There is much more to India than the golden triangle. Bhubaneswar, Odisha is the state capital and a city with a 100,000 temples. The city is well connected – less than 7 hours by train from Kolkata or there are flights from anywhere within India.

Konark Sun Temple

This is my fourth visit to the city and honestly speaking thoroughly appreciated the beauty of this city on this visit. The city and her people are very resilient as they bounce back quickly after every major cyclone. The huge banyan and pipal trees spread throughout the city also caught my attention.

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Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide

There is something for everyone in Adelaide, South Australia. Whether you are looking for the best restaurant, hotel, wine, gin or the beach, it’s all within easy access of Adelaide. Okay, they may not have won the title best botanic gardens or most scenic, for me, this city has ticked both those boxes as well. Prior to Europeans arriving on 28 Dec 1838, The Indigenous Australians called the Adelaide area Tandanya, which means the Place of the Red Kangaroo. Adelaide was a planned city and it was named after the wife of King George IV. At first the settlers were British or Irish but in the mid-19th century many Germans settled in Adelaide and the surrounding area.



Angkor Wat

Cambodia has awe inspiring temples, a kingdom where the ancient and modern amalgamate well to give you a truly wondrous experience. For more than 2,000 years, what was to become present day Cambodia absorbed influences from India, passing them on to other Southeast Asian civilisations that are now Thailand and Laos.

Contemporary Cambodia is more than its temples, and returning to this country after nearly 8 years, I was pleasantly surprised by all the development and progress. Chaotic yet charismatic is how I would describe the capital Phnom Penh. Totally revitalised as a city and the promenade area with its myriad dining options is a vast improvement. Second city Siem Reap, with cosmopolitan cafes and a diverse nightlife, is as much a destination as the nearby iconic temples. And up-and-coming Battambang, reminiscent of Siem Reap before the advent of mass tourism, charms with graceful French architecture and a thriving contemporary art scene.

Here are my top 5 reasons why you should plan a trip to Cambodia:



Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Deep in the Indian Ocean, there is an emerald shaped island. Just 30kms off Kanyakumari at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula, and having been connected terrestrially for almost half a million years until just 10,000 years ago, one would think that Sri Lanka would be an extension of South India. Coming from South India, I disagree partially. The roots are there but the country evolved her own identity and I feel it is an easier to navigate version of Southern India.

I didn’t know what to expect, so was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at quite a modern Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. The airport is named after Sirimavao Bandaranike who became the world’s first non-hereditary female head of government in modern history, when she was elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1960.



Royal Palace, Madrid

Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe and being from New Zealand we were warmly welcomed as Antipodeans. It is a country with a unique history and immense geographical diversity. We literally only had a taste of Spain and I definitely want more. The people are super friendly, very relaxed lifestyle, excellent cuisine with lots of folklore and festivities. It is definitely a “must visit again” country on my list.

Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Madrid is the capital and the largest city with a population of 6.5 million. The streets are narrow but street life is vibrant and very enjoyable. We visited a few weeks before Christmas, there was a carnival atmosphere with music, dance and street performers. We walked around the palace and the cathedral of Almudena. That evening we had tapas at the Elder King of the Wines (El Anciano Rey de los vinos), which is very close to the palace /cathedral precinct and has been at same location for over a hundred years. We also made a reservation to see a flamenco performance and what an outstanding performance that was.

Continue reading “MADRID,SEVILLE & GRANADA”


Tanah Lot temple, Bali

For a few days, one can feel like a multi-millionaire in Bali. 100 New Zealand dollars gets you almost a million Indonesian rupiah! Of course I was very excited to visit Bali not to feel like a multi-millionaire but because the history of how Bali came to be is very interesting. In a country that is dominated by Muslims, Bali remains to be a Hindu majority province. Most of the inhabitants are descendants of migrants from other parts of Asia and there has been a long documented history of Hindu rulers for over 700 years. The Dutch colonised in 16th century and then came a long difficult colonial period.

Being just 8 degrees south of the equator, Bali has a fairly even climate all year round. Tourism is now the largest single industry and cruise ships are starting to see the appeal and they have been docking close enough since 2011.

