January 2014 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Friday, January 31, 2014

My Alma Mater recognizes my dream and passion

It gives me immense pleasure to tell you that my alma mater, ‘VIT University’ bestowed me with their Special Chancellor’s award for distinguished alumni who work towards growth of the university and the alumni association. This award gives me immense pride as I chose to follow my dream and passion and my alma mater recognized this dream of mine.

Receiving the award from our chancellor
As you all know, I left a comfortable corporate career to follow my dream to travel, click pictures and explore different parts of our beautiful planet. And while doing so, I have gone from a pure play traveler to a freelancer to an entrepreneur, while consistently being on the move. And all this in the space of travel. All I wanted was to make ‘travel my career’ and so far it looks like I am on the right path and this award from my university bears testament to my belief and dream.

Award from my alma mater - VIT University
This award was given to me last Sunday at VIT university campus on the occasion of Republic day and our annual alumni day.I received this award from our beloved Chancellor, Dr. G Vishwanathan, who has been instrumental in the growth of VIT and Shri N, Murali, Co-Chairman of ‘The Hindu’.

All the distunguished alumni pose with their awardsAnd what made it even more special was the fact that I shared the dais with other award winners who were entrepreneurs, investors, successful corporate heads, specialists in academics, a film actress and an Indian Army Lieutenant Colonel. I was simply humbled to be in their company and I really would like to thank my university for allowing me to sit in the same row as them. Those moments were really special to me.

Giving my acceptance speech after receiving the awardWhat I realized through this award is that it is not stupid to dream? The chancellor of VIT university dreamt of a successful educational institution 25 years back. From a simple hut to a world famous university, the journey of the chancellor and the university simply amazes one and all. I graduated from here in 2003 and it has grown so much in the last 11 years that I can’t believe that I studied in this very institution for 4 years. In fact, I was so astounded by its growth that I cheekily mentioned in my speech that there will come a day when the Vellore and Chennai campuses will join together.

Receiving my award from the co chairman of Hindu
What was once a desert is now a green oasis. What was once a small, but education friendly campus is today one of the top technical universities of the country and it gives stiff competition to some of the well entrenched names. If this place can dream, I am sure each one of us can dream and that is how I chose to dream.

Me talking at my alma mater
Thank you VIT University! Thank you VIT Alumni Association! Thank you Chancellor! You have given me the belief that I should continue to dream and work hard towards fulfilling my dream. A big thank you to each one of you who have supported me reach so far.

Courtesy: The pictures in this post is courtesy of VIT University and VITAA.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Travel Photo: Penang Door

The UNESCO world heritage site area of Penang’s Georgetown is a treat to the eyes. It is such a rich visual experience to simply amble through its narrow streets that house a lot of culture in them. Some of them are from the colonial times and some even before it. According to me, this heritage area is one of Malaysia’s cultural highlights from the colonial era.

An Ornate Door in Penang's Georgetown, Malaysia
Like I always do, I had planned on losing myself in one of the many streets and I was without a map and without directions, but I knew I was on Lebuh Mantri as there was a signboard that said that. On this street, there are a lot of traditionally done up buildings, In fact, some of these temples are titled heritage buildings and charge a fee to visit. This photo was taken in front of one of those buildings that didn’t charge a fee and it was closed, but I really liked its intricate door and colour scheme. A really ancient type of wooden door, but with lots of design in it. What do you think?

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Top 4 Orlando Attractions for Family with Kids

Florida’s Orlando, a very popular tourist destination is known as the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’. It draws more than 51 million visitors a year and suffers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to escapist options especially for families with kids. It has lots of theme parks, attractions and amusement options that are bound to go well with your kids. I have put together a list of the top 4 attractions in Orlando for families with kids. Pick yourself a favorite and go and enjoy these places.

Discovery Cove Orlando 
This place allows you to swim with an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, wade with playful rays, snorkel over a tropical reef amongst thousands of exotic fish, hand-feed tropical birds in a free-flight aviary and relax on pristine beaches. This waterpark is the perfect choice if you want to offer a tropical underwater experience to your kids. The Discovery Cove tickets in 2014 seem to have some interesting offers.

Walt Disney World
Magic Kingdom Castle
The Walt Disney World with its Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Magic Kingdom Park offers tough competition to all of Orlando’s theme parks. The Animal Kingdom theme park is one of the largest animal theme parks in the world where one can encounter exotic animals across 6 enthralling lands: Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia and DinoLand, USA areas. While the Animal Kingdom is special, the Magic Kingdom park tries to make fairytale dreams come true for children of all ages with stunning fireworks, musical parades, space excursions, fantasyland and more.

Sea World Orlando
A tropical beach destination like Orlando is bound to have many water theme parks and in line with that, I have one more water special in my top 4 list and this time it is the Sea World Orlando. Here, one can get up close to dolphins, penguins, sharks, turtles, sea lions and the manta aquarium. And can also get a special arctic and Antarctic experience, but the special here is the Shamu express for a rushing water experience. Apart from great entertainment, the Sea World offers a great learning experience for kids.

Universal’s Islands Of Adventure
Revenge of the Mummy (Universal Studios Florida) entrance
The Islands of Adventure by Universal Studios promises a once-in-a-lifetime thrill with its uniquely themed islands. In this islands, you and your family can be a part of cutting edge rides, shows and interactive attractions that bring your favorite stories, myths, cartoons, comic book heroes and children’s tales to life. The special here is the Wizarding World of Adventure where one can pass through the towering Hogwarts castle gates and explore the familiar passageways, classrooms and corridors.

Note: The photos in this post are courtesy of wikipedia.org under the creative commons license. Each photo has been linked to its source.

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IndianCoupons: Great Discount Coupons for the Travel Shopper

As a traveler who is looking to extend his travels with the same fixed budget, I am always on the lookout for more bang for the buck kind of opportunities and offers. And as is the norm, whenever I come across an interesting savings opportunity, I share it with all you travelers. In this case, I came across IndianCoupons.com, a Gurgaon based startup that offers discount coupons, free promo codes, deals and offers for online shopping in India.

Discount Coupons from IndianCoupons.com
IndianCoupons.com offers discount coupons across a wide variety of categories that range from Airlines to Travel, Mobiles to Apparel, Books to Movies, Footwear to Gadgets and many more. Out of these categories, the ones that caught the interest of the traveler in me are Airlines, Bus, Flight, Hotel and Travel.

Popular Stores on IndianCoupons.comIn the airlines and flights space, they offer cool discount and cash back offers through cleartrip, makemytrip, goibibo, yatra and other travel booking companies. These discount coupons also include credit card offers too. If you are looking to book a bus, then there are many discounts to be found at Makemytrip, Redbus.in, goibibo and Yatra. If you are looking to book hotels for your upcoming travels, then Indiancoupons.com offers flat discounts and cash backs through interesting coupons across great hotel booking sites like Expedia.co.in, Cleartrip, Makemytrip, Goibibo.com and Yatra. For travel packages, holiday planners, flight booking and hotel booking, IndianCoupons offers quality discount coupons across most of the top travel booking sites across India like Cleartrip, Makemytrip, Yatra, Goibibo.com, Expedia, RedBus and many more.

