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Author Archive | Gilles Barbier

8 Highlights Of Agra

It’s Much More than “Only” The Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, Agra, Rajasthan, India

Taj Mahal, Agra

There is so much more to Agra than “only” the Taj Mahal. It is sad to see that many tours consider Agra only worth a day trip from Delhi. Agra has a lot to offer, and you will need 2.5 to 3 days to explore it all without rushing around.





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Myanmar – The Land Of Funky Hairdos

A Photo Essay

Hairdresser, Beauty Salon, Mandalay, Myanmar

Hairdresser, Beauty Salon, Mandalay, Myanmar

It won’t take long until young Burmese men with funky hairdos draw your attention. Obviously the thing to do: a very, very creative part of local fashion! Young men proudly adorn themselves with the strangest haircuts. You think it’s a small number of extravagant people, oh no! It is a very widespread trend. Continue Reading →


Floating Over Bagan’s 4.000 Temples

A Photo Essay

Pahto Dhammayangyi, Bagan, Myanmar

Pahto Dhammayangyi

A bird’s view of the temples of Bagan left us thunderstruck. Yes, these unforgettable 45 minutes in a hot air balloon cost 320 USD. But what can we say except: “Je ne regret rien”. Seeing Bagan from that perspective was definitely worth every cent, the experience of a lifetime. Besides, it is probably one of the best and most scenic places to have your first balloon flight… Continue Reading →


10 Things To Do In Mandalay

Mahamuni Paya, Mandalay, Myanmar

Monks @ Mahamuni Paya, Mandalay

Mandalay is neither an attractive nor a pleasant city at first sight: a hot, modern, bustling grid of endless streets lined up with dull concrete blocks. Not a city that invites for long and pleasant strolls! Nevertheless, Mandalay abounds with amazing sites, and you will need at least 3 days if you want to visit those – More if you aim at diving deeper into this surprising city. The good news, even though Mandalay is on everyone’s itinerary, you will seldom see “tourists en masse”, and sometimes really feel like being the only visitor! Continue Reading →


Unexpected Highlights South Of Yangon

Saddan Cave, near Hpa An, Myanmar

Surroundings of Hpa An, near Saddan Cave, Myamar

Myanmar is currently experiencing an exponential increase in international tourism, mainly through large, organized tours. Nevertheless, we found places Off The Beaten Track, actually many more than we had expected. And not all that far away from the main tourist drag Yangon / Mandalay / Bagan / Inle!

South of Yangon we discovered quite a few areas where even independent travelers are rare but highlights abundant! Continue Reading →


SaPa Rice Terraces & Bac Ha Sunday Market

A Photo Essay Of Northern Vietnam

Bac Ha Sunday Market, North Vietnam

Bac Ha Sunday Market, North Vietnam

Given that Vietnam is a very large country, five weeks simply weren’t enough. Like usually, the rushing sets in at the end of a trip. So four days was all we could spend in Vietnam’s scenic Northwest, focusing on SaPa and Bac Ha. In each place we moved around independently, avoiding tours! Continue Reading →


A Shaking Affair: Yangon’s Circle Line


Yangon’ Circle Line, Myanmar

Have you ever taken a 3 hour train ride arriving precisely where you started off? Being twirled around like laundry during the spin cycle? If not, take the Circle Line in Yangon and do the whole loop, for as little as 300 Kyats or 0,25 Euro. This commuter train takes you to neighborhoods in the north of the city, where you feel like being in the countryside rather than in a capital city.
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Who Am I?

Gilles Barbier

Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Gilles at Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

It is never too late…

A trip through Senegal in 2002 in a “Taxi Brousse” started it all! Back then, I had no experience of independent travel, and even less of countries outside of Europe or Northern America. 15 years later, I cannot help but dreaming of and organizing new trips to Africa, South America or Asia, always looking for places that are still not on the radar of mainstream tourism…



On a personal note

After graduating from NEOMA Management School in Reims (France) in marketing in 1996, I left Paris, my hometown, to work in Germany for five year. Afterwards, I moved to Vienna, Austria, where I spent almost 15 years. I finally decided in 2016 to come back to France, for personal reasons.

I have been working approx. 20 years in various positions in Sales, Business Development & Management, first in Internet DotComs – during the great hype and the even greater crash – then joined the printing industry in 2002.


Gilles in Semliki National Park, West Uganda, Africa

Gilles in Semliki National Park, West Uganda, Africa

Travel Photography, Travel Blogging

Before I started our trip Around The World in 2007, I created my first website At this point it was meant to be my Travel Dairy, since I realized that without clearly reflecting and writing so many strong impressions, a lot would be lost. That is why I chose the current format of rather detailed entries. To my surprise, lots of people visited this website and I received many friendly feedbacks as to how useful the site was. Considering that I do not write regularly but only after a trip, this success was indeed astonishing.

Now I want to take this to a new level. That is why I created GrandEscapades. Yes, another Travel Blogger joining the legions…

GrandEscapades-172I must have taken about 100.000 pictures over the years. More than 700 (and counting) are now listed with one of the leading, fastest growing Stock Image Agency, ImageBroker in Munich.

Now we want to take this to a new level. That is why we created GrandEscapades. Yes, another Travel Blogger joining the legions…



Where to turn next?

I will keep the focus on Africa, South America and parts of Asia, enough to keep going for two decades or so…

I actually have not worked on a list of places, countries or areas, as I expect this list to change repeatedly, depending on regional developments and travel experiences.




Travel Guide To South Rajasthan

Taragarh Fort, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Fort, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

In April 2012 we had our first brush with India, to be precise Eastern Rajasthan. For eleven days we gazed at the most incredible Moghul architecture in Agra and Jaipur. We also threw in a bit of wildlife by visiting Ranthambhore National Park. When we returned in March 2013, we headed for the Southwest of Rajasthan for twelve days, to marvel at these impressive forts & palaces in Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh, Bundi, Chittorgarh and last but not least Pushkar & Ajmer. Delhi was our hub during both trips. Continue Reading →