2015 in Retrospect   Leave a comment

Such a busy year! Traveled a lot to incorporate magnanimous changes and it was so memorable!

March 28, 29

– Survey, Fish n more fish, stay at kadwad, New Bridge, talks, meds for amma

March 28th, 29th  Karwar - 001

April 3,4,5

– Shatabdhi Confusion, Passenger train to Mysore after a decade!, Telugu videos, Songs, woodlands theatre, sad food, palace, lights, plenty of crazy pics, pani puri, KFC, Rains

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– Zoo , Karadi and Baboon😉 Mall of Mysuru, Pathetic food, Crushers, Bustand , C.betta (Volvo) , deserted due to eclipse, glimpses of sunset, silence, bus to hotel, madira, pepper, curd rice and baddi-maga , memories for a lifetime

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– Jaganmohan Palace, Raja Ravi Varma, French Clock, Majjige, ricebath , warning to a fellow, Passenger to SBC again

May 8,9,10,11

– 17hrs journey to KWR! ridiculousness , Prep work, elevated voices, temple tour

May 8th , 9th, 10th , 11th

May 22,23,24

– Online chess , no competition at all, adigas, pics frenzy

May 22nd, 23rd , 24th 2

– Arranged breakfast, shave n graze, good lunch, mesmerizing belur, karaoke, wine and dine, Pro-Walk

May 22nd, 23rd , 24th 3

– Wretched breakfast, MCE, Jivika nilaya, Refreshing memories, amazing lunch at S.Gate, Taxi to Home

May 22nd, 23rd , 24th 1

May 27,28

– Koyambedu, Taramani, IIT, Lemon Tree, Ramanujam SEZ, AIG, nmon, Q&A, Sleep, Traffic, KSRTC

May 27th 28th Chennai

Jun 13,14

– Interruptions, Glitches, Bus TK, Pleasant ride, Shopping and Chats, Kor-kor+ Dog’s Tail, Usual Banter, Prolonged Meal, Awful Ride to blore.

Jun 13th 14thChitradurga

 

July 3,4

– Rains and more rains, Search and delays, university outskirts, fastrack journey

July 3rd, 4th Tumkur

July 11

– Highways, Kolaramma, Kurudumale , Splendid Meal, Club House, Walking , Shiva n Parvati, Traffic Jam

July 11th Kolar, Kurudumale, Kotilingershwara

July 19 

– Umbrella, Props, Golf Course, Cyanide hill, Photo Shoot

July 19th KGF

AUG 07,08

– Rains again, early checkin, beautiful weather, Dominos Shocker, Studies for viva-voce, Gifts for professor, delays and re-schedule, A sense of achievement, Great driving, Adieu pinch

AUG 07, 08

AUG 30, 31

– AJM – 0530 dep to 0600 train!, Kilpauk, Walking and more walking, Skywalk, Pizza stuffing! PVR?, Marina Beach ! Gruesome and nauseating , Vijayshree mahal, unrestrained antiques, MCE stories, Gorgeous food, T nagar, Nalli silks, eat well when you’re busy.

AUG 30, 31 - 01

September 17, 18, 19, 20

– Mad Rush! A different route, Rains and more rains, Bahubali Ganapati, Sadashivagad Fort, Seamless panoramic views, Passionate Photoshoot

September 17, 18, 19, 20 Ganeshahabba_01

 

September 25, 26

– Non-stop Banter, Drishyam, See-saw , Swing Break, Lazy football, Full house!, Raat baaki baat baaki, Deluge n Delay, Roadblock, Golden Temple

September 25, 26 Coorg outing

Sept 30, 01

– Old Bouquet, White Blankets, Travels n buses, ATMS , 0.5 LTR water

Sept 30, 01-01

October 11

– Lush Green meadows, jumping, posturing, retakes, Fortress air, Stoney appearance

October 11th Madhugiri

November 7, 8

– Fishy-fish, Windows, Beach and talks

November 7, 8

December 01

– Chartered drive, Beautiful Sunset, Remote beach, vowing to come back again

December 01

Dec 06 to 13 Srilanka

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– Everything’s delayed, Lazy dinner, Srilankan saree, Parting ways, Dingy Airport, Search for ATM, Crickety room

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– Tropical climate, Tuk-tuk breakfast, Srilankan abstraction, Music galore, Adare adare! , Mahawaskaduwa, Glorious beach, Spicy fish curry, Heavy Rains, Wine and Beer

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– Long walk, Cricket and poses, Kalutara Bodhiya, Peace, penance, Dodgy lunch, currency exchange, thundershowers! , Glorious dinner

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– Sea bathing, Galle drive, scenic route, perera n sons, local bus to weligama, Selfie Pulla, stunning bay

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– Rains again ! New wine stores, shopping, beach fun, pool, food city, dinner again, beer fest

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– Breakfast hunt! Galle fort, Impressively humid, Local cricket, Indian Hut, Sunset, Lighthouse

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– Seabathing, Breakfast – dumbness entwined, Pool dive, Packing, KFC, Srilankan Rail, Tamil happiness, Confusion, exploration in a tuk-tuk, Dominos pizza, Shopping

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– Shopping again, MCD’s, Early kids, Easy drive to Airport, Spendthrift, Dilmah, Long Queues

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Dec 19, 20 

– Train blunder, sumptuous food, Ajji stories, Billiards, Medical certificate, Golgappa, Guests, Chess, carom, Old pics, Golf Course, Muruga hill, Tirupati psngr

Dec 19, 20 KGF

Dec 25

– Kakinada exp, Bike ride, Reservoirs, Bangaru Tirupati, Spicy chats, kova, Empty Trains

Dec 25 KGF

Jan 01, 02 , 03

 

– 1 hr delay !, New year welcoming, Buns n tea, Restroom pikes, Perspiring weather, Kanakana kindi, adhesive lunch, pinacolada, bus to kaup, rick to lighthouse, many changes, sunset on a lighthouse, Amazing dinner –one of a kind

