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We are backpacking! Let us travel together!

OK! Here’s a shocker for all of you!

We are not going to work from tomorrow! We do not know where our next meal is going to come from for the next few months! 🙂

Yeah! We have now taken sabbatical from our respective jobs for a good six months! We are about to leave our home to embark upon a backpacking trip across the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South East Asia.

Want to know how we came up with this crazy and awesome idea?? Read on.

In the summer of 2013, to make our first anniversary more memorable, we embarked upon a road trip to the magical land of Ladakh. Little did we know that it would change our lives forever!

Me and VJ were having breakfast at this place called ‘Wonderland Restaurant and Coffee House’ on Changspa road in Leh. We had just bid adieu to one of our new-found friends from Switzerland whom we had met during our journey from Manali to Leh. That was one amazing journey which we can never forget. We met so many travellers from far and wide who had left the comfort of their homes to travel the world!

Wonderland

Being passionate about travel, we had this thought lingering in our minds, which finally came out while we were chilling at the coffee-house. I voiced my thoughts out to him asking if we can take a break from our routine lives and go travelling for few months. My happiness knew no bounds when he said that he too feels like doing something similar!
There! That was when the seed of long-term travel was sown in our minds! After all, magic had to happen in Wonderland Restaurant 🙂

We pursued this thought consistently for almost nine months. Saving up all the money we could, fulfilling our family commitments, deciding on the places that we could travel to, planning the exit from our respective jobs and motivating each other through out!

So, finally, we have now taken sabbatical from our respective jobs for a good six months! We are about to leave our home to embark upon a backpacking trip across the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South East Asia.

Backpackers

  • We want to experience long-term travel as a way of life for at least a few months.
  • We value experiences over sights—participating in ordinary daily activities and connecting with a place through its people, food and culture, delving deeper into one destination rather than rushing through many.
  • We want to learn to live with less and out of a backpack.
  • We want to come out of our comfort zone and enjoy the moment.
  • We believe that travel is something that makes one not only a better human being, but a way cooler one too 🙂

We know for many this post may come as a shocker! You are friends with two crazy people you see 😉

So, friends, wish us good luck with our voyage as we go away from shor!

Any motivation, tips and feedback are most welcome! We are waiting to hear from you!

Gayathri and Vijay.

[100 Strangers Project] Stranger #9

Stranger #9

The driver who was always high!

The epic journey from Manali to Leh needs no introduction! Words fall short to explain the magic of this route.

Twenty of us (four Indians and rest foreigners) started from Manali early in the morning in a Tempo Traveler. Our driver seemed to be an enthusiastic guy, at least initially. It was only after we crossed Rohtang that we realized the danger of that enthusiasm! He would disappear at most of the pit-stops along the way, only to reappear after a while looking more happy and energetic! We kept wondering what he was up to all the time!

This journey is not the most comfortable drive in the world – spectacular, yes, comfortable, no way. This is not helped by the fact that some of the roads have drops to the side of a good few hundred metres. And yes, you can find those unlucky crashed vehicles covered with rust down the slope somewhere. To top all of this we had a rash driver who scared the hell out of us!

I somehow managed to make friends with him and tried chatting with him through the whole journey, nudging him to drive more carefully and preventing him from falling asleep!

I clearly remember a moment when his drooping eyelids closed while we were at a dangerous curve on the road! I was lucky enough to wake him up at the nick of the moment.

During our casual talks on the road I learnt that he was originally from Mandi village in Himachal. He had a loving family back at home and was making a living out of driving between Manali and Leh in summers, only to be jobless for the rest of the year. He would drive on these dangerous roads every day for four months!

At one of the pit-stops he opened up and shared with us the reason which kept him going – ‘smoking up’. He needed the constant stimulation to be on the road, enduring the treacherous journey-day after day!

Our crazy driver - Manohar!
Our crazy driver – Manohar!

Meet Manohar from Mandi, Himachal, our crazy driver during the epic trip.

Find more posts on 100 strangers project here.

[100 Strangers Project] Strangers #6, #7 and #8

Strangers #6 & #7

The pretty damsels by the lake

After the mind-blowing bike ride from Leh to Pangong we checked into a cozy homestay by the lake, refreshed ourselves and went for a stroll along the lake. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in India. I’ve never seen a more peaceful and heavenly lake!
I left VJ with some of our new found friends and started walking by the lake all by myself, enjoying the peace and solitude. I was suddenly brought back from the trance by a pleasant voice asking me if I could take a picture of her by the lake. The photographer in me woke up with a startle! And for the next couple of minutes I took some of her portrait shots with the beautiful backdrop!
We chatted for a while, most of the time talking about the pristine beauty of the place! I found her to be a cheerful and happy person who wants to live her life to the fullest. A budding fashion designer, she is a free-spirited person.

