Thursday, June 25, 2015

Strolling down the lanes of Khao San Road and beyond

A quintessential backpackers' paradise in midst of bustling Bangkok, Khaosan Road does offer much to everybody. I saw people from all walks of life, roaming around freely, eating, shopping or just like me, lazy strolling without any aim. A road, which never sleeps, even at 2:00 am, I found people were selling foods and a few were drinking at road. When I observed minutely the vendors, shops, massage parlors and other local shops, I wondered how much hard work they really did, almost every day.

Although the first day, I stayed at Samsen Soi 2, a nearby alley, a lot calmer place. So, I walked around Khaosan Road and just surprised to see the crowd and cacophony. The place is remarkably popular among backpackers because of cheap hostels, but it is not the only place in Bangkok for sure. Even if you just walk 5 minutes from Khaosan, you can find lots cheaper hostels in Samsen Soi. I was also not much sure about 100 or 150 baht hostels because I didn’t want to lose my belongings just to save 100 baht.

I love traveling, not principally because I want to see new places or just an aimless strolling, but I’d like to sit calmly at one place and reading or writing. I like to observe people all around me. There are plenty of things you can see and feel, giving me certain kind of peculiar pleasure. In Khaosan Road, I tried to do that but unfortunately everyone skipped from my vision very fast.

I remember one day, I was sitting outside of my hotel, just gently smoking and observing all around. The music and people all around suddenly created a strange nauseated feeling inside. At that particular moment, I desperately wanted to rush back to home. The feeling stayed with me for 2-3 hours or so and gradually subsided.

Khaosan Road is definitely not for me, but I like the sensation, a new experience that will remain in my memory. Undoubtedly there is a magnetic appeal that holds everyone in that small road, but it wasn’t holding me much for a long time. I wish I could have spent some more time to understand the true nature of this famous road in Bangkok.

Good, bad, ugly at Khaosan Road

1. What I like that you meet lots of people if you just sit at a bar or footpath. Even in hostels, you meet people, get new experiences and start a random conversation. There are many people who stay in the place as a stopover and travel to northern Thailand or Cambodia or Vietnam, so you can find a good travel buddy if you are a solo traveler.

In the early morning nearby alley
2. It’s cheap place that is the major drawcard for backpackers. You can find lots hostels less than 200 baht. However, I advise you to stay at a good hostel for better room, security and good people.

3. Shopping is such a delight in the streets of Khaosan and other nearby areas. Only thing you need to remember to bargain hard.

4. Khaosan is too noisy, many people like it but there are so many like I who do not. So, stay at Samsen Soi 2 or nearby places, which are calm and cool places and you can easily reach Khaosan by walking 5 minutes from your hostel.

5. I can’t recommend foot massage because I haven’t experienced it. But seeing the massage parlors and lots of people with their closed eyes, I guess it is an enjoyable experience.

6. If you are really hard on money, then buy beer from Seven Eleven and take it to a road food joint and enjoy it. I don't recommend too cheap hostels because those seemed to me very shady.

7. Experience crunchy cockroach, grasshopper, caramelized spider and even friend scorpion. You can take a picture but you have to pay 10 baht.

8. Khaosan Road is also famous for hookers, but it is not a prostitute area so nobody really approaches you.

9. You can party till morning at Khaosan because that road never sleeps.

10. There are many tuk tuk and taxis who press you for ping pong show or taking you to night life in Thailand. It’s safe but they charge you almost double, so bargain hard.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tips for gynecological problems during overseas travel

Picture courtesy Huffington Post
Gynecological problems can be a real worry during overseas travel because of the reluctance to accept medical advice from unknown doctors. Before leaving for any long overseas trip, all women between 25 and 65 should have a cervical smear (pap smear), except possibly those who have never had a sexual partner. It is worth checking on your smear result by phone. Smears should be repeated every three years if normal, and according to your doctor’s advice if not fully normal.

Period problems during overseas travel

When traveling or going to live in a strange place, periods may get lighter or stop altogether, sometimes for months. This is very common, and no action needs to be taken unless pregnancy is a possibility or if you or your friends notice that you have lost a lot of weight.

Periods may also become irregular, abnormal or prolonged. If such problem persist you should see a doctor. If this not possible, and you are definitely not pregnant, it is possible take the combined oral contraceptive pill for seven days. You should only do this if you have recently had a clean bill of health and can see a doctor if abnormal bleeding is not cured by this treatment.

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How safe to travel to India during pregnancy?

It is worth reporting any prolonged, heavy bleeding as soon as possible whenever it occurs, not least because of the increased risk of needing a blood transfusion. Also check any persistent changes from your normal cycle when you next come home.

Remember it is better not to be menstruating during wildlife safaris, or while swimming where sharks may be lurking.