Outside of the travel world, IndianCoupons.com has even more discount coupons that will appeal to all kinds of shoppers. These coupons offer flat discounts, freebies, credit card offers, cash back offers and much more across top retail chains like Flipkart, SnapDeal, Jabong, Yebhi, eBay, Amazon, Myntra, Tradus, HomeShop 18, HealthKart, FirstCry, Dominos Pizza and many more.

The process to use these discount coupons is very simple. All you have to do is find the best discount coupons, discounts and promotion codes that have been ranked by users from top online stores in India and then simply click the coupon code and use it to get discounts during the store’s checkout process.

I have found some great discounts and deals on IndianCoupons.com. You should also give it a look.

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Artports: Where to See the Best Art before you Fly

Think of an airport and you might imagine a necessary evil that gets you from A to B - they’re not pretty, but at least they’re practical. Get your head out of the clouds and you’ll find that many of the world’s leading airports aren’t just interested in being functional – they also want to provide a relaxing, enjoyable experience for their passengers. And as a first impression for a city, works of art set the tone for arriving visitors. While you’re unlikely to choose a destination based solely on the art in its airport, these are 6 airports that will have you checking in hours before departure time.
Delhi Airport Art
San Francisco (SFO) Art aficionados may be upset to learn that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is currently closed for construction, but the art on display at the city’s airport provides some consolation. While public art is abundant throughout San Francisco Airport’s terminals, it’s the SFO Museum that sets it apart from its competitors. Exhibitions focus on events in the city, such as the recently held America’s Cup, local history and the aviation industry although there are often more random topics - Classic Plastics 1870s-1970s anyone?

Schiphol, Amsterdam (AMS) Rijks Museum, SchipolSchiphol is one of the busiest airports in the world, with more than 50,000,000 passengers travelling through it in 2013, and it has been showcasing art since the 1960s. Those passengers that take the time to visit the Rijksmuseum Schiphol, which was opened in 2002, will be treated to a small collection of paintings from the Dutch Masters of the Golden Age such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Vermeer. The museum, which is made possible thanks to the Rijksmuseum at Museumplein, offers the perfect way to say goodbye to this special city.  

Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Thanks to the Louvre, Paris can realistically boast about having one of the best art galleries in the world. But if you don’t like the idea of long waiting times and crowding around a picture of the Mona Lisa that turns out to be a lot smaller than you imagined, why not talk a stroll around the Espace Musées? The first exhibition, which ran from December 2012 – April 2013 featured fifty pieces from the French sculpture Auguste Rodin, and the curators have been keen to follow on from this strong start with the most recent exhibition focusing on the 20th century painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet.

Hong Kong (HKG) When Honk Kong International Airport was expanded just before the turn of the millennium, many people questioned whether Sir Norman Foster’s architectural wonder could be described as a piece of art in itself. Since 2004 there has been no question about the airport’s artistic qualities, however, with local artists on show throughout the passenger terminals of Asia’s busiest airport.

Heathrow, London (LHR)
Unlike the pieces of art on display at other airports around the world, if you see something at the T5 Gallery you can take it home with you - if you can afford the hefty price tag that comes attached to fine art. If your wallet’s already a bit light there’s no need to worry, you can still browse a wide collection of paintings and sculptures from established and emerging artists in a quiet area of a terminal that processed almost 30 million passengers in 2012.

Airport Art Healthrow horizontal large gallery 
Chhatrapati Shivaji , Mumbai (BOM) Opened on January 10 2014, the ‘Jaye He’ museum (which means Glory to Thee) is home to 7,000 artefacts and a 3km-long art wall, making it easily the biggest collection of art in an airport in the world. The collection which celebrates the best of Indian art has been curated by Rajeev Sethi, and with the terminal capable of handling 40 million visitors a year, there is hope that it could become one of the most visited museums in the world.

About the Author: Harry Peters of travel company Just The Flight loves trying local food, visiting art galleries and arriving at the airport more than two hours before departure.

Note: The photographs in this post do not belong to beontheroad.com and have been linked to their respective sites and the author of this post holds all necessary rights to using them here.

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The article that will make you want to travel to the Desert

Deserts. They’re big, they’re dry, and there’s nothing much in them. After all that’s the definition of desert right? Well yes, all of that’s true, but a barren landscape does not mean a desolate travel experience. In fact, deserts make some of the most unique and varied destinations on the planet. Here’s why.

The Sand
It may seem obvious that desert destinations contain a lot of sand. What is so incredible about deserts is just how much sand they contain. The Saharan desert, spanning over nine million kilometers squared, contains more than eight octillion grains of sand – yep, that’s one eight followed by twenty seven zeros. The incredible feeling you get when you’re in a boat in the ocean and can see nothing but water? Imagine that feeling, but sand. You can even ski down it.

Desert Any Way You Please
Sunset over India's Thar Desert
There is no one best way to do the desert. Instead, the intrepid traveler can pick the option that most excites. The Kalahari Desert is often seen on foot, but many tourists prefer to go “dune bashing,” hiring a four wheel drive and travelling at their own pace through the wildlife. For the more adventurous, the Atacama Desert offers the chance to recreate the days of the Chilean cowboys, riding by horse through heat, sleeping swag style by night. If your dream is to do the desert in style, take the Oriental Desert Express across the Moroccan Sahara stopping off at isolated villages for an iced drink. An eight day adventure, the trip costs over two grand – but that’s what it takes to stay cool in the heat.

Unsurprisingly low on light pollution, desert skies are the world’s best for seeing the night’s stars. One of the driest places on earth (it gets just one millimeter of rain per year), Chili’s Atacama desert has the ideal conditions for star gazing. High altitude, few clouds, and no radio interference means budding astronomers have a clear view of the highlights of the Southern Hemisphere’s sky. If you’re not stargazing savvy, you might want to procure the services of the expert. Astronomy tours travel through, around, and even over the desert. If you’re particularly well organized, you might want to time your trip with a celestial event such as the Perseids meteor shower.

Although thus far I have been discussing deserts in the collective, one of the great things about deserts is they cannot be discussed in the collective. From the Kebili Desert (a balmy 55 degrees), to Antarctica (-93 degrees), from the desolate Atacama to the bustling Kalahari, deserts are endlessly different. Adventure through the Sahara with this My Adventure Store Tour, walk around the base of Uluru, or experience the chill winds of the Gobi desert. Visiting the world’s deserts isn’t just one holiday, it’s a life goal.

