21 Moments in 2014 that took our breath away

 

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As we sit here in the comfort of our home, memories of the year that went by, flash across our minds. 2014, the year that took us to and around 5 countries mainly Australia, Fiji, Malaysia, India & Bahrain. This is the year that symbolized what we are “Travelers by Soul” in every way possible.

2014 started beautifully allowing us to explore the hidden beauty of Australia on beaches where we were the only souls on vast stretches of unexplored beauty (Oh yes! It was really romantic), we then explored the coral islands of Fiji (The place that made us believe that happiness lives there, in every form). By mid year we took a decision to quit our jobs and every comfort of our life to go on a road trip to India for 6 months (Yes, we did travel for that long and here we are now to take you on a flashback of our adventurous year of 2014). Well well! Towards the end of the year, we decided to take a short detour to explore the middle eastern island and country of Bahrain.

A glimpse of few moments that took our breath away in 2014:

1) Camel desert safari for 48 hours in the Thar desert

7Camel safari in the Thar 

We lived in the Thar desert for two nights with nothing but camels for our transport, a million stars as our blanket & eating freshly cooked food by our local camel boys. Here we were, in the middle of nowhere & no other person in sight except for ourselves and our camels.We had to open our minds to the forces of nature and live like a true nomad for 48 hours. We even experienced rain on a part of our journey and yet we made the most of it! A trip that made us acknowledge the fact that, one must go out of their comfort zone in order to achieve life’s best moments.

 

2) Volunteering to teach rural Indian children in Rajasthan

gTeaching  English & geography to the village kids in a village near Udaipur,Rajasthan.

While in Udaipur we learnt about an NGO that has pre-school and post school programmes for rural kids as well as organizes women empowerment workshops for the health and safety of women. We visited the village make-shift school near Udaipur and also volunteered to teach the kids English and Geography. We were excited to see that some of the kids were so sharp in grasping and would put up their hands in eagerness to give answers.

 

3) Rock climbing to enjoy breathtaking views of rural Rajasthan

78Rock climbing in a quaint Bishnoi village off Jodhpur

Climbing up a rock mountain off Jodhpur and witnessing a beautiful sunset amidst the rustic rural  landscapes of Rajasthan was by far one of the best moments we have had in Rajasthan. The whole experience of climbing up this rocky hill and enjoying the dusk with soothing cool winds blowing through our hair is something we will never forget.

 

4) Being a part of traditional women s festival “Karva Chaudh” in a village near Jodhpur

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Witnessing the Karva Chauth celebration and watching it in Indian movies are two different things! We got to watch the colorfully dressed Rajasthani women celebrating the day whilst praying for their partners long life by fasting until the moon’s visibility at night.

 

5) Learning about the Rabari community fixation with “Opium”(and trying some)

6Learning about the Rajasthani “Bishnoi” communities fascination with opium  & how they procure/drink and enjoy it.

 

6) Experiencing tranquility in Kumaon hills from my mountain homestay 

IMG_2693Watching the snow peaked Himalayas from our humble abode in the hills

There is nothing more exciting than living in a beautiful mountain homestay in the Kumaon hills owned by descendants of Kumaon’s royal Chand Dynasty and a Burmese princess. They also have their very own organic farm where they grow fresh fruit and vegetables.

 

7) Trekking in an unexplored hillside village not far from Mcleodganj

79Our trekking track in the Eastern Himalayas

Trekking on the hills of Naddi village in Himachal where we walked amidst  clouds and with the occasional mules and donkeys  for company.

Read: Top 12 Offbeat things to do in Mcleodganj

 

8) Snorkeling amongst Purple Jellyfish and multi colored fishes

76The best snorkeling spot in India we have discovered to date 

How would you feel if you discover a little paradise that is hidden from human eyes, (well almost) surrounded by a diverse range of marine life and is just a few hours drive from Mangalore (India) ? This island was so beautiful and untouched and it also has a little cave where all you adventurous folks can go cave diving! Here we spotted purple jellyfish, squids and thousands of other colorful fish of all sizes, while snorkeling.

Read: Murudeswar- The hidden paradise of Karnataka

 

9) Exploring Amritsar &  rural Punjab with authentic Punjabi farm,music, dance & food

IMG_1841The Golden temple, Amritsar

Whilst in Punjab, we visited the famous Golden temple, Jallianwala Bagh & Wagah border, each very special in their own way. But the actual highlight of our Punjabi holiday was staying in a farm stay near Amritsar, feasting on traditional Punjabi cuisine and enjoying a lively Bhangda & Gidda dance performance. All this gave us a feel of experiencing a authentic Punjabi style holiday. We are sure to go and explore other parts of Punjab next time!

