• Inside the cave at Pak Ou
    Asia,  Blog,  Laos,  Travelogue

    Ride to Pak Ou Caves and Whiskey Village

    Fancy a boat ride on the Mekong? And then a shot of a drink that is going to jolt your senses? The stairs leading up to Pak Ou caves Why not do a half-day trip to Pak Ou Cave. The tour is combined with a visit to Whiskey Village. The tour itself is roughly around four hours, with the ride to the caves taking about two hours. Take a boat ride to Pak Ou caves Once you arrive, walk up the stairs and you will come to the first cave called Tham Ting. Just be careful as it is dimly lit. Make your way higher and you come to the…

  • Out and about in Kandy
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Out and about in Kandy

    It lies amid hills, surrounded by tea gardens, in the centre of the island. It’s the cultural capital of the country and has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1988. It is home the famed tooth relic of the Buddha and Sri Lanka’s most successful cricket bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan. If you have a day or two to spare, then Kandy is for you. Triple ride is common across Asia Kandy is a small city. Walking on the streets, it reminds me of other smaller cities that I have visited, especially in Europe. Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Bratislava come to mind, and so does Luang Prabang closer home.…

  • A Kandyan dance performance
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    An evening of Kandyan dance

    When I was planning a trip to Kandy in Sri Lanka, a quick read of various travel blogs assured me that one of the things I had to do whilst in the city was go for a show that has its origin, and lends its name to this unique form of dance – Kandyan dance. The women added grace and poise as they danced to tribal rhythms I’ll be honest, I’ve got two left feet and dancing isn’t my favourite part of spending an evening. However, when it comes to watching it, I don’t mind doing so, occasionally. Fire eaters Every region in the world, from towns and villages, cities…

  • Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha statue
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Keeping watch over the people of Kandy

    Seated on top of Bahirawa Kanda hill, barely two kilometers from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, is the tallest statue in Sri Lanka – Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha statue, keeping a watchful eye on the people of Kandy. The Buddha statue from the steps leading to the compound A visit to Sri Maha Bodhi Temple, where the statue is located, is among the highlights when visiting Kandy. In fact, as you shuttle around, his omnipotent presence if felt and seen from most parts of the city. However, if superstitious beliefs and internal politics would have prevailed, this statue would never have seen the light of day. The Buddha from…

  • View of Kandy lake
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Kandy lake – the centre of town

    Kandy lake is in the centre of it all, literally. Whether you are hopping around in a tuk-tuk, heading from one spot to another, checking the views of the city from the viewpoint up on a hill, or simply taking a leisurely evening walk, the lake dominates the town. And why shouldn’t it. View of Kandy lake from the hilltop It is in the heart of Kandy town. Surprisingly, with a ring road that goes along one side of the lake, it is peaceful, offering you respite from the busy street. The island (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) This body of water wasn’t always there though. It was a stretch of…

  • Eight varieties of tea to taste
    Asia,  Blog,  Resources,  Reviews,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    A cup or eight of tea please

    I’ve only drunk tea the way I know to make it, using tea bags dipped in hot water for a couple of minutes and then adding milk. Refreshing and satisfying it is. But is it necessarily the best tea I’ve had? That is open to debate. Inside the tea shop at the factory (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) While I’ve been drinking tea since I can remember, it was would always be a cup for breakfast and another one later that evening. However, once I got into university, all that went for a toss. Sitting in the canteen, it would be anywhere between 10 to 15 small glasses of tea through…

  • The pathway to the temple
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

    It involves a princess on the run smuggling across land and sea. It had the protection of kings, eager to retain power over their kingdom. With an air of mystery surrounding it, it is one of most well-protected sites anywhere in Sri Lanka. This is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka. The royal palace complex The Temple of the Sacred Tooth relic, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, sits north of the lake, within the palace complex of the former Kandyan kingdom. Thanks to its historical, cultural and spiritual significance, the temple is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of eight sites across Sri…

  • The British Garrison Cemetery in Kandy
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    A walk among the dead

    Kandy, Sri Lanka offers a variety of sights and sounds to visitors. One of them is worth a visit if only because it is an oasis of calm and just steps away from the hustle and bustle. It also happens to be a graveyard. A sign on the road leading uphill to the graveyard (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) One of the most rewarding things to do in Kandy is to visit Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, which houses the sacred relic, a tooth of the Buddha. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth is a very popular site for both pilgrims and tourists and tends to…

  • Palazzo Vecchio
    Blog,  Europe,  Italy,  Travelogue

    Exploring Piazza Della Signoria

    If there is one image that best sums up Florence, it would probably be the most beautiful ‘L’ shaped square – The Piazza Della Signoria. Modern art that pales in comparison (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Surrounded by some of the most buildings in the city, it feels like an outdoor museum, in no part thanks to its famous sculptures strategically placed throughout the square. Any wonder it’s always full of visitors, trying to outdo each other as they smile while clicking photographs for posterity.  Statue of David at Piazza della Signoria (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) It is these sculptures and buildings that have come to symbolise the city’s renaissance past…

  • Street view of Florence
    Blog,  Europe,  Italy,  Travelogue

    The myth of Perseus and Medusa

    Any visit to Italy must include the beautiful city of Florence. And once in the city, everyone naturally gravitates to the centre of town – the historic Piazza della Signoria. Brimming with artwork, this is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts. The clock tower at Palazzo Vecchio (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Centuries ago, Florence was the centre of a renaissance sweeping through the Roman empire. Talented artists went out of their way to outdo the other with some of the paintings and sculptures that, centuries later, still leave visitors awestruck. Some of these greats, including Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Alberti, Donatello and Ghiberti, went about not just transforming the city with their…