Traveling 2016: Year End Review

Year: 2016
On the road: Just about 4 months
Countries: Australia, India, Taiwan

It is hard to write this 2016 review post because I am in a bit of a daze. Since September to mid-December my life has been on one intensely awesome ride that I find hard to grasp. So much in life has changed in a great way and I feel that if I wrote it down I might lose it. Maybe things will ‘come back to normal’ which is not desired at all. But as with everything the moment even a thread of fear enters my heart, I must face it. So here goes,

Anyway in life I have no interest in wasting time on stuff that is transient. So let me try and articulate about the 3 and half months traveling.

Firstly this was my longest continuous trip so far. This was just my second solo international trip – the first being cycling in Europe. And I was carrying my bicycle from India to everywhere and back. There were two completely new countries – Australia and Taiwan.

Australia culture-wise was fairly normal – western. But the land, the flora & fauna were a new experience. The weather was also a new experience – I have never spent so much time in such cold and that too camping many days. After my trip to Europe it was awesome to find that there was hardly any language barrier. So long conversations with people started happening. Eventually I made some really good friends.Continue reading

Year End Review: My travel adventures in 2015

Finally I am sitting down to write my year end review for 2015. I love this exercise, it allows me to just sit and reminisce the years memories.

2015 is in a way a most memorable year for many happenings in my life. In the travel spectrum there was a big trip – Solo cycling Berlin to Copenhagen. Not only was the cycling and camping a first time experience but everything else – from getting a month and half long visa for Schengen as a solo traveler to planning my accommodation & flights for this international trip was a new challenge. I guess I put in about a months work into it.
In case you came in late and are wondering Why long distance cycling? This post explains it.

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Ooh yea, cycling Berlin to Copenhagen!
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On a cycle we go…. laa laa laalalalaaaa

After this cycling trip in Germany & Denmark, I spent a week in Switzerland with my parents. Yet to write about that. I also spent a few days in Budapest, Hungary. This was when the refugee situation was slowly escalating in the area. I visited the Keleti station in Budapest to get an on the ground idea of the situation. This was a really exhilarating trip for me. Seeing the ‘first world’ up close was a learning experience. I have so much to blog about this trips experience, I have no idea when I will get around to it. 🙂

Returning to India and settling back into this life, I made a quick 3 day trip to Nashik for the Kumbhmela. I had been wanting to visit one for a long time and was glad could make it this time. I didn’t go for any of the shahi snan (important bath) days as I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the crowds so much especially back from cycling in the European countryside. So I went on the quieter days and really enjoyed. Here are some blogs on that,

Notes for Solo Travelers to Kumbh Mela
My Travelogue
A guest post on the well maintained arrangements at the Mela

Earlier in 2015 I had been yet another time, to Matheran, a hill station near Mumbai. It is usually a family destination and so I never really explored it as a traveler. This time however I did just that… and I enjoyed it a lot more than other times.

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Want-to Twitter? 😀 A horse in Matheran patiently waiting….

Another hilly town I visited was Chikmagaluru of the South Indian coffee fame. Again a short visit with family to a coffee estate. Nice to break the routine life in Mumbai and be with nature. The journey to Chikamagaluru was fun. I took the overnight train from Mumbai to Mangalore – this is a Konkan route, in the morning it was very scenic. From Mangaluru to Chikamagaluru in local ST bus for a few hours, all for a small 3 day trip. Heh, it is good I like traveling so much. 🙂

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Beautiful Western Ghats – enroute Chika…

While writing this post I realised that last New Year started off with a very lovely trip to the Maharashtra backwaters with my friends @Netra and Snigdha. We were up for some exploration but the untouched beauty we found took all of us aback. The Maharashtra backwaters are beautiful and so unexplored! I didn’t get down to blogging about it yet, but have put up some pictures,

So for traveling year 2015 has been pretty great…. I am currently figuring out the right balance between work and travel for me. It is a common dilemma for a lot of us travelers because we want to travel more. And all of us have our individual ways to go about it. The thing with me is that I love my work too… and it is a large contributor towards my personal growth so I am looking at the right balancing combination which is best for my life situation.

One thing I want to highlight here is that Travel is after all towards a better life. The whole hype around travel has led to a lot of silly noise around it, which may imply that you should drop everything else and just start traveling like it is the end all of everything. No. Please look at your life situation and understand it. Travel can be a great way for growth and rejuvenation. So see how you can travel some and improve your life.

Happy New Year 2016 🙂

Year in Review & Welcome 2015 :)

Late for this post. I know. Life in maximum city, our Mumbai can be so filled with work, cannot tell you! The good part is that I have been enjoying it for the most part and I have managed some fulfilling travel adventures in the year too.