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– TCS bus to Sringeri, Always feels good, Fishy business, Elephant poses, knowledge path, darashanam, temperature drop, corn obsession, Delicious prasadam, Fruit and Nuts, Barca disappointment

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– Srimane falls, Scenic Drive, Kigga, Rushyashringa Story, Hanging bridge, Long journey, Hassan chats, Chikki talks, phone habits

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Jan 20

– Drowsy morning, Mango drink, Broadway, 102C, ILP, PG hunt, Varnika, Udupi mess, Thiruvanmiyur Bus stand, Broken tamil, Rick help, food stuffing, BMTC night transport

JAN20chennai

Alone in a crowd of sheep   Leave a comment

Latter Dec was spent on Revamp , First, second week of Jan – island fair and I had just three weeks left before plunging into mundane-ness, all I wanted was to fully utilize those three weeks and travel hard. During our karwar stay, one of my cousin fell seriously ill, had no choice but to get her Blore and provide appropriate treatment. I had to cancel all the plans and for two weeks or so, my daily activities included -multiple visit to St.Johns and dig more info on a peculiar syndrome called BGR.

Fortunately, my cousin recuperated well and I just had 14 days left! After 5hrs of brainstorming, prepared an 11 day plan to TN, Kerala and Sirsi. Booked Train and Bus Tickets which obviously was on a WL.

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and this time, want to just spurt it out like the way it was recorded…

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Day 1 : 4:30 Am, TT to K.Halli (raja muddu raja song), Auto to SBC back gate (Subbalakshmi suprabatham), Platform 6, its still dark, Shathabdhi cons, AC chair car, Deccan Herald and TOI Newspaper, seats re-shuffle, mallu madness, Double deckker SBC –MAS wish, Tea and Biscuits served, Small nap, Breakfast served, Only stop at Katpadi Jn, Finally in Chennai! First time!, Local bus to Broadway, just 3 rs! Broadway bus Terminus, Bus to Kovalam, only 50 rs Daily pass! On famous East coast Rd Beautiful Marina on the left, Tea near Dargah, delay for mamallapuram bus, jam packed! abundant stops, Lakshmi guest house – near mahabalipuram beach, cool ambiance, felt like gokarna, lunch at sri ananda bhavan, The shore temple – unesco world heritage site, Plenty of Handicrafts , krishnas butter ball, Ganesha Ratha, Arjuna’s penance ? How is it arjuna.. It should be bhagiratha isn’t it! Mahishasura mardhini cave, Mahabalipuram light house, 5 rathas, Evening beach walk, Tea near hotel, shower, dinner at Ananda bhavan, Beach stroll.

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Day 2: 5.30am, beach walk, watching Sunrise = zen feeling! Pallava beach, Hot water at 8.00am, Walk to Arjuna’s penance, TNSRTC Bus to Kanchipuram at 11, Paddy fields, sugarcane fields, Rural TN at its best! Break at Chengalpet, yummy Salted groundnuts, Hotel Simla Residency near bus Stand, Wonderful lunch at Adyar ananda bhavan, Kanchi Kamakshi Temple, beautiful deity, Smelly Elephants, Kanchi Kamakothi peetham, Controversy Guru, Ekambareswarar temple – the largest temple in the city, one of the pancha bootha sthala , representing earth, Tea beside arrack shop!, Evening stroll, Rikshaw to Varadaraja Perumal temple, Golden Lizard, Saree shops everywhere, Kanchipuram darshan in Rikshaw, Good conversation with driver, Dinner @ AABhavan

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Day 3 : Sringeri mutt’s new guru appointed, Bus to Tiruvannamalai at 10:30 am via Vandavasi, chetpet, RK inn on Peters Road, Arunachaleshwara Temple, one of the pancha bootha sthala , representing fire, Very big gopuram, Diff btw pallavas, vijayanagara, chola kings, its complexity. Walk to Virupaksha cave, Very good masala puri and pani puri, huge difference in taste! Dinner near surya lodge, well-expressed discourse from Sringeris mutt guru.

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Day 4: Traditional idly vada served with two types of sambar and two types of chutni, rikshaw to ramanashram, spick-and-span , loads of westerners, adorned with pictures, pretty TNM station, Chair Car, TT trouble, gorgeous weather, gorgeous journey, check in at RK Lodge, bedbugs! Dinner at Vandayar Restaurant.

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Day 5: Thillai Nataraja temple, one of the pancha bootha sthala , representing Sky, beautiful concept!, Dikshitars performing mahayaga for khumba abhisheka, really cool temple complex, the grandiose Nataraja, CERN and god particle! Thandava significance, Traditional yagas, pooranhuti, silk sarees, ear rings, saree knots, long hairs, pierced noses, laughter, bus to pichavaram mangrove forest, dum dum diga song again, fish bais, overcrowded, screaming, yelling, 1hour boat ride, fellow partners from blore, awesome place, good beach, very organized and neat, icecream, local bus to Chidambaram, rathimeena travels, Seater, request to book room in TVC, no stops for dinner, dosa parcel at kumbakonam

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Day 6: NH and it’s so narrow (from Nagercoil), check in at Hotel galaxy inn, Republic day parade, good food, shri padmanabha swamy temple – the richest temple in the world, traditional attire, bag and camera deposit, high security, so neat and tidy, multiple darshanas, anna prasadam, panche shopping, Volvo to kovalam beach, the water is so clear unlike other south indian beaches, icecream and icecream again, sunbathing westerners, packed house!, kovalam lighthouse, so huge! , fantastic panaroma , wonderful philosophical discussion, the practices, goal, the real questions, idol worship, pineapple and cucumber, beach walk, bus to TVC, riskshaw to zoo, amazing tea (back to back) walk in park, napier museum, local bus to TVC

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Day 7: Jan shatabdhi to Thirssur, Chair car, Vacant seats, TVC to LTT – konkan wish, wonderful journey, bridges, coconuts, morning sun, IRCTC breakfast, Kerala bundh! Check-in at casino hotel, sleep, lunch, sleep, walk to thekkinkadu maidan, vadakummnathan temple, deities are so small, vadakummnathan covered in ghee, pristine and appealing, Bhagavaty temple, Pleasant kalyani, Groundnuts and tea, Thirssur looked so bland, Our lady of Dolours church, horrible dinner

