Connect with us

Travel

Stairway to Heaven : A Journey to Ladakh

Published

on

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.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading
Comments

Travel

7 Travel Safety Tips You Should Know

Published

on

aircraft flight travel packing

Travelling can be enthralling, but have you ever asked yourself what if you get robbed? What if you get kidnapped? Or you get lost? 

Leaving the comfort of your home to explore a foreign country can be an exciting experience. However, several worst-case scenarios can make you anxious when travelling overseas. From losing precious items and getting injured to theft or kidnapping, a lot can happen abroad. 

The first step is to acknowledge that bad things can happen, which is part of the adventure. With these safety tips below, you can protect yourself as a traveller and have peace of mind.

 Conduct Sufficient Research 

Research and gather a lot of information. Travel safety starts even before you board that plane. Google about your destination and know the common risks and prevalent scams in that country. Get to know the safe and unsafe neighbourhoods. 

Ensure you read reviews in the places you’ll visit or the hotel you’ll be staying in. Check if your rent property is in a safe environment. Read blogs from travel bloggers to find if there is anything written about your destination. You can watch videos on YouTube to learn a few things. You can listen to the accent, see attraction sites, and what the landscape looks like.  

TripAdvisor is also a great platform where you can search your destination before travelling. It’s great for hotels, restaurants, local attractions, and tour companies. Read reviews to get valuable information from previous clients. 

Doing research helps you feel confident and comfortable when travelling. 

Buy Travel Insurance 

A vacation isn’t a vast investment, like buying a car or house, but you still need a lot of money. Buying airfare, paying for tour guides, and accommodation needs tons of cash. The travel insurance cover protects you from lost or damaged items. 

It can be expensive to replace items like electronic devices, clothes, and medication. You might also get hurt or sick while in a foreign country. If you get hurt or sick before travelling, you’ll have to cancel your trip. With this, you’ll lose the full cost. In such a scenario, the travel insurance will reimburse the amount used. 

You may also need to get evacuated from a danger zone, and using helicopter transport can cost you a fortune. This is where travel insurance comes in. Early returns or losing a family or friend are other incidents that should motivate you to get insurance cover. 

However, ensure you get a comprehensive cover that will cater to almost every bill you might incur. Choose a reliable insurance provider to give direction and offer the necessary help. Check the reputation of the said company, their insurance packages, and don’t forget to read reviews. 

Share Information with a Reliable Friend or a Close Relative

Travelling is marred with uncertainties. Anything can happen when in a foreign land. That’s why you should let those close to you know about your whereabouts. 

In case of an emergency, you might not manage to communicate specific details. The insurance may require you to call before going to the hospital. They can help you find a reliable hospital nearby. 

It is always advisable to scan and print important documents and upload a digital cover of the insurance package.

Keep Your Money in Various Places

Never travel with all of your money in the same place. Stash emergency money throughout the luggage just in case you lose some. You can also place cash on your body but in different pockets. 

You may wear a money belt beneath your clothes or have a handy bra pocket to keep your credit cards and cash. Invest in an excellent zippered passport pocket that can hold a phone and a passport. This way, even if you get robbed, you’ll still have some cash and cards tucked away. 

More so, be mindful of purses and pockets when in a crowded place. It’s too easy to get pickpocketed in a crowded subway or bus. Criminals know their target pretty well, but you can give them a hard time trying to rob you. 

If you get into a crowded place, keep your hands-on any pocket that has your valuables. If possible, tuck the purse underneath your arm to ensure it opens towards your body and hard to access. Ensure the purse can be zipped, covered, or fastened. 

Avoid keeping stuff in your back pocket as it’s an easy target. Also, it’s recommended to ditch the purse and wallet altogether. 

Lock Your Bags

Locking your luggage can deter thieves. Zip your wallet and purse and lock your bags as well. A determined thief goes for easier targets. They know travellers carry tons of valuable items, and that’s why locking your luggage during transit is a great security measure. 

You can use non-TAS travel locks as they’re hard to break, unlike the universal TSA lock. However, you may use a TSA-approved travel lock for added security and peace of mind. 

Don’t Bring with You Your Precious Items

It’s easy to have items disappear while in transit. It could be a scarf you left in a park or sunglasses fell in the water as you were surfing. When packing for air travel, leave anything that will break your heart if it gets stolen or lost. 

For instance, leave your precious jewellery at home. Carrying education or property documents is risky. Bring cheap items like a travel-friendly necklace or wedding ring, an older smartphone, or inexpensive clothes. 

Watch Your Drinks 

When in a foreign country, you become an easy prey. No matter the circumstances, ensure you watch over your drinks. Make sure you see what’s being poured so someone doesn’t spike your drink

It would also be best to avoid getting drunk. If you usually take six drinks, reduce to two. If you didn’t travel with a buddy, go everywhere with your drink, even to the washroom.

Every day there is news of travellers who have fallen victim to several crimes while travelling. This should be your huge concern in taking the necessary measures. Don’t be too naïve or optimistic to think it can never happen to you. 

But don’t allow anything to stop you from having an enthralling vacation. Follow these travel safety tips, and you’ll enjoy a peaceful trip. 

