SlowRover Snapshots #22

Bamboo Skywalk (Meghalaya)

Title: The Bamboo Skywalk
Location: Nohwet Village, Meghalaya, North East India

You’ll rarely find its mention in any Meghalaya itinerary found online or in travel guides. Neither will the locals persuade you to give this hidden gem a visit.

But find it, you must!

This Bamboo Skywalk is located in beautiful Meghalayan village called Nohwet, at a distance of about 80 kilometres from Meghalaya’s capital city-Shillong. Sadly, this village is often skipped by tourists who prefer the proximate (and more famous) village of Mawlynnong (Too mainstream, I tell you!).

Each year, two brothers build a bamboo skywalk/view point, more than five stories above the ground, with their bare hands.  For a nominal fee of 20 INR you can, from atop this skywalk, witness the true consequences of the world’s most profound monsoon (this is the wettest region in the world!)- a 180 degree view of numerous waterfalls, more than you can bother to count,  and the mirror-like the flooded plains of Bangladesh.

Want to see more of Meghalaya? Click here and here to access more images from this beautiful state.

SR Travel Tip: If you ever get a chance to visit the godly Indian state of Meghalaya, keep a day exclusively for Nongriat Village– home to the double decker living root bridge of Meghalaya! Click on the hyperlinks to access more amazing content from us.


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Experiencing India: Sounds and Sights from an Indian Train Journey

It’s surprising how train journeys closely mimic the cycle of life. We meet people, make friends, only to let them go and find new ones- thereby knitting an endless chain of emotions- only to be felt but never to be broken. But again, what is life, but a collection of such journeys.

The following passage is an ‘as-it-happened’ description of a journey with the Indian Railways (the 12.30 Passenger train from Madurai to Rameshwaram, both of which lie in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu). Try not to find for a story in here, rather, seek to experience the billion personalities that make India Incredible. Here it goes.

Chug, Chug, Chug! The 12:30 passenger train from Madurai has just started to sing its rhythmic song, a melody it will sing for the next few hours till it reaches a mystical island called Rameshwaram. It is an overcast day of November 2015, the rain clouds looming over the horizon as I attempt to traverse, and hopefully document, the lush green landscape of Tamil Nadu, India.

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Tamil Nadu country side with the looming rain clouds

I yearn for the rain, as I am aware of the power of the raindrops to elate even the most dolorous environs.

As I try to get comfortable in my cozy window side seat, I am greeted by a distinct sound. ‘Wooooooo…’– a loud cheer, emanating from the far corner of my train bogie, surprises all the five occupants of the compartment I am in. The train had just passed over a small river causing a group of seven children, sitting at a corner of the bogie along with their parents, to let out a loud “Woooooo..” sound in a seemingly pre-planned unison. From that moment onward, the children failed to hide their excitement towards any river, tunnel, or even an old bridge that our passenger train crossed.
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My Sojourn in Kolukkumalai (Part 2) – The Tea Factory, The Workers And Some Conversations

If you missed Part 1, read here – My Sojourn in Kolukkumalai (Part 1) – An Early Appointment With The Sun and Suicide Points

Alam (our driver) was telling us about his daily life before we stopped at the suicide point. He was used to making three, sometimes four round trips to the Kolukkumalai factory. That is six to eight hours of driving on the rocky terrain at a tardy speed of 5-10 kmph with frequent stops to let other cars pass and to click pictures. He was from a village in Tamil Nadu from where he and his parents would come to work in the tea estates in Kerala every day. Sometimes they took thirty minutes to walk from their village, small village problems he said, not like the cities with roads and highways. I thought about myself, spending an hour stuck in bumper to bumper traffic to reach the glass windows, the claustrophobic steel of my office. Well, this did look like a tiny village problem.

