Month: May 2013

12 Reasons to Love Jasper.

On the second stop of my cross-Canada trip, I found myself in the vast wilderness of Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. I swam in the frigid Fraser River, walked on the ancient Athabasca glacier, took a cruise to Spirit Island on Maligne Lake, and spent many an hour reading Murakami in the backdrop of the snow-clad Rocky mountains. On a misty morning in Jasper, the title of the book I’ll pen someday, occurred to me. So I have to share with you, just what made me fall in love with Jasper. *** 1. In the lap of the Rockies, a quaint little town Lakes and forests in its midst, snow on its crown. Everyone knows everyone else, it’s true But you’ll never have to walk too far for solitude. The elk graze by the road, the moose stay close You’ll hold your breath as the black bears pose. Upon the lakes, the clouds descend As though they are greetings the heavens send… That on Maligne Lake when you take a cruise Spirit Island shall become …

In Search of Vancouver’s Wilderness.

While looking for unusual things to do in Vancouver, I asked you on my Facebook page which place I should check out. You voted for ‘the neighborhood where the wilderness meets the sea’. So I headed to Tsawwassen (pronounced Tawasen, means “facing the sea”) in southwest Vancouver, best known for its ferry terminal, and became convinced that it is indeed one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets.

My First Impressions of Canada.

It’s been a little over three days since I arrived on the shores of Vancouver, wide-eyed to experience what the “west” is really like. Between battling jet lag, getting to know my fellow travel bloggers, and soaking in the sheer beauty of the maple leaf country, I’ve validated notions that I’ve subconsciously held of North America, and in a way, gotten to know my “travelling self” better. On this cloudy morning, as I pen my first impressions of Canada, the rain drops are gently dripping on my window and the pine trees are swaying in the wind, perfectly encapsulating the start of my love affair with the great white north. 1. The Canadians live up to their reputation of being incredibly friendly. From the lady who whipped out her iPhone to help me figure directions on a chilly night, to the security guard who walked me to the right exit, to the bus driver who let me go ticketless when I didn’t have enough small change, to the couple who helped me decode the way to …

Canada: A Glimpse of The Adventures Ahead!

By the time you read this, I’ll be whizzing above the oceans on my Air Canada / Lufthansa flight. If Canadian Tourism Commission’s plan for us is anything to go by, it’s going to be one epic travel + blogging adventure! Unlike most other press trips I’ve been on, I love the amount of free and easy time we have on this trip to explore Canada on our own. As always, I’ve made no firm plans, and will be seeking suggestions from the locals I meet. A big thank you to those of you who’ve been kind enough to recommend hangouts and eateries, or offered to show me around!

There’s Something About Taj.

My constant travels sometimes leave me craving to curl in and enjoy the finer luxuries of travelling. So when an opportunity arose, I decided to grab it and stay at the Club Room of the Taj Palace hotel, in Delhi itself. I first came across the concept of a “Staycation” – indulging in a luxury stay within your own city – while living in Singapore, and to be honest, cringed at the thought of wasting a weekend staying in when the world outside was waiting.

Jasper town, Jasper photos, Jasper pictures, Jasper Alberta Canada

Canada Tourist Visa For Indians: Tips and Requirements.

In an effort to keep costs low, I always prefer to apply for international visas myself, torturous as that can sometimes be. After three painful Schengen visa applications, applying for a visa to Canada, even with my Indian passport, was almost a breeze! The visa requirements for Indians applying for a Canadian tourist visa are simple, and the process, facilitated by VFS in most of India, is efficient. I scored a multiple entry 7-year visa for Canada, and here are my tips to get you entry into the maple leaf country. ANNOUNCEMENT: After 7 years of travelling the world – 5 of those without a home or permanent address – I’ve written a book about my journey! “The Shooting Star” charts my journey from the cubicle to the road and from small-town India to remote corners of the globe. Published by Penguin, the book is now available on Amazon and Flipkart. [Update 2018] There are two ways to apply for a Canada tourist visa on an Indian passport now: In paper, or online. The former is the traditional way of …

In Photos: Sangla Valley, Kinnaur.

Kinnaur, in the lower Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh, is home to the stunning Sangla Valley, along which gushes the mighty Baspa River. Rakcham and Chitkul, the last villages of India before Tibet, make Sangla one of the most beautiful valleys in the Himalayas – sparsely populated with graphic landscapes and a verdant countryside. I’ll let these photos, taken during my trip to Kinnaur last year, speak their thousand words. *** 1. THE DRAMATIC LANDSCAPE OF RAKCHAM VILLAGE through which gushes the Baspa River. On the left lies the Sangla Valley, and on the right, the Baspa Valley. A rickety river bridge connects the two. *** 2. LIFE IN THE HIMALAYAN VILLAGE of Rakcham is slow and beautiful. The village mostly consists of mountain shepherds and farmers, and Rakcham is known for the highest quality potatoes and vegetables in India. *** 3. THE WOODEN HUTS OF RAKCHAM complement the village’s idyllic landscape, surrounded by potato fields, pine forests and the dramatic rise and fall of the peaks of the Himalayas. *** 4. ON THE HIKE FROM RAKCHAM …

Bhimtal pictures, Bhimtal, India village life

Bhimtal: Forests, Farms and False Impressions.

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.

I’m Going to Canada!

You heard that right. I’m one of 28 international bloggers to be invited by the Canadian Tourism Commission this May, for what sounds like an incredible trip to explore the maple leaf country. I’m going to be the only travel blogger from India, so that’s a little overwhelming! This 15-day trip will start in Vancouver, often ranked among the best cities to live in. From there, we’ll board the VIA Rail to the mountain town of Jasper, and to Winnipeg in the Canadian Prairies. The trip will end in Toronto, where we’ll be part of TBEX, the greatest international travel blogging conference. Seeing another one of my travel bucket list items turn to reality is unbelievably exciting!

travelling alone first time, solo travel tips

6 Practical Tips to Plan Your First Solo Trip.

Planning your first solo trip can be a daunting task, exciting as it is. From the best places to travel solo, to where to stay when you are travelling alone, what to pack, and how to prepare, here are practical tips based on my own solo travels. So you’ve decided to stop waiting for company and take the plunge to travel alone. Fantastic! As you make your first foray into the world of solo travel, your mind must be boggling with questions. Where should you go? How should you break it to your family and friends? Should you book everything in advance? What should you pack? Use these ideas to get started: 1. Where to go on your first solo trip? Truth be told, the experience of going solo is more important than the destination itself, on your first solo trip. If you’re not used to travelling alone, you’re already stepping out of your comfort zone – so make sure your destination is one that makes you comfortable. It could be a weekend trip to a …