Hopefully, all this is enough sublime persuasion to convince you to give the desert a try. But be warned – deserts are highly addictive. I bear no responsibility if your holiday turns into your vocation!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Top 4 River Cruises in Europe

For the traveler, the rivers of Europe offer a heady mix of pastoral beauty, rich culture, laid back ambience and a vibrant culinary experience. The Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Moselle, Danube Delta and the Seine rivers offer stunning river voyages that take you from Amsterdam to Budapest, Amsterdam to Zurich, Nuremberg to Budapest, Budapest to Bucharest, Amsterdam to Tarascon and the less explored Eastern Europe. Whether you are a family with kids, a young honeymooning couple or a simple tourist, the rivers of Europe caters to everyone’s needs. Here are my top 4 picks of luxurious European river cruises.

1) Old Europe on the Danube
Panorama of Danube in Vienna
This journey from Nuremberg to Budapest via Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk, Durnstein and Vienna is a superb trip for virgin river travelers. It takes you on a journey through ‘old Europe’ leaving behind the big Western cities to meander towards the east upon one of Europe’s most romantic rivers. This trip features charming German countryside, Austrian wine country towns and the glittery urban sophistication of Vienna and Budapest.

2) Castles along the Rhine
Loreley rock in Rhineland
The legendary Rhine allows you to admire the many stunning castles atop vine covered slopes as you sail effortlessly through the spectacular Rhine gorge. On this delightfully scenic river cruise, one can sample traditional German delicacies, experience the charm of Germany’s medieval towns and villages and encounter Holland’s historic windmills and traditional architecture. The plethora of castles occupying cliff tops and steeply terraced vineyards are the key highlights.

3) Culinary Cruising on the Rhone
The Rhone at Avignon
This river cruise on France’s most gorgeous river takes you from Lyon, the gastronomic heart of France to the old Roman city of Vienne, from Viviers, the town of ancient homes and unusual cathedrals to Avignon, the city of Popes and finally to the Provencal town of Tarascon. This cruise takes you through UNESCO World Heritage sites, wine country, picturesque villages and the culinary capital of France. This is basically your vino and palate centric voyage.

4) Passau to the Danube Delta across Eastern Europe
Danube pictured in Ritopek, suburb of Belgrade, Serbia
The Danube lulls its way down the middle of Eastern Europe from Germany’s south eastern reaches to link the natural and cultural highlights of this region, to Vienna and ancient Belgrade, past Romania’s iron gate, through the passage of St. George and down to the shores of the Black Sea. Beautiful Czech towns surrounded by vineyards, the vibrant city life of Vienna, the decorative embroidery and paprika production of Kalocsa, the palaces of Budapest, unique porcelain factories of Mohacs, the historic town of Pecs, home cooked traditional dinner with a local Croatian family, the spectacular Iron Gate between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains, the Roman fortress town of Svistov in Bulgaria, the UNESCO cultural town of Arbanassi, bird watching at the Danube delta and the Count Dracula experience of Bucharest are the main highlights of this stunning river cruise.

Courtesy: All the images in this article are courtesy of wikipedia.org and have been used under the wikipedia commons license. Each image has been linked to its original image on wikipedia.

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Kali Wilderness and Adventure Lodge: A Jungle Lodges Property that is dropping in status!!

I am sure most of us know Jungle Lodges’s iconic status among the wildlife properties of Karnataka. Personally, I have stayed at most of their properties across Karnataka and am a big fan of them. But, this time around when I stayed at their Kali Wilderness and Adventure Lodge in Dandeli, my opinion was not that good and in fact my experience was worse compared to ten years ago when I stayed at the same place. This review is based on my recent experience of staying 2 days and 2 nights here.

1) The most surprising thing for me to see that this property is not treated like a wildlife and adventure destination, but more like a normal business hotel.

2) The wildlife guides and naturalists are very good though and love their local wildlife and birds.

3) While I was there, a large corporate group shared the property with me and they were so loud after their drinks in the night that I couldn’t sleep till late after midnight. I think it was jungle lodge’s responsibility to have told them to tone down their voices as it could potentially affect the other customers who have to rise early for their morning birding or wildlife safaris.

4) My package with jungle lodges included a long distance coracle ride on the river Kali, but when the time came for them to arrange my coracle ride, they simply mentioned to me that all their vehicles were busy with river rafting trips. I did not understand how such a marquee hospitality chain as the Jungle Lodges could pass such a statement. Worse, they never bothered to arrange an alternate arrangement for me.

5) The food here at Dandeli is just run off the mill. It would have been great if they could have included one or two local specialties.

6) The last time I was staying at this property, it was located in pure jungle. Today, after 10 years, the Dandeli town has grown a lot and even around this property. This means that you hear a lot of vehicular noise in your room all throughout the day. It is not my idea of a quiet jungle getaway.

7) The reception, the dining, the help desk and basically the entire staff are fairly lethargic in nature. This happened to me at multiple times. On one occasion, I searched their entire property for the coffee serving place, but found nothing and upon asking the front desk, no one seemed to have any clue and started playing the blame game. On another occasion, I asked the service staff to replenish the drinking water in my room. It came 24 hours later after 5 reminders.

8) The wildlife and adventure arrangements made by the property are fairly all right. Nothing special to say about it and nothing bad either.

9) The place doesn’t have internet connectivity, but who looks for internet connectivity in remote jungle areas these days. I need internet for work and hence carry my own data card. Speed is a bit slow though.

10) Unlike other Jungle Lodges property, this property looks very neglected and can do with a lot of maintenance. It misses out on a lot of green cover too.

I love Dandeli and would love to go there again, but am not sure if I want to return to the Kali Wilderness and Adventure Lodge.

Courtesy: My stay at the Kali Wilderness and Adventure Lodge was booked through www.dandeli.com


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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Travel Photo: Bumthang Man opposite Kurje Lakhang, Bhutan

I was on my way to one of the top temples in Bhutan, the Kurje Lakhang in the Bumthang region of Bhutan, but prior to reaching this temple, I had walked for more than 10 kilometers and had a parched throat. It was cold and dry and I was on the look out for a hot cup of tea when I sighted this small shop opposite the Kuje Lakhang temple.

Bhutanese man looking out of his shop window near Kuje Lakhang, Bumthang
I did not find my hot cup of tea here, but was lucky enough to engage in some interesting conversation with the Bumthang local shopkeeper and he was kind enough to pose for me. His red lips (owing to chewing betel nut), the colourful window, my reflection in the slightly tinted window and the two telecom service provider stickers on the window glass make for a special memory for me. Even though I had no tea here, I still ended up chatting with this shopkeeper for more than 30 minutes.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Outdoor Journal Magazine: The Bible for Adventure Lovers

To all you adventure travelers and adrenaline junkies in India,

Now, we also have our very own adventure space. We don’t have to look at international markets to satiate our adventure needs. India’s first truly adventure magazine is here! It is called the Outdoor Journal and personally I am a big fan of it and hence thought of sharing the love with you all.

Outdoor Journal Magazine
The magazine is fairly new. They are yet to launch the 6th edition, but their quality and content is already top class. The people involved in this magazine are all adventure junkies including its founding committee. All the contributors to this magazine are adventure specialists in their own space. They are divers, endurance runners, climbers, Survival Gurus, underwater photographers, skiers, runners, free divers, Ex-Special forces, avalanche instructor, Sport biomechanics consultants, Wilderness survival expert, Kickboxer, Snowboarder, Ultra runner, Kite boarder and more.

