travel musings

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When travel becomes lacklustre

It isn’t often that I feel dissatisfied after a trip, but a recent 5-day one to Khao Lak had wrong written on it from the very start. I’d planned to dive in the Similan Islands, taking advantage of the early diving season, but a sinus-infection (along with a doctor’s warning not to do it) meant that I was on the verge of cancelling the entire trip, only to go ahead the last minute. The hotel I was in was overwhelmingly stocked with Germans; my room had a variety of insects and bees in it and the deck chairs reserved the whole damn day with towels on them, while their owners remained...

Speaking in tongues

My (ex)Icelandic tutor once told me that she was learning several Japanese phrases for an upcoming trip to Japan, despite knowing nothing of the country. A Travel Companion once, had even bought Turkish and Italian quick-fix language sets in preparation for those holidays. I’ve no idea if they actually succeeded in getting around more easily, but they’ve never worked for me. Should I bother memorising anything other than “Yes”, “No”, “Thank you” and “Please” in a language I’m completely unfamiliar with? I’ve often asked myself if I should even bother with the short section found at the back of every travel guide called “Useful phrases” in the language of the country you’re...

Staying Fit on the road

Being a creature of routine brings its own comforts when I’m back the my daily grind. After a few years, I’ve settled into a fixed sort of schedule that allots time for work and play and exercise. Going on the road changes that routine drastically and throwing in jetlag, the lack of movement makes me twitchy and sometimes, ill-tempered, because I think I can’t really handle sitting down and doing nothing for long periods. Long flights, needless to say, are extremely traumatic and painful for me. Some people tolerate it much better, but I think I’ve become a bear on planes. But I digress. There are some ways I sneak...

Adventure Travel

I’ve toyed numerous times with adding a little more adventure to my travels. But this is an impetus that has only grown in my head recently as I started looking for something that went beyond walking around city streets and ducking into suburban lanes and cafés for most of a holiday. Having tried some white-water rafting, ice-climbing, snowmobiling and hikes as part of day trips, I think I’m hooked to some more adrenaline pumping moves that I want to explore: there’s climbing outdoors, Antarctica to visit, more rafting to do, canyoning, skiing, surfing and more diving in the Northern Hemisphere, visiting the world’s most remote islands and inland places… The list...

She goes alone

Is the world an infinitely more dangerous place for a solo female traveller? Yes and no. There is no succinct answer. Much of that depends on the places you decide to visit, the precautions you take and the force of a charming personality that can actually overcome some obstacles that an otherwise surly person wouldn’t. Thus far, I’ve kept my travels to countries that have been relatively ‘safe’, but I’m never more painfully aware that the definition of this particular word differs from person to person. I’ve not taken any self-defense classes (though I wish I did); neither do I really carry mace or pepper spray or god forbid, a knife around....

Solo travel

I’ve gotten many reactions when I tell people that I roam the globe alone. But there is resistance all around. I’ve been called all the adjectives that lie between brave and foolish and there is of course, the constant nagging from the family that safety is of utmost importance. Not forgetting cost, because single travellers pay much more, for room, food and transport. Going solo isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I had a taste of it while spending some study time in Germany many years ago and found that being alone gave me a freedom that I couldn’t explore outside the quotidian confines of daily life....

Too much sun, too little action

Day 4: We walked for about 45 minutes to the sand bank towards the tail end of Dhigurah (which actually means ‘long island’ in Dhivehi) and found a little slice of paradise there. I frolicked in the water, took some bad selfies which I later deleted and looked at the neighbouring atoll with water villas in tourist envy. Snorkelling after lunch just a couple of hundred metres from the hotel was surprising and strange after doing dives. But the coral beds were more alive with fish that I’d initially assumed. We said goodbye to the beach, tried to wash off the sand – which turned out to be a fruitless...