Vaginal discharge during travel

This is often commoner in the tropics, especially in hot and humid conditions and if you wear tights or jeans.

‘Thrush’ usually causing an itchy discharge, is especially common. You must carry certain medicines with your while traveling to tropics. Vaginal discharge medicines should not be taken if there is a possibility of pregnancy or if you are also taking antihistamines.

Sexually transmitted diseases can cause a discharge, and if you think there is a possibility of an STD, try to see a reliable doctor.

Family planning during your travel

If you are on the pill, take ample supplies of the preparation you are used to until you find out whether a reliable brand name of identical composition is available locally.

For couples who have definitely decided not have more children, it is worth giving serious thought to a permanent form of contraception (tubectomy or vasectomy) well before leaving or early on in your next home leave. This reduces one form of stress that is at least largely under your control.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tremors in Nepal annihilate the lives and dreams in a whisker

I begin here with a dream, with the best intention as to its realism, and if it fails, it will be owing to bad karma. Do you believe when thousands of people die in a single moment, it is a bad karma? Whose karma it is? Or is it really something we should look forward to find an answer? The land of Nepal is blazing now, with the tears of thousands of people, with immeasurable sufferings and broken dreams.

Everybody dreams of living in a peaceful place with a beautiful garden surrounding it, several miles of mountains and gentle streams flowing nearby. As I am writing this dream, there are several news surfacing in various media about the devastation happened in Nepal.  Dreams of people shattered, lives destroyed but who has seen the life, at least when it is near to death. This existence is so, so servile that I wonder this rational souls, human beings should running after things, so mean and detestable a prize, to be vanished in a whisker when nature just shrill a whistle once in a while.

Photo Courtesy Financial Express
Rescue crew and people start their desperate search for survivors, even the lost ones after this massive 7.8 earthquake that shook the world. All we are now seeing are flattened homes, buildings, temples and reports saying more than 2000 people lost their lives. 

I am not there, in a way I am a fortunate person that I am sitting on my desk and writing, but I can’t overrule the horror of this devastation in my mind where I can imagine how people are desperately looking for their loved ones on the streets and squares covered in rubble. We witnessed the horror of 2013 Uttarakhand flood when I just returned to my home and torrent started, and within a few days everything changed so dramatically that when I think about those days, still a chill runs through my veins. Uttrakhand is my second home, I traveled length and breadth to that region, Nepal is not, but it is not difficult to understand the pain of people if you are a bit perceptive.

Photo courtesy CNN
The quake struck at 11:56 am on April 25, 2015, when I was standing outside my office with some colleagues, and suddenly everyone started to come out from the building. Initially we thought it was a mild quake, but soon news flooded about the devastation. According the United Nations office for the Corrdination of Humanitarian Affairs, around 4.6 million people in the region were exposed to tremors. The earthquake hit neighboring Tibet where road blocked, building collapsed and at least 13 people killed.

mount everest avalanche earthquake nepal 2015
The base camp at Mount Everest after an avalanche on Saturday. (Photo Courtesy AP)

How world sees it? And how we can contribute towards relief process?

Life can’t be undone, but at least we can help to create a sustainable platform for people who are suffering right now. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, The U.S has put forward his support by giving initial $1 million, while many charitable organizations have started mobilization process to collect fund for relief work.

The humanitarian organization World Vision has put their staff on the ground in Nepal, providing food, water and shelter to people.  Those who wish to donate to World Vision can visit their page and donate minimum of $10.

There are many other organizations have already started their relief work. International Medical Corp provides medical supplies and their staff helps people in crisis regions. To donate you just go to their website here.

Save the Children, the non-governmental charity organization specialized in children reform, has launched its response to save children and families in Nepal. To donate, you visit their Nepal Page.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Jammu & Kashmir At A Glance

jammu and kashmir detailed map

A photographer paradise, wildest and 'aggressive' mountains and perhaps the most controversial destination of the world, Jammu & Kashmir has the absorbing capacity of traveler with its sublime beauty and there is as much hidden as revealed. The land has an ancient history of invasion because of its borderline location with Western and Southern Asian countries and charming landscapes. The state is located in the northernmost state of India and shielded by Himalayan mountains. The land is in the midst of conflict and controversy for long but after almost 20 years of isolation, situation comes at a normal point and overland travelers are again drifting back to the state and enjoy houseboats, skiing, trekking and other activities.

Jammu & Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the Pakistani administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, to the west and northwest respectively. Jammu & Kashmir is divided into three parts; Jammu, majority of population is Hindu, Kashmir, the conflict place, which is often termed as Paradise on Earth, mainly a tourist hot spot as well as Kashmiri insurgency. And the last and most calm place is the Ladakh region also known as 'Little Tibet'. Ladakh is absolutely secluded place and far behind from Kashmiri insurgency. The place is covered by rugged snow-capped mountains wedged in by roaring rivers.

