Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Travel Space-Time Continuum in Asia!

So far, I have shared my video blogs of India with you, in my last two blog posts. The history that each building embodies, the beauty of the vistas, and the depth of the relationships is something I hope I could convey through my photos.

In this post, I share with out my travels outside India. Excited?! I know I am!


Fact#1 - I landed in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh, a city of many glittering highrises, wide clean roads, well groomed local parks, and late night Sepak Takraw and badminton sessions played by youth. The city is also lined with tangled thick and thin telephone wires hanging above houses on all streets. These two pictures presented a city which still has a ways to go, yet much that other countries could learn from.

Fact#2 - In all my travels so far through Asia, I felt safest walking at night in Ho Chi Minh, close to the tourist hub of the city. It was surprising and refreshing to me as a female foreigner that no one glanced at me once leave alone twice.

Fact#3 - There are massage parlours every few feet in the tourist part of town of Ho Chi Minh. I can only hope that they truly offer massages. But, I did witness a tourist sexually harassing one of the staff distributing flyers outside their parlour. This once again highlighted my and our responsibility as tourists to foreign countries.

Fact#3 - The number of motorcycles on the roads of Ho Chi Minh city is unbelievable. Watching throngs of them line up at each intersection for at least a mile, stretching the entire width of the road, is a sight to be seen. But because of these motorcycles, the pollution in Ho Chi Minh has been measured to be deadly. I met and spoke to a researcher who will be publishing a research paper about air quality in Ho Chi Minh within the next year. Do read about it.

Fact#4 - Cat Tien National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site. Taking a tour bus to the National Park is confusing, maybe because the tourism infrastructure of Vietnam is still being developed. Along the way, I saw many tall, thin rubber trees which are associated with local ghost stories, of raped women who haunt men and women at night, calling them into the forest and leading them to suicide. A disturbing history connected with natural beauty.

Fact#5 - Walking amongst the trees at Cat Tien National Park, I could hear sounds, maybe of birds. I did not see any animals, and only 1 crocodile at the park's crocodile lake. Upon asking the staff there, I was told that large mammals are now extinct and only a few birds and monkeys still remain. The Cat Tien National Park suffered extensively during the Vietnam War and even after the war ended. I live in the hopes that the staff will maintain what remains in the Park.


Fact#1 - The road from the airport to the city is lined with beautiful resorts, separated by wide open spaces. The presence of these resorts was striking to me, compared to the city and its humble lifestyle. When I called for a tuktuk as a foreign tourist, I once again realized how easily fares can skyrocket for the shortest of distances if you are not local.

Fact#2 - The "Old Market" and "New Market" in Siem Reap seem to cater to tourists, while the local market, scattered with fishes, fruits, and vegetables, is visited by locals. I would recommend buying sugarcane juice from a street vendor in the local market; no flies, so clean, and yummm!

Fact# 3 - There are many historical killing fields across Cambodia. One of the locations where Cambodians were slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge regime, I read, was at Angkor Wat and its neighbouring temple complexes.

Fact#4 - Angkor Wat is adjacent to other temple cities such as Angkor Thom, which all exist in one large complex. The best way to visit these temples is by following a path (small circuit which takes 2 days, and large circuit which takes longer).  These temples show carvings from both Hindu and Buddhist religions. One of the temples was reconstructed in a way to represent a sleeping Buddha across the 2nd floor length of the temple; another depicted faces of Buddhas on each of its tower.


Fact#1 - There are pagodas across Myanmar dedicated to the Buddha. From what I have seen, worship of the Buddha varies in different countries around the world. The faces of the Buddha in Rangoon's pagodas, and the adornment of these temples with gold, is something that I have not yet seen in other parts of the world. How each country adopted Buddhism would be an interesting read.

Fact#2 - There are female Buddhist monks in Myanmar! Think about how significant this is.

Fact#3 - Tourists generally spend half a day visiting Inle Lake, which means they only visit the first of three lake villages along the corridor of Inle Lake. I was told by (trustworthy) local tour guides that the most beautiful lake and village is located at the end of the Inle Lake corridor. To visit it requires a full day's boat tour, starting early in the morning and ending in the evening. Don't forget a good hat, sunglasses, and tons of water to keep you hydrated and cool.

Fact#4 - As I rode along the Lake, I was able to witness floating farms of chickens and cows, a stilted nursery school, and many shops for tourists and local houses. There are also stilted hotel rooms along Inle Lake, and you can stay there at a reasonable price! But, the beauty of the Lake, I think, has been preserved because of the minimal number of tourists there, which I hope will not change.

Please stay tuned for my next post. I myself do not know where that will be!

Thank you for continuing to follow my travels; I eagerly wait for your comments after every post! Please do not forget to Like my facebook page, One Woman Empowered, which also contains my podcast, photos, and articles. Do share my blog with others who may be interested as well!

