On one of our trips in the Himalayas, I remember how lines across various borders fade away and depict a path that just goes on beyond just the territories hazed within the minds of people caught in a rut, one that fails to distinguish a beauty of the nature so vast, and enchanting that we always tend to look at terrains as boundaries keep blocking us and our minds.
Sometimes I wish for that as a traveler to do away with. Most often than none, whenever I take a trek to the Himalayas, an important thing that is always on my mind is to leave behind the clutter and the chaos that this urban mind has always carried around with it’s mundane inglorious life. I try to devise a plan and then I stop and tell myself that it’s not a strategy that I have to pitch to a client, I usually end up thinking twice about things when I’m out here in the city. Out there, I let the nature guide me by it’s own destiny and help me make a better choice with every step that I take in the wilderness of the mountains.
One such trips was on the way to Sandakphu, where our first pit-stop was a glorious beginning into the Nepal bordering, crossing over Darjeeling and Sikkim the Himalayan regions of Tumling. A small village would be very popular among trekkers who are treading slowly towards Sanadkphu and Phalut. Both destinations which on a clear day, give a peek at the Kanchenjunga and the Mt. Everest, if you’re lucky. One of the most interesting things that you’ll notice on this path is how serene everything is right from the time you start the trek from Mhanebhanjan, the base camp, usually for all the trekkers who head up to Sandakphu or Phalut.
The occassional villagers going about their tasks, once in a while the sunlight taking a peak through the dense forests with maple and deodar trees. The ocassional Land rovers shipping food and gas cylinders and other than that there is complete bliss and total serenity. One can only feel an underlying divinity in this path across nature that cannot be described unless you actually go and witness the same.
One beautiful thing about this place is that it has an arduous look about it the moment you reach the small village. As you settle down and look up at the mountains you will feel the ease of the mountains and the beautiful path that holds a great canvas in front of you, one as a trekker or a mountaineer, you’d be raring to have a go at, painting your journey across the beautiful terrains of these North Eastern Himalayas…
A couple of years ago, my travel trails took me here…
Astounded with the beauty of the mountains, coupled by the flowing multiple confluences of the river Ganga along with other rivers such as Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Pindar this place has an aspiring sense of tranquility and most serene and yet roaring its guts out to engulf you into its madness. Every bit of the road that we traveled back then from Rishikesh to Joshimath to Govindghat to Ghagaria and later on towards Badrinath, we remember being surrounded by the mighty confluences and the flowing water all along. The gutso this river shows as it emerges from the Vishnu Prayag on the Alaknanda river covers a major part of Uttarakhand. We were of course during our journey told that there will be times when we might be in the midst of landslides and we will have all that is needed with the help of the Indian Army / BRO who keep a close watch on such landslides. In fact, there were a couple of occasions when we were stuck and had to make our way walking across the mountains and board another bus to move forward. Another occasion I distinctly remember is our bus swaying while the landslide commenced and narrowly escaping while I could see some rocks and smaller boulders fall down upon the mountains.
Today when I look at all the devastation in the NEWS channels and all across the newspapers, my heart goes out to the people, who’re stranded, lived or who passed away in this enormous region of Uttarakhand! They live there knowing this is certain for sure and this is something they won’t be easily able to escape, come the time of such a natural calamity. Yet, to these people and their villages, they have no other way out. Truly there are very few words to describe this wrath of nature that has happened. As much as possible, we can try to salvage the fact that the brave Indian Army and relief workers are trying their best to help folks out there. To many sitting on their couches or inside the comforts of their homes, it would be a trivial endeavor and of course many could just pray for the situation to be handled to its best. While some of us of course would try to help out in whatever way they could as we sit here and watch the devastation in horror.
Reminds, me of how, such beauty that I encountered was always and will always be at the disposal of a world, a world that keeps deteriorating time and again all because of human need and that’s where nature decides to give it back. It’s very sad, but us humans need to understand that this is just the beginning. Unless we strive towards making a better earth or a better planet this is going to keep on continuing.