Continue reading “BALI – THE ISLAND OF GODS”


Rock Cut temple in Mamallapuram

Chennai, Gateway to South India, is the fourth largest city in India with an approximate population of 9 million people. The city and the greater region has served as an important economic, military and cultural centre for many centuries. Chennai is the state capital of Tamil Nadu and Tamil is the official language here. Tamilians (people belonging to the State of Tamil Nadu) are very parochial and as a visitor it could be frustrating that most of the signs are only in Tamil. Tamilians stand tall and proud as true custodians of their language, culture and customs.



Sensoji Temple, Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan has recently been voted as one of the top ten most welcoming cities in the world. Everything in its place for its purpose – you can’t stop marvelling at Tokyo’s architecture, history, heritage, culture, systems and infrastructure. We did a three day stopover here and while we clocked up over 20,000 steps each day, we barely scratched the surface of Tokyo.

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Wat Sene, Luang Prabang

Founded nearly 1200 years ago, this ancient city in the north of Laos is a delightful mix of Buddhist temples and French colonial buildings. Since 1995 Luang Prabang has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage city for its unique blend of architecture and religious culture. Our guide explained that the city has been called such because of the gold image of Buddha, Phra Bang that was gifted to the people of Laos by Cambodia in 11th century. This is on display at the Royal Palace Museum.

Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang

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Baudhanatha Stupa, Kathmandu

With a population of around 6 million people, Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. Kathmandu stands at an elevation of approximately 1400 metres above sea level. The multi ethnic population of Nepal are primarily Hindus or Buddhists. Nepalese are very obliging and always smiling so it’s easy to overlook the dust and traffic congestions. Later, I learned that they live by the prayer “Om Mani Padme Hum” and in a nutshell it means to achieve perfection in the practice of generosity. Whilst tourism is vital for their economy, with the earthquake of 2015, the country is simply struggling to keep up with infrastructure demands that come with tourism. I was pleasantly surprised that the visa on arrival process was quick and easy. There isn’t a distinct downtown and no high rises, just a lot of businesses and people going about their lives.

Prayer wheels at Swayambhu Stupa, Kathmandu
Trinkets and other Kitsch at Swayambhu Stupa, Kathmandu

Going to any city, like everyone else we did the touristy things and visited the Patan Durbar Square, Swayambhu Stupa, Baudhannath Stupa and Pasupati temple. Religious and cultural festivities forma major part of the lives of people living in Kathmandu. Wherever we went, we saw priests conducting prayers of some sort.  We went mid-December so our views were somewhat obscured by fog, but on a clear day our guide told us that one can get a panoramic view of Kathmandu from ascending the 365 steps leading to the Swayambhu temple. Our last stop was the Pasupati temple of Lord Shiva. This is a sacred site and busloads of Hindu pilgrims from India are queuing to go inside the temple. This was a culture shock to me and I walked to a nearby park as I could not bear the open cremations.

Pokhara, Nepal

The weather gods didn’t oblige as we were looking forward to an Everest scenic flight, so we cut short our stay in Kathmandu by a day and headed for Pokhara. We have extended family in Pokhara so our family arranged for a taxi to take us there. On paper, it is about 200 kilometres and it took us almost six hours to get there with half an hour pit stop for lunch. While navigating the traffic within city limits was tricky, and to put a positive spin being a passenger in the vehicle was exhilarating! It looked like a one way steep road but there were three unmarked lanes! There were no barriers to the cliff face!! However the vistas and the deep valleys were remarkable.

Pokhara, Nepal
Machhapuchchhre , (Fish Tail Mountain ), Nepal
Women carrying baskets on their back in Pokhara, Nepal

Pokhara was amazing and well worth the journey. The Annapurna trail begins here. It is pristine and picturesque and lots of activities for the trekkers, mountain climbers and paragliding. My husband’s uncle who lives in Pokhara did paragliding at 72 years so I took inspiration from him and was glad I did – this was truly amazing as you fly like a bird you can feel that you can touch the mountains. The crew from Team 5 Paragliding were awesome as I was nervous as hell and they made me feel comfortable.

We flew out of Kathmandu and if your flight is during the day, ask to be seated on the right side of the plane as you can have really good views of Everest if it is a clear day.