As you all know, I am also a huge adventure aficionado and hence really connected with the high adrenaline content showcased in this magazine.

The Outdoor Journal Adventure site
For starters, I absolute love their vibrant high quality adventure photographs. These are photographs that make you want to indulge in that activity. Experts share their personal experiences, gear tips, activity tips, destination ideas and much more. And all these activities can be either participated in India or abroad. The highlight of this magazine is the way it brings India’s top adventure destinations to the fore. Like skiing on the slopes of Gulmarg, taking a helicopter ride over the snow capped Himalayan mountains, feeling thin air at Siachen, rafting on the mighty Brahmaputra, running in the salt deserts of Rann and much more.

These guys do not talk about wannabe adventure. They talk about true adventure that is hard and yet brings in a lot of joy and kick. The experts help break down these tough adventure activities into simple forms so that even amateurs can take part in it and feel the thrill. For example, one of the skiing experts talks about yoga exercises that snow boarders and skiers should do to improve their core strength and balancing technique. In another example, they talk about the basics of kite boarding that includes managing the bars, learning the wind window, turns and transition, jumps, rotations, handle passes and more such interesting kite boarding learning lessons.

In a similar way, each edition of this magazine covers a variety of adventure activities from Dakar rallies to Tour de France, from snow boarding to free diving, from triathlons to ultra running, from yachting to kite boarding, from surfing to kayaking, from ice climbing to rock climbing, from para trooping to sky diving, from wildlife watching to trail running and from scuba diving to cycling. I am sure you get my drift!!

The Outdoor Journal is a well rounded adventure magazine that covers the following:

1) Interesting adventure destinations in India and abroad
2) Personal experiences straight from the experts themselves
3) Motivational adventure stories
4) Adventure tips for various kind of activities
5) Health tips for various adventure sports
6) Food Tips for various adventure sports
7) Gear Tips for different adventure activities
8) Important adventure events from India and around the world
9) Survival techniques if stuck in a bad place
10) Adventure 101 kind of lessons
11) Stunning locales and settings through rich photos (their website has great videos too)

Outdoor Journal Magazine
It is a bit pricey at INR 200 for each issue of the magazine, but I feel it is worth it as the content is written by experts, focuses only on adventure and features stunning photographs. I am sure if you are an adrenaline junkie and if you buy one, you will stay hooked onto them for a long time. To know more, look up the Outdoor Journal website. And whatever you do, do not miss out on their stunning adventure videos.

Note: The videos in this article are courtesy of Outdoor Journal Magazine.

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Dandeli Jungle Camp: Rural Accommodation in True Jungle Style

During my recent trip to Dandeli, I got to experience rustic hospitality in the middle of Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary’s buffer zone. Such places are simple, community run, but are perfect for a nature lover like me. I stayed at this place called Dandeli Jungle Camp that is situated about 12 kms out of Dandeli and amidst dense forests. The below review is based on my recent experience of staying 2 days and 1 night here.

1) If you are a nature lover, this is place you want to be. Waking up to bird sounds, a fresh whiff of air and lovely greenery, the Dandeli Jungle Camp has the ideal setting.

2) Since this camp is situated right in the buffer zone of the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, it is easy to spot many of the park’s wildlife and birds here. I saw the great hornbill, the Malabar pied hornbill, the Malabar giant squirrel and many more birds during my brief stay here.

3) The place is simple with basic rooms that come with an attached toilet. The emphasis is on the experience and not just on the accommodation. With the exception of a bed, a chair, a light and a table fan, the room bears a spartan look. The attached bathroom and toilet is similarly designed.

4) Food is simple, but extremely tasty. The cook generally prepares local specialties, but they also dish out standard Indian fare.

5) The place is run by the local people and hence most of the money provided by us tourists goes to the upliftment of the local community.

6) The camp arranges a lot of activities for the tourists like nature hikes, bird watching, wildlife safari, river rafting, kayaking, tribal meets and more. Some activities are included in their package, while the others can be added for an additional cost.

7) Typically, the per person cost for a room (twin share basis) with all 3 meals and some activities costs INR 1,250 per night.

8) The place is completely in the lap of nature. Hence, there is no internet connectivity, but phone connectivity is pretty reliable here.

9) Hot water is not available in the rooms, but is provided upon request.

10) One of the main highlights of this camp is its tree house that is an instant draw for kids (for the excitement factor) and for bird watchers (as they can study birds closely).

11) Campfires are arranged every evening upon nightfall and is a great way to relax and soak in the events of the day amidst absolute silence (minus the cackling of the fire).

I would definitely recommend this place is you are looking for a rustic and simple experience in nature’s lap. Personally, I prefer such kind of places over the air conditioned and geyser places. But, that’s just me, who believes the area around the wild should be as close to nature as possible.

Courtesy: My accommodation at Dandeli Jungle Camp was arranged for by www.Dandeli.com.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

5 Exotic Dishes to try in Cambodia

Cambodia is located in the southern part of the Indochina peninsula and similar to Thailand and Vietnam, it is a popular destination for Western travellers looking to explore a culture completely different to their own. One defining difference of many cultures is the food and diet of the local people and this offering often forms a major part of our decision to visit a country.

The staple Cambodian diet consists mainly of rice and freshwater fish from the Mekong River and Tonle Sap but there’s a lot more to Cambodian food than just those two ingredients. Often overshadowed by neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodian cuisine deserves more of a spotlight than it currently receives. Anyone who has experience with travelling to Cambodia will have a good idea about the exotic flavors contained in Cambodian food, especially traditional street food.

Cambodia Rice fields
It’s hard to imagine a Cambodian dish prepared without the key ingredients lemon grass, kaffir lime, garlic, ginger, coconut milk or black pepper. Why not plan a trip to and try the following Cambodian foods for yourself?

1. Fish amok is often considered the national dish of Cambodia and uses freshwater fish, usually the snakehead fish or cat fish as its main ingredient. A similar dish is available in neighboring countries but fish amok in Cambodia is distinctive in taste. Firstly, thanks to the addition of a paste known as ‘Kroeung’ (made from lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, fermented fish paste and galangal) and secondly due to the addition of the local bitter herb slok ngor. Fish amok will often come beautifully presented wrapped in banana leaf. Other variations made with Tofu or Chicken can be found but these are more of a recent emergence and would not be considered a traditional dish.

2. Bai sach chrouk - Better known simply as pork and rice, Bai sach chrouk is in fact a breakfast dish which is said to sell out so fast so it’s unlikely you will find any left at lunchtime. This street food is simple to prepare but still packs a punch of flavors. The pork is usually sliced and grilled after being marinated in garlic, soy, green onion and coconut milk. There is no specific way to prepare and serve Bai sach chrouk meaning no two dishes are likely to be the same.

