Zini, me & life in general

Posts tagged ‘travel’

One more comeback…

No i am not talking about some bollywood actress…I am talking about myself 🙂

I am back from a long break. I have disappeared many times before but this has been the longest i have been away from the blog world!! Not that i planned to. I knew that i won’t be able blog frequently for some time. But i had kept a few posts ready to be posted when i was very busy. however i couldn’t even publish the already written posts!! Similarly, reading posts appearing on my reader and commenting on them became almost impossible, only the ones appearing in my mail box were read, though not commented upon 😦

I know i owe an explanation.. So here it is (or they are),

1) It was Zini’s vacation time which meant she was at home all the time, crawling all over my mind, leaving no mindspace for anything else.

2) We had guests at home. It started with my parents, then in-laws, my maasi, hubby’s bua and sister, hubby’s one more cousin, friends and neighbours from Ahmedabad and finally my cousin. Oh and this weekend one more guest is expected!! With our favorite people around, we were busy shopping, cooking, travelling around and spoiling Zini!! So blogging had to take back seat. And in between I traveled to Ahmedabad!! Where a loved one was hospitalized, much much better now. Touchwood.

3) All of us fell sick. First it was hubby, then Zini and finally me!! So since last 3 weeks we are digging in to khichdis and daals 😦

4) I took up a freelancing project of content development, which is still not completely complete. But we are almost there!!! I did a lot of late nights and early mornings during peak work time. Hopefully now, I am done with the work. I have also been writing for IMC. Check out my post here.

Now, Zini’s vacation has ended and our health is much better (though i am still eating khichdi) and this essentially means that i am back to blog world 🙂

So people, get ready to get your mail-box spammed with the comments (and i have many to make 😉 )…

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Leh Trip – The Final Adventure….

After the adventurous road trip, we reached Leh. For the next three days, Leh was our base station.

Day 1 was more of local site seeing. So we started with the Sangam of Zanskar and Sindhu rivers. And once we reached there, we realized that only we were there. It felt so peaceful and calm to be able to explore the place alone. So, we climbed on rocks, went into the water and did all the things possible 🙂 . I felt as if we were part of some hollywood action movie 😉

The Sindhu Zanskar Sangam

The Sindhu Zanskar Sangam

On the way back we visited the famous magnetic hill. Here, you can see your car  or any vehicle “Climbing” uphill, even when the engine is turned off. It was believed that this happens because of strong magnetism of earth at that point. But now it is known that it is merely optical illusion. Though it is fun to watch it happen in front of your eyes!!!

We also visited few Gompas including the famous Thikse gompa. We saw little monks here. We exchanged “Zule” but couldn’t talk because of the language barrier!! Everywhere we went in Leh, we were always greeted by a happy Zule. We gathered that people in this region either work for government or work in tourism sector. Life here is very tough, especially in winters, with tourism open for only few months in a year. But still you see smiling faces here. I found the people very charming, helping, hardworking and accommodating.

Monks making Rangoli like Design painstakingly using pipe like things

Monks making Rangoli like Design painstakingly using pipe like things

On this day we took a walk to the market and bought the Leh road trip T-shirt, shawls and some knick-knacks 🙂 while coming back we lost our way back to the hotel and one lady dropped us to the lane of our hotel. I also tried the authentic momos for the first time.

The next day promised to be a really exciting one as we planned to visit Pangong lake on that day. That day we started early with a breakfast at hotel and a packed lunch to be taken at the Pangong.

On the way we saw frozen springs; I wonder how something like this happens. God is a great artist for sure!! To reach Pangong, we also passed through the 3rd highest motorable pass in the world – Chang la. On the way there were a few small villages & army settlements and after about three hours we reached Pangong.

The frozen Spring

The frozen Spring

The lake was breathtakingly beautiful & serene. I had never seen anything like this before. The water has so many shades of blue, that you can’t capture them in an earthly camera. This lake is so vast that you can’t see the other end. And it is situated at the height of 14000 Ft!!!!

