baku azerbaijan 2
Ever so quietly – like it does everything else – even Azerbaijan started offering Electronic visas for Indian passport holders. Further Reading: Azerbaijan is not the only one. There are more than 20 countries in this list, that offer electronic visas to Indian citizens.   I mean, it was expected. Georgia and Armenia, 2 countries bordering Azerbaijan in the Caucasus region, were already providing e-visas to Indians. So it didn’t make sense for Azerbaijan to miss out on the tourist revenues. Especially given the fact that Azerbaijan was really close to the middle-east, where most of the Indians were the […]

Electronic Visa for Indians in Azerbaijan: My Experience


boy and motorbike graffiti penang
Before I took a flight from Singapore to Penang, I knew only 2 things about Penang: the food and the art. I know. I am such a cliched traveller sometimes.   The street food of Penang, infused with elements of Chinese, Peranakan, Malay, Indian, Thai and European cuisines, needs no introduction. If anything, I was confused with choices here. But the art scene in Penang is completely something else. I knew about the street art of Penang, but I was about to learn about it in much more detail here. Further Reading: Looking for other offbeat adventures in Malaysia? Explore […]

The Many Facets of Street Art in Georgetown, Penang


Rengma dress nagaland 2
Anyone who knows me also knows that I have an insatiable urge to chase festivals. I love large gatherings, especially if they are cultural festivals – and I never let an opportunity go past me to visit another one where large group of people flock together. “More people. Give me more people!!”, I sometimes cry in my sleep. Not really. That’s just melodrama, but you get the point.   But then, there are some festivals that I never heard of before, and never planned to visit. And when they magically fall out of a calendar right onto my lap, ahhh, […]

The Other Festival of Kohima: Ngada Festival of the Rengmas



Pha that luang vientiane laos
To me, Vientiane is one of the most interesting capital cities of South East Asia. On one hand, I could feel a deep sense of history, as this was once the administrative capital of the Kingdom of Lan Sang and was subjected to the Siamese occupation. On the other hand, there were traces everywhere of the French occupation that followed, with street names in French, and Baguettes with tuna or chicken being sold on every street or by the side of the mighty river Mekong.   Hmm… Baguettes. Ok, I digress. Let’s put the Baguettes away and focus on how […]

A photowalk through the National Symbol of Laos: Pha That Luang, Vientiane


Tibetan monastery tindolong tezu 2
It was the lure of Kibithoo that made me visit Tezu.   Many who do pan-India motorcycle rides in the North-East region of India, end up coming to Tezu. Because it is considered to be the Easternmost motorable point of India. It is not, but before I can write about Kibithoo or Kahoo, I have to write about Tezu first. Further Reading: Why was I riding towards Kibithoo? To start the epic solo K2K2K ride, from Kibithoo to Kanyakumari to Koteshwar. From Northeast, to the Extreme Northeast After my time in Nagaland, enjoying my time camping at the hornbill festival, I made […]

The Tibetans of Tindolong: Riding to Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh


Seychelles backpacking 7
“The most interesting stories are found between the pages of one’s passport”   Well, I am being repetitive, because I said that already. In this previous post about the 5 most interesting visas on my passport.   But in the same post, I had also mentioned that visas are different from entry/exit stamps. A visa is what you need to enter a country, and it may be obtained in advance, upon arrival, or as an Electronic visa. On the other hand, an entry/exit stamp is what the immigration officer gives you, to mark the date that you entered/left the country. […]

5 Interesting Entry and Exit stamps: On my Indian passport



Oriental bay wellington new zealand. 4
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 New Zealand. In Auckland, the cold winds pierced my skin, And the night lights swayed my senses high. And while the city slept with a breezy grin, The forlorn needle pierced the forgotten sky.   In Taupo, the lake stretched out in miles Or maybe it was the decline […]

A Sonnet to New Zealand


Cristo rei dili timor leste 2
There is a common saying among the youth in Brazil, especially when it comes to matters of football. “The pope may be Argentinian. But god is definitely Brazilian”   Of course, this is a reference to the fact that the current pope is Argentinian, while Rio de Janeiro has the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the city and showering its blessings. But come to think of it. There was another place in the world, which had both the pope and the Christ.   Dili, in Timor Leste. Further Reading: The Pope may be Argentinian, but his Italian was one of […]

The Other Christ Statue. Cristo Rei in Dili, Timor Leste


Mutrah souq entrance oman
I had grown up in Oman. But had left the country back in 1996. And after 20 years, I often felt the urge to visit it again.   I came everywhere around Oman in the GCC region. First UAE relaxed its visa policy, then Qatar did. And even Bahrain followed suit. But visiting Oman was turning out to be difficult – simply because of the Visa policy. Oman had a policy of issuing ‘Sponsored visas’ for Indians even if they wanted to visit the country for touristy purposes. A ‘Sponsored Visa’ meant that I had to find a local sponsor, […]

Electronic Visa for Indians in Oman: My Experience



Alexander statue helsinki
Helsinki invited me with quite a bit of a dilemma. And two-thirds of it, was my own creation.   I only had 3 days here, and I had not planned to see anything. My plan was to land in Helsinki, start walking around on my own and figure out things. And I spent almost 1 entire day out of these 3 by meeting some friends and treating myself to the essential Finnish Sauna experience at a local favourite Sauna, which was named Loyly and pronounced ‘Lovely’. And I spent a second day visiting the island of Suomenlinna (will write another post about […]

A One-day Walking Guide for Helsinki


I love tunis tunisia 1
I got hooked on to the idea of visiting Tunisia because of a Hungarian girl I met during my time in Budapest.   It was a tinder date in Budapest, and we got talking about each other’s travel interests. I was on a 1-year long backpacking trip and project 365 back then, and she took her 4 scheduled vacations every year diligently. Of course, we both loved travelling. But it was our styles that were different.   While I was backpacking on a shoe-string budget to the corners of Eastern Europe, her vacations were all package tours. She would always […]

Visa on Arrival for Indians in Tunisia: My Experience


bahrain fort arches 2
After I was done with the experience of the amazing Eid-morning drive from Manama, my days in Bahrain just got a loooooottt more better!   My friend – the same guy who almost drove me to Saudi Arabia and then to a camel farm – was free now, and was raring to show me more sights around Bahrain. I could get a hint of expat pride in him for the country. “Bahrain is much more than the camels and the liberal culture”, he kept saying. And I did believe him. So, in the span of one day, he took it […]

A Fort and a Mosque: Exploring Manama, Bahrain



Sigatoka broken bridge fiji
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 Fiji. In Lautoka, the soft sand cuddled her toes, And the cool wind kissed her cheek. As the ocean lay bare beyond her, she arose, “Follow me?”. But no answer did she seek.   Tikka overwhelmed my nostrils, and Rafi sang his tone. In Nadi, a little bit of […]

A Sonnet to Fiji


Kids in liquica 2
After spending some time in the heart of Dili – mostly visiting the Pope, and walking around the beach – I decided to go a little west of it. Towards the province of Liquica.   I tried to book the motorcycle again, the same one that I had used to ride to Aileu. But turns out it was already booked out today by someone else. So, I had to hire a taxi/guide that would take me and a couple of friends at the hostel towards the province of Liquica. At 50 dollars for the whole day, we were excited to […]

Towards the Sad West of Dili: Liquica and Maubara, Timor Leste


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


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



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 2
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