Vang Vieng : Round II

Date: 22nd November 2014

VV presented a much better account of itself in daylight, as most places do. The famed karst scenery was all around an the river gurgled through it. The backpackers were still there but were much more sober and dignified . Moved into a dorm room with a variety of characters, most of them friendly.

After lunch, i decided to checkout “tubing”, where you float down the river in a tyre-tube, which is the fun part .The sad part is that at regular intervals along the river there are shack bars which try their best to re-create all that is worst about young adults going on breaks. Big speakers blaring electronic music drowns out the chirp of the birds and the river. If you manage to stay away from there wretched places, it can be a very nice experience . For me the highlight was when, as i was slowly drifting down the river, a dragonfly came an sat on my knees for what felt like about a minute.IMG_2203.JPG

In general, the whole of the animal kingdom keep humans at arms length and for very good reasons. So when something , that of its own free will,shares those moments with you, those experiences become  precious.

At night decided to tag along with the dorm mates to check out the night life. There are bars all over the town and the crowd is almost exclusively made up of trashy backpackers. In most bars , the only Lao presence is that of the cleaners clearing up the mess left behind by out-of-control white trash and the sweet sandwich ladies lining the streets. It was clearly my FOMO that got me to the bars. Maybe the off chance that i would meet somebody with an actual education , to talk about stuff other that how they hate certain people for the most bizarre of reasons


Vang Vieng : First Impressions

Date : 21st November 2014

9:15 PM

Arrived at Vang Vieng (VV) . The journey was unremarkable, rattling through Laotian countryside .

First impressions of VV:  Everything that people warned about in travel forums seems to be true. Hordes of backpackers bumping into each other in a 3 street hamlet trying to get their slice of the banana-pancake trail. My hostel was nice and clean and the Laos are dignified and welcoming as ever. My current pet peeve are British backpacker in particular.

Trying not to be judgemental in the initial impressions in the darkness of the night. Hopefully VV will be a lot more pleasant in daylight, else there are countless counters selling bus tickets to Luang Prabang

Riding back,through the floods

Next day morning i woke up to the sounds of guess what ,RAINS. With the floods in Karnataka worsening, i thought it wise to get back when i still had a chance. I had heard good things about the food at Astoria at Assagoan, 5 kms from Mapusa. They also distill their own palm feni, which apparently is much better than what’s available locally. (Ph. 91-832-262186). The food definitely lived upto its billing. On vacations i generally loose track of dates and it was a jarring return to the calendar when i was told that today is 2nd October and hence there was no feni up for sale. So long my feni:(. Continue reading Riding back,through the floods

Wet Goa

The next day morning was no different. It was gloomy and raining. In the news there were reports of massive floods in northern Karnataka. By noon it stopped raining for a while and i decided to venture out and enjoy my wet vacation. After a hearty meal of fish curry,rice and clamps i headed to the beaches. The closest ones were Anjuna, Vagator and Chapora. One of the locals at the tea stall told me that there’s a fort near Chapora. By the time i reached the fort, it started raining again :(. Continue reading Wet Goa

Ride up the Coast

The next day started (unusually for me :)) with a rejuvenating bath and nutritious breakfast. The bath is one of the highlights of one’s stay at Kasturi akka’s house. It has two huge metal containers:one hot water and the other cold. Both of them are inside earthen chambers. There is something about these baths that washes away all tiredness and fills one with energy.
I started from her place at around 8AM. Today’s ride was going to be along the coast and the destination being Karwar. The route was Agumbe–>Someshwar–>Kundapur–>Murudeshwar–>Gokarna–>Karwar.
Continue reading Ride up the Coast

The green road to Agumbe

The Green Road

I started my onward journey from Muthodi by 9AM. The plan for the day was to reach Agumbe, one of my favorite places.I did not have much of an idea as to how today’s route will be. It turned out to be one of the best i’ve had. The route turned out to be
The ride started with a good omen. Right outside MNC i found a vine snake having a sun bath. This was one bold snake and it allowed me all-the-time-in-the-world to shoot.

Continue reading The green road to Agumbe

Muthodi: Of Squirrels and Birds

I set off at dawn on the 26th of September, the destination for the day being Muthodi in the Bhadra wildlife sanctuary. The route would be


I started at around 5AM in the morning and reached C’magalur by noon. The drive was pleasant and the stretch between Hassan and C’magalur particularly so. En-route i passed through Belur but resisted the temptation of visiting the magnificent Hoysala temples. Continue reading Muthodi: Of Squirrels and Birds

Goa,when it rains

In 2009 there was a slot of days in the last week of Sept and the 1st week of October when because of the various holidays just 3 days of leaves would yield a 9 day vacation. I was eying this slot from the beginning of the year but did not have any fixed plan as to where to go.

Eventually i zeroed in on a post monsoon Western Ghats ride. It would be GREEEEN all around. I came up with a circuitous route spanning most of the Karnataka part of the Western Ghats all the way up to Goa.
Welcome to the ride.
Part I- Muthodi: Of Squirrels and Birds
Part II- The Green Road to Agumbe
Part III- Ride up the Coast
Part IV- To Goa,through the Jungle
Part V- Wet Goa
Part VI- Riding back, through the floods

The sound of Chenda

Thrissur Pooram

Last year when we had visited Rivas’s house in Thrissur, his dad had spoken very highly about the “Thrissur Pooram”. He had talked about how during the Pooram, a lot of chenda (a kind of drum) players would play together to hypnotic effect. From what he described, it seemed to be a kind of thing that I would very much like to attend.

This year I was surfing for some information about Pushkar, when I came across an article mentioning the Thrissur Pooram. I immediately called up Rivas and he told me that it was due on the 24th of April. It being a Saturday and nothing major planned, Thrissur Pooram was on :)(along with some very delicious beef cooked by Rivas’s mom which should never missed).During Thrissur Pooram various nearby temples bring processions to the  Vadakkunnathan temple to pay their homage. Of these temples, the two major “heavy weights” are Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi. Continue reading The sound of Chenda