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Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka – A Day in the Winged Paradise

ranganathittu bird sanctuary

We went on a one day drive to the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary – one of the coolest places in Karnataka. And I was overwhelmed by its beauty.

I penned down my experience in a poem. After all, what is better than nature and poetry?

Writing down that poem here.

Related Read: If you love animals and are in South India, do visit Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Hampi, Karnataka

 

As we entered the sanctuary, painted storks glided above us in the clouded sky, 

and with our heads tilted towards the heavens,

we walked by the side of the muddy Kaveri,

to see flocks and flocks of white and grey birds just perched onto the canopies of the Arjuna and the Acacia on the islets.

The crisp air buzzed with their songs and shrieks,

though I couldn’t identify even one of those notes.

We gazed at the distant foliage to recognize the winged-ones,

but our eyes instead discovered three crocodiles who rested on the rocks with their powerful jaws wide open,

as if they were waiting for a fish to dive into their mouth.

Their stillness made us wonder if they were real or fake,

and then we saw one of them gracefully gliding into the coolness of the water,

alluring us to go behind him.

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Mesmerizing Atacama (Chile) – The Driest Desert of the World

a lake in a national reserve in atacama desert chile

Covid-Related Travel Update, July 2022: Chile is open to international tourists. Visit the Chilean government’s official website for travel-related information and regulations. Don’t forget to read the government’s rules to be followed in public spaces here. My guide to Chile visa would be helpful for Indian citizens. Travel South America with my detailed linked guide.

 

They say that the Atacama is the driest desert, but I disagree.

 

The blue lagoons quenched my interminable thirst for beauty,

the flamingos still fly right through my dreams, 

the imposing mountains showed me how high we could reach, 

and the deep valleys let me look so beyond that I didn’t even know existed.

Come, let’s ride this journey together, 

because my friend, 

you would need someone to hold onto,

when you are not sure if what you gape at is the reality,

or it is just another dream you behold. 

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San Pedro de Atacama – A Quaint Gateway to the Atacama Desert, Chile

san pedro de atacama

Covid-Related Travel Update, July 2022: Chile is open to international tourists. Visit the Chilean government’s official website for travel-related information and regulations. Don’t forget to read the government’s rules to be followed in public spaces here. My guide to Chile visa would be helpful for Indian citizens. All my South America travel guides can be found in the link.

 

Sleeping on the semi-sleeper first seat in front of the wide glass window on the second floor of the bus, which was driving from Santiago to Calama, I woke up to find ourselves driving next to the Pacific under a star-studded, deep-blue sky which was complemented by a shimmering rotund moon. Even the contour of the immortal rabbit that Ruskin Bond says was dropped on the moon was difficult to trace on the bright moon. It was like a painting.

Having admired the scenery, I dozed off again and kept waking up intermittently until we arrived in Calama. That was when I pulled myself out of hibernation and, an hour later, I was riding on another bus to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. At the end of this blended twenty-five-hour journey, I stumbled out of the bus like a zombie and the glowering February sun focused all its anger on the first-time visitor. Luckily, my hostel was a five-minute walk from the bus terminal. I strapped on my blue backpack and strode as I had loaded the directions to the hostel in Google maps.

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Robbed on a Running Bus in Santiago, Chile

indian traveler in chile

Covid-Related Travel Update, July 2022: Chile is open to international tourists. Visit the Chilean government’s official website for travel-related information and regulations. Don’t forget to read the government’s rules to be followed in public spaces here. My guide to Chile visa would be helpful for Indian citizens.

 

I donned my white formal dress, put on my red matte lipstick, lined my eyes with Kajal, brushed my hair and let them fall loose, strapped my G-Shock on my right wrist, checked if I had Chilean pesos, hung my black leather purse on my shoulder, picked up my black Lenovo phone and earphones, launched Google maps, and walked out of the Airbnb to go for my interview at the English teaching center located in downtown Santiago. I had had to visit the center a few times to secure an interview with the English owner of the promising institute.

