Another travel scam?

HolidayIQ got this email recently…


How are you doing! I hope you are fine? I’m sorry i didn’t inform you
about my trip to Scotland for a program, I’m presently in Scotland and
got mugged at a gun point by some armed robbers on my way to the hotel
where my money and other valuable things were kept including my
passport. I would like you to assist me with a loan of 1620Pounds to
sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.

I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the
matter effectively,I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist
me with,I’ll Refund the money back to you as soon as i return, let me
know if you can be of any help. I don’t have a phone where i can be

Please let me know immediately.


Another very interesting country…

sheep_new_zealandIt is very far away from anything other than Penguins  and ice-caps. It has 4 million human beings surrounded by 40 million sheep.  It has almost 100 Volcanoes, lots of mild intensity earthquakes (about 400 in a year, out of which about 25 are usually above 5.0 on the Richter scale) and is ruled by a lady who lives about 18,000 kilometres away (let us face it, given all this fire & brimstone, wouldn’t you too ?) And of late, it has decided that a new tax will be imposed on its citizens – nicknamed the ‘fart tax’, it is a tax that actually gets farmers to pay up every time a sheep or a cow belches. In short, this is one of the world’s most interesting countries.

I am of course referring to New Zealand.

The first Indian to get to New Zealand was a Bengali man who jumped ship in 1810 to marry a Maori woman (and whose progeny I would give an arm and a leg to see!). By 1896, Indians had overrun the place with all of 46 of them in residence, including Mr Phomen Singh, a sikh who became a seller of sweetmeats in the streets of Auckland. And they just kept coming – recent estimates suggest there are 100,000 of us who followed in Mr Singh’s footsteps; almost all of them in professions as benign as hawking sweets.

So, even if you do not want to do a ‘self-drive honeymoon’ or jump off a cliff for fun or watch India getting hammered by the last ten Kiwis playing cricket, I would suggest you go and check out the country. If not for anything else, at least to understand how the ‘fart tax’ works. Remember, the way the enviro-mafia is at it, soon you will need to pay up every time you…you get the picture. And New Zealand will probably be a good place to figure out how that can feel.

Segway across New Zealand, Turkey and soon all over the world

Ok, this is an interesting one. Kevin Hey and a bunch of other guys now offer tours that allow you to explore New Zealand’s cities on a Segway. You remember the Segway Personal Transporter? Those contraptions that allow you to stand on them and move about on wheels.

Looks like Segways are catching on in Tourism. I came across a video that show Beach Resorts in Turkey using them (see the video on top). A friend of mine in the travel business in Goa tells me that a couple of resorts there are thinking of getting a few here too.

On my recent visit to Dubai, I happened to glimpse a chap tearing across a boulevard near my hotel on a segway, a sight which rang all the right bells in me. I would certainly like to have one, although driving one around in any Indian city is asking for serious trouble. In Bangalore, I will most likely disappear down a man-hole never to be heard of again. I can think of at least 3 people who would like that.  🙂

Bottoms Up

Recently saw a photo of how earth looks from space. The most interesting aspect of it was that it looked upside down to me. For all of us who have been brought up to believe that the north is ‘on top’, the idea that in reality, there is no ‘top’ for the little ball we call home, does not hold water.

But hold it. Far from being hogwash, it is true. All this ‘north is the top’ nonsense started with the world view of ancient European seafarers who used the North Star and the magnetic compass as critical aids in navigating the oceans.

Now with the south rising and the world rumoured to be getting flatter, cartography clearly needs a serious re-look. But, more importantly from my perspective, any serious traveller should carefully look at a map upside down before travelling. Starting from ‘crazy’ perspectives is a great way to get more from your travels. Here is a map to help you do that.


(map from :

And since Australia goes from ‘Down under’ to ‘Up above’, here are all my posts on Australia & NZ vacations. And just in case you are interested, here are posts on my ‘Dream Vacations’.

An Organised Tour for your next vacation?

(Patagonia, Chile)

Organised tours, by the very idea, are not my kind of thing. Remember the ads from Indian tour operators promising a ‘maharaj’ who will cook all your meals while you traipse along with your group of culturally challenged countrymen, through Rome, the Pyrenees, the Adriatic or whatever. Thanks, but no thanks.

And then I recently came upon a selection of tours that National Geographic calls “50 tours of a lifetime”. Cool stuff, actually. After spending an agonizing hour over all the 50 options, here is my ‘Dream 3’ list which are the three tours that I would certainly want to go on before I get too old to.. you know what.

ONE. Wandering across the Chilean Patagonia. ‘Off the beaten Path’, the operator of this trip has been at this sort of thing for some time now. For about 8000 US Dollars, you can wander for 11 days around the famed Patagonia, taking in mountains, fjords and open spaces all the while being in close contact with local gaucho families, sharing their hearth & food.

TWO. New Zealand with the kids. Butterfield & Robinson, the organisers promise that you will Bike past sheep farms and lakes, fruit plains and vineyards, Cruise through icebergs to the foot of a glacier, Join a local guide in a Continue reading

Shucking Oysters in Sydney

Have I told you why Sydney is among my top 3 cities anywhere? Well, there are a number of reasons. But a mildly sentimental one is the fact that I got news of being promoted to the Big P in KPMG while on a business trip there. And I recollect a small party thereafter at the Sydney Harbour that involved slurping down a large number of Oysters, very lightly laced with the mildest of lime juice. Very nice.

And when I was not being cruel to aquatic fauna, I also spent time eating in the various restaurants ringing Sydney harbour. I even recollect hitting an Indian joint – if I remember right, it was called Zaffaran. Mildly pretentious but decent enough food.

Coming back to Oysters, one of my residual ambitions in life is to figure out how to shuck oysters. Google tells me that this is a lot more involved than I thought. So I better start soon.

Click here for all my Sydney posts.

Click here for all my Food posts.

Whale watching in Australia

I had posted earlier about Whale watching in Byron bay, Australia. Recently came across a nice Google map-based feature on the Greenpeace site which helps you track actual whale movements in the oceans around Australia & New Zealand. Here is the link.

Here are the links to all my Australia posts as well as posts on Beach Vacations.