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Day 8: 4.30 am, local bus to Guruvayoor, foot in mouth driving, two hours for darshan, changing of clothes, 15-min procedures! Yummy payasam, Annaprasadam, Walk to Mammiyooor temple, tea, local bus to casino, two hours waiting, so many trains! Once in 15 min! AC upper berth, Newspaper, Sudoku, N-Deal, Obama, Republic day repercussions, IRCTC dinner,2.30 am, magical smell, 3:20 drop at Kumta, walk to bus stand, surprise! Direct bus to sirsi, ridiculous songs! Construction workers from Kannur travelling to Hubli, 5.30 drop at sirsi, tea at bus-stand, Rickshaw to home

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Day 9: Hot-Bathing! Lunch at Siddaruda, nothing has changed! Sleep, rayarapet, CP bazar, Nayak Galli, bhatt purohit, Satkar – the usual food, Dates-pan

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Day 10: Mullah controversy, new tentants, motor issues, Hot-Bathing Again!, Marikamba , Annaprasada, Sushma’s house, Spoorthi darling, Amazing tea, the usual hudgi banter, Walk to Depot, Watsapping! Calls, inevitability, struck at 5rasthe, apologies, more apologies, henna hunt, satkar, SRS seater

Day 11: Blore

Footnote :

How was your holidays? Had been to TN, Kerala, the natural reaction was: Oh! Was is it a pilgrimage trip?! I would say no, it’s not just because the bhakthi nor fear, it is just the curiosity and the ever evolving need to experience shades of humanness, to look at one’s one self-reflection of morals, the need to experience psychology of crowd dynamics and most importantly bathe in awe and fascination.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude —Ralph Waldo Emerson

References:

Alone in a Crowd of Sheep – Jonah Berger

2014 in Retrospect   Leave a comment

2014 was relatively dull year, I didn’t travel much due to dogged SAP releases which were totally ridiculous. However the highlight of 2014 was Spiti+YHAI trek, got introduced myself to one of the finest landscapes of Himalayas and tons of memories!

Feb 08 and 09 – Kalahasthi

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  • Again, this happened due to family, absolutely loathed the procedures and all that blah
  • Surprisingly enjoyed the travel!
  • Temple is huge and beautiful, has a wonderful history

Oct 18 and 20 – Hassan, Belur

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  • Hassan! such a long time
  • Many things had changed since engg, New Bus stand is so damn huge!
  • Terrific Weather! Reminded me of good old engg days where I never used to attend morning classes/internals.
  • Belur was so fun! Had a wonderful time
  • Dining in Southernstar was fun again.

Oct 29 and 30 – Dharmasthala

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  • Colleagues marriage was so simple and gorgeous, only took few hours: 20-30 min for muhurtham, 20-30 min for photos and another hr for lunch. Then, pack up!
  • After darshan, we went to kukke and I took a solo journey back to B’lore.

Nov 29 and 30 – Masinagudi, Ooty

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  • Took only 5.5 hrs to reach masinagudi.
  • Masinagudi-Ooty-Naduvattam-Gudalur-Masinagudi was an adventure!
  • Masinagudi wildlife safari was hilarious!😀

Kurmagad Fair – Reality of the unreal   Leave a comment

I was so surprised, 12th DEC 2014 was my last working day in HP, never had expected that I would get relieved so early. I had more than two months of holiday and was so eagerly looking forward to Guj-Meghalaya trip (5 weeks) .. But…. Everything didn’t go according to the plan, my doddamma expired, parents left to karwar, had to monitor, co-ordinate house renovation. I had no choice but to scrap my big travel plan and build a new one.

Revamp was almost done, and I was planning for a three week trip to Guj, MP and Maharasthra but my folks intervened and asked me to travel to Karwar for Kurmagad Jatra! Said yes, The only reason was that the fair is held on a remote island, and that meant i had to further tweak Guj plan.

Until the grand Fair, our time was spent mostly in shopping grocery and in buying varieties of fish, and I totally devoured each dish which was beautifully prepared.

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Kurmagad fair , brief outlook

  • Kurmagad Island is 6km Km from Karwar.
  • The fair is held in the island on the full moon day in January every year.
  • The idol of Lord Narasimha is brought on a boat from Kadwad to the island.
  • Morethan 20,000 attend the fair, mainly fishermen which consider Narasimha as their principal deity.
  • They organize ferries and boats to the public esp from Kodibag, they charge a hefty sum though! However, the boat journey to the island is itself an enjoyable experience.
  • Ferries from Kadwad, Madibag, baithkol are free of cost.
  • Due to the traffic and the absence of jetty they anchor 100mts from the island, so one has to walk 50-70 mts in water. From the shore, one has to trek to reach the hilltop for pooja.
  • Its bananas everywhere, because Narasimha loves it!
  • We involved ourselves on a guided tour around the island.
  • The island is about 56 acres is owned by some mangloorean , has a perky resort called “the Great outdoors”
  • A short trek to Mystery Creek’s base was amazing, – A crack in the rocks formed by an earthquake several million years ago. It is believed that Lord Narasimha made his way through this long creek leading to a cave near the temple, which is how the temple was named. This is a good place to spot otters.

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And as always, I was contemplating on the subtleties that these fair brought, it was all about the atmosphere: how a place, a ritual, a reason to celebrate, transforms everything. What I experienced was something like : “imperceptible hints and touches of selective associative detail which express shadings of mood and build up a vague illusion of the strange reality of the unreal”

References:

The great outdoors – Kurmagad Island

The Hindu

H.P. Lovecraft, Notes On Writing Weird Fiction

Posted 15/02/2015 by 6thstation in Travel

Tagged with ,

Splendours of Himachal   Leave a comment

In Dec, I missed my winter trek with Indiahikes and deeply regretted it, so after official Singapore travel i started to gather information for a summer trek. At the same time, YHAI had also published their summer trek plans, of all Chanderkani seemed attractive.

