Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Street Art from Penang!

Penang is a small town to the northwest of Malaysia. The old city is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Walking through the lanes of this city one often comes across creative street art

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nandi Hills

Browsing through my old photo albums, I stumbled on these snaps from a motorcycle ride to Nandi Hills from Bangalore. Its been a few years since then. After a lot more travel and roadtrips, I still think that place was one of the more beautiful places I have seen... and its photos like these that make it hard to let go of my outdated point and shoot camera :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Walking on Thin Ice

What I learnt in the last seven days:
  • -16 degrees celsius does not kill you (that was the temperature when we landed in Leh)
  • In fact even sleeping in tents at below -25 degrees celsius does not kill you
  • Leh in winters is as beautiful, if not more, than Leh in summers
  • One gets to see more locals in Leh market in winter than in summer!
  • Sunlight is not the best thing you can wish for when doing a winter trek
  • Fancy and expensive trekking shoes, at times, are no match for humble gum boots
  • Slipping and falling down is not always embarrassing. Sometimes one can just smile and pose for a photograph lying down... and others will join you! :)
  • Dancing on ice is not impossible
  • Trekking poles do not make good ice hockey sticks
  • Big boulders can come crashing down at the touch of a finger
  • The fun in antakshari is directly proportional to the number of people playing and the number of attempts at cheating
  • Seven days in the wilderness are enough to transform a group of strangers into a fun group!
  • Atleast once during the course of every Himalayan trek I wonder why I subject myself to such hardship... and by the last day start thinking where I should go next :)

A trek where the walk is a pleasure but sitting still at a campsite is a nightmare! It did not have the challenging climb of a Stok Kangri or the varying landscapes of a Goecha La, but the experience was out of the world! Chadar Trek - February 2013!

The Chadar Trek is a walk on the frozen Zanskar river. In winters snow blocks off the only approach road to the Zanskar valley. Locals walk on the frozen river to commute to Leh. One man's exotic setting is a routine way of life of another! The full Chadar trek is a 14-day affair from Chilling (near Leh) to Padum/Zangla and back. We did a half trek going till Nerak and back (40km each way)

Initially, I had cringed at the thought of coming back by the same route. How boring! I couldn't have been more mistaken. The Chadar appears different everyday. In fact it is said the Chadar changes every hour! The beauty of nature in the changing colours of the water and ice, the frozen waterfalls, the sun peeping from behind huge mountains are all sights to behold. We were lucky to get just one short stretch of the way where we had to wade through water. Otherwise Chadar was kind to us and stayed rock solid!

From the initial tentative steps balancing on ice to the last evening when we actually tried to dance on the chadar, every moment had a memory. Every day began with a dreadful walk in the cold to answer nature's calls. Then the effort to eat breakfast with semi-frozen fingers. Somehow stuffing all belongings in our backpacks we would be on our way by 8.30-9.00. The slowly rising sun and exercise of walking would thaw us. Around 12.30-1.00, we hungry souls would reach the next campsite, hog down the piping hot lunch, soak in the sun till the sun god permitted and then cramp into the dining tent. Then would follow a long session of jokes, songs, mimicry, trekking experiences and even some story telling on supernatural experiences! These would be accompanied by nice snacks and tea. The meeting would disperse only when dinner was served at 7.30-8. After that most of us would retire to our tents, to the warmth of the sleeping bag, while a few other adventurous souls would still hang around! So passed a week and we were back at Leh for the final supper! To disperse, only to remember these moments in the wilderness with fondness and longing...

From someone who always checks the 'best time to visit' while planning a holiday, Thank you Chadar for showing me a new Ladakh!