The Ultimate Globetrotting Guide By Bruised Passports

Offbeat destinations, exotic cuisines, best shopping markets and cultural experiences recommended by Savi Munjal and Vidit Taneja.

Tanvi Jain

Full-time travellers, Savi and Vid, better known as Bruised Passports, have been on the move for over 12 years. After a decade of non-stop travelling around the world, the couple has finally decided to settle down and have moved to their new home in the national capital. Their travel experiences from across 100 countries are the ultimate post-pandemic vacation guide filled with bucket list experiences. Quiz them how they feel about settling down in their own abode after years of globetrotting and they reveal, "The Japanese and Scandinavian design sensibilities really inspired us to do this home in a more zen, minimalist, de-cluttered sort of way. We have incorporated a lot of play on black and white from the Scandinavia designs, and the zen elements come from Asia, specifically Indonesia and Japan," shares Savi.

But before the two decided to live a domesticated life, just before the second wave of COVID-19 hit India, they were in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat for the Rann Utsav. Prior to that, they had visited London, Tuscany and Ladakh. "It was a bittersweet experience. It felt nice to be able to travel again and see the excitement among those whose livelihoods depend on it. But, it was also tricky to manage with so many restrictions and adapting to the new normal,” adds Vid.

Read on to find out Savi and Vid's top picks and experiences in an exclusive conversation with Zee Zest.

Incredible India

Speaking of India, Savi says, "When it comes to shopping, I have a soft spot for Gujarat and Rajasthan, because they have the most beautiful handicrafts and handlooms. In terms of food, my top pick is Kerala because I love South Indian cuisine so much, I can have it every day."

While Vid enjoys North India; Delhi, Agra and Ladakh are his go-to destinations. Apart from the natural and architectural wonders in these destinations, he guarantees great food. They reassure us that, in fact, some of their best meals have been in India.

Five offbeat destinations in India

  1. Ladakh in the winters: Go there in the offseason, in the winters. It's most beautiful and surreal during that time of the year, and it’s not overrun by tourists in this season.
  2. Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim: Located at an elevation of 17,000 feet, this lake is enclosed by snow-clad mountains. It lies to the North of Khangchengyao Range and shares proximity to the Tibetan Chinese border.
  3. Bekal: Mostly people visit places like Kumarakom in Kerala, but Bekal is beautiful and has a lot to offer. Bekal Fort is one of the biggest forts in Kerala. Other hotspots include Anjaneya Temple, Theyyam sculptures, and a rock garden.
  4. Bhuj: While Rann of Kutch is popular in Gujarat, no one talks about Bhuj. A trip to Bhuj in winter is special when you can explore Khari Nadi Gorge and palaces, Aina Mahal and Prag Mahal. there are many historical gems and little canyons that
  5. Zanskar valley, from where the Chadar trek starts: Go there in winters and that will be amazing because there is this place called Chiling which is though popular among trekkers, but generally, when people go, they restrict their visit to in and around Leh, and the Magnetic hill. However, a drive towards Chiling takes you to some of the most beautiful spots.

Five offbeat destinations around the globe:

  1. Bolivia: The Salt Dessert is very similar to the White Rann and a real beauty. We took a four-day trip around the plateau with just our jeep and food supplies and slept under the stars.
  2. Romania: We went on a road trip in Romania and came across a little town with the cutest colourful houses all in pastel colours, such as pink, green, yellow, and blue.
  3. Azerbaijan: We drove and went to a remote village – the highest in Europe (Xinaliq/ Khinaliq village). The historical town of Baku, the architectural landmark of Astara nestled on the Iran border, and the Caspian Sea, which is the largest lake in the world, are some of the major attractions in Azerbaijan.
  4. Svalbard: It lies between the Norwegian archipelago and the North pole. We witnessed icebergs floating in the ocean, and the sightings of the polar bear make it a bucket list destination.
  5. Guatemala: If you want to pick one place out of this entire list, go to Guatemala. The food is outstanding and you are sure to get some of the most velvety smooth avocados. The pyramids of Tikal dating to the Mayan civilisation, Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve, Atitlan Lake, the beaches of the Bay of Amatique; are some of the tourist attractions that make Guatemala a must visit.

Top 5 food and shopping destinations  

  1. London: For almost everything.
  2. Paris: For the most beautiful vintage shops.
  3. Bali: For the amazing food and lots of bohemian and colourful shopping.
  4. New Zealand: For the best coffee.
  5. Peru: For both food as well as to shop for colourful, bohemian stuff.

Crazy travel experiences

With so much travel come many weird experiences and encounters, as well. Savi and Vid recall one such incident when they tasted crickets in Cambodia. "They tasted like fried chips. We wouldn’t have figured out what they were if someone hadn't told us. Other than crickets, you can also try fried spiders and fried tarantulas there," exclaims Vid.

The other memory they share is from their trip to Croatia. They accidentally drove into a scary-looking forest at night and got goosebumps seeing the locals ominously huddled around a fire. However, later, it was the same people who helped them find the right path.  

Savi goes on to tell us about their trip to Nagaland for the Hornbill festival, where they met a lot of people and to understand their culture even visited a home in a village. "We had some of the spiciest food that we have ever eaten on our travels, but it was such an invigorating experience. They even make boiled eggs spicy and delicious. They also have a great fashion sense and I learnt a lot about the fabrics and hair accessories, too."

Meeting indigenous communities

  1. Maasai tribe in Tanzania: They are known as warriors, so it was interesting to listen to their stories of how they fight a lion, and how they have that warrior blood in them. This endangered, semi-nomadic tribe is found in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They often grab tourists’ attention with their bright red traditional attire, Maasai music, and dance.
  2. Sami people in Finland: Found in Northern parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia, Sami people are the descendants of nomads who inhabited northern Scandinavia. Reindeer herding is a major source of income for them. We met a reindeer farmer who spoke a lot about his culture and was shocked to know about the density of population in India. He told us that his nearest neighbour is one kilometre away and they only meet once a month. He also told us how once on his trip to Istanbul he fainted seeing so many people.
  3. Bishnoi community in Jodhpur: Both of us volunteer in a lot of local schools. During a road trip to Jodhpur, we met the Bishnoi community, had a nice meal and spoke to them about their food, culture, and day to day life. This community resides mostly in the Thar Desert and is known for revering flora and fauna. Weaving, pottery, and agriculture are some of the activities that you can check out when visiting Bishnoi village.

Travel inspired kitchen experiments

Both foodies, Savi and Vid do have their own preferences when it comes to food. While Vid would love to revisit Japan only for the food, Savi would go back to Thailand and Greece, to take cooking classes, explore little eateries, and learn to make the cuisine from scratch. 

Top 5 exotic cuisines  

  1. Japanese: Sushi, dumplings and sashimi
  2. Peruvian: Quinoa burgers, pork or potato with curry
  3. Azerbaijani: Kebabs
  4. Australian: Salads, health foods, coffee
  5. Indonesian: Took cooking classes there and now we even make Indonesian food at home.

Not just eating, but the nomadic couple loves to cook as well, and don't shy away from making their own version of dishes they've tried on their excursions. "We tried a lot of the local bread in France and even took a mini baking course. We tried to bake it ourselves and it turned out to be good, but not as good as the ones we had in France," recalls Savi.

Vidit's go-to dish is Turkish eggs that they tried before it became a viral sensation. "We have it a lot for breakfast. We tried a curried version of fried eggs with some yoghurt and garlic, and it's delicious," adds Vid.

Photo: Instagram/Bruised Passports
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