Taipei

I popped over to Taipei for a night during my visit to Hong Kong. Taiwan has been on my bucket list for a long time, largely due to one reason: food.

I’ve been thinking of re-adopting vegetarianism, but I was in full carnivore mode when I went to Taiwan in February. The best way to experience Taiwan is by eating everything that’s put in front of you. It’s going to be delicious – and cheap!

I intended to eat my way through the whole city, but little me only managed to scratch the surface in the 36 hours I was there. However, I got overexcited and researched enough for a week’s worth of meals. So here’s a non-exhaustive list of places you need to eat at while you’re visiting Taipei.

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Hong Kong

I love a good city break. Few things get me as excited as the idea of eating good food in a new setting. Living in London opens the door for so many exciting weekend trips, but my new favourite city break happens to be on the other side of the hemisphere.

I went to Hong Kong last month to visit my childhood best friend who has now started calling this vibrant city her home.

hk4 hk3 hk1 Soho Hong Kong Wan Chai Wan Chai“How do you like living in Hong Kong?” I asked J when I got there.

“I absolutely love it,” she replied empathically. And I spent the next four days seeing first-hand why she was so enthusiastic about Hong Kong. Continue reading

Istanbul

For our annual getaway, Cat and I headed to the Far East for a weekend. The far East of the West, that is.

Istanbul is a perfect city break. It’s far enough from the comfort zone, but close enough to warrant an extended weekend trip. After all, who doesn’t like popping over to Asia for the weekend? Or for a couple of hours, as was the case with us since we were staying on the European side of the Bosphorus.

IstanbulI’d been to Turkey before, but never to the former capital of the Ottomans and Romans. The relevance of this city across histories of empires is what initially attracted me to Istanbul. But this sprawling metropolis is as cool as it is historical. Continue reading

Amanda in India

Guest post by Amanda Cupido

Sometimes the best plan is not to have one.

After Roop invited me to her brother’s wedding, I spent weeks preparing for my trip to India. Not only because I have an A-type personality, but because the process is intense. There were visa applications, money exchanges and tours to be booked. I was set to be in the country for two weeks.

The first week would be spent with Roop at a Punjabi wedding. The second week would have me in Delhi where I planned to meet up with a tour group and visit a slew of monuments including the Taj Mahal. Indian weddingBut little did I know, very few things would go according to plan. Continue reading

Amer Fort, Jaipur

The last time I was in India, my brothers and I went on a road trip across Rajasthan with my Dad. We hit up Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur. Visiting Jaipur was on the itinerary, but we got quite annoyed with each other and decided to skip Rajasthan’s capital and headed home after a week.

Luckily, I got a chance to visit Jaipur this time around when Cat and I were doing our classic Golden Triangle tour (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur).

Let’s just say I really like Jaipur. It’s historic, relatively well-maintained and blessed with good weather in winter. My favourite part of Jaipur was not something that’s in the Pink City, but a place just on the outskirts: The Amer Fort (often written and pronounced as Amber Fort). Since this was also the home of the Rajput Maharajas, it’s also sometimes known as the Amer Palace.

Built by Jaipur’s Raja Man Singh I, it showcases many aspects of the traditional Rajput architecture of the time.

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Amer Amber Fort Jaipur Rajasthan
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A billion reasons to visit India

Guest post by Catherine Doherty

Catherine in Jaipur

“Delhi anti-corruption chief minister quits” read a BBC World headline as I logged on one morning during my ten day stay in India. Themes of corruption, classism and shocking human rights violations have long dominated the image of India in Western media, and never more so in recent years following the 2012 Delhi gang rape which stunned the world and the latest Indian Supreme Court decision to reinstate a 153-year-old law criminalising homosexuality.

Accordingly, it may seem an odd vacation destination of choice for a 25-year-old girl from London. Continue reading

Snowy, slippery, slushy Shimla

When I was growing up in India, the Himalayas were my favourite holiday spot. One can say that my love for travel emerged out of my trekking trips to Manali, family holidays to Shimla and relaxing retreats in Nainital.

So, when my friend Cat came to India, I wanted to relive my tween memories by taking her to at least one of the “hill stations” in the Himalayas. Mostly because of proximity to Punjab, we chose Shimla, the Queen of Hills.

What I didn’t take into consideration during the trip-planning was that in the middle of February, Shimla was going to be freezing. And oh boy, it was!

Shimla Mall Road
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Wah Taj!

My first memories of the Taj Mahal were TV commercials with Ustad Zakir Hussain playing the tabla in front of the monument, then sipping on tea and saying, “Wah Taj!”

Directly translated it means Wow Taj and after visiting it a few days ago, I don’t know how else to describe the Taj Mahal. So, I am shamelessly stealing the iconic phrase.

Located in Agra, the Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is unsurprisingly one of the most visited in India. Here are some of the highlights from when my friend, Cat, and I visited.

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The Delhi Dash

My friend Cat arrived in New Delhi yesterday. And I am so excited to play host/tour guide/translator/navigator/travel buddy for the next 10 days.

I have been inviting my friends to India for years but no one has visited me yet because 1) Well… I haven’t been back in 5 years, and  2) Schedules and holidays are hard to match up. Naturally, I was stoked when Cat decided that she was going to come visit me and tour India for a few days. She couldn’t get too much time off work, so when she arrived, we got down to business.

We only had one day in Delhi, which is a challenge because there is so much to see in the capital and traffic makes is impossible to cover everything in one day. So, I devised an orientation itinerary, which I thought had a bit of everything: history, culture, colours and flavours.

India Gate, New Delhi
Nothing says “Welcome to India” better than India Gate. Naturally, that was our first stop. And along the way, we spotted the Dandi March memorial monument. The “You Britishers” jokes started from there.

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Eat Pray Love: Bangalore

No, I haven’t pulled an Elizabeth Gilbert. But I have eaten a lot, prayed a little and loved every minute of my time in Bangalore.

I arrived here at the start of the week with a jam-packed schedule. Unfortunately, sight seeing was a very small bullet point on my agenda. I was researching my Masters thesis and reporting for a London-based publication. So, I was rushing from interview to meeting to event.

But, obviously, I found some time to get my tourist on.

Roop Gill
Bangalore – or Bengalaru – is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. It’s the third largest city in the country and an international IT hub. It has managed to acquire a couple of nicknames: Silicon Valley of India, Pub City of India, and Garden City of India. What it lacks in picturesque tourist sights, it makes up with its happening vibe, (relatively) progressive locals and an overwhelming number of dining, drinking and shopping options. Continue reading