The world is, largely, a safe place
People are friendly and helpful.
Independent budget travel has never been easier.
And more pearls from one year of backpacking. See full post.
I was asked by Patricia Vance of GotSaga, an online community of travellers, to write a guest post for the website.
The task was easy. Out of the 15 countries we visited on this trip, five stood out the most.
Read the article to see which ones.
“In Lebanon, you can ski in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon.” So goes the old cliché that every travel guide and Lebanese host love repeating.
What a waste that would be. Forget this piece of cram-travel advice, which, as a matter of fact, is strictly theoretical: if you can ski, it means it’s winter. And winter is too cold for the beach. Instead, slowly savour Bcharré, a mountain village that seems to have been plucked right out of the Swiss Alps.
A perfect day trip from Byblos (or even Beirut) is Batroun, a town offering a millennial Phoenician sea seawall, Lebanon’s best lemonade, and a roaring nightlife.
It’s perfect for a day trip because it’s compact: three hours are plenty to digest it. The highlight is the seaside old town with an impressive 18th-century stone church above the fishing marina and a nicely restored residential quarter.
After a certain point, the red-and-white markings of the Lebanese army were nowhere to be seen. Only green and yellow. We were in Hezbollah territory.
All around us were grassy hills flecked with white rocks. Some had traditional stone houses. It all looked very biblical. Our taxi had some engine trouble and the driver got out to check under the hood. I stepped out to take some pictures and the driver discreetly told me to stop.
[Audio clip: view full post to listen]
How’s this for a holiday: getting up before sunrise, no alcohol, and wearing modest, unremarkable clothing. This is what hundreds come to do at an ashram in the south of India.
Every year, they come, mostly young Western women, to medicate, practice yoga, and follow an acetic lifestyle. I spent 12 days at the Yoga Vacation of the ashram Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari, whose mission is popularize the practice in the West.
Listen to the report.
Note: this post shares advice that is best enjoyed if starting life all over again. Belief in reincarnation is advised.
Get born into a family that isn’t germophobic
Play in the dirt
Don’t take antibiotics for every little infection
And more tips inside.
As a general rule, cooking courses for tourists follow the following recipe:
1. Take cook of dubious skill and place him before a group of earnest culinary travellers.
2. Teach them three to five local dishes. Omit any history, context, or philosophy of food.
3. Serve it cold.
4. Charge them a 200% markup on ingredients and time.
5. Profit for a mediocre restaurant.
Convenience rules over the mountain town of Kumily, in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Most Keralan specialties, from spices, to wildlife, to theatre to martial arts can be found within its five or six streets. This makes Kumily a cultural Wal-Mart of South India.
But like any all-in-one, each component is of doubtful quality.
India is the least Westernized country I ever visited. It’s a societal proof of entropy, that the most natural state of things is the least organized. That to create order takes work.
It’s the visitor who has to do the work. With time and effort, the disarray starts to assume recognizable forms and what was unbearable becomes a mere inconvenience between you and your reward.
This is how to get there.