Cramped, fast and dirty; Why I love travelling to cities.

Yes, I live in a city and I love travelling to new cities around the globe.

DUBAI
DUBAI | HOME

I have to agree that visiting a countryside or soaking up the sun in an exotic Island provides that sense of calm and much needed escape from the daily challenges of work and life that comes with living in a city. Let’s say it has some major perks given it’s nothing like a city and qualifies as a “getaway” in its true sense. Been there, done that and I definitely appreciate it, however, the thrill of exploring a new city away from the one I live in, in my books is like no other. To discover crevices and get lost for a moment in their way of life is the kind of new adventure I long for.

Shanghai | NANJIN
SHANGHAI

I recall from our short time in Hong Kong; a twenty four hour layover turned into a swarm of some of the best memories that even planning a week long itinerary cannot procreate. We had twelve hours of the day to conquer after catching up on some much needed sleep in a hotel box(Rooms in Hong Kong are ridiculously tiny) for the other twelve, we caught up on some good sleep. Given this time constraint all I wanted to do was stuff my face with as much food as physically possible within those 12 hours. Sight seeing could wait for the next time, but earning for egg waffles and pooping dumplings were real and a lot urgent. If your mind works anything close to mine while travelling you will understand the prominent role the city food scene plays here, especially in case of street food and stalking locals to their favourite places to eat at.

Hong Kong
HONG KONG

To get breakfast at a popular hipster restaurant well known to my husband Gaurav through a local friend, we walked a good distance in and out their serene gardens right next to the contrast of a jam packed street and watched locals get in their morning exercise of tai chi and football. Queued up to get our hands on some warm egg tarts that were literally selling like hot cakes in a market place, got on the metro to get where they made the original raindrop cake in the heart of the city and viewed the Hong Kong skyline from the Hollywood road on our way back for some Hong Kong style cheesecake, made our way through the crowd in a restaurant to get our serve of pooping dumplings and the original katsu curry, got lost in an alleyway and ended up discovering a hole in the wall restaurant serving beautiful egg waffles only to realise they are one of the original egg waffle store and watched it being made the original way, one by one. After we have had eaten enough in the name of this foodie escapade and was already time for us to get to the airport, it made me realise that we were taking back some far more memories of the city that was even beyond food and now leaving a part of me behind only after twelve hours of being there. Can you image what’d be to spend days and immerse oneself completely? Yes, also more days to haggle with the shopkeepers, visit some local favourites and many more such hole in the wall restaurants and street food as that would be very dreamlike in my books.

melbourne hoiser lane
MELBOURNE | HOISER LANE

Hong Kong is only one recent example of the impact a city can have in a short span of time. I have grown up in some major metros in India, lived in a few abroad and currently in Dubai. And, that’s not what induced my love for cities, it was travelling to new ones.  Living in one now has only been a fortunate coincidence.

Towards countryside or exotic islands the character of the place is defined by the available natural resources and by the number of farms and five starred resorts, whereas its people who give cities their personality. The diversity of locals and immigrants along with their individualities build the city and it’s favourites. Yes, a skyline of buildings and bridges has replaced starry nights, fresh farm food has been replaced with processed, yet, delicious deep-fried junk by the street. Even late at night the city is up and awake going about their business or prepping for an early day. People of the city live their 9 to 5 lives and yet know how to let loose when weekend comes around. English has become their second language and a restaurant in a city thousands of miles away from Italy is serving the best coffee in the world. It’s crowded, cramped, fast and dirty. Houses are tiny and to have a good life there you need the money. People look like little ants serving its queen; from home to work and dutifully back everyday. However, it’s the time in between where these same people help the city grow and make it a better place for them and us, everyday. It’s the people who make the food, the skyline, develop the culture and give their home a personality.

One thing that I have very evidently experienced is, in cities people are a lot more tolerant. Maybe there are extreme exceptions, however, friendliness and acceptance is lot more prevalent towards every race, colour and religion. They may not know it, but cities have bought people to live in unison and shape it together even though one may not know thy neighbour.

Singapore
SINGAPORE

Diverse or not it is important to keep in mind a few things while travelling to a new city.

 

Language: If people there speak fluent English or a language you know, you are good! However, if that’s not the case, it’s always a good idea to learn a few phrases that’ll help you through out your visit. Including the translations for “Hello”, “Thank you”, “toilet” and their way of greeting.