With only 6 as the head count, came up with the below plan, it was divided into two parts; A) First half exclusively dedicated to KMVN part of Uttarakhand and B) Second half – trek in Himachal Pradesh.

23 APR – WED – Flight to DEL, 15013/Ranikhet Express, DLI-Dep:22:35 , KGM Arr:05:05 or 15035/Uttarakhand Sampark Kranti Express DLI-Dep:16:00 , KGM Arr:22:40
24 APR – THU – To Nainital – Nainital lake tour + Zoo
25 APR – FRI – Nainital  – remaining sites visit
26 APR – SAT – Nainital to Kausani via Ranikhet [night stay @ Kausani]
27 APR – SUN – Kausani to Chaukori [via Baijnath, Bageswar, mask deer farm]
28 APR – MON – Chaukori to Munsiyari
29 APR – TUE – Munsiyari
30 APR – WED – Munsiyari to Binsar [via Patal Bhubaneshwar]
01 MAY – THU – Binsar
02 MAY – FRI – Binsar to Kathgodam via Almora sightseeing, 14119/Kathgodam Dehradun Express, KGM-Dep:19:45 , DDN Arr: 04:20 +1 night
03 MAY – SAT – DDN to Kullu, Briefing and acclimatization – Actual Reporting
04 MAY – SUN – Rock climbing and rappelling.
05 MAY – MON – Base camp to Malana Project by bus, then trek to Yosgo, Distance – 5 km(approx) (9000 ft) (4 hrs)
06 MAY – TUE – Trek from Yosgo camp to Behali campsite via Malana village, Distance – 8 km (approx)(8900 ft) (3 hrs)
07 MAY – WED – Trek from Behali campsite to Waching, Distance – 7 km (approx) (9300 ft) (3 hrs)
08 MAY – THU – Trek from Waching to Nagroni, Distance – 5 km (approx) (10,000 ft) (5 hrs)
09 MAY – FRI – Trek from Nagroni to Nauya Tapru via Chandrakhani pass, Distance – 14 km (approx) (9000 ft) (7 hrs)
10 MAY – SAT – Nauya Tapru to Naggar via Rumsu Village and transfer to Base Camp by Bus, Distance – 7 km (approx) (4 hrs), Overnight Journey to Chandigarh
11 MAY – SUN – Flight To Bangalore
12 MAY – MON – Office

The count fluctuated; many of them were interested but opted out due to personal reasons. However, I was solely worried about the return journey from Uttarakhand to Base camp, it seemed too lengthy, strenuous. Therefore, to amend the plan searched for other alternatives.

I was aware of Kinnaur, Lahul&Spiti’s existence after 2008 Sar Pass Trek, and since then wanted to experience its Tribal Circuit. The circuit passes through a spectacular terrain of river valleys, cold desert mountains, high passes, treacherous roads, snowcapped peaks, Icy lakes and mighty glaciers. Places included are Sarahan – Sangla – Kalpa – Nako – Tabo – Dhankar – Pin Valley – Kaza – Losar – Kunzum pass – Koksar – Sissu – Tandi – Udaipur – Trilokpur – Rohtang Pass – Manali. As a result, I included Kinnaur, Spiti into the first half which looked like this

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The above plan looked wonderful, and in Feb second week we finalized the version and booked air reservations. March and first three weeks of April passed in a jiffy, a lot of transition happened at workplace and I was not able to gather more information on Kinnaur, Spiti. It was only the last week before departure; I started to collect maps, read articles, blogs and realized that we cannot do a complete circuit! That came in as a huge shock. The same was confirmed by our TT driver Mr.Sanjay Kumar. Kunzum pass, the gateway to Manali from Kaza remained closed until June. Nevertheless, we wanted to stick with the plan and that meant we had to traverse back the same way. Consequently, the final release plan looked like this..

2Day 1: Was full of contrasts, 31 c in Bangalore, 35 c in Mumbai, 39 in Chandigarh and 16 in Narkanda! The journey was good, though most of them had a feeling of uneasiness while traversing in Ghats.

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Day 2: We started at 9, took the famous National Highway-22 to Sangla (Now NH 5), 459 km that runs from Ambala through Chandigarh up to Khab on the Chinese border. It is also known as Hindustan Tibet road, it runs alongside Sutlej River and has some breathtaking views. We stopped at Rampur Fort, Jeori (lunch) and entered kinnaur at 3pm, At Karcham we took a deviation to Sangla and entered sangla valley, the roads were bad nevertheless, we had amazing experience navigating through it.

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Day 3: Sangla, is the biggest village in the beautiful Sangla Valley. It has the majestic Kinnaur Kailash Mountain (6500m) towards its south, it is considered super sacred by both Hindu and Buddhist Kinnauris. The pass accessible on the trek is the Charang La at an altitude of 5300m. It is considered as the toughest trek in Himachal Pradesh. Later we moved to Chitkul (3460m) – which is the Crown of Kinnaur – highest reachable village in Sangla Valley. Chitkul was the best thing that happened to all of us, it was an amazing experience. Then, we left to peo had lunch at 4.30pm and reached Kalpa at 7.30, missed the glorious sunset views of Kinner Kailash peak.

Mighty Himalayas, Chitkul.

On Day 4 We accomplished, the best and the most arduous journey from Kalpa to Tabo (world’s most treacherous road). Kinnaur Roads, features as one of the most deadly road to drive in the planet and the entry into the Spiti Valley at Khab was a rare example of crossing from the Himalaya to the Trans-Himalaya without going over a major pass. While the road follows the Spiti River, the Sutlej disappears east towards the Tibet border. We stopped at the beautiful Molling valley for lunch, later moved to Nako – In Hangrang Valley, Nako is the largest village above sea level, it has paddy fields, traditional mud houses with flat roofs and the entire village is built around a lake. We left Nako at 6pm and reached Tabo at 10pm.

