Goodbye camels
Over the years, it has almost become a yearly tradition for me to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan in a Muslim country. I am not a Muslim – hell, I am not even religious –  but hailing from the secular, South-Indian state of Kerala has made me a keen observer of other religions, and perhaps even appreciate them much better. And if I have to learn about the culture and nuances of Islam, what better time to do that then during Ramadan, and in a Muslim country, right?   This quirk of mine has taken me in the past […]

An Eid Morning Drive for Causeways and Camels: Manama, Bahrain


Jordan culture
“The most interesting stories are found between the pages of your passport”   I can’t remember who said that, or where I read it. But I do remember when it got etched into my mind. It was in one of my weekend trips from Singapore to Malaysia. I was travelling with an Italian friend to check out the Putrajaya region of Malaysia. At the immigration, she just showed her passport and walked through – because Italians do not require a visa to enter Malaysia. I showed my passport, with a brightly coloured Malaysian visa. The immigration official checked the visa […]

The Unexpected Benefits of an Indian passport: 5 Interesting Visa Stories   Recently updated !


Vanuatu sunset
This is part of a series called ‘A sonnet to the world’, which I have been working on. You can read about the project here. The idea is to write a 14-line Shakespearean Sonnet for every country I visit (and hopefully and eventually, the whole world). And this one is for Vanuatu. Through Efate’s open windows, and creaking doors, They stared at me, like a naked leprechaun who fell from the sky. Eyes like uncut diamonds, piercing into my pores, They seemed to ask, “Man blong India, why yu come by?”   At the Kava bar, the blade dangled like a third […]

A Sonnet to Vanuatu



bhuli bhatiyari mahal park
If Bangkok has Khaosan road, and Kathmandu has Thamel, Paharganj is probably the most suitable equivalent for New Delhi. It was not my first time in Paharganj, Over the last 2 visits here, I have been awestruck by how the organised – and sometimes bafflingly disorganised – chaos of Paharganj attracts backpackers and travellers of all kinds. Paharganj literally means ‘hilly neighbourhood’, but there are no hills around this central Delhi neighbourhood. What it does have instead, are plenty of cheap hotels, lodges, street food, bars and the backpacking firangs who sport long hippie hairstyles and wear those elephant pants. […]

The Ghosts of Paharganj: New Delhi, India   Recently updated !


LGBT pride flag
Amsterdam in August is one the best places to be for experiencing the subdued Dutch Summers. It’s mildly hot, the sun paints brilliant canvases on the blue skies and exuberant reflections on the canals below, and there are the occasional bouts of rain whenever you feel that the heat is creeping up on you.   And it is also the month of love and pride. Further Reading: The time that I saw a Fokker at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. No windmills. But plenty of canals. Before visiting Amsterdam, I had harboured images of a city full of windmills. Because that is […]

Celebrating love on a Canal: Amsterdam, Netherlands


Ben duoc tunnels
Ho Chi Minh city is a beautiful city, as long as you live in the present. If you turn back time and visit the sights of the Vietnam war, there are plenty of sad and sorry places in this city, which will make you start looking for the damn ninja cutting onions. Like the Cu Chi Tunnels, for example. Note: If you are here only looking for practical information to visit Cu Chi Tunnels, and don’t want to read my slipshod writing, jump straight to the ‘Practical information’ section at the end of this post. I had already spent a […]

About Ben Duoc and it’s Tunnels: Cu Chi, Vietnam



Monkey forest bali tourists 2
It is no wonder that Bali is often called the ‘island of gods’. Every corner of it abounds with temples, beautiful beaches, ancient customs and some lip-smacking food. At the center of all this is Ubud, which was relatively unknown until Elizabeth Gilbert decided to find true love there.   While Ubud is nowadays a haven for vegans, yogis and other spiritual creatures, there is also another group of primates which have called Ubud their home much before them. Oh yeah, even before Elizabeth Gilbert got here after India.   The crab-eating macaques of the sacred monkey forest. Or as […]

Beyond the Monkeys of the Monkey Forest: Ubud, Bali


Dare children timor leste
After taking a couple of days to see the sights around the city center of Dili, the capital of Timor Leste, I knew I had to make my way deeper into the country to understand it better.   Sure, Dili was the capital and the most urban part of a country that was already one of the least visited countries in the world. But there was much more to Timor Leste than that. And I was determined to find out. Further Reading: A walk by the beaches of Dili, Timor Leste Riding a motorbike in Timor Leste Which was why […]

