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Why I Quit My Job To Travel

Smiling faces

Last week, I took a wee trip to Rishikesh – the land of sadhus and of many people’s spiritual rebirth. I have a personal affection, some attachment to this place. This is where I once spent two months, practicing meditation and taking spiritual lessons.

But this time, my arrival was accompanied by a sense of unexpected realization. I wondered, as I grabbed myself walking along its frenzied, confused walkways, that how lucky I am to experience places like Rishikesh again and again. And yet, it is never the climax of my trip. It is always the beginning.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls” Anais Nin

It has been more than two years now, since I quit my job and started travelling, yet I never shared here why and how it all happened. It would be nice to say that I wanted to understand myself, and find my inner consciousness, but frankly speaking, it’s not true. The only part which is true is that I’ve had enough living the same boring 9 to 5 corporate life every day. I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to see the world. Meet new people. Learn better ideas. Find out what’s wrong with this system of corporate culture, that it never made anyone happy – no matter what they achieved in their life. Simply put, I wanted to educate myself in a way that no school, no job ever did before.

traveller

But one thing is saying that I want to do this and the other thing is realizing I am actually doing it.

Traveling is no less than a pursuit of happiness for me. Yet, throughout this time, I’ve often stumbled upon questions like “Why I quit my job to travel” or “How did I manage to make such a decision” or “What’s next” – with all this, what others actually wanted to ask me was why did I not go for a two-week calculated holiday (or a couple of month’s sabbatical, if I am being pretentiously brazen about it) to quench my thirst of travel, as an averagely sane person would otherwise do.

The truth is, there is no fun in that. I have taken enough of these recreational holidays – as people often term them – in my life. When I was working I found myself claiming the boundaries of my city almost every weekend, with a couple of friends, drinking a bunch of beers and coming back, but that was no solution. The minute you enter the premises of your office, the next day, it feels as if that sweet, sally trip, that in fact, went past in the blink of an eye, actually never happened. I wanted something more than that. Something bigger. Something permanent.

Discontentment Is Good

Discontentment is the very first step to a new beginning. My discontentment towards my job brought me into this. I’d always loved India, but I never loved my life in India. I loved my profession (of writing), but I never loved my job. It seemed I was just accepting things as they came, and as everyone says “this is life and you got to learn to deal with it.”

But I think I never managed to master that art. Though I tried to suppress my unsatisfied soul the traditional way, by changing jobs and running after money. But it was just not enough. My audacious, fertile mind – discontented and grumbling – kept pushing me until I shifted focus.

writing

The Journey That Changed It All

I took my first solo trip back in 2014 (you can read about it all here), while I was still working, to trek for a few days under the colossal Himalayas. It was a life changing experience. Though there was nothing extraordinarily great about the journey, the freedom in travelling solo was, in fact, quite addictive. And that was it. I spent the next few months, saving as much money possible from the job I was doing, having a very clear focus in my mind – to leave this lifestyle behind and travel the world.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” Mary Anne Radmacher

Though it may sound cool and easy how I managed to quit my job and get ahead with the mission See-The-World. But trust me, it wasn’t.

Two years Later

Though my journey as a solo traveller and as someone on a perpetually limited budget – particularly during the first year of travel-blogging – has had many highs and lows, when I look back and think of what travelling has given me during all this time, if there’s one thing that comes to my mind, it is: a mileage of a different kind.

I mean forget about the money I’ve made and the number of sponsored trips I’ve scored during all this period, the kind of self-transformation travelling have provided me with, compensates everything.

And speaking of what’s next, I think I’ll continue travelling for as long as my heart will desire, and if I ever wanted some stillness, or a periodic absence-of-movement in life, I can always go back and resume what I was (before 2016) doing. But this time, to only do it much better!

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Visiting Chakradhar Samaroh In Raigarh

I fairly remember how when Chhattisgarh Tourism invited me to attend their annual cultural event of Chakradhar Samaroh I was bursting with excitement. Visiting Chhattisgarh was high in my list. I had heard about the mentions of its undiscovered beauty from a fellow traveller and an avid motorbiker, whom I happened to meet last year during a motorbiking expedition in Jammu.

“Don’t leave any opportunity to visit Chhattisgarh,” he would repeatedly insist, supporting the statement with his personal adventures. A little Googling (upon his frequent requests, of course) then introduced me to a new world — the unbounded beauty of many natural caves, waterfalls and a rich culture that Chhattisgarh has to offer.

So yea, when Chhattisgarh Tourism contacted me to attend their annual cultural event of Chakradhar Samaroh, I provided a quick yes. What moreover made the invitation better was every thought of visiting the unheard of town of Raigarh. This would mean that after landing in Raipur (for it had the nearest airport to Raigarh) I was in store for a 4-hour train ride passing through the countryside Chhattisgarh, exploring its beautiful landscapes.

Attending The 34th Chakradhar Samaroh

Celebrated in the memory of the king and musician of Raigarh, Raja Chakradhar, Chakradhar Samaroh is an annual event where various known artists of music and dance forms come together to perform from all over India.

The event kickstarts every year during the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi according to the Hindu calendar, with the stage being put to fire (not literally!) by classical dance forms and music like Sufi, Kathak and Bharatnatyam, among others. The event, during the recent years, has gained not only national but international popularity.

I was amazed to see how such a sleepy town in Chhattisgarh (Raigarh, despite being known as the cultural capital of Chhattisgarh, is still a very small and an offbeat town. Not many people, even inside the tiny boundaries of Chhattisgarh know about it, forget its any national visibility)  hosting such an event at such a big level, with personalities like Mahalakshmi Iyyer, Vishal Krishna and Bhajan Sopori travelling from all over India only to perform and entrain the attendees with their talent. Those who don’t know, many of them were Padamshree holders.

The 2018 Chakradhar Samaroh, I happened to be a part of, started on September 13,  slated to conclude on September 22 — making it a ten-day extravaganza filled with the spirit of dance, music and entertainment. I, unfortunately, happened to attend the event for the first two days only which, nonetheless, was an interesting affair.

Here’re a few glimpses of the festival:

What Else To Do When In Raigarh

Raigarh is known as the cultural capital of Chattisgarh. But it also has places of interest for those who are seeking some offbeat adventure. About 10 min drive from the train station in Raigarh (which can be landmarked as the centre of the city) lies the popular picnic spot of Ram Jharna which has a religious significance to the locals. One can walk in the jungles enjoy hiking. Then the popular Singhapur Caves and its rock painting, that are said to be the oldest sculptures on earth — a place of archaeological importance. Those into wildlife and flora and fauna can explore Gomarda Wildlife Sanctuary.

Raigarh can moreover be your go-to destination if you’ll like to revel at some cherish the marvels of age-old architecture. Due to limited time in hand I couldn’t visit or capture many classical buildings in Raigarh, but just like any other tourist visiting Raigarh, I chanced to explore and get myself clicked at Raigarh’s highlight: The King’s Palace or the Moti Mahal.

Have you been to Raigarh? Would you like to add more to the article? Let me know in the comments below!

Hemkund Sahib And The Valley of Flowers Trek: An Ideal Travel Guide

In September, the peak tourist season for visiting the Valley of Flowers and the Hemkund Sahib was already far from over. I was told how the valley would have appeared totally different, draped in a blanket of colourful wildflowers, had I made it a month ago. But in the second week of September, the valley looked pretty much washed-out, just like any other ordinary valley in the Himalayas.