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Day 5: Flanked on either side by hills, Tabo (3050m) is situated on the left bank of river Spiti and our visit to Tabo monastery was the best part of the morning walk, Tabo Monastery is one of the most important Buddhist monasteries regarded by many as only next to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet, Founded in AD 996 is one of the few gompas in the Tibetan Buddhist-influenced areas of Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti where the highly structured art of painting the complex Tibetan religious iconography is taught. It is the largest monastic complex of Spiti which has since been declared a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.

Later in the day we left to Pin Valley – also known as ‘Land of Ibex and Snow leopard’, Kaza Village, the great spiti valley, Key Monastery (Kee Monastery, situated at the foot of steep ridges and on the left bank of river Spiti, is the biggest Gelupa Sect Monastery in Spiti)

Spiti valley is also known as the tribal valley of Himachal, the tribals follow the same Buddhist culture as that of Tibet and Ladakh. Spiti valley and surrounding region is one of the least populated and isolated regions in India and is famous as the offbeat tourism destination in Himalayas. The name ‘Spiti’ means ‘The Middle Land, i.e. the land between Tibet and India. The main Spiti valley is split into eastern and western valleys. They are connected with Ladakh & Tibet on eastern side & Kinnaur and Kullu valleys on western side through high passes. Spiti’s mountains form a part of the Central and Greater Himalayas and several peaks are over 6,000 metres providing unparalleled panoramic views.

The majestic Kee Gompa

Day6: Kee Gompa was the last possible place that we could go to, and we had to traverse back the same way. Again it was the journey that carried some weight; the major highlight of the day was being struck in two back to back landslides just before Peo and the second slide brought out the best in everybody, we struck together and cleared it no time!

Almost 5-6hrs was spent waiting for BRO to clear the landslide and that had an adverse impact on our schedule, as a result we reached Rampur at 12.30 am!

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Day7: From barren dry cold desert to lush green pine meadows, the journey to manali from Rampur was refreshing. Esp , the lunch break and Tea at Jalori pass.

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Day8: Visit to commercial tourist places: Hidimba Devi temple, Solang valley…. After kaza and tabo, this was so boring! It was a different feeling, altogether. In the evening, we reached seobagh base camp, and bid farewell to our beloved chauffeur- Sanjay.

Paragliding in Solang Valley

Day9: It’s always a festive atmosphere at YHAI camps, always buzzing with activities which keep you busy. Day one was spent in briefing and acclimatization walk; we were introduced to our batch CP7. Batch leader, co-leader, environment leader were selected unanimously. After a lousy orientation, rest of day was spent in shopping and leisure.

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Day10: Day 2(trek) was reserved for Rock climbing and rappelling activities. We made deposits of extra luggage and packed our bags for higher camps.

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Day 11: HPTC bus was organized for transportation to Lower Malana project which was the beginning of our trek, after 4-5hrs of walk we reached higher camp#1 Yosgo, which reminded me of Depp’s movie: Sleepy hollow.

Dr Couple resting under pine trees (D4: Near Malana Project)

Day12: The hallowed Malana village! Poof.. Malana is a small village in Parvati Valley. Hashish from this village, the Malana Cream, is among the most expensive in the world and believe me it is.. The best!! Malana villagers practice a rigid social system that includes untouchability , locals believe that all outsiders of the village are ‘untouchable’, therefore three Trek guides were deployed to make sure none of us touched anything , because the fine for touching someone or a village house is 2500 rupees!! Rains slowed us down and we took lunch near Upper malana project and after 6-7 hrs of walk we reached Behali campsite which was the most picturesque of all 5 higher camps.

Picturesque Behali Campsite - the best of all 5 higher camps

Day13: Trek to Waching camp from Behali was the most beautiful, the weather was just perfect, relaxing. We played Cricket at 9500ft and it felt really awesome. We played two six over matches with IPL finesse, one resulting in a terrific draw, other nail-biting win.

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Day14: Western Himalayan broadleaf forests from Waching to Nagroni did emanate enchanting fragrance, the climb to base camp was steeper than the rest and we experienced snowfall which brought great joy to our souls.

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Day15: 14 hours of walk in snow and most of them felt why did they ever sign up for a trek? Why suffer so much? This was the day where we were truly stretched beyond our comfort limits. And I Just loved it! The first ray of the rising sun spurting out through the tallest peaks and to bask in that glorious sunshine was just of the world! Chanderkani pass, Located at a height of 3660m, provided an awesome and breathtaking view of some of the most beautiful snow clad mountain peaks like Tiger Thatch, Ali Ratni, Inderasan and Priyadarshini Range. A 360 degree view of the Himalayas it was breathtakingly beautiful. It was the best day of the trip!

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Day16: Downhill Walk to Rumusu village was exciting; we waited for nearly three hours for Mr Sanjay to arrive. Back at Basecamp we collected our certificates, did some shopping and left to Chandigarh at 10pm.

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Day17: We reached Chandigarh at 7pm, and we proceed with the usual sightseeing, Sukhna Lake, Rock garden and Rose garden. After a lovely lunch we reached airport at 1, took the 4.30 flight to Delhi and again took 7:45 flight to Bangalore

And our 17 day fabulous trip turned out like this,

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I think we have consistently “raised the bar” with respect to planning and execution, the experience turned out to be so much more than I had expected and 17 days just passed like a blink of an eye. It was a truly life-changing adventure.

 

Life, Uncluttered   2 comments

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” – Shakespeare

2012 was in Badami, 2013 was spent in Hampi and in 2014 chose Sirsi over various reasons, zeroed in mainly on Yana. Had various doubts over the execution of design but in the end, booked to and return tickets on the day of departure. Only took 15 mins to ready the backpack, googled some info on yana and got delayed due to the usual push-pull banter with loved ones.

It was a long time since I had travelled in normal survana-sarige, and really wanted to make sure to ‘experience the difference’, the bus looked good, it was from Ankola depot and its destination was Gokarna. Now, all the buses of NWRTC have a different color (Yellowish green) than its KSRTC’s counterparts. The reality of travelling in suvarna-sarige is about regular stops and the constant inflow of commuters at its various destinations, for an end to end passenger it’s an annoying issue. For me, it was just a visual representation on how things were dependent and inter-connected. Also, a beautiful perspective on how citizens follow their duties, quietly, unreservedly, without any qualms. Along with Dave Brubeck’s All-Time Greatest Hits (esp Take Five), I felt wonderful.

