Pangsau pass return 2
‘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

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

people loy krathong chiang mai
It was a bittersweet culmination of a dream I had harboured for many years. To see the Loy Krathong festival. Or, as hippie instagrammers often called it, the lantern festival.   Bittersweet, because it was everything I had expected. And much more. But we will come to the ‘much more’, later in this post. Thanking the Lannas   It had been a long road from Phuket to Bangkok. Thanks to some seasonal floods that were happening in central Thailand, my long, arduous 21 hour bus ride from Phuket to Chiang Mai, had become a long, arduous 27 hour bus ride […]

Mixed emotions at the Loy Krathong Lantern festival: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Welcome to india marcelo
It was not just the weird-looking contraption that caught my fleeting attention. It was also what was written on it. “Ja Houve de Balao, Aviao, Barco, Carro, Moto e Bicicleta … Maz de skate e a 1 vez!!!” I knew a little Portuguese, thanks to 2 weeks in Brazil, and I kind of figured out the translation. It went something like, “There has been balloon, plane, boat, car, motorcycle and bicycle. But first time on a skateboard”   I sat in the arrivals section of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, sipping a lukewarm sugary drink that […]

Meet the Brazilian skating around the world – Marcelo Silva

St. Peter's piazza view 2
  An ocean of human beings had engulfed the Piazza of St. Peters. They came from all walks of life, with all kinds of problems and troubles. Some brandished their national flags; others, their cameras lofted atop long selfie sticks. Some looked around; while most had their eyes glued to the second-last of 10 windows on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace. Eagerly waiting in the glory of the Roman sun, for one man to show up and start speaking.   A man named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who in another life was a chemist, a janitor and a bar […]

Watching Pope Francis speak on a Sunday noon: Vatican City

lake pinatubo philippines
“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring!” — Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes   As always, Calvin knew best. So did I, apparently. And that was when I decided to finally explore the Pinatubo crater lake after years of putting it off.   I had lived in Manila for nearly 5 years. But not once during those 5 years had I tried to step beyond the comforts of the city, and venture towards Pinatubo. Venture I did – and plenty of times – to the famous beaches of Zambales, the colourful festivals of Masskara and Panagbenga, former […]

To the moon and back: Trekking Pinatubo in Philippines

kariyathan para kakkayam kozhikode 4
My back was beginning to ache.   I had expected the 70 KM ride from Mahe to Vayalada to be relatively easy, given that I am used to much longer rides. And it was indeed easy, up until Balussery in Kozhikode district. But nobody warned me about the uphill and rocky climb to reach Vayalada. From Balussery, the road gradually kept winding upwards. A few kilometres before the Vayalada point, the paved roads gave way to potholed roads. As I got even closer to Vayalada, the potholed roads gave away to rocky strips. With rocks not for the faint hearted. […]

Places to visit in Kerala that you’ve never heard of: Vayalada and Kakkayam Dam

Blue mountains in katoomba
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 Australia. It didn’t hurt, nor was there a flavor of fallen grace. It didn’t feel like the rain, nor bursts of thunder. It was a rather banal affair, very commonplace When I finally lost my virginity, down under.   The winter hesitated, then shoved its deep claws Into me, […]

A sonnet to Australia

monk kid angkor wat 2
Note: The Angkor archaeological park is a giant area, and it is impossible at this age for me to remember all the details (yeah, I am blaming the 30’s for everything nowadays). Hence, this post is not very descriptive, rather more of a photo-story. The sunrise was upon us. And the Tuk Tuk driver couldn’t have found a better place to drop us off. Right in front of the magnificient Angkor Wat temple complex!   We had spent the last night getting knackered in the party streets of Siem Reap’s Club Street, and walked in tripping, into our hostel. The […]

In Photos: A day at the Angkor Archaeological Park, Cambodia

kyiv boryspil airport arrival 10
Note: My visit to Ukraine was in August 2017, just shortly after the Visa on Arrival was introduced for Indians. So, understandably, it was a little chaotic and disorganised. As of writing, I can see that the information on the website is much better reflected now, and the chaos should be relieved too. In other words, this is NOT A RANT. Just describing my experience. “Don’t visit countries that are at war!”, said conventional wisdom. Well, when have I ever listed to it?   I have wanted to visit Ukraine from the time that I did a few months of travel […]

Visa on Arrival for Indians in Ukraine: My experience

hong kong skyline
Funny story. It was Jeju that took me to Hong Kong, even if it was for half a day. When I planned for my long-awaited trip to Jeju in South Korea, I had to consider the fact that I could not travel to Jeju via Seoul. I could, but that would mean that I have to apply for a Korean visa. But, given the amount of delay involved in that, I decided to skip Seoul, and get into Jeju from some other countries. Definitely not Singapore, since there were no direct flights from Singapore to Jeju. Read: I often scout […]

Exploring Hong Kong in 12 hours

punting cambridge
This is the second part of a 2-part roadtrip from London through South and Midwestern England. Click here for part 1. Day 3 – The canals of Birmingham Before this day, I had associated the word ‘canal’ with Venice or Amsterdam. But little did I know, that the massive canal network in Birmingham was bigger than the one in Venice or Amsterdam! But to enjoy them properly, we first had to deal with the day. What was a peaceful 2 days without rain, had completely turned the tables on us. Birmingham was pouring! The news mentioned that the storm had abated, […]

A Roadtrip from London – Birmingham, Ely and Cambridge (Part 2)