At four in the evening, and on day four, I had already begun the last leg of my journey – the trek back to Govindghat. I was constantly praying for some sunshine and azure skies to compensate for the wet weather I had experienced in the previous few days. But as I progressed towards Govindghat and completed about a couple of kilometres, out of the remaining 8 km of the trek, the weather started worsening. Light showers had already begun. With only 3 hours of daylight now left with me, I picked a little more speed!

I was disappointed for not being aware of the fact that September can be a bad time for visiting the Valley of Flowers, but then every thought of at least being there (and with it, visiting the pilgrimage site of Hemkund Sahib too) was a constant motivation. Walking faster than ever, I decided to revisit them both, the next year!

Best Time To Visit The Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib

Though Hemkund Sahib remains open between May and October, plan your visit sometime between 1st June and 4th October because that’s when the Valley of Flowers open, allowing you to see both of the places in one trip.

And then between 1st June and 4 October, the peak monsoon is when the flowers can be found in full bloom in the valley. And that peak monsoon season (almost every year) starts at the beginning of July and remains until August end, making mid-July to mid-August (or between 15 July to 15 August) the ideal months to be visiting the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib — just be prepared to brave heavy rains.

Carry raincoats and protect your electronic equipment with plastic bags. In September the weather gets clearer and trekking gets easier but the flowers start drying up (as I happened to experience). Check this post to see Valley of Flowers looks in September.

How Much Time You Need To Visit Hemkund Sahib & The Valley of Flowers

Before I visited the Hemkund Sahib and the Valley of Flowers, a few people suggested and shared their experience of completing both the highlights in only a couple of days (in addition to two days of travel to and from Govindghat). But a total of 40km of a steep uphill and downhill walk, I assumed, cannot be done in two days — unless you’re super-fit and walking most of the hours in a day. Or, you’re constantly hiring ponies from one spot to the other, which is a quick (but at the same time, very unreal and quite brutal for the animals) way of visiting the two spots.

When I planned for the Hemkund Sahib & the Valley of Flowers, I was also hoping to visit both the places in the minimum time possible, but in no way did I want to compromise with my photography breaks.

So while keeping the daily trek to an average of nearly 14 km per day, I completed the journey (from Govindghat back to Govindhat) in three days. On top of it, two days were consumed in travelling from Delhi to Govindhat and back.

My Itinerary for Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib

Do note that I am making a very tight estimate, assuming that you do this trip in 5 days. In reality, it can get hectic. But keeping limited time and money in mind, this is how the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib can be visited in 5 days in total:

Night 0/Day 1: Your journey from Delhi/Rishikesh to Govindhat (if coming from Delhi, you do the overnight journey to Rishikesh and start from Rishikesh to Govindghat the following morning. If starting from Rishikesh, you do the journey from Rishikesh to Govindghat in the morning, as there are no overnight buses/taxis available on this route. Driving on your own in the night is also not recommended due to a poor condition of the road).

Day 2: Drive from Govindghat to Pulna (4km) followed by the trek to Ghangaria (8 km).

Day 3: Trek from Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers and back to Ghangaria (12 km).

Day 4: Trek from Ghangaria to Hemkund Sahi to back to Ghangaria (20 km) followed by a drive to Govindghat (4km).

Day 5: Govindghat to Rishikesh/Delhi.

How to Reach Govindghat — The Starting Point of Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib Trek?

The route I followed was Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Rudraprayag-Chamoli-Joshimath-Govindghat. I used ‘Blah Blah Car’ to carpool between Delhi and Rishikesh for about 500 Rupees (the quickest way to get to Rishikesh from Delhi with frequent options). From Rishikesh, I hired a motorbike, started off at 7 in the morning and reached Govindghat around 5 in the evening. I spent a night in Govindghat and continued to Pulna (where you can park your bike, right at the starting point of the commencement of the trek) the next morning, following the same itinerary mentioned above.

Alternatively, you can get a train from Delhi to Raiwala (the nearest train station to Rishikesh from where you can get an auto-rickshaw to Rishikesh for 30 Rupees). There are a few daily morning and night trains available between the route and take 110 Rupees for second class, about 200 for a Sleeper class, or about 450 Rupees for 3AC. Buses cost about 250 Rupees for an ordinary Uttarakhand state transport bus, 460 Rupees for an AC bus and about 700 Rupees for a luxury Volvo. Between Rishikesh and Govindghat, there are only a few early morning options for those wanting to travel in a bus (starting at 4 in the morning) that take around 500 Rupees all the way to Govindghat and nearly 12-hour travel time.

Please note that all costs mentioned above were as in September 2018.

What Kind of Support Is Available At Govindghat For Those Who Cannot Trek?

Those who have a problem with fitness can hire ponies and porters. The locals who drag ponies, or those working as porters themselves, however, charge good money —  say, about INR 2500-6000 per person per trip for a 10km distance.

Should You Get A Guide Or Buy A Package?

To be honest, nothing is needed. Hiring a guide in the Valley of Flowers makes sense for those who want expert information about the flora and fauna inside the park but hiring a guide for Hemkund Sahib is a stupid idea.

Those visiting for leisure and to click pictures certainly need no guide. The trek throughout (starting from Govindghat to all the way to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib) is just one straight road and no sane person can possibly lose a track of!

But a travel package if you want to be pampered and enjoy the little luxuries and the added comfort.

Have you done the Hemkund Sahib and the Valley of Flowers Trek? Would you like to add any tips for other readers? Please spill in comments below!

Valley Of Flowers Trek: All You Need To Know

“Unfortunately, you are not doing the trek to the Valley of Flowers the right time of the season. The flowers are generally found in full-bloom sometime between 15th July to 15th August,” provided the tour guide Shobhit, making me feel sorry for myself.

On September 5th, the Valley had already started shedding the flowers, and with them, some of the leaves too. The monsoon was far from over too. In about one month from now, winter would hit the Himalayas hard, turning the Valley of Flowers into an ordinary and charmless landscape, with patches of white and (almost) no green. Disheartened, I realized how I had been planning to visit the place for the previous three years, and when I finally made it there, I made at the wrong time of the year – the abscission.

It was clear that September is certainly not a good time to visit the Valley of Flowers. Though the valley was still looking gorgeous, with frequent waterfalls and water-crossings keeping me entertained, if I had made it in July or August, I would have seen many more colours. The entire experience would have been far more awarding, and the valley would have appeared more appealing, than offering just a constant green.

Valley Of Flowers: How To Get There

For the Valley of Flowers, Joshimath is the nearest big town and the base of all transportation, with frequent buses and cabs leaving from Rishikesh. From Joshimath to Govindghat, the start of the trek is a short drive (if you’ve taken the bus going to Badrinath, Govindghat will come on the way. So no need to take an extra ride).

The drive from Rishikesh to Joshimath (and further to Govindghat) will take almost an entire day leaving you with no option but to spend a night at either of the two places and continuing the journey the following morning. Govindghat, moreover, has a security checkpoint that only allows tourists to go further had they checked-in before 2 pm, making it almost impossible for anyone to do Rishikesh to Ghangaria in a day.

Here’s a more detailed, Do-It-Yourself Guide, I’ve written on Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers Trek.

Since I was riding a motorbike, it took me nearly 10 hours to cover the 270km distance between Rishikesh and Govindghat. I arrived in Govindhat after 4 in the evening and decided to stay in the Gurudwara (that had a free dormitory or a private room for 1100 Rupees per night). Food, as customary it is in any Gurudwara around the world, was free, and offered throughout the day (any donations were, however, totally welcome).

