This has been an eventful year especially the second half. One, 2014 gave me my big day – I tied the wedding knot with Amit after having dated for about a year. Two, there’s been no looking back for both of us post-marriage and it’s been some crazy travelling – both domestic & international, almost every other month :). I’m jotting down brief details below:
Kabini Riverside, June
We put up at the Serai resort by the river. It made for a perfectly relaxed vacation mood with a Villa facing the river bank. Jungle Lodges is the neighborhood property to Serai, which offered a Safari by boat. The helmsman who steered our motorboat was kind enough to take us ‘out of bound’ marked areas to spot some animals, however we saw just herds of deer and a variety of birds as it was drizzling all throughout and no animals would come close to the banks.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve, June
Here we were again at Serai‘s wonderful property. Staying in the midst of a jungle has its own charm, a timeless one that doesn’t outgrow my fascination for the wilderness of the unruly tress, brash winds, buzzing insect sounds and the beautiful wildlife if you get lucky to spot any. We did spot a wild elephant mother with her calf from a real close distance of about less than 15 feet. To me, it was the highlight of our trip next only to the awesome drive from Kabini to Bandipur through the jungle.
Kolli Hills, July
A one was one awesome bike trip. We squeezed in about 12 on-bike hours into a weekend trip that lasted just about 36 hours. Most of our meals being on the go! We reached our destination upon crossing over seventy hair pin bends, a scenic ride through the woods. This place was completely rugged – it truly felt like we landed in the middle of nowhere. Minimal electricity, water scarcity and untimely meals marked our trip. Nevertheless the unending greenery surrounding us, the insect buzzing sounds and the terrifically tall trees gave us the perfect jungle-stay feel.
Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned during the reign of King Krisnadevaraya who established the Vijayanagara kingdom. Temples, temples and more temples paint this town. These worship places that mostly stand as ruins today after battles wit the Deccan Sultanates. This apart , we visited Palaces of the king, Summer palaces for the queens, Townhalls, Water tanks and temples that double up as market places to enable trade along the Silk Route.
We put up on the other side of River Tungabhadra. I’d recommend this as a must-visit on anyone planning a trip to Hampi. After a day long heritage tour, this side of towns is buzzing alive until midnight with innumerable cafes, alcohol, flee market shops, loud trance music and a whole lot of hippies around giving you an almost Goa feel. Incidentally, the place we accommodated at was called The Goan Corner, a lovely little place run by a north-indian couple.
This was a family weekend outing that completed certain formalities of our marriage. Just a fun drive and overnight stay and the darshan at the famed balaji mandir. It was great to see our respective bond over the journey as they traveled together in one car. A good feeling to come back home with.
Japan turned out to be a wonderful experience that left me with lots of learning notes and discovering dimensions about myself that i’d like to explore further. It would be mere injustice to summarize my 15-day stint in a short paragraph. Hence, i’m going to randomly highlight a few keywords here. Tokyo – to me felt like a super organised Mumbai and in its highest sophistication. Loved the spirit of the people, the highest order train network, beautiful parks, endless shopping choices, spoiled for choice food options, karaoke with Amit’s old-time friends and automation in everything from self-check in at our service apartment to multi-buttoned WCs in all restrooms. A city like Tokyo can only leave you on a high note.
We were lucky to have a long-weekend during our trip to Tokyo and decided to visit old historical capital Kyoto. It was the beginning of fall and we were happy to witness the koyo leaves in some areas of the city. The temples in the Japan have a completely different architecture linked with the Buddhist and Shinto traditions. Most temples and palaces have exquisite zen gardens, a treat to the eyes and soothing to the mind. We rode through an entire day through this beautiful cyclist-friendly city. Kyoto also gave us the opportunity to travel in a Shinkansen (the Japanese bullet train).
We decided to spend a brief 3 days in Bangkok as we were flying Thai Airways having a stop-over at the Thai capital. A half cycle trip around the city took us to the old city, few Buddhist temples, China town market, a huge wholesale flower market and rode along the Chao Phraya river. The night markets for the much talked about shopping in Bangkok didn’t quite catch our eye. We probably just weren’t in the mood to shop and went there for the experience which also gave us the sex-in-the-face services throughout our walk :P. A thai massage indulgence seemed quite a must and it turned out to be a good one. To me, Bangkok seemed quite a mix of developing-country-suburban feel plus a high-rise skyscraper city.
Another weekender bike trip to Gandikota in Andhra Pradesh about a six hour ride. A huge fort and lovely ruins of both Hindu and Muslim architecture can be seen here. A short trek takes us to a breathtaking Canyon with the Pennar river flowing at its foot. To our amazement, this hadn’t caught the fancy of many tourists as it seemed to be absolutely deserted. There was no one but us and the villagers on both days we spent there. However, looks like efforts are being made to revive the place as the APSRTC resort we stayed at was a newly constructed one.
Attending a friends wedding was the primary agenda of this trip. We did squeeze in some sightseeing – visited the fort at Pallakad, a well maintained one, worth one visit I’d say. It was a wonderful drive just as we were reaching our accommodation midst a farmland with lush green paddy fields with a private lake. We did a bit of coracle ride at the lake and also visited a dam nearby.
Drove down to Caicut (also known as kozhikode) for the reception. Visited the beach there and it wasn’t a pretty sight, one of the filthiest beaches I’ve been to. Wouldn’t recommend this one. Of course, the drive back was beautiful through the Mudumalai National Park where we sighted elephants with a calf at a close distance. A little further we stopped by for tea and stumbled upon this awesome nursery at Gundulpete and bought some rare varieties of plants at dirt cheap prices including some lovely bonsai. A must stopover if you’re a plant lover.