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Rice terraces of Banaue and Batad, Philippines

28/11/2014

rice field of Banaue and Batad

rice field banaue and batas philippines

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Apsara at the temples of Angkorwat

15/11/2014

apsara angkorwat

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Clean India Project and Old Delhi Railway Station

1/11/2014

The day after Diwali I took a train to a town near Lucknow. The train started from Old Delhi railway station. It was the day after Diwali so I was expecting a less crowded station. How wrong could I be. The station was an ocean of humanity. Apparently, lots of workers especially from Bihar, who have migrated to Delhi, go back to their home towns for Diwali but after the festival. Oh well.

What was disturbing in this ocean of humanity was complete lack of civic sense among the travelers when it came to cleanliness or hygiene. People were throwing the wrappers from food items, used pouches of tobacco products, water bottles and just about anything they wanted everywhere they wanted including next to where they were sitting or standing. Washing of hands, feet and faces were performed at any empty space they could find. The only concern seem to be throwing dirty water or waste on another human being. However, next to the person was a fair game.

Spitting took on a whole new meaning. Any vertical object; such as pillars, walls, even standing train; was particularly attractive to all “paan” and “gutkha” chewing public. To an uninitiated it looked like a spitting competition.

I was thinking about all the press Clean India Project. The major politicians and other famous people with brooms. Very encouraging pictures. But, shouldn’t they focus on teaching people civic sense first. This may not create good photo-op but may actually be a bolder step towards cleaning the country.

 

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El Nido, Philippines, how long can the hype last?

24/09/2014

Just arrived at El Nido in Palawan island, Philippines. Every person, travel guides, travel blogs or travel magazine that I came across presented El Nido as the greatest beach destination ever. Need less to say that my expectations were really high. So, an hour long flight from manila to Puerto Princessa, followed by a 6 hr long van ride and I was ready for my aha beach moment. The view from the distance was phenomenal. As the tricycle found its way to the beach front hotel I was ready to jump into the water. Then the moment of truth…

There was nothing but a sliver of sand no more than 10 feet wide at few places at that. Rock croppings and fishing/tourist boats had taken over what ever beach was there. Water was dirty (probably with sewage) almost black in color. I could not even dare to dip my toe in water. I took a step back in pure horror. Felt angry and almost ready to head back to Manila. Found myself walking in disgust along the so called beach wondering how come so many people be so wrong or am I that gullible.

Luckily, met a french restaurant/lodge owner. He explained that people come to El Nido just to visit the islands close to it. Some of the good beaches are elsewhere in Palawan island. El Nido has been living off of the hype for last 20 years or so.

I found myself at Nacpan beach following his recommendation. A 45 min long bone-jarring ride in a tricycle. The only tourist in town (who was staying there) and there it was…a miles and miles long perfect beach with not a soul in sight. The perfect beach by any criteria.

Nacpan beach

Lesson learned. Don’t fall for the hype. Find my own road less travelled.

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Catching a train in China

23/07/2014

Some one pointed this video out. Glad I wasn’t there.

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Sunset at Kampot river, Cambodia

21/07/2014

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