Infinity and Beyond!

I had seen infinity pools only in movies and pictures up until I visited the Maldives. I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the infinity pools at one of the worlds best locations ever! What a way to start – in fact it was a fabulous opening to an endless experience of infinity swimming.

The view is picturesque, a postcard panoramic view, of immaculate Beauty. Every single expanse of the beach is an epitome of pristine beauty. I dint expect to see this view, because my imagination or assumption of how the infinity pool would look completely failed me 🙂

I reached in time for the sunset, the fragrance from the lounge nearby was infused in the atmosphere around the pool. Now every time I smell the sweet fragrance of Grapefruit, it reminds me of the view I saw that day.

Studies suggest that the Olfaction – sence of smell, located in the Hippocampus of the brain has strong ties to the area where memory is stored. Odor information is stored in the long-term memory and has strong connections to emotional memory. It’s the same when I smell a particular perfume as well 🙂

The water was warm, calm, soothing and I had the whole pool to myself that day. I saw the sunset, immersed in the warm equatorial waters, the deep blue sky, and the coconut palms reflecting in the pool. I was swimming and admiring the view, I witnessed the transition of the deep blue sky inching towards twilight, the sky a deep orange-red and the big fire-ball was ready for the days spectacular show!

The reminiscence of the Infinity Pool could only improve over time. This pool strategically placed here makes every soul entering the waters smile, takes their imagination to Infinity & Beyond.

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Jiuzhaigou Valley

The picture above does not do any justice, to what you see for real. No camera could capture the exact feel of the place. Jiu Zhai Gou literally means ‘Valley of nine Villages’. These 9 Tibetan villages enclose some of the worlds most scenic landscapes.

Jiu Zhai Gou located in the north of Sichuan province of China, belongs to the Min Mountains. This is geographically located at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, outrageously famous for its multi-level lakes, numerous waterfalls and crystal clear lakes with varying color.

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The famous Mirror Lake

While in China, i dint know about this national park, until about 2 days before I arrived there 🙂 I took a train from Xi’An to Chengdu & that’s when a journalism student said he was travelling all the way from Beijing to Chengdu, and then would further travel to JiuZhaiGou. I wondered what this fantasy place was all about – he showed me an unflattering brochure and said that this is the worst way to advertise the place – I’d have to look it up online & i did! I was flabbergasted when I saw the website of the Jou Zhai Gou national park.

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The crystal clear – 5 Flower lake @ JiuZhaiGou

I took a bus from Chengdu to JiuZhaiGou – the terrain is marvelous. The view from the bus is splendid as you cut through the length and breath of the Min Mountain range and reach the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The small towns along the way have ethnic people serving hot tea and small homemade eateries.

The temperature in JouZhaiGou is extremely low, with a mean temp of -3 degrees C in winter and about 16 degrees C in summer. It could get extremely chilly at night. You have to be at the entry gate to get your ticket to the National Park as soon as 6:45am – the lines are already quite long by then 🙂

I met Makki from Japan for the second time on the trip & she came up to me as asked if i remembered her. We previously met at the Panda Research center and i was glad to see another solo traveller and we took off together to trek the national park. We wore hiking boots and layers and layers of warm clothing 🙂

The lakes were breathtakingly beautiful, the water crystal clear and the waterfalls were splendid. I took a lot of photographs as I dint know what not to click 🙂

The Mirror lake was fascinating as you could see the reflection on the top & the visibility was up to several meters in-depth. The Panda lake was gorgeous with vivid colors, the 5 flowers lake was so transparent – i could see the bottom with logs and all the pebbles on the bed of the lake!

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The waterfall was like a wide curtain of several waterfalls – it’s really like a dream. One has to visit this UNESCO world heritage site. It is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.

I am so glad I visited JiuZhaiGou – Would love to go back again.

Tourists dont know where they have been & Travellers do not know where they are going. 🙂

Tsongmo Lake

While in India, if ever one needs to witness a gorgeous untouched marvel of nature, the place is Sikkim. From the moment you enter Sikkim you will see its a place so different from others. The army administrative folks are organised, your ID and travel documents thoroughly checked, shoes you walk on & the tires of the vehicle are disinfected.

