Another year has passed and 2012 left me with memories that I will surely never forget. Long term travelling seems to be now my life as I immensely enjoy it and could not think of doing anything else (as of the time being). And just like any other blogs in the blogosphere, I’d like to give you a summary of where 2012 has taken me.
I welcomed 2012 in Siem Reap and partied with the locals and foreign tourists alike in pubstreet. Spent my days building my new sites, biking around the town and exploring the outskirts of this quaint little tourist town.
Spent a month in Sihanoukville lounging around the beach and eating loads of seafood. In case you visit Sihanoukville, make sure to try the grilled squids.
Went to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia to get the Indian Visa. If you want to read my post about the process, you can read it here – How to Get an Indian Visa in Phnom Penh. I also spent a month in this city to practice some basic photography skills before heading on to India.
Banana Roti: My fave desert. I even named my food blog after this simple yet tasty snack.
Aaah, Bangkok, my favorite city. I wouldn’t miss out on dropping by even for a few days before flying to Calcutta. The food is so great, I kept on coming back to this city just to eat, eat and eat. And drink milk tea!!!
Calcutta/Kolkata welcomed me and my friend to Bangkok. A bit dirty? Yes! A bit dodgy? Some places! But definitely beautiful! I love seeing places that seems to exist between the old colonial times and the modern times.
Jaldapara National Park
Jaldapara National Park in West Bengal was my first time in a safari and the first time I saw rhinos, elephants and other animals in the wild. I could not believe that I was able to go to a safari. It was definitely a dream come true for me.
I often hear about Darjeeling from fellow travelers and I’ve always imagined what this place looks like and finally got the chance to visit this place. Darjeeling reminds me a lot of Baguio which is also the summer retreat of locals (mostly from West Bengal area).
The tours to Tsomgo Lake are being arranged in Gangtok where you could share a vehicle to other tourists to make it less expensive for you to go there. That’s the same thing that we did to save some money. Gangtok is a favourite jump off point of tourists who wants to explore Sikkim.
After exploring Gangtok and Tsomgo lake, we went to Pelling to see what this town has to offer. The great view of Mt. Kanchenjunga is already a great reason to go this small town. We also made some local friends including a Nepali/Tibetan artists who makes gorgeous Buddhist Thangka.
From Sikkim, we went down again back to Siliguri to catch a train to Gaya (en route to Bodhgaya). We had a chance to stay at the Tibetan Monastery for a few days and went to the place where Buddha attained enlightenment. this is such a surreal and beautiful place.
I’ve been to Varanasi before and me and my friend went back to this holy city. I made a promise to Ganga that I will visit her again once I get the chance to go back to India. Words are not enough to describe how special Varanasi is to me.
It was so hot in Varanasi and getting hotter as days go by that we’ve decided to retreat to the towns in the Himalayan area. Our first stop was Shimla where we had a chance to chat with various friendly locals about their way of life.
So glad we came across this small friendly and very picturesque town of Sarahan. Most tourists go here and spend a few hours or a day just to look and stare at the gorgeous Bhimakali Temple and we ended up staying for two weeks going to various farms having coffee while looking at the snow capped mountains and exchanging stories with some local friends.
One of the stops that we made to process the Inner Line Permit so we could go further in Lahaul and Spiti Valley.
Kalpa is one of those small towns where you plan to stay for a day and ended up staying longer just to have coffee, relax, walk around and enjoy the serenity and beauty of the surrounding nature.
One of the places that have existed for a long time and withstood the test of the harsh environment of Tabo and one of the most surreal landscape that I have seen in my life.
Kaza is one of the “quick stop” places to change bus en route to Kibber or Manali. We opted to stay for a few days to get to know this town a little better.
Hiking without guides, meeting new friends in this cold mountain town and facing my fear of heights were the highlights of our trip in Kibber. Oh, did I mention that I also saw three foxes in the wild (two live ones and one that’s sadly dead already).
Ki Gompa is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life and one of the most challenging places to go to if you take a hike from Kibber. But if you want to easily go here, you could just take a bus from Kaza.
Kaza to Manali: En Route to Leh
This trip would probably be one of the most scenic drives I’ve taken in my life. The landscape was so surreal, challenging and almost unreal.
Another favorite place of mine in India, laidback, relaxing, beautiful, and easy to navigate. Leh is also a great jump off point to some more beautiful places in this area.
We spent only a night in this place together with some Indian travelers we met at the bus station in Leh. This tour can be booked through a travel agency although some travelers said that they were able to DIY this trip.
A few hours drive from Leh, Alchi is a town famous for a temple that houses very old Buddhist painting. Definitely worth the trip even if we walked, 8 kilometers the following morning on our way back to the highway to hitchhike a truck that took us to Lamayuru.
Another gorgeous town, we would have stayed better if there was wifi though so we could work while we relax on this beautiful small town.
Srinagar, one of those places that most people don’t often go to due to the unpredictable riot that erupts every now and then in this city. It was a long ride from where we came from (Lamayuru via Kargil) but definitely worth the trip. We weren’t able to explore that much though coz I was sick the whole time I was in Srinagar. We just spent time hanging around Dal Lake.
Before heading on to Amritsar, we spent a couple of weeks in Dharamsala and Mcleod Ganj relaxing and eating a lot of chicken stew! It was a break from all the running around visiting places and taking pics and had decided to not do it during this “short break” and just relax and pretended to live like locals in Dharamsala.
One of the main reasons why people go to Amritsar is to visit the Golden Temple. Definitely a must visit in India.
Located at the India-Pakistan Border, is a daily marching routine between the Indian and Pakistan soldiers that has attracted thousands of local an foreign tourists alike.
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur
My second safari experience was in Bharatpur where we went to Keoladeo National Park to see hundreds of migratory birds, and some large mammals. We also saw a jackal inside the park.
The pink city of Jaipur was a welcomed retreat after being in small towns for the longest time in India. This city is also a great jump off point place to nearby towns and villages.
Amber Fort – Amer
Amer is a nice little town 15 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Jaipur. Most tourists go there to see the nicely maintained Amber Fort.
Commonly known as the blue city, Jodhpur was surprisingly a nice and relaxing place to visit (despite of the hustle and bustle of the small market near the clocktower). Mehrangarh Fort is also a must visit place in the entire Rajasthan.
One of the holiest places in India and one of the places that I hate and love at the same time. If you visit Pushkar, make sure to eat at Little Tibet, they make awesome momos (Tibetan Dumplings)!!!
One of the most memorable part of my Indian trip was our five-day desert safari. A day trip though is enough to get a glimpse of Thar Desert but we opted for a five day tour instead so we could see the different small villages near Jaisalmer.
Udaipur is a nice clean city (compare to to her Indian cities that we’ve been to) that is more beautiful at night than during the day (especially near the lake). The Lake Palace is so stunning that I just spent some time staring at it from the rooftop of our hostel.
Mahaballipuram or Mamalapuram is a world heritage site and a quaint little seaside town a couple of hours away from Chennai. Aside from the nice beach (be aware of the strong current though), there are also nice parks that have many very old sculptures.
After the trip to Mahaballipuram, we went back to Chennai to catch our connecting flight to Bangkok and met up with some of our friends before proceeding to Sukothai and Chiang Mai.
Thank you 2012 for these great adventures!!!