10 must do things when you are in India

 

  1. Attend a festival – We have so many festivals in India that every month you can count a few.  India is the most colorful land when it comes to festivals. No matter which month you go, there is always something going on. Although few big festivals are Holi, Diwali and Dussehra are the main festivals.
  2. Attend a marriage – Indians have big fat weddings and some of the riches are famous for show off as well but it’s worth attending a marriage when you are there as it is an easy way to immerse yourself in the culture and get the feel of the soul of Indian culture in short time that too with a lot of fun.
  3. Cook an Indian meal – You will learn so much about different spices that Indians use in their food as well as the reason to use them. Ever spice has a property that helps either in digestion or healing or something else in your body that you will discover when you try cooking some of the stuff. Do learn how to cook ‘daal’ and ‘saag’. You would be able to boast when you go back that you can cook some Indian food and guess what lots of people around the world love Indian food.
  4. Watch any classical dance performance – We have many
  5. Go to temple and worship in traditional way. Every evening devotees gather to sing praise in temples and it is music to ear and one of the things that you must experience
  6. Eat at the stalls by the side of streets – Give it some more time when you arrive in India as you might be new to this kind of non-hygienic way of eating but locals eat on such place almost every day. Even the corporate professionals walk down the street from their work place to enjoy some snacks every now and then. Make sure that you eat something that is cooked in front of you and not sitting there for quiet a while. There are some hygienic but little expensive options to try the same things in good restaurants like Haldiram where hygiene is guaranteed. Although many Indians think it doesn’t taste as good as the roadside food but it should be fine as long as you can get the feel of various food here. Like everywhere else you can also get McDonald here but with an Indian touch. Although I would suggest to avoid that if you are not feeling home sick.
  7. Shop from the street market and bargain the price – One of the surprising experience you might have when you buy something less than 20% of the actual cost. You need to know that most of the times shop keepers rise the price when they think you are a foreigner. So make sure not to get ripped just because you are travelling. One of the tricks to get a good bargain is not to show much interest otherwise they are smart enough to know that you like the stuff and you might be happy to pay any price they ask for.
  8. Live with a local family – This is the closest you can see and live the soul of the very culture in any country. And India is no different. So make friends and try to live with some one’s family and eat home made food. I bet you wouldn’t regret it.
  9. Get a pic on a rickshaw and bus – You will see the difference immediately from other places. It’s fun though.
  10. Travel by train – I know its is a little bit tough and scary at first but after listening to many fellow traveler I can say one thing. You can see true India here. Just few hours of journey and you will make lots of friends and hear many stories. But make sure you keep your bags around you all the time in case something is not insured.

Why do you travel?

Hi My Dear Friends,

How was your day so far? I have been thinking about the various reasons why people travel or why they would like to travel in their life and have been intrigued by the myths around not travelling and the reasons for the as well. Here is a very basic image that I created in order to understand the advantages and disadvantages of travelling. On the left hand side are some of the reasons to travel and right hand side are the fears or reasons not to travel. Please share your insight in this as most of you do travel or want to travel so give me 5 reasons for travelling and few for not travelling. I would love to hear from you on this 🙂

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Travel Myths

We call them myths because we ourselves are creating them.

  • Its expensive
  • I would not have any job if I travel
  • Danger – I may get killed or robbed
  • I have kids
  • It’s not safe to travel
  • I am alone
  • It’s irresponsible
  • Its a stupid risk to leave your job and travel
  • I am vegeterian
  • It’s bad economy so can’t leave job
  • I have a husband and he doesn’t want to travel / I have a wife and she doesn’t want to travel
  • I have a house and stuff here
  • I am planning to travel in future
  • I don’t want to be called crazy

Let’s share some insight and experiences that you had around this as many of us might have some issues while starting on their various travel expeditions.

World’s End is here, what you are going to do? Please don’t Jump at least – Part 4 (Travel faster or Fast Travel – Sri Lanka in 7 crazy days)

Yes I really mean it – don’t jump when you see World’ end. You will see what I mean. So in continuation of my last three posts here is the fourth one and hopefully we will finish with the journey soon. Here are the links to my old posts in the series in case you are interested, although there is no as such dependency hence you can enjoy just this post as well.

