Finding your soul.. Easier said than done #travel

Find Soul Travel! Taken at the beach in Nice, France

When someone asks me why do you travel, I always point the reason to be soul searching or finding myself or some words that I have no understanding about. I am not very spiritual or worldly and I am not even sure I have an awareness of some supreme being etc. So why do I travel?

Well this tricky question has a simple answer. I travel to run away. Makes me sound cowardly isn’t it. But that’s the truth. Once the school was done, I ran away to escape the “what next” question. Because I was not sure I acquired the worldly knowledge and I don’t know what my degree exactly taught me. When I was too vexed with my work, I ran away to de-stress. I ran away to find the inspiration to go back to work, to the non-monotonous routine that will fill my already dry creative well. When things got too much at home, I ran away, so I didn’t lose my cool and unnecessarily say a word I cannot take back. I ran away to avoid the confrontation that will lead to heartbreak and give some distance that will make me realise what exactly the problem is.

There are many reasons to why I travel and it primarily boils down to one. TO COME BACK HOME.

Did you ever feel this way? Like I did. Like I can get lost in the world where no one knows me. Nurse my battle wounds and come back a winner? Did you ever soak up the sunset and realise you have an amazing life with people who love you?

I don’t travel to get away. I travel to come back home!

Sometimes road chooses the traveller

Sometimes Road Chooses Traveller, A picture from a random ride to Choi Fong Tea Factory in Chiang Rai, Thailand

In the typical human fashion, I believed that most things are controlled by me. Are they? Are we really the person who’s making the choice?

Sometimes I have this crazy thought that there is a world out there in which there are living beings who play a virtual game. They created this world called earth and each of them has an avatar/ game personality which transcends to being humans. So they play this game and all the decisions we make, incidents that happen to us, situations that were created. Am I thinking too much? Definitely but then the question remains the same.. Are we really the ones who are choosing the road..

Didn’t you ever just make an itinerary for one destination but totally changed it in the last minute because you cannot just, not take the other way? I did many a times, be it scuba diving in hua Hin instead of ko Tao, spending time in kep and kampot over sihanoukville, going to cinque terre   Or Seville or Strasbourg or Barcelona during August? It’s not planned but randomly happened and a choice made over other destinations because I cannot just not go! Have you experienced this as well? If so let’s have a chat..

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.

 

Panchgani – A love story set amidst strawberry fields

Panchgani - you serene beauty

Once upon a time.. Well it had been so long ago that I have to deep dive into my tiny sized brain to search for the details of this impromptu trip with my best pals. With information overload being the flavour of the season, this is a painstakingly long process :(. Still for all you guys out there who think a weekend out of Mumbai is Lonavala, this post is for you! This little mystery town filled with strawberries (I am wondering if I am being transported into my own version of Hansel & Gretel. P.S. just exchange the dessert house with strawberries) is a must! I am talking about Panchgani.

I diligently flew back to Hyderabad after a week of work in Chennai thinking of relaxing, lazing around and may be getting drunk (On life.. sheesh!). The innocent me didn’t know that my crazy set of people decided to kidnap me and drive 570+ km to Panchgani. We set out at 1 am from Hyderabad, sleeping for a bit, playing music, chilling, cracking jokes and reached panchgani by 12 noon. Guess what’s the first sight you see?

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You guessed it! Strawberries.. everywhere and anywhere. There are strawberries, strawberries & cream, strawberry jam, squash.. you name it. We soon started driving around to find a place to stay. The problem with an impromptu visit to Panchgani during a three day weekend is.. The hotels are full. We are doomed as there is no room, no home-stay and not even a hammock available. Are we supposed to spend the night in the car? No Way! Finally Tripadvisor to our rescue. There is an eco-lodging named Terra available for rent. At the edge of a hill and with beautiful tents overlooking another hill. Though a bit on the expensive side, this was our only option. Soon after we checked in, we brought our wireless speakers out and played some amazing music as the sun started setting in the hills.

Pic: Terra Cottages and view from Terra.

After sunset, we went for a walk, away from the lights and to stargaze. Though a bit spooky, it is definitely worth it. The sky was illuminated with thousands of stars and 5 of us stood there staring in awe. The next day was spent in Panchgani. Exploring the strawberry fields etc., I won’t get into too many details. But one thing that is worth mentioning is about 500 metres walk from Terra Camp is the edge of a cliff, overlooking a dam. it is so serene and peaceful. We were the only people there. We spent quite a bit of time enjoying nature’s bounty.

Pic: View from the cliff.

Pic: Strawberry fields and ripe strawberries.

All in all, I am thankful to those who decided to kidnap me :). Though I wish we had more time here, we had to get back owing to well MONDAY!
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All in all it’s a love story set in the sweet fragrance of strawberry fields, in the beautiful mountains and the serene grasslands that makes you forget that there is this bustling world out there, an email from your boss and a work order with your name on it.

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!