Did you know that Singapore is ranked the greenest city in Asia?
This small city-country is truly a Garden City and is slowing inching towards being a City in a Garden. With careful planning, Singapore has been able to increase its green cover to 46.5%. The lush green cover and warm tropical climate make Singapore a haven for rich biodiversity despite the small land mass.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park is one of the several parks in Singapore and a popular spot for nature lovers and exercise enthusiasts. The TreeTop Walk (TTW) shown in the above photo is the highlight of several long hiking routes in this park which brings us through different stages of mature secondary forest. It also plays an important role in forest canopy research.
No, this is not a random wallpaper we downloaded from the internet. Our host in Sofia (София, in Cyrillic alphabet), capital of Bulgaria was very kind to take us to the mountain ranges called Vitosha on the outskirts of the city.
We stopped in a village called Kladnitsa and hiked all the way to a restaurant/hotel called Selimitsa hut and had delicious breakfast. It was deep fried bread with eggs and flour with some piping hot herb tea from the mountains.
The Vitosha mountain has the oldest Nature Park on the Balkan peninsula. It offers breathtaking sceneries, crystal clear air, unique culture sites and attractive eco trails to explore.
It is truly said that once in your life you need a lawyer, a doctor, a policeman or a priest but everyday, three times a day, you need a farmer.
VJ was speeding up, trying to reach home to catch some guests. We were scurrying through the countryside wishing we had more time to soak up the beauty of nature. We came to a stretch of road on either sides of which were lush green farms. We just couldn’t resist anymore! All of us started pleading VJ to stop and he eventually gave up. We finally got out of the car and began to walk into the green paddy fields. I remembered reading somewhere that green, which is nature’s colour, is restful, soothing, cheerful, and health-giving. And a simple walk in and around the farm made us realize the true meaning of it.
I noticed some women working in the field, picking the paddy stalks and giggling to themselves looking at us city-dwellers make such a big deal of their daily work place! The chatter-box that I am, I slowly began talking to one of the women. She was thrilled at this impromptu interview! Being made to work in the fields right from her childhood she has never known any other life. She has married off her daughters to farmers as well and is now actually helping the daughter in her farm.
I was full of admiration for her and all other farmers who are the real heroes in our society. Being a farmer is not an easy task. At the end of the day what is left is a tired and painful body but a high spirit that keeps them going. After all, our food on the table comes from them!
Meet Kanakamma from Noolukunta village near Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh. A cheerful and talkative farmer I met during my visit to VJ’s hometown.
The host with never say die spirit
It was one hell of a journey from Leh to Pangong! We thanked our lucky stars to have made it in one piece! All credit goes to VJ whose confidence made us embark on that epic bike ride from Leh to Pangong. We reached the long, narrow, enchanted lake (Tibetan meaning for Pangong Tso) by early evening. We were totally exhausted, shivering with cold and were badly in need of a place to rest our weary heads. A quick search of the available options made us choose a small dingy home-stay run by a Ladakhi woman right in front of the lake.
She looked old and weary but had a spark of determination in her eyes. It is well-known that only the toughest survive in the harsh & testing climate of Ladakh. She was a living example of this fact. Single-handedly she arranged for our bed and blankets, made piping hot chai and egg maggi which we devoured in no time.
Dinner consisted of freshly made rotis, rice and black dal which we all ate in her tiny kitchen trying to understand her routine from whatever little Hindi she knew. After all the hospitality and warmth all that she charged us was Rs. 200 per person including food! It was impossible not to admire her sweet and simple nature and her never say die attitude.
Meet Sonam from Spangmik village near Pangong Tso who shared her simple abode with us and made our trip more memorable.
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