Words fail me in that endeavor but as I sit here in front of my laptop, helpless to do much, I tell myself only this… Look for a better tomorrow, for the nature around you is just an encompassing mirror of what you do and how you show your beliefs, for it can come back real hard and bite you where it hurts the most…
P.S: If you want to contribute towards relief efforts of Uttarakhand, check out http://goonj.org/ Something I looked up and went ahead and contributed too. You can donate, food, clothes or if not, you can donate any sum of money if you’d like. The least you can do to help relief, rehabilitation ‘To the people of Uttarakhand.’
The time to wander off in the valley is here. Every year, around this time there is a deep calling that rakes within my heart and reaches out to me saying, it’s time. I have a strong feeling to always go with the flow and decide to challenge myself to walk those huge mountainous paths and whisper to myself in an enchanting manner, “How I wish I’d always live here and never go back to the buzz of the world.” It’s time that I listened to my heart and gave in to the beauty of the wondrous Himalayas.
Somehow, for the last four years, I’ve always been pulled into it’s gazing destiny and hope to keep getting attracted time and again, for the fascination will never end. An amazing amount of solace and brilliance is always breathtaking in a literal sense, that I cannot forgo that attraction and cannot choose to ignore it. So, whenever the mountains call me, I’m there… I have to find my way, fix myself a ticket to go up north in India and take the same old routes across these mountains with my backpack treading towards what I’d like to call an eternal ritual towards redemption from the routine.
I’ve been thinking of doing the Himachal this year, hoping to get a break maybe sometime soon. Hopefully if I do, you’ll certainly get to read about my plans and once I come back, about the escapade that I encountered. In the meantime, here are some fantabulous pictures of my earlier treks.
One of the things that I haven’t yet done and is certainly on my travel bucket list is to cruise! Set sail across the sea and enjoy wilderness into the oblivion like never before. Of course sailing alone would be on the top of that list, however, to begin with a cruise would be the most imperious way to spend a time of my life letting my hair down and relaxing all the way for a week without the hassle of the world. Leaving behind all the worries I’d love to enjoy something that would help me feel rejuvenated again.
So I decided to check out what are some of the best Asia cruises and this is what I’d recommend to be on top of your list.
One of the best things about Asia is that on the Far East cruise you’ll get to see Asia in all its shades. Just last week Cherry Blossom in Japan happened and that is something you shouldn’t miss especially during April. This cruise offers just that. Far East, cherry blossom, buzzing markets in my hometown Mumbai, raving sunsets across beaches in Thailand.
Asia is best known for a wide variety of it’s beauty. The best thing about Asia is that it has diversity to the best of anyone’s reach. There are places that you can’t even imagine and you’d get to cruise among these beautiful views across the sea and cover various landscapes at it’s ports.
If you have trouble deciding where to begin then let size be your guide. Covering an area of more than nine million square kilometres, China has to be a splendid pick as part of their collection of Far East cruise holidays. Certainly beautiful from a cultural stand point too. The country has a history that dates back to more than 4,000 years, making the 15th-century Forbidden City in Beijing an infant as far as the timeline is concerned.
Next in the size line is India, a country of chalk and cheese sights. Anyone with stars in their eyes should head to Film City in Mumbai to perform in a Bollywood movie. Foodies can try a real-deal curry in Madras. Sunseekers, meanwhile, can loose track of time on the beaches of Goa.
Thailand is a smaller country as far as the list of Far East cruise stops. However on the beaches of Koh Samui, the sand is truly white and the water is crystal clear. Then you’ve got Bangkok, a city where twelve-lane motorways and skyscrapers go hand in hand with old ancient temples.
Moving on, you’ll find Japan. This country has a beautiful mixture of past and the future, ancient and cultural as well as modern and technological. Villagers plant rice in the paddy fields in various perfectures at the same time as cartoon-like Harashuku girls try to out-vogue each other in the cosmopolitan cafes of Tokyo.
