5 Places that I Dream of Revisiting After the Pandemic

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

During normal days, one is so busy planning for future travels that it is difficult to find enough time to feel nostalgic about places you have already visited. Though do have a habit of talking about places I love through the Time-Turner Series, right now I am dying to go pub hopping, walk down beautiful streets, take in the fragrance of the forest, or listen to the mesmerizing songs of birds. There are so many places I am dreaming of that it is difficult to imagine another few months without heading out anywhere. So till it is actually safe to step out, let's keep dreaming. 

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

Here are the places I would like to head to once the Pandemic is behind us and, if possible, spend a few weeks there:  

Cotswolds, UK


Cotswolds is a narrow sliver of land that runs through six English counties, mainly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, in south-central England. The area sits on a bed of ancient Jurassic era limestone that gives Cotswold its grassland like flora and also the trademark golden/yellow cottages that are constructed using the stone. The cottages have ruled my heart for years. I visited Cotswold in 2011 and in my mind the area is a little more than a green and yellow haze because of the startling contrast between rolling green hills that stretch for miles and the golden cottages that dot the area. 

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

My favorite town in Cotswolds is Bourton-on-the-Water. Now this is the place that symbolizes the entire Cotswolds for me. The cottages here were amall but there were many narrow alleys flanked by the pretty cottages. Adding to the charm were the colorful flowers planted in the many window boxes. I felt like roaming around these streets, talking to the wonderful people who live in such pretty houses. And I felt like doing this for hours. Unfortunately our coach trip did not allow this flexibility and I was less daring back then.

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

The highlight of the halt at Bourton-on-the-Water is the benign river Windrush that flows through the village. Low bridges connect the two banks every now and then, and children, adults, and the elderly all seem relaxed and laid back. Some sit with their feet dipped in the river, while others patiently wait for fish to bite at their baits. There were kids running around, just being kids, and a general sense of peace, calm, and well-being prevailed in this Utopian village.

Siem Reap, Cambodia


The thing that stands out the most about the city is really the awesome and dazzling night market. Countless fairy lights, bars on the streets, shops, pop-up restaurants serving all kinds of food, stalls selling food that is enough to give you nightmares, clothes, tourists, general sense of happiness, all stand out when I think of Siem Reap's night market. I feel we had too little time in Siem Reap though.

I remember the first time we saw fried ice cream rolls being made. We stood there like children and gleefully observed the vendor's dexterous movements. There was also a moment when a street vendor encouraged my nephew to eat a spider, which my nephew politely turned down. But the vendor still kindly let him click pictures of his stall. 

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

When I think of Siem Reap, I think of mysterious ruins, glitter and dazzle, gaiety, laughter, food, and a sense of well being. If luck allows, I would love to go back to this city and stay for a little longer. Probably explore lesser known temples and then spend some well-earned relaxed evenings in the night market. May be even try a bug or two. The place is worth visiting again for sure. 

Chiang Mai, Thailand


Chiang Mai will forever be etched in my memories. When I think back at that time, we had reached there after several hours on flight, another few hours in the queue for Visa on Arrival and then been through a mess-up in our booking when we arrived in Chiang Mai. You can read about all this here: Visa on Arrival Mayhem and Mystery of the Missing Hotel Booking

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

I remember the first meal we had in Chiang Mai. We chose a comparatively upscale restaurant. When I say comparatively, I mean compared to how we ate during the rest of our stay in Thailand, relying upon street food and loads of fluids. This meal was Khao Soi, a North Thailand specialty, and Pad Thai with shrimps. Pad Thai happens to be my most favorite dish in Thai cuisine, and I remember thinking that Indian version was better. 

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

Another aspect I remember about the stay was the long and tiring walks we undertook every day and how wonderful foot massages felt after that. I was especially tired on day 1 when we didn't want to waste a day even after super-tiring journey. And the middle-aged lady who gave me a foot massage was very thorough and skilled. It refreshed me completely.

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

The other vivid memory is that of the endless night market, the Christmas spirit, and our first exposure to nightlife that kind of challenged our senses. I remember lights, open air restaurants, Sushi stalls, coffee vans that did not want to be photographed, God knows why. There were lights and colors everywhere, and there were little kids who were performing English songs to a huge audience on the streets. There was even a procession of kids singing Christmas carols walking through all this. It was amazing. It was electric. 

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica


Of all the things that beckon me, bird songs are the most powerful. And one place where the land was echoing with the songs of several birds, was Monteverde Cloud Forest, high up in the cloud-covered mountains of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

One has to spend several hours inside the forest and really experience the ethereal fragrance and sounds. You will come across toucans and toucanets, hummingbirds, Motmots, Trogons, thrushes, bellbird and what not. You can take a leisurely stroll and spend the entire day, provided it does not start raining. It usually rains every evening in Costa Rica. 

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

If you want to forget about your daily lives and lose yourself to nature, this is the best place to retreat to. It is safe, tranquil, and laid-back. If you happen to go to South America, I would definitely recommend Costa Rica and Monteverde in particular. 

Yuksom, Sikkim

If there is one place in India that appears to be straight out of fairytales, it is Yuksom in Sikkim. And when I think of that place, I remember peace, serenity, greenery, birds, flowers, fish, and all things pretty and beautiful. 

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

We had planned a couple of days’ stay in Pelling but only half a day in Yuksom. If there was any regret during our Sikkim tour, it was that we didn't spend enough time at Yuksom. We should have at least stayed a night. Waking up in this wonderful town would have been some experience. Because it looked like a place where pastel-colored musicals are filmed. A place where nothing bad can ever happen.

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

One memory that stands out in particular is that of two ducks walking side-by-side along the road against a backdrop of lush green on the sidewalk. I think I may have built the scene up a little in my memory, but then it was such a scene. And then we chanced upon the most ethereal lake possible.

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

Lake Kathog (also known as Karthok) revealed itself to us suddenly as we crossed a grassy trail after purchasing a trivially priced ticket. It was silent except the rush of winds through the trees and on the grasses. There were a few birds putting up their most melodious performance. Countless goldfish swam around peacefully. Can anything be more pristine?

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

The next memory that stands out is that of the long trek to Dubdi Monastery. While the Monastery lies at the top of a hill, with a steep, paved walk leading up to it through the forest, the destination is completely worth the arduous journey.  I remember lush lawns, classic dampness of a place high up in the mountains, amid clouds. I also remember colourful flowers. There was also another couple enjoying the same sight. 

Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Sikkim, Yuksom, India, Cotswolds, UK, Dream Destinations

If I talk about my most favorite places in the world, Yuksom is definitely somewhere on the top of the list. To my mind it is a slice of Scottish Highlands right here in India. It is also one of the places right out of the Enid Blyton fairytales. It is a place I would love to go back to and just walk around day after day after day. 

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