Chittorgarh Fort

Not the Taj Mahal: Chittorgarh Fort in India

If you decide to take that trip of a lifetime to go and “find yourself” in India, it will probably include a trip to the Taj, a date with the Dalai Lama, a tour around the pink city of Jaipur and any number of other “spirit of India” experiences the guidebooks will throw at you. These sights are all, of course, worthy of your time but don’t miss Chittorgarh Fort, the Rajasthani gem rarely promoted as a must-see. I arrived in Chittorgarh after a 48-hour journey from Mumbai which included delayed trains (plural) and a rough night on a station platform at Ratlam Junction (another story altogether).

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Yoyu: how to avoid traveller burnout

On the road, I’ll be writing posts for Atlas & Boots, filing travel features for Asian Bride magazine, and doing the odd commission to keep our travel funds topped up. As such, I’ll be lugging around a laptop throughout the course of the trip. This is largely fine because it means we can stock up on films and TV programmes for quiet nights in and we’ll also have a way to keep in touch with family and friends. Of course, with this convenience comes the danger that being glued to a screen at home will become being glued to a screen on the road. Like many of my peers, I spend a scary amount of time in front of a screen, be it a desktop at work, a laptop at home or a smartphone in between – and I want to avoid that on the road. This fear reminded me of a concept I learnt from the founder of Gotomedia, Kelly Goto: the concept of Yoyu. Continue reading

Return to India part II: my father’s story

This article was featured on National Geographic’s Traveller magazine website on 14th February 2015.

In the first of this two-part series, Peter recounted his tale of India in search of his father’s long lost friends. Five years after his initial visit, father and son return to India to reunite with those friends. Here is his father’s story.

Christmas Eve, 2013. It was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was warm on our backs. We stood on the roof veranda looking down on the dusty streets. A soft breeze was blowing which barely stirred the tangle of electricity and telephone wires that were draped between the houses in this relatively wealthy suburb of Bhilwara, Rajasthan. Each house was painted in different pastel shades of blue, green and peach and set against an azure sky. It was quiet and the roads were almost empty. This was indeed surprising, as this was India. Continue reading

The exhilarating Selvatica zip line tour, Mexico

When I touched down in Mexico, I was excited about mainly two things: its beautiful beaches and its Mayan ruins, particularly those at Chichen Itza. I had planned two weeks of sun and lazing interspersed with a bit of culture, so it was purely on whim that I booked a trip to Selvatica. Normally, I avoid booking excursions from hotel brochures but the tour reseller at our hotel reception was so affable, we couldn’t help but stop and talk to him and soon enough he had us parting with £50 each to book on the Selvatica zip line tour or ‘Extreme Canopy Tour’. Little did I know that it would turn out to be the most fun and memorable day of the entire trip. Continue reading

reasons-why-airbnb-kicks-ass

5 reasons why Airbnb kicks ass

These days, it seems that Airbnb is fighting fire on all fronts. Legal and taxation issues mixed with strong opposition from the old guards of hospitality means that this relatively young startup is under siege in cities all across the world. We’ve spoken before about our regular use of the site – in fact, our post on Airbnb Etiquette: 10 Tips for Guests is one of the most popular on the site. Suffice to say, we are fans of the service. Continue reading

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Not surfing in Taghazout, Morocco

You don’t have to be Australian, a sun-bleached “dude”, or even a surfer to enjoy this quiet little gem. Most people, including me, go to Morocco for the deserts, the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh or to visit some of the romantic (sounding) cities of Casablanca or Essaouira. Some may venture south to the resort-town of Agadir, which unfortunately feels more Costa Del Sol than Arabian dream. Few, though, will visit Taghazout, a small, quaint village 20km north of Agadir on the main coast road. Continue reading

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Climbing Nevis Peak unguided, St Kitts & Nevis

Nevis looks more like rolling hill than a volcano – until you try climbing Nevis Peak unguided. That’s when it reveals itself as a formidable feat!

If you ever find yourself on the tiny island of Nevis in the Caribbean, you’ll surely notice Nevis Peak, the 3,232ft volcano that provides a beautiful backdrop to the picturesque island. With its lush and verdant greenery, Nevis looks more like rolling hill than a volcano – until you try climbing Nevis Peak solo. That’s when it reveals itself as the formidable feat it really is.

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The otherworldly ruins of Beng Mealea, Cambodia

I love playing Indiana Jones on my travels and regularly get into character whenever the location seems right. I’ve done The Temple of Doom in India, The Last Crusade in Jordan, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Nevis Peak. Even though Cambodia was never a location for the films, Beng Mealea seemed just so right for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unfortunately, Kia prohibits me from posting videos of my silliness on the internet. Perhaps clips of me humming the Indiana Jones theme tune, jumping around in a hat and pretending to whip things embarrass her more than I like to think. Needless to say, when I suggested an Angelina Jolie impression for Angkor Wat, she was quick to veto that too. You’ll just have to make do with her far less cinematographic clip of Beng Mealea. Continue reading

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5 language learning myths

One of the things on my bucket list is to learn Spanish fluently. I learnt the basics during my GCSEs (16 years ago!), took an evening class at UCL in 2010, and have also dabbled with Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. In the lead-up to our big trip, I decided to get serious and enrolled on a Rosetta Stone course online. I tested at intermediate level B1 and am currently working my way up. Meanwhile, Peter is brushing up on his basic French. Between us, we should have large parts of the South Pacific and South America covered. Continue reading

