Top 5 Travel Destinations of 2016

We visited half a dozen countries (not including India) and about a dozen locales within India in 2016.

Here’s my top 5.

 

5.) Old Goa: Goa is usually a beachy destination, but when one goes before the rainy season is over, one spends a lot of time touring old churches. And Old Goa (Velha Goa) has some impressive and historic churches.

img_3196 img_3238 img_3265

 

 

4.) Amritsar: First of all, there’s the food. Punjabi cuisine is legendary–as is Sikh hospitality. However, there’s also some beautiful sights and a unique feel to the place.

img_3030 img_3059

 

 

3.) Bai Tu Long: Most of our trip to Vietnam took place in 2015, but we rang in the New Year on a junk boat on Ha Long Bay’s next door neighbor.

img_2423 img_2467

 

 

2.) Chaminuka Game Reserve, Zambia: Our first trip to Africa was far too short, but we did get a taste of the continent.

img_0201 img_0147 img_0184

 

1.) Naranag to Sonamarg Trek: This may seem like an odd choice–particularly for the number one slot–given that Kashmir was under curfew when we visited. I think that may have made the trek all the more enjoyable. Not only is rural Kashmir gorgeous, but it was mostly normal–excepting the daily military checkpoints to remind us that Pakistan and /or China could invade at any moment. We certainly had our share of travails before and after the trek (e.g. only being able to drive through the middle of the night and all shops being closed on occasion) but the trek itself was outstanding. Besides, troubled travels make for good stories.

img_1316 img_1423 img_1591

DAILY PHOTO: Cave Dining

Taken on January 1, 2016 in Bai Tu Long Bay

Taken on January 1, 2016 in Bai Tu Long Bay

IMG_2453 IMG_2464

One of the interesting experiences to be had on a junk boat tour in Vietnam is dining in a cave. This cave used to be employed as a shelter for fishermen during storms. Given all the rocky skerries in the bay, I suspect being in a boat in a storm here would be terrifying. However, the caves are now prohibited to those without a license. Because the fishermen took to lopping off stalactites and stalagmites because they make for impressive mountains for bonzai displays–and those displays can be big money makers when done well.

 

An example of what I’m talking about can be seen below.

This one was located at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi.

This one was located at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi.