Tell us about yourself?
We’re Shreya & Akash – lovebirds, travellers and founders of the site ‘The Tropical Moon’.
We are here to experience as much of the world as possible! With an eye for history, culture and architecture, we are slow travellers. Nature inspires us the most to travel. We feel ecstatic around green fields, sea shores, on hills where clouds hover below us and tranquil places. That said, you would also find us venturing around the most popular and mainstream of destinations. However, we do it differently.
Travel blogging is an extension of our passion for traveling. Blogging worked well with us as Akash is very fond of photography and I do enjoy writing. Ah, Team work! Our blogs are a vehicle of our expressions to places where we have been, what we saw, where we stayed, what we liked, what to avoid and lots more.
Outside ‘The Tropical Moon’ we both have full-time jobs. And this helps us to connect with our audience even better. Just like you, we have few possessions and responsibilities. We are not as most travel bloggers out there. We will not encourage you to sell all your possessions and travel the world, like that is the only way out! We would like to say, keep it balanced and make the most of your weekends, public holidays, and annual leave quota. That might include short breaks away from the city and one or two annual holidays a year.
What’s your favourite place so far?
This is probably the hardest question we get asked, it is ever changing! Each place is so unique and special in its own way, however one that has really captured our hearts is
- Scotland – Scotland is the most breath-taking side of Britain. The mountain breeze is the best therapy you will ever experience. The fluffy sheep, highland cows, green pastures will forever fascinate and intrigue me. There are castles, beach and abundance of nature.
What can’t you travel without?
We could certainly do without cameras and phones. Phone if at all packed is only for emergency calls. During most of our holidays we strictly keep our phones away.
This may sound weird but the things we usually prefer to carry are water bottle and tiffin box with home-made goodies. We prefer refilling water bottles over buying plastic bottles. We also avoid buying wafers and crisps. The idea is to leave behind minimal waste. Before our trip begins, besides packing our bags we also invest time in preparing snacks at home.
Not many people know this but every time we visit a new destination and find human leftovers – plastic bottles or wrappers, we would pick at least one item and throw it in the bin. We have done this during most of our trips. We are a crazy couple in many ways!
Do you prefer solo travel or with someone else?
We have travelled both ways, but we love travelling as a couple more than solo. We have met some wonderful people along our way and shared very good memories. I love how we connect to some people at once. Although, our taste and culture may completely differ. I have learnt that it’s not our differences that divide us nor are the boundaries. It’s the powerlessness to accept and celebrate those differences.
When I travel solo, there is always one constant reminder to be alert and cautious. I also need to inform back home that I am safe. The fear is certainly less when I travel with my partner. Second, when I see something beautiful such as a snowfall or two rainbows at a time – I always wish my partner was also there to witness the same. Therefore, we have decided to try and travel together as far as possible.
Which country has the friendliest people?
I would say Singapore. People live harmoniously and interaction among different races are more commonly seen. Most countries have areas designated based on your nationality. But Singapore isn’t one of those. It is a country with immigrants from Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, all of which have intermingled and live as good neighbours. They celebrate many festivals of different countries. There are lots of cuisines to offer. Overall it is a great fusion. We have lived there for 6 months and met some wonderful people. Singapore certainly has the friendliest people.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met so far?
The most interesting people (not person) I have met are the Chhattisgarh tribes. They are almost living in a parallel world. It is one of the few places in the world where age old tribal customs, traditions and rituals are still practiced. And it is this experience that makes you feel, you have travelled back in time. They are a bit shy, but friendly – they are as curious about you as you are about them! They enjoy group dances, playing drums and singing folk songs. They wear brightly coloured attire and unique pieces of traditional silver jewellery around their neck, ears, hands and feet. They pierce on either sides of their nose and wear unique hair clips. You will find their whole body tattooed, when we associate tattoos with modern generation. It is not, it is an age-old tradition amongst tribal.
The tribes live in such harmony with nature, eating what they grow and being happy with what they have. It makes you wonder if our lifestyles are taking us away from nature.
I would also like to mention that Bastar is a safe place to be, if you take necessary precautions. For all those off-beat location finders, this one must be on your list.
What’s been your scariest moment?
The scariest moment was our drive from Mysore to Coorg. We were a group of 6 friends’ bag-packing around Bangalore. We ended up on a dead-end road with a haunted house before us. I would be the last one to believe in ghosts and still confirm there was no ghost there. But the place was creepy as hell. Our driver stopped the car and we all decided to look around for help. It was gloomy, dark and freezing cold. Those were days without Google Maps or smart phones! And there was no sign of anybody around.
The car suddenly started to slide down the slope, even though we had kept a stone next to the tyre and hand-break was on. The driver was sweating at 6 degrees temperature.
We all imagined the car falling off the valley and probably blasting. We knew if we were holding the car, we would go along with the car down the valley. We were happy to bid goodbye to the car and save our lives. But the driver looked very anxious as the car did not belong to him. He had hired it. He wouldn’t let go off the car and so we had to help him.
Thanks to my Brahmin room-mates’ religious recitals, we were all saved.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Akash – quick, humble, easy-to-get-along
Shreya – organised, eco-freak, old-soul
What is your dream travelling experience?
The Ice flyer in Swiss Alps. I had seen snow-capped mountains couple of times. But to be little on the height and admiring it from the top was so dreamy. Besides we were lucky to have the Ice Flyer tickets for free. Read this interesting story.
Switzerland is like the winter wonderland you always imagined in stories. As you climb up the mountains and take a ride on the ice flyer, it makes you really wonder if there are any human beings on that side of the world. If white walker stories are true. And how the world looked like during Ice Age.
Who is your dream travel companion?
His answer better be that too!
What was the best place you stayed in?
I can’t decide between
- My stay at Himachal Pradesh with a view of the Himalayan mountains. At the crack of dawn when the early sun rays fall on the Himalayan peak, they shine golden. That’s a sight I would love to wake-up to every single day.
Centara Ras Fushi Resort, Maldives – This room was facing the gigantic Indian ocean. We had a jacuzzi on our room’s deck with a magnificent sunset view. I was captivated by the sea life at Maldives. Outside our ocean villa, we witnessed tiny little fishes leaping in and out of the sea. They were silver in colour and shimmered in the sunlight. Oh, that sight! There were crabs and birds constantly visiting our room deck. The sea water is the purest form you will ever see. You can read about our experience here.
How many photos have you taken?
Let’s just say Cloud is enough to hold those memories
What’s the most interesting animal you’ve seen?
Am I allowed to say human? 😛
We avoid zoo and any other form of animal cruelty which includes taking an elephant ride or camel ride. Having said that, I am a huge fan of Wild cats. They never fail to impress me.
Do you prefer hot, cold or temperate places?
Cold. I am always longing for far off places, away from where I live. They have a term for it in German – Fernweh. It means to crave for distant places. Not really your home but gives a warm feeling.
I always dream of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. I read a lot of travel blogs and articles about those places. And I would undeniably say, I have been there many a times just through my readings. I have travelled a few times to Himachal Pradesh but its been more in group tours. Trekking too is usually done in groups there. I am looking for a homestay away in the mountains, where I can live like a local and travel to places less known to tourists.
We have planned our longest holiday to wander around the extreme North of India. It is quite confusing though to pick a season. For all we hear, it is beautiful in every passing season. Its not just the weather that changes but the colours too.
Sunny from Himachal Pradesh blog, I am counting to be my best guide for tips.
Would you rather see a lot of places or get to know one really well?
See a lot of places first and then decide where I would like to settle and know one really-well ?
What’s the longest single journey you’ve taken?
We try to take two weeks annual holiday, every year. It allows us to explore a place very well. It is bit challenging sometimes, as we have families living in two different states.
Although we are travellers at heart, we have rejected our long-term visas and foreign jobs. We both worked in two different countries at one point. Then we lived together in another overseas country. But eventually given up all to return to our homeland, India. This is a life we have chosen to stay closer to our families.
Some people choose to travel the world and meet their families once or twice a year. We choose to stay in India and visit our families every month. Yet we have ticked off 10 countries, as on today.
The longest journey we had together is 6 months as digital nomads during our Europe trip.
Which religious or spiritual sites have you visited?
Rishikesh and Haridwar – the energy is so high and unexplainable. The aartis at the Ganges are worth the experience. The enchanting of ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna’ is like food to your soul. People are united there irrespective of their background or status. Now a days, there is a mix of western crowd as well. There’s something so calming, ethereal and yet grounding about this place. The vibrations around this place is strong.
Which country has the best weather?
India, we are certainly blessed with the best weather conditions from North to South. At least we get to see the SUN everyday and that helps to keep depression away. Monsoon is my favourite season.
Do you prefer to walk, take public transport, or take private transport?
Abroad, we use public transport as its well-connected.
In India we do a combination of public transport and private transport depending on the location. For instance, in places like Goa, Agra, Delhi, Rajasthan and other popular tourist destinations; public transport is very convenient.
But in places like Gujarat where tourist spots were at a long distance and there was no much public transport; we preferred private cars. Keeping aside the transportation challenges, Gujarat has otherwise made me fall in love with monuments and architecture. This was a place I had little expectations from but turns out it is on my favourite list now. They have wildlife, the largest white salt desert the world has seen, palaces and architectural brilliance from Solanki dynasty such as The Sun Temple at Modhera.
What destination have you found to be overrated?
[None. You need to really soak in the place to understand what it is best at. The idea of stepping into a foreign land itself makes me feel so excited. On the contrary, I did find a lot of places that were under-rated such as the monuments in Agra (built by the Mughal empire). The Taj Mahal obviously takes away all the attention. Besides, most of Indian monuments have notes written on the walls and awareness now is being spread. We must learn to respect the monuments we have and preserve them well.
What’s been the best street food you’ve had?
Cocktail dosa and Biryanis in Hyderabad
Beer or wine?
Water, I am a proud Goan who doesn’t drink ?
Finally, What are your thoughts about Himachal Tourist Places Travel blog?
What I like about Himachal Pradesh travel blog is that it is so dedicated to promoting and popularising Himachal Pradesh along with other destinations. Blogs on Tirthan Valley, Chitkul, Festivals & Food of Himachal Pradesh has what caught my attention. The picture quality is also high and the detailing provided in each of the blogs would really help a traveller visit the place without worrying too much. The blog contains both mainstream and offbeat locations of HP. This site is that one place I would go to if I would plan a holiday at HP in future.
This is a guest post written by Shreya & Akash, couple-travel bloggers from Pune. They are travelers at heart with a full-time IT job. They believe in slow-travel, finding less-visited places in India and travelling sustainably. Nature inspires them the most to travel. They started to appreciate history more after their journeys and also learnt to respect every race, religion, tradition and culture. Travelling surely has played a critical role in shaping their personalities and through their blog The Tropical Moon they wish to inspire more people to travel sustainably. They are one of those who would choose kayaking or canoeing over boats with engines! You can also find them on Instagram here. Do follow them if you find their feed interesting.