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   Recently updated !


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)   Recently updated !


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 8
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)


Panda pavilion macau
“Oh!! You have to see the Pandas! They are the cutest!!” Atleast 3 of my friends had said this line to me when I told them that I was visiting Macau.  And I have never seen one in my life too; except in those animated flicks where the Panda kicks some serious ass. So, before I had even left for Macau, I had scribbled down somewhere in my notebook: “Visit the Giant Panda zoo in Macau” Contrary to what most people believe, Macau is not a single island. It is actually made up of 2 different islands which are connected […]

No Giant Pandas. But enough Egg Tarts : in Coloane village, Macau



university church oxford
This is the first part of a 2-part road-trip from London through South and Midwestern England. Click here for part 2, or follow me on Facebook for updates. The weather signs weren’t right when I landed in London Heathrow airport. And at that point, if anyone told me that I was going to drive through London – Stonehenge – Woodstock – Oxford – Birmingham – Ely – Cambridge – London over just 4 days, I would have laughed at them. It was early February, and the England weather was cold – as was expected. A chill wind welcomed me as I […]

A Road trip from London – during Storm Imogen (Part 1)


amaro italy digestif
As an Indian boy from a village in Northern Kerala who grew up on fish-curry and paratha (technically, porotta in Kerala), my notion of Italian food was late and simple. ‘Late’ because I had my first pasta only at the age of 23 or something. And ‘simple’ because I thought Italian food was only about Pasta and Pizza. Read: Lengthy drive-in beaches and communist symbols. Read more about the beaches of Northern Kerala. During my travels, I have discovered that Italian cuisine was much more than that. I didn’t need to travel to Italy to dine at Italian restaurants in […]

The Italian dining experience you probably NEVER heard of: An Osteria in Rome


Portugal china friendship statue at senado square
Macao was turning into a revelation. And that was even before I saw the ruins! After a day spent exploring Portuguese architecture, Eiffel tower, and Venetian canals, I was determined to see more things in the historic center of Macau. (Also spelt Macao, and I think I keep alternating between the two!) In 2005, UNESCO declared the historic centre of Macau as the 31st designated historic site of China. And with good reason too. Because it represented a unique marriage between the Chinese and Portuguese cultures. The historic center of Macau itself refers to nearly 20 sites spread around the […]

The Ruins and Crypts: St. Paul in Macao



main lobby venetian macau 2
After 4 hours of taking off from Changi airport in Singapore, I had landed in Macau International Airport. Not that I remember much of it, because I had slept throughout the flight. Thank god for clear skies! But I do remember not updating the time on my watch when I landed. Because after all, Macau and Singapore were on the same timezone. Effort minimized!   But I couldn’t remember why I had not visited Macau till now. I had been to Hongkong, which was just 40 miles from Macau. Twice. I could have visited Macau easily, at least on a […]

Going Portuguese, Parisian and Venetian: Of casinos in Macau


fokker 100 KLM cityhopper
Its not a unusual sight to see airplanes in an airport because, duh, that’s what airports are for, right? However, true to its unique style, Amsterdam definitely decided to give you some surprises in that department too. And on a Panorama terrace, no less. I had ensured that my trip to Amsterdam coincided with the annual Canal gay pride festival in the month of August. And in my hurry to see the colorful pride, I had not taken much time to explore the Schiphol airport. I finished the pride, a road trip through Western Europe, and on my return, I […]

A Fokker on a panorama terrace: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam


vip class shanghai maglev train
China is massive in every context. This probably explains the Chinese term for mainland: Dàlù. It literally means ‘the continent’. Mainland refers to the area which is directly under the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China. So, this excludes HongKong and Macau, which are Special Administrative Regions. And about Taiwan, well, let’s not go there because it is an entirely different political discussion. I’ve visited Hong Kong, Macau and even Taiwan. But I have never visited Mainland China until last month. To be fair, the only reason was the visa. While Hong Kong and Macau had visa-on-arrival for Indians […]

An 8 minute VIP on a Maglev Train: Shanghai, China



chamarel waterfalls view
This is the second part of a 2-part series about a roadtrip through Mauritius island, mostly through the Black River Gorges National Park. Click here for part 1! The lake of Ganga. Wait, in Mauritius? The Ganga Talao (or grand bassin) in the Savanne District of Mauritius, was a complete crater lake. This is Mauritius’s version of the Ganga river in India; quite obvious once you translate ‘Ganga Talao’; which is ‘lake of Ganga’. And unquestionably, one of the holiest sites in entire nation. The relationship between Mauritius and Indian culture became visible as we drove on the Grand Bassin Road leading […]

Black River Gorges National Park: Roadtrip through Mauritius island (Part 2)


Flacq mauritius island
This is the first part of a 2-part series about a roadtrip through Mauritius island. Click here for Part 2! First thought in Mauritius Island: I am faster than my luggage! My first impression of Mauritius was a trite Rabelaisian, if you can call it so. If France and India were 2 actual people who hooked up on a drunken night, and ended up having an unsolicited love-child after a tumultuous relationship; that abandoned child would be Mauritius. (Funny coincidence: Francois Rabelais was indeed French) Born with the colour, taste buds and swashbuckling lifestyle of the average Indian, yet speaking melodic […]

From the beaches to the crater: Roadtrip through Mauritius Island (Part 1)


Waterfight songkran chiangmai 2
This was not my first Songkran. I had previously been to the Songkran of Khaosan Road, in Bangkok. 4 years ago, which also had me witness a full-blown protest. And the 3 days spent there were the craziest 3 days of my life. Street parties are a very rambunctious and boisterous affair, but a street party with water involved; it almost feels like the whole atmosphere is jacked up on steroids. Read: Churning of the milk ocean, in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport Songkran is Thai New Year. And if you are wondering why the name seems so familiar, it is because it’s […]

A 3-step guide to enjoying the Songkran festival in ChiangMai