3. Khmer beef skewers – Using Kroeung at the heart of the marinade these beef skewers are a traditional street food. Unlike Bai sach chrouk preparation for this dish is not quick. Pickled vegetables need to be prepared a day ahead and the beef benefits from a day sat in the marinade too.

4. Khmer Noodles – Another traditional street food technically known as nom banh chok and so named after the fermented rice noodles that form the basis for the dish. Khmer Noodles include a serving of raw vegetables, banana leaf, lemongrass, fresh mint and basil. This gives the dish a light and fragrant finish, more like a salad than a noodle dish.

5. Cambodian Fruit – Cambodian food is not just about fish, noodles and spice. Well known tropical fruits such as mango, dragonfruit and papaya are available from many local markets, as are many lesser known fruits. These include the ‘soursop’, the lychee like ‘longan’, the cinnamon hinted ‘lemut’ and even single seeded ‘water apples’. A local delicacy, but one most Westerners may want to avoid is the ‘durian’ which has a terrible smell and an armored shell that’s difficult to get into.

Many westerners are put off Cambodia as a culinary destination due to myths and horror stories spread by travellers but these should be taken with a pinch of salt. Why not plan your own Cambodia tour and see if you can adopt a style that you can recreate back home and impress your friends with your newly found exotic culinary skills.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Must see attractions in Goa

Tourism in Goa is thriving, thanks to its beaches, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, amazing architecture and beautiful churches. Goa boasts a host of irresistible attractions and it is one of those few places that literally has something for everyone. Top travel sites such as Ice Lolly offer some outstanding deals to the smallest, but most exquisite state of India, with its coastline on the Arabian Sea.

Splendor and diversity
Goa never ceases to amaze visitors with the diversity of it natural beauty where the glorious beaches give way to spice plantations and meandering rivers which become scenic waterfalls. The rich culture and heritage of the country is evident in the ancient buildings which include museums, churches and forts. The top attractions here are as vast and varied as the country itself and you will find yourself returning time and time again to revisit old favorites or discover new ones.

Big Foot Museum
Fisherman's Cove at Goa
With the official title of the Ancestral Goa Museum, this grand old lady of history is situated near Margao, and is a showcase for a vast array of life sized statues and structures which depict the culture and traditions of old Goa.

Fort Aguada This fort was constructed around 4 centuries ago to protect Goa from enemies (The British). They prevented ships from entering the river Mandovi and this fort was the first line of defence by the then ruling Portuguese. It was fully equipped with ammunition and barracks and remains a major part of the history of Goa.

Basilica de Born Jesus
This is one of the most famous, and visited, attractions in Goa. Built approximately 400 years ago, it is famed for housing the remains of St Francis Xavier, who is generally believed to be one of the patron saints of Goa. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Basilica is located in Old Goa, which was the capital under the aforementioned Portuguese rule.

Salim Ali bird sanctuary This outstanding attraction is situated on Chorao Island and is a veritable paradise whether you have a love of our feathered friends or not. Some of the rarest and most exotic birds in the world can be found here and while you may not know all their names, their beauty is awe inspiring.

Spice Plantations
There are several of these dotted around Goa and it is well worth taking the time out to pay them a visit. If you thought that all spices came in a jar this is a chance to see them as nature intended. Guided tours are an excellent way to visit these plantations and at the end of the tour you can enjoy a delicious lunch traditionally served on a banana leaf. Some of the best spice plantations to visit are Savoi Plantation, Pascoal Spice Village and the Tropical Spice Plantation.

Flea Markets
The very pretty, quiet and super clean Galgibaga Beach, South Goa 
Originally started by hippies in order to exchange their used goods with those belonging to others, flea markets are now a huge part of the culture of Goa. These flea markets are like no other and are a social event in themselves. Have a meal, enjoy a drink then browse the stalls for junk jewelry, Tibetan crafts, antiques, Kashmiri handicrafts and much more.

The Butterfly Conservatory of Goa
This is a lovely idea that has become one of the major tour attractions of Goa. Set in lush countryside, this conservatory was set up by Dr Jyoti Hebleker and her husband Yashodan, an eco aware couple who wanted to do their bit for the fragile ecosystem of their country. Located in Ponda, nicknamed the town of spice and temples, a walk through the part is a veritable replication of visiting a rainforest. There are literally thousands of butterflies here, including several rare and endangered species, and if you only have time to visit one nature attraction during your time in Goa, make it this one.

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Dandeli’s Lambani Tribe: The Story of the Nomadic Gypsies

They hail originally from Rajasthan, but somewhere between the 1940s and 1950s, they moved to different parts of India in search for better livelihood. They moved to Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In Karnataka, they have settled in and around Dandeli and the rest of North West Karnataka with Dandeli being their largest concentration in South India.

Colourful look of a traditional Lambani tribal woman
They are the Lambani people, a tribe of Nomadic Gypsies who refer to themselves as the Lamanis. I was lucky to meet them during my recent visit to Dandeli and it was during this interesting interaction that I got to hear out their story. This scheduled tribe of today used to subsist with odd jobs during their early days at Dandeli. The men would do field work and assist in agriculture while the women would collect wood from the forest and together, they would use the money from these two sources to eke out their living.

Lamani Tribal Women sing a traditional song at Dandeli
The Lamani women were experts in making Arak, the local liquor and they used to make this in their Lambani homes and sell it to the various segments of society by the glass. Their Arak was so popular that the people would ask them to make it for all their festivals and important events. At one time, they got so popular that India’s excise department reached out to them and told them that their Arak business was affecting the government’s liquor business in that region. They requested them to shut down their business and in return they gave each house 500 rupees per month.

An Elderly Woman from the nomadic Lambani Tribe
Since this was a significant sum, the tribe agreed to stop making and selling Arak. They got these 500 rupees every month till the excise department forgot about them. By then, most of them had received basic education and they had made out a decent living for themselves. Today, the Lambani people are either in government or private jobs or manage their own small shops or businesses.

Lamani tribal Woman decked in traditional colourful attire at Dandeli
Even today, the Lambani people marry strictly into their own community. They go to a different ‘tanda’ (settlement) to look for a suitable match. Their weddings are an colorful affair and involves a lot of mutton based feasts with an unlimited supply of alcohol. Apart from their weddings, they celebrate festivals like Holi, Diwali and Dussehra. Holi is their most important festival and is possibly the most colorful too for them. During these festivals, there is a lot of singing, dancing, tasty food and lots of alcohol.

The face of a Lambani Tribal Woman at Dandeli, NW KarnatakaOne of the most colorful traits about the Lambani people are their colorfully decked and decorated women. Their younger females prefer to dress in traditional Indian attire, but the older women still dress like their ancestors. Their glass based dresses, their anklets, their large nose rings, their braided hair with jewelry, their colorful necklaces and their tattoos make for very interesting sights. Their dresses and jewelry cost them quite a bit and have to be specially ordered from a tailor specializing in Lambani dresses.

