Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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Archive for the ‘Trinidad’ Category

All posts for Trinidad

Timelapsing Through Trinidad

Posted by Rishiray on March 28, 2014

Timelapsing Through Trinidad : Here’s a great timelapse video shot in the island of Trinidad by photographers Kevin Huggins and Anthony Fung. The journey takes you from the beaches, to the cities, to the country side and back to the beaches. It is flawlessly produced and has a powerful soundtrack that enhances the amazing visuals. I’ll quit talking now and let you watch this. I promise, you’ll be amazed.

How They Did It


For 10 days in August 2011, Anthony and Kevin set out on an “epic” adventure to timelapse some of Trinidad. In their words

“The adventure was awesome… some of the TLs not so much… but hey it was literally all about the journey… and shooting a tremendous 25,000+ stills”

I must confess that the music is definitely more epic than some of the clips. Still, hope you enjoy the vid :)

Music: “Globus” by 1M1 Music
via Music Loops

Photographers & Videographers:

  • Kevin Huggins
  • Anthony Fung

Camera Equipment:

  • Canon 5DMKII
  • Canon 7D
  • Panasonic GH2

Posted in Caribbean, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Tobago Travel Contest : Tobago’s Island Connoisseur

Posted by Rishiray on January 20, 2014

It’s the Summer Job of a Lifetime! A  Radical  Sabbatical!1-20-2014 5-03-29 PM


Tourism Tobago is launching an exciting initiative – one Canadian will land the coveted position of the Tobago “Island Connoisseur” (Tobago’s Island Connoisseur)! The Island Connoisseur will share their experiences with Canadians via social media this summer. All expenses will be covered and the position pays a salary of $30,000 for the two-month stint. This could be a launching pad for an amazing career or a radical sabbatical for an accomplished professional – it’s the summer job of a lifetime!


The Island Connoisseur will spend 60 days in paradise experiencing Tobago’s people, music, food, resorts, and a dazzling array of activities ranging from snorkelling and turtle watching to mountain biking and off-road safaris.


The winner will be a “connoisseur” of life – an outgoing, adventurous social media whiz with a zest for life and learning while immersed in the amazing culture of Tobago.


The winner will be on-site in paradise in July and August,  2014. The program kicks off on January 13th and details can be found at


Entrants will provide a short bio and a 30 second video explaining why they would be the ideal Tobago Island Connoisseur. A panel of travel industry experts will pick the top 10 applicants and then Canadians will vote to decide who will become the Island Connoisseur.
A media spend through Rogers Media of $100,000 in television exposure, as well as $35,000 in online ads. This is in addition to the PR launch activity and social media outreach.
Outreach will also be made to colleges and universities with programs such as travel and tourism, journalism, radio television arts, etc.

Please visit 60daysinparadise for more information

Posted in Travel Wisdom, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Ask a Trini : 11 reasons to love Trinidad

Posted by Rishiray on September 20, 2013

While I tend to write about all aspects of travel … the good and the bad … I thought I would remind everyone about some of the reasons I love Trinidad.

  1. Where else can you get Indian, Africa and “Indo-African” or “Afro-Indian” food?
    In Trinidad, you can find curry chicken in any Roti Shop. You can find a “Stew Chicken” on the streets of Port of Spain, but where else would you be able to find a “Curry-Stew Chicken”? Only in Trinidad!
  2. Being able to eat “Doubles” … on demand
    Seriously … only in Trinidad, can you find “Doubles” that will have 7 types of chutney. It’s such a simple yet ridiculously addictive “dish” … I can’t call it a dish … it seems so wrong. You can have 4 of them and be full for the rest of the day. You’ll also never have the same “Doubles” twice … every one technically tastes different and no vendor has the same recipe.
  3. Nightlife in the North
    Seriously … we are a people who have the ability to “lime”/hang out on demand. We will ditch our jobs for the day, if friends are coming into the airport, if there is a beach party going on, if we’re craving some special dish. We’ll also ditch work, if the we had a long night out … if you’re heading “North” on a Thursday night … it’s customary that you won’t see people at work on Friday.
  4. A ridiculous number of public holidays
    We have many cultures in Trinidad. To accommodate all the cultures, history and religion … everyone gets a public holiday. Here’s a list of 2013 public holidays. It’s also an established fact, that if the holiday falls on a Monday or a Friday, then people will choose to make a 4 day weekend out of it.

    1st – New Year’s Day
    29th Good Friday30th Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day
    1st Easter Monday
    30th Corpus Christi30th Indian Arrival Day

    19th Labour Day

    1st Emancipation Day
    TBA Eid-Ul-Fitr31st Independence Day
    24th Republic Day
    TBA Divali
    25th Christmas Day
    26th Boxing Day
  5. Everyone wants to “Wine”
    I don’t need to say anything else … not all of us can “wine” … I’ll be the first one to say … I didn’t focus on this aspect of Trini-dom while growing up there.
  6. Speaking of Wining … our music …
    No need for explanation … a couple songs from Machel Montano and you’re in the vibe.
  7. Ridiculously sexy accents abound
    True story … it’s a confirmed fact that the Trinidadian accent is one of the sexiest accents in the world. If you want lyrical gymnastics to the soundtrack of a sexy accent … listen to a Trinidadian speak.
  8. It’s a natural and cultural paradise
    Where else can you find a Pitch Lake, the Devil’s Woodyard,  along with one of the tallest Hanuman Statues in the world and a floating temple in the sea?
  9. You can go to Tobago. Nuff said!
    Tobago is one of the reef and diving capitals of the world. Trinidadians forget how lucky they are to enjoy the natural splendor of Tobago without a passport. Beach hopping in Tobago is definitely a treat.
  10. Driving the Mayaro-Manzanilla stretch
    I’ve been on some of the best drives in the world … and this 17 mile stretch is one of the best in the world.
  11. Carnival in Trinidad
    I don’t need to say more

If you’re looking for more things to do in Trinidad … feel free to stumble on my list of 100 things to do in Trinidad.

