While a journey can never be forgotten if there is no adventure, what makes a best memory is the company you keep and the way you enjoy your trails. Of course, I’ve ridden the paths across the wild and awesome route of Goa to Gokarna the trip I took a few months ago in December, a week before I got hitched was one crazy ride altogether. Especially when I also had with me the power of a Thunderous Avenger!
This was a journey I took along with my cousin who had come all the way from NY. We had been to Goa the last time he was here, so this time I decided to bring in some more adventure and take a bike ride all the way to Gokarna from Goa. The journey was something to look forward to and most certainly everything seemed like an amazing adventure trip about to begin. We wasted no time and booked our tickets as soon as we thought of the destination through Wego. Since our trip was only a 3 day long trip with at least ten hours spent on the road, we had to make up for the remaining time by booking our Jet Airways flight which would give us enough time to spend on the pristine and very famous Om beach of Gokarna!
Usually December is a peak season in Goa and Gokarna both. So I didn’t have the liberty of going there and then looking for a place to stay at. Thankfully cheap accommodation is not a problem in Goa and Gokarna, however it’s always a safe bet to book online and or call them up and tell them to hold a place for you. Especially at Om Beach and Namaste Cafe. With all the things sorted before we reached, we had little to worry than the beautiful weather, the highway and the most amazing stretch of beautiful road alongside the coastal reigon that cross into Karwar across the Karnataka border and into Gokarna. One of the most fascinating things about this journey is that on most occasions you’ll end up seeing nothing but the wide horizon with clear blue skies and by the time you step your feet onto the wider horizon of the Om Beach in Gokarna, you’ll be so mesmerized by it’s beauty that you’ll stop looking around you and just stare into that blue sky which turns orange at Sunset and disappears in a shade of dark with a tinge of golden smiles across your face.
The most amazing thing to do in Gokarna, is to go take a ferry and visit the Dolphins. You’d be lucky if you’re in a huge group and that’d give you good room to negotiate with the guys. But it’s certainly a thing you could do. If you’re a fan of Seafood, then this place is paradise for you. We decided to spend most of our time drinking beer, chilling out at the beach and I even did a bit of running on the beach early in the morning and soaking in the sun with a few dips in the sea. But the most beautiful experience at Om beach is the view of the sky from the top and that is something I couldn’t miss out on at any cost. And of course the beauty of the boats by the bay especially after the boat riders or the fishermen are done for the day. With a serene silence the boats sway to the shore across the waves of the elegant sea and you can just be tranquil, especially with your eyes on it.
Gokarna certainly had an aura about it when I visited it the first time, but the second time was even better and if I get another chance, I’d just jump at it and follow my footsteps back into the beach without second thoughts… For sure!
If there’s one thing aside from the money that makes joining the international poker circuit so enticing, it’s the travel opportunities. In just a single year, a hardcore tournament player could potentially find himself playing poker in every continent in the world.
You could even play on a cruise ship like in last year’s World Poker Tour Cruise. Playing poker with legendary Hall of Famer and Team partypoker member Mike Sexton as well as the WPT’s Royal Flush Girls on a luxury cruise liner? Sounds like a dream come true.
Of course, not everybody is out to play in cushy tournaments. Every now and then, some hardcore poker players organize tournaments around the world that require not only the requisite poker skill but a strong enough constitution to keep playing in some of the most rugged environments ever to play host to a poker game as well.
Take Australia, for example. The country is mostly known in poker circles for the annual Aussie Millions tournament. In 2007, however, another game took poker to new heights – literally!
A field of six players converged on a steel platform 90 meters above the Pacific Ocean for one of the more memorable poker stunts in recent years. In the words of the winner, Hugo Asenjo, “as long as you don’t look down, it’s quite fine.”
The 90-minute subterranean poker game took place in November 2011 and attracted a field of ten players. It wasn’t organized solely for publicity purposes, either. The charity game was held for the benefit of the Marie Curie Cancer Care foundation. Perhaps the most rugged poker tournament ever held, however, has to be the one at the Arctic Circle in 2006. With temperatures reaching 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it was the very definition of that one game that you wouldn’t want to lose your shirt in.
2002 World Series of Poker champion Robert Varkonyi eventually rallied from almost getting eliminated early to winning the game over local favorite Juha Helppi, but only after he had to take the option of trading in his jacket for a new stack of chips. Well, at least he didn’t lose his jacket for nothing.
Ever imagined yourself distraught to a level where imagining beauty has become a real despair? Ever thought of getting out of your seat and just taking the high road on the routes of the unknown? Think about all the thoughts that keep attaching you with the worldly pleasure and the ‘things’ that you want to always let go of?
