I very clearly remember my 1999 trip to Hajra falls. I remember almost every day of 2006 trip to South India, and Andaman and Nicobar islands. I have made 7 Himalayan trips and have detailed memories of all of them. These are strong happy memories. That’s what traveling does. It brings moments, you desperately try to look for in your everyday life. So, is traveling all about pictures, facebook likes, Instagram posts? Surely pictures are great ways to cherish memories. But from my experience traveling is way more that. You travel, you see people, places, landscapes, you experience change. Could be good or bad changes. But mostly good because you opted for that trip. Reaching the place could be a tiring journey, but even that is very eventful and different experience most of the times. People say money can’t buy you happiness. But it can give you opportunities to search for one. I had these moments. Describing some of them here. The purpose being to recall them and most importantly to inspire me for further daring travel plans (I fantasize about few of them).
- Euphoria at a beach: I don’t smoke, drink alcohol, take drugs. When I tell people these habits, they question, “How can I enjoy a Goa trip?” Goa is supposed to be all about drinking and partying. However, I had morning which in itself made the whole trip worth it. It was a morning after we went to the famous partying Bagha beach of Goa. All of my friends had alcohol that day. All except me. Still, I had a good time. I’m used to these situations. However, the next morning I decided to go for a morning jog. I took out the scooter at 5:30 and went to a nearby beach: The Vagator beach. It was still dawn and there were hardly any people. I started jogging the whole length of beach barefooted. The touch of the sands under my feet felt so good. The splash of the waters coming from waves, the breeze, in all a perfect time for jogging. I threw my shirt off and started sprinting the length of the beach. There are some moments in your life where you feel, “This is all I ever wanted!” This was one of those moments. I kept sprinting for 30-40 minutes. Normally it’s difficult to even surpass 15 minutes for repeated sprints. But that’s what euphoria does. I have no pictures of that morning. I had a great camera phone but I didn’t click one. I was lost. However I have pictures of sunset from the same place.
- The night sky: Traveling isn’t all that easy. If you go to remote places under harsh environment, sometimes you get sick. That’s what happened to me in Spiti valley trip. We were at place called Dhankar monastery, around 4000m above sea level. Probably due to food poisoning or maybe even mountain sickness, I was having hard times. So, I had a light dinner and went to sleep early. However, I woke up at around 2 am due to bad health conditions. I went outside. It was cold, around 5-6 degrees. I wasn’t wearing much warm clothes. But what I saw outside blew my mind. I saw something like this.
I just sat there and observed the spectacular. So jealous of astrophysicists and cosmologists now.
- True meaning of freedom: This one is from Nepal. This was the toughest trip I have ever made. I had a stomach injury. As a result, I wasn’t able to eat anything. I was just climbing with weights and a bicycle at altitude over 5000m. My energy sources were glucose, electrol and red bull drinks. I was in the worst physical shape of my life. Every 20 steps, I had to stop to catch the breath. During one of those stops, I just threw everything and lied down completely. I was facing the sky. It was sunny afternoon. The Himalayan yaks were grazing around me. I could hear the noise of the avalanche in the far off peaks. There I saw a rare Himalayan bird flying over my head. I had a poor phone camera, but still took its picture.
I observed that bird for 5 minutes. I understood the true meaning of freedom in 5 minutes. We humans will never have that. We can only get close. Traveling can get us closer to that experience.
Bonus: Since this one is a post on traveling, I would like to add some memorable photographs.
The Annapurna circuit Nepal mountain biking trip. On the way to Thorong la. This is what you should expect when you go above 4800m sea level. Snow everywhere, heavy breathing, and dazzling sun rays reflecting off the snow.
The climb to Khuliya top. You can see Nanda Devi ranges in background. The place I heard was heavily damaged a year after in Uttrakhand disasters.
First visit to Himalayas. Gulmarg, Kashmir India.
In the next traveling post, I will describe some unpleaseant things you can face while traveling. And how to prepare for it.