Valley of Flowers Trek Day 1: Govindghat to Ghangaria

The trek from Govindghat to Ghangaria (the base for Valley of Flowers) is a 12 km long, but relatively flat walk, about 4km of which is a picturesque motorable road (until a place called Pulna), leaving the total length of the trek to just about 8 km. Those driving on their own can find a parking at the starting point of the trek at Pulna. One can also hire regularly shared jeeps (between Govindghat and Pulna) for 50 Rupees per person. You will still have to trek around 8 km from that point but it saves more than an hour of trekking.

Though often termed as a trek, I won’t actually call the trek of the Valley of Flowers a trek but a hike (except for the last 4kms of it) because that’s what it is – a well-drawn path dotted with frequent tea shops, with pony operators and porters constantly luring trekkers for lifts. One can even pre-book a pony online and have it waiting at the starting point, putting the entire charm of the trek in vain.

It was, at times, moreover sad to see porters (as old as 60 years in age) carrying people on their back, as customers sat proudly and pitilessly. 

One thing that’s worth noticing about the Valley of Flowers trek is the effort it takes. In about 18 km (12 km for Govindghat to Ghangaria and 6 km for Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers) of a trail, you climb from an altitude of 1800m above the sea level to a whopping 4000m above the sea level. And that’s what makes it challenging, though only if you’re walking.

But fret not, the entire trail of a steady tree-cover along the route and the river Lakshman-Ganga flowing by the trekking path will keep you entertained.

It’s moreover a pleasure to stop by and gaze at river Lakshman-Ganga when you get exhausted.

  • The trek to Ghangaria can take up to 5 hours because of the steepness.
  • People who trek to Valley of Flowers also go to the holy lake ‘Hemkund Sahib’ – an important pilgrimage for Sikhs. So trekkers and religious devotees share the path up to Ghangaria. Ghangaria is the base for both the Valley Of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. I would strongly recommend that if you have gone that far, you do both. Moreover, it is not that just the Valley of Flowers that has flowers, they are everywhere!
  • Though some people attempt to do the second portion of the trek (Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers) the same day, I don’t advise it, as the valley is huge and it takes a good portion of the day to explore it – I could not see it all even in one day! So start early from Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers to have an entire day for exploring the valley.
  • No matter what time of the monsoon you’re doing the trek, carry good rain gear with you.

Valley of Flowers Trek Day 2: Ghangaria to The Valley of Flowers

The trek from Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers is the most amusing part of the journey (of course!) with River Chandravati staying on your right for the most of the time, and joining it is the countless waterfalls, most of which appear from a distance. Some of the waterfalls will moreover come your way as river crossings.

People usually start (from Ghangaria) early in the morning for the valley and come back late in the evening. It is advised to carry packed lunch inside the park as there is absolutely no place in the park where you can get food. Also, remember to carry a water bottle and keep re-fueling it on the way.

For most people, the 6km trek to the valley is quite strenuous and steep. But don’t be discouraged as it’s very much doable. It took me about 4 hours (with enough photo-breaks on the way) to walk 6 km trail before I decided to delve deep into the valley towards the Tipra Glacier. So just be patient, and keep walking. I crossed the registration counter at 8 in the morning, spent almost 5 hours to reach Tipra Glacier before starting heading back.

  • The valley opens between 7 am and 5 pm with the booking counter (where you’re required to register your details) closing at 12 noon.
  • The entry fee for the Valley of Flowers is 150 Rupees for Indians and 600 Rupees for foreigners per person per day. For additional each day, it’s 50 Rupees for Indians and 250 Rupees for foreigners.
  • DSLR and video cameras for any non-commercial use are free to use.
  • Total time required to do the valley of flowers trek: 4 days (at least). Day1: Rishikesh to Govindghat: Day2: Govindghat to Ghangaria. Day3: Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers and back to Ghangaria/Govindghat. Day4: Ghangaria/Govindghat to Rishikesh. An additional day (or a bit of extra effort in walking fast and thus saving time) if you’re visiting Hemkund Sahib too.
  • It’s possible to save a lot of travel-budget here by eating most of your meals at the Gurudwaras in Govindhat, Ghangaria and Hemkund Sahib (if you’re visiting at all) but please don’t abuse the idea and donate some money if you can. It’s ideal to carry some ration and donate it instead of offering money donation(s) as transportating food to Ghangaria and Hemkund Sahib is a challenge.

Currently writing an article on a 4 Day Itinerary For Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib

Hong Kong Itinerary: What To Do In 3 Days

When an invitation by Cathay Pacific airlines landed in my inbox to experience and explore Hong Kong with them I knew what was next: a few sleepless nights of obsessive research and excitement. More research though, as I had to create my own itinerary and go about my holiday in Hong Kong as I find it fancy.

With only five days in hand, to travel this attraction loaded-city (despite its small size, Hong Kong can be overwhelming) I jam-packed my days with as much as possible. I planned on trying the strange and popular food, going on hikes, exploring street markets and doing whatever else was suggested by other travel blogs out there, keeping in mind the most important thing: a limited time of 5 days, and rush!

So out of those 5-day dedicated strolling in Hong Kong, I’ve created an ideal Hong Kong travel guide for people with even shorter time in hand.

Three Day Travel Itinerary For Hong Kong

Arriving In Hong Kong

After a 4 hour flight from Kolkata, I arrived in Hong Kong at 7:50 in the morning — a perfect time to dump my bags in the hotel and start exploring the city. Thanks to a comfortable seating in the blissful economy class of Cathay Dragon I was well rested. Though a couple of hours of a nap would have been amazing, Hong Kong felt too promising to be wasting any time.

Read about my experience with Cathay Pacific — the flag carrier of Hong Kong and why I recommend it.

Between Hong Kong airport and Hong City, MTR Airport Express remains the most comfortable and time efficient way to travel. Though if you’re travelling on a budget, you may want to take a bus, which costs less than half of what the metro costs with an Octopus Card. (Airport Metro fare: 100 HKD | Airport Bus fare: 33 HKD with Octopus Card). Speaking of the Octopus Card, its a smart card for making electronic payments in online or offline systems in Hong Kong. It can be used for all public transportation in Hong Kong, for paying for museums and other tourist attractions, as well as for paying bills at many restaurants and supermarkets. So as soon as you land in Hong Kong, buy an Octopus Card or get one online to make your travels much quicker and cheaper in Hong Kong.

Day 1: What To Do In Hong Kong (The Mainland)

Eat Dim Sum

I arrived in Hong Kong around 8 in the morning, and with the Airport Express, it took me less than an hour to get to my hotel. After quickly dumping my bags in the hotel (you may want to check BP International, where I stayed for its central location and good in-house services) it was time to eat something. Now as my first meal in a new country has to be something local, in Hong Kong, it was Dim Sum. Finding a restaurant serving Dim Sum isn’t hard in Hong Kong and a full meal (including a few different items) doesn’t cost more than 100 HKD per person.

With some Dim Sum tasting and a happy stomach, it was time to start exploring Hong Kong. (Other must-try foods in Hong Kong are Egg waffles, pineapple buns, milk tea, egg tarts, dan dan noodles, wonton noodles and pork bun).

Hong Kong Museum Of History

To understand a place, it’s important to understand its history and that’s exactly what museums are for.  Though I am, myself not a big fan of museums, Hong Kong’s Museum of History is totally recommended. It provides an excellent overview of the county’s past with exhibitions relating to social history, ethnography and much more. It can take up to 4 hours to explore it thoroughly, however, a quick scan is possible in less than an hour and a half.

The admission fee is HKD 10 but free on Wednesdays.