Imagine a world where you find nothing but meandering thoughts about what you have gone through or what you have never wanted to worry about. Imagine a palace of the open and free skies that shall take you to your inseparable connection with this beautiful nature that you were part of. Imagine a world which sets you scot free, free of the things, people, places, troubles and all the baggage that you keep carrying with you day in day out. Imagine what a sip of fresh water down your throat can do to your soul, imagine what the touch of that very cold water on your face can do to your mind, imagine stretching your eyes across the mind numbing cold horizons of the mountains that keep staring you in your eye with the crazy stark contrast of your emotions that you really want to etch a painting that shall last long enough to impact your heart, mind, soul forever…
Such is the beauty of this incomprehensible stretch of wilderness that goes across the beautiful borders of your mind. Chandertal Lake, is probably the most serene and quiet stretch of open space I’ve encountered probably after Tso Moriri in Ladakh. I’m sure North East, Himalayas, Kashmir and many other places in India have similar experiences in the offing, but this place has a special memory in my mind. From the time you begin the trail to go towards the lake from the ‘No Vehicle’ zone, your eyes in congruence with your heart and soul start scanning and searching for the lake with an eagerness of a four year old! You start feeling the fresh air and the cold breeze with a chill that cuts your face with a remarkable sting, that you realize that you’re near this heavenly place and can’t wait to get there. One of the most amazing things about this trek is that at the back of your head you realize there’s snow clad mountains and in front of you, you see green pastures that eventually lead to a canvas of a well painted landscape full of water that you just want to stop thinking about everything that you have ever worried about and just go out there to enjoy the enchanting weather, the breeze, the beautiful sight of still water that you feel that you’re reborn. The quiet and the simple nature of the surroundings make you just take a nap and realize that searching your soul, your mind or sifting through leaves of your brains and heart is pointless for you feel numb, numb to a point that you’re almost empty! Empty that you experience bliss, first hand…
Life isn’t what you really think it to be. The journey you share among the paths you take aren’t always meant to be full of what you crave for. A level of uncertainty brings with itself a whole new world that you might want to always cherish rather than crib about. Travelling on the spur of the moment or travelling with a plan, each have their own trodden paths which you might not want to compare, but when you take the roads unknown and imagine the world without your lens or without the lenses of others, you will find that beauty lies within the experience and not just the photos you click or the videos you make. Sometimes you just have to be in the moment, and accept what’s dished out and move on with your stories to enchant your vivid imagination while experiencing the best travel you could ever. Such was the breathtaking journey into the forbidden valley of Lahaul and Spiti… And I wouldn’t disagree to the fact that there is a reason why this place is the forbidden valley and what makes the entire experience worthwhile.
Yes, the challenges of the battling conditions, the crazy flowing river by your side ready to engulf you the moment you take your eye off it, the paagal naalas (crazy waterfalls) giving you a quick whiff of what to expect in these landslide trodden areas. But the most beautiful and never to forget experience within this journey has to be the smell of fresh air, the breath of beauty across the Himalayas, the frozen ponds you get to view and the soul searching you end up doing across the pagodas, temples and monasteries even if you don’t believe in the concept of God. Of course, your own journey is sacred. Your own experience is sacrosanct and what you view, dream, believe in is what you get to experience in this journey across the forbidden valley. Riding or driving, both options will churn your body like an urn. While you may find comfort in the luxury SUVs, the ground clearance or for that matter the bumpy twists and turns you experience will add to the memories that are etched out if you’re on a bike or low comfort 4*4s or simpler SUVs like a Tata Sumo.
The journey from Manali to Kaza epitomizes the beauty of Rohtang Pass and as much as you would like to stay still and explore the vast horizon of the landscape, you know, that there’s a lot more of it where it begins and you keep going on a journey that you feel hungry for.
Especially if you have travelled into the wilderness of Ladakh, you would know what the Spiti Valley beckons. You would want to get there as soon as possible and explore the beauty of the supreme mountains and the surroundings that shall be part of your memories for your entire life. Add to that, the entire escapade brought in an amazing adventure, thanks to the narratives of our local driver arranged by Amit from HimalayanYatra. It added to our experience and made the journey more exciting, especially his amazing driving and some really off the edge experiences where we were saved by a whisker, not to forget the crazy landslide which we fortunately and thankfully missed by a whiff.