Once you’ve ticked off the biggest countries in the Far East cruise collection, you can move onto the more pint sized places. Sip jasmine tea in the teahouses of Ho Chi Minh City and worry the bank manager during a spree at the world’s largest department store in Busan, South Korea. Alternatively, spread yourself like butter over the beaches of Penang in Malaysia.
Something worth doing especially if you are in love with Asia! What say?
As soon as I came into the Changi Airport, I could feel the amazing beauty of the country. The spaciousness and the amazing transit from Airport’s Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 to catch the MRT was the beginning of an amazing journey. I entered the train with some more folks and some air hostesses who had arrived via Air Canada flights and were probably heading to their respective hotels. The train just took me in a jiffy to the Terminal from where I got the MRT to go to Pasir Ris. After a bit of struggle operating the MRT card system, I managed to get my ticket and board the MRT. That was something I was going to get used to soon :)
The place was so vacant and felt so amazingly clean and neat it wasn’t even funny. As soon as I arrived in Singapore on Saturday I checked into my hostel at Costa Sands! As soon as I arrived in Singapore, I truly was Enchanté (French: Delighted to Meet You) Indeed, the country/city/island has a beauty that mesmerizes anyone… The most amazing thing about this place is its penchant for a certain meticulous way of life is what caught my attention. Yet it brings quite a certain delight for first time visitors especially with it’s multitude of cultural diversity and to be able to bump in with almost any kind of people from the world and for that matter to be able to visit places and eat food which is in the truest sense, ethnically and worldly different. Out of the world is the phrase to best express myself in this context.
Being a backpacker, I booked a Youth Hostel (Hosteling International) reservation online well in advance, and here I was at the Costa Sands Resort in Downtown East… One of the most interesting things I felt after staying here in the hostel is that, it wasn’t actually a hostel at all… It was more like a four star hotel with three people staying in one room… Surprisingly, no one was checked in for the first three days and later on, Sam from Taiwan came along… He was here for work and mostly out during the day… But yeah, the overall feeling was great… Loved the discipline and the meticulous way Singapore has built itself. Being quite a small place and with population round about 4.5 million, I guess it’s easier to do… But overall the feel was pretty good as soon as I entered.
Since I’m on the go I’ll go ahead and share my Photo Travelogue for now… I hope you enjoy the beauty of Singapore through my blog and most certainly once I get back home, a beautiful story about the sojourns of Singapore is in order and you shall certainly receive it.
My dorm at the Costa Sands Resort @ Downtown East
A view from my dorm room
My first meal in Singapore – Mixed Vegetable Garlic Chicken rice… Ate it to my tummy’s fill and yeah, with Chopsticks… :)
Post lunch I met up with a friend who’s just got a job here recently and started working in Singapore… We strolled around the Marina Bay Area and checked out some amazing sights at the River HangBo festival that was happening.
The view of the other side of the Marina Bay from the Helix Bridge
The amazingly beautiful, Lotus Shaped Arts & Science Center
The beautiful and colourful Hangbo River festival
We strolled around and checked out various interesting installations and walked a bit to the different installations of the astrological signs that were present there… Very beautiful and decorated nicely, this truly showed how much significance the Chinese New Year has during this time of the year in Singapore. In fact, we were lucky enough to get a few chocolates from the Giver of Fortune…. Usually it’s tradition amongst Chinese to give oranges, gifts, red envelopes filled with money, bonuses to the employees by the employers and in this case some chocolates were being distributed by someone dressed as the fortune giving man. (Don’t exactly know what he’s called yet.)
The Chinese giver of fortune
These are actual moving installations, which were moving as if they were playing music, the birds wings were actually moving.
Paper puppets installation at the Hangbo River Festival
Once we were done visiting the place, we headed to grab some food at a local old hawker center… Before that I couldn’t resist but to get a glimpse of the beautiful night by the bay…
Interesting collection of old / antique items found in the Old Hawker center near Marina Bay on your way to the High Flyer…
The Buddha Tooth Relic temple near Chinatown
A beautiful sculpture outside this temple
Chinatown at night… Beautiful lanterns especially since its The Chinese New Year
If you are a Tintin aficionado then this is the place for you to be… From keychains, to mugs, to merchandise to comics to DVDs they have almost everything… A bit expensive of course, but you can take your pick….