I took the lift to the ground floor of the building and having exchanged pleasantries with the joyful guard, walked out, and found myself face-to-face with the glowering January sun. I strode through the almost-empty roads towards the closest bus stand which was frequented by the bus that would have directly taken me to the cosmopolitan center of the town.

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Breathtaking Angkor Wat, Cambodia – In a Photo Essay [With Its Mystical Mythology]

ankor-wat-977693_1280 (1).jpeg

Mythology has always fascinated me. As a child, I used to read all the thin and thick Hindu mythological books kept in the rectangular wall-hooked showcase temple in our mandirwala or the temple room. I grilled my mother about Shiva and Lakshmi and Parvati and Vishnu and Hanuman and the snakes and the elephants and the monkeys and the Ramayana. Then I visited college and opted for literature courses and read all the different versions of Mahabharata that I could put my hands on.

So while walking around Angkor Wat or the City of Temples, when I saw that the fellow international travelers were mesmerized by the temple but also confused, I donned my narrator cloak and recited tales of the Hindu mythology and exposed the personal lives of the millions of gods and goddesses that Hinduism has.

One of the stories that I narrated was the famous tale of the churning of the sea or the samudra manthan that has been depicted at the entrance of the temple and has been engraved beautifully on many of its walls and columns.

Now I am not that cruel that I would devoid you off this bewitching story. So here it goes.

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Travel Tales from the Tragic Cambodia – Reflecting Upon the Ruthless Destruction

white and black cambodia angkor wat temple.jpeg

I was climbing the stairs of a high school in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. No, I did not intend to repeat high school to recognize the petals and sepals of a flower better. The school wasn’t ordinary. The faces of the men and women that had been tortured and killed in its classrooms stared at us from behind the glass frames hung on the bloodstained walls. The rusted iron bars, withering waterboards, and used bloody clothes kept in those classrooms narrated a gruesome story of the ruthless Cambodian massacre, that happened not so long ago. The metal shackles with which people were tied to the waterboards and to the iron bars were still chained to them; I assume those metal chains couldn’t be used for anything else now.

Unwillingly, I vividly imagined the bodies possessing those faces and donning those gory clothes tied to the iron rods with the cold shackles. A guard came throughout the day to beat them and torture them with electric shocks as the helpless stifled on the floor. Or to cut them with knives and suffocate them with plastic bags. Blood oozed out of the wounds of the tortured but medicine was out of the question. Four small spoonfuls of rice porridge and watery soup of leaves were given to them twice a day.

My skin crawled. I shivered in the scorching month of June.

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A One–Day Road Trip From Bangalore to Panchapalli Dam and Bettamugilalam Village

a karnataka landscape

One needs to control his or her mind to do anything in this world. Even the most enlightened of us all, Plato, Seneca, Marcus, Aristotle, Buddha, Socrates, valued this virtue. I do not possess this quality, yet, and hence couldn’t sleep the Saturday night before the Sunday drive. At 4 am, when I disabled the alarm and dragged myself out of bed, I felt as if a hundred pins pierced my eyes. 

Determined to hit the road, we packed our country-egg-omelet and Amul-butter-pasted sandwiches, that I had already prepared the night before, in tiffin boxes and then in a backpack, along with bananas, water bottles, and Unibic protein bars. We wanted to hike the world. Soon, we sped on the road in search of a green and sunlight-lit golden Sunday in some distant hills or next to a lake or a dam, may be accompanied by an elephant or two. 

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My First International Solo Trip (to Thailand) Sucked – Mistakes and Learnings

a sunrise to show learnings

Thailand was my first solo trip.

I pre-landed in Bangkok at 5 AM. In the on-arrival visa line, a friendly attendant helped me skip the line and processed my visa faster. The airport was far out of the city and having decided that I would take public transport, I climbed into an about-to-crumble bus to go into the city.   