From Dili to Aileu: Deep into the heart of Timor Leste


Welcome to moreh manipur
If you tend to fall in the category of ‘gastronomically adventurous’, the Northeast region of India may just become your new home. The seven sister states – as they were called before Sikkim joined the party in 1975 and made it ‘eight sister states‘– of the Northeast are not only culturally different from the rest of India, but they also stand out in their culinary habits. And this holds true especially when it comes to what constitutes ‘non-vegetarian’ diet in this region. Back in my home state of Kerala in South India, there is a proverb in Malayalam which I […]

In Search of Sambhar: Riding to Moreh on the India-Myanmar border



womens chundan vallam
As everything that is good and amazing begins in Kerala, this adventure started with a glass of toddy too.   It was August of 2016. It was hot, perfect for a glass of chilled toddy (they now even have grape-flavoured versions!), and the traditional Vallam Kali (boat games) of Kerala. Which is funny when you think of it, because I hail from the northern end of Kerala. Where I come from is the bastion of communism in Southern India, but is not so much famous for boat games – which everyone in India thinks is a common sight anywhere in […]

Toddy and a bunch of boats: Glimpses from the Nehru Trophy Boat Race


Pangsau pass return 4
‘Vinegar Joe’ may have made enemies as far and wide as China and United Kingdom. But he had also left something behind for me to explore in Upper Assam. And the Indian government had made it possible to visit this place only on 3 days of the month. In my case, it was on December 30th 2017. What a way to end the year! The infamous history of the Stilwell Road After kicking off my K2K2K ride from Kibithoo, I tried to stay focused on my route and not make much too much deviations. But that resolution was broken within […]

Riding on the historic Stilwell road. Towards Pangsau Pass in Myanmar.


Kecak firedance uluwatu 2
In Ron Fricke’s ‘Baraka’ – which incidentally was also one of the movies that set off the wanderlust in me– there is a mysterious and esoteric sequence from Bali. A group of bare-chested Indonesian men sat in a semi-circular huddle wearing the checked Balinese sarong and a flower in their ear – and sang a peculiar song which only had the sounds of ‘cak cak cak’. As visually captivating as ‘Baraka’ is, the scene also was an aural delight. The chants echoed through the open courtyard of the temple, and there was something else about the whole scene. Something that […]

Chasing the rhythm of the Kecak in Uluwatu. A Bali story.



st. peters square
This is part of a series called ‘A sonnet to the world’, which I have been working on. You can read about the project here. The idea is to write a 14-line Shakespearean Sonnet for every country I visit (and hopefully and eventually, the whole world). And this one is for Vatican City. The Bishop of Rome was definitely a draw; But there were more ways that the Vatican could woo. In the centre of Bernini’s piazza, the fountain of Maderno And the solitary statue of St. Pietro were just a few.   Even the hands of Michelangelo had grazed […]

A Sonnet to Vatican City


kisama amphitheatre 5
Woovly calls me the guy who chases festivals around the world. So, as you can relate, it was a life-long dream for me to visit the Hornbill festival in Nagaland. And it almost turned into a nightmare.   How on earth did I end up Camping at the Hornbill Festival? I was riding near Shillong in early November, and then realised that the Hornbill festival would take place in Kohima from December 1st to 10th. I wanted to get to Kibithoo by December 20th, for the K2K2K ride that I am currently on. So, the Hornbill fest looked like a […]

7 Lessons I learnt from Camping at the Hornbill Festival


View from the Sulamani temple
4 years ago, I had taken a bus ticket from the Aung Mingalar bus station in Yangon, heading towards Bagan. And I just realised – in 2018 – that I never wrote about Bagan! Well, since Bagan was hit by an unfortunate earthquake in 2016, here is looking at a mystical, magical place that I am always happy to revisit. Note: These experiences are from 2014, when Myanmar just started opening up for tourism, and Bagan was an extremely offbeat place to visit. Your experience now would be very different from mine, as Bagan has already become quite touristy and […]

A Bicycling trip through Bagan: Before the earthquake



2
It is tough for me to write blogposts titled ‘the complete guide to XYZ cities’, because of the way I travel.   I often don’t have an itinerary, and when I reach a place I just tend to start walking and figure out interesting things to see. And more often than not, my time gets eaten up by the people I meet there, leaving very little for the places. Especially so in Europe, because there are usually a thousand things to see in each city in Europe, but also a thousand interesting people to meet. So, I tend to go […]

