Thursday, March 3, 2011

Travels, Pictures, etc.

Each of these should have had a separate post but . . .it has been ages since I made these trips and while incidents and high points are still fresh I think it will be better if I just post the links to the pictures and let them do most of the talking. These trips are all from last year — and were a wonderful break/change in what otherwise was a routine and below-the-par year.

Amboli: Amboli is the last hill station in Maharashtra before you enter the state of Goa. It is also the rainiest place in Maharashtra and has a thick rainforest. Being a little crazy, a friend and I decided to make this entire journey on a bike in May 2010. A single bike. My friend piloted the wheels while I rode pillion. This necessitated a few logistical decisions. The biggest one — I carried one humongous haversack on my back containing in two other bags all our clothes, etc for the trip — the bag weighed upwards of a couple of tonnes. Additionally, there was another bag that carried my friend's camera and lenses. Plus a tripod for the camera. For the entire trip apart from the bag on my back I carried the camera bag or the tripod in my hands.  Amboli, from Mumbai is at 545 Kms, close to the Maharashtra - Goa border, just a little off Sawantwadi. By the time we returned to Mumbai we had traversed over 1300 Kms on the bike. Most of which I now remember only as a big haze of pain. People, in case you don't know it: Bike seats are not easy on the butt, especially if you weigh close to a ton, and are carrying a couple of tonnes in luggage on your back.

Highpoints: In spite of all the pain, a bike trip is awesome. It was wonderful to explore Amboli and the area around Amboli — Sawantwadi, Terekhol, Shiroda Vengurla on a bike. Amboli's rainforest abounds in butterflies, amphibians and reptiles. The best part of the trip was undoubtedly the night safari in Amboli — we saw quite a few snakes up close including a number of brown and green Malabar pit vipers. We also caught a glimpse of a palm civet cat. A must visit place in Amboli is the Hiranyakeshi Ugam — easily one of the most serene and peaceful places I have visited.

Amboli: Photoset | Slideshow

Dubuque, Iowa: In the last week of September and first week of October last year I was in Dubuque, Iowa, USA for an "onsite" — a work-related trip. Dubuque is a wonderful, quaint little town about 180 miles off Chicago. Iowa is the heart of corn-growing region of the US and while I was landing at Dubuque's small airport, it felt like corn was planted next to the runway itself.

Highpoints: Dubuque has the world's biggest volunteer-managed arboretum and botanical gardens. This was a couple of miles from where I stayed in Dubuque and I almost visited the arboretum daily and walked back to my hotel. The Mississippi which flows next to the town (Dubuque advertises itself as "Masterpiece on the Mississippi") has a lovely "river-walk" next to it. I used the one week-end that I had in Dubuque to explore the Victorian downtown of Dubuque and around the Mississippi.

Dubuque: Photoset | Slideshow

Phansad, Kashid, Korlai: Back in India from Dubuque, a couple of friends decided to go to Phansad near Alibag for a "birding" trip and I tagged along. Phansad is a small wildlife sanctuary close to the beaches of Kashid and Murud-Janjira. The trip was a disappointment though. We hardly saw any wildlife inside Phansad. We did visit the beaches of Kashid and Korlai.

Highpoints: The clean, long beach of Kashid and a  monitor lizard that crossed the road in front of our vehicle on our return journey.

Phansad, Kashid, Korlai: Photoset | Slideshow

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