Venice has quite the reputation – one steeped in gorgeous gondoliers, carnivals and a whole lot of money. Let’s explore its must sees and secrets, all with a happy face and an empty stomach.
When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s amore, Dean Martin croons in my head. There’s just something about this romantic city of 118 islets (though some may say it’s 121) that brings out the sap in me, and the good-looking gondolier giving me the once-over isn’t hurting matters at all. Don’ worry it’ll probably have the same effect on you, and you’ll discover along the way that this city isn’t only about the canals (or the gondoliers manning them).
Venice and its paradise
Perhaps its the sprinkling of moonlight on the canals, perhaps it’s the devastatingly handsome Italian men who will unabashedly profess their love for you and make and make you swoon, or Continue reading “Vibes of Venice !!!” »
TO DO ANYTHING
Holiday’s are usually exhilarating, stimulating, brimming over with to-do boxes to be checked off. But the village of Dindi, flanked by the Vashista River, a tributary of the Godavari and part of the verdant Konaseema Delta formed by the Vashista and Goutami rivers, lives life at an intoxicatingly relaxed amble. The only thing that really demands a reaction is ‘Papikondalu’ (sometimes written as Papi Kondalu), the name of the cloud-ringed hill range you’re here to pay homage to. Once you’ve got past your amusement at this name, you’ll find that the most strenuous thing you end up doing is dialing down the pace of your otherwise hectic life.
Konaseema culture is a typical rural culture of Andhra
Drive to the Laxmi Narasimha Swamy Temple at Antarvedi, past coconut groves looming large over shallow ponds, canals and cattle grazing in green meadows, and village belles drawing water from a pump beside traditional homes of mud and timber with thatched roofs. You will actually feel the sensation of stepping back into a time before tourism and touts in the village of Gudimellanka, 5 kilometers into the drive from Dindi. The hallowed portals of the temple, built between the 15th and 16th centuries, will deepen the reverie. No one rushes you, you can Continue reading “Holiday at Dindi, Andhra Pradesh” »
ON THE FLY !
Christopher Mitra has a thing for fly-fishing. And a weakness for guests who are similarly inclined. At his family-owned property, The Himalayan Trout House, strategically situated on the banks of the Tirthan in Banjar, Himachal Pradesh. The river flows fast and cold, peppered with wild brown and rainbow trout. If you surrender to the madness of fly-fishing, you’ll soon find yourself drowned in the subject over endless cups of chai and dinners of trout. You will become one of a community of fly-fishing enthusiasts that gather regularly at this mecca of expertise and equipment.
Fly-fishing, for those who came in late, is an angling style in which an artificial ‘fly’ – a combination of hair, fur, foam, wires and the like – is deployed in place of live bait to catch fish. The guide who accompanies you on your fly-fishing session from The Himalayan Trout House scopes out vantage points from which to cast the line along Continue reading “The Himalayan Trout House, Nagini – Himachal Pradesh” »
With the attitude of metropolis and the vibes of an international city, Delhi is the destination that no traveler would want to miss.
If you can hear soulful Sufi music in the backdrop, can see Moghalai architecture all around you, can smell flavors of India in the breeze and can feel a positive buzz in the air, well then ‘Aap Dilli main hon’ (You are indeed in Delhi) The 5,000 year old city known as Indraprashta has always flourished like it does today.
Red Fort at Delhi
India’s capital city boats of being a vibrant city amidst chaos an confusion, combining modernity with ethnicity, trends with tradition and hi-tech amenities with a conservative outlook. While most of cities of the world have similar profiles, Delhi stands out for consistently being the chosen one across dynasties and not without a reason. The city ensures it has different layers tucked inside it to cater to different tastes. For the traveler looking for Continue reading “Delhi Demystified” »
Dim sum eateries and fine dining restaurants find equal favor in hyper-modern Hong Kong, emerging as one of the gourmet capitals of the world.
Chic Hong Kong
To most of us, Hong Kong is a bustling business metropolis we visit to shop and to eat. Few people care to scratch the surface of this port city, which has achieved economic success on the world stage despite being occupied by a succession of countries. Hong Kong may mean ‘fragrant harbor’ but you would be hard-pressed to find any romanticism here, except for little glimpses on occasions like the Chinese lantern festival, which marks the last day of the lunar New Year. Usually celebrated in early February, this is a truly delightful time, when restaurants and roads are lit up with lanterns of all shapes and sizes.
