Jibhi: A Month in the Mountains

misty town Jibhi

This Himalayan trip was easily one of my best – a week in the astounding desert of Spiti and then over a month in Jibhi – a beautiful, lush green mountain town at 7,000 ft. The idea was simple, leave the metropolis madness called Mumbai behind and be closer to nature. And so it happened.

The Offbeat Shimla Manali Route via Seraj Valley and Jibhi

There are three Shimla to Manali routes – 1) the offbeat one via Seraj Valley, on which lies Jibhi, 2) the popular one via Mandi and 3) the longer one via Spiti valley.

There may also be a fourth route with a longer westwards circuit near Mandi.

Jibhi is off the usual Indian tourist route. But surprisingly it is very much on the Israeli tourist route. I found it surprising but probably the proximity to the popular Kasol valley is the reason. I chatted with three Israeli travellers in the Kshatra cafe of Jibhi and it was an eye opener. They told me that Israel has alway considered India a close ally and they love the culture not because it is cheap (inexpensive), but because it deeply resonates with them. Oh and two of them had come to spend their honeymoon in India – that shows how much they love this country! And both did Yoga. The third guy had done multiple vipassana programs. So… wow! Far cry from the stereotyped image of Israelis holed up in cheap room of an Indian town basically for the opium.

This trip to Jibhi was filled with interesting conversations and revelations. I made friendships that have lasted beyond the place and time. Still in touch with many of them, met a few later on elsewhere and looking forward to meeting them again!Continue reading

Australian Bush Macro-Style Photographs

australian bush

Macro photography: producing photographs of small items in larger-than-life size.

I don’t have professional macro photography setup, but here are some interesting photographs from the Australian bush, macro-style. 🙂

But before you take a look at those, a quick note on – what is the Australian Bush?

The ‘Australian bush’ loosely means any area outside the metropolitan cities of Australia. Almost 89% of the Australian population lives in the major metropolitan cities. Outside these cities, the towns are small amidst huge expanses of land. And usually, any wilderness in these areas is considered bush. Even the small towns may be referred to as ‘bush towns’. I suspect the term has come up due to the bush-y nature of the wilderness. While there are a lot of eucalyptus tree forests in Australia, they are significantly sparser than the forests of the tropical regions. And apart from these Eucalyptus trees, the greens are usually stunted. Wattle bushes, grass, a lot of mushrooms, fungus, tiny flowering plants and the like.Continue reading

Wandering In The Himalayas : 50 Days In Spiti, Jibhi and Shimla

serolsar lake

What is it about ‘a month’ of time, that makes it really exciting to spend ‘a month’ in a place? Wandering in the Himalayas for a month had been on my mind since a long time. Now that it has happened, I am thinking of spending a few more months next time around. 😀 I think a year seems more of consequence as it allows us to see the place in all its seasons and festivals.

Lesser Known Places in the Himachal

This June – July 2017, I spent over a month and half in the Himalayas. I covered a lovely, fairly offbeat route in the mountains. And there are many of you out there who are looking to move outside of the tourist circuit. Well, kudos on looking around for different places to explore. It simply doesn’t make sense to keep to tourist hot spots, especially with the problems of high prices, ecological sustainability, crowds, noise and so on. But keeping these problems of the tourist hot spots in mind, it becomes our responsibility that when we move off the tourist track, we ensure that we don’t become a cause of these problems ourselves. We will definitely impact the places we land up in as travellers. But the question is how will we impact them?Continue reading

Reflections: The People Of The Himachal Villages

Small friendly gestures, quick laughs, a fleeting romance in the heart or a simple, resonating conversation on the road. Cherished by travellers, these interactions are unexpected and what makes them more special is that they are between complete strangers. You may not know the person’s name, background or any details at all. And yet those moments of camaraderie, love, respect are usually a part and parcel of our travel life. Something we look forward to, expect and love. They often get us through doubts. Re-instill our faith in the world. And sometimes even help us out in sticky situations.

But how little we know about these people. Being on the road we keep moving on, lots of questions but only the moving terrain around us answers them.

Being here in the Himachali mountain town for a month, I had time to find some answers about the people, the culture, economic situation and other random bits like making tea with jaggery (yumm!). And yet, a month is hardly a long time especially for an introvert like me. So I find myself only more curious with more questions. But also some insight about village life and these people.Continue reading

Impact Of My First Solo Cycling & Camping Trip: Why Travel?

