‘I was working here in Durbar Square, standing right over there, when it all started. Within minutes I was the only one alive’, says our guide, pointing to a pile of rubble that used to be one of the most beautiful and ancient temples of Kathmandu’s main historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
That day, on 25 April 2015, the earth shook all over Nepal. The tremors of 8.1 in magnitude brought about unparalleled death and destruction. That day and during subsequent aftershocks, 9,000 people lost their lives, 22,000 were injured, and hundreds of thousands lost their homes and livelihoods.
The taxi from Neral Junction, about 100 km from Mumbai, only takes us to a certain point up the hill, from where we can go no further by vehicle. The only option is by horse, man-drawn carriage or on foot.
We are heading for Matheran, a famous hill station, a popular place of holiday or weekend retreat for Mumbaikars. Continue reading →
I spent the penultimate weekend of January at Kensington Olympia attending the massive annual Adventure Travel Show. It is essentially an exhibition where travel agencies large and small as well as tourism boards showcase their services, but what interested me most were the specials: talks, seminars and the Adventure Film Festival.
It’s a hot (are there any other?) day in Rishikesh, the ‘yoga capital of the world’, where I’m attending a yoga retreat. It’s been a few days already and I’ve settled into a little routine. The 5 am meditation sessions combined with blistering heat mean that the time between lunch and the afternoon yoga practice are devoted to napping. But when my roommate Renee asks ‘Do you want to go see the Beatles ashram this afternoon?’, I jump out of bed, even though I don’t have a clue what the Beatles ashram may be.
Mount Entoto raises 3,200 m above sea level and offers spectacular views of Addis Ababa. On the way up, one can see elderly women and donkeys transporting dry wood from the forest down to the city, an image that probably hasn’t changed in centuries.
The mountain is where you can visit the palace of emperor Menelik II (the monarch who led his country to a renowned victory over an invading Italian army), a small museum and a few churches. The palace itself comes as a bit of a shock – it is in fact a modest white-washed hut, a far cry from what one would imagine as imperial lodgings.
It is Valentine’s Day 2016, 10 am. We are standing in the street of London’s Soho, waiting in the cold. All around us thousands of people are pointing their cameras at something about to emerge from around the corner.
First we hear it: drums, singing and some other unidentified instruments. And then we see it an open mouth of a giant golden and red dragon coming our way, carried on the shoulders of several people. All of a sudden everyone lining up on the pavement along the road pours to the street to take a closer look and snap a photo, ignoring the pleas of helpless security guards.