Tag Archives: travel

On Hooker Valley Track To Aoraki Mount Cook New Zealand

Mount Cook New Zealand

“It’ll take around three hours!” said our tour guide.

Anticipating an easy amble to the foothills of Mount Cook, we set out on the popular Hooker Valley Track, four middle-aged folks with an average age of 51 years.

I volunteered to be ‘pack mule‘ for the group, lugging along a bag with 4 liters of water, some snacks and warm sweaters.

Quickly, we realized this was no walk down a rosy garden path!

The track sloped up, gently at first, then a bit more steeply. All around, mountains loomed and valleys rolled gently away to distant lakes and streams.

The walking path weaved and curved between thick shrubbery dotted with colorful blooms.

Hooker Valley Track Mount Cook New Zealand


Snapshots of Cambodia

Temples of Cambodia

Today, millions of people from every corner of the world throng Cambodia. Many come to visit the famous Angkor Wat Cambodia, a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts some of the oldest temples in the world.

Visitors marvel at the stunning architecture, the intricate stone carvings and the sheer magnificence of these houses of worship that have withstood the ravages of time to stand proud over centuries.

King Suryavarman Cambodia

King Suryavarman II – in a bas relief on Angkor Wat wall


King Suryavarman II ruled Khmer (Cambodia) for nearly forty years during the early 12th century. What he built has lasted over eight hundred years!


Why Do We Travel?

Palace of Versailles, Paris, France

When you look at travel photos posted by friends on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest, everything looks so beautiful, joyous and fun.

Reality doesn’t quite work that way.  In fact, travel travails often have you wondering why you even bother to leave home!


Travel Thoughts & Life’s Purpose

Zurich to Innsbruck

We were on the superfast RailJet from Salzburg, Austria to Zurich, Switzerland.

A few minutes back, the train had stopped at Innsbruck, a skiing resort where James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only” was shot.  


The Journey Is The Destination

Sikkim scenery

I’ve traveled a lot. Both in India, and around the world. Not just on ‘business’, but also for leisure. Like visiting Angkor Wat Cambodia.

Most of the time, there’s a pattern we follow. Make a list of things to do, sights to see, places to visit. Check them off the list, one by one. At the end, the trip is judged upon how many items were achieved, and how good or bad each one was, as an experience.

Well, our recent trip to the mountains of Sikkim and Darjeeling was different.

From the lush green plains of Siliguri, we drove down muddy, cool streets lined by tall trees into the forested remoteness of Lataguri in the Dooars. And from there, we motored up winding, oft-crumbling and pot-holed hill roads to reach the lofty heights of the mighty Himalayan range.

If Pelling is a magnificent mountain resort commanding a view of the mighty Mt.Kanchenjunga, and Gangtok is the worthy capital of a state more popularly known around the world as the ‘Switzerland of Asia’, the route from one to the other is a delight to the senses… and a crown worthier than its wearer.

Sikkim scenery

Sensational and spectacular scenery greets you everywhere you turn in Sikkim. It’s the only place I’ve been to where you could aimlessly point your camera in any direction, click, and end up with a snapshot that could be a picture postcard or pin-up calendar.

Distances (as the crow flies) mean little in this tiny border state, tucked away in the north-eastern extreme of India, wedged between Bhutan and Nepal, China and Bangladesh. We had been pleasantly meandering around all morning, only to have our driver point, late in the afternoon, to a mountain across the valley to say, “That’s Pelling, where we left this morning!”

What’s even more amazing is that we hardly realized it had been so long, engrossed as we were in feasting our eyes on some of the most remarkable natural beauty we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying, and relaxing in temperate weather that’s impossible to mimic in the South during summer, even with modern air-conditioning technology!

And as we rounded the bend, setting out on the road to Gangtok, that my daughter seated in the back asked the question:

“Where are we going next?”

In that magic instant before I replied, the real answer flashed into my head with startling clarity.

“It simply doesn’t matter. Because everywhere, it’s so lovely! The journey is the destination.”

Sikkim scenery

And as the car grinded up the steep slopes only to coast back down the next bumpy incline, around and around the mountain-sides in the long journey to our next stop, another line of thought entered my mind, competing for attention with the mist-shrouded peaks of distant Himalayan ranges and closer by, the roaring, frothy waters of the Rimbhi and Teesta rivers, the terraced farms growing rice and tea, the occasional evidence of frail humanity’s attempt to harness a small portion of the massive energy of nature.

It was this.

Isn’t our journey through life itself like this?

We set ourselves ‘destinations’ and ‘stops’. Make ourselves lists to ‘check off’, and goals to ‘reach’. But all too often, in the mindless quest to get there, we miss enjoying many lovely things along the way.

Like health. And relationships. People and places, events and experiences, interactions and intimacies.

Small things. And sometimes even big ones.

A child’s performance in a dance program. A sunset. A bird singing on the tree outside your window. Suffering humanity caught in a cataclysm halfway across the world. A stranger’s smile on the bus. A playful dog’s antics. All become grist to our ‘Stuff to Ignore’ mill, as we focus on ‘getting where we must’.

But must we?

Isn’t the journey really the destination?