This is a serene place, climate cool and pleasant, I say that because I love it when it’s slightly cold and not too hot. I love places that have a strong Buddhist influence too. People went about their daily routine with a smile, the atmosphere relaxed and calm. The whole area has an aura of positivity.

Tsongmo Lake is one of the delights Sikkim has to offer. Its en route the Natula Pass, the famous Silk Route connecting India to China. The Chinese border is just 5kms away! The terrain to scale the Nathula Pass is an adventure, famously built by the BRO – Border Road Organisation & they are mighty proud of it. The army has a camp at the Nathula and their base camp is at the Lake Tsongmo.

The lake is immaculate, pristine and untouched. I love the fact that it is so damn clean and pure. It is a very famous glacial lake and the view is breathtaking. We were staring at the lake and its beauty despite the biting cold for over an hour. As you wait, there are Yaks you could take rides on, and lovely dumplings to savor just off the streamer.

Sikkim is a beautiful state and its capital Gangtok is very well planned. I loved the main shopping area, MG Road where the traffic is cut off, to enable people to walk about and there are benches installed in the middle of the road, with gorgeous flowers from hanging pots and Gangtok has beautiful parks.

Its a place one has to visit to witness this beauty & to relax your mind.

Good Samaritan – Be one!

Raise you vibrations to attract the good, and only the best will be filtered your way.

When travelling, one has to be vigilant at all times. You got to keep your bags in check, your documents and the currency you are carrying. Not to forget, the constant improvisation on the ever effervescent contingency plan.

Before I set off for my first Solo Trip, I was a nervous wreck, I was freaking out. For the first time in my life I experienced ‘Cold Feet’. I now understand what the Brides, Grooms, Parents-to-be or anyone else feel when they have a panic attack. I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t eat, I had constant headaches days before my travel.

That’s when my friend KK came to my rescue, he said “Nam, don’t worry! You will be fine, you have traveled before and its gonna be a walk in the park for you. Just relax, breathe and GO!” Honestly I dint believe a word of what he said, for I was thinking of almost cancelling my ticket! Yes! I panicked probably because I was travelling to a non-English speaking country for the first time ever. KK said “Just be positive, and only the good ones will come your way. Be good and you will attract only good people. But stay vigilant and be street smart”.

I finally relaxed and took it one step at a time, I remembered to count my blessings and keep looking for the good. And many Good Samaritans came my way! From my first pit stop at a transit in KL, I had encounters with amazing good hearts. Yes good people have good souls, you can sense it, it feels good – very good to be around them. I met a person from Switzerland who was in KL to see the Petronas – we soon became friends as she was also a solo traveler, we shopped and had lunch together. We had a fantastic time.

When I reached my destination I had several encounters with Good Samaritans. This travel taught me many things, one of them was that there are angels all around. Look for good and you will find it. Help comes in various unexpected ways.

One morning after breakfast i saw that a couple left the restaurant but they dropped their Subway card on their way out. I knew this was a lifeline, I handed it to them and they were grateful for the gesture and asked me what my plans were for the day and instantly tore off a bunch of sheets from their immaculately filed travel file and gave it to me. To this day I don’t know how I would have managed that day ‘without’ that info. It was so detailed and it was ‘absolutely necessary’ and the universe just filled the jigsaw puzzle for me. I was overwhelmed.

Help comes in various forms, every single day we need to remind ourselves that, ‘The Best is YET to come’.

Golden Mantra: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you!

Wok Over the Water

The delicious, authentic local cuisine one gets to relish on travels, could be THE motive to travel for a few wanderers. Guilty!!! 😉

I have heard the elders in my family say, the food tastes better if cooked with love. Another friend Parag strongly believes, the energy with which the meal is prepared could be in your favor or it could be harmful. I totally agree to this. Probably that’s why you can’t really replicate the exact taste and flavor of a dish, and it differs from person to person.

I treated myself to a meal at the Asian Wok restaurant – famously known to be over the waters. Located in the North Male Atoll – 90 mins by speed boat from the airport at Maldives. Once in a way I guess its ok to pamper yourself 🙂

The chefs are interactive, and they looked very happy in their jobs. I guess that is recipe #1 – to be happy 🙂 The vegetables looked so crispy and fresh – the meal was sumptuous. I once saw a movie in which the chef comments about the flavor in the vegetables differing from region to region. He says the taste is not the same. I guess sometimes it feels like the vegetables do have life.