The Street Markets In Mong Kok

Although Hong Kong’s shopping and eating have adopted a more western approach with big malls and brick and mortar shops stealing the show, if examined properly, you will still find street lanes here and there. The most impressive and biggest (as far as I found out) are the street markets are the Mong Kok region. From 10 in the morning until midnight Mong Kok street markets offer a frenetic atmosphere, with colourful sights and sounds of the city.

Temple Street Night Market is a particular highlight in Mong Kok with a mix of curios, fortune tellers and food stands, creating more confusion than you can handle on your first day in Hong Kong. Foodies will particularly like exploring the area’s street food stalls, tea houses and casual eateries here. For women looking for shopping, the Ladies Market (With bargain clothing and accessories) can be a total jackpot.

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

If anything, Hong Kong happens to be a night city where as soon as the sun sets down, the skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island come to life. So as soon as sun sets down, head to the waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui and take in the breathtaking skyline view of Hong Kong Island.

While you’re here, make sure to visit the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood “Walk of Fame,” where you can see the stars of Chinese and Western film alike. There are shops, restaurants, and, at night, a large outdoor market serving traditional Cantonese food alongside knockoffs and souvenirs. Come ready to haggle.

Day2: What To Do In Hong Kong (Hong Kong Island)

Take The Star Ferry

The best way to get across the harbour from Kowloon Island to Hong Kong Island is via the Star Ferry, which showcases a fantastic view of the city skyline for only 2.70 HKD (or even less with an Octopus Card).

One of my favourite activities to do while in Hong Kong, the Star Ferry also gives good vantage points for clicking pictures of Hong Kong’s skyline.

Climb The Dragon’s Back

For a city that is often regarded as one of the densely populated places on earth, it’s hard to imagine that it may have an equal share of green spaces and nature walks. On the outskirts, almost every corner in Hong Kong has a day hiking point that offers periodic views of Hong Kong’s elegant skyline and beautiful coastal scenery. And among all the hikes, Dragon’s Back remains the most popular, with mentions in pretty much every guidebook.

A short hop from the bustle of Hong Kong East, the trail provides stunning views of Shek O, Tai Long Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea. Just remember to carry your swimsuit as the hike concludes on a beautiful beach.

To get to the starting point, however, catch the MTR and get off at Shau Kei Wan Station Exit A to Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminal. Take the minibus (with the sign “Shek O”) or bus 9 and alight at To Tei Wan at Shek O Road from where the hike starts. With an approximate 9 km walk, it can take up to 4.5 hours to complete the entire Dragon’s Back trail.

Visit Victoria Peak Using The Peak Tram

At 1700 feet Victoria Peak offers spectacular 180-degree views of the skyscrapers of Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, and the surrounding hills — one of the must-visit points in Hong Kong and possibly the best spot to capture Hong Kong’s impressive skyline.

Though the peak is accessible on a bus (which is moreover a much cheaper deal, bus fare: around 10 HKD | Peak Tram: around 40 HKD) going on a ride up Victoria Peak by the Peak Tram is a recommended experience. Imagine sitting or standing on a tram in an almost 45° angle while the view is fast changing from mountain trail to magnanimous apartment buildings of Hong Kong Island — that’s the 10 minute Peak Tram ride in a nutshell.

I highly recommend purchasing the SkyPass online to save the time to queue up for the tickets though.

At the top, if you have bought the SkyPass, head to the Sky Terrace 428 observatory to get a Panoramic View of the cityscape. Otherwise, you can also get a great view of the city right outside the tower.

The best time to visit the Victoria peak is, of course, either during the early hours of Dawn or after dusk.

Day3: What To Do In Hong Kong (Hong Kong Island)

A Junk Boat Ride

A very unique and entertaining thing to do in Hong Kong is sailing through one of those classic boats with a large sail you might have seen in pirate movies. It’s possible to hire an entire junk boat (for big groups) or joining a group sail on full-day and half-day trips. Aqua Luna, for example, is one of the popular Junk Boats in Hong Kong that I cruised with around the Victoria Harbor all the way to Stanley town.

Aqua Luna also offers a few night tours and even a food tour, if you’re interested in something different.

Other Junk Boat operators in Hong Kong are Island JunksSaffron Cruises and Hong Kong Junks.

Explore The Town of Stanley

Since I only booked a single journey from Hong Kong Victoria Harbour to Stanley, I spared a good share of the day exploring the sleepy town of Stanley with beautiful beaches and viewpoints. If you’re not taking the cruise (or are taking a night cruise instead) the bus from the Central Station to Stanley is a great option too. Just remember to sit on the upper deck and you will be treated with a beautiful coastline along the way.

A popular area to live in, Stanley is known for its relaxed lifestyle and family-friendly destinations. Take a stroll along its Promenade and eat at one of the many street cafes and restaurants or relax at the Stanley beach. The popular Blake Pier is a good point to click some pictures while in Stanley.

Walk Along The Central & Western Promenade On Hong Kong Island

Since the original charm of visiting Hong Kong for any tourist is exploring the impressive skyline in Hong Kong island, a walk along the central and western promenade in the island is a must do during one of the evenings. Start your walk from Admiralty station towards the coast and further to the piers.

Some of the best pictures of Hong Kong skyline that I managed to capture was at  Central & Western Promenade only.

Visit The Iconic Quarry Bay

The by-now iconic apartment buildings of Quarry Bay, in the Eastern District of Hong Kong Island, is a must see too, during the wee hours of the night. I went there during the day and again at nighttime, and I preferred my night photos.

Make sure to bring a tripod and an L bracket, so you can easily turn your camera upwards for long-exposure shots.


As I said earlier, in Hong Kong, with its eight million people, there are countless things to see and do. And one could fill weeks exploring Hong Kong’s many islands, markets, restaurants, sights, and nightlife and still not see it all. Though impossible to condense a city so vast into three-days, this Hong Kong itinerary is the best I could think of after my visit.

Have you been to Hong Kong or stay there? What would you add in the itinerary?

Also Read: Why Hong Kong Is An Ideal Travel Destination

My Cathay Pacific Economy Class Experience: India To Hong Kong

Off late I’ve started noticing the little dissimilarities that different flight operators offer. And I’ve noticed that it may just be the same class (say economy or business) with pretty much the same fare but the way different flight carriers operate — right from the check-in counter to in-flight experience to baggage collection — vaguely vary. And I think this habit, that I’ve recently inherited, happened because I’ve taken just too many flights recently — speaking of the last three months itself, about 15 flights in total.

So this time as I was contacted by Cathay Pacific to try their India-Hong Kong operations, I thought, why not!

Though unlike my previous airline’s collaboration with Flysoot from India to The Gold Coast, in Australia, where I was particularly asked to write a blog post for them, this time there were no deliverables involved. It was a personal choice, totally, whether I wanted to write and promote them on my blog and Instagram Page and other social media channels.

I think Cathay Pacific played it smart by playing a simple trick: offer such great experiences that the blogger just couldn’t stop himself from writing about us. Well, Cathay Pacific, the good news is: you had it right!

India To Hong Kong With Cathay Pacific

My flight from India to Hong Kong was from Kolkata, with the premium full-serviced regional airline Cathay Dragon. It was an Airbus A320 which happened to be a 156 Economy class seat and 8 business class seat aircraft.

Being a terrible sleeper on flights, I was a bit disappointed, initially, when I figured that I’ll be travelling in an Airbus and not a long haul Boeing as seating in a Boeing is always better and more comfortable, but it turned out that Cathay Dragon’s airbus is not bad — at least not when it came to comfort and leg space.

