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Stairway to Heaven : A Journey to Ladakh

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Shafts of sunlight wake you up from a much needed slumber that was brought upon by a crazy work schedule and the vanishing weekends in between. You look outside, and are momentarily stymied by this…

Aerial view of Laddakh…the sight of  hundreds of snow capped peaks, stretching as far as the eye can see. The Mountain Kingdom awaits, and you catch your breath, only to lose it again as you land in the pleasantly cold Kushok Bakula Rinpoche airport. That’s how my ten day tryst with Ladakh began.

We arrived at the lovely Hotel Gawaling International, a proud and quiet oasis in the little town of Leh, with an impressive backdrop of majestic mountains and a little creek that in the mornings almost dry, gushed forth in the evenings. Little hotels may lack fancy accouterments, but they make up for it with unabashedly warm service, and an enthusiasm we soon discovered was characteristic of the Ladakhi soul.

The rest of the day was spent acclimatizing; if that’s what you call mimicking a sloth bear before hibernation. On a serious note, most of Ladakh averages a height of about 12000 feet above sea level (carry altitude sickness tablets with you) and the overzealous traveler would do well to spend the first day in bed.  Prepare to have little to no cellphone coverage at all. No complaints though, not when you have soup, momos and Jenga blocks for company.

A journey to Ladakh

Enroute to Khardung La

The northern frontier is best seen in the summer months of June and July, when there is enough sun to take a dip in the Indus and traipse around the monasteries that dot this land, but also enough Jack Frost in the air to keep some chilly winds and snow flakes swirling around you as you climb higher and higher, searching for those treacherous high passes the land is named after ( La Dakh, land of high passes).

Khardung La, easily one of the world’s highest motorable roads, is a must, even if you do get snowed in for four hours (we did). In such times, take comfort in the stories your amiable driver will tell you. Better yet, ask your travel guide his story, and he will tell you how he is actually saving up to go to France someday. Let him chip into your conversation about the meaning of life and all the while, know that you are high above most people anywhere in the world(literally).

Head back to Leh after your adventures, for this charming town has much culture and love to offer. Shanti Stupa is the Buddhist answer to a stress buster. Instead of letting your hair down and sipping cosmos, let the winds caress your tresses as you scarf down some Tibetan butter tea. Walk into the Leh palace, and let the ageing paint, wood, and dust stir a feeling of deep seated imperialism in you. Buy turquoise jewelry, pashmina shawls or apricots if you’re a keen shopper. Visit a monastery, spin the prayer wheels of dharma, and let your sins escape into the mountains.  If you’re lucky, you will sight little Llamas, boy monks robed in maroon that are schooled on the temple grounds.

A journey to Ladakh

Wheels of Dharma

 A journey to Ladakh

Shanti Stupa, an Indo Japanese token for peace

Speaking of schools, trivia alert: the school featured in the 3 Idiots movie is worth a quick look – Drukpa White Lotus School in Ladakh is famous all over the world, for its award winning sustainable and eco friendly design. Besides, who wouldn’t want to play basketball in a playground encircled by the Himalayas? This place is witnessing quite the wave of education and reform. A dear friend swears by an educational NGO called SECMOL in the village of Phey, some twenty kilometers from Leh, so if you have the luxury of time, you might want to investigate, if only to applaud the spirit of the little pink faced cherubs in these schools.

If you have a day to spare, make for the camping grounds in Nubra Valley. The journey alone is enchanting. I’ve always loved wild landscapes, and the ride didn’t disappoint. Sudden sandstorms chase your heels, rogue waterfalls beckon, and amidst bare stone, there is that sudden  emerald lagoon, blazing trails of green. Keep your windows rolled down, and if you squint hard enough, you can spot some native wildlife-gorgeous horses, furry marmuks, even Bactrian camels. These camels once carried trade along the historic Silk Route from Central Asia into India.  They now ship tourist upstarts like yours truly and indulge in the occasional photoshoot.

A journey to Ladakh

Nubra Valley from afar

 Mystique Meadows Camp,Nubra Valley

Mystique Meadows, one of the camps at the  Valley.

I’ve saved the best for the last – a slice of heaven the locals call Pangong Tso. Nestled in land that is both India and China, the lake is exquisite, almost something out of Tolkien’s world. When the wind and clouds are just right, it is a mirror, with the endless skies reflected to create a heady view.  Lofty mountains stand guard over this precious pool, their peaks at once chocolate, beige, sawdust, and every other color you can think of. This is my favorite thing about the trip-that I could throw my head back anywhere, and the skyline would be anything but buildings and neon signs.

A journey to Ladakh

Pangong Tso.

When I was there, I sought refuge in the lakeside Martsemik Camp for the night so I could get me some more shutterbug time in the morning, when the light is just right. Resigned to hiding under layers of sweaters and chaddars,  I was more than surprised when the staff braved their way to my tent, armed with heating pads for my bed. It is the little things, truly, that count. Why then, should we indulge the giant hotel chains that threaten to quash these thriving tourism industries with all their monstrous commercialism? Why indeed.

