Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 in Retrospect

Happy New Year 2016! I hope you enjoyed celebrating New Year’s Eve with your friends and family in your own awesome way. My celebration was simple with my family.

As I ushered in the new year last night, I couldn’t stop thinking about how 2015 treated me! 2015 was a mixed year for me…

I traveled lesser than past years, but on the positive side I got to spend a lot of time with my family and friends, which I used to miss out in the earlier years. I also got to spend quality time in my work, which will hopefully yield good dividends this year. I got to explore different parts of India after a gap of say 6-7 years. I used to miss out on this domestic travel as my previous trips were out of India. I didn’t get to do any long trips (more than 6 months). In fact, my longest trip in 2015 was 5 weeks, which is very unlike me as I think of myself as a slow traveler. There were health issues in my family and I am thankful that it wasn’t nothing serious.

2015 may have been mixed for me, but it still provided me with a lot of interesting experiences. Here’s a trip down my 2015 memory lane:

I volunteered for the first time

Volunteering in Schools is so much fun

In August, I volunteered for the first time in my life and I absolutely enjoyed the experience. I built a kindergarten school, I did fencing and gardening, taught English and Mathematics to young village school students and played games with young boys and girls. Those 2 weeks near Kundapur in West Karnataka were possibly the happiest time of my 2015 year. The experience was so good that I am itching to volunteer again. You will definitely hear about my 2016 volunteering plans soon.

I went on a long motorcycle trip after 7 years

My motorcycle fully loaded after a long time

You all know that this blog started with my motorcycle journey across India. However, after meeting with the big accident at the end of that trip and undergoing 2 surgeries, I hadn’t gone on any long motorcycle trip. I did ride the motorcycle in the city and went on those short weekend trips, but nothing more. In 2015, I got to explore the Western Ghats of Kerala and Karnataka for a period of 3 weeks. And that too in the monsoons, my favorite season of the year. It was an absolute joy to be back on the motorcycle and to explore the lush green Western Ghats.

LA to NY by Train

The Iconic Brooklyn Bridge that connects Manhattan with Brooklyn

In the summer of 2015, I traveled from Los Angeles to New York by train. This 3 week train journey was special as I got to see new parts of this vast country with a great set of people. This was also the first time, I had traveled to any place east of Austin the United States.

Great Barrier Reef and Queensland

Climbing one of the tallest buildings in the world - Q1, Gold Coast, Australia

2015 was the year I embarked on my first Australian trip. And I got to see the Great Barrier Reef both from above and below the water. These 3 weeks exploring Queensland were absolutely magical. Gold coast, Sunshine coast, Brisbane, Cairns and the rainforests of Queensland…they all kept me entranced with their beauty. I really enjoyed the laidback feel of Brisbane and if there is one place where I would go for a run, it would be the Brisbane riverside.

Backpacking and Trekking in Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur

Backpacking to Chitkul - a heavenly village in the high Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh

After 7 years, I visited Himachal Pradesh in 2015. Things had changed a lot in the past 7 years, but the remote parts of the mountains are thankfully still raw and untamed. Another special trip for me as I got to spend time with a good friend of mine. We bonded very well over fresh golden apples, umpteen treks, bumpy bus rides and innumerable mountain experiences.

Foodie Trip to Amritsar

Freshly made Lassi on the streets of Amritsar

If you know me well, you know that I am a total foodie. By the end of my Himachal trekking trip, me and my friend were aching for some good food and what better place to indulge in than Amritsar, the mecca for Punjabi food lovers. For 4 days, we indulged in kulche, kulfa, lassi, jalebis, Puri and pind de chole, dal makhani, gulab jamun and so much more. At the end of these 4 days, we returned home with a feeling of deja vu!

Spring-Summer in Germany

Fairytale Heidelberg as seen from Philosopher's Way

Late Spring of 2015 saw me backpacking through the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany. The hidden cultures of the Black Forest, the scenic automobile city of Stuttgart and the fairy tale city of Heidelberg were the highlights of this trip. And did I say that the weather was absolutely gorgeous on this trip.

Rich Paris Culinary Experience

Typical Parisian Brunch with cheese, jams and delicious breads

After my trip to Germany, I spent a week in Paris to meet a friend of mine and along with her, I got to sample the rich culinary lifestyle of Paris. From the classic French Onion Soup to the many wines, from the croissants to the baguettes and from the macarons to the gateau, I got to experience it all. French dessert is my all time favorite. I don’t want to talk about the cheeses. Else, I will be never able to complete this article!

Whirlwind Romance with Maldives

A classical Maldives photo - gem in the Indian Ocean

My last trip of 2015 was a short, sweet and extemely relaxing trip to Maldives, the precious jewel in the Indian Ocean. This was my first trip to this island paradise and to be honest with you, I fell in love with her at first sight.

Loy Krathong in Thailand

Me celebrating Loy Krathong at Bangkok, Thailand

Just before I went to Maldives, I was in Thailand where I was exploring some off-beat places near Bangkok, got exposed to some awesome traditions, celebrated Loy Krathong – the festival of lights at Bangkok and like most of the visitors to Thailand, indulged in some famous Thai shopping.

Guest Speaker at Social Media Week Conference

Earlier in 2015, I was invited as a guest speaker at the international social media week conference that was held at Bangalore. Along with other travel evangelists, we discussed the latest trends in the travel industry of India and more.

Singapore and more of India

Somnathpur Keshava Temple - Offbeat Culture Getaway from Bangalore

In addition to the other trips, I visited Singapore on a short work trip and got to experience the rich birdlife at Ranganathittu, the hoysala temple gem at Somnathpur, a different part of Coorg, the Sea Shore temple of Tiruchendur and Kallidaikurichi, which happens to be my ancestral village in the deep south of India.

2015 was fun and I am eagerly looking forward to what 2016 has in store for me. I am sure you are equally excited too. Here’s wishing all of you the very best for 2016. May there be lots of travels and interesting memories for all of us!

Welcome to BE ON THE ROAD Travel Blog! I am Sankara, its founder, a 30 something male from Bangalore who is living his dream of exploring the world and simultaneously trying to inspire others to live their dream.
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