Rest of Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dubai metro station
13th June 2015 – Dubai, UAE The heat engulfed, encapsulated, every inch of my skin, And like a caged animal, I stayed in. Whimpering, but alive. I took to the night like a werewolf in June’s simmering heat. And decided that in air-conditioned metro stations, I shall thrive. I have already been through Dubai on this project once, and clicked almost every possible angle of it, from old souks to parks to tall buildings. So, I was unsure what to see for the day. Yet, staying inside was not an option. I was being hosted by an old friend in Chennai along with […]

Project 365: Day 347 – Saved by the metro stations

Orpheus statue at Sofia airport, Bulgaria
12th June 2015 – Sofia, Bulgaria The European odyssey, is finally over. Not sure how I feel about it, but I am smiling. I bid my goodbyes, and sang with the thracian Orpheus, And watched as the flight wings hovered above the desert ring. It has been a long 5 months, hopping through Europe. Most of it, during the cold winter months. But sadly, yet happily, it ends today. The fact is, I miss home a little bit. Home is not as you would imagine it. I just miss the luxury of sitting in a corner or a chair that I am […]

Project 365: Day 346 – Goodbye Europe. Hello again, Asia

taroko gorge in hualien, taiwan
Taipei had left me wet and soaked. But I wasn’t finished with Taiwan yet. After 2 days in Taipei, with no improvement in the weather, I took the train to Hualien. Hualien, considered to be one of the finest cities in Taiwan and tourism mainstay, had another attraction : The Taroko Gorge. And the fact that it was not raining in Hualien. Hualien is just a 3 hour train ride from Taipei, and getting a train was a relatively easy, given the frequency of trains running between Hualien and Taipei. Once you reach the Hualien train station and step out of […]

Hualien and the Taroko Gorge : Taiwan

sharjah, uae, emirates, airport, travel, photography
21st January 2015 – Sharjah, UAE We build homes, buildings and offices so magnanimous, yet feel content, in a weird way, sleeping in an airport. That joy you feel, is called a satiated wanderlust. While the joy of a home is sublime, Today, its the nomad I court. I may complain about waiting and crappy airport services a lot, but the fact is: I love being in airports. There is something so nomadic about staying in an airport, that it even that tickles my wanderlust. Something like Tom Hank’s ‘Terminal’. I hope you read the sarcasm in my lines. Because I just […]

Project 365: Day 204 – Sleeping in Airports

Somehow, I no longer wanted to use the toilet. 4
South Korea has always been on my travel list, but the visa situation prevented me from finding the time to go there. Me being an Indian, I pretty much need a visa for every single country you can think of. That changed when I heard of Jeju Island. This little island in the Korean strait, is South Korea’s only special autonomous region. And by autonomy, it can have its own visa rules. In order to make this a tourist paradise, Jeju choose to do the obvious – they have a visa on arrival for almost every nationality in the world! […]

An erotic theme park called Loveland : Jeju, South Korea (NSFW)

Silence of the lamps. - Dubai, UAE
26th August 2014 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates The sun wound down, bringing the neon lights on. While the diners lined up at the valet, wallets tense. Between this moment, and the madness that will follow, Even the festival city is prone to bouts of silence. I had learnt my lessons well after the debacle at Abu Dhabi yesterday. We made plans in the afternoon to go the Miracle Gardens of Dubai, which is the largest natural flower garden in the world. Good sense prevailed, and we called up to check. Turns out the gardens were closed during the summer. Close shave, because I […]

Project 365: Day 56 – In the city of festivals

There should be a bus. Soon. - Abu Dhabi, UAE
25th August 2014 – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Paulo Coelho once said ‘waiting is painful’. Maybe he was waiting for eons for a bus too. When the scalding desert winds tear you up, What else would a vengeful writer do? Two months into my travel, and I haven’t made any major blunders so far. Until today. Today was a day that I was destined to get screwed. So, despite all my friends telling me that there is nothing much to see in Abu Dhabi, I still caught a bus from Dubai’s Al Ghubaiba bus station to Abu Dhabi. The fare […]

