My eyes fell on a tiny speck on the world map spread out before me. Easter Island. One of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. I leaned in to inspect the map closely and came to a jarring realisation – Easter Island was a territory of Chile, a country that was on my itinerary! In my ignorance, I’d always thought it as a largely inaccessible Polynesian island! But wait! If I was going to be in Chile, was there even the slightest possibility of visiting? And with that seed firmly planted in my mind, I began my lengthy, almost neurotic research on getting to a place I’d only ever dreamed of.
As our taxi wound its way down the wide avenues of Santiago, our driver, despite his rudimentary English, regaled us with his vacation stories. “Viña Del Mar! Very good! Nice beach! Nice food! I go on weekend,” he announced excitedly, as he fumbled in his pockets while stopped at a red light.
As part of my fortnightly travel column “South of the Equator,” I write about relishing in the serenity of Viña Del Mar.
Travelling through South America during the World Cup, I succumb to football fever and find myself trying to explain to locals Bangladesh’s blind obsession with Brazilian and Argentinian football.
As the setting sun cast an orange glow over the hilltops, the multi-coloured houses lit up, as if by technicolour magic. 19th century funiculars, still in operation, rattled up and down the hills, ferrying passengers up ridiculously steep terrain. Below, the plains stretched out to the harbour, the shimmering water dotted with an array of ocean going vessels, all painted ginger by the setting sun. An Instagrammer’s dream, the scene made me itch to paint, but alas I had none.
As part of my fortnightly travel column “South of the Equator,” I write about falling in love with the dog-poop infested city of Valparaíso.
A dip in the mineral-rich waters of hot springs has long been regarded as the ultimate source of relaxation. Here are five of my favourite hot spring soaks from around the globe.
As I stumbled my way up the cobbled stones, jostling through the crush of touts and tourists, I felt awed by their hypnotic gaze. I was spellbound by this confluence of architecture, engineering and artistic triumph. Climbing up onto what was perhaps once a stone window ledge, I reached for my sketchbook. As I tried to capture this wonder in ink, the din from the crowds below melted away, the scorching midday sun was forgotten, and – once again – I was in my own little world. It was a spiritual awakening.
I pen this while seated under the shadow of a deserted lighthouse in a quaint Uruguayan coastal town, a meaty chivito clutched in one hand, its juices dripping down my arm. You would’ve approved. As I ruminate on your teachings I promise myself, and you this: I will continue to savour my meals, in whatever circumstances and locations they may be in, and write about them, with no reservations.
My trip to Japan was as much a culinary awakening as a cultural rousing. Here are some budget-friendly suggestions for eating your way around the country.
In the first installment for my fortnightly travel column for The Daily Star,”South of the Equator,” I come to grips with the reality of backpacking with a toddler. Jetlagged, we discover the nocturnal side of Santiago.