Once you reach the top of the temple you’ll see a beautiful view of the city. You can either take a local taxi, Uber, tuk-tuk or simply walk to the temple. We chose to take the tuk-tuk 🙂

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Tuk-tuk! 😀

Next stop – China Town

We walked around China Town for a bit just to explore the food scene and shops. We picked a random restaurant and decided to have lunch there. I ordered pork stew and rice while the husband ordered some noodle soup. Food was pretty average, definitely not the best meal in Bangkok.

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Baked goodies! 😀

 

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Pork stew and rice at a random restaurant in China Town

We got pretty bored in China Town plus the heat was killing me, more than the heat it was the humidity. I guess the best time to visit China Town is after sunset. So we decided to head back to the hostel and just hang out with the fellow hostel mates.

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Best mango mojito ever! 😀

After spending a couple of hours at the hostel we decided to venture out again. We walked in and around Khao San Road. You can read more about this famous street here.

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Mango sticky rice

 

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Street food

 

 

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Yummiest crepes ever!!

Day 2:

First stop – Wat Arun 

Read more about the temple here.

We made a few friends at the hostel the previous night. We bonded over a few exciting rounds of beer pong 😉 The next morning we decided to explore the city together.

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Twinning with the temple! 😉

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The same evening we took a flight to Siem Reap.

 

Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • Visa on arrival: $35 per person
  • Accommodation: Mad Monkey Hostel
  • Angkor Wat tour pass: $62 per person (3 day pass), covers all the temples in small and grand circuit

 

Day 1: Small Tour/ Circuit

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Image Credit: http://www.angkor-travels.com/html/angkormap.php

We hired a tuk-tuk and a tour guide from our hostel and ventured out to explore the beautiful temples and architecture.

You can read about both (small & grand) the tours here.

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We purchased this book at one of the temples. 

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Roadside snack – Grilled frog!

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Fish Amok in fresh coconut, Tangy sweet pineapple curry and rice. Yum yum yum! 😀

 

Day 2: Grand Circuit

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Image Credit: http://www.angkor-travels.com/html/angkormap.php

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Catching the sunrise at Angkor Wat

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Our amazing guide Samnang 🙂 Email: phlorngsamnang@gmail.com 
Phone, Line, WhatsApp: +855(0) 967317413

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Main entrance Angkor Wat

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Amok and rice at Mad Monkey hostel 

 

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Last meal in Siem Reap (at the airport)

 

Pakse, Laos

  • Visa on arrival: $40 per person
  • Accommodation: Hotel Pakse, Residence Sisouk

 

The best way to explore any city is to walk around or simply rent a motorcycle and ride around for hours. We came across Miss. Noy Motorbike while reading about this Pakse. We reached our hotel, dumped our bags and we walked to the rental shop. If you attend the meeting at the shop (6 pm every evening) Yves will hand you a copy of this map and explain each and every detail of the journey. Totally worth it!

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After talking to Mr. Yves we realized we didn’t have enough time to cover the big loop so we went for the small loop instead.

All this decision making made us hungry so on our way back to the hotel we spotted this food cart and decided to grab a quick evening snack.

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Roadside food at it’s best! Sweet coconut mixture stuffed snack and condensed milk + egg crepes

After coming back to the hotel we decided to eat dinner at the roof top restaurant Le Panorama. After sunset the temperature dropped suddenly and it became super windy and chilly. But we had the best meal of our trip here in this restaurant!

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Deep fried fish

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Vegetable yellow curry

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Fish in ginger sauce

Day 2 – Bolaven Plateau, Champasak Province and Vat Phou

We left for Vat Phou the next morning. This temple is a 43 km long scenic ride from the hotel. Read more about this temple (Vat Phou) here.

Bolaven plateau is full of scenic waterfalls and you’ll spot the flowing river at various places too.

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Boats and Mekong on the way to Vat Phou

 

 

 

 

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Vat Phou!

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Postcard from Vat Phou! 🙂

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Lunch outside Vat Phou!

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Crossing the mighty Mekong river on a boat with our scooter

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Champ!

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Mekong!

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We were exhausted by the time we came back to Pakse. We grabbed dinner at the hotel, went for a walk around the area and packed our stuff for the next day.

