Tuesday, 6 December 2016

10 Reasons To Love A ‘Beach’ Holiday

There’s something about beach holidays. They set you free. Although I’m more of a mountain lover, I can’t resist the ecstasy the beaches offer. I believe everyone should experience beaches once in a while. There’s so much within you that needs to be unlocked, and I guess beaches tickle the inner child in you and let you loose.

As the New Year is around the corner, I’m sure all of you must be planning to go somewhere or the other. So, let me gear you up for a ‘beachy’ destination –


Beach holidays are fun.
I know I’m stating the obvious, but I want to stress on the point that a beach destination sets something right in you. Beaches have the ability to extract the ‘true’ you.

Beaches mean relaxation.
The moment you think of a beach, you think of relaxation. Reclining under a shack with your feet up and feeling the wind in your hair… Is there anything better than that?  


Beaches mean ‘do-nothing’.
Yes, beaches mean lazing around. You don’t have to have things on your mind, or a check-list to complete. You can read, talk, gaze or sleep, and it’d possibly be your happiest day!

A stroll or a run by the beach is therapeutic.
Strolling or running by a beach is one of the most carefree activities. It helps you leave behind your stress and simply surrender to the joy of the tides. Besides, there are so many water sports that you can enjoy.


Beaches stir up romance.
Wouldn’t you agree that when you are with your sweetheart at a beach, the love just gets better? If you ask me, it feels like life is an endless poetry.

Beaches are a ‘solo traveller’s best buddy.
I don’t think you can ever feel lonely at a beach. In fact, a beach vacation gives you an excellent chance to rendezvous with yourself and get a little pensive.


Beaches are a great way to connect with your family.
Beaches are not just good for romance and solo time, but they are ideal for a family time too. How about some unhindered time with your mom, dad and siblings?  

It’s great to watch sunrises and sunsets from a beach.
Watching the sun rise from the horizon or fade away in the sky is simply incredible. But, I have a special fondness for sunrises. While I have watched several beach sunsets, I’m yet to witness a sunrise from a beach.


Beaches are beautiful.
As a photographer, I’d say beaches make the best photographs. A beach may look very plain in the first instance, but as you give it some time and soak in its air, there are a thousand possibilities that you can capture through your camera.

Beaches are a writer’s favourite escape.
I’d definitely like to run away to a beach to write. I can picture myself with my laptop under a shack – just my heart, my thoughts and my writer’s ink.


What about you? Do you have a ‘beach holiday’ in the pipeline?
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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Top 5 Places In Indonesia I’d Like To Explore

Although I didn’t mention Southeast Asia on my travel bucket-list, I find Indonesia absolutely stunning. There’s something unusual about Indonesia that evokes my wanderlust. The amazing volcanic islands, idyllic beaches, tropical forests and diverse ethnic groups make me want to visit Indonesia. Besides, I have a feeling that Indonesia is an easy-going country, and it's somewhat like India.  

Since I’m done with most of my travels this year, I’m looking out for new destinations for the next year. If I get a chance, I’d love to explore Indonesia –

Bogor

I just happened to see a few glimpses of Bogor on Television recently, and I found it beautiful. Later, I got to read about it, which just built up my curiosity. From what I have read about Bogor, it seems to be a charming place despite the crazy traffic and the chaos. I believe it's a kind of place that takes time to grow on a visitor, and I love such places.

There’s quite a lot that one can do in Bogor – history and culture to admire in the old monuments - the Bogor Palace, the Cathedral and Masjid Harakatul Jannah to name a few, trendy cafes and restaurants at Taman Kencana Street, the very famous Kebun Raya Bogor (Bogor Botanical Gardens) and some delicious Indonesian cuisines at Suryakencana Street Food. Besides, the locals of Bogor are quite friendly, which should add to the joy of exploring.

Bogor is certainly not a destination that you can explore in just a day. To soak in its true essence, you need to plan a stay of at least 2-3 days, or more. Thus, it’s important to pick a nice place to stay – Hotel Aston Bogor.

Well, it’s always helpful to do a good research on accommodation before a trip. Traveloka.com has some great options.

Image source here

Bali

Of course, I have to visit Bali. To be honest, I don’t really know much about Bali, but I want to visit it for its sheer island beauty. Whatever I have seen of Bali, so far, has left me awestruck. I’d like to spend a carefree, laze-around kind of a holiday in Bali.