Mallika from Chandigarh
Mallika from Chandigarh

Meet Mallika from Chandigarh whom I met while walking along Pangong.

The blissful walk along the lake continued after bidding Mallika a goodbye. I saw three kids immersed in a stone skipping game. I was reminded of 3 idiots 😉
Suddenly my attention was caught by a young lady who was sitting by the lake on a rock with a diary in her hand on which she was occasionally writing something. She looked like a poetess from the modern period and had a calm and serene expression on her face. I couldn’t resist talking to her though I didn’t want to disturb her work. She responded with a sweet smile. It turned out that she was indeed writing a poem about the surreal place in front of us! Writing was her hobby and it was mostly for her own self. When I told her about the 100 strangers project she got excited and readily agreed to be one of my strangers!

Saachi from Chandigarh
Saachi from Chandigarh

Meet Saachi Dhillon, a marketer by profession and a budding writer from Chandigarh.

Stranger #8

The lady who made the most delicious thukpa

The last pit-stop for the day arrived and we stumbled out of our cab. It was at an altitude of whopping 4500 metres(~15,280 feet)! We had arrived at Pang, the world’s highest transit camp.
At such an altitude and very low oxygen levels, walking for even a few metres can be a herculean task! Such is altitude sickness!
Needless to say, our bodies were tired and minds numb with mountain sickness but we were also constantly mesmerised by the surreal landscape. Being suckers for a good cup of chai (tea) we decided to enter a small, dingy hotel by the road. It was named after its owner. After having an amazing cup of chai and relaxing on the beds provided we decided to order a thukpa. It’s a Tibetan noodle soup, inspired from China. After about ten minutes, the owner of the hotel herself came out with a bowl of steaming hot thukpa in her hands. And it was one of the most delicious soups we have had till now! The taste still lingers in our mouths 🙂
The lady seemed to be satisfied looking at us enjoying her simple dish. We thanked her immensely for rejuvenating our taste buds!
After a short conversation with her, I realised what a hard-working lady she was! She was originally from a village near Leh called Choglamsar which is around 100 kms from Pang. She travels to Pang during the summers to set up her hotel for the travellers. With an ever-smiling face she serves the tired and wasted travellers! She has a son who studies in Delhi and is proud of him. She says life in the mountains is not easy. Still, people have found a way to live in these harsh surroundings.

Sonam Pangri from Pang
Sonam Pangri from Pang

Meet Sonam Pangri who runs a small and cozy hotel in Pang.

And this is VJ enjoying the thukpa!

VJ enjoying thukpa - definitely not a stranger! ;)
VJ enjoying thukpa – definitely not a stranger! 😉

Find more posts on 100 strangers project here.

15 Inspiring Travel Quotes Through My Lens

Travelling is one of the most affirming things we can do to ourselves. Although I’ve been travelling as much as I could since my college days it’s only been a year or two since I’ve realized that it’s my passion.

Travel makes me happier. It inspires me to be a better person. But what inspires me to travel?

Many a times it’s the great words of world travellers that inspire me to go places. As Kate Douglas Wiggins puts it, “There is a kind of magic about going far away and then coming back all changed.” I’m also lucky to have a life-partner who shares the same interest too! I guess we inspire each other to travel more. 🙂

I’ve always been a sucker for a good quote. Here are some of my favourites about, arguably, my favourite topic – travel.

To depict them I’ve used my photographs from our travels so far.

Let these quotes bring travel inspiration to your life as they do to mine!

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Near Rohtang pass, en route from Manali to Leh

educationGata loops, en route from Manali to Leh

Free heart

Outskirts of Leh

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Murren, Switzerland

184-IMG_2555Taking a stroll in the streets of Leh

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En route to Stok palace, Leh

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One of our favourite places – Mont St. Michel, France.

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Along with our new found friends at Pangong lake, Ladakh

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Kaveri Trail Marathon, Ranganathittu, Mysore.

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Atop Eiffel tower, Paris

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En route to Hemis monastery, Leh

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Annecy, France

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Thiksey monastery, Leh

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Tibetan breakfast, Leh

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World’s second highest motorable pass, Taglang la

Hope you enjoyed the quotes and pictures as much as I enjoyed putting them together.

Feel free to copy the images and use them as you want 🙂

Do you have any favourite travel quotes that you find inspiring? I would love to hear!