Part 1: https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-
days
Part 2: https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/go-go-go-rest-of-sri-lanka-is-waiting-part-2-travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-days/
Part 3: https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/time-to-slow-down-wait-one-more-day-to-go-before-that-part-3-travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-days/

And now that we have enjoyed one of the most amazing train ride to Nuwara Eliya, time to explore this city located at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) and one of the most important location for tea production. So do remember to drink tea here 🙂

It was almost 3 AM when I got here so first thing I wanted to do was to find a place to live. As always I depended upon the local expert advice and got a home stay after some research around the area – close enough to be able to walk to the main market and far enough to get it in budget. But it’s a very expensive place to live as compared to other towns as most of the things are imported in this town. But after talking to locals they feel it’s worth as the water here is purified and tap water is drinkable as compared to the other towns and many other good things about the town in spite of high taxes. After arranging my stay in a small lodge, owned by a very friendly family, I headed to find my favorite Sri Lankan food – Kottu (roti/bread made with various vegetables). I try to look for places where locals eat as such places have got more authentic food and also you get to meet locals at times. I end up meeting few people who could speak Hindi (my native language) in one of such local restaurant. They treated me like a VIP, and to be honest after such a long and tiring day I just loved it. They also told me a little bit about how to get around and places worth visiting here. I was lucky to witness a festival, a Hindu procession, that they were celebrating that day in the town as well. And then I visited a local temple.

I bid goodbye to my new local friends in the restaurant and it was time to mingle with the family where I was staying. I had a really nice conversation with them and they told me about a place called – ‘World’s End’. I listened to the name and that’s it. It was something I had to see as the name was so fascinating that I had to see what’s it all about. Now to remind you, in Sri Lanka there is entrance fees on most of the things. And the this was one of the most expensive places to visit. As there is no public transport to get here so you have a choice from hiring a car to an Auto-rickshaw. Also it takes at least 3 hours (with speed) to visit this place and 1.5 hours to get here. So in total at least 6 hours time is needed. One more tip: This is actually a very high place (you will see the details soon), and the weather here is clear mostly in the mornings only so the earlier you start, the better it is. Also if you can get some locals to show you around then it is awesome because the fees for local is lot less than foreigners (4500 Sri Lankan Rupee) and 3500 Rupee for Auto-rickshaw hire. So here I was, about to start my journey to the world’s end and was about to find out the truth. Is it really the end of the world? I was so excited and it reminded me of movie 2012. Is it going to be more adventurous than that. Lol, lets find out.

There are two main places here – World’s End (870 m) and Mini World’s End (270 m). Depending upon which way you choose, you will arrive at one of them first and then another 0.5 KM will take you to the another spot. Its about 8 KM walk that also includes a waterfall called – Baker’s Fall. A very beautiful and scenic place but requires some climbing down to it. Although locals makes it looks simple even in their floaters but be careful as it might be slippery and steep so keep your stuff in a bag and good shoes will help as well. And do not worry about getting dirty in the mud as it is also a possibility. Weather wise this place is amazing as every half kilometer the weather changes and you might get a chance to see sun, rain and fog all in few hours. So keep a jumper and a rain jacket with you in case you prefer to stay warm and cozy.

Now that I am running out of space in this post so I will continue in next post with the closing of this series. But next destination is full of natural places that you can visit for free. And also a very heart warming story is waiting for you that melted my heart as I was about to get a bit frustrated of being treated like a tourist (money spending machine) all the time. So hold on as I will be back soon. Till then Stay healthy and keep smiling 🙂

Time to Slow down? Wait one more day to go before that – Part 3 (Travel faster or Fast Travel – Sri Lanka in 7 crazy days)

I am back 🙂 I know you have enjoyed the last two posts and hope I can share as much as possible in this post with you as well. I didn’t intent to make it a series here but had so many pics and so many incidents to share that turned out that can’t be written in one post. So after last two posts here comes some adventure and more relaxing way to travel in third post 😉

Here is the link to last two posts in case you haven’t read them already or want to read again 😉 Although to be clear there is not much dependency so you can go ahead and read this only as well.

Part 1: https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-days/

Part 2: https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/go-go-go-rest-of-sri-lanka-is-waiting-part-2-travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-days/

Now that I was done with Sigiriya, I took another bus to get to Dambulla, city famous for cave temple. It takes almost 40 minutes to get there. But to be honest I felt its more over a stop over for few hours and better to continue to next destination after this if you don’t want to spend time in one place only. I checked out the Cave Temple.

Now that I had seen the temple it was time to go to another city where I could be more comfortable staying and might get a chance to go out. Kandy, my next stop, was like a town in India (Nainital – near my home town Almora). Its main attraction is the lake in the center of the town. It has got a feel of hill station to it. And I really felt glad that this is where I planned to stay finally.

 

It was this feeling that made me more energetic after already been to two towns before getting here. Now the next task ahead was to find a place to live. It was close to 4 PM so not much time in hand but still enough. So I stated walking around the lake. I saw a road going uphill and started walking on it with my backpack. It was a rough walk after a tiring day but then I was not going to settle down with just any Auto-rickshaw telling me where I can stay as they always quote a higher price. And by now I was in the country for 4 days so felt like I am already an expert (which was a mistake really to be this over confident). I kept walking and then I realized the higher you go the more expensive the hotels were. I talked to few locals and they pointed out to few directions I could go and I finally went to a home-stay but at this height, not even home stay was cheap. I gave up and as directed by one of the locals, I finally took an Auto-rickshaw and went to find a better and cheap place to stay that can fit in my backpacker’s budget. Note: You don’t have backpackers much in countries like this (other than Colombo). But it’s still cheaper to get a room at your own.

