Sri Lanka – Exploring the drop in the Ocean

Sri Lanka and the magical adam's peak

My trip to Sri Lanka and how it all started. When you get early to office on a Monday morning and there is no one in the floor and you are not geared up to answer the 1001 emails that are waiting for you and a 3 day holiday coming right up. What do you do.

Well, I did what I usually do. I opened up skyscanner.net and checked for tickets from Chennai to anywhere in the world in those dates and “Ting” comes Colombo with 9,000 INR as round trip on the screen. As usual, my mind goes on automation, picks up the card details and feeds in. Yup, that’s how it started. Sri Lanka has a lot to offer whether it is wildlife, mountain adventures, romantic getaways or beach bumming.

I have decided some exercise would be good to my otherwise growing waistline. So, off I go to Colombo which takes only 1 and half hours from Chennai. Actually, I landed in Sri Lanka in half the time it takes me to get to Delhi. I wonder why we pay visa fee when it is right around the corner. Then again, a different country and another stamp on your passport makes it necessary I guess. How I dream of getting a global citizenship one day where I can travel to any country without the visa hassle.

Finally getting through the immigration, I boarded a local bus that will take me to the railway station. Bus No. 187 costed me 110 LKR and is the cheapest option that sat well with my backpackers budget. Once after getting to the train station, I took the first train to Hatton and then another bus to get to Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada. Yes, you guessed it right. I was going to climb Adam’s peak in this trip. After a long journey, I reached Adam’s peak in the afternoon. 12718198_10153497584181074_3317448926248552857_n

Clouded Grand Adam’s Peak from the start of the Trek

Sri Lanka is lush with greenery all over the place, growing wild and beautiful. The people are friendly and they seem to love Indians and Indian movies. The food sort of similar in taste to what we get in India and is a bit on the spicy side. The view from the train is so mesmerising that I forgot the long hours it took me to get to my destination. In few words. “I WILL VISIT AGAIN”.

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View From the Train & the Guest House 

After checking into a beautiful guest room nestled in between tea gardens which is located 500 m from the entrance of the Adam’s peak, I explored the place, got some early dinner and went to bed early as it is a night trek. I woke up at 1 am and start my way to the starting point of the Adam’s peak.

Finally, I reached the peak after 4 strenuous hours of climbing. Huffing and puffing, wondering how that 60 year old grandma is faster than me, praying to almighty that if I fall down and break something, my mom won’t forgive him, I finally reached my destination. The trek path is well lit and is lined with food stalls and places to sit. The last one hour trek was the scariest I have had. It felt like I am going to get hit by vertigo if I look down and am holding on to the edges so tight so I will not fall down or rather roll down the hill. After reaching the top, we waited for half an hour for the sun rise. An interesting ritual of drums is performed every morning welcoming the sun here. All in all, it is one of the best sunrises I have ever seen.

Trek Trek cos the end result is awesome!

You know that idiomatic expression “legs turned to jelly”, yep I experienced it. When I am climbing down from the hill, I couldn’t stand or walk slowly as my legs are shaking. I had to run for the most part so I will not loose balance. All in all, I climbed 5400 steps, 2345 m height and can’t move by the end but was so totally worth it!

First Rays of Light

I returned to Colombo the next day. Well I am an Indian and though I might not be a Cricket fanatic, how can I miss a chance to visit the famed Cricket Club. So I hired a tuk tuk and went to the Club. The club is probably the place for cricket paraphernalia collected over the years. It hosted the autographed bats, country flags, world cups etc. Well did I mention I am not a fanatic so don’t ask me any more than this.

After that, my amazing tuk tuk driver made a deal with me. He will show me the least touristy yet most beautiful places and drop me in the airport. I had over 4 hours before I have to get to the airport and this deal made sense to me. Actually, that was a good decision as I got to see this amazing sunset over a canal.

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Finally, Sri Lanka, you have given me memories even as I am leaving. Next time when I am here, I want to explore the beaches, history, adventure sports, the culture etc. Then again, you are just a plane-hop away and I will definitely come back in the future.  Until then Istuti for all the amazing memories you left me with.

 

Chasing it or finding it.. A travellers dream!

Travellers Dream

A travellers Dream

So it’s been a while since I put up my last blog post. Most of you must be thinking I have gone AWOL (pardon my urban dictionary language). What actually happened is I have this amazing bigamy with  a corporate 9 to 9 job and travel. I failed miserably at throwing my bow lines away and sailing away from the safe harbour. Many other successful non-corporate job holders are doing it. I need to make money to travel and to make that money I need to work. So, I fall into this vicious cycle of I am doing something that I am possibly good at so I can do something I can possibly enjoy.

