A Travellerspoint blog

Adventure 2.0

And here we go again!

sunny 65 °F

It's been many months...The summer months were spent wrestling with important decisions. Decisions that had been in the making for over a year; some decisions just need time to "ferment" and to feel like they are the right thing. And what better place to do some fermenting than in the wonderful climes of California. 3 months setting up a life in California - found a lovely apartment, got some mean wheels, even bought pretty yellow plates, and a couch with a red cushion. Fabulous weather where every day felt like a vacation. Even started running more regularly. Big achievement: Ran my first ever 10k, and then my first ever half-marathon.


Ok, back to fermenting decisions and unveiling the new adventure. 11 days more to start my new job, and 3 days since starting up a new phase in Zurich, Switzerland! After a year and more of traveling, endless Starbucks chai, coffee "interviews", deep conversations about life and priorities, it was time to jump with both feet in.

So, here's the next adventure, and the next blog: http://AdventureTwoPointO.travellerspoint.com

Posted by Goofy9 12:43 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

If I could have my cake & eat it too, what cake would it be?

Kyoto, Japan

overcast 55 °F

Got to thinking if life were all about bolting together all the things you want and making it work, then what are the things I want…for right now, the cake is pretty simple. I am not much of an elaborate dreamer, dreaming up bland things like "travel," whereas I know people who have very detailed dreams/plans/goals. Recent research shows that the more elaborate the dream, the more likely it is for the dreamer to not lose sight of it, to focus on it, and to develop habits that support the goal. It doesn't mean that the goal is achieved, it just means that the likelihood of achieving the goal is increased.

My life has been not much more than a series of events that have occurred by chance. The Queen of Serendipity! A few years ago, I spent a long weekend in Washington DC. Walked the Mall, the monuments, viewed the Declaration of Independence and saw the cherry trees and read about the Cherry Blossom Festival. And last month, like all the other unplanned things in my life, I got to see the Cherry Blossoms at the mother of all Cherry Blossom Festivals in Kyoto, Japan!! Seriously, even if I could have dreamt up a detailed dream, I wouldn't have dreamt being in Japan to experience this. So there is something to be said for the unplanned and the fortuitous.


Japan is so very special - from the instant you land, you know you aren't in a country that feels like any other country. And it's not like as if they are anti-English language or more fiercely nationalistic than any one else. Me thinks its just such a strong, strong, undiluted culture that it has adapted to all that is happening in the world, and made it it's own version. Take the Elvis impersonators that I saw on the last trip - Elvis is Americana, yet, the Japanese are avid fans. Or fast-food "vending machines" where you punch in what you want, get a coupon, stand in line, and sit at a table with strangers to eat your ramen.


We also observed people going to work, the "salary man" drinking late into the night, the girls dressed like dolls. The girls are particularly fascinating - many have a "knock kneed" way of walking (google it!). And Google tells me that it was how the kimono made you walk (the tight-ish flow of the kimono, the wooden sandals, etc.) and now the girls just make themselves walk that way because it's viewed as feminine! And then there are the incredibly short skirts that they wear…apparently, in Japanese culture, the legs are not considered a "sex-symbol" - so it's perfectly ok to show your legs and lots of it! And then my mind wandered to India - full of its taboos for women (not so many taboos for men!). Women wear saris, which, by design bare the mid riff, but it's not ok to wear a midriff baring tshirt! Oh well. It's these quirks that make a nation what it is, it is what has attracted travelers for 100s of years, no?

Some cherry-blossomy photos.

Posted by Goofy9 22:45 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

God's Own Country


sunny 100 °F

It's been a month since I went home to India; Now I've arrived at the conclusion that it was one of the best trips home in a long time. My parents had planned a week-long holiday - just the 3 of us. We do travel well together. Like we did when they visited me for a month in South Africa. In fact, I can say that I thoroughly enjoy traveling with them and always look forward to our next trip.

They have the qualities I want in travel companions...easy going, don't complain if its sweaty and hot (and its sweaty and hot all the time in India), will eat pretty much anything without any fuss, and have energy to go-go-go! And I can be difficult around them though; I am difficult around them because I can be. Because I know they get me. Just this morning, when Gr and I were discussing how tough communication in a second language can be, he said, "With you, I can say whatever I want without thinking if it's ok." I guess that's why it's called "unconditional." People with whom you can have a temper, be unreasonably snippy with, and yet know that you are loved.

We went to Kerala - the neighboring state. And being a neighbor, we'd neglected going before simply for the usual reason that we can always go since it's next door. Kerala, by it's own advertising, calls itself God's Own Country. Wonder since when God had a country…and why would He just pick one? It's like this bumper sticker I saw a while back that said "God Bless Texas" - so what about the rest of us non-Texans?! Ok, moving on from that tangential thought. We wandered old Kochi (Cochin), stopped to watch the famous Kathakali dance. What was special was that we went early and watched the artist apply his make up - took him an hour. My 15 minute make up ritual in the morning is nothing!


Spending time on a house boat cruising the backwaters of Kerala was idyllic. Something that I'd always wanted to do. We had a whole boat to ourselves. And a chef, who was so very good at the traditional cuisine. Heading back to land, am certain the boat sat a few inches lower!