This pretty meandering path running between the plantations is the rocky road we traversed at a speed of 5-10 kmph

This pretty meandering path running between the plantations is the rocky road we traversed at a speed of 5-10 kmph

Now that the day was ripe, more jeeps had joined us on the rickety road. Alam turned up the sound system and then we realized how very special our jeep was in comparison to the others. He was a fan of Pop music and was humming to Justin Bieber’s hit single ‘Baby Baby Baby ooooh’. Akon, however was his favorite star. Conversation was stemmed because of the music so we lifted the flaps which acted as doors of the jeep to let in the sunshine and the view. Everything was surreal, the rocks, the endless cover of green symmetry. There were the dreamy, so-clean-it-could-hurt-your-eyes-if-you-stare-for-too-long jade inhabitants of the plantation our aim was to explore today, lined up all about us in a surreal symmetrical fashion. The tea gardens were a reminder of order, that was absent in my daily, chaotic existence of caffeine fuelled writing and sleep held ransom by internet.

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SlowRover Snapshots #12

Breaking the Hula-Hoop World record

Breaking the Hula-Hoop World record

Title: Breaking the Hula-Hoop Record
Location: Pokhara, Nepal, Asia

Backpacking in Nepal is a serendipity in itself. I met this little guy during a backpacking expedition in Pokhara, Nepal. Busy playing with his hula hoop outside his father’s shop, he noticed me after quite some time. “Do you know what I am doing bhaiya (brother)?– I am trying to break the hula-hoop world record!”

I don’t know whether he succeeded in his mission or not, but I hope he never gave up trying.

SR Travel Tip: If you’re ever on a backpacking holiday in Nepal, SlowRover advises you to cover the scenic Annapurna Circuit.

-Vibhav

Want to know more about Pokhara, Nepal?
Feel free to post questions/suggestions for the author in the comments below.


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SlowRover Snapshots #6

 Playing On

Playing On

Title: Playing On
Location: Mcleod Ganj, India

While backpacking in the Bhagsunag area of Mcleod Ganj, India, this stringed-instrument (Sarangi) player caught my eye. Dressed in a traditional Rajasthani attire, he played the tunes of god, while I sat there listening with rapt attention.

SR Travel Tip: While at Mcleod Ganj, it is a hara-kiri if you do not visit the famous Tibetan Monastary. It is the home of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
-Vibhav

Want to know more about Mcleod Ganj, India?
Feel free to post questions/suggestions for the author in the comments below.


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SlowRover Snapshots #1

By The Phewa Lake

By The Phewa Lake

Title: By the Phewa Lake
Location: Pokhara, Nepal

Clicked on a beautiful overcast evening while cycling around the beautiful Phewa Lake of Pokhara, Nepal.

SR Travel Tip: Two things are a must while you’re at Pokhara– An early morning ride to the Sarangkot , and Cycling around the periphery of the Phewa Lake. Absolute Bliss!

-Vibhav 

Tripoto


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Introducing: SlowRover Snapshots

Starting tomorrow, 10th of August, SlowRover will publish a series of awesome one-off photographs from our travels around the world. These snapshots will be accompanied by a fact sheet revealing interesting trivia about the respective shots!

So watch out for the SR Snapshots starting tomorrow!

Don’t forget to share, like, and comment on SlowRover!

Keep Roving!

The Ross Island- Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces

Ross Island is a deserted island that is a part of the Andaman archipelago in India. Once the seat of the royal Britishers, it now lies in utter ruins. A shadow of its earlier self.

Despite this, Ross Island has a charm of its own.

This post covers the macabre beauty of the  Ross Island.

Welcome to Ross Island

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This sight greets you at Ross Island

Sights like these are abundant:

IMG_4069Nature, the Ultimate Conqueror

Ross SIlandA little perspective

Nature has engulfed everything here, EVERYTHING:

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IMG_4166Only the memory remains!

But there’s more to see here:

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Some views are more beautiful than others:

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Whoaaa!

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An old swimming pool!

IMG_4215An ancient tree at Ross Island

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The Presbyterian Church

IMG_4234-001The Ross Island Cemetery

IMG_4243Yes, this place has a beautiful pond!

Wildlife’s abundant too :

IMG_4196Deers roam freely here

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Liked the images? Check out our other post on Andamans.
Click here to read more about the history of Ross Islands.

