5 SMALL COUNTRIES YOU MUST VISIT: GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKETS.

I have been exploring the many views from my #SoulWindow solo since 2008 across India. After having visited 150 destinations in India, I am curious to explore what lies across the border. In recent past, I have travelled to Nepal (Everest Base Camp trek), Jordan and Bhutan (twice) outside India. Despite their small size I was impressed by the variety they offered and the personal satisfaction as a traveler. As much as I am attracted to bigger cities and bigger nations, I am equally attracted to smaller cities and nations as well.

peruEarlier I spent all my salary on Indian destinations. I could have done many foreign destinations but I chose to explore India first. These days, my eyes are set on international travels. I am saving money and planning well in advance to make my travel dreams come true. There are many options to manage your funds these days such as Sabse Important Plan by Birla Sun Life. Companies like Birla Sun Life have identified that today’s consumer want to save money not only for the basics but for vacations and other pursuits of life as well. Their sip investment plan is a great idea to save money and make your travel dream come true.

Below are some of the small nations I wish to explore. As they say, good things come in small packages, so do these countries:

Peru: Who wouldn’t want to follow the Incan trail, hike up to the citadel of Machu Pichu or take selfies with Peruvian llama? But there is more to Peru than the above mentioned clichés. It is amazing that this small country hides so many secrets under its sleeve. Be it the exotic wildlife, a rich heritage and culture or the peaks of Andes mountains and tropical Amazon Basin rainforest, there is a lot that Peru offers.

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Hike to Machu Pichu in South America is everyone’s dream.

Israel: When I was in Jordan, I could see parts of Israel during my road trip. I was tempted to cross the border and explore the Israel side. I learnt a lot about the rich history of the region as I walked through Petra and Wadi Rum etc in Jordan. The history of Israel is somewhat connected with that of Jordan. I would love to study it, connect the dots and grow my understanding.

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Israel

Indonesia: There is so much this small country has to offer. I would love to visit its important places and study the Hindu roots of the region. I would love to see Wayang Kulit, the shadow puppet shows, where the artists play scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata.  Despite the touristy frills I am curious to explore Bali and ancient stupas of Borubudur and Yogyakarta.

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Borobdur in Indonesia

Japan: Japan has fascinated me since long. The mere culture and quirks attract me more than anything else. I can’t wait to try the vegan ramen, sushi or explore the Wonderland Tokyo, bump into a geisha, walk over a carpet of cherry blossom, sleep in a capsule hotel or sit on a complicated Japanese commode. Despite being a small country, Japan is full of things to do/see/eat. What’s not to love?

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Japan is full of quirks

Mexico: I was first interested in Mexico after reading a piece on Mexico by the feted travel writer Paul Theroux. Later when my aunt and a family friend, both of them settled in USA, showed me pictures of their Mexico trip, I had started dreaming of going there someday. The Mayan archaeological sites and the unexplored deserts and tropical beaches attract me the most.

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Aztec ruins of Mexico

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indonesia
I can’t wait to see Commodo Dragon in Indonesia

 

 

TEN PLACES TO VISIT IN INDONESIA!

I have never been to Indonesia. But recently a friend of mine Medhavi Davda has inspired me to go there. Off late, I see a trend of many travelers choosing Indonesia for their vacation. I myself dream of going there soon and writing about Indonesia based upon my travel. Her travels educated me that Indonesia is not just about Bali or the Komodo islands. Be sure that in spite of these mega attractions, there are many more places in Indonesia, which can claim equal if not more prominence. The tourist hot spots here, are varied and in numbers, so I have highlighted ten of the best to assist you in planning your next trip to Indonesia. This is a research based list of top places to set foot in when in Indonesia.

1) BANDUNG

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Road leading up to Lembang (Pic : Jyotsna Ramani )

 This fourth largest city in the country, is the perfect starting point for your holiday. The attractions here including, shopping, volcanoes and craters, dining and the unmissable culture show Saung Angklung Udjo.Lembang is one of the best spots in Bandung and staying at grand hotel lembang is recommended and it is easy to get awesome discounts with Traveloka hotel deals.

 2) BOROBUDUR

 

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The ancient stupas of Borobudur. For years no one knew about them.  (Pic : Pixabay)

A prominent UNESCO world heritage site, the largest 9th century Buddhist monument here occupies the pride of place. It is said that the sunrise view from Borobudur is quite incredible.

 3) KALIURANG

 This popular weekend destination, is located 25 km north of Yogyakarta, and because of its relative high elevation, enjoys a great climate. The Ullen Sentalu museum here, deserves special praise because of the cultural exhibits depicting the lives of famous women of Java.

 4) YOGYAKARTA

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Borobudur is near Yogyakarta (Pic: Pixabay)

 The heart of art and culture of Indonesia, Yogyakarta is a major tourist attraction. In spite of the rapid development, the place, the locals are extremely friendly. The city is s good place to camp for visiting the famous temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. I have always fancied finding myself near an active volcano. This looks like a place where I can realize that dream.

 5) BROMO TENGGER NATIONAL PARK

 

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Ever fancied seeing an active volcano? (Pic : Pixabay)

This spectacular volcano, though not as high as the other celebrated ones, is certainly the most impressive to look at. Hiking up the slopes to view the sunrise is said to be a magical experience.

 6) KOMODO ISLAND

Being a wildlife enthusiast, this place attracts me the most. Who doesn’t want to see a monster which looks like it belongs to pre historic era? Nature at its best is what a trip to Komodo is about. No doubt, these islands are known for their giant lizards, the Komodo dragons, but there are other charms too. The best place to experience the culture of the numerous ethnic groups of Indonesia.

 7) BALI

 

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The beaches of Bali! (Pic: Pixabay)

Bali and its beaches draw visitors in hordes like no other place in Indonesia, if not the world. Apart from tje cultural landmarks, the warm sands and blue waters never fail to disappoint. The Kuta beach is an icon of Bali for those who want to mix sunshine with outdoor activities. A friend of mine Jeetendra Sharma and Pooja Sharma showed me pictures of Bali from their trip. No matter, how cliched this destination is, I still want to experience it.

 8) TANJUNG PUTING NATIONAL PARK 

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Yayy, Life of Pi made me world famous! (Pic: Pixabay)

No trip to this country could be deemed complete without getting a glimpse of the famous orangutans of Borneo. It is said that the largest population in the world resides in this park, besides other primates and birds.

 9) GILI ISLAND

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Go Gili! (Pic: Pixabay)

These picturesque islands near Lombok are worthy rivals to the more beaches of Bali, if not better. The turtle hatchery and snorkeling are major draws. As they are less crowded, they provide a great alternative to those who cannot visit Bali. I have trekked only in India and Nepal. It would be exciting to trek here.

 10) UBUD

 

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The Hindu Temple (Pic: Pixabay)

The sacred monkey forest here is a place where you can find peace and serenity among hundreds of long- tailed macaques. Situated near Padangtegal, the Hindu temple here is a reminder of stunning natural beauty and artistry. A must visit place when in Bali.

The view from my #SoulWindow looks exciting!

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