Top six experiences of 2013
Despite many downs, 2013, has been an amazing year. I have kept my foot on eight different countries this year. Travel has changed me as a person and each experience was amazing and the memories are worth cherishable. Going into the flashback I will share my top six amazing experiences of 2013 starting in chronological order.
1. Couch Surfing in Mekong
I have never couch surfed before, but I was very eager to CS in Vietnam, as I already knew that people would be friendly and kind.
While I was traveling to Mekong region of Vietnam, I sent a couch request to person, who would later turn out to be a friend for lifetime. He accepted and I was very eager to meet him. Fast forward, and we hang out (la ca in Vietnamese) in his village which is about 200 kilometers from Saigon. He introduced me to his extended family (one of them was a Vietnam War veteran), whom they have not seen each other for many years and me going to their village was a big enough occasion for them to gather. We spent the day boating the narrow streams, moto biking in the rural country side, eating exotic foods like a barbecued mouse and Balut; drinking 333 Beer (ba ba ba bia in Vietnamese) and singing Vietnamese songs. It was only a one day experience, but the it has given me a chance to understand Vietnamese and their culture.
2. Sunrise at Angkor Wat
I have finally been here. The largest temple complex in the world at Angkor Wat is inspiring and the sheer magnitude of these temples has driven me into curiosity. Watching the sun rise beyond the temple with pink and purple cloudy skies creating a silhouette effect, was more than an experience. As the sun brightened up, the clouds turn into orange reflecting the temple onto the lotus pond. It was a spectacle to watch and the thousands of tourists who came to experience the same, created a festive ambience.
3. Tug of War at Bisket Jatra, Nepal
After, two long days on the train and on the road, I managed to reach Bhaktapur in Nepal, to celebrate the Nepalese New Year know as Bisket Jatra locally. While the world was still in 2013, Nepal was already celebrating 2070 (according to Nepalese calender). The most entertaining event of the festival is when a chariot is pulled on either side like a tug of war, between two groups of the village. This tug of war is really a virtual war and the competition was so fierce that the pulling continued for more than six hours until a group completely pulled the chariot towards their side.
4. Gastronomic delight at Jalan Alor
I never ever used to eat so much in a day, as much as I used to eat every single day in KL. Jalan Alor, just a stones throw away from Bukit Bintang, is a delightful place to find authentic Malay/Chinese street food. There are plenty of food stalls and it became hard for me to choose where to go. Every time, I was at this place my appetite increases magically and my stomach was never reluctant to try new stuff. My favorites were the strangely looking curry me and kway teow soup.
5. Falling in love with Hong Kong
Initially, I felt Hong Kong was very strange. But that’s a bug I carry around during my first day in a new place. The more I knew and experienced Hong Kong, the more I fell in love with it. Beyond all the skyscrapers and booming economy, Hong Kong has a very romantic character. The ferries and the trams, the spas and the boutiques, the parks and the malls are a great place to meet new people and who knows someone might be with you forever. Hong Kong is a city that could spark many love stories.
6. Aura of Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda was a place which made me feel that Buddha’s soul was prevailing around. Here I got lost into a mystical world and wondering how eternity can be found in midst of two thousand people. I have not heard about this place for 25 years of my life and still cannot spell it correctly, but no surprise that the feel I got here would be in my memory forever.
People eating at Jalan Alor – http://www.flickr.com/photos/saragoldsmith/4263505477
A couple in Hong Kong – http://www.flickr.com/photos/rossap/8959143911
Shwedagon Pagoda – http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwp-roger/4361022275