Prev postNext post
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Travel

A unique perspective of Jamaica

Published

on

Over the last years, Jamaica has become one of the most visited destinations by tourists in the entire world. This beautiful Caribbean island with its stunning beaches, rich nature and delicious gastronomy has everything you could wish for in a holiday destination. However, if you want to experience Jamaican culture in a unique way while interacting with nature hand in hand, there is a place you can not miss during your trip: Yaaman Adventure Park.

The most original holidays

Jamaica is famous as a beach holidays destination. And who can really blame those that choose to visit the country because of this? Its white sand beaches with crystal clear waters and jungle right next to the shores make out for some breathtaking views. However, Jamaica has so much more to bring into the table. A good example of this can be found in the famous tours in Ocho Rios offered by Yaaman Adventure Park.

Ocho Rios is known as the most touristic area on the entire island. And in an area with such a wide catalogue of activities focused towards tourists, we can find Yaaman Adventure Park. Formerly known as Prospect Plantation, Yaaman Adventure Park original placement used to be an 18th Century agricultural property with a lot of history and cultural points. Yaaman Adventure Park offers its visitors the opportunity to interact hand in hand with nature in a lot of adrenaline filled adventures that will make out for unforgettable experiences. 

Do not limit yourself to simply laying on the beach, discover the beautiful island of Jamaica and its culture in a fun and original way. 

The perfect activities for everyone in the family

There are as many types of holidays as there are types of people in the world. Yaaman Adventure Park is aware of this, and that is why they offer a wide catalogue of activities in Ocho Rios that will adapt to everyone’s needs. Your age does not matter, there is the perfect activity waiting for you at Yaaman Adventure Park. Yaaman Adventure Park has a lot of fun activities that will allow you to interact with nature, as well as some more relaxing ones that will help you understand Jamaican culture better. Some of their most renown activities include:

Bird aviary tour

An activity that everyone in the family will surely love! In this aviary, you will be able to interact with exotic and local birds while they freely fly around you. The aviary is a tropical heaven for the birds that live there, and will make you feel like you have been transported to a fairytale world.

Swim with dolphins

Dolphins are some of the most beloved sea animals in the world. And in Yaaman Adventure Park you will be able to swim with dolphins in their unique shore excursions in Ocho Rios. These loving creatures are very smart and love interacting with the visitors. During these excursions, you will be able to swim with them and even hug and kiss the lovely dolphins. 

Cook genuine Jamaican recipes

Jamaica has one of the most delicious cuisines in the world. Their traditional colourful dishes are full of unique flavours that will not disappoint your palate. On the cooking tour offered by Yaaman Adventure Park, you will learn how to prepare the traditional “Jamaican Fare”. The famous chef Irie will teach you all the secrets of this dish consisting of festival, Steamed Callaloo and chicken. All of this while you enjoy some breathtaking views 1100 feet above sea level.

But these are only some of the activities you will be able to enjoy at Yaaman Adventure Park. From Mud buggies tours to tours across near stunning rivers, rides on the back of camels or a jitney ride, the possibilities at this park seem endless. So if you are looking for a fun and original alternative for your next holidays, then look no further, Yaaman Adventure Park is the perfect place to go.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Europe

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?

Published

on

malaga andalusia spain

There are plenty of reasons why you may be thinking about living in Spain: its population is friendly and kind; its climate, especially in the coastal areas, is enviable; its gastronomy is incredible… but, what about its prices? What is the most affordable way to live in Spain?

Perhaps the most important question if you decided to go: would it be better to buy instead of renting a property in Spain. Or yet living in a Spanish residence?

Spanish cities where to live cheap and well

In the geographical variety that Spain presents, we can find many differences in average salaries and the standard of living that reside there would require. The areas of Galicia, Extremadura, Castilla y León, together with Almería and the south of Alicante usually have a lower price of euros/square meter in their homes. The quality of life is really appreciable, but you should know that there are fewer possibilities for business and transports.

The autonomous community of the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Madrid, which have higher than average incomes (normally more than 24,000 euros per year), also have higher prices. However, Madrid has such a wide range of rents that it sometimes makes them cheaper than other countries. 

In addition, and taking into account the tourist seasons, the areas of Valencia and Andalusia are normally a preference when it comes to living in Spain for a while or even spending your retirement. Although day-to-day life can be more expensive than in other areas of Spain, the mild climate and variety of leisure options are often worth it in the long run. 

Whatever your option is when moving to another country, especially if you don’t know its legal system, can be very tiresome. That’s why our advice is to try to contact local agencies (that speak English) to give you fair and fruitful advice. For example, to move to Andalusia, we usually recommend Tejada solicitors

I have already decided on the place. Now what?

Well, if you have already fully immersed yourself in the streets of a beautiful city that we have talked about, what should be your first step?

Decide what kind of stay you want to be in (since your future economic situation will also depend on this: taxes, permits…). You may have already chosen, for example, property conveyancing in Marbella, but it is recommended that you also think about renting a property, because it can be very profitable while you are in your other place of residence.

To sum up, before moving to a Spanish city, decide if you want to spend a little more money per month in exchange for the exceptional conditions that their precious land can give you; secondly, contact a reliable agency that will help you make the best investment and even more, apply for a Spanish residency if you are decided to stay for a long time.

And remember: a move is always a new beginning.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Trending