We sat there for a while, there was no need to talk (& as a matter of fact we were not able to talk a lot, partly because of short breath due to high altitude & partly because of cold weather). After this we went a little further and explored the place and had the most memorable lunch of our lives on the banks of the Pangong lake. And it was time to go back.

Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake

On the way back, we gave lift to an interesting army jawan, who was full of information & anecdotes. He told us, how Chinese wander in our territory near Pangong lake and how tasty their rice wine is. He also told us that just 15 days back, Aamir Khan & Kareena Kapoor were shooting at Pangong lake (Later we saw that they indeed shot 3 Idiot’s climax at Pangong). After dropping him at army settlement, we went back and the day was over.

And finally the day came when we were to go to Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world!!! Hubby was determined to drive to the top. Although the driver came along, he arranged that once we were out of city and on the mountain, he would be taking over the driver’s seat (literally!). I was not very comfortable with the idea, but finally agreed. So we started with hubby on the driver seat, driver on seat next to him and me on the back seat, hanging on to the handle for her dear life. But he managed all right with the tips from our driver & we reached Khardung la safely. And then i too drove the car at Khardung la (Please ignore the fact that i drove the car for hardly 10 mtrs)!!!

The Highest motorable pass in the world - Khardung La

The Highest motorable pass in the world – Khardung La

Also the pleasant thing today was that we were fully acclimatized and there was no feeling of nausea, headache or short breath. One interesting thing about these high mountain passes is that, army jawans built temples there. And these temples are given the name of the pass i.e. the temple at khardung la is of khardang la Baba, who protects the commuters on this pass (India is a religious country!). Also army is doing good work of providing free beverages and maintaining the rest rooms at these places.

Finally the day of our return came, we couldn’t go further to see Nubra Valley and Kargil. So we will have to go back ;).

Next day we did board the flight to Delhi and from there to Hyderabad. Again we managed to be in 3 different cities in a same day, i.e. Leh, Delhi & Hyderabad. We were back to Hyderabad & I still feel as if it was just yesterday when we drove to Khardung la.

Leh Trip – The journey…

Lifesong asked me to do a post on my trip to Leh, so here it is….

My hubby A, who was not much into adventure became an adventure junkie after our rafting experience. and after watching a Perilous Journey series on Discovery channel he suggested that we take a trip to Leh. Though he is asthmatic, though the journey promised to be very tough & though i was not too keen on this adventure (i wanted a leisure holiday at Goa with some water sports thrown in), he couldn’t give up the thought of Leh road trip and got me on board by including another rafting experience :).

He searched a lot on the internet (Thank God for Google!!) about the road ways to Leh and realized that there are two ways to reach Leh: One via Manali & another via Srinagar. He chose the Manali way as this one was more exciting. Also, he found out a travel agent who arranged all our travels from Manali onwards, made our hotel bookings at Manali & Leh.

The challenging part about the journey is the narrow winding roads, very high altitude (can lead to breathing trouble, nausea and dizziness) and harsh weather. Some of the highest motorable passes are on these roads. And you spend 2-3 days on road and spending nights in cloth tents in less than 0 degree temperature!!!Also this is not one of the run of the mill hill stations. You don’t see many people on the road from Manali to Leh, it’s kind of out of the world experience. Small Kids, elderly and people with fragile health are advised not to travel to Leh by road!!!

Tanglang La - 2nd highest motorable pass in the world!!!

Tanglang La – 2nd highest motorable pass in the world!!!

In June, 2009 we started from Hyderabad armed with lots of woolens and hubby’s inhaler (for his asthma). First, we reached Delhi and from there to Chandigarh by train. Here, A’s friend came to pick us up and we stayed at his place in Baddi (a place near Chandigarh, but in the state HP). This way we managed to be in 4 different cities in the same day!!!

Next day, in the morning after the breakfast of Parathas and a stock of 10 parathas (Thanks to Aunti) we started from Baddi to Chandigarh to catch the bus to Manali. From here we started getting the feel of the journey. In the long way we saw small villages, apple orchards & hardworking pahadi people.