How are all you travellers doing this? chasing this dream of yours? How are you finding the means to the end?

While all things said, I did manage to squeeze in some cute little weekend vacations here and there. Be it exploring strawberry fields in Panchgani to the beautiful sunset in Goa, there were many vacations you can take in India. Enjoy all that nature has to offer by trekking through a jungle to enjoying some of the French finest in Pondicherry. it is still possible to keep the dream alive no matter where you are. Cause, this is your choice and your dream and it’s time to make it happen by hook or crook. More detailed blog posts about each of these little adventures will follow soon, meanwhile enjoy these pictures!

Happy Independence Day India.

Happy Independence day India

Happy Independence Day India

In a country I call home, over a billion people are celebrating this day for the past 69 years. For people who think, we are a country that is always in media for scams, population growth, our Swiss bank balance, think again. From now on you will hear us shouting at the top of our voices about our growth, our humanity and our culture.

I am proud to be born in a country with diverse landscape and unique culture. Though it drives me nuts that people has a set timeline (for job, marriage and kids) for their life in this country, it also makes me happy about the many festivals, the togetherness and warmth people seem to have here. I am proud to be born in a country which produces skilled workforce like no other. I am proud of the start ups and the younger generations making a mark in the world.

Then why do some of its own people, without a thought or conscience, are hurting this country’s pride? Let us ask ourselves on this very day which side on the line are we on. The side that’s winning for India, everyday by putting up a struggle to face the challenges this world throws at us. Or the side which is dragging us down and shaming us in front of the world by committing unkindly acts.

On this day, lets make sure India is a better place to live. Lets respect both the women and men. Let us make it safe for our future generations and the troves of travellers that visit us each year. It is time to grow together.

LET US BE A FORCE TO RECKON WITH!

Is India safe to travel?

India Safety Travelling Tips

This post might be a bit boring to people who already think traveling anywhere in the world is safe. But for others who have been asking me this question since the past two months here you go.

I have been travelling a little over two months. I have met people from various countries and this is how the typical introduction conversation happens:

Traveler 1: Hi ya, I am — and you are?
Me: Hi, I am Sai and where are you from?
Traveler 1: US/UK/Australia/Europe/Asia/Africa/South America and where are you from?
Me: India
Traveler 1: Oh thats an awesome country but is it safe to travel there? I mean with all these news about people getting assaulted/robbed etc.

India is a great place to experience various cultures, cuisines and people. Here people are friendly and would generally be helpful to other nationalities who are coming to visit. It is a fast developing country where there is no short of cosmopolitan clubs, fine-dining places as well as the authentic street food and local charm. And it is a pity that due to few of my countrymen many people who would love to experience this amazing country is backing down. It is a shame that we were not perceived as a safe country.

India Safety Travelling TipsIndia Safety Travelling Tips

As an Indian, I believe my country is safe as long as you follow the basic safety requirements.

Don’t stay at a place just because it is cheap:
In this era of internet it is possible to find out if a place is safe or not. Read the reviews and figure out  the location and if your intuition is screaming at you to get out of the place then do yourself a favor and get out ASAP!

Some people genuinely wants to help the backpackers and you go to the countryside many will offer you food or tea in their house. Most of them are curious about you and you could always accept or reject them politely depending on how comfortable you are. But if there are people who are offering food on the trains/buses well better be careful.The “taking food from stranger” rule applies in India as well.

Don’t trust strangers and don’t get inebriated to the point where you would black out. There are many more of these basic stuff that you need to take care of while travelling in any country.

I think we Indians have to represent our country and help people understand that India is like any other developing Asian country when it comes to safety. This is a call to all you Indian travel bloggers and enthusiasts out there. Lets tell people what its like to travel in India. Share your experiences and help people understand that it is safe to travel in India as well. To everyone who wants to travel in India you could contact me or any number of Indian travel bloggers regarding your queries.

India Safety Travelling TipsIndia Safety Travelling TipsIndia Safety Travelling TipsIndia Safety Travelling Tips - Rajasthan

 

Note: Indian government has recently introduced the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) for over 76 countries. Citizens of these countries below can obtain an e-visa prior to their date of travel and for 60 USD. For more details visit: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/
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