Travel Tales that led me to discover Art, History, Cultures wrapped under myriad landscapes.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Anuradha Goyal
Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kuala Lumpur - A walk through the Origins

I travelled to Malaysia in May this year to speak at International Travel Bloggers Conference and got to see Kuala Lumpur and world heritage city of Melaka. I took a walking tour around the old parts of KL.

My post on that walk appears on the Travel Wire Asia : Kuala Lumpur Heritage Walk – a walk through the origins of the city

This article was part of a publication for Tourism Malaysia. If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Anuradha Goyal
Saturday, September 22, 2012

Andhra Adventures V: Medak

A few years back, when I used to visit Hyderabad, I heard someone saying that besides Nagarjuna Sagar there are no weekend getaways from Hyderabad and that sentence somehow got stuck in my mind. Last year when I shifted here, I started looking not at the travel guides or websites, but at the map , trying to look at the 100 Km radius around the city and see if there is something that can be explored. I came up with a list, some of which I explored earlier like Warangal Fort and Temples, Pochampally; Cherial. Last week we set out to explore Medak and Pocharam. I forgot who was the guy who made that statement; I want to ask him who says there is a dearth of weekend getaways from Hyderabad. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Anuradha Goyal
Monday, September 17, 2012

Poland Pails I: Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow

I always thought, salt came from the sea and only sea. It never occurred to me that earth can also have a salt mine hidden in her belly until I saw one such mine in Southern Poland, not too far from the town of Krakow. Since the mine is well below the sea level, you only see a small building when you reach the entrance, but the marvels start to appear after you have descended about 400 wooden steps to reach the first level i.e. the top level of the mine. Various flights of steps take you further down till you are 300+ meters below the ground level and thankfully there is a miner’s elevator to bring you back on the ground. This mine has produced salt since 13th CE till a few years back.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Anuradha Goyal
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hyderabad Hues XXI: Kakatiya Delights

It has been almost a year since I visited the Kakatiya temple and forts in Warangal. I have been looking at signs of Kakatiyas in Hyderabad and around, but could not find any. So when the ITC Kakatiya’s My City Break offer came along, I decided to explore it. Here are few things that I enjoyed the most other than what you would expect in a well-known premium luxury hotel.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Anuradha Goyal
Friday, September 07, 2012

Slow Down in Slovakia - I : A Big Small Country

A big small country is how the people of Slovakia like to introduce it to the tourists. A land locked country surrounded by other small European countries is one of the youngest nations in the world being born out of the dissolving of Czechoslovakia in 1993, after 70 years of their existence as one country. Our guide described it very entertainingly that it was like a divorce after a marriage of 70 years, and it happened when the wife i.e. Slovakia started demanding something for herself. It was a peaceful divorce and both the partners continue to be friends and work together on many things. It did exist as an independent nation for a small time during the World War II but was under the Nazi Germany. During the better-known history it had been a part of the Celts, Roman Empire, Great Moravian Empire and Austro Hungarian or Habsburg Empire. There is an evidence of continued habitation this area from pre-historic times. Slavic tribe that migrated here in 5th CE gives the country its name. Language Slovak also comes from the same origins.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Anuradha Goyal
Sunday, September 02, 2012

Travelling Souls I - Ciro Rendas

I met Ciro about 5 years back  when he CouchSurfed with me in Bangalore and he is still travelling. He had just begun his traveling life and I had just quit formal employment and both of us shared a common profession linked to Business Innovation. Every time I look at his FB profile, he is in a different region. He speaks to us about this wonderful journey called life through his chosen way of living it - Nomadically. 

I know you have been travelling for more than four years now. I am sure this has become a way of life for you. Do you see yourself settling somewhere or you see yourself leading a nomadic life only?

What initially started as a 1 year round-the-world trip has indeed extended to over 5 years of wanderlust, without end in sight. Initially, I would cherish a 'faster' experience, trying to soak it all in during a shorter period of time before continuing onwards to the next destination and the next adventure. Nowadays, I prefer lingering longer in a place which attracts me while indulging in some interesting activity or occupation in that location. And, for the time being, this nomadic lifestyle fascinates me and I would obviously be thrilled to keep it going for as long as I possibly can.
I do foresee the possibility of stopping someday, but only under one circumstance: love. Either because I love the place and its people; Or I love a project I'm undertaking; Or I love someone in particular.

What motivates you to keep travelling?

The everyday 'wow' is why I'm still so hungry for the road. It's so easy to be fascinated by people and situations that you wouldn't normally experience back home.And when everyday there is a new surprise for you, why would you even want to stop anyway?

Do you think travelling is addictive, the more you do, the more you want to do it?

I think one can easily be fascinated by traveling, even if you only take all-inclusive tour packages (which I don't, by the way... the only exception being North Korea). Just getting out there into some place new and different from what you have in one's familiar surroundings is enough to convince you to 'escape', even if just for a quick getaway. But not everyone will want or even be able to do it in a continuous way, as I'm doing it. Most people have the need to return to their familiar surroundings or get back on their career-track after wandering for some months or even a year or more.