-Vibhav Bisht


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

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Pari Tibba- The Witch’s Hill

Pari Tibba or the Witch’s Hill, is my favourite part of Mussorie, India. Away from the hustle bustle of the Queen of Hills, Pari Tibba is a haven for all those who are looking for complete solitude (and also a chance to witness the best of Mussorie Ridge). I was first introduced to this place by Ruskin Bond, who has mentioned this magical land in many of his stories.

Hence, I decided to explore it. In this article, I’ll tell you how to trek to Pari Tibba.

Actually, it is more of a stroll rather than a trek, for this region can be covered within a few hours on foot. And once you conquer the top of the hill, the sight is truly spectacular.

Reaching There :

The trek to Pari Tibba technically starts from the famous Woodstock School at the eastern end of Mussorie. Mussorie lies at approximately 286 kms from New Delhi . It is a 5-6 hour drive on a route that passes through the following cities:

Delhi -> Ghaziabad -> Modinagar -> Muzzafarnagar -> Saharanpur -> Roorkee -> Dehradun -> Mussorie
Total Distance -286 kms

After having a light breakfast (Try ‘Lovely Omelette’ at the eastern end of the Mall) head towards the Woodstock School. You’ll pass through the famous Landour Bazaar (Old Mussorie) which is quite an experience in its own way .

An old Bike Repair shop at Landour Bazaar

Woodstock lies at a distance of 3 km from here. The Pari Tibba trail starts from here.

THE TREK :

As mentioned above, it is a simple enough trek which can be completed in a few hours. From the main gate of the Woodstock School, take the side road which descends towards the hostel building of Woodstock.

The gentle trail near Woodstock
A cemented trail emanates from the back of this hostel. Follow this trail which will lead you towards Dhobi Ghat Village in a few minutes. A quick tip: Stay away from the dogs of this village!

Moving on, from here it is a gentle ascent for around two kilometres. The track bifurcates after a while and you need to take the path going right. En route, you might also notice the ruins of old British houses which were abandoned by their owners due to constant lightning hits(Hence the name– Witch’s Hill). A steep ascent during the last stretch of the trail leads you directly to the top a small but beautiful hill.

Welcome to Pari Tibba!

A small temple near a clearing let’s you know that you’ve arrived.

Relaxing at Pari Tibba

Pari Tibba is a great picnic spot. It has some of the most deliciously breathtaking views of the Himalayas.

Just Perfect!

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After spending a considerable amount of time extolling the beauty of this wonder, you can descend down the same path and retrace your steps till Woodstock.

If time permits, you have the option to cover the Lal Tibba region of Mussorie. Or maybe someplace else.

You’re never short of options at Mussorie.

-Vibhav Bisht

Tripoto


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

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5 Ways To Respect Others When You Go Abroad

Guest writer Amile Jessica of the international travel super-group ‘Unexpected Wanderlust‘ writes about ‘how’ and ‘why’ you should respect the locals while travelling globally!


From a young age, I dreamed of a life of international travel. In many ways, travel was my first love. It prompted me to quickly consume as much information as I possibly could about the world around me, to constantly change for the better so I could become smarter, stronger, and more capable to do what? Travel of course. It got to a point where I had to ask myself, why do I even care, what is it that I like so much about this?  Which lead me to my next love: a love of life, of other people, and of the human experience.

But this love is much more complicated. When you feel connected to the human race, you also feel responsible for the incredible amount of pain so many individuals face at the hands of greed, ignorance, and recalcitrance. You feel aware of your own privileges to do something about this, and don’t want to squander your possession of a voice, which has power to advocate and fight for others so that they can be heard too.

People are so wonderful and amazing!!! (of course I asked these women if they would be comfortable with their photo online before taking the shot-- they were very excited about it)

People are so wonderful and amazing!!! (of course I asked these women if they would be comfortable with their photo online before taking the shot– they were very excited about it)

Then traveling can feel selfish, and even downright harmful. To be an honest ethical individual I must then ask myself hard questions about my life long passion and path: Is this worth my time, efforts, money, health, and energy? Does this genuinely help make the world a better place? Does it make me a better person?

