Destinations


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


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



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



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


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


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



Pangsau pass return 3
‘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



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


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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


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