Image source here

Lombok

I’d like to visit Lombok because it’s lesser-known and absolutely gorgeous. Who can resist its white-sand beaches, lush forests and fascinating hiking trails? I have heard you get to pass through scenic tobacco and rice fields. I’m sure it’s going to be my kind of a place.

Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is on my wish-list for its old sights and attractions, great gastronomy and culture. I’d love to wander its main street and the narrow lanes to snap photos of pretty street arts, puppet makers, silversmiths and the interesting food vendors.

Image source here

Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo looks magnificent. I don’t think I’d miss it if I’m ever in Indonesia. It would be a totally different experience to witness an active volcano. Besides, Mount Bromo is a fantastic place for landscape photography. I can’t wait to capture the rising sun and the entire landscape bathed in its mellow light.

What about you? Which place has intrigued you recently?

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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Longing For Kerala…

I’m longing for a holiday in Kerala. Although I am on the lookout for new destinations, Kerala is one state that I want to revisit. I have been there only once and was totally smitten by it. I was fortunate to experience the lush beauty of Kerala during the monsoons, which added to the thrill of my voyage.



What really fascinates me about Kerala is that though Kerala Tourism is already thriving and popular, it is still exotic and fresh. There are so many hidden places that I can’t wait to explore.

I’m looking forward to the following experiences on my next Kerala expedition –

Stay overnight on a houseboat

On my first Kerala trip, I (along with my fellow travellers) did a day tour of the backwaters. We explored many small islands, learnt about the spices and other fruits, and lunched on the houseboat. It was a fabulous experience – perhaps one of my most beautiful days as a traveller. I’d like to go a step ahead and stay overnight on a houseboat on my next trip and spend an entire day just lazing around and doing absolutely nothing.   


Take Ayurvedic Spa

I’d like to stay at one of the spa resorts in Kerala, and take a nice, relaxing Ayurvedic Spa treatment. I’m sure an authentic Ayurvedic Spa experience would be different from the spa experiences that we have in the big cities.  

Image source: The Zuri Hotels

Devour Kerala’s traditional cuisines

One of my most delightful food experiences was on the houseboat. I loved the platter of rice, sambhar, different veggies and chutney that they served. Although I’m not a fan of South Indian cuisine, I simply can’t forget what I ate in Kerala. So, on my next visit, trying out different traditional Kerala dishes has to be my priority. 


Wander through Fort Kochi

Though I have been to Kochi, I couldn’t make it to Fort Kochi. But, I have seen its pictures and I find it absolutely amazing. I’m excited to explore its old synagogues, churches, temples and other historic attractions, and capture its charm through my lens. 

Image source: Flickr

Discover a few deserted villages

Yes, exploring a few villages of Kerala would be my most favourite thing to do. I’m a rural traveller totally. So, I’d like to take the bucolic path and discover Kerala’s unsung villages – talk to the locals, learn about their lives and take some great pictures.

Where are you longing to go this Christmas and New Year?
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Thursday, 10 November 2016

Get Mesmerised By The Monpas

I love the spontaneity of travel. I like it when I’m headed somewhere and I end up being somewhere else and it turns out to be totally remarkable. Well, I was headed towards Dirang Valley (located in West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh) and I ended up at a home stay called Kalden Home Stay (Munna Camp), which is on the highway towards Dirang.

I sneaked into the world of the Monpa tribe through my stay at a cosy home stay, where everybody was gracious and cordial. It didn’t take them very long to understand my curiosity as a traveller. We had quite a few tea conversations, which mostly would start with what cooked in the Monpa kitchens and steer towards deeper topics like how liberal they were when it comes to marrying inter-caste or inter-religion. Also, I learnt a few words of the Monpa language, such as Tashidelek (Namaste), Kadinche (Thank you), Tosang (Food) and Ja (Chai).

So yes, it was great to know the Monpas.

Here are some of the snippets that I’d like to share –

The little village monasteries
I found the little village monasteries far more impressive than the big and ostentatious ones. It was so fascinating to spot ages old monasteries tucked in every corner of the village settlements. Also, some of them were of great significance – one of the monasteries was revered by the locals for the impact it had on their lives. According to my hosts, if anyone took an oath at the monastery and didn’t live by it, he/she was doomed.


The traditional stone and wood houses
All Monpa houses are made of stone and wood. In fact, Monpas like to do a lot of wood carving. It’s usual to catch sight of men engaged in some sort of carpentry work. The use of stones and wood make their homes last for ages, and they look pretty as well.  