Posted in Ask a Trini, Caribbean, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

How to piss off a Trinidadian

Posted by Rishiray on August 26, 2013

Trinidadians are a musical, vibrant, cosmopolitan, sexy people with a ridiculously awesome accent. We are the smallest country to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. We have had world champions come from these tiny shores : Hasley Crawford, Ato Boldon, Keshorn Walcott. One of the world’s greatest cricketers came from Trinidad : Brian Lara. There are unique natural attractions in Trinidad : Pitch Lake. So with all this in mind … here are some excellent ways on “How to piss off a Trinidadian” :

Be ignorant of Trinidad’s location.

  • I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told that Trinidad was part of Cuba, Central America, Mexico or Africa. I’ve had to convince people to look on Google Maps on their own phones/iPad to see where it is. So if you really want to start pissing of a Trinidadian, tell them that the only Trinidads you could find were in Mexico or the U.S.A.

Tell them that Carnival in “XYZ place” is better than Carnival in Trinidad

  • If you’ve been to Carnival in Rio and then come to Trinidad for Carnival for a completely different experience. As much as Trinidadians like to say that Carnival is the “Greatest Show on Earth” … I would say that it’s one of the best Carnival celebrations on the planet. There is no best Carnival after seeing many of them around the world. This being said … if you going to call out Trinidad’s Carnival and say that it’s second place to any other … you’re going to get a lot of angry tones and words tossed your way.

Say you had a better “Doubles” or “Roti” or “Pelau” outside of Trinidad

  • Trinidadians love their food. They love their food as much as they love their alcohol … never mind that we have love songs to Rum.
    However it’s not possible to get any Trinidadian food better than what you can find in Trinidad. If you ever mention this to a Trinidadian, they will first ask “Have you actually been to Trinidad?”, followed by “I don’t think you’ve actually enough Trinidadian food to be an expert” and finally if you actually respond … you’ll get an “Anyways … next topic”. If you persist in your line of reasoning, you’re liable to start pissing the Trinidadian off.

Call them Guyanese.

  • There is almost no insult more provoking for a Trinidadian than to be called Guyanese. Conversations of this nature start like this …Random person on hearing your accent … “Hey buddy, where are you from?”
    Trini … “I’m from Trinidad”
    Random guy … “Awesome dude, I have another friend from Guyana”
    Trini … “You don’t say … … …. “<long, silent pause, while cursing and swearing in his mind already>
    Random guy … “Yeah, he’s a great guy, but you guys kinda sound different, maybe you’ve been here for a while”
    Trini … “Maybe because he’s from South America and I’m from the Caribbean! That might have something to do with it”
    Random guy … “Maybe!”For Trinidadians, it’s a point of pride that we’re from a country where there is no civil unrest, semi decent fiscal policy, no need to take a suitcase of worthless money to buy a loaf of bread, invented a new musical form and brought Soca and Calypso to the world.

Call them Jamaican.

  • See the point above … except that Trinidad and Jamaica are in the West Indies

Piss off an Indo-Trinidadian.

  • If you meet a Trinidadian of Indian descent, be super surprised that he/she is from Trinidad. Do remark that you completely didn’t expect them to look the way they look. When they ask inquire about your expectations, please absolutely tell them that you’ve only met Afro-Trinidadians and you thought that all Trinidadians came from Africa. If you really, really want to piss them off, you can ask why they don’t sound like the guys from Cool Runnings. Also add that you have a lot of Indian friends and that they’re a great hard working bunch. This will surely raise tensions and should lead you closer to pissing someone off.

Piss off an Afro-Trinidadian.

  • Ask them the following questions
       – Why don’t you sound like the guys from Cool Runnings?
       – Where is your Bob Marley T-Shirt?
       – Where can I buy weed?
    – Do you have 12 children?

    Ask them why they don’t have an “African accent”, since you’re surprised how different their accent is. As they speak more and probably get super annoyed, really emphasise that you think there is a universal ‘African accent’ and you’ve heard it many times. Describe the accent and even do a caricature impression with inflated facial expressions and hand gestures. Explain that the ‘African accent’ is much more bouncy and sing-songy than their own and that they must have spent a lot of time overseas. Skepticism is the key. Throwing in “Really!?!?” and “Are you sure?!?!” reinforces the disbelief as it undermines their entire backstory and should piss them off.

Piss off a Asian-Trinidadian

  • If you happen to meet a rarer species of Trinidadian in the Asian persuasion, ask them why they don’t sound Chinese. Ask them if Chinese Fried Rice and Trinidadian Fried Rice are different. Tell them that they’re so exotic and they almost sound a badly dubbed Chinese movie, like they’re speaking to the wrong sound track.

Piss off a Arab/Syrian/Lebanese-Trinidadian

  • Ask them where to find drugs … I dare you 🙂 Indicate that you heard something through the grapevine and that there can’t be any of them in honest activities. Ask them for a discount at one of the malls.

Trinidad has great food, culture and music, but that’s beside the point. Trinidad is the people. It’s a tiny nation with cultures from all across the world, which has mixed and bubbled into a very unique culture. If you can’t figure this all out, then we surely don’t want you as a friend!

Posted in Ask a Trini, Caribbean, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

20 facts about Trinidad and Tobago …

Posted by Rishiray on June 26, 2013

Completely copied from facebook through Pablo Gordon … don’t know who wrote it.