A little more wanderlust will lead you to the Indus Zanskar confluence in central Ladakh, where you can ride the rapids. Pick a route and a grade (Beginner to challenger) and before you know it, you’re riding through valleys and little hamlets singing some Denver while you drift. Jump out of the raft and into the river during the last leg, and swim along…even if it leaves you with chattering teeth and aching muscles, the adrenaline will have been worth it.

A journey to Ladakh

Is Ladakh an easy trip to make? Surely not, but the locals will shell out some Zen wisdom ,tell you to let go of inhibition, and let Nature lead the way. As for me, it was my Indian Winterfell summer, and by Jove, I’d love to do it all again sometime.

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Yacht charter in Barcelona, the comfort and privacy you can’t get on land

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Traveling the coast of Barcelona in a luxury yacht is an unforgettable experience that everyone should experience sometime in their lives. It is the perfect trip for those who want to get away from the city and its noises, to relax in a peaceful atmosphere that can only be reached at sea.

Barcelona, located on the northeast coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is one of the most visited cities in Spain, even in Europe. It is the perfect place to enjoy the architectural, artistic, cultural and gastronomic diversity of the country, making it one of the favorite tourist destinations for millions of people around the world.

Among all the many attributes that the city of Barcelona has, one of the most outstanding is its beaches. Years ago the American magazine National Geographic named Barcelona as the best coastal city in the world.

There are 4 kilometers of sand in the Catalan capital available for the fans of maritime landscapes, finding beaches for any activity you could wish for during your holidays, either to relax, practice water sports and more. 

Among all the activities that have been on the rise in this paradise is the rental of luxury yachts. And nothing can compare to sailing along the beautiful coasts of Barcelona in one of these majestic vessels, which are at your disposal to discover the most beautiful landscapes.

Undoubtedly, touring these paradisiacal landscapes aboard Barcelona charters is the best way to get away from the noise of the city and just enjoy the feeling of freedom and calm that can only be achieved on the high seas.

Imagine living the pleasure of riding on a modern motor yacht with capacity for a dozen people traveling at speeds up to 25 knots; it would be, without a doubt, a unique experience! 

In the city of Barcelona there are prestigious agencies that rent these fast and elegant luxury boats for periods ranging from one hour to the whole day and even the weekend. 

These services are aimed at VIP clients and can be used for all kinds of events, such as corporate events, meetings and romantic dinners, including unforgettable tours along the coast of Barcelona and the Maresme. There is also the option of buying drinks on the boat and catering service. There are a lot of possibilities, and companies will always provide alternatives to suit the client’s needs.

Learn a little more about these boats

Luxury yachts fascinate those who seek privacy and comfort in its maximum expression, which is sometimes difficult to achieve on land. It is a pleasant way to get away from the world.

These boats can be quite amazing in terms of all the luxury features they offer. Specialized blogs have even made rankings of the 10 most expensive yachts in the world, which are a privilege that is only reserved for a very exclusive elite.

These yachts are considered by many as titans of floating vehicles. They are jewels of engineering equipped with the latest technology and elements for maximum comfort. 

The top 10 most expensive yachts are as follows: 

1.- History Supreme ($4.8 billion).

2.- Eclipse ($1.5 billion).

3.- Streets of Monaco (1.1 billion dollars).

4.- Topaz (527 million dollars).

5.- Motor Yacht A ($440 million).

6.- Dubai (350 million dollars).

Sailing Yacht A (US$323 million).

8.- Al Said (300 million dollars).

9.- Dilbar (256 million dollars).

10.- Lady Moura (210 million dollars).

We encourage you to review the features of these amazing vessels in specialized portals, among which we can mention, heated swimming pools, heliports, basketball courts, concert halls and more. The wealthy owners of these “mega yachts” spare no expenses to make these vehicles with all the comforts that anyone could imagine.

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Planning to Travel? Here Are the Do’s to Observe

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Air travel

Traveling abroad isn’t just a matter of packing and leaving; there several significant aspects of your journey that you need to be on top of before you embark on your journey. For a safe, peaceful, and enjoyable stay at your travel destination, your health should top the list from your travel plans.

It would be best to consider a thorough health checkup for vital health concerns like vaccination, blood test, malaria, urine test, and dental checkup.

Why Is a Dental Checkup Important?

If you plan to have an extended stay, you should tend to broken fillings, decayed teeth, or any dental issues to minimize dental emergencies. It’s prudent to also have the necessary treatment before leaving.

The standards of dental care worldwide vary widely and the certainty of getting dental supplies from a trusted and certified dental supplier isn’t assured. The cost may also become cumbersome given that your destination of choice may not have dental care coverage for kids.

Depending on where you’re traveling, either in developing, developed, or remote areas, leaving your dental health to chance can be uncomfortable if not dangerous. Your chosen destination may lack the resources, dental supplies, and equipment to cater to your dental needs.