We were moreover provided with pillows, a pretty decent size meal table, and a sheet to prevent us from the midnight chill. And as a blogger with a laptop, I even had ample room in which to write and a bigger tray table to use for placing the laptop.

My flight was certainly comfy enough. But how about other things? Well, below is a rundown on the features and what I experienced.

An Easy Check-in

There are some flight carriers known for their cheap airfares, flights that are popular among backpackers and budget travellers. For your information, Cathay Pacific isn’t one of them. It isn’t a budget flight carrier and is, by no means, a low-frills airline. Having said that, flying with Cathay Pacific may cost a bit more than your favourite budget flight carrier, but what it offers for that price is class and a premium customer service, and you start observing that right from their check-in counters.

As I arrived at the check-in counter in Kolkata my eyes lit up at the fact there was just a handful of people even in the Economy class check-in queue, making it a quick and painless process. The ground staff even checked my online immigration form for any mistakes to avoid last minute hazards at the immigration in Hong Kong. Well, I never expected an airline staff to be so caring.

The Food

For some reason, I usually find airline meals to be uninspiringly small in quantity. For this reason, I have always appreciated Air India (the only thing I like about them, unfortunately). But with Cathay Pacific, I did notice the difference in quantity (in both of their flights: Kolkata-Hong Kong and Hong Kong-Delhi) plus the additional snack choices such as the fresh fruit platter, the cheese and crackers, and dessert were good value add-ons.

The beverage selection was pretty decent too, and as always, I decided to go for a choice of quality red wine, which was available throughout the flight, as was the beer.

The In-flight Entertainment

Since I often find it hard to sleep in a flight, the in-flight entertainment is my usual rescue plan — and a fairly limited number of songs in my phone often fail to keep me entertained for long. Hence, in-flight entertainment is a must.

Though my Hong Kong-Delhi Cathay Pacific flight offered a 10.6 widescreen personal TV (as you may see in the picture above), Cathay Dragon had no LEDs. But what it rather had was an in-house Android and iPhone app that let you stream movies, TV shows, Cartoons, play games and so much more. 

Simply connect your phone, tablet or laptop to the in-flight WiFi network once the aircraft has ascended past a certain limit and stream away.

The Customer Service

I can’t remember when did I last receive poor service in an aircraft — because no matter what, I am not very demanding, and the Cathay Pacific premium experience was no different. The flight attendants were friendly, attentive, prompt with their service and always smiling.

In Conclusion

I found flying with Cathay Pacific a good value for money — an upgrade worth overbooking an economy class in a low-frills airline, particularly when you’re talking about long-haul flights, and especially when travelling overnight because if you’re well rested you can use the next day exploring the place.

Will I consider travelling with Cathay Pacific again? Hell yes! In fact, Cathay Pacific is my new favourite!

Also Read: Why Hong Kong Is An Ideal Travel Destination | A 3-Day Travel Itinerary For Hong Kong

Why Hong Kong Is An Ideal Travel Destination

“And what about the Visa, I have never been to Hong Kong before and have no idea about its immigration laws for Indians. Am I required to apply for a travel visa for China,” I asked with a sinking feeling in me.
“Oh, the good thing is, you don’t need a visa for Hong Kong if you’re travelling for no more than 15 days,” the lady on phone replied, with much affability in her voice.

I fairly remember how when an invitation from Cathay Pacific landed in my inbox to travel to Hong Kong for a few days and experience their flight operations from India to Hong Kong, my biggest travel fear hit me hard. I was at 3000 m above the sea level in the Himalayas at that moment with no intention of calling off my trip and heading back to New Delhi only to apply for a visa. Returning home for applying a visa would have further meant waiting at home for a week to get the passport back before I could actually leave for Hong Kong. Applying for visas and bleeding unnecessary time and money has always been among my biggest travel fears.

But as I discovered that Indians travelling to Hong Kong require no visa and no paperwork is required to be done, other than a pre-arrival registration form (which takes less than 5 minutes to compete, and can be done online) I was jumping with amusement. I could continue travelling in the Himalayas until it was actually time to fly to Hong Kong.

My First Impression Of Hong Kong

For some reason, I expected Hong Kong to be a bit more like Southeast Asia — undeniably adventurous and wild that a country can be — than it actually was. And that’s why I developed such a liking towards it.

I mean it is always a better surprise to find a place, foreign to you, to be more organized (than you had initially thought it to be) than finding it crazy and wild.

Though of course, Hong Kong can be fairly exciting too, and you feel its energy the moment you land there (it’s electric) with pretty much every street bustling with action. But at the same time, everything still follows a routine, an order. Buses in Hong Kong are clean and efficient. People speak fluent English. Food is always hygienic. The metro station, despite being always super-packed, never feel suffocating (unless you were unlucky enough to experience an MTR station at rush hour).

It also didn’t feel, even for a moment, that I should beware of pickpockets, or of being ripped off by a local restaurant with their fake menu. The only intrusive behaviour was, however, by numerous knock-off Rolex sellers.

So yea, Hong Kong was perfect in every sense. And to honestly admit it, it felt as one of those rare vibrant towns that have just enough wildness you may want to handle on a holiday, or for getting your feet wet before a long crazy Asia odyssey.

Hong Kong At A Glance

If you think Hong Kong is China, you’re wrong. Of course, it’s a part of China but a Special Administrative Region, operating as an independent country and enjoying the highest degree of autonomy. Unlike the rest of China, Hong Kong has its own currency (almost equivalent to 10 Rupees per Hong Kong Dollar). It even has its own immigration laws (hence no visa for Indians for a 15-day travel to Hong Kong).

And since it remained a part of the British Empire until 1997, it is still quite western and organised.

Now, if you’ve never been to Hong Kong, you may be picturing it as a crazy urban metropolis (which in fact, it is) but it’s more than that. Geographically, it’s comprised of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories, as well as over 200 outlying islands. It’s best known for is the towering skyline of glass and steel but there’s plenty of nature to be enjoyed there as well.

Different Colors Of Hong Kong

In my view, a country or a region becomes a great holiday destination when it provides something for everyone. And that’s what Hong Kong was — a tourist destination that offered something for everyone.

It may be small in size — in fact, tiny — but it is surrounded by mountains and hilltops with sea separating the mainland from the Hong Kong island. The Hong Kong island, which happens to be one of the most densely populated places in the world, thanks to its 8000+ skyscrapers is, however, not far from someplace astonishingly deserted. A 20-min drive and you may can up on a white-sand beach, or perhaps in the middle of a hike about 300m above the sea level.

Hong Kong is moreover home to a Disneyland, adventure parks, underwater aquariums, and even a wax museum — so certainly no dearth of tourist attractions.

For foodies, Hong Kong just happens to have one of the highest numbers of restaurants or cafes per capita and is also the place to score the cheapest Michelin-starred food on the planet. No wonder, Hong Kong has cemented itself as a world destination.

So this Durga Pooja, think no more and enjoy your holiday break in Hong Kong.

Inspired enough? Here’s My 3 Day Hong Kong Travel Itinerary

Travelling Bavaria In Germany In A Week

Bavaria is unlike any other part of Germany. It has all the good things (that a tourist would want), unlike other German regions. It’s cleaner, more laid back, amazingly diverse, has enough small towns to wander around and yes, more beer than one can imagine. From towns like Munich that are popular as the beer capital of the world to others like Rothenburg that has always remained an inspiration to artists, Bavaria has something for everyone.

During my recent trip to Germany, I got a chance to spend some time in Bavaria and Bavaria alone, thanks to the German National Tourism Office (GNTO) in India that invited me for a one week long media-trip. It all happened when GNTO asked if I’d be interested in a self-planned solo trip to anywhere in Germany. Since I’d been to other regions in Germany during my previous two visits, Bavaria turned out to be a natural preference.

How Many Days You Need For Bavaria

Well, if you want to completely absorb Bavaria, you need at least a month. And that’s because Bavaria is huge, and more importantly, it has a well-defined tourist trail thanks to a number of tiny old towns that have emerged as a tourist destination in the recent years. The Romantic Road is another reason, that passes through 10 towns in Bavaria (namely, Würzburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, Donauwörth, Augsburg, Landsberg, Schongau, Pfaffenwinkel, Schwangau) so if nothing else, you have at least ten towns in Bavaria that you can count as popular among tourists, forget the biggies like Munich and Nuremberg.

So yea, you need a lot of time to see all of Bavaria.

But those short on time and still want to get hold of the region, here’s my one week (6-night and 7-day) itinerary for Bavaria:

One Week Bavaria Travel Itinerary

Day1: Arrive In Munich and Head To Rothenburg

Since Munich is the hub of all international connections in Bavaria, it’s only natural to land in Munich. But rather than exploring it first (as I ended up doing) I advise for leaving Munich for later. And there are a few reasons why:

  • To make it easier to catch your flight (from Munich) the last day: I’d almost missed my afternoon flight from Munich to New Delhi, despite leaving Lindau (about just 200km south-west of Munich) at 6 in the morning. Yes, traffic in Munich can be unexpecting!
  • Munich airport is a little far from the city: So rather than spending 30 min journey to get to Munich city, why not add 2 more hours in the journey and reach Rothenburg.
  • This way you save 12 EUR that you may otherwise spend in getting to Munich city and then later paying for the onwards journey to Rothenburg, the next day.

Now be careful with the fact that Rothenburg ob der Tauber is not the only Rothenburg in Germany! Avoid arriving at the wrong one by confirming that you are, indeed, going to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and not one of the others. You can find a second class (with no reservation) train ticket from Munich to Rothenburg two destinations for as low as 30 EUR. 

Speaking of Rothenburg, for those who didn’t privy to the fact need to know that Rothenburg is one of the original sources of inspiration for Pinocchio. Walt Disney designed the houses in the cartoon based on the Rothenburg picturesque medieval time buildings. The town became so popular among (wealthy) Americans before the second world war that it was spared from imminent devastating bombardment because the American general in command remembered Rothenburg from his parents´ postcards and decided that such a marvellous city must not be destroyed.

Having said that, Rothenburg is a highlight and shouldn’t be missed. A one day trip to Rothenburg is enough to explore all of the towns.

Some of the popular things to do in Rothenburg are:

  • Trying a Schneeball
  • Exploring Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store
  • Visiting Medieval Crime Museum
  • Completing The Tower Trail of The Old Town Wall

And here’s a detailed Travel Guide On Rothenburg for those looking for more tips.

Practical Tip: I use GoEuro to book my train and bus journeys in Europe and suggest you do so too. Consider it the Skyscanner for land and air transport in Europe. The GoEuro mobile app moreover gives a unique Barcode for every booking that can be used as your ticket. No need to print them out and waste more EURs. 

Next Up, Day2: Rothenburg To Lindau

Rothenburg to Lindau can be a long journey but certainly not tiring, for the picturesque landscapes it has to offer. So if nothing else, the journey itself will be a memory.

or budget travellers, there are, unfortunately, no buses between the two destinations, leaving it to only one option: of taking a Deutsche Bahn which can cost around 30 EUR for a 6-hour single journey.

The town of Lindau borders Austria and Switzerland, giving visitors an unusual ease to visit two more countries and bragging about it to the world without much effort. Just take a 12 EUR ferry from Lindau to Bregenz and you’re already in Austria.

Inside the town, the harbour and its promenade are the focal points. This is where people stroll, sit, bike, roller skate and eat ice cream as they watch street entertainers perform juggling tricks, knock off quickie caricatures or play musical instruments. The best place to stay in Lindau is on the island and on the island, in Hotel Ratsstuben, which is located inside the old town, on pretty cobblestone streets.

Popular things to do in Lindau:

  • Visiting Lindenhof Park
  • Dining At One Of The Lakeside Restaurants
  • Exploring Lindau Island On A Bike
  • Taking A Boat ride to Bregenz in Austria

A half-day tour to Lindau is enough to quickly explore and skim through its beautiful highlights.

Day 3: Lindau To Füssen

Lindau to Füssen is another beautiful train journey (again, no buses between the two destinations) that costs about 12 EUR and nearly one and a half hours. Direct trains are available between the two destinations.

Full of cafes, restaurants, and tourist shops, Füssen, despite being a popular tourist destination has well retained its original old town charm.

There are two reasons for anyone to visit Füssen: one, it happens to be the southernmost town (a dead end) for the Romantic Road trail. So anyone doing the Romantic Road, end their journey (or perhaps start if going south to north) in Füssen. And two, because of the historic castles in Hohenschwangau. It was in Hohenschwangau (about 10 mins bus ride from Füssen) that King Ludwig decided to build a castle the world had never seen before – the castle of Neuschwanstein. Though it’s a different thing that the construction of the castle was never completed.

It is further worth noticing the fact that it was Neuschwanstein that Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle derived its inspiration from.

Tips On What To Do In Füssen: 

  • Exploring the old town of Altstadt for a blend of brightly coloured buildings, many of which are adorned with frescoes.
  • Eating some traditional Bavarian food in Altstadt. I can totally recommend a cake at Konditorei Kurcafe.
  • Visiting the high castles in Hohenschwangau.

Day 4: Füssen To Munich; With Day 5 & 6 In Munich

Since you’re moving too fast, doing one city in a day, it’s time to slow down and spend the rest of your time in Munich. Munich is moreover massive and needs at least two or three days to explore. I spent 4 days in Munich in total but suggest a 3-day itinerary to those short in time. Anything less than 3-days would be totally unfair to the city.

The best and the cheapest way to get to Munich from Füssen is by Flixbus which can cost around 15 EUR and less than 2 hours.

Now, speaking of Munich, one thing that I liked the most about this city was that beer was considered a food in Munich, and with more than 60 beer gardens in the city in total, it’s not tough to see why. Everyone’s just really into drinking beer all day. It’s further worth appreciating the fact that in Munich, no one frown upon on you or consider you a drunkard even if found holding a beer in one hand and drinking from the other in a subway or a metro. In short, Munich is vibrant, fun, laid-back and hip.

Speaking of the activities, there is enough to see and do in Munich. From renting romantic Vespas to walking tours, pub crawls to thrill-seeking activities, exploring old towns to doing nothing but gulping beer all day.

Here’s a detailed 3-day travel guide on Munich that I’ve already covered in another article.

I also suggest visiting Gunzburg and trying tandem-skydiving as a day trip from Munich.

Moreover, I advise considering for car rental in Munich (or a Vespa perhaps if you’re short with budget) to make your travel more fun in Munich. Though public transport is certainly easily available, having your own vehicle will give you more flexibility to wander around the city and see more things in lesser time. And with enough parking spaces and traffic not being much of a problem (beyond the peak hours of course) it is not a headache have your own vehicle.

