During her 30 years of corporate life, she worked across 84 countries and in three different industries – Airline, Telecommunications and Utilities. No wonder she has such amazing travel stories to share.
Close your eyes. Think of the most stunning view of natural beauty you’ve ever seen. Describe it for us.
The first one that came to mind was when we were landing at Bhutan airport. Beautiful mountains, deep green pine tree forests, and a layer of mist and clouds brought an ethereal feel to the place. And another image popped up – that was of Tiger Nest Temple, again in Bhutan, which is perched on a steep cliff, magnificent in its white, red, and gold glory. It’s not all natural (as the temple is man-made) but the way it integrates with the scene is breathtaking. Hard climb but so worth it!
You’ve got a free ticket to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?
Peru. I have always wanted to see the beautiful, colourful land of the Incas. I’d love to go up to Machu Picchu, one of the most important archaeological sites on the planet but equally interested in the Peruvian culture, markets, food, and natural beauty. And if I am there, I may do a quick trip to Ecuador, particularly the Galapagos – slightly torn and conflicted if I would go there as I don’t want to add further strain to a delicate ecosystem. But definitely to Peru.
A UK travel secret that few might know
I can’t say this is a secret – but I would say the locals would know it more than tourists. One of the nicest things to do in the UK is to discover some of its spectacular walks, particularly in the summer. There’s nothing more exciting than doing a coastal path, and looking at views to die for that will not be easily available while in a car. The Thames path, which runs next to the river Thames is another magical place to walk. In the summer you can see many narrow canal boats, kayaks, and paddle boards on the river, sharing the experience peacefully with swans, geese, and a myriad of other beautiful birds. To be fair, it’s magical irrespective of season – beautiful wildflower meadows in spring, idyllic boat rides in the summer, autumn colours, and winter mists are all amazing.
Most unforgettable meal memory from your travels
There have been so many. But one of the most special ones has been in the Maldives. We sat out near the glorious light blue ocean, feeling the sand under our feet and enjoying a delicious meal by firelight. My husband is a big fan of seafood and he had the most amazing fish cooked in banana leaves. I loved the fact that they were able to cater for me as a vegetarian and made a Chettinad style vegetarian ‘fish’ curry, where the fish was substituted by ground lentils cooked with spices.
A hair-raising travel moment
Ha, this was on our honeymoon. We went to Belize and were taking a walk in the forest the day we arrived, not quite knowing what to expect. As we walked deeper and deeper, we felt more uneasy, as if someone or something was watching us. Suddenly we started hearing what we can only describe as roars. It was a real cacophonic frenzy. I had visions of leopards fighting with each other when we saw the howler monkeys having a real party ahead of us. There’s a reason they’re called howlers!! It is hilarious to think of it now, but walking alone (the two of us), in a dark unknown forest where you start hearing ferocious howls is pretty scary.
One place you’ll probably never go back to, and why
I cannot think of a country or a city that we would say this about, simply because there is always something new and different to discover when you go back. There are some places I wouldn’t go rushing back, simply because they do not cater well for vegetarians. Parts of the US fall in this category. But that may have changed since we were there.
A smart trick or tip you’ve learned as an avid traveller
Travel light. You always need fewer clothes than you think you need. I used to travel a lot for work and managed to find a way to fit things into a cabin bag, so I didn’t have to check in luggage. Investing in a few clothes that didn’t crumple and could be mixed and matched and learning how to pack cleverly (e.g. folding up smaller pieces of clothes and rolling them inside your packed shoes) is another good investment of your effort.
One travel mistake you’ll never make again
Making sure you are clear about where you’ve parked your hire car. Easy to forget what the car looks like and then get confused about which parking you used. I once did this with a couple of girlfriends – we used parking really near a big landmark. But to our horror, it was too late when we realised that there were several other parking near that landmark. It took us hours to find our car, which we luckily did. Never again!
One place that surprised you in the most amazing way—and why
Florence! What a beautiful city. So much history and beauty in it – I wasn’t quite sure what I expected when I went there but the city surpassed all my expectations. The wonderfully engaging, friendly people, the magnificent museums and art, and the historic significance of this city make it one of the most wonderful and memorable city break for me. Of course, given its popularity, worth making sure you don’t go there during the peak tourist season to avoid the crowds.
Fill in the blank: I simply cannot travel without…
My iPad as it doubles as my Kindle so that I can read throughout my trip. I normally download a few books that I want to go through, whether it is a business trip or a holiday.
Besides Maps, one travel app you find essential
The airline app (depending on which airline you’re flying on). It is essential, especially since the pandemic as there are so many rules that keep changing, and using the airline app is a good way of keeping abreast of it.
Your crown for the world’s most stylish city would go to?
Hard to beat Paris when it comes to style. Love the people, their clothes, the smell of freshly baked baguettes, the Eiffel Tower, the markets near Montmartre, and the wonderful museums.
Your favourite airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport without any doubt. It’s always been one of the friendliest and most beautiful places to go through. The orchids, shops, beautiful cafes, and smiling immigration officials – what else could you ask for?
One restaurant you love
The beautiful Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons which is the Michelin-starred beauty in Oxfordshire, belonging to the chef Raymond Blanc is one of my favourites. Dining there is an experience to be remembered. Beautifully presented food, the most amazing veg garden, friendly and helpful staff, and superb cuisine with food to die for.
What’s the best hotel or resort you’ve ever stayed in, and what made you love it
We stayed in the amazing Cayo Espanto in Belize for our Honeymoon and how could we not fall in love with the place? An island where you don’t meet anyone else (unless you want to) and have meals under the starlight, watch the sunset from your chalet on the sea and can do yoga as the sun rises, again surrounded by the sea on all sides, it is absolutely magical. Of course, it is a once-in-a-lifetime type of place (at least for us) as it is very expensive.
So I would add another more affordable place that we absolutely loved. Kasbah du Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco is a spectacular place to stay. The beauty of the mountains is breathtaking and it is a great part of the world to visit.
A travel quirk or superstition you have
One of my travel quirks is to make sure I take the little hand soap that I use in hotels in a little plastic bag with me. It is because I think it just gets wasted and thrown away and feels a bit wasteful. So I take it to the next hotel I travel to and avoid opening a new pack.
The most interesting thing you’ve brought back from your travels
Definitely memories. But I also have the habit of buying little bookmarks from different places and they bring back memories when I am reading. Here’s a small selection of these.
One unique street food you’ve tried, anywhere in the world
I’ve come right back to Delhi when it comes to street food. I love ‘Ram laddu’ which is a chaat available in Chandni Chowk and is the most tantalising, delicious mouthful that you can imagine.
One book or movie that triggers wanderlust
The ‘Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. I somehow want to go back to Morocco whenever I read it.
Your craziest travel adventure yet
Hmm, I don’t think I have had any crazy adventures. I don’t tend to go for extreme sports and I am too much of a planner to do anything on the spur of the moment. However, I did take my (then) 80-year-old mother for a yoga holiday in the Cotswolds. That was pretty crazy given she had never done yoga before. She loved it though – and didn’t sprain anything, so all in all, it was a great trip.
Your most luxurious travel experience ever
Definitely my honeymoon in Belize. We had our own private chef and butler and pretty much the whole ocean in front of us on an idyllic, private island. Gorgeous and a trip of a lifetime.