Project 365: Day 55 – The first of many blunders

Playtime is not yet over. - Al Rigga park, in Dubai, UAE 2
24th August 2014 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates Like a posse of fireflies in the distant night The city lit up, and the playground was alight. Even in the scalding arabian heat and winds, There was always time to play, to fall, to fight. I had become a little tired of the humidity in this part of the world by now. So today, I just chilled at home. In fact, I stayed at my friend’s place till 7 in the evening, fully enjoying the luxury of a big, warm bed and air-conditioning to go with it. We left home at 7 […]

Project 365: Day 54 – The dance of the fireflies

Through the heart of the desert - Ras Al Khaima, UAE
23rd August 2014 – Ras Al Khaima, United Arab Emirates The bedouins now drove lancers and lexus, and anything new. The camels gladly watch them go through a range. In a land that keeps metamorphosising constantly, Its only the solitary desert that doesn’t change. I met with another friend from Kerala today, and all 3 of us headed out to see the Jabal Al Jais mountains in Ras Al Khaima. Roughly 170 KMs from Dubai, this is a high-altitude place, where the temperature can drop down to the 19-20 range. Given that the temperature for the day was 41 C, it wasn’t […]

Project 365: Day 53 – From one Emirate to Another

The rising. - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
22nd August 2014 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates Like a stubborn compass pointing forever to the north Like a bard singing tales of the past fall Its as if the world was a cone, and not round, this city keeps building itself, to be become more tall. I met one of my college seniors in this city, and he has been driving me around all day. Eijaz has a penchant for photography too, and more importantly, had a penchant for long drives, so we pretty much moved around the city, soaking in the sights and sounds. It maybe no match for the Burj Khalifa, […]

Project 365: Day 52 – The tall tales

Even the waters are painted gold here. - Dubai creek, United Arab Emirates 2
21st August 2014 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates In a land where tales of sweat and tears are commonplace There is a market where those tales turned to gold. Like ants building their own hill, little by little, Everyone builds their fortune here, both new and old. A lot of what is written about Dubai, is about the high-flying Emirati lifestyle and the skyscrapers giving high-fives to the clouds. But there is another side of Dubai where the old, uncomplicated way of life still prevails. Old Dubai is the name given to key districts like Al Fahidi, Bastakiya and Shindangha, where many buildings are […]

Project 365: Day 51 – City of gold

Dry boats for today. - Dubai, UAE
20th August 2014 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates The heat and humidity have begun to take its toll on me, Dry winds, blowing sand and visions of a warm bed. A morning walk to a museum was not how I wanted to start, but I’ve set the tone, and my legs take me to where they are led. Whenever I click with a wide-angle lens, I love to use a warming filter. This gives the pictures a little orangish look, but I totally love that look. In Dubai, I find out, that I will never be needing a warming filter. Check out the other famous […]

Project 365: Day 50 – Warming filter. Not needed.

singapore eunos metro station 13
This was the first post of an entire year-long series, which I named ‘Project 365′. The idea was simple enough: travel for a full year and document every day of it, in the form of a daily picture and poem. I am still working on a book of this year-long travel, but till then, enjoy all the posts here. You can check out the daily posts in the details below or jump to the final day of the project by clicking here. 1st July 2014 – Singapore From dust we rose and to dust we shall go And dust is […]

Project 365: Day 0 – The beginning

Taipei 101 4
If there ever was a country which lured me with its food, it was Taiwan. Living in Singapore, I had many friends from Taiwan. And every time we met over a beer or a kopi o peng, they kept describing how they missed Taipei, because it was the undisputed food capital of Asia. So, as it normally goes, I succumbed to the sins of gluttony that ruled my travel plans, and booked a flight to Taipei. Visa for Indians to Taiwan The Taiwan Taoyuan International airport, also called the Chiang Kai Shek airport, was modernistic and developed, but it was […]

A rainy night in Taipei : Taiwan

Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon 2
Everybody is doing it. So, I might as well.   To recount a year is difficult, and especially when it is a year like 2013 which was nothing short of momentous. I checked my hard disk to find out that I have travelled to a total of 14 countries this year, and the total pictures in my hard disk totalled up to 32000! So, what better way to recount a year, than to show it in pictures.   January The Thaipusam festival is one of the most bizarre festivals that one can imagine. I have been wanting to check out […]

2013: My year in travel photos