Air travel causes specific pressure changes, affecting your root canal, causing pain and potential infections. Therefore, it’s advisable to ensure that you complete all your treatment before traveling or consider paste filling to minimize the risks.

Pericoronitis is an infection caused by food trapped through the flesh covering your teeth. The condition can spread to parts of your neck and head; to avoid this outcome, consider removing lower wisdom teeth that are partially exposed.

The other thing you should look out for is if you have gum (periodontal) disease, it’s essential to have your teeth cleaned by a hygienist or a dentist.

Checklist Before Travel

As stated earlier, the most vital thing is you and your health, so here are some things you should consider.

Travel Insurance

Probably, the health care insurance coverage that you have at the moment will not cover the scope of international travel. After you’ve assessed the situation keenly, consider opting for emergency medical insurance and medical evacuation.

The majority of options and plans offered by travel insurance providers occasionally cover trip cancellation, lost luggage, plus medical emergency and evacuation.

Get the Right Visa

Do thorough research on the kind of visa you need. This is a critical but overlooked aspect by many travelers. Any mixup can turn your trip into a disaster, as this little mistake could mean you’ll get turned away from the said country.

To make matters worse, you won’t even be allowed to leave the airport, which should serve as a motivation to be extra keen. Find out the visa you qualify for and apply early in advance.

Pre-Book Accommodations

You wouldn’t want to deal with the stressors involved in getting an instant spot without prior arrangements. Start on the right foot by booking a one-night accommodation in advance, ensuring you aren’t anxious through your journey.

You can have a fun-filled day exploring the area after a comfortable night’s sleep. To prepare for any eventualities, ensure that you also have a hard copy of your accommodation reservation besides having a soft copy.

Travel Advisory

Before you decide your destination, it’s vital to cross-reference through the government state department website to see if the country you wish to travel to poses a threat (short or long term) to travelers. You’ll find a list of countries with a travel warning. This is critical because travel insurance does not cover countries under a travel warning.

Vaccination

Scour through to find the health information of the country you’ll be traveling to and whether you’ll need to be vaccinated. Finding out nations that pose a risk to your health are highlighted on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

This mainly applies if you’re traveling to third-world countries and the vaccination may vary, including yellow fever, Zika virus, malaria, cholera, etc. Also, get enough supplements to last you the entire trip if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to supplement your fill abroad.

To avoid security hiccups, find out which drug prescriptions are not illegal in your destination or countries you’ll pass through. It’s essential to bring along photocopies of your prescription and always carry the medicine in its prescribed bottle.

Suppose your medical condition requires you to have syringes, relay the information before security checks. Take your vaccination six weeks before departure, as vaccines take a couple of weeks before they can kick in.

Enjoy Your Stay

We didn’t delve deeper into aspects including culture shock, travel deals, packaging, payment methods, etc., adhering to those mentioned above essential will keep your mind at ease. What remains is to enjoy your exploration.

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Staying Safe While You’re Abroad

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Travelling family memories

Going on holiday is a thrilling experience, there’s so much to see, discover, and feel, but you need to make sure that you’re safe while you’re away. Being so far from home can leave you vulnerable to a lot of different dangers, and you’re not going to be able to resolve them in the way that you usually would. You need to know how to look after yourself in the event that something should happen, and that way you can ensure that your time away ends as a positive experience. There’s a lot to explore, but new experiences can sometimes bring about a risk to your health and safety.

Keep your important belongings close to you

No matter where you’re going, if it’s somewhere that requires you to have important documents and money with you at all times, you should make sure you have a way to prevent that from getting lost or stolen. There are many ways you can do it, but finding a way to keep those important belongings close to you, without the chance of them going missing is very important. Some people even go the extra distance to bring extras of those documents, and it can ensure that it doesn’t hinder their ability to have a good time while they’re away. The last thing you want is to lose your passport when you need to get home.

Make sure to take medication

If you’re going somewhere where you’re at risk of getting a disease, you must find out about it before you get there. Being able to prepare the proper medication and prevent those diseases can be a real life-saver. Going to another country means exposing yourself to new elements, making you much more vulnerable to health risks. Knowing how to do things like preventing Malaria, or warding off bugs is important! You never know what might happen while you’re out there, but if you’re prepared you at least know that you’re safe.

Know how to avoid getting lost

If you’re going somewhere far from home, it’s only expected that you’re not going to know where you are at all times, especially if you’re not going with a group. If you are out and about exploring, you’re going to want to know how you can make sure finding your way home is possible. Being able to communicate with the locals can be very helpful when you need to ask for directions. Now, learning a whole other language for a vacation isn’t realistic, but there are words and phrases you can learn to take you that little bit further.

You should also consider buying a map of the area that you go to before you set out. It’s great to explore, but a map can mean that you avoid getting lost. You’re likely going to have to rely on yourself whenever you get into trouble, so knowing how to read a map and navigate is going to make all the difference. It’s an adventure, but your safety should be your top priority.

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