Just a few days back I felt like having a hot pot. It is one of those things that happen after we travel quite a bit, we start thinking of options and alternatives that otherwise may have never occurred to us. So, I have been muddling around about how to make a hot pot at home in India. All the hot pots I have had so far have been in Taiwan.
Earlier I wrote a fairly detailed post about vegetarian and vegan foods in Taiwan. Adding to it, here are the hot pots that I tried out on this lovely island country. Usually the vegetarian food in Taiwan is vegan & without onion and garlic. So mostly, these vegetarian hot pots I have shared below are vegan and Jain-friendly. But it is possible that some side dishes may have dairy.Continue reading
I often wonder, I keep talking abt solo travel as being really awesome. And people around me get impressed, think it is so cool and all that. But what happens when a situation develops that is NOT awesome? Am I only rhapsodizing on the basis of all my positive experiences so far? In which case it really takes only one negative experience to over-rule the positives, isn’t it? Or not? Here is one of my most serious – shit hit fan – solo travel experience. And what I think about solo travel afterwards.
It happened in Spain.
Earlier today I got lost in the mountains and not proverbially….. I wrote late into the night. Once I was back in my hotel…. I couldn’t sleep. And blogging has always been therapeutic for me. So this particular blog post has been in writing since that night itself but of course, I have had to shape it up to make it read more coherent.
I was staying in the town Zuheros in Andalucia, Spain. It was the night halt of my second day of cycling the Via Verde de la Subbetica. I had only one day to cycle further but I found information on some cool-sounding, short walks in the hotel reception and so instead of cycling, I decided to hike in the Subbetica natural park instead.Continue reading
This Himalayan trip was easily one of my best – a week in the astounding desert of Spiti and then over a month in Jibhi – a beautiful, lush green mountain town at 7,000 ft. The idea was simple, leave the metropolis madness called Mumbai behind and be closer to nature. And so it happened.
The Offbeat Shimla Manali Route via Seraj Valley and Jibhi
There are three Shimla to Manali routes – 1) the offbeat one via Seraj Valley, on which lies Jibhi, 2) the popular one via Mandi and 3) the longer one via Spiti valley.
There may also be a fourth route with a longer westwards circuit near Mandi.
Jibhi is off the usual Indian tourist route. But surprisingly it is very much on the Israeli tourist route. I found it surprising but probably the proximity to the popular Kasol valley is the reason. I chatted with three Israeli travellers in the Kshatra cafe of Jibhi and it was an eye opener. They told me that Israel has alway considered India a close ally and they love the culture not because it is cheap (inexpensive), but because it deeply resonates with them. Oh and two of them had come to spend their honeymoon in India – that shows how much they love this country! And both did Yoga. The third guy had done multiple vipassana programs. So… wow! Far cry from the stereotyped image of Israelis holed up in cheap room of an Indian town basically for the opium.
This trip to Jibhi was filled with interesting conversations and revelations. I made friendships that have lasted beyond the place and time. Still in touch with many of them, met a few later on elsewhere and looking forward to meeting them again!Continue reading
Small friendly gestures, quick laughs, a fleeting romance in the heart or a simple, resonating conversation on the road. Cherished by travellers, these interactions are unexpected and what makes them more special is that they are between complete strangers. You may not know the person’s name, background or any details at all. And yet those moments of camaraderie, love, respect are usually a part and parcel of our travel life. Something we look forward to, expect and love. They often get us through doubts. Re-instill our faith in the world. And sometimes even help us out in sticky situations.
But how little we know about these people. Being on the road we keep moving on, lots of questions but only the moving terrain around us answers them.
Being here in the Himachali mountain town for a month, I had time to find some answers about the people, the culture, economic situation and other random bits like making tea with jaggery (yumm!). And yet, a month is hardly a long time especially for an introvert like me. So I find myself only more curious with more questions. But also some insight about village life and these people.Continue reading
In India, regional languages have taken second place to English wherever people have the option. This helps us tremendously in work fields and makes our working force internationally viable. But it does put us behind in retaining culture especially in urban areas, compared to a lot of these societies like Taiwan, Japan, China and even many of the European countries like Germany and France.
When I visited Taiwan in Oct, 2016 I looked at the lack of English language as a very good thing, as this allows true global diversity. But it of course creates challenges for us travellers. And I was solo-cycling for a few days, so that led to some specific difficulties too. Here are some fun ideas on how we travellers can learn a language. Continue reading
It was really tough to take the decision of turning back. I kept wondering if I was chickening out. But I realized one thing very clearly – I don’t have gear for cold and wet climate. That’s all. That was the main reason I turned back.
To give you a synopsis the weather became really wet. It rained – a lot, and the reservoirs, rivers all across Victoria were flooding or close to flooding. Moreover in Inglewoods I saw a rain shower that lasted only for 15 minutes but it was so hard!! Like some sort of cloudburst. It freaked me & that shower brought water into my tent as well, luckily I pulled out my sleeping gear just in time and rushed into the caravan that the motel owners thankfully gave me for no extra cost. I stayed in the caravan for 2-3 days. Part of those days the roads were closed, and no one could say what would happen as this weather was just very unusual for this region!Continue reading
When I first started researching Europe for my first solo international trip last year, I looked at many countries France, Spain, Scandinavia…. But Germany wasn’t really a country I considered in particular. Then I zoomed into going on a long distance cycling & camping trip. This brought Germany into my radar. Because it is the best place to start out – keeping in mind the costs and infrastructure both. So Berlin it was! At the end of the trip it turned out to be the one European city I felt I had spent some time in (15 days) and it was awesome.
Before this trip happened, apart from it being some sort of ‘finance powerhouse’ and a hub for Cars – I had no other association with Germany. Except of course the holocaust crap that happened in WW2. And that was my main association with Germany. As I find with so many people at least in my Indian circle – Germany brings thoughts of Hitler, nazi and concentration camps. And here I was planning to cycle and camp in the countryside, solo! God knows how many concentration camp spots I would pass by on my own.Continue reading
Heavy breakfast. Yep, I managed at least this as I left hill city Melby, better known as Melbourne.
All packed and ready to go,
The stand gave up..Continue reading
One of the exciting aspects of cycle touring is passing through the charming, small European towns. I know a lot of people who plan a trip to some popular metropolis in Europe often Paris but then they quickly realize that the romanticized notions are often lost in the hustle bustle of the huge city. But they find the European charm they are looking for in the nearby small town they pass through on a random drive.
So whether or not you love the big cities of Europe, be sure to include activities which let’s you experience the European small towns too. There are many ways of doing this for everyone. You don’t necessarily have to go on a long distance cycling tour like I did.Continue reading
When I started solo traveling in 2009, it all happened a bit impromptu. I had a basic plan in place, Mumbai – Goa – Bangalore (transit) – Mysore – Coimbatore (yoga ashram). I provided all accommodation details with contact numbers to my parents and that was pretty much it.
As I started doing this more often, the question arose about what to tell people – specifically relatives. Where do I keep disappearing sometimes for a whole month!? This was a time when solo traveling, especially women solo traveling hadn’t become the buzz word it is now. Many people close to me suggested that I tell people I am traveling with another girl friend, no one would really know the truth and it would look so much more normal.Continue reading