  1. The Steelpan: The only new acoustic instrument to be invented and accepted worldwide in the 20th century originated in Trinidad and Tobago.
  2. Trinidad and Tobago is home to the world’s largest traffic roundabout around the Queen’s Park Savannah.
  3. In 2006, Trinidad and Tobago became the smallest country ever to qualifier for the 2006 Football World Cup.
  4. Trinidad and Tobago contestant Ms Janelle “Penny” Commissiong was the first Black Miss Universe in 1977.
  5. Trinidad and Tobago’s Brian Charles Lara holds the record for the highest individual score in a test innings (400 not out against England, Antigua 2004). He is also the only batsman to have ever scored a hundred, a double century, a triple century, a quadruple century and a quintuple century in first class games over the course of a senior career.
  6. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the oldest hydrocarbon producers in the world, with commercial production dating as early as 1908. Trinidad and Tobago is also a major petrochemical hub and is the one of the world’s largest exporters of ammonia, ethanol and liquefied natural gas. The two largest methanol plants in the world are found in Trinidad.
  7. The Leatherback Turtle: the largest of all living turtles chooses the shores of Trinidad and Tobago as one of its nesting grounds. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most important leatherback nesting sites.
  8. The Pitch Lake: The Pitch Lake in South Trinidad is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world.
  9. Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso, a style of Afro-Caribbean music that gained international popularity in the 1950s, primarily through the music of Harry Belafonte.
  10. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival has been consistently ranked as one of the top ten Carnival celebrations in the world. It is popularly known as “The Greatest Show on Earth”. The founder of the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street festival, Claudia Jones, also hails from Trinidad and Tobago.
  11. The limbo dance originated as an event that took place at wakes in Trinidad and Tobago, but became internationally renowned through the work of Julia Edwards and her dance company in the 1960s.
  12. The oldest rainforest reserve in the Western Hemisphere is located in Tobago. Little Tobago is home to the world’s largest brain coral. Trinidad and Tobago has over 400 species of birds, making it one of the richest birding countries per square mile.
  13. Tobago was the location of Daniel Defoe’s classic Robinson Crusoe. Tobago is also widely believed to be the place Robert Louis Stevenson had in mind when he penned Treasure Island.
  14. On August 1, 1985 Trinidad and Tobago became the world’s first country to declare a public holiday in commemoration of the abolition of slavery.
  15. Trinidad and Tobago-born Stokley Carmichael (also known as Kwame Ture) was a member of the United States Civil Rights Movement who rose to prominence as the Honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party. He popularized the term “black power” as a social and political slogan.
  16. The only national to serve as Prime Minister and President of Trinidad and Tobago, ANR Robinson was instrumental in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) during his tenure as Prime Minister from 1986-1991. In 1989, during the 44th session of the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Robinson proposed the creation of the court, which was eventually inaugurated in 2002 to hear cases of crimes against humanity.
  17. Trinidad and Tobago’s Dr Joseph Lennox Pawan achieved international acclaim for the discovery of the transmission of the rabies virus by vampire bats. This led to the development of a vaccine for the virus.
  18. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Eugene Chen left behind a successful career and moved to China where he founded the Peking Gazette. Chen later became the Foreign Minister to four successive governments and the personal adviser to Sun Yat-Sen, the founder of Nationalist China.
  19. The Trinidad accent ranks 10th on the CNN’s top ten sexiest accents in the world.
  20. The Trinidad Moruga “Scorpion” Pepper has officially been ranked as the world’s hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of Records.

Posted in Trinidad | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

What I don’t miss about Trinidad Carnival 2013 and 2014 edition

Posted by Rishiray on May 24, 2013

It’s been a year since my last Carnival in Trinidad. I really thought I would miss being home … but I’m getting older… so here’s what I don’t miss about Trinidad Carnival

  • I don’t miss the high price of appearing at fetes. When was the last time you checked the price to fete for Carnival week? Don’t know … well I’ll tell you. If you’re going to fete for the entire week and if you’re a world boss and if you don’t have any regard for money and your liver and your stomach … here’s the fiscal damage
    • Saturday – a week before Carnival : Mirage – Bryden’s All Inclusive : 625$ TTD
    • Sunday : Addiction All inclusive breakfast party : 400$ TTD
    • Sunday : Normandie under the Trees : All inclusive breakfast party : 550$ TTD
    • Monday : Rest up … no fetes on that Monday
    • Tuesday : Eyes Wide Shut at the Hilton : 450 TTD and it’s not all inclusive.
    • Wednesday : We Wednesday at the Queens Park Oval : 300$TTD all inclusive.
    • Thursday : Headley All Inclusive : 950$TTD all inclusive … what d’fuck? Yep that’s the price
    • Friday : Island People GirlPower : 600$TTD all inclusive … btw see my Fuck you Island People post.
    • Saturday : Ultimate One All Inclusive : 65o$TTD
    • Saturday : Triniposse Cooler Fete : 300$TTD
    • Sunday : Moka All Inclusive:  1000$TTD
    • Grand Total of 5825 TTD or 900 USD!!! To fete for a week – for one person!!! If you’re taking someone along with you … well then only middle class American/Canadian/British tourists can pay 

  • I don’t miss the laborious process to actually find tickets. Where else in the world would you pay top dollar to go to a party and not be able to figure how to get tickets to the aforementioned party. Questions like
    • You know anyone on the committee?
    • You have a link to get tickets?
    • Who know “so and so” … you know Trinis .. last minute?
  • I don’t miss the traffic … this isn’t a Carnival thing … but I don’t miss it one bit. We’re not Mexico City, Bangkok or Manila but we definitely rival them on the murder stats and the time wasted due to traffic.
  • I don’t miss actually trying to play in a “prestige” band. You can always find tickets for one of the smaller bands with less sexy costumes, but God help you, if you’re trying to play in Harts, Tribe or some other “high class, high colour” band if you don’t have the right connections. It’s absolutely preposterous how difficult the process is … yet another reason that we will always be a third rate tourist destination. It’s too difficult for the average tourist to figure this stuff out.
  • I don’t miss the lack of creativity in costumes. The whole thing has just turned into a street party. Maybe that we should change the slogan from “World’s Greatest Show” to “World’s Most Awesome Street Party” … it’s definitely not a great show anymore!

I do miss walking with a cooler to a fete though …


Posted in Caribbean, Trinidad | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Ask a Trini : Let’s fix Trinidad’s tourism slogan

Posted by Rishiray on May 10, 2013

Every time I see an slogan for Jamaica, Dominican Republic or Cancun, it makes my blood boil a little each time. In April 2013, the Caribbean Tourism Organization sponsored a conference in Trinidad on Sustainable Tourism Development. This was a nice little dog and pony show to communicate to the 100 interested people that we take tourism seriously – as though Trinidadians or the the Government of Trinidad actually takes tourism seriously. I was browsing through the last three years of presentations – not a single presentation on social media or how other countries/tourist boards have used social media to increase their brand awareness.

I have to admit my bias in being only interested in initiatives that would increase Trinidad’s tourist product awareness, simply because other islands (Jamaica, Barbados) have superior brand awareness. Thankfully, there were none – so it saved me a lot of toilet reading, and allowed me to focus on my Economist iPad magazine and some gossip blogs.