I barely slept, and Sirsi arrived at 5:45 am. Took some rest and left to Banavasi – The first Kannada capital. Loads of buses ply from Sirsi to Banavasi, infact you have a bus every 20-25 min.

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Pampa – also known as ಆದಿಕವಿ, Kannada literature’s most celebrated poet describes Banavasi’s Magnificence in his most popular work Vikramarjuna Vijaya “In the land of Banavasi, a veritable ‘Nandana’, There the men are truely men, Charity they are known for , as much as for their keen enjoyment of life. They adore company, music, literature. If as man one could not be born there, May one be born, as a bee, or a cuckoo. Whenever I feel the southern breeze, Whenever I listen to pleasant speech , Whenever sweet strains of music fall on my ears, Whenever I behold the jasmine in full bloom , Whenever I make rapturous love, Whenever it is gay festive spring, Even if it be That a mahout’s restraining hook pricks my temples, My mind turns to you, O Banavasi, My dear land.”

Well, Banavasi (23 kms from Sirsi ) is now a small-sleepy town, the only remainder of its glorious past is the Madhukeshwara Temple. Built nearly 1,500 years ago, this temple modestly illustrates the primitive architectural style of Kadambas, which later evolved into more of grandiose quality.

The magnificient Marikamba Temple, Sirsi

Back in Sirsi, I paid visit to Marikamba temple and also took part in its Annadaana programme. It was simple and delicious meal, served with great smile! Feeling relaxed and content I moved to Sirsi old bus stand to catch bus to Sondha, the bus was scheduled at 4.30 pm, therefore inquired about directions/buses to sahasralinga. For that, I took Yellapur local bus which dropped me to Hulgol and walked 1.5kms to reach the spot.

Tranquility at it's best!

Sahasra linga is on the river Shalmala, in 2010 it was included under natural heritage site. As the name suggests , it is believed that the lingas  was carved during 1677 – 1718 under the rule of Raja Sadashivaraya. I spent quality time beside the flowing river, mutely spectating ritualistic worship of lord shiva. Around evening, I had an excellent tea and avalakki-mixture in ‘Nature Café’, walked back to Hulgol bus stop and boarded a mini-van to Sirsi. The evening was so pleasant and beautiful, and felt like a king inside a van because I was the only customer🙂 It was still 6pm, therefore took a stroll to Nilekani and leisurely walked back to Hotel Satkar, finished dinner and with magnificent birthday memories retired to sleep.

On Day 2, I was supposed to leave home at 6am but that got delayed, instead left to Yana at 8.30am. Again there was confusion and wasn’t sure of the route. After inquires, the best possible option that I chose was to take bus to Katgal and then a local bus to Yana.

There are two possible ways to reach yana (via Public Transport)

  1. Via Devimane ghat, Get down at Katgal (Yana Cross) and further travel 17kms to the base of the two shikaras, Plus 2kms walk.
  2. The other one is through villages of Hegdekatta, Devanalli, for that take Mattighatta bus from sirsi: get down at vaddi cross, walk 8kms to yana cross, take a right and further walk 3 kms to reach Bhairava Shikara.

Note : If one has their own transport, the walking distance for Route 1 remains the same , however for route 2 : it will be just 500 m.

Mohini Shikhara (90 m) - Yana

It was 10.30am when I reached yana cross on Sirsi-Kumta Road, and had missed the local bus from Kumta to Yana (8am), I was presented with two options, either wait for 1pm local bus or get a lift from some tourists or locals. To my aid, I met a local guy who offered help and dropped me to the base of the mountain. He covered 17kms in 25mins, and was surprised that I was alone, introduced me to the world of yana and its mythical stories and refused to take money!

Story In a Nutshell: Bhasmasura , a demon king through his severe penance gets a boon from shiva, shiva grants the boon : whenever bhasmasura places his hand over anyone’s head they would turn into ashes! Now this gets funny: Bhasmasura wants to test his power over shiva! Bhasmasura chases Shiva everywhere, terrified shiva hides and seeks help from Vishnu, and Lord Vishnu transforms himself to Mohini, lures Bhasmasura to dance. Smitten by Mohini’s oozing eroticism he keeps his hand over his head and booooom! He’s turned into Bhasma! And it is so believed that the ash that rose from Bhasmasuras death blackened the surroundings, The ash like soil found all around the place is ascribed to this burning of Bhasmasura. Also , The two distinct peaks of Yana are also named for this event: the taller one (120m) being Bhairaveshwara Shikhara –  has a cave and a self-manifested linga, and the smaller peak, a being Mohini Shikhara where an idol of goddess Parvathi is installed.

On a scientific note, there are about 61 limestone rock structures; within a radius of 3 km and geological institute’s detailed study has revealed that the rocks are very rich in limestone, manganese and iron. Therefore, the area is very ideal to set up a cement factory.

Numerous bee hives on Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, Yana

Heat and humidity made the climb uncomfortable, first one to encounter was the Mohini shikara and finally the majestic Bhairava Shikara. Inside the temple, the priest too made me aware of the legendary status that the place connotes, took a pradakshina (going through a cave) a path through which one can come around the Bhairava shikara , it does provide beautiful views of limestone rock structures, numerous bee hives.

With tea and biscuits, I had a good conversation with the owner of a small pawn shop near the temple.He answered my questions with great enthusiasm and provided useful tips.

  1. Can we pitch tents near the temple? – No, the authorities won’t allow you can pitch outside the fence
  2. Are there any rock climbing events? – The monkey man couldn’t climb who else can? Plus its tough
  3. How far is Vibhuti Falls? Can we put tents there? – Via shortcut its 3kms, by vehicle its 3+3, yes you can put tents there.
  4. Are there any buses to Mattighatta Cross – No, You have to walk
  5. How far is Mattighatta Cross? – 3+8 kms
  6. Is it safe to walk to Mattighatta cross? – Oh yes, it’s a new road you just have to go straight, it’s very beautiful.
  7. Bus Timings to Sirsi from Mattighatta Cross? – every hour until 7.30pm
  8. Bus timings to kumta ? – 4.30 pm last bus from the way you came.