Next day we had a full day in Manali. We started the day with river rafting in Beas, though the river looked more playful than Ganga, the rafting in Beas felt more like a boat ride compared to the one we had at Shivpuri. Nevertheless, even boat rides in such beautiful places can be enjoyable.

From here, we went to Manikaran, did the Darshan at the temple & Gurudwara, but couldn’t muster the courage to go the place where the hot water spring is situated. Though it is supposed to be pious, it looked completely the opposite with stale smell, stray dogs & algae. In the evening we strolled up to the Mal road, Day 1 over.

The hotel room at Manali was normal but had a striking feature about it that I loved. There was a big glass window, which oversaw green fields nearby & faraway mountains. And at the night sleeping in this room made me feel as if i was sleeping in the open under starry sky (but on a comfortable bed!!). Next day, we started from Manali for Leh and our first stop was Rohtang pass. On the way we had deliciously hot kulcha chole.

There was heavy traffic jam on the way & we realized that in this matter this place is no different than Big cities!! Once at Rohatang, we took the rubber tube ride down the snowy slope, wandered around for some time. But Digvijay- our driver suggested we better start early, he also promised that there are better spectacles than Rohtang on the way & he was damn right.

So finally, we were on the road to Leh. After crossing Rohtang, there wasn’t much traffic & initially the roads were good. The place felt like something out of the world. The first stop was picturesque Keylong, where we had our lunch. Then came a petrol pump, which had a threatening sign board: “Next filling station 365 Km Ahead”!!! And it must have been true, as Digvijay not only filled the tank but also stocked up the petrol in a can.

Keylong Valley

Keylong Valley

Meanwhile we were enjoying the beauty of the place & eating the chips & chocolates that we bought from Manali. (And being the good citizens that we are, we didn’t throw the empty packets on the road; we collected them in a box, later to be discarded at the hotel :)). After this, we went on & on. Now the traffic was very sparse. And suddenly we were on the snowy mountains. There was snowfall at Baralacha la & beyond!! Here the road was made by cutting the snow, as a result the road was between two walls of snow and yes you guessed it right, it is the same place where Shahid drives on and Kareena sings “Yeh Ishq hayee..”.

The Road in the wall!!!

The Road in the wall!!!

We stayed overnight at Sarachu, the place had swiss style tents. The evening was comfortable followed by a piping hot delicious dinner. The tent manager suggested that we have some alcohol, but we don’t drink and didn’t feel the need then. But at the night when the temperature dipped and snowy wind started blowing, we couldn’t sleep at all & kept checking on each other to ensure that the other is all right. I had kept our wet cloths (from rafting) outside the tent and in the morning i realized that the water in the cloths had turned to ice!!!

At Sarchu...Exploring the place....

At Sarchu…Exploring the place, with our tent in the background!!!

The morning was a relief, followed by the breakfast. We started our second day on the road with packed lunch & soon we were in the planes of Sarchu. Here we saw some scattered tents, where people used solar panels for electricity. These are basically gypsies. I wondered how they were managing to stay here!! The planes of Sarchu are just planes; you don’t see anything but big flat land, surrounded by high mountains. It feels like a place out of the “Need for Speed” game and Digvijay must have felt the same as he was driving pretty fast by now!!

I had a bout of nausea due to high altitude & lack of sleep. After some time we were back on the curvy dangerous roads. On the way there were small hut like tents which offered a place to sleep and hot thukpa (Noodle like delicacy), Maggie & tea/coffee, which we had ;). We saw people working on the road and were told that these are not locals but come from U.P. & Bihar. It must have been very difficult for them to work in such harsh weather and high altitude coming from the warm planes. These roads are maintained by Himank (an arm of Indian Army).

By around 4 pm we were on a breathtaking road, here on one side there was a high mountain looming on us like a wall & on the other side river flowing almost at the level of the road. After crossing this we could see some villages. There were Shanti Stupas & Ladakhi style homes, which was a refreshing site after mountains. Once we entered Leh region, the roads were nice and there were bare mountains as opposed to the ones at Manali or even at Keylong. The place looked so strange. Finally we reached the hotel, a nice small place with umbrellas in the Garden & terrace. I immediately decided that one of the days we should have our meal outside under the umbrella. We were welcomed by traditional Ladakhi ceremony & a Zule (greeting in Ladakhi). At last, we were in Leh and I was sure that this part of the adventure will be as exciting as the one we had.