The gorgeous red chilies and maize 
As a photographer, I loved capturing the red chilies and maize, which were all over the place. It’s like wherever you rest your eyes, you’d spot red chilies or maize being dried in the sun. The Monpas like to use chilies and maize quite a lot in their food. (I’m going to write an exclusive post on the Monpa food.)


The hanging beef pieces
It was quite amusing to see the beef pieces hung at almost every house front yard. The Monpas like to eat a lot of meat – pork, yak, beef, chicken, fish, etc. They like to hunt wild animals except for Tiger, which is strictly prohibited to be killed.  


The beautiful Kameng River
Besides being mesmerised by the Monpa villages, I was also smitten by the gurgling Kameng River that flowed by my home stay. It was refreshing to walk down to the river in the mornings and in the evenings for a ‘soak in’ time.

According to Wikipedia, the Kameng River flows from Tawang district from the glacial lake below snow-capped Gori Chen Mountain, and it is one of the major tributaries of the Brahmaputra River.


The sweet and shy locals
The locals, I realised, were quite shy and reserved in the Monpa villages and also in the other parts of Arunachal Pradesh. They wouldn’t just open up on their own, but if you’d like to take their photographs, they would honour your request. It’s always good to get introduced to them by your hosts and exchange a few pleasantries in their local language.


The Monpa traditional dresses
The Monpas like to wear heavy traditional attires on their special occasions. I also got a chance to try a couple of Monpa attires at my hosts’ cajolery. Shinka, one of the attires that I put on costs around 30k. I’m glad I got to don it for free!   


According to Wikipedia, the traditional dress of the Monpa is based on the Tibetan Chuba. Both men and women wear head wear made of yak hair, with long tassels. The women tend to wear a warm jacket and a sleeveless chemise that reaches down to the calves, tying the chemise round the waist with a long and narrow piece of cloth. Ornaments include those made of silver, corals and turquoise. One can see a person wearing a cap with a single peacock feather round their felt hats.

Did the Monpa world fascinate you?
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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Where To Stay In Ziro Valley?

I have been writing about Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh. It’s time I talk about the best places to stay in Ziro. I’d like to mention that though there are quite a few nice home stays in Ziro (there are some in the Apatani villages also), Siiro Resort is perhaps the coziest stay in the valley.


Why I loved my stay at Siiro Resort –

It’s in the midst of nature
The first thing to like about Siiro Resort is that it’s nestled close to the mountains. It gives you a feeling that you are in a remote place, where you can just be with yourself and admire the nature’s beauty.

I personally love such places because I don’t have to rush. I don’t have to look at my watch. I can just be with absolutely nothing on my mind.


It’s peaceful
Yes, all you hear at Siiro is the chirping of birds. It is located away from the market and the buzzing city area, which makes it a peaceful place. If you are someone who likes peace and quiet, Siiro would delight you!


It’s comfortable and cozy
Who wouldn’t like a comfy and cozy stay while away from home? Siiro Resort has nice rooms with clean bathrooms. Most of the rooms have balconies. I enjoyed having my morning tea sitting in the balcony overlooking the mountains.


It’s a good place for morning walks
I like places where I don’t have to think where to go and what to see. Siiro Resort has such beautiful surroundings that you can sight-see on impulse. Although I sleep in, I usually wake up early on my travels to experience the freshness in the air and the warm glow of the sun. I’d say that Siiro was a perfect place for morning walks.


There are some beautiful places nearby
The best part about staying at Siiro Resort is that there are quite a few nice places to visit around it. The Apatani villages are not very far. You can explore the villages, the farmlands and the vineyards on a day tour. In fact, you can create your own itinerary and tell the manager at the resort, and he would take you around (in exchange of a fee, of course). It is always good to explore a place with a local, because that helps you extract the insights of a place better.2e21e47b1a7dd4774430c09bc94d020edabed30b9adbfc9ac9


The resort staff is hospitable
Besides the perfect setting of the resort, what I liked about Siiro was the hospitality of the staff. They were always available whenever I needed anything. They were polite and courteous. I’d also like to appreciate the manager Tallo, who was nice and friendly.

If you plan to visit Ziro Valley, I’d recommend you to stay at Siiro Resort. However, be aware that there is no WiFi or phone connectivity in the property premises. You’d want to buy a local SIM to stay connected to your people at home.

Practical Information: Siiro Resort is 122.3 km from Lilabari Airport, Lakhimpur Assam. But, due to bad road conditions, it takes longer than usual to reach Ziro.

What places in Arunachal Pradesh would you recommend for a comfy stay?

Note: I was hosted by Siiro Resort. But, as always, all opinions are my own.

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