About Me

Indonesia : Meet the Lovely Little Village of Balebo in South Sulawesi

Indonesia – a country I keep going back to. Yes I have only been to Bali and the Gili Islands before but still there is something about this country that pulls me every time. Now that I have the luxury of time by my side, I spent almost the entire month of April as a volunteer in Balebo village, South Sulawesi. Thanks to the wonderful folks of “I am from here”, I got to live and experience the place like a local. There is something about spending days in a rural setting as it brings back memories of my own childhood and my native home in India.

Living a life entirely different from what I was used to over the last eight years has taught me a few lessons. Funny, tough, soothing, realistic and pleasing at the same time, these few things that I have learnt after living for almost a month in Indonesia.

The virtue of Patience

This is something I have not technically learnt on this trip because I already am a quite patient guy. But what these 20 days made me realize is that I need to be even more patient when I am at an entirely new place, surrounded by new people and different cultures. For obvious reasons, English is not widely spoken or understood in the local communities, homes, shops, travel agents etc. That is where the need arises to be more patient when interacting with the people. I used to go to the local shop near my accommodation and it did take me some time to get across my points on what I wanted to buy and asking for the prices. After a while, continuous calls of “Hello Mr” from the kids while I was buying stuff at the shop felt like sweet music. Every place in the world and the people of those places work at a different pace which we might not be used to. With patience and a friendly smile, communicating with people becomes easy. The turnaround time of getting things done might not change but having more patience does allow us to slow down ourselves for good and actually be a part of this different life.

Playing with the village kids in the river

The doorways are not built for tall people  

Well this so true in the rural areas as much as I have seen. I’ve lost count of the number of times I hit my head when entering/exiting some of the sheds and houses. By the end of this trip, the top of my head resembled the landscape of Bali with two big bumps the size of Mt. Batur and Mt. Agung.

Masamba - Indonesia
A hut made from recycled stuff in Masamba village
House made from recycled stuff

Landscapes can be simple yet perfect

Oh the natural beauty of South Sulawesi!! Perfect nature does not always have to be about snow-capped peaks or white sand beaches. Something as simple as an open ground dotted with palm trees, thick green forests and steady flowing rivers. For me it was more of the river and a couple of visits to the nearby waterfall that made me fall for the scenic beauty of this place. Lying down on the grass banks or on the huge boulders by the river and listening to Sam Garret’s “The River” (thank you Emmiina). I could not help but realize that perfection is defined by our own perception of it. Sometimes you can find perfection during a stroll on a windy cloudy evening and sometimes you find it on the beaches of Bali. For me, the beautiful landscape of South Sulawesi will make me explore other parts of rural Indonesia.



Community is family and vice versa

Understanding the people and the community of Balebo village was an real eye-opener for me. When I left my corporate job, I was searching for an environment where respect for somebody would not be determined by the amount of wealth he/she has. I was looking for a place where people would not discriminate each other based on one’s financial abilities. More importantly, I was looking for a place where there would be smiles in abundance rather than faces filled with arrogance and ego. I found that place in this village, to a large extent. Here, the concept of family is not limited to just blood relatives or confined within the four walls of a house. 

A close-knit community where people actually know each other and the doors of homes are open to all. This is a place where people do not hesitate to talk to strangers because there are virtually no strangers in this village. Even foreigners like me were no more strangers after a few hours on our first day. There were days when after I woke up in the morning I took a stroll along the small road just to hear chants of “Hello Mr.” from all the neighbors and the kids. Ironic, because during my 6 years of stay in Singapore, I never knew who my neighbors were.


Playing cards  

Yeah I know I am thirty years old and I never learnt to play cards. That changed when one fine day as we were taking a break after some work at the garden, Katharina said “Do you wanna play cards?”. I wasn’t embarrassed but it did feel weird to say that I don’t know any card games but I would want to learn though. That’s when she taught me a game – which later became quite popular among others during our stay – and it was funnily named “Shithead” (according to her)!!! And spending the evenings with the local guys there led to me learning a couple more of these card games. So now I can at least say that I know how to play cards – although I am still an infant in the world of cards.


You don’t just run an adventure marathon, you train for it and then run it!!