Traditional Lambani Gypsy Woman from Dandeli
Out of their entire appearance, I found their tattoos very interesting. They have it on their arms, above their ankles, on their legs and most importantly on their forehead. These kind of tattoos are seen only on the women and not the Lambani men. They are made using traditional tattoing tools when the women reach marriageable age and portray important beliefs of their tribe.

This is my short story on the Lambani tribe of Dandeli and I am sure I would be able to find more such stories about this unique culture when I again get to spend a longer time with them. If you haven’t met them, I would recommend you do and more so if you are headed in the direction of Dandeli in North West Karnataka.

Courtesy: I met the Lambani tribe when I was on a trip to Dandeli that was organized by www.dandeli.com.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hotel Norling: Comfortable Budget Hotel in Trongsa Town

Trongsa in Central Bhutan is a place worth staying for a couple of days as it offers a different view of Bhutan when compared to the typical valleys of the rest of the country. In a way, it is closer to East Bhutan than Central or Western Bhutan as it lies on a mountain rather than in a valley. While I was at Trongsa, I stayed in the town at a place called Hotel Norling. This review of mine is based on this recent experience of staying here for 2 nights and 3 days.

1) Hotel Norling is situated right in the heart of Trongsa town with good access to the restaurants, markets and other basic amenities.

2) It is also located at walking distance from Trongsa Dzong and T Dzong.

3) The rooms are modern, wooden rooms with a room heater, television, attached bathroom with running hot water and other basic, yet important amenities. The best part about these rooms is the beautiful view it offers of the mighty Trongsa Dzong. A cost of a room for one night (Indian rate) is INR/BTN 1200 for double occupancy.

4) The hotel is run by a family and the lady managing the day-to-day operations is extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

5) The hotel does not have any internet connectivity.

6) Hotel Norling has an in-house restaurant that dishes out some great Bhutanese and Indian dishes from 7 AM through 10 PM.

7) The place is also very close to the taxi and bus stands.

The place is ideal for those who look to stay in the heart of town, looking for decent accommodation at a budget price and wish to be in close proximity to the main tourist attractions.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Bad Memories

Have you ever arrived at the airport, ready to check-in and jet off, but been far from in the holiday spirit.

I will explain my particular experience, purely because I have learnt from it and now put my own proven measures into place, to make sure the whole drama-filled episode never, ever recurs!

Picture the scene - 7am, bleary-eyed, wild-haired woman, just about managed to pull together an outfit that matches, wheeling an extremely large and garishly pink suitcase across a rather busy train platform, with a bag hanging from her shoulder that is so heavy it is making her look rather lop-sided.

You’d laugh normally wouldn’t you?

Well that person was me.

I’d decided, in my infinite wisdom, to take the train to the airport, which involved a connection in Sheffield en-route to Manchester and it basically caused me more stress than I can remember in a long time. It wasn’t too late in summer, so I deemed it necessary to wear sandals – bad move. I ran over my toes with that suitcase more than times I want to admit, and everyone else who got in my way got an unintentional bruise as a souvenir of meeting me.

It wasn’t fun. It was stressful, miserable and by the time I got to check-in I was ready to think ‘forget it!’ and go home. Luckily I didn’t and from that point onwards my holiday was fun, but oh my, never again.

My answer to this predicament was to take my friend’s advice and book airport parking for my next holiday. She may not have good ideas quite that often, but that particular one was a brainwave. I tried it for the first time and couldn’t understand why I’d put myself through such unnecessary stress in the past. Taking my car to the airport and parking up was the answer to my A to B travel stress all along. I wish I’d tried it sooner.

It doesn’t matter where you’re flying from, as this is a nationwide service, with most large airports offering facilities. I’ve since used Bristol Airport parking and found the same great level of service. The added bonus is that you also save money when compared to what can often be high train and coach fares, without any control in your hands.

I won’t be going back to the train-line hell after that last performance, and I think everyone who was around me that day will be quite glad of that too!

About the Author: Molly Austin is the content creator for Airparks and she has a passion for fashion, fun and traveling.

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You don’t cruise, you lose!

Cruises have undergone a major regeneration recently. Whereas once upon a time they were something you only did if you were rich, nowadays there are massively affordable cruises available to different parts of the world, meaning more and more of us can see several destinations all within the space of a week or two. For someone who enjoys snippets of places, maybe trying a few out before going back for a longer period of time, this is the perfect choice.
Yangtze River Cruise
Where would you choose to cruise? Personally I’d go Caribbean, yet there are many other routes available, including Far East, Norwegian Fjords, Mediterranean, Transatlantic, Canary Islands – you name it. Of course, if you’re feeling flush and you have time to spare, you could go around the world!

The good thing about cruising is that you don’t have a luggage allowance restriction, so you can take whatever you want, however bear in mind that if you’re having to fly to get to your ship, you will be subject to airline allowances. A good way to get around this is to board your ship at Southampton. This is a good option if you want more time to explore your ship too, as the onboard facilities are like a holiday in themselves.

The next decision after which route do you take, which cruise liner company do you choose, which date do you go on, is what kind of room do you opt for? You could go for balcony, meaning you wake to the sea every day, however I wouldn’t spend that kind of money, and instead use my room as a base and get out and about as much as possible, spending time on the deck, checking out the scenery and also the huge swimming pool.
Independence of the Seas pool bar at Vigo, Spain
The next poser is excursions. Once you have your itinerary in place, it’s time to decide where you want to visit when you hit shore. Your cruise company will no doubt have lots of suggestions, and will have their own excursions to sell you, however there are many street vendor companies when you get to your destinations that will show you the sights, probably for a fraction of the price. What is worth remembering however is if for whatever reason you’re late back to the ship, when it is due to set sail again, it’s your own responsibility and they will leave without you. Simply factor in plenty of time and you’ll be fine.

Seeing so many places in such a short space of time will no doubt leave you awe-struck and a little exhausted but it’s worth it for the memories you’ll make. It’s all about being organized before you go, making sure you’re in the right frame of mind to enjoy your time away. Whenever I fly anywhere, I always check out airport and real time information before I leave the house, especially to see if my flight is still scheduled on time. I recently went to Paris and I checked out Manchester Airport departures before I left the house, for all the up to date information. No matter where you’re flying from, be sure to do this, as you’ll also get information on the airport itself, meaning you don’t miss out on any facilities or special things to see. I’m flying from London next week and I’ll be checking out all the information on Heathrow departures with Holiday Extras in good time, so I’m well prepared.

A cruise truly is one of the best ways to see a lot, in a short space of time – remember that camera!

About the Author: Craig is a traveler from the United Kingdom who loves to take cruises from around the world.

Note: The pictures in this post do not belong to beontheroad.com and have been borrowed from wikipedia creative commons by the author of this post.

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Medar Community: The Bamboo Crafts People of Dandeli

Traditionally, these people have lived off the bamboo forests. They have been known to make bamboo baskets for generations and when someone dies, it is their community that is responsible for building the bamboo based products required for the funeral celebrations. They are the Medar community and live in Dandeli in North West Karnataka.