More about the trip in next part till then enjoy the slideshow 🙂

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River Rafting at Rishikesh

Lifesong has returned from a vacation and told us about her experience there, which included River – Rafting. Ani too recently tried River- rafting…All these river rafting stories reminded me of our 1st experience with white water rafting at Rishikesh in year 2008, before Zini arrived in our lives…..

One of my friend is from Shimla and talked fondly about rafting back home…Which made me want to try it. We searched and reallised that Rafting on Ganga is the best in India. So Hubby & I decided to go to Rishikesh and do rafting there.

We stayed at Haridwar, so that we can see the famous Ganga Aarti there in the evening…We decided to spend the evening by exploring the Haridwar markets and eating out. we had delicious Samosa & Kachori (how can any of my vacation be complete without some yummy food :)) and later on we went for the Ganga Aarti. On reaching the Ghaat, we stationed ourselves in a nice position. And it was such a magnificent site. There were so many diyas floating in the river and the priests started performing the Aarti. Although we were part of a mad crowd, I felt so heavenly.

Next day, the adventure began. We started from our hotel and reached Rishikesh. From here we took a bus for Shivpuri, this is the actual site of rafting. However, the first batch had already started and we were asked to wait. Now the problem was that we had to catch a train back to Delhi on the same evening & we should have been in the first batch, which unfortunately we had missed. But finally after waiting for an hour or so (which felt like so many hours), we were picked by the jeep that took us upstream, to the point from where the rafting starts.

Once on the raft, it is a curious feeling, on one side was mountain covered with greenery and on the other side a high road. I had always seen pictures & videos of people doing rafting in narrow stream(which actually is more adventurous) but this river was huge and we had second thoughts about rafting. However, we overcame our fear and jumped into the raft. Initially the journey was calm and the instructor taught us basic rules of rowing & gave us safety instructions. So we started rowing as the instructor told us to. Then we saw the first rapid and our instructor took us into it, what fun it was!!

In rapid the instructor made us turn our raft in the opposite direction to the flow, and we saw how the playful rapid was throwing our raft up & down and whenever we went up, the water came in the raft and we got wet and crazy. Whenever the raft used to tilt 70 degrees, we shouted, laughed and got super excited. The first rapid was over. Now that we had the taste of rapids, we wanted more of them & waited eagerly. We had many rapids on the way, but most memorable ones were the 3 blind mice, they are actually series of 3 rapids, so it is thrice the fun. Others on our raft were staying in a camp so they alighted on the way, and we along with the instructor were in the raft. After that there was one more rapid, which was the most fun as hubby & I handled it alone (of course with the help of the instructor) and the journey ended at Shivpuri.

Now, the train to Delhi was back on our minds. So, after changing we caught the first bus to Rishikesh. Once we reached Rishikesh, outside the Bus depot, we asked many taxi drivers & Rickshaw drivers for direct trip to Haridwar Railway station. After some negotiation, a Rickshaw driver agreed to be part of this unexpected adventure of ours. We picked up our luggage from the Hotel, which was thankfully situated on the way to the station. Also good thing was that, we had already checked out, so we managed to pick up the luggage quickly. We reached Haridwar station five minutes before the train’s departure time. A near miss!!!! But once safely in the train, we realized that though unexpected this too was part of adventure :)!!!!!!!

P.S. A rapid is characterised by the river becoming shallower and having some rocks exposed above the flow surface. As flowing water splashes over and around the rocks, air bubbles become mixed in with it and portions of the surface acquire a white colour, forming what is called “whitewater”. (Courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid)

We didn’t have a pic because both of us were on the raft and you can’t carry camera to the raft, so posting a pic from web. Our experience was similar but even more exciting with water coming in the raft….

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