And finally, we went up to Munnar, the "Switzerland of India" - well, that's what people called it in the days of yore when international travel was only for the elite and people had no idea that Switzerland is much cooler and much higher. But, this was for my dad. He's 77, and rarely says that he wants to go some place or see something special. And this one place that he dramatically told us, "If you dont want to come that's ok. I'll find other like-minded people to go with." That's how much it meant to him to see the tea gardens of Munnar!


Some more interesting pictures here.

Mom, dad, and I spent an insensible number of hours driving...and when we got back, I slept for a whole day! The next morning, they were perfectly fine, back to their routine, fighting fit, while I was completely exhausted and still bleary eyed. When did I turn into a sissy traveller?

Posted by Goofy9 21:57 Archived in India Comments (0)

Yippee for diversity

Lima, and Nazca


The last frontier: South America. The one continent that I had never been to and actually did not know very much about either. Very exotic to me. In retrospect, places have just happened to me in a serendipitous way, I stumble upon where to go next in an unorganized yet preordained fashion. Singapore happened just because, and then it opened up the doorway to Asia. And then South Africa happened because of a bad decisions that felt like it was the right decision at the time! But that's how I got to see the incredibly clear blue sky of Botswana and experience a teeny bit of Africa. See what I mean? Just a random wandering with no real plan of "oh, in the summer of 2014 I must go to the next Garlic Festival in Gilroy, CA."

Lima is dry, dusty and nothing spectacular. Crowded roads, old buildings, giant sand dunes, which look like they had excellent views of the ocean. But apparently only the poorest of the poor live up there as the water pipelines and the roads don't go up all the way there. It's a society where the view and living up in lofty heights isn't actually the hallmark of the rich. Utter poverty everywhere in the world seems to be the same - it's the middle-class standard of living that differentiates countries. In Peru, the middle-class seem better off than the middle-class in deep Africa - they aspire to buy a family car, and send their children to English speaking schools. But the poor, the poor anywhere are just too busy worrying about food, clothing, and shelter. Sad.

Click for a few pictures.

Drove through Lima to a town further south to fly over the famous Nazca Lines. Mysterious lines on a plateau, many miles long, in fanciful shapes and of unknown origin. Perfect site for alien-life theorists! You'll have to google images of it…I was too busy trying to stop myself from throwing up in the little plane to take any good pictures. But my guide was an interesting woman who told me that she was going to ride with me in the car as she didn't think it was safe for me to go alone with the driver. And the day-trip was more enjoyable because we got to talk about food, and growing up with Dictators. We stopped for lunch at a sea side shack-restaurant and had a light brothy soup into which you dunk roasted corn, and some refreshing ceviche. Again, served with corn, and chunks of sweet potato. Start a ceviche bar in Singapore?


Peru is so Spanish. They dont bother with translations to have signs in two languages…even the customs form was in Spanish. We kinda-sorta had to work out what each empty space to fill in the form was for. And it's all unapologetic in its Spanish-ness. Even the airplane entertainment system's default language is Spanish, not English. Unlike in parts of the world that I am more familiar with where the hegemony of English trumps any other language. I truly was happy that everything was not in English. Hope the world never becomes standardized, and we all hold on to our piece of uniqueness. Here is to diversity and lots of it!

Posted by Goofy9 22:14 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Let the numbers speak

Machu Picchu

rain 60 °F

Inca trail
Time: 4 days-3 nights
Highest point crossed (Dead Woman's Pass): 4200 m, as high as a Colorado 14er
Distance, from start of Camino Inca to Machu Picchu: 47 km
Socks: 1 liner + 2 over the liner
Blisters: See Exhibit A
Exhibit A

Living in Colorado is like being in a constant state of athletic one-upmanship: people at work want to tell you how many miles they bike every weekend, people in line at the Starbucks discuss their triathlon stats, the airport check-in counter has people discussing number of days on the slopes. It can all get a bit much. Especially for someone as non-athletic as me. The last time I did anything strenuous was packing and moving boxes perhaps. There isn't anything in my genes that make me want to push myself, at least physically. There's always been furthering of the mind, the need to study, the fun from taking mental math quizzes on my phone, but never once have I ever said "oh, I wish I could run a marathon" or something like that…

And now here's the Inca Trail. To my fellow hiker, it was a walk in the park. To me, it was Everest! And it was with great anticipation that I walked across the Rio Urubamba to the head of the trail - because for the first time in my life, I did not know how I would do, I had no previous data to go by. Would I finish, would I wimp out, would I cry all the way? The very first 15 minutes winded me! I kid you not. Yes, the first 15 minutes, and after that every step was an effort. But an effort that I knew I had to put in. In a way, to prove to myself that I am opening up a whole new world of adventure - this time the adventure is not just in my books, in studies, in leisure travel, but opening up possibilities of climbing Kota Kinabalu in Indonesia, of sailing down the Nile, of truly participating in the adventure of life!

And here are a few pictures - not of Machu Picchu, but of the journey to and from.

Posted by Goofy9 00:21 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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