Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Travelogue Phuket 2012 - Exploring 3

I can barely recall being in this moment, yet it was one of the most striking moments of the entire trip for me, along with the moment when we canoed into the limestone caves, and Still, but for this photograph (the credit of which goes to Jacob) I would scarcely be able to recall it.

Strange, as it may sound, this happens to me pretty often, I seem to have the haziest recollection of the moments, which have been the most beautiful, joyous, awesome and defining moments of my life. (does it happen to you as well?)

I remember being in this moment, drinking in this view with all my senses, breathing in, the peace, feeling the caress of the wind, listening to the sound of the waves, the touch of sand on my bare feet, mesmerized with the enormity and vastness of the spectacle that lay before me. I remember trying to inhale and exhale each breath as slowly as I could, as if by doing so I could slow time and hold it within my every breath, to make those precious moments last as long as I could, as if anyone can hold time and yet I tried.

I remember having the camera around my neck, and wanting to capture that moment, to freeze it forever and yet not making a move or clicking a single picture. I remember feeling delighted with the silence surrounding me, and not wanting to hear a sound, just in case the spell would break. I remember just wanting to remain, remain in that moment, to breathe it, to feel it, to live it for as long as I could. In that moment I remember experiencing stillness, the stillness that comes with knowing that u belong within the moment u are in, that u are where u were meant to be, the stillness that comes when the consciousness becomes one with the unconscious, the stillness that comes when man and nature seamlessly blend together, when the mind and the soul find peace.
                                       I guess, I so wanted to live in that moment (and in all those other moments which were as beautiful as this), that a part of me was just left behind in that moment, the part of my consciousness that I can barely remember, is alive, alive in that moment which I lived so fully, that it was left behind in the sands of time and there it shall remain, frozen forever, like the view remains frozen in these photographs.

I may never be able to recollect those moment as vividly as I had experience them, but I will find these bits of myself again, someday in some other place when I experience again that stillness within. Maybe that is the reason why I travel, to find another place, to find another moment, to experience the stillness, to find again the bits of me, I left behind, to become whole again and to leave behind another bit of me, to find it again in the endless river of time.

James Bond Island

Panyee Island, The sea gypsy island, nice view but u easily can skip visiting it.

The caves

I remember my heart whispering silently as we cruised past those mighty mountains, countless trees and the vast ocean -

                    Let me be.
                    Let me remain.
                    as a grain of sand,
                    a drop of water
                    a tree, a bird, a fish
                    a silent stone, a cloud
                    as the wind that blows.
                    As an insignificant nothing,
                    but let me remain, with you
                    I belong to you.
                    I remember stillness speak-
                    to me you belong,
                    as who u are now,
                    and forever shall,
                    as whoever u will be,
                    whenever u will be.
                    U are my longing
                    My longing for myself,
                    I live through u,
                    I live in you.

P.S - These pictures are of Phang Nga Bay and the islands and the limestone caves that we visited. I don't have any decent pictures of the caves or for that matter the bay or the islands, as I was too awestruck with spectacular view to be able to do any decent photography. If u are travelling to Phuket, do visit this beautiful bay, and make sure that u book the trip directly through the company, rather than tour operators. I have not mentioned the limestone caves we explored in the canoes, probably because I do not have enough words to describe the feeling of awe that the experience left me with and I doubt I ever will find those words, it just needs to be experienced.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Some nights
 are just meant
to stand quietly in open, feeling the cold touch of wind on your naked skin while listening to the sound of wind, those are the nights
 when the wind is singing and u can hear, life silently whispering its blessings to you. 

It's one of those nights
 which heal and rejuvenate
 all that is bruised, tired and broken within. 

It's one of those nights
 when all u need to do is
 quit fighting, 
close your eyes,
 take a deep breath in
let life work it's magic within.

It is one of those night when u can ask for blessings and know that they will be granted. I asked for peace, for guidance, for love, to find myself in his arms, to have his hands holding mine, for a dream to work on and make it come true, for joy and the means to share and spread that joy.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Travelogue Phuket 2012 - Exploring -2

Vacations are about stepping out of a door, locking it and throwing away the key till u want to open the door and walk back in again.

The thing about them is, given that, you manage to take a break from the regular routine and forget completely all of those worries and questions from everyday mundane life, that the poor mind goes through to sort out some problem or the other that is plaguing it, you end up finding for yourself the leisure of musing.