Here is  question for you: What’s the slogan for Trinidad & Tobago? Or even “What’s Trinidad’s tourism slogan?” If you could have answered “Trinidad & Tobago – the true Caribbean”, then you’re waaayyyy better than I am – because I really had no idea. I have no goddamn clue about what that slogan actually means … does it mean that everywhere else in the island is not the “real Caribbean”? If it was, then gimme the fake Caribbean with customer service, low crime rate, stunning beaches and no pollution !

Really? The True Caribbean?

Why bother competing with the other islands on their natural beauty, beaches and tourist infrastructure? We CAN’T … the other islands are just better at promoting their product, while we haven’t truly identified our product. Here’s an idea, lets promote what we are great in … our people and culture. We can’t even articulate what we’re about, yet we want people to come to Trinidad.

I was reading through a list of other countries slogans, and there are certain countries that pitch nothing but a vague thought as a means to sell their destination:

  • Anguilla Feeling is Believing
  • Florida Keys Come As You Are
  • Hungary A Love for Life
  • Taiwan Touch Your Heart

How about these one word slogans – don’t these just pull at you?

  • Brazil Sensational!
  • Incredible India
  • Cool Japan
  • WOW Philippines
  • Uniquely Singapore
  • Amazing Thailand
  • Discover Peru – and I’m definitely going to discover Machu Picchu and Cusco.

Some place brand themselves as value destinations … hence the two word slogans

  • Italy Much More
  • Germany Affordable Hospitality

You want a slogan … here are a couple samples for Trinidad’s tourism slogan …

Trinidad & Tobago – The Culture Island!
Trinidad : Culture!!!
Trinidad: The land of festivals!

I love the talk of initiatives, but our first idea should be to re-brand Trinidad’s slogan, because we are not the True Caribbean, in fact we are

Trinidad and Tobago : THE Different Caribbean!

For your reading pleasure… here is a sample list of tourist slogans from http://touristvstraveller.wordpress.com. Fiona’s site made my life a million times easier for this blog post. You should visit her blog for some more interesting reading and for a full list of other travel slogans.


  • Antigua and Barbuda – The beach is just the beginning…
  • Argentina beats to your rhythm
  • Bermuda – so much more
  • Bolivia awaits you
  • Brasil – sensational!
  • Canada – keep exploring
  • Colombia – the only risk is wanting to stay
  • CoColumbia
  • Costa Rica – no artificial ingredients
  • Autentica Cuba
  • Dominica – the nature island
  • Dominican Republic has it all
  • Ecuador – love life
  • Guyana – experience, explore & enjoy
  • Honduras – todo esta aqui
  • Nicaragua – Unica. Original!
  • Paraguay – You have to feel it!
  • Peru – Empire of Hidden Treasures
  • Puerto Rico does it better
  • Uruguay natural
  • Venezuela is your destination!

Posted in Ask a Trini, Caribbean, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Tourism in Trinidad … here’s 10 quick thoughts for improvement.

Posted by Rishiray on April 22, 2013

The TT government is trying to make tourism in Trinidad a viable industry. When I see articles like this in the newspapers, http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-04-15/tt-moves-prop-falling-tourism-industry … I really wonder what is the in the brain of the leaders – like our Tourism minister talking about a “Coming home year”. The idiocy of the idea is just rampant – why would anyone want to come to Trinidad, when the global awareness is so poor? When Trinis won’t come home … you know you have a problem. However, I can’t solve all that is wrong with tourism in Trinidad, in an article, but I can offer 10 thoughts on improving the tourist experience in Trinidad

  1. Support the idea that every Trini is a brand ambassador, both at home and abroad. Only when we can truly go outside in the world and send people to our country, without fear of our friends being shot or being able to find a reliable taxi at midnight, can we start selling the country.
  2. A clean country is a clean people. Trinis are notorious litterbugs … it’s disgusting through Port of Spain, Chaguanas or San Fernando and see so much trash on the streets. Cleanliness is one of the first items, tourists mention when they’ve visited a place. Have you ever heard that Canada or Singapore are dirty places? Think about it …
  3. Here’s an idea … actually enforce the litter act and have fines/deterrents for people who litter and burn trash
  4. Create a taxi stand at the airport – not just hustlers. A taxi is usually the first interaction, that a visitor has with Trinidad. Poorly trained or shady taxi drives instantly put a visitor on the defensive, and sets the tone that all Trinis are thieves or out to rip them off.
    1. Institute metering at the airport for taxis.
    2. Have clearly marked prices/signs for taxis.
    3. Ensure that only accredited airport taxis can pick up passengers at the airport.
    4. Have a positive/negative feedback mechanism for visitors using taxis. If places like Uzbekistan and the Philippines can have it, then we sure can too.
  5. Trinidad is not just Carnival … we have culture, architecture and some amazing food. Here are some ideas off the top of my head …
    1. A Trini food tour going for Doubles in Curepe, Aloo Pies/Saheenas in Debe, lunch at Breakfast Shed, herb picking in Paramin etc would be a phenomenal idea for the TDC to implement.
    2. Tours of old Sugar plantations, rum distilleries and old building associated with the trade … another nice to have.
    3. How about cultural tours of Indo-Trini, Afro-Trini and Sino-Trini cultures
    4. Pub crawl or party bus going through different bars on Ariapita Ave? If the Latin Americans can perfect this … why not us?
  6. How about a tourist information booth at the airport that works and that has well trained staff?
    1. I’ve heard that pamplets and printed materials work with people who read? Can we assume that tourists read?
  7. Communicate a plan with the masses and get the people involved. Trinis are notoriously “laissez faire”, but if we incorporate the business people into the plan and explain how the long term viability of tourism will help everyone, then maybe Trinis would get off their asses and help, but I know we are a people who have to be “incentivized”.
  8. Use Caribbean Airlines in the same way that Iceland uses IcelandAir … weekends from London or Toronto are the same price. Subsidize airfares from countries where you want to increase the tourist quotient. Trinidad has zero or little international brand awareness outside very specific communities. Think about it …
  9. Work on a social media/online campaign that makes sense … want to see a great one? Visit the ad campaign channel for Newfoundland & Labrador
  10. Sponsor social media discovery of tourism in Trinidad. Bring in travel bloggers and media specialists to highlight all that Trinidad has to offer!