If you are one affected by wanderlust then you have surely seen quotations which praise travel for it’s ability to expand personal horizons and squash prejudices in their tracks. But is a change of scenery enough to make us ethical people? Enough to make us forget the harmful stereotypes and one-sided perspectives that have been born and bred in us from day 1?

Travel can certainly open the door to deeper feelings of empathy and global human connectedness, but as we open this door we often hit many innocent people along the way. Travel alone does not and cannot act as an antidote to oppressive behavior. However, it can act as a powerful catalyst for diplomacy and change when paired with mindfulness, self-reflexivity, and intentions deeply based in ethics, which embrace humanism and social justice.

Below are 5 ways that all those who are interested in travel can better respect those peoples which we go to such great lengths to admire.

Bridge the Language Barrier with Patience and Respect

When traveling abroad it can be easy to become frustrated by language barriers. You’re tired, in a rush, and feel like you are going in circles so you snap at the innocent citizen who you’re asking for help. Remember that you chose to come to a country where people speak a language different from your own. Come into the experience expecting frustration and remind yourself to be present whenever you feel impatient. Laugh at yourself and the situation. Keep a language guide with you, and study some phrases before hand.  If you’re in the country for an extended period, try picking up a new language! Always remember: just because a person does not speak your native language does not mean that they are stupid.

Just because I hit travel rock bottom, does not give me an excuse to bring other people down with me.

Just because I hit travel rock bottom, does not give me an excuse to bring other people down with me.

Think Twice Before Using Your Camera

We get it. Nonwestern clothing looks really cool. But that does not mean that it’s okay to get your camera all up in the face of a random pedestrian, street hawker, or cute little kid. When in doubt ask yourself how it would make you feel and then respectfully ask permission.

Poverty is Not Your Eye-Sore or Your Fantasy

It’s difficult to not have high hopes and expectations of a place before you go. Movies and other types of media influence our perceptions of places we could only imagine before, and now will actually see. But places don’t exist for spectators and movies will almost always tell an embellished story. Many travelers, when faced with poverty that they were not expecting to see, cringe internally and come away from the experience with criticisms of a country like “the people smell” or “the city is dirty.” These criticisms play into negative stereotypes that do not take into account a history of oppression, whether it be colonial or corporate.

The inverse can also be true. We often use traveling as a way to experience something different. But when a country is not the type of different we expected it to be we feel like we’re not getting our money’s worth. This happened to me when I was traveling through Morocco. A native Moroccan that I was staying with told me he would take me to the best kebab place. Of course, I got my hopes up that I’d soon be eating kebab in some seedy back corner cafe surrounded by locals, but instead he ended taking me to a restaurant in a packed shopping mall. Internally I threw a little temper tantrum, I was in Morocco for a limited time and I wanted to go to a real Moroccan place. But I was wrong. I was in a real Moroccan place and I was surrounded by locals, even if it wasn’t the real Morocco that I expected to see.

This popular ice skating rink in a shopping mall in Rabat is a part of "Moroccan life," as are old medinas.

This popular ice skating rink in a shopping mall in Rabat is a part of “Moroccan life,” as are old medinas.

Make Personal Efforts in the Cultural Exchange Process

While learning about new cultures is not everyone’s first priority when traveling abroad, many of us do want to leave the experience with a deepened cultural perspective. That being said, while many native citizens are excited and more than willing to educate foreigners about their customs and history, it is not their sole responsibility to do so. Reading a few pieces of literature from popular native writers as well as some books about the local religion, food, history, and so on can truly deepen a travel experience and give you a great starting point with which to engage the locals you meet along the way. Making an effort to learn on your own shows others that you desire to move beyond shallow tourism and toward an authentic cultural exchange.

On a trek through the Peruvian Andes, this guide and I really bonded over the fact that I had learned about the native Incan language Quechua through reading literature from the popular Peruvian author Jose Maria Arguedas.