Musing! Ah!! and you must be wondering what the heck, because the whole point of taking a vacation is to get away from all the overdrive thinking we do everyday.

That is my point, vacations give u the leisure to muse randomly when u wish to and not at all if u don't wish to. And that is precisely the reason that these random musings, when they rarely do happen, even if they don't leave u with any solutions, they at least leave u with a clearer perspective of your problems. Quite sometimes I have found in these ramblings, conclusions that have given poor mind a break(even if it last for a few moments or days) from that crazy tug of war of finding solutions and this feeling is nothing short of bliss.

This vacation gave me quite a few moments of such peaceful ramblings as I went exploring.

We checked out The weekend market, that takes place in Phuket Town every weekend, it's an extensive market offering a huge variety of goods ranging from clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, tech stuff, local handicrafts and street food. In short a shopper's heaven. It's such a pity I am no longer a shopaholic, because If I had been I would have got lost in those tiny lanes, explored them in and out and emerged hours later loaded with bags and bags of my loot. The food smelled yummy too, we tried a few kebabs and pickles which were great. I am sure we would have discovered a few more interesting things hiding within some corner there but because we were short of time we did not linger around for long.
(Tip - to get the best deals, u have to haggle and the best way to do it, is to bring the price down to half of what was quoted and then bargain)

@ The weekend market

After the weekend market, we went to explore Patong. Now that I think of it, had it not been for Jacob, I doubt if I would have ever gone there, because it definitely was not on my exploring list and I need to thank him for that experience. It was a Saturday, and the place was in it's full element, not that it would have been less vibrant, noisy, crowded or happening if it had been any other day, because I doubt if Patong ever sleeps at night.

It's an experience, at night, Patong is. Not to be missed. Unforgettable and yet forgettable. Colorful, lit, bright, noisy, alive, thronged by scores and scores of people, lined by countless pubs, diners, bars, strip clubs, go - go bars. It hits u in full force and seduces the unsuspecting traveler within you with it's charm.

I remember telling Jacob, as I stepped on it's main street, Bangla road, that this is my kind of place, I could party here endlessly, get lost and not be found. We walked down the main street, crossed over and went to the huge street food market along the beach, checked each and every stall (all the while depriving poor Jacob of a decent dinner to sample the street food, of which in the end I sampled only a little ), checked out the fine-diners across the street food markets, caught a glimpse of a beach side concert, released a sky lantern, sat on the beach, saw fireworks (also saw a man pee right on the beach !!!!!! really!!!), explored more and sometime during this, the spell that Patong had weaved over me broke and the illusion got over. I had seen through the beautiful mask of Patong, into the layers within. It wasn't hideous, but it wasn't beautiful either and it certainly wasn't charming or a place I could remain lost into. I don't think I will ever fall under the spell of Patong again. I may go back there, I may spend a night sitting and drinking in one of those roadside bars, dance at one of those discs and enjoy myself, but I won't ever be deluded by it.

Patong - lit and vibrant

The Banana Crepe - yummmm

One of the countless many bars

letting go


I believe it's charm lies in the bubble of illusion it creates and offers to you as an escape from reality, u walk dazed in that illusion while it lasts, but the moment the bubble breaks, u can only but recollect it as a haze. Maybe I have not experienced life enough to understand, what kind of entertainment do people find in those go-go bars, baton bars in the alleys or what companionship can they get by watching belly dancers or what solace can loneliness find by sleeping with a sex worker or how noise and crowd can substitute for music and the spirit of fun. But, having experienced it, all I can say is that Patong, at night, with all it's glory is nothing but a fantasy, but still a fantasy worth experiencing once.

But I still have some beautiful memories from that night and oddly enough, none of them are of those colorful, bright noisy streets and places I went to. I remember the delicious, mouth watering, melt in mouth crisp Banana crepes ( a thai street food special and I can't thank Jacob enough for introducing me to them, I can still taste them melting in my mouth) and the crispiness of the spring rolls I had had at one of the stalls. I remember releasing my sky lantern and watching it hover in the air, feeling scared as it wavered a bit and threatened to crash and feeling delightful when it ultimately rose and went far away into the sky. I remember saying a silent prayer in that moment, for dreams, mine, of the dear friend next to me and of all those countless people who dare to dream, that they may rise, come true and shine like this lantern and light up the lives of people they reach

But the most clear memory that I have of that night is of sitting quietly next to Jacob on the sand, removed far away from the noise and glamour of Patong (which was just a few paces away), staring far into the darkness and listening to the waves wash on the beach, the sound of the sea, lighted by the darkness of the night, both of us lost in our own thoughts.

