Month: August 2019

Chail Or Shimla: Which Is Better?

Struggling with the idea of whether you should visit Chail or Shimla on your next holiday? Wondering which one is better among the two? Well, this blog is for you! During my recent 1-month monsoon ride across Himachal Pradesh, I happened to visit both Chail and Shimla. And it was my second visit to both the places. Where I loved Shimla for it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded (for a change) as I never hit anyone’s shoulder despite wandering around on its mall road for about an hour, I adored Chail for an even more peaceful experience. During the months of monsoon, Shimla and Chail felt (almost) equally enjoyable. But, for a different reason! The First Visit The first time I visited Shimla, it was during the peak tourist months of May and June. I had just returned from the UK (after living there for 3 years) and wanted to see what Britishers have left behind in India. It was a solo backpacking trip – the kind that starts with exploring a place in the morning and …

Barog: A Weekend Getaway Destination From Delhi

Off late, I’ve seen myself covering weekend getaways on my blog quite a lot, places that can be reached in or around 6 hours from New Delhi. And this is happening because I’ve recently bought a new motorbike, and with that, started planning more and more road-trips. The only problem is, however, every time I leave home for the next big adventure, I end up staying at a place not too far from New Delhi, on Day 1. My inexperienced rider ‘self’ doesn’t allow me to ride for more than 6 hours, or, say, 300 km in a day. Where this is certainly annoying, for it takes me twice the time to travel (for example it takes me two days to travel from Delhi to Manali on my motorbike, that, otherwise, is a convenient overnight journey) it allows me to explore a place that can otherwise be an ideal short-weekend-drive-away-destination from Delhi. For example, during my previous 20-day road trip across Uttarakhand, I spent my first night at Kalagarh – which, I later realized, can …

Jewel Changi Airport: A Fine Example Of Singapore’s Creative Indoors

And here’s an astonishing truth: In March 2019 Singapore’s Changi airport won the best airport in the world title (as per WorldAirportAwards) for the seventh year in a row. That was before Changi had its architectural marvel ‘The Jewel’. Now, after its opening, I wonder how any other airport in the world is going to get that title, at least, in the foreseeable future. Every country is good with something, they all have their unique strong point. Some are good in arts, some with technology, while others, in preserving a rich cultural or traditional heritage. For example, when I think of Japan, the first thing that comes to my mind is how they have maintained a perfect harmony between the old and the new-age culture. When I think of Germany, I think of fast cars and perfection. Similarly, Paris is fashion. Switzerland is nature and luxury-living. Peru is beautiful landscapes. India is an amalgamation of cultures and traditions. And Singapore, yes… the country of the topic is creating ‘inspiring indoors’. Every time I visit Singapore …

Why I Loved Luang Prabang

The French colonial buildings, ancient wats, and the fishing boats in the Mekong make Luang Prabang an unforgettably beautiful and a seemingly offbeat destination in Southeast Asia. Beyond the frequented, my 2019 has taken me to two offbeat Southeast Asian destinations (speaking as per Indian standards!) so far: one, the island of Borneo that I happened to visit during a media-trip to Sabah, in Malaysia last month; and second, the landlocked, the unfrequented, the unheard-of (again, by most Indians!) country of Laos. To be honest, I had never considered visiting Laos myself and I think the biggest reason for it was the lack of information available online about where and how to go to Laos. I mean before my visit to Luang Prabang, I had no idea that Laos, in fact, has four international airports across the country. Though it is true that those airports still have no direct flights from most of the countries in the world, the fact that you can actually fly to pretty much any corner in Laos is quite a …

Luang Prabang’s Morning Alms Giving Ceremony: Tak Bat, In Pictures

A group of nearly 2 dozen monks hurried towards me as I caught hold of this unfamiliar religious act in Luang Prabang called Tak Bat for the first time. They were all barefoot, looking and walking straight in one line. The first few in the queue, as I guessed, were in their late teens, followed by some as young as 7 or 8 years old. This is how every morning in Luang Prabang is rewarded – with the colorful sight of hundreds of saffron-robed Buddhist monks and novices walking in a peaceful procession through the sleepy streets of the city, accepting alms from locals. This daily ritual of Tak Bat in which kneeling locals give rice and fruits and snacks (or what can otherwise be offered and called as alms) to the monks, is a timeless tradition that dates back its existence to the 14th century. Every day, hundreds of monks (from 30+ monasteries across the town) would walk barefoot, and in meditative silence, through the streets of Luang Prabang to collect food offerings from …