My mind still goes back to that moment when I decided to postpone my departure from Masamba by a couple of days after I heard there was an adventure marathon happening on the 23rd of April. I just knew I wanted to be a part of this marathon because of two reasons – 1. This would be my first ever marathon.  2. If not now then who knows when I would get a next opportunity. But I overestimated the strength in my legs when I decided to just run this marathon. After starting steadily for the first 90 minutes on flat terrain, over the next 3 hours, my legs went through and endured what seemed like an advanced version of an army training exercise. All we had to do was walk fast, climb up, descend down, cross the river and repeat. It was purely due to my excitement (of my first marathon and anticipation of the finish line), some willpower and Alex egging me on, that I could reach the finish line. That entire evening and the next morning, I was just thinking of that episode from How I met your mother when Barney runs a marathon. I realized, you don’t just run a marathon without training for it. Would I run that marathon again? Hell yeah!! Even though my legs hurt and the sun was brutal, I loved it.


The world is huge but people are closer than we assume

Yes, the world is a big big place and somehow I feel that had led us to believe that people are far away from each other too. But I have realized that people are or could be much closer than what we assume. People living in different places have more in common that we can even think of. During my stay, I watched an Indian TV serial(dubbed in Bahasa of course) for far more times than I have watched it when I was in India. I listened to and sang “Tum Hi ho” with the folks there countless times, far more than I did before. While teaching English to the kids, I understood the importance of communication, real communication and not the Facebook/Watsapp stuff.

English Classes

Few friendships that were made during my stay, did not need months to grow. Exchanging cultural notes with Matewai, learning a few Spanish words from Marta, trying to pronounce German words from Katharina without choking myself or learning about an unknown place in India from Alex and Helen and finally calling the elderly couple – who’s family I was staying with – Mama and Papa, makes me believe that times have changed and people are open to us, now more than ever.


For all the memories, the work at the garden, carrying logs with the guys, sitting on top of a loaded truck holding onto a rope while the vehicles trudges through sharp curves on muddy roads with a steep fall into the river on one side, the caring smiles of Mama and Papa, my friends and my lovely students – everyone and everything has taught me something. Big or small – a lesson is always a lesson. Beautiful and near-perfect, Indonesia already feels like home to me.

Rural Indo Pin                   three-weeks-in


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Indonesia : Meet the Lovely Little Village of Balebo in South Sulawesi
About Me

When Travels Go Wrong!! Three Travelers Share Their Worst Travel Moments

Oh Travel, how much we love that word. Many of us live our lives around Travel and the many adventures that unfold during our journeys. However, like two sides of a coin, there are bound to be certain misadventures too that end up as unwanted blips and sometimes even ruin the experience for travelers. Recently, I had more than a couple of these mishaps that halted my travel plans (for now). In this post, three bloggersBernard Tan, Anne Slater-Brooks and yours truly – collaborate to share individual experiences of the time when our travels went wrong.

Bernard Tan @ Bernard The Traveller : The infamous Thai gem scam

Photo credit @

I was approached by a ‘friendly’ Thai guy claiming to have worked as a teacher in Singapore, while navigating myself in Bangkok. He had mentioned that there is a temple that is opened today only and we should visit it. He stopped a tuk-tuk by the road and negotiated the price to 20 Baht. The tuk-tuk brought us to the lucky Buddha temple, at the temple we met some Thais that initiated a chat with us and ask us to head to the Thai export center.

While at the Thai export center, we purchased some small blue sapphire, and it cost us about SGD 70 after discount. The gems that we bought were worthless. We also gave the tuk-tuk more than the 20 baht that was expected from us! We were considered lucky, as others have been scammed thousands of dollars.

Read more stories and travel tips from Bernard on his blog BernardTheTraveller. Follow Bernard’s travels on Facebook and Twitter.

Anne Slater-Brooks @ TravelTheGlobe4LessNarrowly avoiding a riot in Tunis

Tunisia Beach
Photo credit

The beachfront killings just a few days earlier seem to have angered the police as they systematically chase down pop up stalls, unleashing ferocious blows on those in their way, with no regard for age, sex or circumstance. We see elderly ladies thrown to the ground and trampled in the melee, pregnant women pushed aside and the growing panic of the more vulnerable.

I’m oblivious to my husband’s unease so intent am I on taking everything in, unfamiliar stores, scents of incense, street food and garbage, the occasional glimpse of a whitewashed architectural gem beckoning to me, until suddenly he grabs me and urges me to run. ‘What?’ ‘Why?’ I shriek to no avail as he drags me away from an oncoming surge of people suddenly heading furiously in our direction. We dash around a corner, flip flops slapping the floor, adrenaline pumping as we fend off bodies jostling us. The panic is electric, as though a stray spark could ignite some unthinkable violence like a scene from Lord of the Rings.