I sat there contemplating the uncertainties of life and the realization that even with all these uncertainties, one could still find peace, and that peace cannot come by trying to escape from reality into the make believe, rather that peace can be found in the night, the wind, the sound of waves, the stars shining above, the sun rising, the flowers, the singing birds, the sound of laughter or even in silence, the moment when we close our eyes, tune off the pointless clutter and surrender ourselves into the arms of nature. Because peace comes from within us, it comes when we are at peace with our own self and till then no matter how far and how long we may wander, we shall still not find what we seek.

For a moment then I had found peace, though I have lost it again now and I shall wander on in search of it, I know now that it's not as elusive as it seems, thanks to the musings at leisure.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Travelogue Phuket 2012 - Exploring - 1

I did not have any Itinerary for the trip, just a list of things to do, places to explore, flavors to try thanks to extensive reading that I had done by going through, wikitravel,, trip advisor and lonely planet.

On my list to explore were - Phuket Botanical and Butterfly garden, Phang Nga Bay, Weekend Market in Phuket Town, Promthep Cape, Kata and Karon Beaches.

We were staying in Chalong, the other advantage apart from getting value for money accommodation of being there was, that it lies in the center of all the places I had on my exploring list, some a little walk away, some a long walk away and some a taxi away.

The first place we explored was - The Botanical Garden at Phuket, quite an extensive place, divided into many sub gardens - fern, herbs, rain forest, flowers, cactus, bamboo etc, nicely maintained and labelled (though they could do with having a few guides to give information around) and for some unfathomable reason they were playing Christmas carols all over the park, which was amusing for a while, but got on our nerves after a while. But all in all it was a lovely visit and I would recommend it to anyone wishing to explore it. 

Orchid Garden

Bamboo Garden

Flower Garden

From the botanical garden, we hitched a lift (it's quite safe to do so in Thailand in my experience, of course it does cost u 50-300 Bhats depending on the distance) and went on an impromptu visit to Chalong Bay, a nice and happening place cluttered with lots of eateries and Bars. Spent a lovely evening dining by a beach side restaurant called Kaneang (I'd read about it in quite a few recos) - a beautiful place, lovely ambience with good food ( esp seafood, which thanks to my anaphylaxis I can't have). We also managed to book a boat tour to Phang Nga bay from a local tour operator (I suggest that it's better to book directly with the tour companies, as these operators tend to change tours at the last moment)

Kaneang @ The Pier

The next day we went to see a real time Muay Thai fight in a local stadium (1000 Bhats for the tickets, I suggest get egular tickets instead of the VIP one's) and it was fun, watching techniques we were practicing, speculating. Each match begins with a dancing ritual to impress the Gods ( and we got to learn the ritual the very next day in the session). One of the matches lasted for just 10 seconds, one punch from the Australian boxer and match over (I'm sure he earned a nasty reputation) another one had this chap who could hardly find time from setting his knickers right and ended up getting a bloody injury and loosing the match. 

The Pre fight dance ritual

he lost the match to the pants

The most interesting part of the match evening was of course the discussion about the lineage of tomato - whether it was a fruit or a vegetable that started between us and the couple from the camp who were accompanying us!! and we are still clueless from where it started, but we now know that tomato is a fruit and  that French are a scary lot.

That night we also discovered, a lovely bar we had in our neighborhood, located around a tree, an open air place with a round stone slab, on which u can leave behind a message with ink markers (of course I lost all my sleep as played with the markers) with a yummy meal (as Jacob put it, who thinks bars can serve good meals, well this one did). 

This is the beauty of travel - Impromptu moments - a peaceful evening by the sea listening to the waves, the wind, crazy and funny conversations, a lovely night by a bar with music of 90's  and so many more - moments that linger in some corner of your memories and come back to you some other time, making you smile at the times gone by.  

P.S - account of exploring shall continue in the next post.