A Park, a Puerto, a Plaza and a Palace: A photowalk through the heart of Madrid


Call me a late bloomer. But it was only in 2016 that I realised that Instagram could be a powerful platform for absent-minded travellers like me to keep track of their travels.   No, it wasn’t just for the Warholesque 15 minutes of fame that I got from posting each photo. But rather for the fact that I could use my Instagram to make a proper timeline of my daily travels, sights and activities. Something like my project365, but without as much effort. I am not a regular blogger, and don’t always get time to write a blogpost during a […]

2017: A year through my Instagram Travel Photos


san marino walking guide
Before the nation of Italy was unified in the 19th century, some of the city-states that make up the current fabric of Italy, used to have the official title of ‘Most serene republic’. Like, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, Most Serene Republic of Genoa, and Most Serene Republic of Lucca. Since the unification of Italy, they all discarded the title. But one modern independent state still continues to use this title, albeit informally. Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino. The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. And you know the nomenclature is quite apt, when you consider the fact that […]

A misty walk through the Most Serene Republic of San Marino



San marino sightseeing train
All roads lead to Rome, they said. Well, some roads lead away from Rome too. Like the one I was going to take. From Termini to Rimini. Goodbye Rome. Hello Rimini. I had been staying in Rome for the past few days, filling myself at Communist-style Osterias and hearing the pope speaking in a lilting, swoon-worthy Italian at St. Peter’s Basilica. I wanted to leave Rome and head towards Florence, but that is when something else interesting caught my eye. The Republic of San Marino was not only the 3rd smallest country in Europe (after Vatican and Monaco city), but […]

All roads lead away from Rome: Rimini and San Marino


phuket vegetarian festival
The masong had her eyes closed. I’ve seen her with her eyes closed for the last 10 minutes, which cut a very different foreground to the fire that raged behind her in the background. Anybody would have assumed that she had gone to sleep, standing up. Or that she was simply closing her eyes for that much-needed respite from the smoke that was everywhere. But because this was Thailand, I had the luxury of getting up close to her to take a closer look.   Only to see that she was not sleeping. She was crying. A tear rolled down […]

Of fire and fireworks: Phuket Vegetarian festival, Thailand


Walking along the Kapurpurawan coastline
Philippines may be home to 7107 islands. But one island beats them all in size. Luzon is the largest and the most populous island of the Pinas – as Philippines is often called. And unlike what you may think, it was much, much more than just Manila.   And to understand that, I had to go north of Manila. Past Zambales, Baguio, the cordilleras and even La Union. All the way to the Northern tip of Luzon.   To Ilocos Norte.       Ilocos – From the South to the north When the Spanish started consolidating their control over […]

Towards the Northern tip of Luzon: Ilocos Norte, Philippines



breast mound
Katai Kamminga sat opposite to me while sipping her bluish iced tea, which tasted delicious. When I asked her what the tea was made from, she mischievously retorted with a wink. “From my flower. Now you know what it tastes like”.   It was one of the many witty puns that I would hear from the brilliantly sharp mind of Katai Kamminga over the next hour. Turns out the tea was made from a non-orchid pea flower quite common in Thailand, named the Butterfly pea.   And it’s scientific name was ‘Clitoria Ternatae’. The erotic garden and teahouse of Mae […]

The Erotic Garden of Katai Kamminga: Chiang Mai, Thailand (NSFW)


walk to port de plaisance
“I am on a trip around the world studying different types of coffee”, The backpacker I met in my bijou hostel in Saint Pierre explained, as he measured out the grams of coffee beans he was going to make his coffee from. He had all the apparatus required for it, and apparently all the patience to boot.   “I started in Brazil, went through different parts of South America. Then I came to Africa. First to Ethiopia, then Kenya. And then I decided to try some European coffee made in African soil of the Indian Ocean”, and he gave the […]

A little bit of France in Africa: Saint Pierre, Reunion Island


palau islands
This is part of a series called ‘A sonnet to the world’, which I have been working on. You can read about the project here. The idea is to write a 14-line Shakespearean Sonnet for every country I visit (and hopefully and eventually, the whole world). And this one is for Palau. I hopped across the ocean, from one island to another. Found out what hidden legs were, on my way to a hidden shore. In search of a mysterious land, of which what I now remember Is an unseen jellyfish lake and tropical rains galore.   Who goes all […]

A Sonnet to Palau