One of the most enchanting and serene things about Spiti is the terrain and the experience the entire landscape offers you, no matter which part you end up going to. Whether it’s the route to the maddening cold village of Ki-Kibber, or the breathtaking and deeply glorious and spiritual Dhankar monastery, it is full of stories and tales that will cross your paths at the mere view of the place, even if it were through a corner of your eye. Hopefully I shall be telling many such stories in the series of blogs that I plan to write about this crazy place… For now, here’s an encapsulated look at our journey in a simple, yet mind blowing photo essay of sorts… Hope you find the beauty captured in the lenses worth your imagination…
The mountain’s call has been finally answered! The year long wait to endure is too much to ask for me, especially since the beauty of the Himalayas just cannot escape my mind especially when the season to visit the Himalayas begins. Yes, I’m probably a tad too late, considering I missed my Hampta Pass trek due to sickness! Nonetheless, I am hoping to make up for a journey that I lost out a couple of months ago. A visit to the Chandratal lake was due then and is even today, with sordid hopes and gut wrenching travails I shall keep my fingers crossed in lieu of meeting my beloved Himalayas and visiting the Chandratal lake to enjoy its serenity forever… Time may be less, but I hope for making the most out of it and hope the trip is worth it completely. Thanks to Harshil my colleague, who hooked us up with a really great guy, called Amit, who’s part of http://www.himalyanyatra.com/ but a true adventurer at heart! He’s fixed our journey and the ride into Spiti! Hopefully it should be great fun and the experience worth the wait!
For those who don’t know about it, The Spiti Valley is a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India
Not much for now, but would certainly be back with my tales and sojourns to hopefully enchant all of you and give you a visual delight in the beauty of the landscape as well as the stories that this forbidden valley has in its depth…
Until then, you guys have a good one.
The land of the Kings! Certainly an enchanting aura that it carries, Rajasthan has always titillated my soul and senses and the one time I have been to this place, very early in my life as a travel blogger or as a wanderer, I’ve enjoyed the range of diversities and ethnicity of culture, craziness and beauty of the deserts and landscapes that take your breath away.
Throughout my week long escapade in the beautiful state of Rajasthan, I admired it not just for its true heritage and flamboyant art encompassed among the roots of its people, palaces and food, but also for the feeling it gave me of a rustic but divine revelation of sorts. Every different city that I explored had a native yet interesting niche that made it a tad different from every other city within the state. The museums, the forts and the cultural expose that I saw, made me believe in a grand heritage that actually told a lot of stories.
Be it the journey from Udaipur to Ajmer in a rugged jeep with locals staring at you with their sense of warmth and helping other locals out like the story of Bindaas Baaji, or be it the long stretches of just nothing but marble quarries on the road the roads told a story that no other could. Even the mile markers had their fascinating bits to add to the spice of the journey. Be it exploring the different admirable aspects of Jain architecture in Jaisalmer Fort or enjoying a chilled beer in the desert after a camel ride there was a stark contrast to every little thing we did in our travels across the state of Rajasthan. The amazing food we ate every evening at a different place, the warm milk and hot jalebis in a chilling weather in Japiur or the Rajasthani thali we hogged in Udaipur or the Parathas we ate outside Udaipur Palace, every memory is still etched in my mind till date. The ride to Pushkar encompassing the mountainous travails still remind me of the ride in the local bus. The beautiful sight of vintage cars in the Mueseum in Udaipur and how can I forget the huge and beautiful architecture of the Hawa Mahal! Not to mention the impulse that we carried at every step of the way, so much so that we managed to ditch a bus to Jaislmer and take a detour towards Ajmer, or extend the trip into Agra and back, every little incident was trivial and at the same time memorable till date.
This probably carries a lot of significance in terms of the way I decided to travel across the country, the rugged trip across 7 cities in 6 days, the camel rides, the cycle rickshaws, the autos the desert the sleeping at night in buses and exploring cities during the day probably added to the beauty of the journey across Rajasthan. The almost getting beaten up in a fight that was not ours to get into, the almost getting ripped off by an auto driver, the street food and the drinking of beer in every city kind of made the journey as rugged as possible. This trip had an essence to itself, which denotes a lot of the style of travel I’ve adopted over a period of time. A style that gives me a reproach in terms of the freedom I need to feel when I wake up in a different city across the country, probably telling me that my wandering feet are free to choose their calling and all they need is a fresh smell of the road and the path that is available for the taking. Something that told me right at the beginning of my journey across various destinations that I was yet to take… Rajasthan will most certainly be one of those destinations and most certainly on my list to go to once every while…
Yes this is the same beautiful place which probably is not accessible to many because of the devastation in Uttarakhand. Truly a sad state currently, with probably the entire village of Govindghat below the Valley of Flowers existed. We still see pictures sometimes across news feeds showcasing the heavy water flowing across Govindghat and taking down the entire roads along with it, and some of the mountains being washed away due to do the downpour and devastation of the mighty force of the river.
The memories of us being in this beautiful national park, still remain strong and hope that this place is soon rebuilt so that people can actually get access to the beauty that they should visit, at least once in their lifetime. This is the enchanting valley, the valley of flowers. Some of the pictures from that trek.
As I said… Once in a lifetime experience for sure!!!