A while ago, I started country counting. My tally stands at just sixteen, or maybe I should say sweet sixteen. So I round up the tally with some of the beautiful skies I captured in the last six of them. You can see the first ten countries here and here. So this completes the list of countries traveled so far by me, at least for time being.
Cambodia (With Tourism Authority of Thailand and Cambodia Tourism Board)
Cambodia has been my shortest stay at any international location. I had only only night in the Angkor region. I crammed the night market and the sunrise at Angkor Wat in that. I got very little sleep but the memories that I made are priceless.
Finland (With Nokia, Now Microsoft)
Finland was such an amazing winterland. I have never seen so much snow in my life. The highest temperature that I encountered during my entire stay was 2 degree celsius. The coldest was minus 22 degrees. Lapland was colder than Helsinki. With such cold weather it was very easy to appreciate both central heating and sauna.
Maldives (Personal Trip)
My younger nephew Sunil and I went to Maldives last year. Maldives is incredibly beautiful and then some more. And contrary to the perceptions it can be done on a budget.
Jordan (with Jordan Tourism Board)
Like South Africa, Jordan was not on my list, at least not in the near future, because eventually everything is on my list. It was also special because I got to attend a mass by Pope Francis! Now even in my wildest dreams I never imagined getting an opportunity like that! Dead Sea was incredible fun and I discovered delicious vegetarian food in Jordan!
Bhutan (with Make My Trip)
Visiting Bhutan was like stepping back in time, say by 20 years! I was about to say 50 years but then I realized that it is more than my age! I simply fell in love with Bhutan. And if you are into trekking, you have to trek to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Even you are not, you still have to hike up to the monastery!
Hong Kong (Personal Trip)
Hong Kong was a truly memorable trip because I took double trouble (my daughter and niece) to Hong Kong on their first trip abroad. Of course Disneyland was the agenda! All I can say is that I took out two kids with me alone and I have lived to tell the tale!
In the last post I counted the first five countries I visited. It is time to count the next five countries out of the total 16 that I have visited till now. The countries I saw next are Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Thailand. So, this post in second in the series of the countries I visited.
Malaysia (with Malaysia Tourism Board)
Malaysia is always going to be very special to me because it was my first blogging invite from a foreign country. I was thrilled to bits. I always had a fascination to see the world but I never thought my blog would take me places.
It also helped that I visited Malaysia twice. The place I liked most was the Redang Island. In KL I visited Petrona’s Twin Towers but I cold not go to the top. However, there is a beautiful view of the city from the KL Minara Tower as well. I also enjoyed visiting the bird garden in KL. The second trip involved a 1000 kilometer road trip where I saw smaller places in Malaysia as well. We were 100 media people from all over Asia, moving in a 30 car convoy with police escort! Traffic would stop for us when we approached traffic lights!
Nepal (Personal Trips)
If you love mountains you are bound to have an intense affair with Nepal. As I am originally from Gorakhpur, I had seen bits of Nepal when I was in school and college as well. But I truly fell head over heels for Nepal on my Everest Base Camp Trek in 2012. It has been an epic journey for me. I was never sure if I would be able to complete the trek or not. I was able to do it in the end but barely so.
I went back the next year to do the Annapurna Circuit trek but the weather gods had other ideas and I had to give up the trek at Letdar. I certainly wish to go back to Nepal.
Sri Lanka (Personal trip)
The Sri Lanka trip was a hugely memorable trip as my younger nephew and I traveled together. He behaves like a piece of luggage, I have to manage everything. And he talks too much, non stop. Truth be told I enjoy it. We enjoyed the beaches of Unawatuna, Mirrisa and Galle. I enjoyed watching stilt fishing in Unawatuna. We enjoyed the food, we enjoyed the wine and beers. It was a fun trip.
South Africa (with South Africa Tourism Board)
South Africa is one of the most gorgeous countries I ever visited. It was never on my agenda. And if someone told me I would go there one day because I blog, I would have laughed. And yet it happened.
The wildlife in South Africa is undoubtedly grand. It is so scenic, I will always remember the drive through the Panorama Route. The South African sense of humor is loud and peculiar. I survived South Africa as a vegetarian. I am quite nostalgic about this trip even now.
Thailand (with Tourism Authority of Thailand)
Thailand is one of my most favorite countries in the world. I have been to Thailand four times. I consider myself blessed. I particularly enjoyed Koh Lanta and Krabi. I have been on a speed boat ride where I had the whole boat to myself. I remember very fondly the road trip up to Cambodia from Bangkok. And I guess I am going back to Thailand soon!