For example, in Nice very few people speak English, as in the south of France French is a lot more dominant than in Paris.

Culture: It is extremely important to do a little cultural background research before heading to any city.

For example, Dubai has a lot of beaches and in some around hotels you are allowed to be in bathing suits and consume alcohol. However, once you are outside your hotel getting drunk on the roads or exploring the city casually in clothes considered “indecent” in these parts might land you some jail time or a hefty fine.

Etiquettes: People of some cities follow very particular etiquette and most have been bought up that way, so it is best to learn some before hand and implement it the right way as a form of respect.

For example, in Japan people don’t speak too loudly or tip at all as the locals consider these things rude.

Do not litter: Just do not do it. If it is common to do it in your country (stop it right away!) or even if you see the locals throwing trash around in the country you are visiting, don’t follow the suit. It’s wrong to litter in someone else’s country as a tourist and is even a worse practice in your own. Travel more responsibly and realise the consequences of your actions.

For example: Countries like U.A.E. and Singapore impose heavy fines on people who are caught littering or are even jailed in some  cases.

IMG_1712
MELBOURNE
It’s sweet the thrill of absorbing new experiences at every turn, taking it slow and steady amidst the fast paced locals, let your taste buds explore new cuisine, learn something new that is exclusive to that city, face challenges of language hurdles with a smile where the locals will definitely appreciate you trying and in all, the trick is to keep an open mind and let the city lights grow on you bright.

 


The perspective of Travelling as an Indian Couple

AS A FAILED CONFIDENT SOLO TRAVELLER

Indian Travel Bloggers

Back in 2010, Scotland

Indian couple travel blog / Indian travel blogs

 

Looking out vacantly from the window of the moving bus, at the fading shades of green highlands and the Scottish summer sun playing its usual hide and seek while I sit feeling the infectious excitement of fellow travellers; most of them students from my university whom I have never met before, a group of elderly with binoculars around their neck and map in their hands and the sweet English guide getting our attention for his random commentary; well, some were funny. All of this at that moment moved me with elated gratitude at the fact that after a year of living in Scotland, I finally found the strength to embark on my first solo travel into the Scottish highlands. A feeling every first time solo traveller will relish for the rest of their lives and it is no less than a life changing moment; a moment of growth and self love. After a chain of not so fulfilling experiences of travelling with some “friends” to now doing it the way I want, learning about the place and culture on my own terms and spending my budget as I fancy was to the twenty one year old me, a brand new self-assurance. The thrill of solo travelling can be understood only if you have done it and now I can say do it somehow, small or big. My learning from this was; it is not as scary as a female to travel alone (depending on the place), strangers have your back when you need them and I do not need to succumb to the fear of my protective parents (especially my Indian father), instead made them believe in me one small step at a time. Just dive in, pave your own reassuring path; be brave, be strong.

In my eight years of travelling I have done twenty six countries and over hundred cities and towns; solo, with friends, with parents and with my husband. Some places more than twice because the first time it did not feel right. Most of the times, because of the company. Sometimes I let it go and sometimes the place keeps calling me back to prove it self and other times its just luring as a travel blogger. ( Indian travel Blogs )

TRAVELLING AS A COUPLE BEST FRIENDS

Indian Couple Travel Blog

From 2014, London

The first time I travelled with my husband(then, boyfriend) was to someplace where I could be myself and relax my nerves. I have been to Goa at-least 5 times before this and as dates came closer I grew more anxious. For me back then it meant that this would either seal the deal or break it. This would mean taking our friendship a step further and also, I will have another perspective to consider other than my own. I am sure it was travelling that lit the fire and till date every-time travelling together to a new place or old brings us a lot closer, we grow wiser together.

Today when I look outside that window, again a lot less vacantly because I am not as distracted, I focus a lot more not only at the hands that hold mine, but, at the changing landscape, notice things otherwise ignored look at things with two different perspective; his and mine and even interpret them better. Travelling has become a lot calmer, less stressful and a lot rewarding. After all, there’s a certain joy to sharing your best moments together. To me it’s emotionally stirring to be sharing these experiences (sans food!) with Gaurav at every step, today. A feeling that doesn’t make me miss my solo travel days, rather drives me to revisit Scotland all over again and relive those memories with him, because, I know it will only get richer and for better from here on.