Medar Community - the Bamboo craftsmen of Dandeli
Today, most of them have received education and have jobs like normal people, but there are still many in the community who live off the money they make by using their bamboo crafts. I met such a family during my visit to Dandeli recently. Last year (2013), the Bamboo plant flowered (they flower once every 60 years and then die) and hence all the existing bamboo trees have died and it will take some years before fresh set of bamboo trees come to the forests again.

Bamboo craftsman from the Medar community of Dandeli
This lack of bamboo has affected these Bamboo craft people, but they have somehow managed to eke out a living for themselves with this small source of Bamboo. It is very nice to see local artisans still involved in building hand crafted products. If you are ever headed towards Dandeli, I would recommend meeting and interacting with the Medar community people to understand their unique culture.

Courtesy: I met this tribe while on a trip to Dandeli, which was arranged by www.dandeli.com.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Travel Photo: Lambani Tribal Woman from Dandeli

There are so many unique tribes in India and I came across three such tribes today in Dandeli. One such tribe is the Lambani tribe or locally called as the Lamani community. Once, nomadic people from Rajasthan, these people have settled down in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Karnataka, their base is in Dandeli town.

Elderly Lambani Tribal Woman at Dandeli, Karnataka, India
While I was interacting with them and listening to their history and stories, I also got the opportunity to click close up shots of these beautiful set of people. This image of the serious and sad elderly woman is one of my favorites for today. I hope you like it too. The story, a whole lot of more pictures and videos will come your way soon. Do stay tuned if you are interested in knowing more about this unique culture.

Courtesy: This trip was organized by www.dandeli.com.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

I am one of the Top 25 Indian Travel Bloggers

The fast growing Indian adventure travel company, Thrillophilia.com has released a list of the top 25 travel bloggers from India and I am happy to say that yours truly has been featured in this elite list. As with all my features, it makes me feel very proud to have deserved this mention and be in the company of such exciting people and sensational travelers.

I owe all this fame to you as it is you who have kept me going with your comments, likes, questions, suggestions and appreciations. Thank you very much!

Beontheroad.com featured as one of the top 25 travel blogs in India
And do remember to add all these blogs into your blogroll, RSS feed or into your social network. You might not want to miss their beautiful travel stories and interesting tips and experiences from India and around the world.

Thrillophilia…Thank you for putting me in this beautiful list. I have always been a big fan of you guys and I look to see you become one of the best adventure travel brands in the country! Keep the adventure pedal down!

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Monday, January 06, 2014

Bumthang’s Swiss Guest House: Tucked amidst Apple and Pear Orchards

This is the oldest guest house in Bumthang and has prime location, but I dig this place for its amazing setting. It is set amidst lush apple and pear orchards. When I went there this winter, the orchard was dry, but I am sure it will be a sight to see during the monsoon months when the orchard is in full fruiting bloom. And I am so keen to stay here then. During my recent stay here, I stayed here for 8 days and 7 nights and the below review is based on this experience.

Swiss Guest house - Bumthang, Bhutan 
1) This place enjoys cult like status with tourists from the western world and especially Switzerland owing to its close connection with Swiss cheese and food.

2) This place is set in typical Bhutanese style a little away from the Chamkhar town and with a great view of Bumthang valley.

3) Each room is very comfortable with running hot water, a bukhari (wood based fire stove), a room heater and a complete pine wood design to keep you warm during the cold nights.

4) The people running this place are a family and take great care of their guests. They help with directions, planning, give tips and much more.

5) Most of the tourists to this place love the western styled food and wine here. In my case, I found the food a bit bland as it caters to a Western palate and not an Indian one. However, if informed in advance, they can dish out Bhutanese and/or Indian dishes, which are generally more spicy.

6) The rooms (for Indians) cost INR 1500 per night, but if you stay for longer durations, like how we did, you can pay a discounted rate of INR 1200 per night for the very comfortable room. Lunch and dinner costs between INR 350 to 500 depending on vegetarian or non-vegetarian food.

7) The guest house comes with internet connectivity that is fairly reliable and fast, which is a rare commodity in Bhutan.

8) One of the best things about this guest house are its open lawns surrounded by apple and pear orchards. This place is great to read a book with a hot cup of tea in the warm winter sun during the day time. In fact, I liked this place so much that this is what I ended up doing almost on all days.

9) If you are a dog lover, you will like this guest house as they have dogs in all sizes, about 6 or 7 in total and they give great company especially when you are in the holiday mood and feel like relaxing.

10) The only drawback of this place is that it is located a bit away from the Chamkhar town. While this is a problem if you like to go to the town often, it is a blessing if you like to be away from the hull-a-boo. Having a vehicle is advised else be ready to spend a lot of time walking like how I did.

11) The place is located close to the Cheese factory and the Red Panda beer factory as both of them are managed by the same management and it is easy to gain access to these establishments.

12) The property is also perfect for those hikers and nature lovers as it is set next to hills and lush forests.

Overall, this is one place I would love to go again and again and hopefully, I will get a chance when the orchards are in bloom. Those big orchards in bloom will be a sight to behold. I am so sure about that. I would recommend this place with many thumbs up!

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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Zoutons: Discounts for the Smart Traveler

Like any cost conscious traveler, I am always on the lookout for ways to reduce my travel bill. That way, I can either prolong my travels or push it up some notches. And that is how I stumbled across Zoutons.com, a new age discount coupon store based out of New Delhi and catering to the people of India.

Zoutons.com - discount coupons for the traveler
While they span the entire gamut of the coupon industry, the areas that caught the interest of the traveler in me were airlines, luggage bags, car rentals, holiday packages and hotels. These coupons help deliver hassle free discounts across each category.

These coupons are collected from all the leading aviation companies and travel management stores and aim to deliver affordable travel options. Currently, there are 25% and 50% off on flights and hotels through Expedia and Go Air.

Luggage Bags
Through these bag coupons, one can find great deals (discounts, sign up offers, etc.) on sites like FutureBazaar, Yebhi, Myntra, Bagskart and more.

Car Rentals
These coupons assist in local and outstation car bookings and span sites like Clearcarrental, Olacabs and MeruCabs.

Holiday Packages
Collected from leading travel websites, these coupons enable the traveler to get the best discount on various holiday destinations. These include discounts, cash backs and interesting deals on sites like Makemytrip, Easemytrip, Sterling Holidays, HolidayIQ, DealsandYou and more.

The hotel coupons provide discounts for hotels booked on sites like goibibo.com, Makemytrip, TravelGuru, MyGuesthouse and other popular hotel booking websites.

In addition to all these travel and travel related coupons, Zoutons provides coupons for popular stores like Jabong.com, SnapDeal, Myntra, Flipkart, Foodpanda, Amazon, eBay, Bookmyshow and much more. And these coupons span many categories, brands and banks.