History of Jammu & Kashmir

In Hindu mythology Kashmir is mentioned and later on the valley was a center of Buddhist religion. The relics of Buddhist and some significant temples in Jammu & Kashmir testifies the fact. During the Mughal reigns most of the temples and Buddhist stupas got destroyed but lenient Akbar (1556-1605) protected Kashmiri pandits and acknowledged the Kashmiri style of painting. During the Colonial rule, Kashmir valley was under the loose grip of Sikh rulers of Jammu and soon British snatched the land from them and Kashmir was handed to Hindu Dogra dynasty, who ruled the state from 1846 until independence. The main conflict started after the partition and it gained the momentum when Pashtun tribesmen attacked Kashmir, backed by the new government in Pakistan. The then Prime Minister Mr. Nehru sent troop to secure the border and resulted first India Pakistan war.

The Kashmir Valley has had been a reason of conflict for two countries and in 1949, the UN established a tenuous border known as the Line of Control but Pakistan attacked the land in 1965, and continued the conflict. The Hindu and Buddhist population in the valley are with the Indian but the Muslim demand autonomy and thus in 1990, Kashmir was placed under the direct control of Central Government. This led to bloody war between terrorists and Indian Army and unexplained massacre of innocent lives. Although a general election held in 1996 led to calls for the division of Kashmir along religious lines, but subsequently rejected by Delhi.

Geographic & Climate of Jammu & Kashmir

snowfall in kashmir valley

Jammu & Kashmir lies at a high altitude and this affects on its geography and the climate. The most of the vegetation of the state is covered by thorn scrub forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests. On the high elevation, the broadleaf forests and western Himalayan subtropical pine forests are found. This makes it a biogeographically diverse land.

Because of its rugged topography, the climate of Jammu & Kashmir varies greatly. During Summers Jammu city experiences hot and humid weather and can reach up to 40 °C (104 °F). The regions of Ladakh and Zanskar experience extreme cold and dry. Annual precipitation is only around 100 mm (4inches) per year and humidity is very low. The region perches at the height of 3000 meters above sea level and winters are nearly impossible to access the place. In Zanskar, the average January temperature is -20 °C (-4 °F) with extremes as low as -40 °C (-40 °F).


Muslims is the major religion of the state. Other religions in the state are Buddhist, Hindus and Sikhs. The people of Ladakh are of Indo-Tibetan origin, while the southern area of Jammu includes many communities tracing their ancestry to the nearby Indian states of Haryana and Punjab, as wll as the city of Delhi. 95% of the total population of Kashmiri Brahmins are also called Kashmiri Pandits. In totality, the Muslims constitute 67% of the population, the Hindus about 30%, the Buddhists 1%, and the Sikhs 2% of the population.

Culture & Heritage of Jammu & Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir has a distinct and colorful culture that attract travelers from all over the world. Kashmiri festivals are colorful and organized with much fanfare. The famous dance called Dumhal is performed by men of the Wattal region. The traditional folk dance Rouff is performed by the women of Kashmir. The valley is famed for its fine arts, music, poetry and handicrafts. Ladakh is famous for its Indo-Tibetan culture. The lifestyle is Buddhist and form an integral part of their culture. there are number of festivals celebrated in Ladakh throughout the years but annual masked dance festivals, weaving and archery are an important part of traditional life in Ladakh.

hemis festival in ladakh hemis monastery kashmir culture

For your Information

Like any other states of India, capital city of J&K Srinagar follows normal business hours but most shops, banks and offices shut for several hours at lunchtime on Friday for Muslim prayers. It is advisable to finish all urgent work on Thursday. Srinagar generally experience dead silence after 8 pm, so there are less possibilities to find a rickshaw or shikara after hours.

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Jammu & Kashmir Tourist Information 

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Making Goo-goo Eyes At Nature - Photo Essay of First Camping Trip

* Do not think I travel to future. These dates were wrongly set in my camera.

This is the first photo essay of my first solo camping trip 6 years ago. Over the time, I feel I've got to understand camping and solo trip a better than before, but the excitement and impulsiveness I have lost. It is not a bad thing after all because I am now more aware of my surroundings, with certain cautiousness, which is important at certain stages of traveling. It is natural I guess, over the years of traveling evolution and changing circumstances, my thought process has been adapted to certain level of realty of this world, so it is not a surprising fact that I am now quickly able to accept the adverse situations and adapt myself in changing situations.