Have some ladoo .. 😀

Posted in Ask a Trini, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Why have a Trini Travel Blog?

Posted by Rishiray on April 11, 2013

Trini travel blog – Why bother writing one? As the presence of the blog has grown over the last 7 years, I’ve gotten many an e-mail from Trinis around the world. What’s funny is that I’ve also gotten e-mails from other readers or stumblers across the world and a persistent question is “What’s a Trini?”

My answer is that a Trini is anyone from the twin island republic of Trinidad & Tobago. Trinis are also the hardest partiers in the Caribbean … there is no doubt on this one, even from the Jamaicans (as much as they argue with us). No matter where you go, you’ll always meet someone who’ll say ‘Oh yeah I have a friend who is a Trini!’ or ‘My university roommate was from Trinidad!’. T&T is a small twin island country, but we have a profound world influence in sports and music. We have a saying “Trinis are like salt, we’re in everything!”.

Geographically, we’re at the bottom of the Caribbean, the very last island in the chain, right off the border from the mainland of South America.
[mappress mapid=”95″]

The more I’ve travelled around the world, the less surprised I am to find Trinis wandering around, yet when I hear the sing-song accent of a Trini, it makes me so happy. That being said, when I first started writing, I could find nothing when I googled “Trini Travel Blog”. Even today, I still find search results from non Trinis. This blog was really started to keep track of my own personal travels and it’s grown over the years, to tell of one Trini’s travel experience. Over the years, there have been more Trini travel blogs that came online, but not enough for my taste. It’s always good to have multiple Trini travel perspectives, since I know Trinis really do get around.

Here’s a cold Thursday morning image for you from Speyside, Tobago
Trini Travel Blog
I’d love to have some thoughts from other Trinis though? Let me know of your own adventures or another Trini travel blog.

Posted in Ask a Trini, Caribbean, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ask a Trini : How to spend 24 hours in Trinidad?

Posted by Rishiray on November 15, 2012

This has to be one of most asked questions I’ve gotten asked or referral from Google on to this site, with this in mind, I’ve decided to add a new section called “Ask a Trini”. For the following question, I typically offer the following advice to start …

 Trinidad is not a generally safe place at night …. rent a car, if you anticipate any travelling at night.
Traffic in Trinidad is brutal … anticipate that between 7am and 7pm, it will take between 60-90 minutes to get from Piarco Airport to Port of Spain
If you’re walking around downtown Port of Spain, never ask directions or say you’re lost.
If you do chat with locals you don’t know and they ask the purpose of your visit, always say ‘Yea man, I have some family in Central’, if they press for more details … “just reply with Central, no one needs to know specifics”

If you’re on a layover for less than 24 hours, you might get to do one or two things given the traffic and transport situation. I would actually recommend trying to organize a tour or better yet … a driver with good knowledge of Trinidad. I have a list of people/drivers I can always recommend for this purpose.

Here is a comprehensive list of 100 things to do in Trinidad that I’ve compiled. This should help you along your way. You’re looking for a specific idea … well you can always email me at rishi@rishiray.com, I’ll be happy to suggest an idea based on your preferences.

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On my way to Seoul, I found a ridiculous description of “Trini language”

Posted by Rishiray on November 9, 2012

I’m officially tired.

In 36 hours, I would have done the following

  • Edmonton to Vancouver
  • Vancouver to Toronto – stopped off for an all day meeting downtown
  • Toronto to Vancouver then to Seoul, South Korea.

Of course, I’m researching everything to do or eat in Korea and I’ve stumbled on some great blogs including this guy’s blog. Pretty good stuff on here, then I saw that he had also passed through Trinidad, obviously I had to read what he wrote on Trinidad. I have to say, it made me laugh … not in the good way but in that way you laugh at “special people”. I know that my blog gets a lot of traffic and I try to represent my thoughts in a somewhat coherent fashion and I also try to ensure that “my facts” are actually facts. So here I am reading this guy’s post on Trinidad and then I stumble on this nugget of information “I must also add that the main language here is “Trini” a kind of funky Caribbean dialect with a hint of English”


Seriously!!! Someone could say that about Irish Gaelic … which wouldn’t be true, but it would be more true than the statement above. Now I know that this chap got his information from some random hustling taxi driver at the airport … but c’mon, check the facts before you write.

Here is the comment I posted on his blog

Seeing that I’m from Trinidad … I had to offer a couple corrections on your post.

1. The pictures in the airport are previous Prime Ministers and Governor Generals – not local celebrities 😀
2. The main language is English. Trini is just an accent/dialect … it’s Irish Gaelic is an actual language. There is a difference.
3. Port of Spain is the largest city on the island. I’m from Chaguanas – it’s definitely not as large as POS geographically. Population wise POS – should encompass Laventille, Diego Martin etc.
4. Speaking Spanish in Trinidad is rude – the only people who speak Spanish in Trinidad are drug dealers and Colombian/Venezuelan prostitutes. True story
5. Solomon Hochoy … not Salaman Ocho whatever you said.
6. NP is National Petroleum
7. Your taxi driver showed you the Beetham/Laventille area with the “gas tanks” – i.e. the slums
8. The statue on the Promenade is not Brian Lara but A.A. Cipriani. Thankfully you read the sign 😀
9. Sorry about getting crappy doubles …
10. Excellent City Center is not a claim, but a brand. As you’ve been to Asia, you can now understand. Excellent is owned by Chinese people.
11. People don’t get water from hydrants.

Anyway thanks for the blog fodder … too bad that you got a shit tour from some hustler – but you were on a layover, so not much could really be expected.

I don’t know what annoyed me more … the Trini taking advantage of this guy, him thinking he was super smart or the abject lack of researching anything. Also him complaining about the pictures that the “tour” guide was taking for him … the taxi driver probably couldn’t even understand his Irish accent.

Anyway … I’ve learned that if you want to be completely lazy when blogging … just type some garbage and put a picture of a pretty girl or two on it.

