Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why Travel Tuesday: Annapurna Base Camp

(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday features a classic shot of prayer flags and Himalayan peaks: the Annapurna Base Camp.)

Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal

Monday, June 25, 2012

When Temples Were Cool Again: Durbar Square of Kathmandu

If you travel to quite a few places in Asia for an extended period of time, temples and other such places of worship would at some point begin to lose their magnificence and splendor. You would at some point be, as most travelers would call it, "templed-out." Having seen the Forbidden Palace in Beijing, the Khmer ruins of Angkor, the Tibetan temples of Dharamsala, and the Mughal masterpieces of India, I was beginning to lose interest in similar such places. Great! Another temple. I would often hear myself sarcastically say. Sad, really. There I was standing in some of the world's greatest heritage sites and the experience was lost on me.

It was not the case, however, in the temples in Kathmandu, Nepal. From the tourist district of Thamel, we made our way south along the narrow and chaotic streets of Kathmandu, one of three UNESCO World Heritage cities (the other two being Patan and Bhaktapur) situated in the Kathmandu valley, the widest piece of flat land in all of the Nepal Himalaya. After a few minutes of walking, we found ourselves in a holy place where time seemed to have stopped a long time ago. We found ourselves in a land full of pigeons and red wooden pagodas. We had just arrived in Durbar Square of Kathmandu.

Durbar Square of Kathmandu, Nepal
Land of pigeons and pagodas, the Durbar Square of Kathmandu, Nepal.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Hunt for Anthony Bourdain's Lunch Lady in Saigon

To say that Anthony Bourdain was one of the inspirations for my travels is a huge understatement. Don't get me wrong. There were quite a few times when I loathed the man's guts what with his strong opinions on food, politics, and everything in between. I saw him as a pompous, self-indulgent celebrity chef cum traveler cum writer, who scoffs at anything that didn't pass his self-righteous standards. Then I realized, that's precisely the same reason why I like him so much. His I-got-an-opinion-about-everything-especially-food-and-travel-so-go-f*ck-yourself-and-deal-with-it attitude endeared him to me. The foodie cum traveler cum writer in me wanted to emulate those qualities.

So when the opportunity came that I was once again passing through Vietnam, a country Anthony Bourdain loved so much he considered moving his family here, I knew I had to hunt for at least one of the foodie joints the man gushed about. I found the perfect prey: Anthony Bourdain's Lunch Lady in Saigon.

Anthony Bourdain's Lunch Lady in Saigon, Vietnam
Anthony Bourdain's Lunch Lady in Saigon, the lovely Nguyen Thi Thanh.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why Travel Tuesday: Northern Thai Sausages

(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday features one of the reasons I love Chiang Mai so much: Northern Thai Sausages.)

Northern Thai Sausages, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kathmandu, I Love You

There are just some places where you feel it. Where you are not even off the plane, yet you know that the country you are landing in will leave an indelible mark on your very core. Then, you step off the aircraft and you feel that crisp, alpine air coarse through your nose all the way to your lungs. You feel cold and warm at the same time. You begin to walk on the tarmac and look up on the clouds and realize they're not clouds. They're the magnificently white peaks of the high Himalayas. They are stunning, spectacular, and magical.

I was only a month into my six-month trip around Asia at the time but I was beginning to lose that sense of wonder for the places I was treading onto. I was so thankful that Nepal came when it came. What can I say? It was love at first sight.

View from the plane flying into Kathmandu, Nepal
View from the plane flying into Kathmandu, Nepal

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why Travel Tuesday: The Other Side


(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday talks about seeing the other side of the travel coin.)

Sarnath, Varanasi, India