We come to a stop in an oasis of calm where my ashen husband fills me in on events which I completely failed to witness. It seems we narrowly managed to avoid becoming embroiled in a Tunisian riot, gangs throwing bricks at a police cavalcade ahead, and locals of all age and race trying desperately to get away. Shaken we leave to return to the sanctuary of our hotel unharmed but a little more aware of how quickly things can get out of hand!

Read more Anne’s journey and read her precious travel tips at TravelTheGlobe4LessFollow her travels on Facebook and Twitter

Tamshuk @ Tamz Explores : Debit card cloned, Snakebite and Severe sickness in Thailand

Photo credit @ Tamz Explores

I had set off for my travels in mid-June with a concrete plans and finances for the next 5 months. But today, I am back home in India as I write this post thinking about the mishaps I had in Thailand, especially Bangkok. On my first three days in Bangkok, my debit card got cloned and I lost more than 90% of my money  to an anonymous cash withdrawal with my card details. This I realized on the day I was leaving for Chiang Mai. Till today I am struggling to get any portion of that lost money back from any of the two banks.

Chiang Mai was really nice to me though with some great food at the night markets, lovely friends and those beautiful temples. Oh, I got bit by a snake right when I jumped into the river after a white-water rafting session. The availability of a snakebite kit saved any further “burns” for me. But the final blow came when I made another four day run to Bangkok to get myself a social visa for Indonesia – this, after I had spent a month in Indonesia using the Visa exemption facility. Already having an on and off cold, I landed in Bangkok with plans to fly off to Jakarta after four days. But, as destiny had other plans, I got sick real bad and at the end of day four when I was at the airport to fly off, I was declared “Not fit to fly” by the airport medical team. So, there ended my travel plans for now and I flew back to India!!

The purpose of this post is to highlight the fact that not all goes well when we are traveling. Long-term or even usual vacations always have the possibilities of being bitten by unfortunate incidents. With the joy of traveling and visiting different places, comes the risk of getting unintentionally involved in bad situations. Having said that, will we change the way we travel? No! Will I go back to Bangkok? Absolutely!

Collaboration Post

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When Travels Go Wrong!! Three Travelers Share Their Worst Travel Moments
About Me

When running away is not an option anymore

September 2015, Sihanoukville, Cambodia – I saw an innocent 6 year old girl being traded as a sex object. Few days before that, I heard the heartbreaking story of a survivor from the deadly Khmer Rouge era. Around the same time the whole world shook their heads in shame at the sight of the unfortunate refugee kid’s body washed up ashore on a Turkish beach. Sights and stories like these have the potential to have life changing effects especially on folks who have had a more personal or up-close experience with these slices of reality.


Today, I am writing this article, 4 days after I bid farewell to my comfortable and high-paying corporate job. I do not have any obligation nor do I have any intention to “inspire” others to take such a decision. However, I have been asked by many many people – friends and family – as to why I am doing this, what is the need to make this drastic change and take a huge risk especially when I was mostly settled in my life.


Well, the reason is very simple – I WAS NOT HAPPY. I was not happy since the day I realized that outside the cocoon and the safety bubble of my financially secure life, there exists a world which might be harsh but more real. I was not happy that over the last eight years, I have communicated with a desktop/laptop more than I have with real people. I was not happy that I used to get upset if the train/bus and even the office lift got delayed by a few seconds. I was not happy that I found my passion for travel not until 2015 because I was too busy living a luxurious life till then. Gadgets and more gadgets had surrounded me to such an extent that I felt I myself was turning into a machine.


I grew up being taught that I should either get a degree in Tech/Engineering or Medicine as anything other than those was considered abysmal. I still remember how the elders in the society would look down upon somebody’s kid who was not able to get a good rank (in-spite of passing the exams) or to that kid who said he/she liked arts more than science. There isn’t anybody to blame for that too as the society itself believed in what they saw or in most cases what they chose to see. It is only when we decide to go out of our comfort zone, that we find out there is more to life than the cycle of “DEGREE-JOB-MBA-JOB WITH HIGHER PAY“.  And that is what happened to me.