Update : Here was the authors comment to me on another post (classy guy I tell you) : Oh so now you DO speak Trini? Bloody hypocrite and hardly my fault if you have no sense of humour or dont realise the fact that I f**king know those pictures in the airport are of political figures, the very sentence that says “celebrities via politics” should give it away. Politicians are celebrities too. Next time I’ll just stay in the airport since you don’t feel proud to be from Trinidad or welcome visitors to your country. I’ve given it enough publicity for you. Buck eejit.

PS – the word “couple” in English means 2. Get your facts right before you start moaning like an old woman on speed.

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213 life lessons learned, while speaking Trini across the world …

Posted by Rishiray on November 1, 2012

It’s been 16 years since I left Trinidad. That’s a long time to leave home … but I still get compliments about how fresh my accent is. I always get comments such as :

“You don’t sound like you’re from Trinidad at all”
“Your Trini accent is made up, right?”
“Is that what Trinidadians sound like? I have another friend from Trinidad and he doesn’t sound anything like you”

I go back to Trinidad quite frequently in relative terms. At least twice a year for the last 7 years. You only “lose” an accent, if you actually want to. I’ve managed to create two somewhat different linguistic identities. One for business and one for friends and family back in Trinidad. Anyway, this post isn’t really about my accent but rather a couple life lessons I learned, while keeping my accent.

1. Putting your happiness on lay away … is stupid.

Friends and strangers who read my blog always wonder why I shouldn’t wait till I’m retired or have all the bill paid off to wander around the world or do what I want.My response is always the same … those people have made a critical assumption : Everything will remain the same as it is NOW!

This is a delusion. They assume that they can follow their parents or grand parents and work towards that “one thing” they want for years, then everything will be great and fine. My question is always, “What if, what you got in the end, isn’t what you wanted?” … then what the fuck do you do? Well you can’t really do anything … because by then it usually too late for most people to make a change.

There will always be some new priority, emergency or just a change in perspective. I truly believe that this search for some esoteric “long-term pure happiness” from one particular situation or achievement is a marketing and TV movie dream. If you’re content with what you have, live in the now, all while enjoying the progress and changes, you’re making, then you’ll always be happy. Work towards a dream but don’t let it define your happiness.

2. I’m not waiting on my ship or someone else’s ship

Many people have this strange concept that there are “mysterious” forces at work in the universe. That you’re somehow destined to be lucky or not. How some deity/karma/rabbit’s foot/horseshoe/lucky underwear will force things to magically fall in place for them. You are “due” to win the lottery or will get swept away by prince charming any day now. “You deserve it” (as if others don’t).

I don’t believe in the flying spaghetti monster, monotheistic religion or beings with a goat’s head and human body. I don’t disparage people’s beliefs, but I do get a little crazy when they want to apply their belief to others who don’t believe as such. The happiest people I know are those who got up off their asses and did something about their own happiness. Happiness takes tons of work and it takes tons of work to remain happy. True Story!

As a practical person, I see the world as a very logical place with physical and social rules and understanding this has helped me live well in it. The universe owes you nothing, you owe it to yourself to be the master of where your life ends up.

3. Travelling isn’t that hard … seriously. And it’s not expensive either.

Look at this ad.


It’s everything that is wrong about the idea of travelling. White sands, white people, indentured servants … I wish I was a white plantation owner in the 1700’s looking at this ad … my thoughts would have been … “What’s the big deal? This is Tuesday afternoon with the other plantation owners … these people are damn fools!!”

People get up every day and go out the door to travel the world. They live, work, survive and thrive. In fact, the travel industry has made it very easy – but they have also created the perception that while it’s easy to get out … that getting out should be very expensive, and if you’re not spending a lot of money, then you’re just having a fucking shitty time in comparison to everyone else.

My advice … just get on that plane or train or bus … have enough money to eat, and everything else will work itself out. You’re not going to be first person to attempt travelling or the first person to do it.

4. Destiny is a stripper in Montreal. That’s the extent of what Destiny is. There is no such thing as Destiny.

There you go. I’ve freed you. I’ve saved you tons of money in therapy. Thank me anytime with a scotch.

I hate when people attribute the good or bad of a situation to Destiny. This is a standard excuse by most people for why they’re not happy or haven’t done something with their lives. Yes, I know that you’re cursing, thinking about kids born in war or the slums of Brazil/Trinidad/Sierra Leone … those circumstances suck! However, I believe that your limitations are not set by who you know, where you were born, what genes you have, how much money you have, how old you are right now, what you did before or other things that you can claim are your stamp of failure for life.

If you are determined enough there is a shitload of opportunities in life that are totally achievable with minimal cash, regardless of who you are.

5. You will actually learn how to interact with people

I’ve always been a loud, brash, somewhat obnoxious person in public. That’s not a bad thing, but it does put you at odds with certain personality types. Roaming around the planet has taught me to how to be more social, adapt, be more flexible, and, most importantly, understand non-verbal communication a lot better. It has helped me figure out situations even when I don’t speak the language or can’t understand the situation. It has made more independent, more open, and just a better person. There’s no reason to be scared that you might not have “it” in you. You’d be surprised how often you can surprise yourself.

6. Don’t spend time trying to impress people … live your life and being happy is the best way to convince people

Enough words and enough arguing. Just live by example and soon you’ll have people on your side when they see your results and how passionate you are. No need to “convince” them. Just show them that you are there, tell them how you got there, and they will start to realize that maybe you aren’t that crazy after all.

7. Always ask for directions
You don’t know everything. Full Stop!!!

In many cultures, there is a stigma that asking for help makes you look weak and ignorant. Well I have news; nothing makes you look weaker and more ignorant than pontificating about things you have no clue about. Don’t dance around the issue – just say I don’t know. Honesty is way smarter. Remember no one has it all figured out. No one!!!

8. Possessions own you, not the other way around
I admit, I’ve bought a lot of useless, unnecessary crap. I’ve spent a lot of money on clothes I don’t wear, shoes I don’t walk in and liquor I don’t drink. (Well I’ll eventually find some great use for all my scotch). The real reason that we buy expensive useless shit, is because there is a certain validation that comes with expensive crap from other sheep/people/consumers. The need to buy new crap dictates your life – it fixes you in one location with that house and furniture, and it governs how much money you need to earn. And it almost never actually enriches your life in any way. The less you own the better.