Asian girl, English boy: travelling as an interracial couple

More than once, I’ve shaken off Peter’s affectionate arm around my shoulder or his hand in mine – in the crowded streets of Cairo, the empty aisles of Jerash and even the markets of Whitechapel right here in London. I think it’s fair to say that I’m more attuned to the disapproval our relationship might trigger, so while he’s innocently reaching for my hand, I’m assessing who might see us, what they might think, what they might say, what they might do. Continue reading

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The raging Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland

Kia has many talents but there are three things she just doesn’t do: cook, drive and navigate. This is fine – unless I’m on a snowy and slippery road with low visibility and she’s by my side insisting that she can’t read the map. Luckily, on this occasion, I spotted a sign with a familiar name, þingvellir, and managed to navigate to our destination without the help of my lovely ‘assistant’. Continue reading

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10 tips for travelling in a developing country

I’ve been lucky enough to experience a decent cross-section of the world – rich and poor – and all the charms it has to offer. From the pristine streets of Berlin to the dusty roads of Delhi, from the clockwork metro in Austria to the rickety network of dalla-dallas in Tanzania careering along at breakneck speeds, and from 5-star luxury in the Maldives to a cockroach-infested Cambodian dorm – they all have their allure and if I’m honest, I’ve enjoyed my trips through the latter destinations more than the former. Travelling through a developing country can be arresting yet terrifying, breathtaking yet prosaic, tender but heartbreaking, thrilling and frustrating. Continue reading

poverty-tourism

Poverty tourism: why it’s not as ugly as it sounds

Last week I read The Case Against Sharing, a post on Medium which referred to Airbnb, Lyft and similar services as ‘Big Sharing’. The phrase immediately raised my hackles. It drips with cynicism, taking something really quite lovely and reducing it to something soulless: a corporate vehicle that only exists to create money. ‘Big Sharing’ sullies the phenomenon of real sharing. It implies that it’s not so much a phenomenon as a boardroom strategy put together with the sole purpose of commoditising the individual. For me, it illustrates how powerful an ugly term can be and how visceral our reaction to it. This brought me to another equally ugly term: poverty tourism. Continue reading

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5 tips for talking to strangers

As an avid traveller, teacher and part-time photographer, I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of people from lots of different backgrounds. Some became lifelong friends while many more melted into the heap of faded friendships and acquaintances we all leave behind. That’s not to say that these fleeting encounters are immaterial – even a short conversation can prove to be unexpectedly enlightening or, at the very least, thoroughly entertaining. Continue reading

10 awesome international borders

We take a look at some amazing images of the awesome international borders to be found across the globe from Asia to America.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an impressive collection of new websites, blogs and social media accounts dedicated to ‘travel porn’. They’re filled with big, sweeping images of fairytale lands and precarious precipices. Sometimes, like this incredible piece on architectural density in Hong Kong, they’ll depict urban decay or stifling poverty – always gilded by the photographer’s lens. Continue reading

return to india

Return to India

Six years ago, Peter retraced his parents’ footsteps on a return India to track down his father’s long forgotten friends…

When I was younger my father would write out my name in Hindi Sanskrit on scraps of paper. I thought it was some magical language from a fantasyland like Narnia or Lilliput and Blefuscu. When I was older I would sit with him and my mother in front of the TV and listen to him exclaim at Michael Palin’s latest travels through the foothills of the Himalaya or the dusty roads of Rajasthan. “We have to go back,” he would declare with gusto, turning to my mother. “The smells,” he would say. “The colours,” my mother would respond. “We have to go back…” Continue reading

7-tips-for-travelling-alone

7 tips for travelling alone

1. Don’t feel like you have to make friends

All the travel experts bang on about how you’ll meet amazing people and make lifelong friends on your travels but sometimes that’s just not true. Granted, locals are usually friendly, surprising, eye-opening and delightful but fellow travellers are often of the single-serving variety. I recently boarded a plane and chose a seat next to two young women, thinking they would potentially be good to hang out with. Almost immediately they began to talk 100 words-per-minute about bags and shoes and shopping, and which shoes to wear while shopping, and which bags are best to store shoes in when swapping shoes from heels to flats when shopping. Groaning inwardly, I put on my headphones and turned up the volume. Continue reading

Airbnb-etiquette-tips-for-guests

Airbnb etiquette: 10 tips for guests

From sharing bathrooms to tipping hosts, we explain correct Airbnb etiquette so you can be a great guest.

Throughout our trip around the world, we plan to use vacation rental site Airbnb for a large portion of our accommodation. Peter has been a host for nearly three years and has developed a keen sense of what constitutes good Airbnb etiquette. Here, he shares 10 essential tips so you can be a great guest. Continue reading

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How to keep a sense of humour when travelling

Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – travelling proves better in theory than in practice. This might be when you arrive in your cheap hostel room in Delhi to find rotten prawns in the shower, or when a random guy in Nairobi blatantly tries to distract you so his friend can get in your bag, or when the bus that’s meant to pick you up is three hours late leaving you alone on a Cambodian roadside at three in the morning. Continue reading

5 pitfalls of long-term travel

5 pitfalls of long-term travel

So you saved for a year, quit your job and told all your friends that you’re off to see the world on your first ever long-term travel adventure. You bought your round-the-world ticket, subverted the naysayers and bid adieu to the prescripted life. Now you’re several months in and you tell yourself that you’ve broken free; that you’re an iconoclast; that you’ve stuck it to the man. You think you’re having the time of your life, little aware that you’ve fallen into one of the common pitfalls of long-term travel. Here, we list 5 things to ask yourself to make sure your trip is all you hoped it would be… Continue reading