EXPLORING THAILAND –   5 Travel Tips 

I recently got back from a short trip to Thailand. It was quite an exciting experience trying to navigate through the places and make the most out of my time there.

There were quite a few things that I learnt, so I thought I would share some quick and easy tips to help you out in case you are planning a trip to this stunning destination.

Here are 5 things that you should definitely make note of to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.

  1. Buy a local SIM card at the airport – there are some very affordable deals; you will find it super helpful for navigation and co-ordination.
  2. Language can be a hindrance as not everyone speaks English. If you are travelling by local buses and walking around asking for directions – get someone to write the name of your destination in Thai – that in itself is winning half the battle!
  3. Street Food – The cheapest and best food you will find across Thailand is on the streets. There’s a vast variety of sumptuous eats that can ensure unique meals for an entire week. It’s quite safe and healthy as well, so no worries there.
  4. Internal Travel – If travelling by buses internally around Thailand, make sure you book your bus tickets a day early- else you may have to end up altering your travel plans.
  5. Local Guidance – Advice from the locals though not always accurate, is quite reliable. From bus routes to best local massage centres, areas to visit – even fares to pay the tuk tuk. Taking their word on it is a fairly reasonable.

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INDIAN TRAIN JOURNEYS!

Trains and Indian railways have been an integral part of my life. For as long as I remember, I have spent many of my early years travelling in trains.

Being an army child I have been fortunate to travel and see large parts of India. I remember the days when we lived in Shillong and undertook 36 hr train journeys from New Delhi to Guwahati in the legendary Brahmaputra Express, or the memorable Mumbai – Chennai journey in the famous Chennai Express.

I share a love – hate relationship with trains. I enjoy these travels and yet I dread them in many ways.

This year I have travelled alone quite frequently, so I decided to pen down a few thoughts about travelling by the Indian Railways:

  • I find myself extremely anxious and nervous at the onset of every journey.
  • I have secretly prayed for a lower berth in all my travels so I can have the window seat.
  • My thoughts wander about my co-passengers’ perceptions on seeing a single girl travelling.
  • I am always worried about how am I going to spend my time alone.
  • There have been travels where I have spent the entire journey chatting and playing cards with absolute strangers whom I have met only for a couple of hours before. J
  • There have been travels, where I have been horrified by my co-passengers and their “looks” and hoped that I reach my destination soon.
  • The best way to pass my time has been reading, listening to music and sometimes, the best option-sleeping.
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Me nestled into my book during one of my recent travels

  • The landscapes across the country enrich the journey and give me time to relax and rejuvenate.

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  • I have had the rather unpleasant company of cockroaches and even rats on a journey or two.
  • The views of sunrise and sunset, and the feelings they invoke just cannot be put down in words. Every time I travel, I am left longing for more.

I’m sure many of you will have your own take on travelling by Indian trains; it would be great to hear your travelling tales … please do comment and share your experiences!

 

 

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FOOTSTEPS IN THE GOLDEN CITY – JAISALMER

Rajasthan has always been one of my favorite states when it comes to travelling in India. I have made many trips to this beautiful state and covered almost all parts.  But Jaisalmer was a missing piece until I decided to bring in the New Year at the dunes.

The city charmed me from the very 1st day and I knew by the end of my one week trip that it would be one of my most cherished cities to explore.

Here are 7 awesome reasons why one must visit Jaisalmer and why I would always love to go back:

  1. The Khuri Dunes are gorgeous – unexplored and worth camping out for star gazing. They make a perfect spot for waking up in the middle of nowhere.

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  1. Sam Dunes – They are breath-taking and unending. Starting my New Year in these dunes made it even more special. The camel rides, the endless walking to see the sky meet the dunes make these dunes my favorite.
  2. Sunsets – I am a die hard lover of sunsets – seeing the sun set by the dunes or from the havelis, both make a perfect picturesque moment in Jaisalmer.