On a trek through the Peruvian Andes, this guide and I really bonded over the fact that I had learned about the native Incan language Quechua through reading literature from the popular Peruvian author Jose Maria Arguedas.

Educate Yourself on the Impacts of Voluntourism

So now that you’ve read this article and are fully committed to becoming a more ethical traveler you might as well go all in and sign up for some voluntourism right? Think again. Voluntourism is often criticized for creating more problems then it solves, which makes sense considering the issues this world faces are much more complex then a two week or a summer stay can accomplish. Even though these travelers might mean well, voluntourism contributes to damaging white savior mentalities which implicitly state that poverty is a spectacle which outsiders are entitled to enter into at any time, and that the only thing stopping issues from being fixed is a lack of local leadership.

If you would like to productively make use of your time in another country, embrace your outsider status and teach English (or another language which might be in high demand). Consider this teaching a man to fish; teaching English allows others access to a useful skill (in today’s marketplace), which will help aid them in benefiting their own communities long after you’re gone.

What are some ways that you respect other cultures when you travel? 

-Amile


© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Amile Jessica

The Joy of Solo Travel!

The spirit of travel cannot be isolated from human beings. We’ve been hunter-gatherers ever since the dawn of our civilization. But alas, our eagerness to explore new territories, to witness unforeseen sights, and to learn about new cultures has fizzled out overtime.
Our society has (d)evolved into a crowd of weekend cavalcades who rarely explore beyond the set boundaries.

THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO DISMANTLE THIS ATTITUDE.

This is my attempt to remind you of an old (yet new) way to see the world—– Solo Travel.
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Solo Travel is the best way to travel. The last decade has seen a substantial increase in the number of travellers willing to explore the world sans companions. But still, there’s a long way to go.

Here is my list of reasons for “Why you should travel alone” :

1. IT’S THE BEST WAY TO KNOW THYSELF:

What kind of a person are you? How do you react to challenging situations? How well do you adapt to your ever altering surroundings?

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Probably the best way to discover the answer to these questions is to take a Solo backpacking trip across Andaman.

2. BE YOUR OWN GOD:

Arguably, the most cherished advantage of travelling alone is the spirit of freedom that comes with it. You are no longer depend on your companion’s schedule to visit someplace magical. Also, no one is there to influence your plans.
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Your Time, Your Rules, Your World!

3. LEARN ABOUT THE DIFFERENT CULTURES OF THE WORLD:

Another important merit of going solo. It provides an exclusive opportunity to observe and appreciate the differences between various cultures of the World.
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4. THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SPOIL YOUR PLANS IS YOU!

The entire journey’s success depends on your mood. You have the sole power to turn your travels into an experience of a lifetime. No one can take that away from you. Only you can wreck the caravan of experiences!

5. IT’S THE BEST WAY TO HEAR UNKNOWN STORIES ABOUT PLACES:

Every place has a story to tell. All you need to do is discover it!
During my travels, I’ve discovered a plethora of anecdotes, about places and people, that are worth knowing about.

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Discover the magical world of folklore by travelling solo!

6. YOU’D MEET AMAZING AND LIKE MINDED PEOPLE:

You’d get a chance to meet and interact with people who share your wanderlust. The problem with travelling in groups is that such interactions are nearly impossible.
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Solo-travelling is the Answer!

7. IT’S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO GAIN NEW PERSPECTIVES:

The NEWS stories are often one sided. You must interact with the locals to know their side of the coin. You’ll gain unique perspectives about lives of the people only once they open up with you.

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8. YOU GET THE BEST IDEAS WHILE TRAVELLING ALONE:

Travelling alone has a very important perk- it connects you with your own self. It enables a multi-dimensional thought process, and thus, allows you to make better decisions. Consequently, it is quite possible to get a life changing idea while travelling alone!
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Go out there and CHANGE the World!

-Vibhav Bisht


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow SlowRover on Twitter!

© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Vibhav Bisht.