If you enjoy partying, and you’re a night crawler, then Clarke Quay is the place to be in Singapore!
Generally on Chinatown, you can go grab a bite at any place… Plenty of them good food places especially on Pagoda street. But one of the best you can find is Chinatown Heritage…. Do go there if you are around Chinatown…
I also happened to check out this amazingly spacious, minimalistic Zen like joint at Tanjong Pagar Rd… A Thai Vegan / Veg food joint… Brilliantly healthy and tasty food that I could eat.
If you like Thai and Veg food, then Whole Earth near Tanjong Pagar is the place to be…
The other side of Clarke Quay is Boat Quay… This place is very popular for its sea food… This is near the Parliament House / Arts House…
The Parliament House
The Arts House
This is the place where you’ll find screenings of great artistic shows and collection of brilliant artwork and something that you’ll enjoy if you are a fan of any form of art.
That’s a Half a century old Morris Minor near the Arts House.
And that’s me standing next to it… My undying love for vintage cars is truly undying… Couldn’t resist… ;)
Some really cool graffiti at the underpass around the Boat Quay / Parliament House area..
Some really interesting building structures on the streets of Singapore
My first time on an international flight… Sitting in the plane looking outside the window… Yes, I always knew this day was going to happen, sometime or later… But NOW, it’s happening NOW!! And I can feel it as I type these words sitting in a still plane, gazing across the window…
Having enjoyed wonderful journeys across Incredible India, this experience will probably be one of my most enchanting ones as I look forward to a destination unknown, unexplored and yet so close to a lot of aspects of our Indian culture and yet so different and I mean flabergastingly different and a lot lot more advanced than the way we share our lives with each other.
Funnily, never expected some mosquitoes to join me as well… Ahh what the heck :) Let them also enjoy their ride to Singapore…
The feeling as I type this on my iPad is surreal. Surreal as I bid goodbye to the city of dreams to move onto unchartered enchanting territories and fly beyond horizons that will bring a different level of maturity, shades of some exploration that I have yet to carve out as a travel blogger.
This feeling of the journey of life, being truly begun is sinking in… Hope the city of another dreams also has a lot in store for me. For some reason, with the soothing and serene music that’s playing in the background is kind of giving me an inkling… An inkling of something great in store for me, even as I am yet to begin the journey.. Like an alternate, similar universe waiting out there for me… :)
So, let us see where this heads… For now, signing off… Oh and yeah, also the Mosquitoes on the plane say Hi to you all… ;)
Will blog about my escapades once my trip’s over…
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Well, pretty soon, I’ll be on my way for my first international trip. Yes, the calendar is blocked and the itinerary is about to be made… Looking out for hostels / hotels is already done, sending right emails and checking with people is done. Being a traveler and an avid one within the country has been by far one of the best things to have happened to me. So that’s something I cherish a lot. I have certainly traveled far and wide when it comes to the boundaries of India and its diverse terrains. So, this is something I was looking forward to for a while and that’s when this moment came along.
The destination? – Singapore!
I’d be down in Singapore in the 3rd week of February and I know there are plenty of places within the city to visit.
So now that I’m gonna be there the planning has become quite the pain, but I know soon I’d be on my way. What’s most important though for me is that ‘THE TICKETS ARE BOOKED!’ The hustle and bustle, the packing and booking… Everything will become a major chaotic affair. But now there’s no stopping me! Hopefully I’ll do some sight seeing on the two weekends that I’ll get during that week.. A week which will be mostly spent in being with Social Media Professionals and a lot of interactions to happen at the Social Media Week Singapore 2013 and maybe meeting a couple of friends out there, I’ll spend some of my time visiting a few places out there!
Any specific places that I can go to over the weekend? And maybe if there’s any tourist bus service that you can recommend? For a change, I’ll not research and let the plan take its own course… What say?
Also when I’m down thre stay tuned on My On The Go – Tumbleogue Travelogue…