On the surface, I have not led an ordinary life. I was at my job for eight years, I was good at it and I was getting due recognition within the organization. Hell yeah I loved my job because I was good at it. It was when I scratched the surface, I realized that I was indeed living a flawed life. When confronted with the cruel sights and experiences of how the other part of civilization lives, my perception about right and wrong changed. My definition of success is no more about climbing up the corporate organizational ladder. Success , now for me is try and take the hard but fulfilling path to pursue something I truly believe in.


I have been getting that urge to quit my job and volunteer in community service programs while I travel places, but I kept on putting it off possibly due to the thought of my life turning upside down badly. With time, as this feeling got stronger I felt I might fail miserably or I might be exceedingly successful but running away from this call to take THE step is NOT an option anymore. Someday when I am old, I do not want to have a regret of not trying to make it happen just because I was scared to get out of my shell. So, I am not running away anymore!!

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When running away is not an option anymore
Sun Island
About Me

Listing out my seven best stays

Ever since I got started on my travels and this blog, there is this one question I’ve been asked quite frequently by my friends, fellow bloggers and travelers – “What is the best hotel you have stayed in?” Over the last thirteen months, I have stayed in quite a few places ranging from decent to fantastic, so it would be impossible for me to point out just one. So instead, I have listed out seven of the best places I have stayed in, be it luxury hotels or basic homestays.

Luxury Hotels

  • The Blue Marine Resort and Spa, Phuket – Located along the slope of the Patong hill and away from the party stretch of Patong beach, this place boasts of having one of the most efficient customer service in Phuket. Even the most smallest concerns of the guests are attended to in a prompt manner. Oh and the rooms here have spectacular views of the Andaman sea and the surrounding hills. Being a luxury hotel, it is indeed expensive but the price is worth the stay here. Check out the prices here


Blue Marine


  • The Orchard Hotel, Singapore – I have lived in Singapore since 2010 in a rented apartment so there was hardly any need to stay at a luxury hotel here. However, over a weekend when my apartment was getting renovated, I decided to move out for a couple of days. The Orchard hotel is located conveniently at the most high-end and busiest shopping street in Singapore – the Orchard Road. The one thing about this hotel that impressed me the most is that one can identify with the hardcore Singaporean culture here from the food – the lunch and dinner spread consists of dishes from every cuisine that are true to this city – and the basic decor of the hotel which has influences of the Mandarin culture. Again, the high price is entirely justified. Check out the prices here




Mid-range and Budget hotels

  • The Cove Beach Bungalows, Sihanoukville – Oh you beauty. This amazing little place was everything I could ask for. Cozy wooden cottages perched along the slope of the hill surrounded by greenery and a serene beachfront, this property is located at the end of Serendipity beach in Sihanoukville. For folks like me who thrive in a rustic laid-back environment and a hammock as a dear friend, this is the place to be. The bar which is built right atop the huge rocks on the beach is a fantastic place to relax and unwind with a drink or two while marveling at the crashing waves beneath. If I were to go to any of these places again, this is where I would head out to first.




  • The Sun Island Hotel and Spa Legian, Bali – Located right in the middle of the nightlife and the main stretch of Kuta-Legian, this place is a perfect combination of class and comfort at an affordable price. The facilities here are an ideal blend of posh and necessity with all the focus entirely on comfort of the guests rather than pretentious show-off. The bar and restaurant at the lobby area hosts a wonderful love band in the evenings which is really hard to find amid all the head-thumping beats elsewhere in the area.


Sun Island

Hostels & Homestays

  • Homy Inn North Point, Hong Kong – Rated as one of the best hostels in Hong Kong, this place is good value for money. The rooms are spotless clean and the staff are super efficient. Although quite small(as most hotel rooms in Hong Kong are), the dormitories do not have more than two beds so that makes it quite manageable. For 25$ a night, this hostel provides a comfortable and fuss-free stay. Book your stay here


Homy Inn


  • Edy Homestay, Gili Trawangan – High-end luxury resorts, homestays and hostels  are practically what you get on the Gili islands. This homestay has nothing luxurious to boast of in terms of the facilities. The rooms are very basic – bed(s), fan or AC, working lights, running water and clean enough bathrooms – works just fine for me. The guys running this place are not your usual hotel staff but more as your friends instead. I really cannot find anything to complain about this place at all. A bed good enough to sleep well, a fan that works fine, running water all day, simplest of breakfast served every morning and Oh, free Wi-fi. For 12$ a night, this place was an absolute delight to be in.


