Alila Fort Bishangarh
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
A 230 year-old warrior fort transformed into a luxurious hotel – Alila Fort Bishangarh is a heritage hotel located near Jaipur, Rajasthan. It is on top of a hill, offering panoramic views of the surrounding villages, temples and other architectural attractions of local interest. The closest airports are Jaipur and Delhi. It would be great for a weekend getaway. You could spend 2-3 nights at the property enjoying the leisurely pace of the resort. The design of the hotel preserves the original character of the historic fort. The interiors of the hotel are very well designed. It is a minimalistic design yet maintaining the lineage and heritage of the fort. It certainly justifies a visit to experience a regal stay. It has 59 rooms all with modern amenities and comfort and is mainly constructed with marble flooring and stone walls. The hotel has three restaurants. One of which is open air and is perfect for a dinner in the evening. There is also live Rajasthani music. The old parts of the fort like the cellars and secret passages have been converted into living spaces like lounges, bars and dining rooms.
They have a Haveli which is down the hill which has the swimming pool, fitness centre and other activity spaces. Taking a dip while enjoying the views of the magnificent fort is delightful. There is an organic garden too where you could put in a request regarding your meal. There are a variety of excursions offered by the hotel. You can visit the nearby villages or explore the countryside. If you would like to explore more you can always drive down to Jaipur which is a short drive away. Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan in India. It has many historical monuments and forts. Jaipur is known as the ‘Pink City’. The Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort, Jal Mahal, Jantar Mantar are worth a visit.
Song Saa Private Island is set in two tiny islands which have rainforests. It is located in the Koh Rong Archipelago in Cambodia. The nearest airport is Sihanoukville International Airport and it is a 45-mins speedboat ride from Sihanoukville Port. From Siem Reap International Airport to Sihanoukville international airport it is approximately 45 mins by flight. The hotel is luxurious and offers picturesque views. It is a good getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life as it is set in a very remote location.
Song Saa Private Island has 27 wooden villas, each with private swimming pools. There are three types of rooms – jungle villas, ocean view villas and over water villas which are on stilts. It also has an infinity pool and a relaxation spa perfect for a quiet holiday. The resort is made in oneness with the environment, with the use of local materials. There are excursions and adventurous activities offered by the hotel. It is a paradise for underwater aficionados and is home to an abundance of marine creatures. One can go scuba diving, snorkelling and kayaking amidst the preserved coral reefs. It is worthwhile spending time on a private beach with clear turquoise waters and feeling close to nature in this eco-friendly resort.
The Veddas are an indigenous tribe of Sri Lanka. They are called the ‘Forest People’ and they live in the Sri Lankan forests. They are close to nature and share an intimate relationship with nature. They value their traditions and age-old lifestyle. The Veddas had probably been living on the Sri Lankan island much before other ethnic groups came.
Veddas were originally hunters and gatherers and used to live in caves. They used bow and arrow to hunt and gathered honey and fruits. They would collect wild honey and eat mostly venison meat. The coconut palm is of great importance as it provides them with fruit and also serves for building shelter, bowls and other materials. The Veddas are however becoming extinct and their future is uncertain.
One could visit the places where they live and learn about their way of life.
Pushkar Camel Fair
Pushkar is located in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is about 150 kilometres from the capital of the state – Jaipur. It is known for its annual Camel Fair. It was originally held to attract camel and cattle traders during the holy Kartik Purnima (full moon) festival, which is held in the Hindu lunar month of Kartik. Over the years the fair has become a major tourist attraction.
One can witness farmers camping with their camels. Most of the camels are adorned in different colours, hair design, and henna. They are also available for rides, for locals and tourists to roam around the fair. Besides the camel fair, there are a lot of other activities. Such as, tattoo artists, horse dancing, balancing acts such as rope walking, Well of Death, music and dancing, etc. There is also a wide variety of food and drinks available at the festival. It is a very famous festival and thousands of people including locals and tourists attend the festival, which is a wonderful experience rich in colours and authenticity.
Gal Oya Lodge
Gal Oya Lodge is situated inside Gal Oya National Park, which is one of the least explored national parks of Sri Lanka. The lodge is beautiful with spacious bungalows, a swimming pool and delicious food. The rooms are very spacious. They have a private living area with huge windows from floor to ceiling and an outdoor area to rest. Gal Oya Lodge is built in harmony with nature using sustainable materials. Set amidst a national park, the view from the lodge is heavenly.
