Sri Lanka: The Real Deal

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Traditional Sri Lankan fishing stilts 

Sri Lanka is a country on the rise, and in terms of tourism going through a bit of a boom period. Thanks to its lush highlands where scenic hiking spots compete with 100m waterfalls for attention, world-class tea estates giving tours and free samples, sights like the cave Buddhas and Sigiriya, plentiful beaches perfect for relaxation or surfing with beach side restaurants delivering fresh seafood. Add to that the seemingly endless line of Lonely Planet, Tripadvisor, BBC travel or just about any other travel magazines Must visit in 2018 lists, Sri Lanka is home to people spanning the spectrum from wealthy resort seekers to families, backpackers on their first trip to seasoned veterans and more frequently people over-using #wanderlust and claiming to be an “influencer”. Sri Lanka has something for everyone, so you might as well get your credit card out now and book a flight. Continue reading

India: A Sojourn South

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The Southern most tip of India, Kanyakumari

Sighing a breath of relief after we had to race to the station in Mumbai, owing to Mark’s clerical error, we made the platform just as our train came into view we were able to sit back and relax, we had no other choice really, we were going to be stuck on a train for the next 30 hours after all. Taking in the ambiguous culinary options on offer and washing them down with a chai are among your only recourse. But heading to the south of India brings with it a sort if wind change in operations, things immediately seem to be more relaxed, the food changes, the people seem to be laid back and it is instantly noticeable how many more women are involved in civic life through your interactions with store owners through to station managers. Kerala is, as locals will proudly point out, the most educated part of the country, not that that mattered to us as we pulled into Varkala, we were just looking forward to hitting the beach. Continue reading

Mumbai: Maximum City

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Marine Parade, a favourite for sunset

“More dreams are realised and extinguished in Mumbai than any other place in India” – So said Gregory David Roberts in his famous novel Shantaram about India’s largest city. Officially home to roughly 19M inhabitants, although estimates vary, locals will tell you there are upwards of 22M people in Mumbai. It’s a city with an energy that can be sensed as soon as you punctuate it’s outer suburbs which turns into a heaving mass in the inner city circles, before giving way to a somewhat regal aire in the downtown Fort/Colaba area. The latter being steeped in history with evidence of its former colonial master, also, enriched with craft beer, fancy eateries with no tuk tuks and no cows. It’s for this reason Mark really wanted to make sure Martina checked it out. Continue reading

India: The North to The West

p1120162Our trip across the north would take us through from the spiritual hub of Varanasi, to see monuments of love and war, the mega city of Delhi to a desert outpost in Jaisalmer, a Pink city, a Blue city and a city by the lake. India is a never ending sea of change to keep you interested, at times it will test you but India is never boring.

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Into Incredible India

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Blessings for sale, Varanasi.

India, it really is a land of extremes and contrasts. Extreme wealth contrasted by extreme poverty, the highs of the Himalayas to the beaches on the Indian ocean, lush rain forests to bone dry deserts, chaotic cities to chilled out towns or villages and the majesty of the Royal Bengal tiger to the common run of the mill street dog. Although there are some constants, great food, great people and you can be shocked, enthralled and entertained in the same moment, it has a way of getting under your skin in ways other countries don’t. The other constant is a gaggle of fellow travellers who dress in a manner that is to say “I’ve found myself, and have found enlightenment you will never know, now if you don’t mind I have to check on Facebook and post this killer selfie on Insta” – India, as the tagline goes, really is incredible. Continue reading

Bangladesh: River Sides and Bus Rides

 

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The rare Hoolock Gibbon

Bangladesh, often over shadowed by its largest neighbour and, lately at least, in the news for the wrong reasons, is a land criss-crossed by rivers and at times strikingly beautiful is an up and coming tourist destination. We were asked many time why we were heading here, and if we are honest, mainly out of curiosity – curiosity that is reciprocated by the locals. Bangladesh gained independence in 1971 after a bloody war with its erstwhile overlords Pakistan. With a population somewhere around 168m people, it is the most densely populated country on the planet, cramming  in a remarkable 1252 ppl per sq.km! (By way of comparison NZ has just 14 ppl per sq.km). That means we’ve now been to the most densely and most sparsely populated (Mongolia) countries in the world on this trip.  Continue reading

A Khusi Beanie’s Journey

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A Khusi in its infancy

In Kathmandu, wearing Kathmandu gear and visiting a Kathmandu factory, it really was a Kathmandu inception of sorts. After Martina had been working at Kathmandu in Melbourne for the last 3 and a bit years, we were able to liaise with Tsering Sherpa, VP of Retail Operations and Business Development at Sherpa Adventure gear for an opportunity to put a face to the wonderfully warm and stylish Khusi Beanie.  Continue reading

Langtang-Helambu: A Long Walk Home

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Sun setting over Gosainkunda

Nepal’s bustling capital has it all and you can easily have fun squeezing through the hectic streets and enjoying some of the delectable street eats or the plentiful little restaurants, visiting the temples (including the Monkey temple, complete with manic macaques), and, in our case visit a Kathmandu (the outdoor brand) production house. But, after 4 days we were itching to get out and see Nepal for what it’s really known for: its nature, and in particular, the Himalayas. So after getting a few admin items off the list, we’d narrowed it down to the Gokyo Lakes trek that we wanted to walk – only it wasn’t the one we ended up on.  Continue reading

Lhasa to Nepal: In the Shadow of Giants

 

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Sunrise over the Himalayas

After a week in Lhasa it was time to meet up with the tour group that we would be with for the journey through to the Nepalese border. Thankfully, there were no rare units among the 3 Americans, 1 Dutch, 1 Dane and a Pole (Polish, not an inanimate object) and everyone got along. Although one  Indian chap quit the tour after one day as he seemingly was unaware we’d be seeing a number of monasteries , which is odd as it was clearly outlined in the program sent out months beforehand. But the main attraction was always going to be seeing the Himalayas, and Everest, they truly didn’t disappoint.  Continue reading

7 Days in Tibet…So Far

 

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The Potala Palace looms large over Lhasa

After our third 20+ hour train ride in almost as many days we were slowing chugging into Lhasa train station, in what was the culmination of upwards of 3 months planning, sourcing permits, visas and wrangling with tour companies. Thankfully on this train there was no being force fed duck necks by well intentioned locals, there were however majestic views aplenty while climbing up the Tibetan plateau into the biggest city and capital of the T.A.R, the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

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