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    A lovely evening spent watching the sunset at the Ghadisar Lake

  1. Chanda Nani – I found out about this spirited 80 year old woman, Chanda Nani and her scrumptious home-food from another blog. Her heart and her spirit won me over in seconds. She makes traditional food in front of you at her little home, while chatting away about her good old days and travels. She is one of the warmest people I have ever met in my travels. Such an inspiration!
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(Me with the gorgeous Chanda nani and her granddaughter, Hansa)

  1. ShoppingNo trip is complete without some shopping. Jaisalmers’ old market and the shops in the Fort will not disappoint you. There is something for everyone to take home.
  2. Forts and PalacesThe architecture of Rajasthan is famous all over the world and Jaisalmer Fort and Patwaon ki Haveli not only live up to the standard but raise it. The royal carvings and the intricacy of their work is a must see, and is bound to be every photographer’s delight.
  3. Food and RestaurantsJaisalmer has some great rooftop restaurants and cafes close to the Fort and in the city. The famous “Bhang Shop” is a must try for all visitors. There are some amazing restaurants even in the Luxury Hotels which serve brilliant Rajasthani cuisine. I would also recommend a visit to ‘Chokhi Dhani’ as it will give you an authentic experience.

These are some of my insights from the trip; please feel free to share your experiences in the city and recommend a few for my next visits!

 

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A NIGHT AT THE GOLDEN TEMPLE

“God is one but he has innumerable forms. He is the creator of all and he himself takes the human form” – Guru Nanak Dev ji.

I have always wanted to visit the Golden Temple (Harmandar Sahib) for many reasons, but most importantly because I’ve always felt a strong connection with the place. After my first visit, a couple of years ago, I got the opportunity to visit the Temple again in March this year.

The peace and tranquility I experience here is incomparable to any other.

My favourite time for Darshan is at night.  I prefer reaching the temple by 3am and waiting right until sunrise.

Here are a few glimpses of a night darshan at the Golden Temple through the lens of my camera.

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(Temple at 4.30 am, everyone gets ready for Palki Sahib to be brought in)

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(View of the Har Ki Pauri, Golden Temple Amritsar)

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(I sit and immerse myself into the love and humility that this place showers on each soul present as night turns into a new beginning and a new day – as the First Ardas begins at 5.30am)
IMG_7852(Each part of the temple has a message for us – the reflections and openness of the temple helps me to reflect on my life and open up to love of universe…)

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(And then, the temple in the early morning hues of sunrise … this transition is even more beautiful than my pictures and words could describe… It doesn’t get more fulfilling than this)

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(And finally, a token to remind me of my beautiful night; me at the temple before I pay my last respects, only hoping to come back soon…)

Thank you baba for another beautiful experience.

 

(To know more about the history, routine of the temple, you can also look up the website: http://www.goldentempleamritsar.org/daily-routine-of-sri-harmandir-sahib.php)

 

 

 

 

My 5 TRUTHS ABOUT SOLO TRAVELING

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu

Sometimes it is easy to write about a trip or a travel experience, and then there are other times when the same can be quite challenging. My solo journey to the Spiti Valley surely falls into the second category.

This was the first solo-backpacking trip that I had ever taken. It’s almost been a year since the trip and I still haven’t found the right words to describe it.

This trip was part of my plan to volunteer with the amazing NGO – ‘Ecosphere’. At that point of time I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me for the next 4 weeks. I didn’t think that this trip would be such an impactful, life-changing experience.  

Travelling solo is an experience in itself. It can be very challenging but rewarding and the learnings are immeasurable.

In this post, I would like to list down my 5 truths about being a Solo Traveler / Solo Travelling:

  • Fear is good – Even if you are a pro at solo travels; you will always feel anxious before any journey and that is absolutely fine.
  • The maximum number of strangers/ locals you interact with and the friendships you develop are going to be the most memorable achievements of a solo trip.
  • The freedom and responsibility one feels on a solo trip cannot be compared to anything else.

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  • You get a deep insight into yourself– your instincts, qualities, moods… You learn to be at peace with your own company and that is a beautiful feeling.

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  • Lastly, travelling alone is ADDICTIVE and in my opinion, it’s one of life’s best teachers.
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(Voila, that is me again posing at Tabo, Spiti Valley from my 1st Solo Backpacking Trip)