There are several activities for the customers. Such as, jeep and boat safaris in the national park where one can witness a wide range of flora and fauna. One can also have an opportunity to encounter elephants swimming in the forest lake. The ecolodge is at one with nature, set in a very calm and peaceful environment. Other activities include, hikes and walks in the jungle and also a chance to witness the lifestyle of the Vedda tribe. The Veddas or ‘Forest People’ are an indigenous tribe of Sri Lanka. They dwelled in caves and were originally hunters and gatherers. They share a close connection with nature and value their lifestyle and traditions. Their numbers are declining and they are on the verge of extinction.
You can also view the following-
Vedda – Sri Lanka documentary photography
Kumbh Mela is a religious festival in India which attracts millions of people. There are two kinds of Kumbh Mela – Maha (Great) Kumbh Mela which is held once in every twelve years and Ardha (Half) which is held every six years. It is held in four places – Allahabad, Nashik, Ujjain and Haridwar. Here the Kumbh Mela is held in the city of Allahabad at the confluence of three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. It is a pilgrimage site where Hindus bathe in the river in order to wash off their sins. The celebration is based on astrological calculations of the positions of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter. It is attended by all sects of Hindu religion, from different types of sadhus to hermits etc.
Witnessing the Kumbh Mela is a unique experience. It is listed under the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Documenting this event is thrilling and very fascinating. It is quite challenging to photograph the event amidst all the hustle and bustle of the crowd. However, once you are there in Kumbh, you thrive on the euphoria and automatically disconnect yourself from all earthly challenges.
Myanmar shares its border with India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. It is called the Golden Land and was formerly known as Burma. Myanmar has a large population of Buddhist monks. It is a beautiful country with wide plains of the Irrawaddy river and other rivers. It has mountains, plateaus and beautiful valleys. There is a close connect to nature in Myanmar. It is a haven for photographers specially for landscape photography. The people are warm and welcoming, the architecture particularly interesting. The country is very rich in culture and heritage. Documenting the locals with Thanaka paste smeared on their faces is also very interesting.
Gaya Island Resort
Borneo is home to diverse species of flora and fauna and is the third largest rainforest in the world. The Gaya Island Resort is located within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in Borneo, Malaysia. The resort is situated in the midst of a lush rainforest and has mangroves and coral reefs. One can fly to Kota Kinabalu and then take a car transfer from the airpot to the Jesselton Point. From where they can take a speed boat to Gaya Island Resort. Gaya Island Resort has luxury hillside villas offering a variety of views like mangrove, canopy and tropical rainforest etc. There are many experiences one can undergo. The resort has a wonderful spa with spectacular views of the island. There are various dining options. One can enjoy a private dinner in their villa, a barbecue at the beach or an outdoor setting at one’s chosen spot or dine at the restaurant or lounge of the resort. It is made in harmony with nature. It encourages guests to walk and uses minimum motorised vehicles. The resort offers beautiful scenery which can be enjoyed by taking in all the advantages both natural and from the hospitality side.
You can also view the following-
Tropical Life Magazine – Magical Borneo
The Kalbelia gypsies are from Rajasthan, India. Jose came across them on his trip to India – when he was visiting the Pushkar Camel Fair. They live in the outskirts of cities and towns such as, Pushkar, Udaipur and Ajmer. They live in tents made of wood and plastic and lead very simple lives. The Kalbelia gypsy are snake handlers. They play music and dance and entertain tourists at the Camel Fair. It was interesting to photograph them, spend time with them and understand more about their lifestyle. They can be a part of your visit to Rajasthan, India. It was beautiful to see them dancing and playing music.
You can also view the following-
Blogpost – The Heart and Soul of the Kalbelia Gypsies
Lens Magazine June 2020
Blogpost – Selling Prints to Support My Gypsies Friends
Chiang Rai is located in northern Thailand in the mountainous region of the country. Apart from other attractions such as the clocktower and other architectural sites like the temple and elephant valley, a visit to the tea plantations is a must. They also have a lot of tribes in the area.
The plantations are beautiful and serene. A short stay or a day trip should be good enough to visit the plantations at Chiang Rai. It provides a good time to relax and unwind. The tea plantations are a tourist attraction. Terraced tea gardens, birds chirping and tea pickers plucking the leaves is a beautiful sight and a good destination for photography.
You can also view the following-