That brings up the 10 countries I have visited. I will wrap up the last 6 countries soon.
I wish I was above the number game but I do count the countries that I have visited till date! The number is low, just sixteen excluding India. I say it is low because I actually want to visit well, everywhere!
I was strangely fascinated by foreign lands from an early age. When The Great Gambler was released and I got to see ‘doo lafzon ki hai‘ song, since then I wanted to visit Venice. And yet if anyone would have asked me, “what do you want to become when you grow up” at that age being a traveler was nowhere on the agenda! The first time I went abroad was in 1999 for an academic conference to Singapore.
Of the 16 countries that I have visited there are some clear favorites. I often thought of doing a post on my five best destinations. Today I opened the list (yes I have an excel file, there I said it) and tried to pick up my five favorites but then I gave up after a while. For someone like me, who has every place on her list, picking up favorites was not working. So, I decided to do a series of posts on each destination, instead of picking up favorites. I am doing it in batches of five in chronological order! So beware, i have warned you!
When I went to Singapore it was the first time I took a flight as well. I still remember the feeling of the plane zooming through the runway before takeoff. I had never experienced anything like that, it gave me such a rush. However I try now, I never get that feeling again before a takeoff.
I remember taking a metro in Singapore, the platform was crowded like anything. Having experienced only India I was very nervous about the crowd. I was with a family friend and she looked quite unconcerned. When i boarded the train, to my utter amazement everyone tiptoed around me with courtsey. I wonder if we’ll ever reach at that stage of civilization in India?
As my purpose was to attend an academic conference, I did not see much in the city apart from malls and Suntech City. But Singapore will always remain special as it was the first country I ever visited.
I visited Greece in 2001 once again to attend an academic conference. I only went to Athens and roamed around a little. This was the first trip abroad where I was completely on my own! If you click on the link above you can read the story in more detail, here is a short excerpt though-
“500 meter ahead, another gentleman asked, “Are you alright?” Now his question got me really anxious, I wondered if I had torn my dress or what? I asked back, “Why do you ask?” He says, “You are frowning.” And before I could realize what was happening, he held my shoulders, and kissed both my cheeks (now I am from India, where apart from my family and a few very close friends, no one would dare to do such a thing). I stood stunned looking and feeling like a complete fool. He brought me back from my stupor and asked, “Can I buy you a drink?” I recollected my wits and said no. It took me some time to reassure him that I really was fine. I walked in a dazed state for a while,”
Oh to be young and foolish and to weigh 12 kds less! One of my biggest regrets is that too few pictures survive from these trips!
I visited Amsterdam and Groningen in Holland in 2002. I was appearing for a post doc interview in Groningen! I had half a day free in Amsterdam while going back to India. It was in Holland I realized that in summer the sun was not setting even at 9.00 pm, there was twilight till 11.00 pm! And then I managed to stumble upon the red light district in Amsterdam without any intentions of ever going there! I mustered all my courage and managed to walk through it in the end, after seeing what a tourist attraction it was. If parents with prams could take a stroll, so could I!
I went to Modena, Italy in 2003 to attend an academic conference! So you see my early travels were more for work! Thank god that I started blogging too! And guess what, Venice is quite close to Modena so I actually visited Venice, my childhood dream destination. I still remember the train pulling into the main station, Venezia Mestre, and all I could see was water around me. Everyone in the coach simply stood up by their windows! I only spent a few hours in Venice but I did go there!
Then came a long gap of 4 years when I struggled with some jobs that I didn’t like one bit. But in 2007 things changed and I went to Oxford for work again! Since then I have been to UK 4 more times, making it 5 in all. UK is my most visited country till date but Thailand is in close competition with total of trips being 4 and I am still counting. So, I have been abroad more than 16 times but visiting the same country again and again unfortunately doesn’t increase the number of countries visited. Since I had started blogging in 2005, I have written a lot about UK on my blog. I have visited London, Lancaster, Windermere and Grasmere, Blackpool and Edinburgh till date. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my trips to UK. I love the fact that it is a walking friendly country. I love Oxford a little more than every other place that I have visited.
So, do you count the number of countries you have visited? If you do, will you share that number with me? I will be back with the next five countries I have visited in a post later. I will also try to dig out the print pictures from the first four trips and post them sometime.