India is not easy to define, because this vast land is as diverse geographically and demographically as it gets and there are rituals and the traditions that vary virtually from village to village. You will be surprised to know that are over a hundred major languages in addition to nearly two-thousand other minor languages in the country. So even if you are a linguist, you need to be a magician to be able to master all these languages.

The geographical difference among its different parts is also pretty apparent, as on one side you have the magnificent Himalaya, while on the other side it is surrounded by oceans and seas. Then there are deserts and alpine forests that are scattered across the country giving the traveler a terrible choice to decide what to include and what to leave out when he visits this wonderland. For the uninitiated, India is also the land of spirituality, with yoga being its most import to the western world. Let’s check out some major destinations:

Mizoram One of the sisters of the seven sister states, Mizoram with its rolling hills, meandering valleys, gurgling rivers and sparkling lakes is no less than a paradise for the nature lover. The state is dotted with no less than 21 mountain ranges of varying heights which are home to a wide range of animals and plants. The dress worn by the local population is also strikingly different from other parts of the country, and so is their food and culture. Even in this day and age they lead a lifestyle that is symbiotic, which is why you will find pristine greenery everywhere.

Nohkalikai Falls, Cherrapunji Waterfalls with their unfettered flow tends to free us of our man-made rules and urges us to be wild and be ourselves. When you visit Nohkalikai Falls, which is located near Cherrapunji, the wettest place in the world, you will understand what I am talking about. The falls is one of the tallest in the country and you will be left awestruck by the force with which the water cascades down the high cliffs. Nohkalikai Falls in the Khasi language translates to "Jump of KaLikai," and has a popular legend associated to it. It is believed that a local woman by the name of Kai after being struck by a family tragedy took her life by jumping off the cliff next to the falls.

Nubra Valley, Ladakh One of the most amazing valleys in India, Nubra lies to the northeast of Ladakh valley. The high altitude and the unique weather of the region are the cause of rare precipitation and scare vegetation seen here. But despite being a cold desert, the villages are irrigated and one will find heat, barley, peas, and mustard besides a good number of fruits and nuts, including blood apples.The unsurpassed beauty of the region and availability of a number of adventure sports are a few of the many reasons why visitors keep trickling into the valley.

StokKangri, Ladakh For the adventure fanatics who love mountains, StokKangri is just tailor made for you. With an elevation of 6,153m (20,182ft) it is the highest mountain in the Stok Range and is a prime attraction among the visitors who trickle in from across the world, not only to enjoy adventure sports, but just to take in the majestic view of the snow-draped mountains; however, if you come around late July and August, the summit peak may not be covered with snow, but the rest of the year it is.

The Tea Gardens of Munnar This hill station-cum-town is perched 1,600 metres above sea level and is famous for its rolling tea gardens which look incredibly beautiful; visitors should take a stroll through the tea gardens and feel the ambiance of the place. Believe you me; the moments will stay with for a long, long time. The flora and fauna of the region is thriving and you will get many subjects of interest to keep yourself busy!

Key Monastery This Tibetan Buddhist monastery is a prime example of Indian plurality and the celebration of the human spirit. Perched atop a hill at an altitude of 4,166 metres (13,668 ft) above sea level, the gompa is close to the famous Spiti River. Being the largest monastery in the Spiti Valley, it is an important center for religious training of the Lamas. The origin of the monastery dates back to circa 1008-1064 CE, when Dromtönis said to have founded it.

Andamans If you love water and water sports, Andaman’s should make your bucket list. This group of islands is positioned at the meeting point of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea and is famous among travels across all ages. The vegetation is mainly dominated by tropical trees, with rainforest canopy being a common occurrence, and is composed of mixed flora. Among the popular animals, the saltwater crocodile takes the cake.

See More       India Unexplored: 24 Incredible Offbeat Destinations   India Travel Guides

Published in India

For those who don't know me, I'm a milk tea fanatic. Well a few weeks ago I came to a place where the drink is really popular - Taiwan. And yeah I wasn't disappointed, it was like every corner has a kiosk for milk tea. The taste was no stranger to me since we have the milk tea craze in Manila already but of course having it in Taiwan makes it feel more original.

My time in Taiwan wasn't all about milk tea. There were a lot of things to see there too. While it wasn't such a popular destination for travelers, I enjoyed it because it means locals are not outnumbered by foreigners which makes the experience more authentic. And may I elaborate that Taiwanese people are really friendly and approachable. No doubt they are a Chinese speaking nation with only a few people knowing outside language like English but that didn't stop them from helping me out in directions or anything else.

It was fun though, all those elaborate charade gestures all over the place but in any case it always helps to have some pocket sized notes for instant translations you can show them, after all not everyone understands that when you're pointing "there" then it means "there". Anyways Taiwan in general is very tourist friendly in my opinion that's why I didn't get lost at all, well except when I read the map upside down and walked to the opposite direction gaaahhh.

The only villain in my trip was the weather. I came in at the end of February, to which I thought it'll be something dry and cool as I read that'll be the time Spring enters. It's true though, Spring entered which is why the ever so famous Cherry Blossoms from Japan was already starting to blossom around the area of Maokong Tea Plantation. I always wanted to see Sakura, it reminded me of anime scenes or korean dramas. But the entire time I was in Taiwan it was raining or gloomy which made it much colder to the already cold temp. Oh well if I let the weather ruin the trip then It'll be a waste.

Prunus serrulata (sakura) cherry blossoms

After some time of strolling around Taipei I went to the Northeast Coast to see the unusual rock formations in Yehliu. Yehliu is facing the Pacific Ocean and on its coast lies the oddly shaped rocks. Pretty interesting and unique which is why visitors should check it out. Another destination in the Northeast Coast is Jiufen. The Old Street in Jiufen is home to different foods and souvenirs plus the overlooking view is awesome according to what I read... it was just unfortunate that the awful weather brought in massive clouds causing me to not see anything darn. You can of course do both on just a day trip from Taipei, oh did I mention buses are very efficient just don't sit on designated priority seats for elders and do grab an Easy Card to make commute very convenient.

View from the Yehliu Gondola in Taipei, Taiwan

Another place I loved in Taiwan is Hualien County. Hualien is the gateway to Taroko Gorge where awesome mountains and cliffs are found. I loved the feel in this place, it's so chill and relaxed. You can take a bike or scooter around the Taroko park but be careful so you won't fumble like my friend I met in the hostel who slid through the slippery road, anyways just a little caution will do you fine. Oh by the way Hualien is 2 hours by high speed train so it's better to stay here rather than doing a day trip, after all the train ride is already a sight - the Pacific on your left and lush mountains on your right.

Hualien County, the gateway to Taroko Gorge

I was just a little sad for not seeing the cute Panda bears in Taipei Zoo which is why I'll definitely be back, with a sun of course, to see more of Taiwan - Alishan, Sun Moon Lake just some in my checklist. Til then Formosa :)

Published in Taiwan

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