Total Cost Of The Trip

Since Bavaria is the most expensive destination in Germany, having a budget trip is quite impossible, unless you’re stern about saving every penny and not enjoy the holiday. For a 6-day/7-night itinerary, I suggested above, consider spending at least 900 EUR. And if you decided to do any day tours, partook in any adventure activity like skydiving or hired a scooter or a car, the cost will likely go much higher up. This is the classification of costs if you’re only backpacking between the destinations and not doing anything fancy:

  • Transportation: 200 EUR
  • Food: 200 EUR (about EUR 30 per day)
  • Drinks: 70 EUR (about EUR 10 per day)
  • Accommodation: EUR 450 for a private room in a budget hotel (about 65 per night)  | EUR 250 for a dorm bed (about 35 per night)

In a region often regarded as the highlight of Germany, there are countless things to see and do. One could fill weeks exploring Bavaria’s many towns and still not see it all. Though impossible to condense a great beautiful region into six-days, this Bavaria travel guide will help you experience the most Bavaria has to offer in a short period of time!

And if you’ve any other tips/ideas/suggestions, please spill in the comments below!

How to Make the World Your Home

And here’s the thing about travelling: Even the most dedicated, passionate travellers get homesick from time to time. I do, too!

It seems perfectly natural, doesn’t it? You might spend months out of each year wandering the world, jetting from one country to another, opening yourself up to new adventures. Travelling feels like a nourishment for the mind and soul, but travel-fatigue eventually set in and you start longing for those things that feel familiar and comforting; the things that make you feel at home.

Unless you make the world your home instead

…and that’s how I stay on road for longer too — by making the world my home. It’s a state of mind that helps you to be able to feel comfortable and connected to all the things that matter most, regardless of where you are.

I Bookmark My Travels

Bookmarking your travels is a great way to help yourself feel at home wherever you go.  For example, I use travel GPS tracker apps that allow me to bookmark any location I’ve been to and include pictures, notes, or even voice recordings.

This is ideal for chronicling my journeys, whether I want to document my time at favourite restaurants, parks, museums, bars, hotels, or anything else. By bookmarking on my travel GPS tracker app, I can jump back and forth between the places I’ve been with a tap or two.

As a result, I get to build a stronger connection with my current location by reflecting on the good experiences I’ve had in past, and this makes a massive difference if I find myself feeling homesick or wondering why I’m spending my time travelling rather than having a normal life and a permanent home.

So look at the sites and venues that have brought you happiness during your trips. What do you feel you’ve learned from them, and how do you think this will improve your life from now on? Who did you meet and how have they enriched your sense of self?

These are pretty big questions, but bookmarking through your travel GPS tracker app makes it easier to focus on the most important parts of your travels and ward off homesickness — no matter where in the world you go.

Another bonus of bookmarking is that you’ll be able to show your family and friends where you’ve been when you get home. Keep this in mind and you’ll find it easier to focus on the positives and remind yourself that you will be going home someday in the near future.

I Stay Connected To Things That Matter

One of the most effective ways to feel at home during your adventures is to stay in touch with the people and the interests that help to define you.

Once upon a time, this would have been much more difficult, if not impossible. After all, in the days long, long before the wonders of the internet, travellers had to rely on long-distance phone connections, letters, and postcards.

Now, though, you can link up with friends, families, and pets at a tap of your phone screen. Social media reinforces this, connecting you to people in a quicker, more convenient way.

If you’re lying in a hotel room in New York City or Bangkok and want to get a little taste of home, you can delve into your Facebook or Twitter feed. You’ll see what the people you love are doing in their own lives and get to engage with them, even if it’s just a Like or a retweet.

rice beer nagaland

And that’s my mantra to stay away from feeling homesick too. Getting involved with the people I am looking forward to seeing again helps me feel closer to home. Likewise, staying up to date with the hobbies and interests I have reinforced who I am. For example, despite my location, I have a habit of daily yoga and meditation in the morning. I do it when I am home. I do it when I travel. And this keeps my homesickness at bay. Following your habits and keeping a bit of Me Time helps in travelling in a long run.

I Make New Locations Feel More Personal

Are you going to be in one location for a few days or a week? Try to establish a small network for yourself and make your accommodation your own, even if only in a tiny way.

For example, if you find a cafe you like or a sushi bar that does the best spicy rice you’ve ever tasted, be sure to go back there. Get to know the owners or the staff. Try to really engage with the best aspects of the local community and focus on how the location speaks to you personally.

Mishing community Majuli Island

By bringing local people closer to me and finding a friend in an unknown world really helps. I often stick to the idea of eating at the same place. Or if not, have a morning tea or something at someplace daily. This keeps me connected to the society, feel a part of it, and stay away from feeling homesick.

I Try To Make New Friends & Meet Up The Known Ones

Travelling solo? You’re not alone — many people love to go exploring by themselves. So try to make friends in the city you’re travelling to. Join guided day tours, stay in hostel dormitories, try a new bar and mingle with other travellers out there.

Beaches in Goa

Here’s a detailed guide on how to make friends while travelling and overcome loneliness.

However, if meeting new people and making friends seem impossible for you (as it may, during your initial days of solo travelling) an easy way to sidestep this is to arrange to meet up with friends or family you may have in a specific destination. Perhaps you know an old school friend in a city near your next stop or a cousin you haven’t seen in a long time just a brief train ride away.

Reach out to these people, if you can, and try to get together. Even if it’s just for an hour or so, this can help you feel ‘centred’ and at home in a strange place.

As you can see, there are some simple steps you can take to make the world your home and these are the ones that help me, irrespective of where in the world I am travelling to!

Do you have your own ideas you rely on while you’re travelling? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Starting A Travel Blog Hosted On Hostgator

campsite in Manali

Recently I had bought a multi-domain hosting plan with Hostgator to start three new websites: one, for my campsite in Himachal Pradesh, one for the adventure motorbiking tours I organise in Ladakh and one, for a new travel blog I wanted to start for so long.

Please don’t ask why I started a new travel blog, that’s a long story and is moreover not necessary to know here. But what’s necessary is the fact that I switched from Bluehost to Hostgator to start my new travel blog (PS: I’ve been using Bluehost for some time for FootlooseDev) and I did it for quite a few reasons.

Starting A Travel Blog Hosted On Hostgator: A Better Price

One thing that makes a big difference every time we go to the market to buy something is the price of the product (or service) and this was exactly what motivated me too to make my decision and go for Hostgator.

Though the hosting packages by  Hostgator can be comparatively slightly expensive than that of Bluehost’s, from time to time, it offers amazing discounted deals. I used one such discounted deals too that gave me an unlimited domain hosting plan with Hostgator on a price almost similar to what the single domain hosting with Bluehost cost me.

To make it better, it is moreover going to cost me cheaper to renew with Hostgator (once my subscription expires) than how much it cost to renew the same plan with Bluehost, as Hostgator offers better subscription-renewal rates.

If you don’t know it already, be privy to the fact that renewing your subscription is always a pain and is always more expensive than your original plan. So if you end up buying hosting from a company that offers expensive renewal plans, you’re screwed!

Starting A Travel Blog Hosted On Hostgator: A Better Server

Another reason to switch to Hostgator was the praise I had heard from others about its servers’ performance. And since I’ve switched to Hostgator, I am, myself, witnessing it. There hasn’t been a single second of downtime in any of the three websites since the previous three months of my subscription.

Though in this case, Bluehost had also, always, provided very sophisticated servers and I had hardly faced any technical issues with FootlooseDev in the previous two years, except for a few minutes of downtime every few months, and that is quite natural.

