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Thursday Travel: Top 3 Travel Companies that Make a Difference

Nothing really beats travelling on your own or travelling on a shoe-string budget but sometimes some tours and packages come a close second.

Some trips, even though organised, can change your world, yep they are that good. These packages tend to be the hatke, they do things differently. An whether they intend to or not, they make a difference.

Disclaimer – the following travel companies / organisations are run by friends but that isn’t why I’m recommending them. Well, partly. 😀 Mostly though it’s because I’ve travelled with them, experienced what they do and just can’t stop talking about them. 😛

Without further ado, here’s my top 3 travel companies in no particular order except that I’m start with wheels and end with stationary. 😀

 

IndiMotard Adventures

Traveling by motorcycle is a thing to do at least once in your life. It’s a different experience, the way you see the world and feel it changes. The sun in your face, the wind in your hair are cliches until you actually experience it. And if you haven’t experienced this yet, IndiMotard Adventures is a good place to begin.

They have three main trips as of now Cambodia, Himalayas and Sri Lanka. But they also do customs tours so you could plan with them to go just about any where you want. I recommend their Cambodia trip. I haven’t done this myself but many friends have, and my do they have stories to tell.

Contact:
Website – http://indimotard.com/
Email – info@indimotard.com
Phone – +91 94484 94080

 

Journeys with Meaning

My most recent journey to Meghalaya was with JwM and I’m glad for it. There were experiences I’d not have had otherwise. JwM opens new doors in your mind as you travel, you start to see things you never saw before and by the time you return the world isn’t the same anymore.

The guys over at JwM aim for an all round experience so you will not only see the sights, but also meet the people and understand their life, culture, challenges and more. It’s a great way to travel for you’ll really know the places you’ve been to. Like their ad copy says, theirs is ‘Travel that Transforms.’ :)

Contact:
Website – http://www.signposts.co.in/
Email – journeyswithmeaning@gmail.com
Phone – +91 98191 54365

 

Spiti Ecosphere

Local and Sustainable are the words that come to mind when I think of Spiti Ecosphere. This organisation aims to create sustainable livelihoods and in the process save history and culture. If you like to experience what it’s like to live in a mud house in the Himalayas, use a dry toilet, ride a yak, trek, mountain bikes, and such, this is the right place for you.

Spiti Ecosphere makes history and culture lucrative in such a way that locals want to hold on to their old ways and people want to experience those ways. It’s an excellent ecosystem that I hope more places and people will implement. This does not mean the arrest of modernisation or amenities but rather a balance and well informed choice of change.

Contact:
Website – http://www.spitiecosphere.com/
Email – info@spitiecosphere.com
Phone – +919418860099, +919418439294

 
These are my picks but there must be more out there. Have you experienced travel with a difference? Are there other travel companies you’ve journeyed with? What did you think of them?

 
P.S. – Day Ten of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 14, 2015   No Comments

Leh Jayenge – The way it all started…

A few years ago I got a chance to experience India; I quit my job and travelled for 8 months. When I finally did get home-sick and came back I had so much to say that I didn’t know where to start so, I never did get down to writing about it. But then recently at the GetOff Traveller Meet one of the speakers – Charu, a traveller writer – got me thinking about my journey as stories. That helped get over the overwhelm I was feeling; it seemed a lot easier to write stories.

It’s also been a while since I travelled for a stretch of time and these cloudy monsoon days in Bangalore tempt you into reminiscing. So here are stories from my travels and experiences across India as I relive my journey. :)

Disclaimer – This might seem very detailed and boring 😀 You’ve been warned…

The way it all started…

The itch to take-off and travel started years ago when I went on my first solo ride and got a first-hand taste of India. I was hooked; I started looking for ways to travel without having to take leave from work, which of course meant that I would have no job and money became the big question.

In the course of time circumstances and situations changed and I realized that maybe seeing all of India would be asking for too much, however the drive to see the country of my birth was still strong. Some friends and I started to plan to do the biker pilgrimage – Ladakh in 2006, slowly the route formed and lists followed. But this was not to be that easy, slowly but steadily friends started dropping out until soon there was just Ajay, who was a close friend and me left. About the same time I started to feel very unsatisfied with my work and my life that revolved round my work; I wanted a break. I decided to go on a saving spree for 5-6 months then quit work and travel as much as I would in the money saved, the day I ran out I would return home.

So then Ajay and I started planning for that, as after Ladakh he would return home and I would move on. But this was not to be either and Ajay had to drop out too. By now I had done quite a bit of planning and more importantly dreaming, and this wasn’t a dream I was ready to let go. I decided to go for it anyway, even if alone. Friends were appalled and advised against going solo, swayed by the persistent attempts I started to look for others going to Ladakh too, some seemed to fit my timelines and dates but maybe I was destined to this myself and all just fell through. When the last friend dropped out three weeks before we were scheduled to leave I had had enough. I was going and going alone.