New Year Celebrations
The word ‘hong’ also refers to the city’s major trading houses, which prospered from their trade with China. From the late 19th Century right up to the Second World War, Hong Kong lived in the shadow of Shanghai, which was Continue reading “Hyper-Modern Hong Kong” »
Best for R&R
It’s about time for some serious R&R, and Hoi An is just the place for it. Along Vietnam’s gorgeous coastline, this little town has quite the reputation as a retreat – it’s where the American troops came to recuperate, and it’s where you should plan to unwind and slow things down a notch, too.
Hoi An City
Hoi An sits right by the South China Sea, and was once an important port of call on Southeast Asian trade routes. Goods made their way from the Far East to the west, and the Japanese and Chinese traders, in particular, and left their mark here. Cloths and silks were Hoi An’s mainstay, and as you’re walking down the streets of the Old Town, you’ll quickly learn that even today, it offers great Continue reading “Hoi An, Vietnam!” »
Best for bright city lights
It’s time to jump borders again, something that is remarkably easy to do in this neck of the woods. Board a train in Phnom Penh, and half a day later, you’ll be stepping off in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City
The capital of former South Vietnam, HCMC (or Saigon) has its own share of heavy history, but there have already been large doses of that, and it’s time to keep things light for a few days. Ho Chi Minh City is a good place to do that, to – as the base of the American operations in the country. It has quite a bit of a city-slicker vibe left over, though not in a way that takes away from its innate charm. It’s a city that’s got neon lighting up the skyline and immaculately-dressed residents walking along its broad pavements, sitting check-by-jowl with tiny lanes crammed with traditional ‘pharmacies’ and quiet temples offering respite from the chaos outside.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Ho Chi Minh City
And it is chaos outside. Everyone in Ho Chi Minh City gets around on two wheels, and the roads are always covered by a veritable swarm of motorbikes. It’s rather unnerving at first, navigating your way across Continue reading “Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!” »
Best for ancient kingdoms
The former seat of the Khmer Empire, Angkor is probably one of the world’s largest ancient cities, and why peoples flock to Cambodia. Indian travelers in particular will feel quite at home here – Indian influences are rife at this citadel’s architectural marvels, from garudas and nagas sitting guard atop structures to lingams sitting in the occasional nook in temples. Though once a Hindu state, the temples in Angkor were converted into Buddhist shrines when beliefs changed, leading to a somewhat curious juxtaposition of Hindu symbolism and idols with Buddhist ones.
Any visit to Angkor must start at the Angkor Wat – if only to beat the crowds that throng this site daily. Built as a tribute to Vishnu, it’s reminiscent of the temples you find all across South India, although a whole lot larger. You could spend a day wondering about its corridors and not see all Continue reading “Angkor & Siem Reap, Cambodia!” »
Best for a history lesson
Cambodia is a country of many contrasts. The population is largely young and carefree, but they carry the burden of painful memories. Poverty is a huge problem, but that hasn’t stopped the capital city, Phnom Penh, from blossoming into a well-organized, cosmopolitan (if small) city. They’ve taken the remnants of all the invading cultures and cobbled together a city that’s completely Cambodian in essence. Walk around Phnom Penh and you’ll see ritzy hotels, sprawling bungalows and wide avenues, but also seedier corners and more run-down eateries and cafes. There are also constant reminders of just how recent Cambodia’s rehabilitation has been – it’s not unusual to have someone maimed in the war approach you for alms, not something that you’ll find in Siem Reap.
To understand the country that Cambodia has become, it’s important to understand the country that it was, and Phnom Penh is perhaps the best place to do it. It isn’t the easiest choice to make – and you can definitely spend a Continue reading “Phnom Penh, Cambodia” »
Best for Outdoors
Make a three-hour trip out of Bangkok, and you’ll feel like you’ve landed up a world away. Kanchanaburi is a popular break with Bangkok Thais, who bring the party to the otherwise languid town, but it’s generally a slow, easy getaway that’s quite the antidote to Bangkok’s madness.
Phraya Nakhon Cave
Remember The Bridge on the River Kwai? Immortalized in that movie, the actual bridge constructed by WWII prisoners of war as part of the Burma Railways, spans the river Kwai at Kanchanaburi. A cemetery for those who lost their lives here, as well as a museum, stand close to the bridge and are worth wandering through. You can also take a train as it crosses over the bridge – the ride from the River Kwai bridge Station to Nam Tok is a slow journey, allowing you to take in the lovely sight of the mountains looming to one side as the river gushes past on the other; quite a contrast to its history.
Erawan National Park
Once here, also spend some quality time within the Erawan National Park. About 65km outside Kanchanaburi City, this park is a stunner. Its most famous resident, apart from Continue reading “Kanchanaburi, Thailand !” »