All posts filed under: Responsible Travel

dominican republic

Unexpected Friendships in The Dominican Republic.

Porque viajas sola? Why do you travel alone? Some questions don’t change even on the other side of the globe. I was sitting in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, in the Dominican Republic – a Caribbean nation that hadn’t been on my radar until I found a cheap flight and two unplanned weeks in New York. I was sitting in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, with Juanin, a newfound friend who had quit his job in a golf resort to become an independent guide – leading curious travellers to secret waterfalls and pristine villages near the north coast, one of which he grew up in. I wanted to tell Juanin that I travel alone because if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be sitting with him in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, chatting like long lost friends. Even for an introvert like me, solo travel lends itself to unexpected friendships all the time. And so it was in the Dominican Republic: Una vida: You have one life. When the folks at my sweet abode …

Gujarati thali, Gujarat food

Why I Turned Vegan – And What It Means for My Travel Lifestyle.

I had no idea that an ordinary ‘chicken bus’ ride in Nicaragua was (sort of) going to transform my life. But that’s how it is with the road; it changes you when you least expect it. I no longer remember what our destination was, only that the chicken bus – so called because people are crammed in like chickens – was far more crowded than usual because it was the day before New Year, and locals were heading home to the rural countryside. An old Nicaraguan lady kept her sack next to my feet, and I felt it move! When staring didn’t work, I asked her in polite Spanish to move it. Minutes later, I felt something poking my back. Much to my horror, inside were three little squeaking chicks trying to survive in a sack without a hole to breathe. I breathed a sigh of relief when the lady got off at her stop. Clearly she had taken the ‘chicken bus’ literally. Read: Isla de Ometepe: Where the Streets Have No Name A month or so later, while making myself an egg in …

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Awe-Inspiring Hideouts in Uttarakhand to Tune Out of Life and Tune Into the Mountains.

Deep in the mountains of Uttarakhand, I discovered a secret. I first experienced it while sitting with an old, back-bent, wrinkled-face lady under the shade of a tree, as she waited more than three hours for a passing car to hitch-hike with. I began to comprehend it while walking alongside two young, shy girls on their way home from school. And it dawned on me like an epiphany on my hike through isolated village homes, set miles away from the next house and the road. What you and I might describe as idling around, is an art that lends itself to contentment here – the art of doing nothing. In our always connected lives, it has become rare to break away from technology and free ourselves to do nothing, let our thoughts flow and tune out of the mental baggage we carry around. In the mountains, it’s a way of life. This post is about places where I’ve let my mind wander in the backdrop of the snow-capped Himalayas, and reconnect with nature and myself. I’m only highlighting environmentally-committed accommodations in Uttarakhand, because I would hate to …

tsermang camp ladakh, ladakh where to stay

Simple Ways to Travel More Responsibly in Ladakh.

Exactly one year ago, I was lost amid the dramatic, barren, snow-capped Himalayas of Ladakh. I acclimatized myself to the high altitude at an eco-luxury camp on the shores of the mighty Indus, hitch-hiked along remote villages in western Ladakh, introspected at a nunnery, witnessed a grand traditional welcome for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, hiked through surreal landscapes, met a tight work deadline on the steps of a monastery (the only place I could find 2G internet!), rode in rickety buses, and partook in the wisdom of Buddhist monks. So much has happened since – from discovering the secret lives of chocolate farmers in Costa Rica to hitch-hiking through soulful villages in northern Romania – that I almost forgot why traveling in Ladakh broke my heart. On a rainy day, I lay channel surfing in my Goan abode, when a glimpse of Pangong Lake on the Fox Life show Life Mein Ek Baar caught my eye. Watching the show’s hosts bike along the highest motorable roads in Ladakh and bond with the semi-nomadic Changpa tribe brought back many memories. I could suddenly hear the call …

Eagles nest lake atitlan, san marcos la laguna, best places to stay lake atitlan

10 Awe-Inspiring (yet affordable) Airbnbs to Stay in Central America.

Airbnb has changed the way I travel. Instead of pouring hours of research into finding unique accommodations during my Central America trip, I decided to rely on Airbnb and found private islands, organic farms and artistic, off-the-grid homes in the lap of active volcanoes – all at prices I could afford!

Jullay from Leh!

I groggily board the flight to Leh at an unearthly hour. Waking up irritably to the flight attendant’s announcement, the view outside my window quickly changes my mood. We are flying precariously close to the snow-covered Himalayas, and would soon land in the cold mountain desert of Ladakh. Three years after my first solo trip to Spiti, I am back in the trans-Himalayas, still dreamy and wide-eyed, a little nervous, and hoping to find solitude in the mountains. It feels like life has come a full circle.

villages India, Garhwal village, Uttarakhand villages

In Photos: The Garhwal Himalayas a Year After The Uttarakhand Floods.

I’ve never travelled in my own backyard. Born and brought up in the valley of Dehradun, I’ve always wondered what lay beyond the mountains I could see from my terrace. And last month, I finally decided to find out. I made my way up to the villages beyond Uttarkashi, and down via Mussoorie, transfixed by the majesty of the Garhwal Himalayas, as much as by the conviction of the locals to move on after the devastating Uttarakhand floods of 2013. I’ll let these pictures tell you their stories.

In Photos: Road Tripping in Rural Maharashtra!

I am transiting through Singapore on my way to South Australia as I pen this. Amid the lavish hospitality of the Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris Lounge and the excitement of visiting the land down under, I find myself looking back fondly at the last week, which I spent road tripping through rural Maharashtra. Just 2.5 hours away from Bombay, the state revealed many hidden surprises! We drove along pristine lakes, stayed at a work-in-progress art village just off Panchgani, and lazed in the warm afternoon sun on virgin beaches along the Konkan coast.

kerala backwaters, North Kerala, India Untravelled

God’s Own “Island” by the Backwaters of Kerala!

We slowly row away from the shore, leaving behind the dim lights on our palm-fringed island. The current in the backwaters sways our tiny kayak, and after a brief show of resistance, we surrender and let it guide us. Small fish occasionally jump out of the water, creating ripples. A thousand stars shimmer in the sky above. These are the virgin backwaters of North Kerala’s Kasaragod district, silent, untouched and without a houseboat in sight.