All posts filed under: Asia & Middle East

[Nepal: Diary of a First Time Trekker]: Day 3, First Day Of Proper Trekking

It was here – the first day of proper trekking! I think we were all keen to put our hiking boots to good use (mine for their debut) and get stuck in. As our guide, Pasang, had briefed us the night before, today we were in for a long day. We needed to begin our ascent up the mountain, and that meant a long 8 hour hike up a steep stone staircase, through neatly terraced hillsides on our way to the top of Ulleri. As we rose early, the sun was not yet out and temperatures were cold. But as I quickly began to learn, it’s all about the layers in the Himalayas (rhyming unintentional) as after a couple of hours, the sun emerged mid morning and it warmed up extremely quickly, plus the sheer exertion of walking on a constant uphill made sure we had our sweat on. It was a constant striving to retain a good balance, but I made sure I was prepared – with about 4 to 5 layers to play …

[Nepal: Diary of a First Time Trekker]: Day 2, To Birethanti

The next morning it was an early start, but the wake up call was somewhat softened by the fact that we were heading straight for the van. It was a driving day, meaning we could sit back and relax all we wanted as the driver took us all the way from Kathmandu to Pokhara, a journey normally done by flight. I say relax – but by that I mean if you are able to sleep, shut your eyes or even rest your head, sat in a van going over the bumpiest of gravel roads adorned with potholes every other second, cliff drops leading to deep ravines on one side and sheer high cliff faces on the other no doubt prone to frequent and dangerous rock fall. In my younger years I’d never been one for napping or sleeping on any sort of transport. I’d never be able to fall asleep on planes or trains and would be baffled at people who could have 10 minute power naps. However in my recent years of travelling, I’ve …

[Hotel Review]: Palazzo Versace, Dubai

[Disclaimer]: If you’re into minimalist and understated design, this hotel is not for you. Styled on a 16th century Italian palace, this hotel is all about the gold antique furnishings, high ornate ceilings, Italian art and fashion, with splashes of bright colour and intricate patterns and, with every single piece of furniture and fabric in the hotel designed and made by Versace herself, is an absolute symbol of the extravagant Versace lifestyle. Dotted around the hotel are original sketches and prints of Versace’s designs and collections, which is a nice touch. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one for ornate and OTT, I’m much more of a fan of a modern hotel, so although I was looking forward to living a plush lifestyle here for a few days, I was unsure what my opinion would be. The lobby can only be described as extravagant. There were huge glass tables filled with marble vases and ornaments, paisley settees dotted with patterned cushions and centered around rows of bright flowers and some form of chandelier lighting …

[Nepal: Diary of a First Time Trekker]: Day 1, Kathmandu

As far as long haul flights go, it wasn’t a bad one. I was prepared mentally and physically for the long journey in my comfy clothes and all the gear. I managed to watch a few films as well as getting in a good amount of sleep as this bit was an overnight leg. However on arrival into Kathmandu, after meeting the Exodus rep, Pasang – who, it turns out, was going my be my guide for the entire trip – and a quick transfer to our hotel, I realised I was exhausted. Although only late morning, I was lucky enough for my room to be ready and, desperate for a shower and a clean change of clothes, I headed straight up, with the intention of heading out a couple of hours later to explore the city. Well the district of Thamel which was nearby the hotel. However a ‘quick lie down’ on the bed turned into a whole afternoon of napping. Normally I’m really one for getting out and about and exploring whatever city …

[People Of The World Series]: Holy Man, Kathmandu, Nepal

There is a hidden story behind every face, a smile or an expression telling a thousand stories without any words. Some of my favourite pictures from my travels are of people’s faces around the world, a snapshot of someone’s daily life captured in a split-second action shot. It is true that one of the best ways to get under the skin of a country is through its locals. In my People Of The World Series, I share my photographs of people from all around the world.

[Nepal: Diary of a First Time Trekker]: Airport Musings

[Written from Istanbul Airport] I’ve travelled a lot on my own over the years, but for this trip something feels a bit different. It’s not just the challenge of travelling solo this time, which in itself is hard – going it alone, out of your comfort zone, to a brand new environment, meeting a group of strangers, facing new and unexpected challenges. With this trip comes the extra physical challenge of climbing a mountain. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve never been a super sporty person or into walking or running, at all really. If you had told me a few years ago I’d be going on a trekking trip to Nepal I think I would’ve laughed in your face! But here I am, waiting to board my second flight, nervous but excited and questioning what made me want to do it. I booked it a year in advance, it seemed like a great idea at the time, I was keen for a new challenge, and it was most definitely on a complete whim (which …

[Screen Review]: The Ganges With Sue Perkins

With winter now well and truly in full swing in England and with India and the sun on my mind, I delved into my tea cupboard to make some ‘authentic’ Chai (read all about that here) and finally settled down to catch up with the rest of the country to watch BBC’s documentary following the journey of Sue Perkins travelling down the Ganges from its source in the mountains to where the mouth of the river meets the sea. I had seen so many varying reviews and comments on Twitter about the series that I was keen to see it for myself. India has had a piece of my heart since I travelled there last year and remains in my top favourite countries – it was fascinating, engaging, eye-opening and full of the warmest and friendliest of people, breathtaking architecture and a stunning plethora of colours, smells and noise. On my trip, I travelled around beautiful Rajasthan for just under three weeks and this in itself is a vast area to cover. I don’t think …

Travel Souvenirs | Authentic Indian Chai

Chai (pronounced as a single syllable and rhymes with ‘pie’) is the word for tea in many parts of the world. It is a centuries-old beverage which has played an important role in many cultures. Chai from India is a spiced milk tea that has become increasingly popular throughout the world. It is generally made up of: • rich black tea • heavy milk • a combination of various spices • a sweetener With India on my mind after watching BBC’s The Ganges with Sue Perkins, with one of my friends having just returned from an incredible trip there and another friend heading there next month, I decided to delve into the back of my overspilling tea cupboard and sieve out the Chai I bought on my travels in India. Recommended by Lonely Planet as the best spice shop in Rajasthan, we navigated the streets of Jodhpur in the search of MV Spices and it didn’t disappoint. Shelves and shelves packed full of every spice you could imagine, incredible aromas filling the tiny shop and still …