The Sacred Ganges

On its fertile banks, empires, civilizations and cities have flourished from as early as 1500BC. From high in the Himalayan gorges, its divine waters hurriedly rush down into the valley, flowing impetuously, nourishing the plains. In summer, it bursts its banks, reclaiming its turf as it engulfs the edges of city streets and country terrain. Winding some 1500 miles through the land on its way to the Bay of Bengal, the River Ganges' life-giving waters provide sustenance and spirituality to sadhus, pilgrims, weavers, farmers and all who live along its banks.{Nivarana Women}

Vietnam Travel Bites: Part-1

Vietnam1 The road to the real Vietnam runs through its kitchens and markets. On a recent gastronomic quest to savor as much of the country’s rich and varied cuisine as possible, I found modes of transport every bit as diverse as the nation’s menus. These included a train ride on the historic Reunification Express from Saigon to Phan Thiet, and a side-car journey on a vintage red motorcycle, cruising mountain roads past pungent tea and coffee plantations, navigating narrow byways where the only impediments to our passage were squawking chickens and the lone little goat shepherd tending his flock. Passing the occasional village school children dressed in blue and white uniforms, their waves and smiles were as welcome as the warm tropical air.

Vietnam Travel Bites: Part-2

Vietnam2From its beginnings in Saigon, my month-long sojourn through Vietnam continues its way North, through the hills of Dalat and down to the central coast village of Hoi An. In the 17th Century before its river filled with silt, Hoi An's port welcomed Chinese junks. Over the millennia, Portuguese, English, Japanese, Dutch and French trading ships stopped at this old-world trading post, each leaving vestiges ot their stays behind. No longer bustling with traders of old, Hoi An's visitors now explore its ethnically influenced architecture and outfit theremselves with custom made clothing from the multitude of tailors who've set u shop in town. Silk, above all other commoditiies, has remained Hoi An's stock in trade.

Tastings Along India's Turmeric Trail IndiaRiceBoat

Centuries of invasions and immigration, of comings and goings by
marauders and merchants have cumulatively left their mark on every corner of Indian culture. This intermingling of influences has created one of the world's most popular cuisines. What better framework, I thought, for a deeper appreciation of the country's culture than though its food? Hardly an original idea but certainly a worthy one.

Rangoon, Burma


Burma is now on many world travelers’ “A” list. With the release of Nobel Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest last year and her subsequent triumphant election campaign, tourism to the country is at an all-time high. Decades of international isolation have left the former British colony’s major city, Rangoon, with an enduring colonial charm that has pretty much disappeared elsewhere in Asia.

Cityscapes and Landscapes of Viet-Nam SaigonBus 

Immersed in the diverse culture of Viet-Nam: On a month-long trip in Southeast Asia, we spent two weeks of December '04 in Viet-Nam, a time of warm and balmy weather. Our trip culminated in a festive Christmas Eve celebration in Ho Chi Minh City, still colloquially called Saigon by visitors and residents.

Singapore: The Ultimate Shopping As Therapy


If you love to shop, then green and gregarious Singapore, the Garden State, is surely your bag. When I yearn for a retail rampage, I head to this city-state for some of the best shopping on the planet.


Hong Kong: Island Shangri-La


The Shangri-La Hotels are renowned as sone of the finest hotels in the world. Opulent and luxurious, they are built for the enjoyment of their guests. And the Island Shangri-La Hotel does "enjoyment" very well. Every one of its 531 spacious and exquisitely appointed rooms commands a spectacular view of Hong Kong harbour or the majestic Peak. Britain's Harpers and Queen Magazine listed Island Shangri-La as one of the most female friendly hotels in Hong Kong.

Burma's Best: The Strand Hotel


Rangoon, Burma’s bustling metropolis is like a living museum where traditional teahouses, pagodas and temples sit side by side with grand edifices built during the days of British colonialism. Among these treasures is the 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda considered the most magnifi-cent Buddhist shrine in all of Asia. During the Colonial Era, when Rudyard Kipling sailed up the Yangon River, he wrote of his sighting of the pagoda’s golden dome upon the hori-zon as his vessel neared the city. That glistening stupa still dominates today, both architecturally and symbolically.