 

Day 3 – Tad Lo waterfalls and Fandee guesthouse

We left our luggage at the hotel, packed a small bag and started for the small loop early in the morning. We covered a distance of 83 Km approx to reach Fandee Guesthouse (super close to the Tad Lo waterfalls).  If you are a swimmer here’s a list of places/ waterfalls you could stop at for a quick swim.

We stayed the night at this guest house. Fandee is a super basic lodge with small bungalows (attached washrooms). Read more about Fandee Guesthouse here. While the accommodation was clean and the staff was friendly, the food there was pretty mediocre. So don’t forget to carry dry snacks, just in case.

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Tad Lo Waterfall

On the way back to Pakse….

Right after the border from Salavan into Sekong Province, there’s a small village known as Ban Kok Phung Tai. The village is known for a tour by Mr Hook aka “Captain Hook.” He will show you around the coffee plantations and tell you everything about coffee and give a fascinating insight into the Katu way of life. Quite an interesting tour. There’s a small entry fee for this tour (5000 kip per person).

 

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I am not a coffee drinker so they offered me some organic leaf tea 🙂

We took a lunch pit stop at Sinouk Coffee Resort. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this place or food. 😦 We were super hungry and exhausted by then!

On our way back to Pakse we also stopped at this waterfall for a couple of minutes. It’s the tallest waterfall in Laos.

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Tad Fane waterfall at 120 mtrs

We came back to Pakse and checked into another hotel this time – Residence Sisouk. It had the most beautiful panoramic view of the Sedone and Mekong river.

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Chai with a view 🙂

We flew back to Bangkok the next morning. And took a shuttle to Hua Hin from there.

 

Hua Hin, Thailand

  • Direct AC coach from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport every half an hour ( 250 Baht per person approx)

If you are looking for a place to relax and just chill at a resort this is the place for you! Dusit-Thani is a beautiful beach resort with a massive pool, small beach front, delicious breakfast and cocktails. Post breakfast we chilled at the beach till noon with pina coladas, later took a dip in the pool, ate lunch and took a nap.

That evening we ventured out to explore the night market and that was the best decision ever!!

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Rice noodle soup with chicken and fried egg 🙂

 

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Dinner buffet. Pretty average 😦

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Rice noodle soup with fish balls 😀

Hua Hin Night Market

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Banana and condensed milk stuffed crepes 🙂

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Seafood platter!

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Curries, fried fish, vegetables etc etc etc… 

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Mango sticky rice 

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Night Market

 

GAGGAN!!!

After spending a couple of days in India we came back to Bangkok to dine at Gaggan. Like everyone else we heard about this restaurant on Netflix (Chef’s Table). This place was in high demand so we had to make reservations 3 months in advance and plan our trip around it.

So, on our last evening in Bangkok, we got dressed up, took an Uber and headed straight to Gaggan. The exterior of the restaurant is very unassuming but once you enter the premises, you are greeted by this beautiful vintage bungalow that has been converted into a restaurant. The decor was classy and the staff was very friendly.

The theme for the day was emojis and this got me very excited especially because of my connections with social media 🙂 As the tasting began we were treated to a wide array of cuisines, from Japanese to Indian to Thai. We tasted some amazing flavors as well as some flavors that we would rather not write about. Overall I would give it a 3 out of 5 because some of the things they do with molecular gastronomy are just mind blowing but then there were some dishes that did not live up to the high expectations at all. But it was a good experience for us and although it was a 25 course tasting menu, we still went out and had some noodle soup to sate our appetite.

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This year ticked off a lot of places on my bucket list! I stepped out of my comfort zone to experience a few things and it was well worth it. We also realized that not everything goes according to plan so travel with an open and flexible mind. It took us around 4 months to plan and execute this particular trip and every second spent on this journey and the planning for it was so so exciting! I feel really lucky to have found a partner who shares the same (or maybe more) love for traveling and exploring different cuisines. 2017 you were amazing! Thank you for all the wonderful memories! 2018 we are ready for you! 😀

Cheers to new beginnings! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! Here’s wishing you all a very happy new year! May your year be filled with lots of traveling and good food 🙂

 

Tips:

  1. Travel light, recycle your clothes. You’ll find cheap laundry places all over SE Asia.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes and wear comfortable breathable fabrics. All the temples have strict dress code. Abide by the rules. Always!
  3. DO NOT forget to carry bug spray or mosquito repellent.
  4. Most importantly respect the locals, their culture and privacy.