I finally found a really nice place and that too very cheap in a hotel. And it was time to get some food as my physical strength was giving up by now. I got fresh and headed to the town now. Got some local food like last time – Kottu (roti made with various vegetables). I loved it and was eating it almost everyday. This time I was really brave and determined to at least try few Sri Lanka dishes and one fruit, one sweet-dish and if possible one local drink. And guess what – I tried them all. And you know what now I am already feeling hungry talking about it 🙂 So after food and some desert, I was ready to go out for a drink. I met a polish guy who was also willing to see some nice club in the town. The more the merrier and we headed to a nice place and I tried the local drink called Arrack. Also spelled arak, it is a distilled alcoholic drink made from either the fermented sap of coconut flowers, sugarcane, grain (e.g. red rice) or fruit, depending upon the country of origin. It was really strong and I felt right to order just once. And was happy enough that I could still remember the way to home..lol. Don’ t worry I am never that drunk as directions are like my sixth sense and if I know the  way then I can always get my way no matter what.

Next morning was so beautiful that I could not complain to get up early. I had inquired the last evening where I wanted to go today – ‘Bahirawakanda Viharaya’. Its a 88 feet high Buddha temple on top of a hill and provide a bird’s eye view of the town.

I was already on my way to this place as I was missing some exercise so I planned to walk to this place. It’s an hour walk at max and very pleasant if you start first thing in the morning, although I started around 10 AM. But it was fine anyways. I made sure that I keep my sandals with me in my bag (just in case I loose it as I could not afford walking back barefoot). It was a treat for eyes to see this very big statue of Buddha. It has got a little museum with different wall cravings on it. It was a nice and refreshing walk back to the town.

Now it was time to head to the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya. It is located in the hill country of the central province in Sri Lanka. Its name means – City of Light. If you ever go to Sri Lanka then the train ride is a must. So you better get ready for one of the most amazing train ride through a very beautiful breathtaking scenery.

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Time Travel to be ChildLike

Time Travel to be ChildLike again

I was walking back home from work today. It was such a beautiful day. Cool breeze made me feel calm and very relaxed. I felt so much energy even though the day had been really long at work. I felt the air I was breathing, I saw people walking on the footpath, I saw the beautiful buildings made by man, I saw couples holding hands with the ray of hope in their eyes, I crossed a park with a small lake where lots of birds were chirping, I saw the diners enjoying their meal in relaxed environment and I also saw a girl running and looking a bit scared, then I saw a guy holding a map who was trying to figure out the directions and so on. What was the difference – I was living in the moment. I was living the present and cherishing it completely. I did not think about the past and I was not lost in the dreams of future. I was aware of every moment I lived today evening.

And what was the result – I was smiling as my heart was full of joy, joy of life, joy of sharing my life with so many other fortunate people, joy of being able to feel things and joy of being able to love everyone in my life. I must have looked ridiculous as I was smiling at my own on the way back home. But it was hard to contain that joy in me and make a poker face. Happiness was all over my face. I felt like dancing all the time and I felt so light that I felt I could run faster than time. It was the evening I think I have not experienced in ages or perhaps never before. It was the evening of utter exuberance. It was as if I had nothing to worry about in the world. And how did it happen.

For that we need to become like a child and free ourselves from everything but the joy of life. Every breathe we take is the blessings and is full of life. We have the gift to feel the very air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we walk upon. To be able to enjoy again we might have to look back and remember how we used to behave as a child. We need to learn from children. We need to start observing nature. Is there anyone out there who did not enjoy running in the part as a child? Is there anyone who actually liked the Air-con more than natural cool breeze when growing up, of course depending upon the temperature it might be a differnt case? Who didn’t like to play with water and get dirty in sand/soil, if given a chance?

That is because we are born with natural instinct and we lose them as we grow up or I would say stop listening to our inner self. To learn the truth and be happy again forever we need to go back to the roots and re-activate those functions we are born with. The powers that we have as humans, we need to find it again and use that energy to make our life fulfilled. In some countries/ cultures people say that children are the purest form of God. Why because they are more like God I think because they are free spirit, with no fear, happy, sensitive to others, friendly and open. As we grow, we suppress most of these qualities and the sufferings starts from there.

I am going to start that inner child in me and nurture it again, as I might be lost so far but not anymore.