If you have stuck around, by now you know my story, however, I am not done yet as I want you to know more about what and why I love travelling with Gaurav and why either of us prefer travelling together opposed to solo. From the experiences of Indian couple travel blog :

  • Travelling together has made us a lot patient towards each other, we are more understanding and have developed a BETTER COMMUNICATION. As we realise we have only each other in this new land and making the most of this time with one another is priority.

  • We EXPERIENCE something new TOGETHER. This is something everlasting as a memory made together that is unique to us.

  • We get to KNOW EACH OTHER better with every new travel. At home we are tied up with work, life and responsibilities, however, when we travel we reveal a better as well as the extreme side of ourselves to each other. There are no more ugly secrets!

  • We LIVE IN THE MOMENT. We don’t care about the future and have doubts as we are busy capturing the intensity of the moment and making the experience rich and fulfilling. We are more appreciative.

  • We have become BEST FRIENDS. You tend to get to know each other so well as we have only each other to turn to and stick with each other through challenges.

  • We GROW WISER TOGETHER. Travelling offers a lot of opportunities to learn and educate ourselves and this learning experience bonds us together. Have an open mind and heart to the culture, food and new experiences with new places. And, as we travel more and more the lesser we care about the country number and it’s becoming more about the experiences.

  • We CHALLENGE EACH OTHER to grow more and experience beyond our comfort zone. A thing that one of us likes and the other fears, we build each other’s trust and go for it to know better. In our case it has been challenging for Gaurav to widen his palate and in mine doing adventure sports like bungee.

  • We share a COMMON GOAL. In the work world we have many different expectations and life goals, however, while travelling we have one purpose and that is to see the world together. We move in one direction and continue committing to endless adventures with one another.



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What to Pack in your Carry On

 

From travelling for over eight years now I can’t emphasise enough on the importance of the things that go into your carry on bag. Carry on bags are something that stays with you throughout the journey, you are responsible for it and it is responsible for your hassle free travel to the airport and all the way to you checking into the hotel at your destination.  I personally get very paranoid about packing my carry on for a short or a long haul flight. From important documents to snacks, I need my carry on to be prepared for any crisis imaginable. Maybe that’s just me, I can’t just grab the bag and get out of the door without checking my “Things for the flight” list over and over again to make sure I got ’em all. Over the years this list has grown from travel experiences and now for a while it has come to a halt. In this post I have listed a number of things that are commonly required if you are in a long or a short haul flight. To be sure, this is a list that I always refer to every-time while packing my carry on. Hopefully this’ll also be a list for you that’ll simplify the hassle of just keeping things in mind. Also to avoid the fear of forgetting something behind with all kinds of responsibilities to wind up before you leave for that holiday.

What to pack in a Carry On for
Short and Long Haul Flight.

 

  1. IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

    Traveling without some of these important documents is nearly impossible and the others feel necessary to carry in prints to stay on the safer side. Just in case you are required to show some proof to the authorities. We carry a thin file containing all the documents in our bags.

    • Passport
    • Copy of Flight Bookings
    • Copy of Destination Address
    • Copy of Passport
    • Copy of Entry Visa
    • Passport photos
  2. PEN

    This is a no brainer because you never know when and for what you might need a pen to be handy. Though there is one purpose the holy pen serves is, upon landing you might require a pen to fill out the country’s immigration form.

  3. SOCKS

    An extra pair of socks is always helpful if you are wearing an open toed shoe to keep warm in the sometimes most of the times cold flight or do your seat neighbour all the passengers a favour and change socks for the long haul ones if you are wearing closed shoes as that helps prevent the development of stinky feet over time.

  4. GLASSES

    If you have prescription glasses, bring them! Ditch the contacts on flights, especially on the long haul flights as they become too much of a hassle. Also you might fall asleep and it’s not recommended to do so with contacts on.

  5. TOILETRIES BAG

    A see through and waterproof pouch holding basic toiletries is a must. And, what to put inside many vary from person to person depending on their needs. However, there are a few things that has always been a necessity for the both of us to carry.