Viva Mexico!

I fell in love with Mexico when we planned a weekend trip to Monterrey in April 2017. So when my husband suggested going to Mexico City for the long weekend I was thrilled!

We booked our tickets and started planning the journey. We did a thorough research, spoke to a couple of people and planned our itinerary accordingly.

After spending 4 days in this gorgeous country, we came back with a crazy sun burn and lots of beautiful memories!

I am still not over the vacation so I am trying to re-live the experience by writing this blog post haha! 😀

 

 

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Ola Mexico City! 🙂

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Connectivity (From Austin, TX): Aeromexico, direct 2 hour flight. $350 approx per person

Visa: If you hold a valid visa for the United States of America you just have to fill an immigration form on the flight and submit it at the airport immigration counter upon arrival

What to pack?: Travel light, layers (Jackets, light sweater and raincoats), sunscreen, after sun lotion, sunglasses, big hat/ cap, and comfortable shoes

Accommodation: Hostel Suites DF – Terán 38, Tabacalera, 06030 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico Phone: +52 55 5535 8117

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Day 1: We landed in CDMX at about 5 pm, cleared immigration, booked an Uber and headed straight to the hostel. All of this took quite a bit and it was already 7 by the time we reached the hostel. We met a couple of people at the hostel and they asked us if we would like to join  them for dinner at a ceviche place…The place was okay but was way overpriced for what it served. We crashed in early to be fresh for the long day of walking on day 2.

Day 2: Walking/Eating tour, Zocalo

The hostel has great breakfast, so our day of walking and eating started there. After the meal we walked along the Paseo Reforma – Hidalgo – 5 De Mayo streets and took in the great Sunday morning vibe around us as we headed towards the city center. The streets were crowded with all kinds of people, locals, tourists, vendors all of whom made this 2-3 hour walk a lot of fun. There are some magnificent buildings scattered all over this area and this walk is a must do for anyone who has never seen the city before. Along the way, we were constantly replenishing ourselves with some great street food that included tortas, mexican corn, tacos, churros and even some gelato to top it all off.

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Day 3: Aztec ruins, Artisan Center & Pyramids

We booked a tour available at the hostel for $550 (Mexican Pesos) per head. The tour was for around 8 hours of which we spent the majority at the pyramids. If you end up going on one of these, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and a lot of sunscreen!

Aztec Ruins

Aztec Ruins

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Artisan Center

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Artisan Center

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Loom that uses a mixture of Cactus and cotton fiber

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Loom that uses a mixture of cactus and cotton fiber

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Pyramid of the Moon

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Pyramid of the Moon

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View from the top

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Pyramid of the Sun

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View from the top

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Day 4: Castle, Museums, Markets

The last day was spent exploring the gorgeous museums and the markets.

  • Chapultepec Castle: Ticket – $ 62 (Mexican Pesos) per person. Located at the top of the Chapultepec Hill this is actually the only castle in North America. Here you can get a gorgeous view of the Reforma (avenue that runs diagonally across the heart of Mexico City).
  • The Frida Kahlo museum: Ticket$200 (Mexican Pesos) per person. A historic house (La Casa Azul) and art museum dedicated to the life and works of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. This place is definitely worth a visit for all lovers of art. Walk around the area and definitely visit the local Mercado Coyoacan.  Buy tickets online or be prepared to stand in the line for a couple of hours!! Also, if you want to click photographs inside don’t forget to buy the special pass.
  • Museo de Antropologia (National Museum of Anthropology): Ticket – $70 (Mexican Pesos) per head. A great place to visit to learn more about Mexican culture and history. You’ll need at least a day to cover the entire museum. I would suggest going there before the pyramids as this place provides a lot of details about Teotihuacan history that a guide might not be able to.