Starting A Travel Blog Hosted On Hostgator: A Better Customer Service

And last but not least, Hostgator’s customer service is better too than that of Bluehost which no longer has a direct email-the-support option and require you to login to your Bluehost customer account and raise a ticket to exchange messages with the support team.

Hostgator moreover offers an instant-chat option, something that comes in handy – particularly during the initial days of blogging when everything feels new and confusing. So Hostgator has it easier when it comes to technical support.

Now, if you decided to go for Hostgator and want to start a travel blog from a scratch using Hostgator’s hosting plan, continue reading…

However, if you still chose Bluehost, here’s an article on How To Start A Travel Blog Using Bluehost as your hosting server | Use this link to check Hostgator’s Website for discounted offers.

Starting A New Travel Blog With Hostgator

Step 1: Choosing The Hosting Package & The Domain Name

The first step is choosing what hosting package you want: Single Domain or Multi-Domain. For newbie bloggers, it’s not necessary to get a Dedicated Server but buy a hosting plan under a shared hosting as there will be no traffic overload in the initial days of blogging. If you think you will be having more than one websites, invest in a multi-domain website.

Additionally, if you know that you’re going to keep the website for some time, it’s always a good idea to buy a three-year hosting plan, because renewals are always expensive, as I said earlier.

To choose what package you want, go to HostGator’s main page and you’ll get brought to a page where they show their different hosting packages as shown below (just click on the following picture to get redirected to Hostgator’s website):

Once you’ve chosen what plan you want to buy and provided with the domain name you want to register, create your account, put in your billing details, and you’re good to go. Before checkout, you will be asked if you want any add-ons, forget everything in the beginning, except for Domain Privacy Protection because it will protect your personal information. All of the features that the rest of the add-ons provide can be achieved by downloading free plugins for your WordPress once you get your site up and running.

Step 2: Installing WordPress

Once you’re done with payment and have received the password and username for the cPanel, log-on to your cPanel and install WordPress onto your site.

Once logged into the portal, you will see four tabs on top namely ‘Manage Orders’, ‘My Billing’, ‘Setting’, and ‘Help’. Click on ‘Manage Orders’ and under it, ‘List/Search Orders’. This page will have all your products listed.

Click on the WordPress package that you just purchased and wait for the next screen. Scroll to the WordPress Hosting section and click on Manage Service.

A new browser window will open which will be the dashboard we’ve been talking about earlier. Click on Install Site when you’re ready to start installing your WordPress blog.

You will need to add necessary information about the site in the new screen and click on Add Site.

Once the initial setup is complete, you get redirected back to the dashboard where you will find the new domain listed under Installed Sites. It may take up to 10 minutes for your site to build in the backend. After the installation, you can hit the Admin button to log in to your WordPress blog.

Step 3: Choose A Theme And Install Plugins

After you’ve installed WordPress, go to ‘http://YourTravelBlogName.com/wp-admin/’ and use the username and password you’ve created to log in. From now on, you are not required to log in to your cPanel buy your WordPress panel.

Once you’re in the admin panel, you need to ensure that you pick a WordPress theme for your blog. A good WordPress theme will ensure that your content is presented in the most optimum way. This is how your WordPress panel is going to look like:

To install a theme, click on the “Appearance” option on the left sidebar and then select Themes. Here you’ll find several themes that have already been installed. Just choose one of the Free Themes, in the beginning, give your blog some time to develop before investing a paid theme if you ever wanted to buy one.

Besides themes, you may need to add some useful plugins from day one. Plugins basically enable you to add features to your blog without writing a single line of code. While there are thousands of plugins available, you initially need to install a few essential ones only.

These are the few plugins I suggest you download on day 1:

  • Jetpack – It offers you a spell-checker, contact forms, extra widgets, and a whole slew of more features
  • Google Analytics For WordPress – To allow Google to track your website traffic and use Google Analytics.
  • Akismet– To protect your blog from spammers leaving comments on your posts. Totally recommended for the first day.
  • Yoast SEO – For optimizing your articles for Google search, plus integrating Google Sitemaps and Analytics.
  • Easy Social Share Buttons – To add social media sharing buttons to your articles.

Now that we have the theme and plugin out of the way, you’re ready to add your first blog.

Congratulations! You have successfully created a website!

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How To Best Travel From Delhi To Leh, And Back

Leh has emerged as one of the top destinations in the Indian Himalayan region in the recent years. From backpackers to honeymooners to adventure bikers, everyone wants to visit Leh and other places in Ladakh, like Nubra Valley and Pangong.

But one thing that curbs people from getting to Leh Ladakh is the accessibility. Though only a 1000 km away from New Delhi, travelling to Leh is time-consuming. And if one to book return flight tickets to save on time, they end up losing a big chunk of their budget. So what is the most economical and time-efficient way to travel from New Delhi to Leh, and back?

Fly Only From Delhi To Leh

For those who are not privy to the fact, should note that Leh has an army airport with daily connecting flights to and from New Delhi which remains under public hold with commercial flights using the airport until 12 in the afternoon. After 12, the airport is used for army movement.

Now, since the airport taxes (as I was told) to fly domestically from Leh Airport are quite high compared to other airports, like that of New Delhi’s, any flight taking off from Leh are often fairly expensive. But the same flight landing at Leh airport can be quite cheaper. So fly from New Delhi to Leh and save yourself some time.

During my recent trip to Leh, I got a single journey from Delhi to Leh for just Rupees 3,150 including breakfast and a 15kg check-in baggage by AirIndia. The same flight, taking off the same day back to New Delhi, was a whopping 8,000 Rupees (and the trend continued for the flight taking off from Leh the next day and the after).

Travelling From Leh To Delhi

Though you can get from Leh to Delhi in under 1500 Rupees by taking two ordinary Himachal State Transport buses – one from Leh to Manali (with a stop-over for a night in Keylang) and the other from Manali to Delhi, both costing about 700 Rupees, I don’t recommend them because they’re super uncomfortable.

So your two best bets are:

1) Taking The Special Himachal Tourism Bus From Leh To Manali

Himachal Tourism, every summer, starts a special bus for tourists which, unfortunately, costs a whopping 2900 Rupees but takes you all the way from Leh to Manali with an added comfort of pushback seats. What’s better is the price includes the night accommodation in Keylong in a comfortable government guest house and a complimentary dinner and the morning breakfast.

From Manali, you can book one of those regular 1000 Rupees luxury Volvo buses that bring you to Delhi overnight. Total time duration will be 2 days and 2 nights, and the total cost will be approx 4000 Rupees.

Tip: You can book the Himachal Tourism bus from Leh to Manali online or from the Himachal Tourism office in Leh near the Main Bazaar.

2) Taking A Shared Jeep (Or A 12 Seater Traveller) From Leh To Srinagar. And Fly From travelSrinagar

Your second best bet to avoid losing 8k in Leh-Delhi flight is by taking a 1200 Rupees shared jeep or a traveller (that can be booked from the main bus station in Leh) that starts at 4 in the afternoon and drops you in Srinagar the following morning at around 7, and then taking a flight to Delhi the same evening. Flights from Srinagar to Delhi are often cheaper and cost around 3000 Rupees. So in less than 4,500 Rupees and in 2 Days and 1 night, you reach all the way from Leh to Delhi.

How Did I Travel

As I said, I took a 3100 Rupees flight from Delhi to Leh. On my way back, I took the 2900 Rupees Himachal Tourism bus to Manali (from Leh) and an 800 Rupees Volvo from Manali to Delhi. In 3100+3700 Rupees I completed my return journey from Delhi to Leh.