Each of my stays in these places have been memorable in their own way and I actually would want to go back to some of my personal favorites (which would be obvious by the end of this post) among them on my next trips.

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Listing out my seven best stays
About Me

Nominated for Liebstar award

In June 2015 when I started this blog, it was just a way of documenting my travel memories in some form so that someday I could reflect back on some of my greatest days. Today, thanks to some lovely people out there who have shown great appreciation to my blog, Tamz Explores has been nominated for a Liebster award by the wonderful Jamiee Nicole from Travel Pray Love.

It is an absolute pleasure to answer these ten questions for Jamiee and K (you know him if you have been to Travel Pray Love). Here are my answers:

1. If you could be anywhere in the world, right now, where would you be?

The Gili islands in Indonesia. I would be swimming with the turtles and volunteering with some marine-life conservation organization.A place to be for enjoying and celebrating the simple pleasures of life.


2. What was your first blog post about?

Ironically, my first blog post was titled “Why did I start traveling solo?”.
I had imagined this would be an appropriate introductory topic which would further set the tone for my future posts.

3. Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog as a medium to document my travel experiences at around the same time I started to travel on my own. I did go through some rough times and I probably needed a distraction(in a positive sense) to get out of the rut I was in. Through my travel and the blog, I ended up finding an entirely different direction to my life.


4. In your wildest dreams, what is your dream vacation?

My dream vacation – well, it would definitely involve a lot of time spent on or under the sea.
If I can etch out a route that takes me sailing to New Zealand-Antarctica-Madagascar-Galapagos-Iceland-Norway, that would be pretty much it. Along the way, I would be diving at some of the best spots, running away from polar bears, getting dangerously close to an active volcano and playing with some penguins.

5. If you could team up with ANY travel blogger (famous or non-famous) who would it be and why?

I actually will name three of my favorite bloggers.
Mathew Karsten (Expert Vagabond) – He has done some pretty amazing stuff with adventure travel and has superb photography skills.
Marissa (Postcards to Seattle) – She finds so many ways to explore her home country which is as good as exploring an entirely new place. That is what so appealing about her work.
Sabine and Stephanie (The Sisters’ Travels) – The Fuchs sisters’ travels signify the importance and sheer pleasure of connecting with people on a more personal level which is definitely evident from their blog posts.


6. Explain your first big adventure in one word.


7. Who was your inspiration for starting your blog?

I would have to say Kate McCulley from AdventurousKate.

8. How did you come up with the name of your blog?

It was just pure instinct that I came up with the name Tamz Explores. I thought it sounded a bit silly at first but it has been working out pretty well. As they say, go with your instincts.


9. What advice would you give a blogger just starting out?

Just keep things simple, stick to your strengths and be yourself.
It is okay to be inspired by some famous and successful blogger but it is the unique individuality of oneself that connects with the community.

10. What is your favorite travel memory?

Two of the most memorable experiences are at par with each other.
First, my interaction with a survivor from the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia.
Second, a 4 hour-long conversation with a fellow traveler – who is now a friend – from Scotland at a Mexican cocktail bar in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Undoubtedly, these two combined together were some of the finest and most inspirational hours during my travels.

I am Nominating these fantastic bloggers whose blogs have been a pleasure to read.

Teacake Travels

Drifter Planet

The Sisters’ Travels

Postcards To Seattle

Jess is a Wanderer

Anita Hendrieka

Roshan’s Ramblings

KungFu Princess on the road


Globetrotter Joe

Willful and Wildhearted

As part of the nomination, the rules are as follows:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the questions they asked you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers.
  • Create a new list of 10 questions for your nominees.
  • Choose your own nominees and let them know about the nomination.

Here are my 10 questions for you:-

1. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
2. Who or what inspired you to travel?
3. What is that one country/city that you found the most fascinating and why?
4. What has been the most memorable interaction with anybody during your travels?
5. Five things you would never travel without?
6. Where are you heading to next in 2016?
7. What is the best food you have had on your travels? **Just name the first thing that comes to         your mind.
8. What is your worst travel memory?
9. Three destinations you would definitely recommend to fellow travelers?
10. Name three of your favorite travel bloggers.

Looking forward to your answers and your future blog posts of course. A big Thank you to Travel Pray Love for nominating my blog. This is really cool and fun.

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Nominated for Liebstar award