At 1pm, took the route to Sirsi, walked 11kms and reached Mattighatta Cross at 3pm, the route is dam picturesque and it is virtually inhabited, I met species of mine only thrice during the two hour walk in the jungle, majority of it was accompanied by absolute silence, scanty rains, rustling-talking trees, chirps of hidden birds, hanuman langurs and my own heartbeats, footsteps. It was Beaautiful!

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At vaddi cross, I met NWRTC inspectors who were waiting for Mattighatta bus; we had casual talk about yana, sirsi and Bangalore. They explained their nature of work, and we were joined by two of the locals who further explained their travel woes to them. It was an amazing experience to comprehend the revealing contrasts, perspectives. Some of which are, Fluctuations of betel nut prices (1 Quintal), it had zoomed to 45k from the normal 15-18k! How it affected their living, why they always preferred panche instead trousers😀 how villagers have become more open to marriages with different sects, on Aadhar card, Modi and on subsidy schemes from the Government, Corrupt officials and their love for land grabbing, their sole mode of transport(buses), Weather patterns.

We all took the 4.30 bus to Sirsi and since I had skipped lunch, gobbled two dosas and three back-to-back Kadak chais, and at home discussed about property tax and made arrangements for its payment, had masala omelet for dinner(near KSRTC Bus stand) and retired in the upper berth of 10:15 sleeper.

While On bus I again realized the true essence of Marquez’s quote “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” And co-incidence or not it hits me at the right moment, right place, illuminating the being, knowing thyself.

References:

Payaniga – Yana , Pampa – Poems , Travellers Diary – Sahasra-Linga , Banavasi

Posted 06/07/2014 by 6thstation in Travel

Tagged with , , ,

This is Singapore-lah!   Leave a comment

When you invest three months in planning a winter trek, book all the tickets, make all the reservations and cancel everything just because you have to travel short-term for an onsite opportunity, How does it feel? I just cannot find words to describe frustration. The below was the travel plan that I had come up with, primarily 21 day tour to Uttarakhand, MP involving a winter trek organized by Indiahikes. Due to its enormity in terms of days, content, economics, the plan had transformed itself to another solo excursion.

  • 13 DEC – FRI – 22693/Bangalore City-Hazrat Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express, SBC Dep:20:20
  • 14 DEC – SAT – Train
  • 15 DEC – SUN – NZM Arr:05:50, 15013/Ranikhet Express, DLI-Dep:22:35 , KGM Arr:05:05
  • 16 DEC – MON – Kathgodam to Nainital
  • 17 DEC – TUE – Lakes – Nainital
  • 18 DEC – WED – Almora
  • 19 DEC – THU – Almora, Nainital
  • 20 DEC – FRI – Nainital to Kathgodam , 14119/Kathgodam Dehradun Express, KGM Dep:19:45 , DDN Arr:04:20
  • 21 DEC – SAT – Indiahikes Pick up from Dehradun railway station at 6.30 am, Drive to Sankri (10-11 hrs).
  • 22 DEC – SUN – Sankri to Taluka – 12 km – 5 to 6 hrs
  • 23 DEC – MON – Taluka to Osla – 14 km – 6 to 7 hrs
  • 24 DEC – TUE – Osla to Harkidun – 11 km – 5 to 6 hrs
  • 25 DEC – WED – Harkidun to Jaundhar (Jamdar) Glacier & back to camp 15 km – 7 hrs
  • 26 DEC – THU – Harkidun to Osla – 11 km – 3 hrs
  • 27 DEC – FRI – Osla to Sankri – 26 km – 7 to 8 hrs
  • 28 DEC – SAT – Drive back to Dehradun. Reach by 7-8 pm.
  • 29 DEC – SUN – 19566/Uttranchal Express, DDN Dep:05:50, DEC Arr:14:08, 12448-Slip/Uttar Pradesh Sampark Kranti Express Slip NZM Dep:20:15, KURJ Arr:06:35
  • 30 DEC – MON – Khajuraho
  • 31 DEC – TUE – Khajuraho
  • 01 JAN – WED – 19665/Khajuraho – Udaipur City Express, KURJ Dep:09:10, JHS Arr:13:52 , 12630/Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express, JHS Dep:15:05
  • 02 JAN – THU – Train
  • 03 JAN – FRI – YPR Arr:06:20

White indicates – Furlough Holidays
Green indicates – Actual Leave
Yellow indicates – Weekends
So with only 7 working holidays, the duration of the trip was stretched to 21 days and that to put down for Singapore was a great loss!

In view with that, I’ve only summarized my short term travel

  • 07.12.2013 – Kempegowda International Airport to Changi Airport – Terminal 2 (Silk Air), Punggol Field, Orchard Road.

07.12.2013

  • 08.12.2013 – Esplanade, Little India.

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  • 13.12.2013 – Southern Ridges Trail (Clementi Woods, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge Park, Canopy Walk, HortPark, Alexandra Arch, Telok Blangah Hill Park, Henderson waves, Mount Faber Park, Marang Trail).

13.12.2013

  • 14.12.2013 – Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Night Safari.

14.12.2013

  • 20.12.2013 – Singapore Flyer, Double Helix Bridge, Gardens by the Bay (Cooled Conservatories & OCBC Skyway), Marina Bay Sands shopping mall.

20.12.2013

  • 21.12.2013 – Central Catchment Nature Reserve (MacRitchie) – TreeTop Walk,  MacRitchie Boardwalk – Chemperai Trail, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Orchard Road.

21.12.2013

  • 25.12.2013 – Changi Point Coastal Walk, Empress Place, Esplanade Park & War Memorial Park – Monument Trail, Merlion Park, Clarke Quay, Fort canning – Ancient History Trail.