9. People aren’t the stereotype unless you’ve wandered along in their country
Not all Irish people are drunks, not all Americans are stupid, not all Brazilians samba and play football, most Germans hate Hitler. You get the idea. Go out, see the world and deconstruct your stereotypes without even trying. Look and respect people’s differences, try to adapt to them yourself and realise that to them you might seem backwards in many ways.

10. Making mistakes is ok and trying to please everyone is pointless, stupid and tiring.
NO words necessary there.

11. Don’t be cheap on the road.
It’s one thing to be frugal or thrifty on the road, especially if you finally mustered the courage to live that dream. When you travel on a budget and need to make your money last, it’s easy to be cheap. however, always to use the following question to prioritize an expense …

Will I come back here again, in my lifetime?

Be honest with yourself in answering that question in your mind. If you lie to yourself and you could not eat the food in Italy, drink the wine in France, or have sushi in Japan, you’re going to regret it for a long time. Being frugal is good, but it’s also important to splurge and not miss out on doing once-in-a-lifetime things. Who knows, for example, when you will get another chance to sail the Maldives or see a man hanging from hooks in Sri Lanka?! Being cheap only fills you with regret.

Posted in Consulting Lifestyle, Monday Morning Consultant, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Corbeaux doh eat sponge cake … Johnnie Walker Black and Trinis

Posted by Rishiray on May 8, 2012

This morning while in the line to head to the US, I met a Trini and we chatted and followed the typical Trini social script, then he invited me to his house for a drink … no problem, right? He mentioned that he had a 1.75L bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, we could polish off with Coconut Water. So this got me to thinking about Trinis and Scotch!

Trinis have an affectation for scotch, you’ll note I don’t use the word affection. This is because the unofficial drink of the Trini masses is Johnnie Walker Black and coconut water. I do love a freshly chopped Coconut from the cooler, I really cannot stand the taste of coconut in anything else … and if the coconut water isn’t fresh, it immediately starts oxidizing. I don’t put much stock in the “moldiness” of it, however I do put stock in the fact that the older the coconut water, the more rancid it tastes.

In Trinidad, the official drink of Trinidadian men as long as I’ve been able to remember, is Johnnie Walker Black and coconut water. I don’t know how people can stomach this shitty drink … for example in Trinidad, you will actually see people going to a fete to drink Johnnie Walker Blue Label with coconut water. Anyone with a taste for decent scotch will pass on a Black and Coconut water … but this goes back to Trinis and their affectation for scotch.

We make great rum back home … Angostura 1919 or 1824 are very good rums that go well with cola or even coconut water, yet the desire to seem “uppity” or “bourge” (short for bourgeouise) has driven the middle class non-intelligensia to scotch because of that class connotation. There are even songs about Johnnie Walker and coconut water, of course by Rikki Jai.

Even worse, is the drinking of Johnnie Walker Red Label … it is akin to drinking paint thinner, but the review is basically that you always mix Red Label and not sip it. I’m ok with Red Label … because no one ever claimed it to be good. On the other hand, the painting of Black Label to be an example of “good” is heresy to a Single Malt drinker.
Then again … I’m not really the greatest fan of Johnnie Walker Blue Label either. Lord knows that going to one of the “high colour” society fetes for Carnival will bring on the Blue Label.


I’ve endured many a marathon drinking session watching people drink Johnnie Walker Black and Coconut water … in fact, I even offered my younger brother samples of two very good peaty Single Malts : Lagavulin 16 and Oban 14, which are quite decent by anyone’s palate, but they pronounced them undrinkable … in fact, words such as “this tastes like shit!!” were spoken … proving yet again a Trini Proverb …

“You can take an ass to water, but you can’t make him drink!

Here is an awesome Trinidadian rationale about why we love Johnnie Walker Black by a Disgruntled Trini (Note the Trini lingo in here)

Reason being is because Trinis are a set of waggonist

most if not everyone break out with rum and coke
but somebody tell yuh that Johhny is the real thing and convince you that Johnnie is the real scene
you didn’t find out for yourself it was not a natural progression it was just waggonist behavior

In the big scheme of things Johnnie Walker Walker is cheap scotch that is not world ranked and in truth and in fact Johnnie Walker Walker Red is more popular but is hardly seen in Trinidad. Secondly Trinis is the only people that does drink Johnnie Walker and Coconut and Johnnie Walker and _______.

My folks recently went to Scotland and they said they did not even see Johnnie Walker Walker. When they went out to drink Scotch the glass was warmed and you drank it neat.

I guess it is the power of advertising that makes people feel that Johnnie Walker Walker is the epitome of Scotch. What does real piss me off is the Corbeaux and sponge cake attitude of Trinis. The people who does go party and rum shop and drink rum and beers and will never buy Johnnie Walker Walker for themselves weather it be for monetary or some other reason. Those same people as they reach in a wedding or buy a padna house the fuss thing they reaching for is the Johnnie Walker Walker and will drink it till they vomit.

I do love the phrase Corbeaux and Sponge Cake … since it means that it does not matter how well intentioned the act, the individual is incapable of appreciating something for what it is.

Anyway … here’s hoping that your next drink will be a good one …. and here is my Shameless plug for Glenfiddich Explorers for 24 hours in Barcelona or Palau

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J’Ouvert morning 2012 … Blow yuh whistle, Knock yuh bottle

Posted by Rishiray on March 6, 2012


Before any discussion about J’Ouvert morning – hit play on the video. This has be to discussed against the backdrop of this song.

I’ll disclaimer myself … I am not a J’Ouvert expert. In fact, I think any foreigners who’ve visited Trinidad more than three times for the Carnival, have more J’Ouvert experience than myself. This is for a couple reasons

  • None of my Indian friends growing up played J’Ouvert
  • All Indian parents in Trinidad, south of the Grand Bazaar, think that you will get raped, pregnant, stabbed or shot during the wee hours of J’Ouvert
  • The stereotype was that only poor black people played in J’Ouvert. BTW Completely wrong!!!
  • Jab Molaissie would give you the “evil eye”

You get the idea now as to why I’m a fete/Carnival veteran but not a J’Ouvert veteran. J’Ouvert is the closest thing Trinidadians have to Halloweeen (Note – I’m not referring to the faux Halloween parties that the copy cat Trinidadians are doing to mimic Americans and what they see on TV)

How and why to play J’Overt??