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Hand picked organic vegetables at the Asian Wok – Maldives.

The Asian Wok restaurant is built over the waters, strategically located at the entrance of the Meerufenfushi island – it provides a panoromic view of the ocean, the neighbouring local island to the west, the speed boats decorating the turquoise blue ocean & a splendid view of the fancy looking yatch anchored at the harbor.

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My first glimpse of the Asian Wok 🙂

The view from the ‘walk through windows’, is the icing on the cake. You could just jump off the ledge to take a swim, check out the colorful reef, swim with the harmless black tipped baby sharks and get back to sipping your wine and enjoying a custom-made dish of your choice. The view is breathtaking and I couldn’t really capture the moment in my camera frame. This place is like walking into a dream while you are awake.

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At the window seat – ready for the dive! Dreamy!!!

A visit to this magical land, you will be overwhelmed with contentment and gratitude, for just being there.

Heavenly Abode – Mauritius

“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven. Heaven was copied after Mauritius” – Mark Twain 

I honestly thought this was a wee bit exaggerated, until I saw Mauritius for real. I realised what Mark Twain wrote was really a very subtle attempt to explain what the grandeur of this immaculate country is all about. The whole place is picturesque. The pristine waters have a different tinge of indigo mixed with blue that looks metallic when the waters shimmer in the endless landscape of Africa. 

MahebergThe View from the Boulevard at Mahebourg – South-East of Mauritius.

Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, thousands of kilometers off the coast of the continental Africa this heavenly abode boasts of possessing some of the worlds best visual treats. The air is crisp, skies ink blue, and the lush canopy a deep shade of green. The roads are jet black and the motorways meet the horizon, as far as the eye can see. 

One can’t help but notice the untouched beauty of nature. It’s the energy in Mauritius that makes it such an exotic destination. People across the world secretly hope to reach Mauritius to see for themselves what the media coverage and the hype is all about.

Well, MRU has a lot more to offer than just the scenery. The beaches are pristine with silver sands that feels very soft under your bare feet, the waters are different shades of turquoise and various degrees of blue. Visibility at snorkeling areas in Blue Bay is several meters in-depth with a beautiful shade of light blue that doesn’t just feel beautiful but also soothes the soul. Immediately after being immersed in these beautiful water bodies one can’t help but thank the universe for making it possible to arrive at this destination. I believe the ones who reach Mauritius truly feel blessed to have witnessed something this close to perfection. 

Often I get bombarded with the eminent question – Nam what’s so special about Mauritius….isn’t it just like Maldives? Why this destination…? Well, for starters I’d always say – No two places feel the same, they look-alike but not the same. The place, the energy, the aura, everything feels different and these places have their own secret stories to share.

While in Mauritius, it is really hard to give your camera shutter some rest. You will have an incredible undying urge to click as many pictures as possible because you would want to relish the memories for the days to come. 

What’s so special about this country that grows loads of sugarcane? The view of the fields is magnificent, luscious green canopy covered mountains jutting out of the crystal blue ocean is a sight so splendid that it really did take my breath away! The landscapes look fresh and all over the boulevards are inscriptions of history and very significant events that took place in the country’s rich and entertaining history.

Mauritius is a volcanic island with varying temperatures, at the coast it’s pretty hot and humid but as you scale up  the terrain just a few miles from the coast the temperature drops drastically. My favorite was Vacoas – beautiful residential villas embalmed in a blanket of moisture laden air and the climate in this region is very pleasant – around 20 degrees. 

The view at Casela Nature Reserve is breathtaking – you can see the lush green mountains followed by the motorway and then the ocean, you can’t really tell when the Ocean meets the sky! It’s a beautiful unison, a melodious harmony – a visual treat. 

I would urge everyone to make an attempt to visit this place, it’s exhilarating & rejuvenating at the same time. How about this – save up some dough for treating yourself. Because this gift you give yourself will last a lifetime. 

Mauritius is truly worthy of all the praise and the reputation it enjoys.