So one of the most memorable travel trips would have to be the 3 days at Varanasi! Seriously, I came back and was so in shock and maybe awe too that I wrote 3 full posts one after the other. This is quite rare for me, if you have been following my blog. Shock at the place, the ambiance or lack of it, the immense culture, the stuff to do, so much to explore…. it was all quite over whelming I must say.

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Ganga Arti, Varanasi

 

This Varanasi trip also included a short visit to Vrindavan & Taj Mahal, Agra which were both quite spectacular as well. More on that soon…

Earlier in the year was Pushkar & Jaipur, Rajasthan. Lovely places both.

Pushkar was where I figured that I really enjoy visiting these religious centers. It prompted me to go to Varanasi later in the year. The unique thing about my Pushkar visit was that it was completely non-peak time, so much so that many restaurants were closed. I hardly saw 3 foreigners in my whole stay. Mostly the influx of local people caught my eyes. The colorful dupattas & turbans of the Rajasthani folks!

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Pushkar Lake, Rajasthan
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Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
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Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

 

Quite forgot about the weekend at Dandeli in January of 2014. This was a lovely two days where I had absolutely no network. No Tata photon for internet nor Vodafone for calling at the Jungle camp we were staying. Hardly felt the need for them anyway… I am usually so saturated with being online when I am in the city…

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Enroute Dandeli… love the open spaces with fields and quaint houses dotting the landscape

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Sunset Point Dandeli
Interesting landscape in the Dandeli Jungle, I think this was a quarry at some point in time…

Also did couple of short trips to Surat & Ahmedabad in Gujarat. It was great as I really met many different people – friends, relatives and business contacts. But this connect gave me a lot of insight into the place and the culture. Will be posting more on this. Gujarat is of particular interest to me as I am a Gujarati, but not spent much time there. Also, I am curious about what awesomeness has Narendra Modi managed to achieve there? Cause people are crazy about him, except they never tell what exactly he has done.

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Ponk Seller, Surat

And then as I had written in this blog, I did quite a bit of Mumbai city exploration including Dharavi – Asia’s biggest and quite intriguing slum. Want to write a lot about this… will do soon.

One more interesting thing to mention is that I recently hosted a travel friend I met in Mysore. She is a young 20 yr old from Canada who is solo traveling India for many months. She stayed with me and my family for couple of days. It was very unique and lovely experience. This way parents got to meet another solo traveler girl too 🙂

And so that’s about it regarding my travels in 2014… yes, maybe a bit less than other years in travel adventures but life in general has been crazy. Entrepreneurial life has picked up and bringing a whole different adventure to life. Very taxing, but rewarding too. So Welcome 2015 – just bring me a truly wholesome and fulfilling life!

Happy New Year! 🙂

Year End Review – My Travel Adventures in 2013

Travel in 2013 has been good! While writing this synopsis I realize that I was on the road for over 2 months this year – which is fairly decent. In fact I had to cut down on potential trips due to work and other reasons. A quick look at my travel adventures this year,

1 month in South India – January

2013 started with a month spent roaming around in South India. That was a lovely time! I remember the time spent in Coorg (5 days at a home stay chillin), Kanyakumari (bad experiences n all), Isha Yatra….

Himachal Pradesh, 15 days – April

A family trip got arranged to Manali in the first weeks of April. Very considerately my mom suggested I take a week to myself after that hahah because otherwise I would travel off somewhere else on my own after coming to Mumbai! So that was another great trip Mumbai – Chandigarh – Manali – Rewalsar McLeodganj – Kangra – Chandigarh – Mumbai

NH17, Karnataka, 5 days – July

Niece’s birthday called me back to Bangalore. I included 2 days to explore the quaint little town of Udupi near Mangalore. Udupi – MalpeKapu Lighthouse.  I wanted to include Moodbidri but it was a little out of the route so that is for next time.

Mysore Dasara, Karnataka, 15 days – October (I haven’t even blogged about it yet! :P)

Unfortunately & fortunately (:p) I managed to take some time off work and I whizzed off to Mysore for the Dasara celebrations which are world famous. It was a very interesting experience, and besides Mysore is one of my fav cities in India so was great to see the festive ambiance in the city. Visited Srirangapatna & Ranganathittu bird sanctuary while I was there. On my way back I also took a stop over, couple of days at Hampi – which was delightful!

Apart from this, I made some cool traveler friends who also live in Mumbai. We have been busy on the weekends exploring the city so you would be reading more about that in the coming year on my blog!

So overall a very happy travel year! Apart from this I also published a few posts on Women Traveler Safety, very relevant as there are increasing incidents being publicized of violence against women.

Wishing for a brilliant & safe 2014 filled with enchanting travel experiences which help us explore, understand the world better and just generally be happy and fulfilled! Travel Adventures in 2013