And all of them help you make significant savings in your shopping bill. And for travelers like me, it is a dream come true as a smaller travel bill simply means more travels for me.

Have you checked out Zoutons.com as yet?

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Friday, January 03, 2014

Bhutan: Stunning place to take people photographs

Bhutan is one of those countries that is perfect for taking people photographs. Their sharp facial features, their colorful attire, their beautiful religion and their lovely smiles make for some stunning pictures. They are a deeply spiritual race and are known to be the happiest race in the world. Both these traits make for great great face shots.

As a thumb rule, I try and limit the weight of my backpack when I am traveling and that includes my camera gear too, but this time around, on the recommendation of friend and fellow travel blogger, Arun Bhat, I took my 70-200 f2.8 IS II lens and all the photos in this article are the output of that lens. Arun has been to Bhutan many a time and has good knowledge of this Himalayan kingdom. Thank you Arun for coaxing me to take this tight portrait lens. It helped me capture their spirituality, their beautiful faces and smiles, the deep creases in the faces of the old people, the serene monks with their maroon robes, the national attire of Bhutan, their interesting mannerisms, practices and much more. And all this from a totally different perspective that gives these tight and close shots.

I hope you all enjoy these photographs as much as I did while taking them.

I spotted these 2 Bhutanese boys while crossing the suspension bridge of Punakha and loved their colorful sunglasses and hence requested them for a close up shot and was happy that they obliged.

2 Bhutanese boys and their colourful sunglasses 
Bumthang means beautiful girl and that words fit this young girl very aptly. She is simple and beautiful and her kid brother on her back is also very adorable.
A young Bumthang girl and her kid brother

I was walking into the Trongsa town after visiting the Trongsa Dzong when I spotted this elderly lady walking down the slopes towards the dzong. I loved the creases on her face and the fact that the sun was shining on her.

An Elderly Bhutanese Woman walks in Trongsa, Bhutan
This farmer from Trongsa was soaking in the winter sun next to the grass beside the road when I walked up to him and started chatting with him. After the chat, he was kind enough to let me take a few pictures of him.

Traditional Trongsa Farmer soaking in the winter sun
This Bhutanese man was my taxi driver (his name is Thinley) from Thimphu to Paro. We stopped enroute at Chuzom, the confluence of 2 rivers between Paro and Thimphu for a cup of milky tea.

Bhutan Taxi Driver poses at Chuzom

I met this Buddhist monk while exploring the Paro Dzong and what attracted me to him was his reading technique. Apparently, he was reading one of his religious scripts, but his voice had a strong-ness in it that I really liked and felt it was powerful.

Buddhist Monk in front of temple inside Paro Dzong 
I really like it when people who devote their life to service actually indulge in that service. In this case, this young Buddhist student is studying ancient literature in the winter sun at Simtokha Dzong, Western Bhutan.

Buddhist Monk studies at Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan 
Spirituality is very much a part of the Buddhist religion in Bhutan. It is extremely rare to find someone in this country who doesn’t embrace their religion. This woman is one such person and she prays while spinning the prayer wheels at Trongsa Dzong, Central Bhutan.

Buddhist Woman prays at a temple in Trongsa Dzong, Bhutan 
I came across these naughty, yet smart kids while searching for some food on a hike through the countryside of Bumthang. These kids kept smiling at me, chattering amongst themselves in Bumthankha and asking me questions in Bumthangkha even though they knew that I didn’t know their local language. Loved their facial expressions though.

Cheerful Bumthang Kids in front of Jampey Lakhang, Bumthang, Bhutan 
I met this man while I was walking from Punakha to Wangdi Phodrang. This man was curious to know where I was from, what I did for a living and why I was walking with a big backpack in the sun. He was also very helpful with directions and other interesting tidbits of information that I was keen on knowing and understanding.

Local Man from Punakha, Bhutan 
This Trongsa man stopped me to ask a question about his camera. I was carrying my big lens and he assumed that I knew how to fix his Sony point and shoot camera. I looked at it, found that his flash component was not working and gave him the update. While I was looking at his camera, his colourful prayer wheel caught my attention and I asked for a photograph of him spinning his colourful prayer wheel. He obliged and this is the end result. It was late in the evening though.

Local Trongsa Man with a colorful prayer wheel 
This Bumthang man was walking opposite me while I was walking along the super tiny Bumthang airport. He was going into town for his daily work.

Local man walking past the tiny Bumthang airport of Bhutan 
There is something about Buddhist monks, the Buddhist religion and the mountains of Himalayas that makes me want to go there again and again. May be, it is for moments like this?

Monk prays at Simtokha Dzong, Bhutan 
While exploring Bhutan, you will come across countless number of local people who keep counting their beads and saying the hym ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. This gentleman was one such person and I met him on the streets of Trongsa in Central Bhutan.

Old Bhutanese man in prayer at Trongsa, Bhutan

I was walking down the slopes of the Trongsa highway to catch a good view of the massive Trongsa Dzong. I spotted this old man carrying his heavy wooden load the traditional way while I was on that walk. A lot of people in Bhutan are still very poor and have to do physical labor to keep their houses and bellies warm.

I had just run all the way from the top of Taktsang monastery’s lodge to the ground below. At that parking lot and tiny curio shopping center, I spotted this smart looking Bhutanese guy and I felt that he was missing something and offered my sunglasses to him to see if that completed the look. And voila, it did complete the look and the end result is this stylish photograph.

Stylish Bhutanese Man at the start of Taktsang Monastery Trek 
Seeing traditional attire and tools is a great way of understanding the local culture. This was one such moment at Bumthang when I spotted this farmer walking home after his day in the fields.

Traditional Bhutanese man walking the streets of Bumthang, Bhutan

I was walking from Wangdi Phodrang to Bajo town when this kid saw my camera lens and requested me to take his photograph. I obliged and this is the end result of this school kid in the evening hours at Wangdi-Bajo.

Wangdi Bajo School Kid wanted me to take his picture 
These were a naughty and smart bunch of school kids from Wangdi Bajo. They spoke good English and Hindi and asked me questions for as long as 30 minutes. They were also keen on me taking their photograph.

Wangdi Bajo School Kids 
Another set of local kids. This time while walking from Kuruthang to Punakha. It was a weekend and these kids were merrily walking in the winter sun and having a jolly good time.

It was pretty cold in the mornings at Trongsa in Central Bhutan and everyone, including this monk soaked in the warmth of the winter sun. This was inside the Trongsa Dzong.

Buddhist monk soaking in the morning sun at Trongsa Dzong, Bhutan 
Even this Buddhist monk was soaking in the winter sun, but from the beautifully located Punakha Dzong. The colourful pillars of this Dzong contrasted the maroon robes of this monk.

Buddhist Monk from the balcony of a temple in Punakha Dzong, Bhutan 
There is a small chorten near Kuje Lakhang in Central Bhutan’s Bumthang. And that is where I spotted him doing the rounds of the chorten and chanting the hymns.

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