Looking back at Year 2014
I know it’s so cliche to reflect back on the year that was, but it’s something we all think is important to do. It is that time again to look back and see how enriching our walk has been. These walks, these journeys opened a new horizon in front of me and helped me see the world with diverse perceptions.
As I always say, I count my memories, not places and I am happy that my travel memories are far more and better than the destinations.
When do you say you travelled less?
Looking at your no. of destinations or looking at your no. of days spent in traveling? I think this year I travelled to less places, but for longer period. Year 2014 took me to 7 countries, some new, some revisited.
The first good thing which happened to me in the beginning of the year was when Fox Traveler approached me. I was honored and felt elated. I am associated with them and write travel stories for them.
I have done so many adventure sports in my life and nothing happened and then one fine day I broke my right wrist just like that on a short trek! Our wrist joint is strange, made of multiple small bones and cartilages. The wound is healed but I still have to wear my wrist support and the movement is restricted. I have taken it positively and call it a fashion statement for me. 😀
This injury also restricted me from traveling to too many places. I had to say NO to several opportunities.
The first place I visited after the injury was Velaas. I was getting restless and wanted to experience something different. I went to see the breeding and conservation of Olive Ridley Turtles. I sat with the organizers and learnt all about it. I intend to volunteer with them someday. That’s a baby turtle going to the sea. 🙂
An invite came from Tourism Board of Spain and I couldn’t say no to the extremely beautiful and intriguing Andalucía. I feel this was the best of Spain I saw till date. Believe me, just the Andalucía region requires at least one month to know it. The more, the merrier.
Be it Bandits Museum, Automobile Museum or the absolutely free Tapas, whether it is Donkey Taxi, an evening by Gold Tower or ever amusing Plaza de España … there is so much still to write about Andalucía that I wonder where to start from. Till then you can enjoy this video that I made on Andalucía, to get a glimpse of the places I haven’t yet written about.
I felt sad for not staying back in Andalucia to explore it further because, soon after, a country of conflicts and controversies was awaiting me. 🙂 Yes, Israel! I was invited by Tourism board of Israel. I was one of the privileged ones. It was their first FAM trip after ages and I took no time in saying a YES. Here was a country which people generally do not want to visit and I so much wanted to know WHY? It was an eye opener for all of us. Unlike the common belief, the country is visited by many nationals and the people are very much like us.
I requested them to extend my return tickets by a few days. I explored Israel a bit more and visited another place which is so entangled in war with them. Palestine was on my radar! It is very near to Jerusalem and I am glad that I could visit it. Visited Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born.
There are places where you want to go but for some reason dread to do that. For me, it was Palestine. Contrary to my apprehension, I did not develop cold feet. I roamed around on the streets, had loads of fun with school going kids and I also shot a small video with them. The people of Palestine are as friendly as people from any other place. Above is a typical street in Palestine.
It is just that immediately after my return to India, the war broke out at Gaza Strip between Israel & Palestine.
When I was in Israel, I received a message on Whatsapp inviting me to Abu Dhabi. So Abu Dhabi was my next stop. My first visit to this country and it impressed me a lot. Quite similar to Dubai, yet so different.
One thing is clear… the people of Abu Dhabi believe in quality, not quantity. They have several interesting buildings to their credit. The world class Falcon Hospital, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace, Ferrari World are few names which you can not avoid to miss.
From Abu Dhabi it was Al Ain, the oasis town which literally means “The Spring”. The picturesque Al Jahili Fort is one of the UAE’s most historic buildings and was erected to defend the city and protect precious oasis of palm groves. An Al Ain landmark, the fort has been carefully restored and now houses a permanent exhibition of the work of British adventurer Sir Wilfred Thesiger.
In between these trips, I was approached by YAHOO. They wanted to showcase me as a Fab & Fabulous Traveler and wanted to make an exclusive video on me. Thus yours truly is the only Travel Blogger from India to have this honor! Isn’t it a moment of pride for all of us?
I was also mentioned, quoted, interviewed in other media as well. Here is one such link for you.
An invite from Tourism Authority of Thailand came to be a part of International Mega Convention. I had already declined a couple of invites from them earlier so couldn’t say no this time. The theme was Thailand Best Friends Forever. It was a weeklong trip with some sightseeing before the convention. We visited Kanchanaburi, Hua Hin besides Bangkok. The highlight for me was to see & walk on the Bridge on the river Kwai.
Jaisalmer happened after that and I got to live life of a royal in Suryagarh. Lavish breakfast at sunrise, community dinners with folk music, camel rides, unheard floods in Rajasthan, tracing the silk route and haunted village were accompanied with chudail trail at midnight, oasis sunsets, visits to temples and forts and much more.
Also, this was the last invite that I accepted for the year. Then came a series of personal trips starting with Bangalore.
A visit to Channapatna, the place for wooden toys, was long overdue and I made it a point to visit it this time.
I had to attend to some important personal work urgently and that took me to Kolkata, my first visit there. Two half days in Kolkata before & after the trip were definitely not enough but it gave me an idea of the vibrant city.
From October end till December beginning was spent in Philippines, the country of colorful Jeepneys. 🙂
My second such long visit to this beautiful country. Visa was easy since I already had year long Schengen visa. I spent most of my time in exploring the unexplored.
While in Philippines, I was toying with the idea of visiting a neighboring country. Taiwan, it had to be. And what pleasant surprises it had for me! I am extremely happy that I made that decision. I thought 2-3 days would be enough for Taipei and I can see other cities as well but Taipei itself took seven days, so I could visit only one more city in Taiwan… that was Taichung.
Within 3 days of my return from Taiwan I visited Delhi in December, a city where I grew up. Extremely tight schedule but I managed to meet a few friends over the weekend.
Overall, it was an year of ups & downs.
Now you decide for me, how was the year 2014 for me? 🙂
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