It should not be denied…..that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our mind with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led west. - Wallace Stegner

himalayas in uttarakhand garhwal

Mountains always bring a complete silence in the mind.

bedni bugyal lohajang village

His traveling down to hills is always a haphazard affair. With a heavy backpack and lots of cigarette smoke in the lungs, it’s difficult to walk on the mountainous terrains. However, his philosophy is quite stern that you should carry as much as you can on your back at a dead run.

He stays at a small village perched at a height of 2500 meters.

Last night heavy rainstorm and intolerable cold wind have almost swept away his tent. Now, the whole day wait and wait to dry the stuff. Nevertheless, everything has a good side and he has understood yesterday that there is no greater fear than the fear of death. At night he was running, screaming but only darkness everywhere. It seemed he was searching help in midst of dead people. By God’s grace he ultimately found a room though filthy and stinky but at the moment that was nothing less than heaven. The whole night nightmares came and he woke up with excruciating tiredness and lethargy.

lohajang camping garhwal

He is now sitting alongside a French group, trekking to Joshimath via Bedni Bugyal. He is now thinking that he perhaps comes at wrong time. The hills are still covered up with snow and venturing into a frozen jungle without much gear is nothing less than suicide. Depressed!

It is quite impossible to see the real picture of this existence. whatever we see actually behind the shadow of 'Iness' but today he has realized there are certain subtle things always working behind the gross. it's a faint imitation of his pure consciousness.

ajan top lohajang uttarakhand garhwal

Ajaan Top…some haunted place!!

The mountain is the environment of revelation, genetically and physiologically alien, sensorily austere, and aesthetically abstract. It is always bold and suggestive, though sometimes terrible as if it shows its temperamental nature. From hills sky seems un-obstructive and clouds seems take various living forms.
Since thousands of years, prophets and hermits through rough terrain of hills have sought the therapeutic and spiritual value of retreat, to seek the TRUTH.

He is now dipping in a cold stream…
camping in forest garhwal uttarakhand

A few moments back, a shepherd woman tried to scare him by talking all weird stories of ghost and animals. He himself the Ghost of ghosts!
camping solo forest garhwal kumaon

At last find a good place to pitch his tent.
forest in kumaon uttarakhand

He talked at a length with the sadhu. It seems the babaji is greatly impressed with his internal conflict and his childlike behavior.

In India those burned brinjals make an excellent cuisines named ‘Baigan ka bharta’. Maggie, some loaf of bread, chocolates and lots of water. Malnutrition?? But spirit is soaring….


Errr… Some noise in the woods..leopard he believes…

Dry meandering river…way back to home..
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Friday, April 3, 2015

When travel inspires fashion - Lakme Fashion Week 2015 reflects on world fusion

Travel inspires writers, travel inspires philosophers, travel inspires even entrepreneurs, but how many times we see travel translates into fashion designs. Well, there are some designers in Lakme Fashion Week 2015 who show how impulsive traveling can create best of their talents.

rimi nayak fashion in lakme fashion week 2015

Rimi Nayak is coming up with her latest ‘Travel Trails’ Lakme Fashion Week 2015 where her impromptu traveling experiences resulted into cartography elements of the prints. She has beautifully translated her imaginations on cotton, Georgette and satin. She uses saris, gowns, blouses and every imaginable dress where she creates excellent cartography.

from russia with love neha agarwal lakme fashion week 2015

Another designer Neha Agarwal first time comes up with James Bond movie title “From Russia with Love’, telling the story of two entirely different cultures in her own fashionable style. The dresses are surely inspired by Russian silhouettes and motifs, featuring on Indian fabrics and crafted by Indian techniques.  Her intricate fashion presentation is in the form of hand-embroidered applique on Georgette, ahimsa, dupion, tussar and pattu silks. The style is of course from Russia, which was prevalent in the early 1900s, but the technique is purely Indian. An ambitious attempt to create a fusion that might be received well by critics.

sonam & paras modi collection lakme fashion week 2015

Suave craftsmanship, vibrant colours and Indian aesthetics; these three attributes are the main pillars of Sonam and Paras Modi who travelled to Turkey in 2014 and overwhelmed by the style of Istanbul. The latest collection reflects their muse called it ‘Istanblu’. The collection is dramatic no doubt about that, but it is also elegant, which captures the rich heritage and architecture of Istanbul. The collection is a fine impregnation of two entirely different civilizations.

anushree reddy collection in lakme fashion week 2015

Anushree Reddy doesn't need a foreign inspiration but her travel inspiration has led her to royal Nizam palaces of Hyderbad. The latest collection of this fashion designer called ‘The Royal Courtyard’ draws inspiration from the home of the Nizams. The dresses are royal with sublime prints and intricate designs. The simplicity of the dresses captures the eyeballs. She uses Zardosi, beads and crystals in her collection of attires, which tries to create a balance between medieval and contemporary.

Photographs courtesy DNA India

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