All posts filed under: Asia

My travel notes from Asia.

Thailand beaches

Monday Blues Are Better on a Beach in Thailand.

I’m wrapped up in layers amid cold winds from the Arctic and dancing snowflakes, on the streets of New York. A faint sun curiously peeks out from a gloomy sky, transporting me back to winter last year – a foggy Delhi I found myself stuck in when a sponsored international trip bailed on me days before the new year. I remember sitting on a terrace under the hazy Delhi sky, desperately looking online for flights that could take me far, far away. As luck would have it, I found a flight to Thailand for only INR 8000 ($120) – when most domestic flights were upwards of INR 30,000 – and impulsively decided to book it. One hour before New Year midnight, I arrived at Bangkok airport and hurriedly got a visa-on-arrival stamped on my passport, checked into a nice yet inexpensive hotel, and went out to a local restaurant to fire up my taste buds with a vegetarian yellow curry. Just as I was finishing, a group of young Thai boys and girls invited me to join them for a new year street dance! That is Thailand – …

Travel Contest: Win a Trip for Two to Singapore!

Three years after I moved out of Singapore, there is something about this little island state  that still lingers in my mind. Most of us travel to find solitude in nature or to relive parts of ancient history. But Singapore, with its manmade beaches, solar-powered gardens and city lights glittering almost more magically than stars, is a glimpse of what travel might become in the future. When the world has culturally assimilated and technology surpasses even the wonders of nature, won’t we travel to witness progress?

7 Reasons Why Bohol is My Favorite Island in The Philippines.

Years after my brief tryst with the Philippines, I revisited the country in March, hoping to discover its pristine islands. I sampled city life in Manila, rowed into an underground river in Palawan, walked on the edge of Cebu’s tallest building, and went deep sea diving in Negros. But it was with the island of Bohol that I fell in love. This is why: 1) There is a pool table and hammock in every village house! I’ve witnessed laid-back island life in many places, but Bohol’s refreshingly relaxed vibe is different. You don’t need to go to a beach here to see people lazying on the sand with beers and music. Most houses on the island, whether by the farms, along the river, or in the hills, have pool tables and hammocks in their backyards. Driving along the island’s lush interiors, I saw locals swinging on hammocks outside their houses, and entire families (often the mothers leading the troupe) bantering over friendly games of pool. C’est la vie! 2) The Chocolate Hills are as fascinating as their name. Witnessing the Chocolate Hills of Bohol …

In Photos: The Countryside of Northern Thailand.

There are very few places in the world that feel like home to me, and northern Thailand is one of them. I showed up there with a tired soul, on an impulsive trip that I hoped would rejuvenate me (Read: Going Back to The Places we Love). And what can I say? Thailand gave me the time, space and natural beauty to think, write, and appreciate the little joys of life again. I pen this post from a little gourmet cafe in Singapore, and these photos, taken with my Sony Cybershot camera, are to be my sunshine on dark and dull days in the year ahead. I hope they’ll make you yearn as much for the Thai countryside. *** 1. TEARING INTO THE POSTCARD THAT IS NORTHERN THAILAND  for such surreal views of the hills, river, paddies, and sunsets that are now etched in my mind forever. *** 2. SAMPLING HOME-COOKED VEGETARIAN THAI FOOD  at Ban Lom Jen Homestay – Penang Curry and steamed rice. Delicious! *** 3. MARVELING AT THE WHITE TEMPLE  of Chiang …

In Photos: Bhap Village, Rajasthan.

Late last year, I visited Bhap village, near Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Despite being one of India’s most travelled states, Rajasthan harbors secrets that take long to find, and even longer to forget. Bhap village, surrounded by a serene village lake, gorgeous salt pans, massive sand dunes, and friendly people, is one such secret. This photo essay is a collection of fond memories from the days I spent there: *** 1. SOAKING IN THE SERENITY OF RAJASTHAN’S LAKES in Bhap village. Bhap itself is a typical Indian village with no proper sewage or drainage system, but after a disheartening walk through its narrow by-lanes, arriving on the pristine shores of this village lake is nothing short of amazing. Across the lake, we could spot several herds of camels trotting along in the desert. *** 2. LAUGHING WITH VILLAGE KIDS in a village near Bhap, where Dalit families are still discriminated against and not allowed to visit the village temple. The smiles of these Dalit children give hope that India’s future will be brighter than that. *** …

Madulkelle, Sri Lanka tea estates, Sri Lanka ecotourism, eco Sri Lanka

Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge: Tete-a-Tea in Nature’s Lap.

A gentle tap on the tent startles me. I reluctantly get up from my cosy bed and lift the flap, to be greeted by a mesmerizing sight. Dark, ominous clouds swiftly cross the sky and settle upon the Knuckles mountain range in the distance. The moon becomes visible every now and then, painting haunting patterns in the sky. A handful of lights glow in the valley below. Fireflies shimmer above the tea plantations. The tap on the tent was just the wind, inviting me for a glimpse of this magical night.

Sri Lanka pictures, Sri Lanka photos, Sri Lanka hill country

Top 5 Offbeat Things To Do in Sri Lanka.

Forget Ravana; Sri Lanka is now the kingdom of nature. It is here that the Indian Ocean turns a crystal blue and gently caresses a powdery white shore, and waterfalls emerge from deep within the mountains and trickle into little streams through pristine tea plantations. It is here that the influences of the west have stayed at bay, the people are genuinely friendly (Read: My First Impressions of Sri Lanka), and culinary goodness is in abundance. So go now, and take my list of the best things to do in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka villages, Sri Lanka ecotourism, Sri Lanka secrets

Galkadawala: Sri Lanka’s Best Kept Secret.

I take off my shoes, slip on a sarong, and carefully tip toe into the luke warm water. The village ladies, all clad in colorful sarongs, extend their hands so I don’t get entangled in the weeds and fall. Maulie, our host in Galkadawala, introduces me as “India”; the ladies giggle and say something friendly in Singhala. I wade into the lake with their help, and when my feet no longer touch the soft bed, I start to swim. Maulie points to a tree in the distance, where she spotted one of the lake’s resident crocodiles a few days ago. A soft chill runs through my spine, as brahminy kites appear in the clear blue sky above.

In Photos: Chugging up Sri Lanka’s Hill Country.

Earlier this week, we boarded the blue train from Kandy towards Ella, hoping for some respite from the rain that had enveloped Kandy. Little did I know then that thanks to the rain, we were going to witness one of the most spectacular train journeys I’ve done in all of Asia. We chugged up the hill country of Sri Lanka, winding along tea plantations, forests, waterfalls, streams, rivers, sleepy villages, and mountain tunnels.