It was when I was on my way to book tickets that I dropped in to Sam’s store ‘Get Off UR Ass’ and he told me of some friends going to Lahaul and Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Sam suggested starting off with them and then just heading on to Ladakh, he pushed me into at least calling up and checking. So, that was what I did, I called up Prashanth and soon found myself booking my ticket for Delhi on the 14th, a week earlier than planned. I would now be doing Lahaul and Spiti valley with friends from RTMC (Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club) the Bangalore Bullet club I was a part of.

Now I just had two weeks to go before I left, loads to do, lots to buy and sort out and I was also scheduled to travel to Hyderabad for a week to spend time with Pallavi who was friend and travel partner from work before she left for U.S. I just about managed it all I guess, though I did leave a long list of to-do’s with Mom and friends and before I knew it, it was the 14th.

The 14th saw me running pillar to post getting the bike packed and loaded on the train, some legal matters sorted, packing all I thought I needed, getting briefed on bike and picking spares from mech, shopping for last minute stuff…

With all this happening I couldn’t believe I made it to the station in time for the train…

July 26, 2010   2 Comments

Chau Chau Kang Nilda: Spitian Folklore

This is a story of Chau Chau Kang Nilda the peak behind Langza village. Chau Chau means little girl or princess, Kang is a snow-capped mountain, Ni or Nima means sun and Da or Dawa means moon. So this is the princess mountain on which the sun & moon shine.

Langza village and C C K Nilda in Background

This story starts years ago. Langza village gets its water from this mountain’s stream so every summer someone was sent to check the stream and remove any obstacles. They also had to watch over the stream through the season.
One day Landup was sent to check the stream. Landup was a lazy man & rather enjoyed playing his lute. So off he went to the base of the mountain. After he had checked the stream he sat down by it to play his lute and was soon lost in its music.

After finishing his piece he opened his eyes to find a beautiful woman standing before him. She stared at him transfixed and slowly said. ‘Landup I love your music would you play for me again.’
Landup couldn’t say no to such an ethereal beauty so he started to play again.

The beauty told him after he finished that she was the Chau Chau Kang Nilda fairy & she would like him to come often and play. Landup agreed and left at the end of the day. From then on he kept trying to get the job to check the stream. Over the season they fell in love and continued to see each other during the summers that followed.

It was during the winter a few years later that a drunk Landup was lazing about. His wife saw this and reminded him of some work he had to do. Drunken Landup got upset and shouted back that he rather be with the Chau Chau Kang Nilda fairy who didn’t ask him to work. To this his wife asked him to stop dreaming but by then Landup had passed out.
In the morning Landup woke up covered in boils & pain. He then remembered what had happened the night before & also remembered that the fairy had asked him never to mention her.

Now he was really worried, the boils marred his handsomeness & he tried everything through winter to be rid of them. But nothing worked.

As soon as summer came & he was no longer house bound he ran to the stream. He played his lute, called out, cried & even screamed but the fairy didn’t come. He never saw her again. And every time he went near the mountain the weather turned nasty & he had to turn back.

Chau Chau Khang Nilda in a bad mood

Even today when a man tries climbing up Chau Chau Kang Nilda the weather turns nasty. It is said the fairy is still nursing her broken heart and will not let any man come near her.

Credits:
Story – I first read this story in Spiti Through Legend And Lore by Kishore Thukral and then heard variations from locals in Spiti.

July 19, 2010   3 Comments

ChandraTal: Spitian Folklore

This is a very old story, more than a 100 years ago. There lived a lazy man in the village of Rangrik who was a burden on his wife as he did no work. One day this man decided to go to the Chandra Tal lake as he had heard a lot about it being beautiful. It was far from where he lived & a difficult trek but he thought it would be excellent to escape his wife & her nagging. So he left and walked for many days over mountains & passes. Finally when he was almost worn out he caught sight of the lake. It was indeed beautiful & he was so moved he sat down to play his flute like instrument, & was soon lost in its music.

When he opened his eyes after the number there was a beautiful woman standing before him. She said, “Hello, Gangrup, I am the Chandra Tal Fairy. Your music drew me here. I have fallen in love with you, will you come & live with me in my kingdom. I will love you & keep you happy, if you will play for me & love me.”

So Gangrup went with her to her underwater kingdom & they were very happy there through summer. Then as winter came the fairy asked Gangrup to go back home. He was unhappy & said he didn’t want to go as he would miss her. But she said he would have to go, but he could come back next summer. She would miss him too & await his return. But she warned him not to tell anyone about them else they would never be able to be together again.

Gangrups family was overjoyed to see him as they had thought he had died on the way when he did not return for months. Winter set in and Gangrup drank and slept as always, doing nothing else. One day when he was really drunk his wife was nagging him about some work she wanted done. He turned to her & said: “Shut up woman, don’t nag me else I will go away to the ChandraTal fairy. She loves me.” So saying he downed his drink & passed out.

The next morning he remembered what had happened & started to cry. Everyone was concerned & kept asking him what happened but he just kept wailing. He passed the rest of the winter in mad grief and as soon as summer set in he left for the lake.

