I’m in New York. Everything is at my fingertips. Choose your cuisine and hit go. Your Uber will have you there within minutes. The other night, I went out for dinner with some friends. The four of us were tucked comfortably on a corner table of an Italian…..
“Hey guys, your ride’s here,” Binu, our Indian tour guide says, his dimples piercing his cheeks, only when he smiles. I grab the water bottle from my lap and slide my thongs back on. I’ve got into a habit of taking them off, everywhere and anywhere. Looking up, I realise why…
There are some places that feel like home instantly. I’ve only experienced this feeling three times: Canggu, New York, and now Goa. Yeah, I know… they’re all very different. But I think what links them for me is their undeniable sense of community, of belonging.
“Do you want to see the turtles?”, our guesthouse host questions. He’s quiet, and soft natured. He doesn’t say much, apart from asking how we’d like our eggs. But he’s kind. All Sri Lankans are. “I’ll take you there,” he beckons with his hands.
Honk, honk! “Ok, your ride’s here.” A black truck pulls up. It’s already packed with six people, but we’re waved in. “Yes, it’s ok,” the driver jumps out of the van, encouraging us. He must have seen the questionable look on my face. I grip my left hand around the warm metal bar…..
Four colourful wooden signs nailed to a tree, immediately catch my eye. “The beach. Naked Coconut. Food + Drinks. Umbrella.” An arrow is painted on the first wooden plank, inviting us “off-road”, onto a thin path. The ground is uneven and a big rock digs into my haviana thong…..
As I relax on the bow of our boat, rocking gently and waiting for the sun to fall from the sky, I have a moment to appreciate where I am. Only two hours prior, I was greeted by a quaint wooden boat with peeling paint and a friendly face behind the wheel. The driver rose to take…
Bright fabrics of red, yellow and blue drape gently around three smiling women. Their shiny bracelets jingle merrily as they walk past, right before blaring car horns interrupt my colourful thoughts. The cars suddenly stop to let a…
We all dream of finding utopia. “If you find yourself crossing the Nam Khan River then you’ve gone too far,” said the flamboyant American with long dark hair and bronzed shoulders.
Slow dance in the burning room, I’m not famous, but I’m real. The street is lined with multi-coloured tuk tuks, but I’m drawn to the auburn-coloured one covered in white writing. It isn’t fancy and it’s a bit run down, but it’s got charm.
“Chuc Mung Nam Moi,” I chant, as I push my beer up in the air – and the clash of a dozen beer bottles rings in the New Year. “Hurry, we’re going to miss the fireworks,” a young boy says in honour of his yearly tradition.
When you think of a city like Berlin, it’s hard to discount the conflict in its history. From the two world wars to the wall that divided the city and state, Berlin is a city of rebuilding. I also found it’s a city of diversity.
It’s exactly the kind of encounter every traveller hopes for. I’m 3,142-metres above sea level. My feet are shaking and my teeth are chattering, almost as fast as the wind whipping at my face.
For a city renowned to tourists by its tolerance on marijuana and prostitution, Amsterdam certainly differs from its outlying cities. I stayed in Haarlem, a 15 minute train ride to the west (and no, it is not the double A version of its American counterpart). Haarlem’s population is approximately 200,000 and boasts one of the bigger ports in the Netherlands.
To know a city, its culture in all its glory, you must bypass the tourism, and appreciate the city for what it truly is, through a resident’s eye.
“It’s about this long and looks like tiger.” Imagine my horror. On each table, I see a circular slot and in goes a charcoaled heated piping hot metal steamboat cum grill. Half of the food was in soup and the top of the silver pot was barbequing meat. I could see my breath in the air in front of me. It is cold, so I will say yes to anything warm.
“Women, especially young white women with blonde hair like you, will be in danger over there,” they kept telling me.
Food is a vital part of any travel experience, yet is easily overlooked when eager sightseers plan overseas