This is a great question … and I have two answers for you.

  1. I typically fall behind a J’Overt band, since there is some security with the trucks. This is the cheapest approach, since it costs NOTHING. Walk with your bottle of desired drink and chip behind a band. If you wear an old plain white T-Shirt … people will toss paint, cocoa and oil all over you. No money required.
  2. For those who are doing it for the first time – I would recommend playing with a J’Ouvert band. There are many all inclusive bands that can cater to your whims and provide the illusion of safety for you.

There are also J’Ouvert celebrations all over the country. You don’t have to play mas in Port of Spain … but it definitely will not be as busy. There is a trade off with these things in Trinidad. Less people = less opportunity for danger = less energy and the reverse of that equation also applies.

Did I mention that J’Ouvert will also be the cheapest and probably most cultural of all your Carnival experiences? J’ouvert bands congregate around main themes – there are mud bands, paint bands, oil bands, baby powder bands, and most recently chocolate bands! Each band smears themselves in the coverings of their choice and dances through the streets looking for ‘victims’ to smear and throw stuff on. Did I mention that playing in a J’Ouvert band is also cheap … not as cheap as FREE (as my guys did!) but you’ll probably pay less than 50$USD for the entire experience.

J’Overt is also an early morning experience. If you party hard on Sunday night and you’re expecting to do J’Ouvrt also … then I wouldn’t even bother sleeping … since you’re going to be up at 2-3am for a  5 hour stint down the streets of Port of Spain. Note the sunrise in the picture below …

A couple tips

  • Don’t wear anything you expect to keep or that you like the look of … it will be stained, painted or ruined.
  • Assume that everything you wear will need to be thrown away … including your shoes (unless you bought specific shoes for J’Ouvert … then you’re a BOSS!)
  • Wear sunscreen and baby oil on your skin. It will ensure that you can get the paint, oil, powder off your skin. The end result of J’Overt can look something like the pictures below

Also always be aware of where you are and who you are with. Good friends don’t leave anyone behind for other people to make fun of …

Here is a bit more .. with 3Canal and more J’Overt imagry


Here is a link to all our J’Ouvert pictures : http://www.rishisankar.com/Parties/Trinidad-Carnival-2012/JOuvert-2012-February-20th/21554006_R5FVXR

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Good morning and fuck you “IslandPeople” … Girlpower 2012 fete review – February 17th, 2012

Posted by Rishiray on March 5, 2012

I had to think long and hard about how to express and post my utter contempt for IslandPeople and their horrible organization at last night’s event GirlPower. I for one will NEVER ever attend or RECOMMEND an IslandPeople event again – in fact for the next three years, I’ll set a reminder to write a post to remind people that IslandPeople doesn’t give a shit about them and their hard earned money. You can e-mail these jackasses here: info@islandpeoplemas.com – of course, don’t expect a response. Here was the preamble in the Guardian … if you know you can’t deliver, then move the fete.

For instance, at the time of writing this blog, Tribe had their own difficulties with PR and communication … will they change? Absolutely not … since they don’t have to change … after going to GirlPower 2012, I see that a lack of concern or attention to negative feedback is endemic through the “big band” and “big fete” organizations. Why should they give a shit about the consumer when :

One segment of the population will take out “Carnival Loans” to be seen in fetes
Another segment of the population robs from another segment to get the money to fete
Another segment only looks for foreign man/woman to help their escape from the shit that Trinidadian society has become


Anyway back to my rant. When I think of an “All Inclusive” fete … I’m NOT expecting that the event organizers will open the doors to “VIP” people at 11:20pm and  midnight for “General Admission”.

The VIP section was a joke … uttery fuckery. There were almost as many VIP people are there were general admission and of course how they separated the crowd at floor level was yet another disaster. Coming into the VIP area, nothing was setup till after midnight in terms of food and bars. You pay for the VIP section so you have better customer service, faster food and less people in your section. It’s as simple as that. If you make the entire fete VIP, then do it like Moka. At least Moka, while expensive – you get absolutely what you paid for.

At this time, the food stalls weren’t even ready for opening, which created a huge backlog that kept going for the entire night. Again, a bit of perspective needs to be applied here … this isn’t world hunger or genocide in Darfur … just some poor organization, horrible service and completely assuming that Trinidadians are asses and will accept anything. (For all intents, they will … since even a terrible sound system, poor event planning, 30 minute line ups for food, segregating the stage level with a fence, malfunctioning toilet facilities. Note that the picture below was just after 11:20pm and the lines are building up … even with very few stalls for food.

At 11:45pm on the General Admission side … this was the scene … 11:45pm!!! Dark and completely deserted with 1000’s of people waiting like assholes on the outside.

By 12:30am on the VIP side, it was a complete madhouse with much, much more people on the VIP side than the General Admission side, because the General Admission people were still trying to get in.

Of course, the disorganization was endemic. Even when trying to patrol a fire exit and safety concern … here is the following video (Derek from IslandPeople was polite enough to ask if I was recording the scene and of course I couldn’t use my blog’s name, then tried to explain the situation – which was useless …. the perception of the situation was poor and explaining a shitty situation to pissed off people is useless)


As for the routines and stage performances, everyone gave their canned typical performance since I forgot that Soca Monarch was on the same night …  Kes, Destra and FayAnne all gave good performances….here is Kes’ routine again with the Rabbit. (I saw this routine at Tribe Ignite, GirlPower, Triniposse and Moka – I was sick of it by the end … but that’s not Kes’ fault)


At 5am or so … the show finished after Destra … no announcement was made. Machel, of course didn’t show up … typical! OF course, no one offered any apology, fruit fly or anything … it just time to get the fuck out of the fete. We didn’t even try waiting for food, because the lines were a mile long.

So IslandPeople … FUCK YOU and YOUR FETE. NEVER AGAIN! I HOPE OTHERS READ THIS. Trinidad Carnival Diary has the same opinion as I do on your fete skills.

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