As soon as he got there he took out his flute & started to play. Soon enough the fairy emerged. She said: “I have just come to say good bye Gangrup. You broke my heart.” So saying she left. Gangrup fell to his knees & called after her crying. A while later she emerged holding a bundle. Gangrup was overjoyed thinking she had forgiven him. But she said “This is our daughter, born of our love, take her back with you.” So saying she handled him the bundle & left.

Gangrup looked down at his daughter & gasped. She was the ugliest thing he had set eyes on, covered in warts and boils & she was very ill. He didn’t want to touch her but then filial love won & he took her along. However she died on the way. Broken hearted Gangrup took her all the way home.

His family was stunned when he told them she was his daughter from the ChandraTal fairy. He buried her with all ceremony & built a memorial for her in the house.

From then on his families luck changed and they became rich. After all, the little girl was also a Nortin (fairy).

His line is still alive today though they have moved to a new house (the old house still stands in ruins). They moved the memorial to the new house too & it can be still seen today.

Credits:
Photos – Harish and Easha
Story – I first read this story in Spiti Through Legend And Lore by Kishore Thukral.

July 9, 2010   4 Comments

I, me and my life on my terms…

A few days back I met Ramya [Thanks Ramya :)] to discuss a social media tool, her company was working on among other things. More on the tool in another post; this post is about the rest of our talk.

I had met Ramya through my blog. We exchanged a few emails and decided to meet. Ramya had questions for me that a lot of others have asked on what I do, why I do it, how I live this life, etc… You get the drift. Talking to Ramya was a walk down memory lane and I wanted to take you along. :)

A bit about me – I am a freelancer, have a range of skills, I do my own thing on my own time, travel a fair bit, have all I need, do not work for a corporate company and yet enjoy every moment and live life on my terms. [This is as people see me :D, I do have my own low moments :) ]

Disclaimer: The walk starts now and may be a bit long so if want to turn back now, you can…

I have always been a bit of a rebel, from way back when I remember I wanted things a certain way and wouldn’t settle for less, I did the unacceptable as normal. I remember my first cycle – I wanted a boys cycle and my parents said no, I waited 2 years stubbornly before they relented (it helped that picking and dropping me off at school was getting tedious).

I didn’t want big things, I just wanted what I wanted big or small but mostly it was small. Small things make me happy, I don’t care so much for the quality or brand of stuff as long as it does the job, I don’t care much for money or tomorrow.

Then about 10 years back I started to learn some lessons (lessons to me that is). I realized the value of today, of now, of each moment. I figured that money had no value because it can’t buy happiness, peace or love. Ok no more gyan, I’m sure you have these answers too. :)

Anyway so going on, I caught the travel and biking bug in my early twenties almost about the same time. Then on I started to crave to be free, to not have to work, to do my own thing…. I was not happy with the way my life was and so I started to plan to start anew. I quit my job as a corporate trainer and with 30K in hand I set out to travel in 2006. The plan was to travel as long as possible and when I ran out of money come back. But what did happen was I got a travel writing job on the way and they paid me to travel, I met some great people who sponsored some food and stay, relatives & friends boarded me for months and some friends who even travelled along. What did happen was I travelled for 8 months before I finally came back home.

To most of my family what I had done was mad while I was doing it (later it was something to brag about) but they supported me. I met some amazing people who gave me insight into myself and the world around me. I had come back with a lot of data and numbers. I realized that I didn’t need a lot of money but wanted a lot of time; I became a freelancer.

I started out doing proofreading and language editing and soon moved on to writing scripts and storyboards for learning modules. Before long I was working on website content with a lot of research involved. Sounds like a lot of work? It was most times but I loved it, I also loved saying no when I wasn’t in a mood to work.

I worked with Spiti Ecosphere an NGO in Spiti in the Himalayas for 5 months and came back to continue as a freelancer. I had met the man who was ‘just right’ for me, and we fix like a puzzle. I got an opportunity to market BookBuzzr a free online book marketing tool. When I started out it was a challenge, I had in my travelling lost touch with the internet and had to learn a hell of a lot and let’s not mention marketing. So I did what I do best, learn new stuff. BTW social media is fun and amazingly challenging.

So this is where I am today…

Disclaimer – Here on there is gyan, you can turn away now if you want to :)

To be a freelancer, according to me these are needed.

– You need to find out what you want to do. This is the toughest but you also can do it by trial and error :)
– You should make sure you have no financial obligations or at least have enough saved for those.
– Be open to less money more time. There are no guarantees of jobs here.
– Tell all you know about what you do. Word of mouth is the best way to get jobs.
– Setup a blog and get a website.
– Learn and set yourself up. Build a reputation.
– Work ethic and conscience is very important as there will be distractions galore.
– And having a supportive family and friends is a plus.

I love my life and how I live it. True I haven’t got a plan for 5 years from now but am sure I’ll figure it out on the way. I don’t have a huge bank balance but I know that somewhere somehow I’ll make as much as I need. I live a somewhat minimalistic life, I question everything as ‘Do I need this?’ and act only when the answer is ‘yes’. Above all I have a great life-partner and family who understand me and what I want to do and love me enough to set me free.

Photo Credit: Chenthil

January 22, 2010   13 Comments