Destinations


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. Stay tuned 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)   Recently updated !


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


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 Brazil. Much before I was to court a forlorn Brigitte Bardot, in Buzios. I had to dilly-dally through Rio and its wanton and lascivious carnival. Those sacoles were wicked; the alcohol was in wicked ratios. And the camisinhas were a cue or a nudge to everything canonical. Like the […]

A sonnet to Brazil


port louis mauritius
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 Mauritius.   We are the waylaid children of a waylaid civilisation. As the patterned streets birth the reclusive inner bard, As the colours turn to thoughts, thoughts to realisation, We mull and mourn the many moments. Yet we move forward. Through Port Louis’ crowded wet market, Like Sardines we move. […]

A sonnet to Mauritius



Just a short ferry ride away from Singapore, lies an oft-visited weekend destination named Bintan. And in a less-explored trikora beach, lies a lesser known hideway called – tantalizingly – ‘Shady Shack’. Enough of suspense-filled opening narratives. Let’s get on with the blogpost, shall we? Riau Archipelago, Indonesia For some of you who live in Singapore, I wouldn’t be surprised if you believed that the Riau islands – which include Bintan – was a part of Singapore. And to some extent, there is some historical credibility to this misinformation too. Bintan is a part of  the Riau archipelago which – along […]

A Shady Shack on Trikora Beach: Bintan, Indonesia


seychelles beaches
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 Seychelles. Hanging around the horde of happily hand-holding honeymooners And the rich and the elite. And the richest of the elite. The lost backpacker just hums through his 90’s list of crooners In a lonesome beach. Think of it, that’s quite a feat.   From Anse Royale to Beau […]

A Sonnet to Seychelles


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I don’t want to make this sound like a rant against Airasia. So, I’ll try to make this educational about how a badly set-up customer service process can lead to losing a long-time customer. Naah, I have a feeling that I might end up ranting anyway. I’ve been based in Singapore for over 5 years, and has also been bit by the travel bug since roughly then. Singapore is a great hub, and KL – just 5 hours away by road – is an even greater hub for low-cost budget travels through East and South Asia. There are atleast 4 major […]

9 ways that AirAsia screwed up my customer service experience



Ginza street tokyo
Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, is divided into 23 ‘special wards’. Yep, that is the exact name given to the 23 municipalities that made the original Tokyo City. After 1943, Tokyo City was abolished, and instead was officially named Tokyo Metropolis. And one of the special wards, was Chuo. Although Chuo – which literally means ‘Central ward’ in Japanese – is the second smallest ward in Tokyo, it has historically been Tokyo’s commercial center, challenged only by Shinjuku in Japan’s recent history. It is further divided into 3 zones: Tsukishima, Nihonbashi and Kyobashi. Tsukishima is an island. Nihonbashi is home to […]

Searching for Nair’s Restaurant in Ginza: Tokyo, Japan


icebergs swim club bondi beach sydney
I had flown to Sydney, with the standard tourist ideas in mind: visit the opera house, the royal botanic gardens, and take a train to see the 3 sisters of Katoomba. But as luck would have it, I met with an old schoolmate who regaled me with ideas of what to do in Sydney, especially off-the-beaten track. And one of those was the Bondi to Coogee walk. Not so off-the-beaten track for the locals, but a definite must-do for a tourist. If I could set apart 2 to 3 hours of my time, that is. Sydney is much more than the […]

Sydney’s favourite walk: From Bondi beach to Coogee beach


seychelles islands 2
This is a list of countries that do not require a visa, or offer a visa on arrival for Indians. If you are looking for countries that offer electronic visas (E-visas), click this list. There are plenty of countries which do not require an advance visa for Indian citizens. And if you are an Indian – or if you have interacted with an Indian – the chances are likely that you will believe/hear the most commonly stated reason why Indians dont travel much. “I need a visa for every fricking country that I want to go to!” Click here for […]

Top 10 countries where Indians can travel without an advance visa!



tough mudder bali indonesia
I was no stranger to Bali. But I knew this trip was going to be different. It was for the Toughmudder in Bali. Oh yeah. Waaaayyyy different! As I sat on the window seat of the Airasia flight, on a turbulent Friday night, it slowly dawned on me that the turbulence was more inside me, than outside. This was probably the 4th time that I was visiting Bali. I have rode a motorbike through the entire island in the past, and even stopped here on the way to my epic trip in East Timor. I had seen pretty much every […]

Getting muddy in the Island of Gods: Toughmudder in Bali


Koror palau 2
After the exciting island-hopping saga across the pacific ocean, reaching Koror at 11PM, I was eager and excited to check out the night-scene. I had slept mostly throughout my 4 different flights to get here. I could have been jetlagged, but I wasn’t. After all, Palau was just 1 hour ahead of Singapore, where I had started from. And the night was still young. All I had to do was get to my budget motel, check-in, and then go out for a few drinks. Sounds reasonable, right? Wrong! Again! My taxi-drive from the airport to my motel lasted about 15 […]

I went to Palau. And didn’t touch the water!


Yap airport micronesia
Manila It was an uneventful flight to Manila. I was no stranger to the Philippines. I lived here for 4 years. And even after I moved my base from the Philippines to the urbanscape that people called Singapore, I had visited Manila a couple of times. So, nothing exciting awaited me in Manila, save a couple of planned meetups with old friends. If you are looking for something interesting to do in Manila, go offbeat and check out the Ermita region for some amazing street photography opportunities. Owing to some confusion in my seat booking, Jetstar gave me a free upgrade to […]

Island-hopping on an airplane: Singapore to Palau



Project365 ends today! 9
1st July 2015 – Mamallapuram, India The memories will remain etched for ever Of a year that went by in poetry and pics. But its not the places that will spring to mind. Its only – and always – the people who will stick. I thought this day would never come, but it’s day 365 today!   Its been 35 countries (and Kosovo), spread across 3 different continents. With 21 international flights, 23 international border crossings by land and couchsurfing in 20 countries. Riding a motorbike through 12000 km of the indian subcontinent, including the cold Himalayan roads of Nepal and […]

Project 365: Day 365 – That’s all, ladies and gentlemen!


Duty free shops at Dubai, UAE
15th June 2015 – Dubai, UAE It didn’t help much that I bound at home today. And it didn’t help much that inertia was a close pal. But the land of flashy cars and excess heat is getting to me. Its time to board that airbus, and shift to a different locale. Like the past 2 days, when Dubai had me by my neck with its heat, the trend continued today also: I stayed at home throughout the day. But in the evening, I had no choice to step out. For a simple reason. I was leaving Dubai today. It was a […]

Project 365: Day 349 – Dutyfree shops and flashy cars


The view from Al Mamzar corniche
14th June 2015 – Dubai, UAE I was caged again. 2 days in a row now. Because Europe had me pampered with its cold winters. If not for some Mandi, and a walk through the Newest of Dubai’s projects, it could have been much worse   For the second day in a row, I found myself sitting at home in the mornings. And you can blame the 40C temperature in Dubai, for that staycation.   It has been quite a while since I experienced something like this. From the days when I landed in Serbia in the snowfall till praying for the winter […]

Project 365: Day 348 – A walk in the Mamzar corniche