    • Tooth Brush: Helps deal with after meal bad breath.
    • Tooth Paste: As above.
    • Moisturiser: The air in flight keeps circulating and you will notice it dehydrates the skin, so it’s best to reapply some moisture to your face and hands.
    • Lip Balm: For me the first symptom of in flight dryness is that my lips start to crack.
    • Deodorant: Long flight, sitting tight? Need I say more.
  6. SANITISER:

    Germs! That seat your are cozying up in have had hundreds of passengers get comfortable in it before you and has never been cleaned throughly. So, before you indulge on a inflight meal make sure to use that sanitiser because as far as I have noticed no body gets up to wash their hands before eating on a flight.

  7. HOODIE:

    It gets chilly in the flight, such that your neighbour might not be feeling as cold so complaining to the staff doesn’t always word. You can go for their recycled  blankets or use your own hoodie to keep warm.

  8. NECK PILLOW

    You may or may not need this depending on your comfort level. I do not travel without one. It’s great for those economy seats and provides your neck with a soft brace  while you fall a sleep sitting.

  9. EYE MASKS

    Yes sometimes you just want to sleep and not be bothered by your neighbour’s reading light or the aisle light. I need it to be pitch dark for me to completely fall asleep. Either you can carry your own or some flights in economy provides them on request.

  10. A WATER BOTTLE

    After reading the recent articles about how in flight water is disease ridden and unless they are providing water in sealed bottles, to be safe we now buy our own water from the airport vending machines after security and before boarding the flight. If you want to be resourceful you can carry a reusable water bottle and after crossing the airport security fill it up at one of the many drinking water fountains at the airports, if available. Also, economy class services these days seem to be degrading in quality; getting someone to serve you water is long wait and it’s recommended to keep drinking water on flights to stay hydrated. So get your bottle of water and drink at your own convenience.

  11. SNACKS

    Long airport procedures to waiting at the gate gets me hungry even before the in flight meal services begin. If not just that sometimes I can’t stand the greasy and alien looking meal on some flights. This is when my snack bag comes to the rescue. Make sure to pack dry snacks like nuts, biscuits, fruits or else they’ll never cross the security. If your food never made it through the security make sure to buy something at restaurants at airport. However, keep in mind the destination country will most probably have major restrictions on what food items are allowed into their country. So, make sure to study all the rules and regulations before hand or just finish your snack on the plane before landing. If needed trash it before security check which is better than ending up going through the red gate and paying a hefty fine later.

  12. EXTRA CLOTHES and UNDERWEAR

    If you have transit stop on a long haul flight feel as good as new for the next one by changing into crisp and clean clothes at the airport. Another good reason to carry spare clothes and underwear would be if your bags go missing which happens with many travellers, especially on routes with shorter transit time. You will have clean clothes handy on reaching your destination’s hotel without having to go shopping for new ones, all jet lagged and tired. And, everything goes as planning till the airline decides to retrieve your bag with a good compensation for all the trouble.

  13. PERSONAL MEDICATIONS

    Similar to the above situation you don’t want to endure the possibility of your prescription medicines going missing for days by checking them in with your check in bags. Keep digestive and allergy medicines handy in case the airline food doesn’t go down too well. There are first aids available everywhere these days, however, there’s no harm making a small handy one for yourself to travel with. Again, if you are a victim of  “Airplane Headaches” as we are, painkillers are our only solution when it’s a really bad one or else usually goes away upon landing.

    • Multivitamins
    • Digestives
    • First Aid
  14. VALUABLES

    Never check in your valuables. If you have to carry them how ever heavy they are pay extra and get them as a carry on. With check in bags there’s always a risk of loss and theft and making the mistake of checking in the new lap top is not worth it unless very necessary you inform the check in staff about it. With the infamous travel ban recently, either the airline has a solution for those laptops and i-pads else  you will have to check them in. However, the valuable are not just restricted to electronics. We are talking about expensive jewellery, cameras and phones.

  15. USB CABLES

    Nowadays, most airplanes have universal behind the seat heads for connecting USB cables that can keep your phone or i-pad charged at all times. Now, you enjoy working, watching movies or playing games without worrying about running out of battery charge.

  16. ENTERTAINMENT

    Flights long or short can get extremely boring. Some have entertainment system, some do not and with some the entertainment options provided may not be of your taste. Airplanes are a great space to catch up on you reading, watch a new movie, finish the downloaded series or start a new one or listen to your favourite music. So, definitely carry some form of entertainment to keep your sane!

 


We’d love to know:

Is there anything other than the above mentioned that you think needs a place within this list of pack in your carry on?