I had jotted down this post after my first solo cycling and camping trip from Berlin to Copenhagen. This was after many months of that trip – so I am not talking about the euphoria right after the trip. In fact right after the trip, I was heartbroken because I didn’t want to stop the cycle touring or camping at all. And I felt bleak because in India I don’t have adequate infrastructure or social situation to go on such trips.

I am publishing this post now, because I have a whole second level post that jumps a whole new level. But that post is still in making. I need to articulate first, then write and then publish. The changes that happened after my second cycling trip to Australia, Taiwan and Tamil Nadu were a whole different gear.

But for now….. this…. 🙂Continue reading

Fun Ways For A Traveller To Learn A Language Like Mandarin for Taiwan

Learn A Language

In India, regional languages have taken second place to English wherever people have the option. This helps us tremendously in work fields and makes our working force internationally viable. But it does put us behind in retaining culture especially in urban areas, compared to a lot of these societies like Taiwan, Japan, China and even many of the European countries like Germany and France.

When I visited Taiwan in Oct, 2016 I looked at the lack of English language as a very good thing, as this allows true global diversity. But it of course creates challenges for us travellers. And I was solo-cycling for a few days, so that led to some specific difficulties too. Here are some fun ideas on how we travellers can learn a language. Continue reading

13 Black And White Photos Of European Cities

I recently have a new found love – Black and White photos! It started with an impromptu black and white Taiwan Street Photography series. And couple of weeks back I started a series on European cities on Instagram. The idea was to create vintage type shots of a common city scene. Not particularly landmarks or sight seeing spots but just common, day to day scenes of the city in black and white. I really enjoyed this series. Let me know what you think.

And for you blog readers I am putting in one exclusive photo in this post, which is not on instagram. Yay! 😀

A random street of Buda hill, Budapest in the (late) Summer of 2015. #blackandwhite

A post shared by Priyanka Dalal (@priyankawriting) on

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Taipei River Bike Path : For Cyclists, Walkers, Travellers et al.

Taipei River Bike Path Map

when I started searching out cycling routes in and around Taipei, I found a lot of mentions about the Taipei river bike path. And I loved it! I was fascinated on having such amazing infrastructure for cyclists, so easily accessible and right in the middle of a capital city! This bike path is still a work in progress and possibly because of that, most of the write ups don’t elucidate enough. So here is a detailed write on this river bike path.

Taipei River Bike Path Map
A view of Taipei city. Note the various River channels in the city. That’s where the River Bike path is.

Bike Paths or Bike Path? As seen in the map above of Taipei city, the entire stretch of River banks have got bike paths. Different sections of this path have individual names depending on the landmarks nearby etc… So you often come across maps of each section of bike path. But these are not separate paths – they are all one long, continued stretch of bike path. Probably 200+km long. Maybe earlier the bike paths were separate and hence, it is more common to find separate maps for each section. But since it is all connected now, it becomes an amazing ride for a cyclist looking to ride long distance within the city itself.Continue reading

Kalaghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai

A few pictures from the Kalaghoda Arts Festival 2017 & a quick note on how to best experience it. These are overall my thoughts about how this festival can be experienced. If you want to go there to take your photographs with the installations then I suggest you do that along with other more immersive ways of experiencing this.

How To Best Experience The Kalaghoda Arts Festival

Check the schedule online. There is a whole gamut of events from movies, plays, music programs, workshops, talks and so on. A lot of them are completely free. So look at which of these events interest you and go for them. When you visit to attend the event, at the same time you can keep some extra time and look at the art installations and visit the myriad stalls too.

Art Installations:

Try to immerse yourself in the art installations by reading what they depict. Participate in the interactive ones. They are not always great, but it is still interesting to see them. The groups behind some of those installations can be interesting too.Continue reading

Should You Buy Or Rent A Cycle For Long Distance Touring?

Buy Or Rent A Cycle

Considering a long distance cycling tour? If it is around your home city then you probably have access to a good cycle. But what if it is somewhere else – maybe a different country or even a different continent! Would you fly your cycle with you or should you buy or rent a cycle once you get to the new place?

When I cycled Berlin to Copenhagen in 2015 I bought a second hand cycle in Berlin. In my second trip to Australia and Taiwan – I flew my cycle from India to these countries. I wrote a blog post on Taking your Cycle via Airplane (Mostly for Indians). There are two points that I forgot to write in this blog post. One is about the costs involved – I will write about that soon. Second I am covering in this post : Why Fly a Cycle at all? Why not just buy or rent a cycle from a city near your long distance route? Here are my thoughts on the same,

Should You Buy or Rent a Cycle ?

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