25.12.2013

  • 28.12.2013 – Kuala Lumpur (Bus from Johor, Larkin Terminal), Batu Caves, Petronas Towers.

28.12.2013

  • 29.12.2013 – Genting Highlands, StarWorld Casino, Indoor Theme Park.

29.12.2013

  • 30.12.2013 – Genting Skyway, Gombak, KL sentral, Singapore (Bus from Bersepadu Selatan Terminal).

30.12.2013

  • 31.12.2013 – Marina Bay Fireworks.

31.12.2013

  • 01.01.2014 – Sentosa Broadwalk, Imbiah Lookout, Palawan Beach, Tanjong Beach, Siloso Beach.

01.01.2014

  • 03.01.2014 – Johor, City Square Mall, Dinga City Mall, KSL City.

09.01.2014

  • 04.01.2014 – Sentosa – Universal Studios, SEA Aquarium.

04.01.2014

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04.01.2014_2

  • 09.01.2014 – Marina Bay Olympic Walk, Marina Boulevard  to Dhobhy Ghaut via Chinatown , Mustafa Shopping Mall, Shaw House – Hobbit IMAX HFR 3D

09.01.2014_2

  • 10.01.2014 – Jurong Bird Park, Marina Bay Sands Casino

10.01.2014

10.01.2014_1

  • 11.01.2014 – Woodlands to Changi Airport Terminal 2 , Kempegowda International Airport (Singapore Airlines)

11.01.2014

In nutshell
Out of 36 days, first week just flew in settling down, meeting friends, getting a new room and sort of things like that. While in B’lore didn’t delve on googling info on Singapore because I was sulking (Uttrakhand, MP), and primarily, wasn’t interested at all! At some stage, inadvertently stumbled on National Parks Board website, it was from that instant I started to pay attention to travel articles or rather pdfs (DIY Trails)

Singapore is one of the only two major cities with a tropical rainforest within its city limits, as a result one of the distinct features of Singapore’s landscape is abundance of greenery; by virtue of its geographical location (Only 137 north of equator), it has rich biodiversity, in spite of its intense urbanization. Tropical rainforests, mangroves and coral ecosystems are some of the key habitats found in and around Singapore. Therefore, my plan was to visit as many reserves before switching to mainstream attractions. That meant – burning of weekends for the identified reserves and weekdays: after hours (>6pm) was meant for other accessible attractions. Well, it didn’t take long for my schedule to become jam-packed.

History
Snippets of bygone era was gathered and expressed from experience , courtesy: landlord and his friend (aged 65 and 90 respectively) , couldn’t have asked for any better!! Reminiscences of brutal episodes of world war – 2 was the highlight.

Language, Religion, Culture
Oh I just loved Singlish! Just add lah at the end of a sentence, and be very nasal! that’s it !!🙂
Singapore has a diverse culture despite its small size. Buddhism is the most widely practiced religion but religious affiliation is very minimal.

Infrastructure
Cost of Accommodation, Healthcare, Education, Monthly Utilities (gas, water and electricity) is a bit tad expensive, but everything that is presented is of the highest quality.

People
It felt like I was inside Axiom spacecraft!! (Spaceship built to keep humanity safe and happy in Pixar’s WallE). Such experience can be regularly found on SMRT trains during peak hours. However, they will address you courteously, guide you accurately or offer help in resolving any travel queries. I would like to recollect an incident that occurred on first day of my reporting i.e on 9th of Dec, I took a SMRT train from Punggol (purple line) to Serangoon , interchanged to Circle line SMRT till Bishan and took Red line to Woodlands. I was supposed to take 178 SMRT bus to Woodlands west faber park from Woodlands bus interchange, but instead hopped into Bus no-187 which took me to Cho Chu Kang. I approached a guy on the bus stop and explained my problem, he quickly suggested me to take a cab to avoid confusion because there wasn’t any direct bus to Faber Park. Inside SMRT taxi, I complained to the taxi driver that ‘I got lost!’ to which he was like ‘Dun know lah! How can you get lost in Singpore-lah?!? Cannot!!’ only now I realize that he was absolutely right. There’s singboards, maps, bus info all over the place, plus there are kiosks at MRT and Bus interchange stations, if you don’t comprehend all that, converse with the driver, they will meticulously direct you to the right address.

Media
Media Development Authority regulates Singaporean media and sometimes it has been criticized for being too regulated and lacking in freedom which is absolutely correct (again, Axiom Spacecraft)

Climate
It literally rained every single day during my stay, nevertheless it always remained hot and humid.

Transport
Singapore has one of the best, most comprehensive, public transport systems in the world.  Example: If you take SMRT train from point A to point B, then take a SMRT bus from B to C, then take a SBS Transit from C to D, The fare collected (common for all public transport) will be that from A to D, the whole public transport system is very easy to comprehend and it is beautifully integrated without duplication of services.

Food
If you are foodie and have a blog, it would take at least 3 months to cover all the major restaurants, food outlets. Singaporeans just love food and there’s sooooo much of variety!

Shopping
Shopping is second only to eating as a national pastime, so I don’t have anything to say extra about the same.

Endnote
I stretched myself way too much in accomplishing all the above, never ever had such a busy schedule, it was just travel and more travel right from day one. With beloved backpack(apples, water) and nokia lumia, used to spend around 15-16 hours outdoors (weekends), 5-6 hours (weekdays), Also during the stay, traveled to KL and Genting (Malaysia) and had vaguely prepared plans to visit Central Java (Jakarta to Bali) which I later dismissed because it demanded meticulous planning and resources. With Irregular sleeping and eating habits and with all that travel frenzy, it took a toll and I truly experienced what many call ‘Travel Fatigue’, and when i arrived in B’lore , all I wanted to do was lock myself in a room for a week, catch up with football and movies.

References:
Guides to Walking Trails – National Parks Singapore Your Singapore
Singapore – Wikitravel
Singapore – Wikipedia

Posted 30/01/2014 by 6thstation in Travel

Tagged with , ,

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