P.S. The music used in these videos was found on And some of these photos were taken by my new friend and travelling companion to parts of India and Asia, also an outdoor enthusiast and brilliant photographer!

Friday, 15 April 2016

The Travel Space-Time Continuum - Part 2

Part 2 of The Travel Space-Time Continuum presents Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan!

In my last post, I shared some photos and facts from Mumbai, Gujarat state, and Delhi. Facts that stood out to me, and that I thought you would also find interesting. As the bulk of the cities I have visited were in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan I wanted to dedicate one post to these states in India. I hope you like this post as much as you liked the last one!

As you may have noticed, Central India is home to me and my family. And, Delhi being the capital of India and home to so many historical buildings required its own video. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan though are two states that one, evoked strong emotions in me, and two, inspired my imagination.

Uttar Pradesh

Fact#1 - Many structures in Agra and Fatehpursikri are symbols of architectural prowess, but also of labour and loss. For example, the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz, who died  giving birth to her 14th child. And, did you know that the inspiration for the Taj Mahal was Humayun's Tomb, the mausoleum built in Delhi by Shah Jahan's great grandmother, Empress Bega Begum, for her husband, Humayun. 

Fact#2 - Rajasthan's quarried stones were used to build magnificent structures such as the Taj Mahal and Red Fort in Agra and Buland Darwajah in Fatehpursikri. 

Fact#3 - Agra is also home to a cafe that is run by acid attack survivors, young women who are powerhouses, pursuing their individual passions in art, fashion, and business. We could all learn a thing or two from them.

Fact#4 - One does not need to buy anything from local vendors at mosques and temples in order to express faith and belief in a higher good.


Fact#1 - Pushkar's Ghat has bathing areas where women can perform ablutions. These are cleaned regularly. In fact the Ghat has signs advocating respect for women on all its walls. 

Fact#2 - In cities, camels are used by tourists as part of travel packages. Local residents use motorbikes and jeeps to travel. Camels are mainly used by local residents in farms, deserts, and rural regions for transport.

Fact#3 - Rajasthan is home to some of the most beautiful forts and palaces I have seen. Some of these buildings are open to the public while the king lives in their own private quarters in the same compound. A prime example is the Umaid Bhawan palace in Jodhpur. 

Fact#4 - Some buildings are called palaces but are hotels built only for tourists.

Fact#5 - There are local parks in cities around Rajasthan where youth and seniors go for walks early morning to stay active. For example, Gulaab Bagh.

Fact#6 - Rajasthan, in its cultural richness, architectural in genuinity (read about the Hawa Mahal), and it's colours and traditions has captured my imagination in a way no other city may be able to.

In my next post, I will be sharing more photos of cities I have visited outside Asia. Do continue to read and like these posts, and share your comments below and on Facebook at"One Woman Empowered".

Wishing you a colourful day ahead!!

P.S. Music courtesy

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Travel Space-Time Continuum - Part 1

At my age (30), visiting cities not only takes me back in time and space, it forces me to ask questions about the past, the present, and the future. I have learned that I need to take a break even when I travel, to collect my thoughts, share them, and dissociate myself from the past so I can continue on my journey. 

Not an easy task, especially when the present is waiting for you on the other side of the gates asking it's own questions!

One thing is for sure, each city has made its own special place in my travel memories; and although my videos present you with photos of forts, temples, and palaces, I have learned much more about India through the cities I have visited.

Central India

Fact#1 - The community built between friends, family members, and professionals and their clients has been the binding force for each person's private life. Without such a community, it would be that much harder to survive what we as humans face. 

Fact#2 - Gujarat's cities, roads, and railway stations are some of the cleanest I have seen in India. I was only startled by the high incidence of air pollution plaguing Ahmedabad....

Fact#3 - Gujarat's historical stepwells - their architecture and their embellishments - are breathtaking. Each carving holds special significance and may even be based on astronomical and scientific principles. In fact, as an example, I would recommend reading about Modhera's sun temple!


Fact#1 - Not all parts of Delhi are unsafe. In fact, walking around Hauz Khaas Village in South Delhi, I felt right at home in my Western clothes and couldn't help but notice women practising yoga by the lake.

Fact#2 - Significant strides are being made in India for cleanliness and to reduce pollution. There are trees lining many roads. All vehicles in Delhi must run only in compressed natural gas, a cleaner option. But yes, to reduce the pollution already created due to generations of globalization, it will take time.

Fact#3 - The preservation of historical structures in Delhi is laudable. And then, new structures like the Bahai Lotus Temple and Akshardham Temple are present-day architectural marvels. But, I was especially impressed by the efforts taken to reconstruct Humayun's Tomb. Please do read about it.

Please stay tuned for my next post about cities I visited in UP and Rajasthan. And do let me know what you would like to hear more about, by leaving a comment below!

Do not forget to like my Facebook page "One Woman Empowered" and share my posts! And thank you as always for continuing to read and encouraging me on my travels. It does keep me going!!

P.S. Music courtesy and