With temperatures rising mercilessly this summer, weekend getaways near Delhi are the best way to beat the heat. Bhimtal, a hill station near Delhi, is perfectly placed for a quick escape in the hills of Kumaon, without the crowds of its neighbor, Nainital.
I’ve crossed Bhimtal several times while making my way into the higher reaches of Kumaon. Most of these times, I’ve looked away from the Bhimtal Lake, which though surrounded by colorful trees, looks only as clean as you can expect an easily accessible lake in India to be. Read more
While in Valencia for Spain’s famous Las Fallas festival, I found my way to Valencia’s best kept secret – La Albufera, a national park on Valencia’s countryside. Home to the largest lake in Spain, rice paddies and potato farms, small fishing settlements, pine forests, and El Saler, one of Valencia’s finest beaches, a trip to Albufera is highly recommended on any list of things to do in Valencia. Read more
Hidden beaches in Thailand are not easy to come by, but the road led us to one on the beautiful little Koh Mak island, a well-kept secret in eastern Thailand.
There it lay. A mile long beach with pebbly white sand. The sea had receded into low tide, inviting us to wade into the shallow waters. Broken boats lay on patches of the sea bed that would otherwise be submerged in water. Read more
What a month March has been. I’ve travelled along the mountains, rivers and rice paddies of Thailand’s north, revisited with much nostalgia the familiar streets of Singapore, revelled in the festivities of Las Fallas in Spain, and finally made that illusive trip to India’s northeast to live with the Mishing tribe of Assam and explore the wilderness of the eastern Himalayas.
And in the midst of all these adventures, I’ve been overwhelmed to see my travel story about Turkey’s Black Sea region, published in BBC Travel, a travel publication I’ve always held in such high regard. Read more
I stroll along the cobbled by-lanes of Adliya, observing in fascination, the cafe culture of Bahrain. The men are predominantly dressed in white thobes, and each time they flick the striped red and white gutras on their head, I am reminded of the omnipresent red and white Bahraini flag – painted on walls along walkways, displayed outside houses and cafes, and even adorning car windows. This sentiment of patriotism seems to flow throughout the country, not only in ostentatious displays, but in the pride and warmth with which the Bahraini people speak of their island nation. Read more
I wrote this story for Tourism Malaysia and Travel Wire Asia.
Few travel adventures in my life have come close to the experience of climbing the twentieth highest peak in Asia – Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia’s half of Borneo. It was exciting, daunting, exhilarating and surreal, in that order. It was where I turned 21.
After a month of light training on the steps of the 12 floors of our apartment, my brother & I flew to Borneo, and arrived at the Timpohon Gate, located 90 km from Kinabalu National Park. We didn’t know then, but this national park is reason enough to visit Eastern Malaysia; beaches, islands, wildlife, the region has it all. After a compulsory briefing, we were assigned our guide, a small-built lady called Yeta, who I would come to know and admire during the course of our climb. We were each handed a walking stick, which we looked ridiculously at first, and later thanked our stars for carrying. Read more
Romanticized as a honeymooning paradise by the turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a haven in disguise for lovers of a different kind; those that love the heady rush of adrenalin from being suspended in mid air, or coming face to face with the big cats of the ocean, or feeling the wind whirl your two wheel ride. Its location off the southeast coast of Africa and its unique geography with mountains in its interiors and serene waters along all its coastlines, make it a hotspot for adventures that aren’t for the faint hearted. Read more
I’m finally back in Delhi after a month of travel exhilaration, first in Turkey, then in the Himalayas of Kinnaur. I have so much to write about both the trips that I don’t know where to start. Truth is, this week has felt like the kind of low Leonardo Di Caprio’s character in Basketball Diaries must’ve experienced while trying to get over his heroine addiction. After many days of being surrounded by gorgeous green landscapes interspersed with purple and yellow fields, deep blue waters, thick pine forests, misty skies, pure mountain air, and stark barren slopes, I’ve thrown myself in the deep end of city life in Delhi. The only difference is that for Leonardo, all the beauty was only a figment of his imagination. Read more
I am at your Ataturk International Airport as I write this, waiting to board my Turkish Airlines flight back to India. You have welcomed me with arms wide open, charmed me with your beauty, and overwhelmed me with the kindness of your people. In the last 20 days, I have picked up pieces of your language, learned to maneuver your territory, indulged my taste buds in your food, and in a moment I didn’t anticipate, I have come to know you as my home in another part of the world. I quickly built my first impressions of you when I got here, and if there is one thing I would change of them, it is that you are more beautiful and your people more hospitable than I could have imagined. Read more
She leads me by my hand up the stairs, grabbing a towel on the way and muttering something in Turkish to another woman in the room. In a small glass cubicle, handing me the towel, she says in her first English words to me, ‘take off everything and wear this.’ I look at her a little puzzled as she shuts the transparent door and waits outside. I’m at a Hamam aka the much famed Turkish Bath, and no amount of googling could make this situation feel less awkward. For the uninitiated, a Hamam is a sort of traditional group spa from the Ottoman era, complete with steam bath & massage, typically with separate chambers for men & women. Read more