 

10) Discovering a untouched island filled with backwaters & rustic villages 

86One of the many backwaters of Vypin Island, Kerala

You will need to cross the ferry to witness this beautiful paradise; Vypin Island located on the outskirts of Cochin city. With tiny roadways, fish and prawn farms, coconut and banana plantations, acres of lush backwaters, virgin beaches and finger licking authentic seafood; this is one place we didn’t want to return back from. We explored it by hiring a scooty and got inside every nook and cranny of this island to find the cutest and most colorful houses by the sea/backwaters and unforgettable landscapes.

Read: 12 Offbeat reasons to re-visit Kochi

 

11) Sunset overlooking the city from my rustic hotel in the living fort of Jaisalmer

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The high of living in the living fort of Jaisalmer

The feeling of staying in a heritage hotel inside the Jaisalmer fort is incomparable. To top it all, we had our very own terrace sit out that looked out to the breathtaking views of city and was the perfect spot to enjoy the evening cup of tea while watching the sun go down!

 

12) Chilling with the Roo’s in Australia

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Relaxing with the Kangaroos on the beautiful and isolated “Pebbly Beach”in NSW, Australia

We always thought it was tough to spot a Kangaroo in the open and the only place to enjoy them is in a National park or a zoo, but after a visit to the Pebbly Beach in NSW, we were proved wrong. This is one beach where you will find Roos’ right on the beach, lazing and sunbathing just like we would! Ah, now this is what a perfect Aussie destination should be..deep blue beaches and Kangaroo’s for company. 😉

 

13) Having the traditional “Kawa” drink with the local villagers of Fiji

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Drinking Kawa with the locals in Fiji

In Fiji, one has to take permission with the village chief in order to see the village. On arrival, the guests need to attend a Kawa ceremony. Here firstly the Kawa powder is prepared by the chief. Once ready, a server will carry a cup to the guest, who must clap thrice before and after completely drinking the first cup. And after clapping, they must shout out aloud ‘Bulla’. (meaning Hello/Welcome or a Greeting)

Read: 5 reasons we love Fiji

 

14) Snorkeling in the Pacific waters of Fiji amongst fishes and corals

82Snorkeling in the Pacific island of Fiji 

Snorkeling amidst colorful corals and fishes in Monuriki Island, Fiji where the famous James Bond movie Castaway was shot. Azure blue waters, white sand beaches, tropical fish and palm trees were the key highlights of this magical paradise.

 

15) Swimming with the company of sea gulls in Dapoli, Maharashtra

85Enjoying the black sand beach of Dapoli in company of sea gulls

Swimming in the black sand beaches of Dapoli, Maharashtra where we were surrounded by thousands of seagulls making it a surreal sight to behold.

 

16) Falling in love with Autumn colors in Australia

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Promenade of pink leaved trees  in NSW, Australia

We particularly loved watching all the landscape turning into different hues of pink,orange,yellow and red during the colorful autumn in Mount Wilson, NSW.
17) Morning chit-chat with the local fishermen in Karnataka

81The local fishermen of coastal Karnataka

Our travels took us to a small village called Trasi on the coastal Karnataka belt of India. Trasi’s beaches are well-known for turtle breeding which happens around the months of October-November. Besides, we found a huge fishermen community living by the sea.While interacting with them we found out that the husbands set out from 4 am to catch fish and the wives would take over later on, to clean and sell the fish.

18) Living in a village home “within” the backwaters of Kerala

80Experiencing life in the villages within the backwaters

Watching the world go by, not from a luxury houseboat but from our humble abode in one of the villages in the backwaters of  Alleppey. We got to experience how the locals lived in all these little villages that we normally see on the fringe of the backwaters. Our homestay was located a mere 2 metres from the water’s edge and it was flanked by lush green rice paddy fields on the other side. Every day, the locals would take the ferry and cross over to go to Alleppey city for work or study and in fact so many of the locals had their own little boats as well. A stay that changed our thinking about Alleppey.

 

19) Celebrating NYE like a Mumbaikar

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Lighting sky lanterns in Marine Drive,Mumbai

If there is any place that is close to our hearts and also very quintessential of Mumbai; Marine drive it is! And whats better than to bring in the New year 2015 by lighting these colorful sky lanterns with our close ones and thousand other Mumbaikars.

 

20) Witnessing century old open air burial mounds in Bahrain

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Burial mounds in Bahrain

Visiting the Bahrain’s burial mounds, known to be one of the largest open cemeteries in the world with more than 10,000 burial mounds, dating between 3,000 BC and 600 AD.

Read: Our Bahrain photo essay

 

21) Going to an Elephant camp in Malaysia and feeding them

IMG_9773Elephant feeding and bathing in Kuala Gandha Elephant Sanctuary, KL

We love Animals and don’t miss any opportunity to interact with them. A visit to the Elephant Sanctuary in KL gave us so much insight on Elephants, their food habits and life cycle. As a part of this we also bathed and fed them with fresh fruits. A must visit on your next trip to KL.

 

PS: This list is randomly written, and in no particular order of preference.

© All content, text and photos on this blog are copyrighted by Soul Indian Journeys and may not be used without explicit permission. 

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