In the three-hour-long bus ride, as long as the flight from Bengaluru to Bangkok, a lady passenger helped to hold my bag and told me that I was beautiful as I managed to not-faint in the crowded aisle. The bus crawled a kilometer in almost an hour. Due to my skepticism of being able to explain the situation to the angry and rude lady ticket collector and the bus driver, I didn’t leave the bus to hop into a taxi. She kept buying weird-looking dumplings for him from the street while I craved and my stomach growled. 

The bus ride wasn’t enough torture that I had to climb four levels of steep, dingy stairs with my suitcase to reach my just-enough, single, air-conditioned room.

Tired, hungry, and lonely, I went down for food and ate a mediocre Pad Thai. Having grabbed a few cold water bottles from the fridge downstairs, I climbed back up again. Sudden rudeness and a hint of racism coupled with sleep deprivation and loneliness made me sleep for almost 5 hours.

It wasn’t just that.

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Vietnam Photo Album – Lush-Green Vietnam and Its Temples

waterfall in vietnam

As promised in this photo diary of the street life and rich food of Vietnam, I am back with a Vietnam photo album which showcases the country’s painting-like greenery and its rich temples.

Certain days at work, when I sit in a room and work from my desk for hours at a stretch, these photos make me feel that I am out in the green, running with the water stream, or bathing in the sunshine, or singing with the rain, or listening to the tall waterfall falling over the stones, or fine-tuning with the birds that flew above my head under the vast blue sky of those foreign lands.

Do you also long for a place that you visited in the past when you look at your travel photos? Do you still feel connected to that place?

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Vietnam Photo Diary – Bustling Streets and Juicy Food

night view of hanoi city vietnam

Vietnam was alive.

With blue skies and bustling streets.

With bowls full of colorful noodle soup in which greens and mushrooms dived in.

With ladies serving soup on the street side and road junctions while sitting on the smallest stools you could ever imagine.

With the Bánh Mì sandwiches that erupted into my taste buds and the beautiful blend of the Vietnamese coffee served with condensed milk.

With the death that lingered in the war museums that crushed me to the core and I took days to recover.

With the long-curvy rides in the toiletless buses to reach one city from another.

With the streets crowded with millions of red, blue, green scooters that must have looked like crawling painted ants when seen from the top.

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Wild and Beautiful Thailand – In a Photo Essay

bangkok thailand street (1)

Thailand was my first solo international trip. It was my first window into the world of traveling and backpackers and hostels and not knowing where would I sleep the next day.

Thailand was absolutely gorgeous, marvelously racist at times, and enriching with delicious food.

I met some amazing people, ran away from obnoxious ones, admired some beautiful temples, found precious stones in dazzling night markets, stayed overnight in the gigantic national park of Thailand, played around with elephants (about which a fellow traveler has written about), devoured some juicy seafood, enjoyed the bunk beds of the hostels, walked through the red light areas, got mesmerized by the strength of pole dancers dancing in street-side pubs and bars, drowned with my best friend in a swimming pool and beer, and happily but unknowingly overstayed my visa.

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Why I Travel and Live a Nomadic Life

in lake titicaca living a nomadic life solo traveler priyanka gupta

Why I Travel

Since I started traveling relentlessly for the past few years, my friends, family, and everyone else started asking me that why do people travel so much, what did I do for six months in Chile traveling alone, what did I see, how did I feel in a country where I couldn’t even speak the language, how did I manage to travel for so long, and how did my family react?

They say I’m lucky I get to travel so much.

I smile. I lecture everybody that they can travel, too. I ask them why don’t they take a sabbatical and go? I elaborate on why traveling is important even though no one might be listening.

People laugh. They shake their heads as if I had asked them to do the impossible. They say it is not easy. What would their parents say? Their boss won’t allow. They are settled with their partners. Traveling would be too expensive.

They think these are unique problems. And they don’t get that why do people travel so much.

As I travel a lot myself, I understand why people leave their homes and travel around the world. In this poetic essay, I will tell you why do I travel and why traveling is important.

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