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Food & Restaurants:

  1. Churrería El Moro – Crispy and delicious Churros with a variety of dips. Open 24×7!!
  2. La Casa de Tono – Delicious pozole, tostadas, quesadilla, sopes and Flan de la Abuela
  3. Street food – Mexican sweet corn slathered with mayo, seasoning, lime and chili, Tacos and Tortas

 

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Goodbye Mexico! Until next time 🙂

 

It’s a really nice city with great people all around. Just follow the basic safety precautions and you’ll have a blast! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email. Hope you guys have a fabulous week ahead! 🙂 ❤

 

 

 

Come say hello on Instagram @turmerictshirt or on my Facebook page 🙂

 

Saturday Style!

We decided to spend this Saturday in Fredericksburg, a small town around 70 miles west of Austin famous for its vineyards, old school German architecture and also for being the last bastion of German speaking Texans. Honorable mentions go out to Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and the Pacific War Museum.

As our short drive concluded at the Fredericksburg visitor center, the first thing on our itinerary was to visit the Pacific War Museum which was not hard to find as it is easily the biggest building in the town. The museum was built to honor FADM. Nimitz and is a tribute to the various heroes of the Allied forces who sacrificed their lives in the World War. It is a magnificent museum with 3 main buildings containing war memorabilia, weapons and also some really well made uniforms used in the Pacific War. We were only able to visit one building that contained the details and chronology of the war starting with Japan’s rise as a military power and subsequent attack on Pearl Harbor to the various battles that took place eventually concluding with Little Boy and Fat Man.

This is a must see and something which we plan to visit again on our next trip there 🙂

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Fudge Break

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Lunch: Ham, Bacon, Egg and Spinach Quiche. Salad and Fruits with Ranch Dressing

The next stop post lunch was Becker Vineyards and it’s 19th Annual Lavender Festival. Unfortunately due to early onset of Spring this year the Lavender bloomed early and we missed it by 3-4 weeks :(. So we drowned our sorrows in some Cab and Dolcetto.

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Becker Vineyard

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Becker Vineyard

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Wine Tasting

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Floral Jersey Dress (H&M), White Sneakers (Adidas), Beaded Necklace and Sunglasses (Walmart), Sling Bag (Calvin Klein), Watch (Timex)

 

Happy Summer everyone! 🙂

 

How I Winter!

Austin has been acting pretty crazy for the past two weeks! From 22° C to -2° C we have seen it all! I am not a winter person, I like staying indoors drinking Chaii and cooking my favorite winter food. But after spending a busy week indoors cooking up a storm it was time to dress up winter friendly, take a break from cooking & baking and treat ourselves to authentic and super delicious Chinese food!

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Stuffed Spicy Peppers with Oyster sauce! Slurp!

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BBQ Pork Bun! 😀

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Spicy tangy-ish Squid! 

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Spicy Pork Wontons! Yummm 😀

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Mango Pudding! 😀

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Noodle Paradise at the Asian Market! 😀

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Hope you guys are having a great weekend! 🙂

Surprise Winter!

Since Austin was still stuck in Summer I was in the mood of wearing something loose and comfortable. But all of a sudden Austin played the Winter(???) card on us this morning, so I decided to pair my over-sized shirt with a cozy sweater and I finished the look with a floral headband I am currently obsessed with! 😀 I absolutely love pairing summer wardrobe with winter essentials, also because I love stealing over-sized shirts and t-shirts from my husband and brother! 😀

 

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Chaii is always a good idea! Happy Weekend everyone! 🙂

21 Modaks, Bappa and Us!

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of my most-est favorite-est festivals of the year. When I was back home in India it was a great way for me to celebrate my culture with my family, friends and relatives. It reminds me of going around town to see beautiful ganesh idols, good food, new clothes, and a lot of dancing.

So, I spent this week preparing for our first Ganesh Chaturthi in the USA . And this time, I decided to do everything from scratch(#mommywillbeproud #khushikeaasun). This entailed building a Ganesh murti (See Below :)), 21 modaks, kaju katli and deciding my look for the day! 😉

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Happy Ganesh Chaturthi everyone! 🙂

 

Reference credits: Pinterest, http://homemakeover.in/