Personally speaking, I'm addicted. Luckily for me, it's a healthy addiction. You manage to have a varied diet because of all the different foods and drinks you try; you manage to do a lot of outdoor activities, even if it's just walking around a city; you learn a lot as you go, be it history, geography, religion, cultural differences, languages, etc.; you practice your inter-personal skills, as traveling is a social activity most of the time; and also your intrapersonal skills, as you'll also have a lot of time to yourself and to delve into the things you live and make some actual sense out of them.

What do you find most enchanting about this way of life? 

The people you meet and the friends you make are definitely the most enchanting. And naturally some locations also leave you awestruck, because of their grandiosity, their beauty, or plain 'weirdness'. The fact you have no routine is also quite liberating and the fact you can pursue different passions and not just focus on one single career appeals to me.

Were there some places in the journey that made you want to stay back? Is it possible to share the same?

There were some places that made me consider staying longer. I'm in one of them at the moment. I was in Nicaragua a few years ago and now I'm back again for another, longer, stint. Other countries such as India or Turkey keep drawing me back. And my time in places like Borneo and some islands around Indonesia also seemed quite short. So, even if the circumstances don't allow you to stay as long as you'd like to in a place, it's always possible to go there again in the future.

Do you think you would be able to settle in a place after being on the move for so long? Will the itch to travel let you settle down?

That's a question I've been asking myself quite a lot, and I honestly can't give a definite answer. Only time and experience will tell. As I answered in one of the previous questions, love would be the most powerful motivator to make me settle down somewhere.

What are the challenges of travelling you can do without?

Well, as much as I love learning new languages, it's impossible for me to learn all the languages that would ease my communication with people in different countries and also help me understand all that's happening around me. So, language can definitely be both a tool to understand a culture as well as a barrier to fully grasp it.

Visas and travel restrictions to certain areas can also be frustrating, because of their annoyingly time-consuming and, sometimes, expensive bureaucracy.

But probably the biggest challenge of all is the physical distance between you and the people you care about and also the people who had an impact on you during your life and travels. On the road, it is frequent to meet people, create a strong bond and then go separate ways after some time. Fortunately, it's easy to keep in contact, so the farewells end up being more of a 'see you soon' rather than a 'goodbye'. I've lost count of the number of people I kept meeting and meeting again throughout the years in different places around the globe. The world is small and these meetings constantly prove it to me.

To me the fun of travelling lies in the constant surprises that it throws on you - both welcome and unwelcome, the small little things that you discover that keep you in awe, the discovery of differences in cultures yet the similarity in thoughts and lives of people. What amazed you the most in your travels?

Some things that amazed me the most are 1) that the happiest, most giving and honest people I've met were probably the poorest, materialistically speaking; 2) that people, in essence, are the same everywhere; 3) that everyone, no matter their background, has something to share, and vice versa; 4) that some of the most alluring countries I've been to have the worst media coverage of all and are also the ones no one wants to go to; and also that the most sought-after destinations end up being the least interesting.

I feel to know a place well, you have to live there for at least 6 months or feel few of it's seasons. What is your figure, or do you think you can ever know a place other than yours as well as your own?

I'd say it's hard to know elsewhere as well as you know the place where you grew up/were educated in and also lived a couple of decades of your life. Unless of course you end up staying more than a couple of decades in another place. But with the fast pace of change happening in so many countries, it might be hard to recognize a place and its people after a few years of being away. For example, I've lived in China and I could see change happening at the speed of light, not just in terms of infrastructure but also in terms of mentality. Also, places differ in size. There's a huge difference between living in Brazil or in Iceland. So, shooting out a figure wouldn't make much sense. In the end, it's all about how much you can soak in of a place for as long as you end up being there.

Why would you recommend young people to travel and why would you tell them not to?

'Life begins where your comfort zone ends' was a quote I recently came across with and I believe that leaving that 'comfort zone' is one of the most intense learning experience we can have these days. It tests you by making you face unfamiliar circumstances in unfamiliar spots and, in the process, makes you grow as a person. You'll easily comprehend and learn more about yourself and the world. Though, only after you return to your familiar surroundings will you finally realize all the change that happened within you.
I wouldn't recommend traveling if you don't like to socialize with people face-to-face or if you are strongly attached to your family. For the first, you'd feel too lonely and live a very superficial experience. For the latter, you'd feel too nostalgic and would suffer a lot.

Can you share some interesting anecdotes from your journey?

As a long-term traveler sometimes I feel more like a storyteller than an experience-seeker because of the attention other people give you when you speak.
Some funny episodes include...

I've been invited to partake in a movie while visiting the Kama Sutra temples.

I've spent hours in a military base while the truck I was hitchhiking was being checked for drugs.

I was offered to 'get to know' the daughter of a family who gave me hospitality.

I tried out way too many unusual foods and drinks, such as balut or tarantulas; but the only place in the whole world where I had stomach problems was in Delhi. I've always suffered the effects of the Delhi-belly whenever I went to India's capital (but never in any other part of the country).

I froze when a wide-open mouth, much bigger than the length of my body, headed straight at me.

I learned many new marketing techniques, including dressing girls in sexy outfits for the sole purpose of selling betel nuts.

Got lost in translation more times than I can possibly remember, but communication somehow came across.

I've slept in countless places (from stations, to palaces, to roofs, to parks, no man's land, to chicken buses, to active volcanic craters, to cargo boats, etc.), and I've always slept relatively well.

I've lived to tell these and other stories when everyone said some of the places where they happened were too dangerous to go to.

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