LP on the road: Our Year of Discovery

Image courtesy: Sikaraha/123RF

From unfortunate encounters at the Kumbh Mela to taking on Lake Cave in Australia, Team LPMI found themselves in various corners of the globe in 2019. Here are some of our travel highs and lows, and a sneak peek into our 2020 travel plans.

TESTING THE HEART IN AUSTRALIA
Primrose Monteiro-D’souza, Chief Community Officer & Editor

My travel highlight…was climbing back up from the Lake Cave in the  Margaret River region. I remember wondering, as I climbed down the 376 steps, how I was going to get back up. I considered, for a brief, sensible moment, whether I should just wait in the visitor centre for the others, but I hadn’t come Down Under to not go down under (and no dirty jokes here, please!).Anyway, I did manage to get back up without my heart giving way, and,  the next day, challenged my legs on part of the Coast-to-Coastwalk along the beach.This time, my new Chinese friend Paul had to stoically help me up and down boulders that are said to have moved here from Sri Lanka just to test me (pictured), but it did tell me what I could do if I put my heart – and legs – to it. Another high point was getting to hold a rescued joey; I had to hold him in a bag that reeked of kangaroo pee because he was soon to be returned to the wild, but that encounter really exercised my heart in a whole other way…

My low moment… was in Turkey when I realised that the cost of a hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia had gone up by about Rs 5,000 from the ` 12,000 I had earlier decided to splurge on.At ` 17,000 each, it just didn’t cut it for a family of four.

In 2020, I am most excited about… the possibility of going to Vietnam – for the food more than anything else. 

RIDING BY MOONLIGHT IN SRI LANKA
Samarpan Bhowmik, Chief Copy Editor

My travel highlight… was taking a boat ride in the middle of the night near the confluence of the Bentota River with the indian Ocean in Sri Lanka. Moonlight lends a touch of enchantment to even the most mundane of scenarios, so imagine a waxing moon peeking out from behind enormous storm clouds gathered overhead, the choppy waters of the estuary painted a bewitching silver.The boat skipped along, tossing us up in rhythm, as we rapidly approached the meeting point of the ocean and the river. The man on the motor probably registered the terror apparent on our faces, and, with an impressive flurry, cut the pace and pulled up just a few metres shy of the waves beyond which lay the vast expanses of the Indian Ocean. From the confluence, we made our way a little upriver, towards mangroves that sprang up like green islands in the middle of the water. We entered the mangroves through a small break in the thick curtain formed by the trees linked to each other, and looked up to find a “ceiling” of sorts created by the canopy of leaves and branches. Every dangling branch held the promise(and threat) of the monitors or crocodiles known to inhabit these parts, and our hearts were in our mouth the entire time. It was a ride I’m going to remember for a long time.

My low moment… was realising I had only an hour to experience Galle. I just about managed a stroll down the ramparts of Galle Fort to the lighthouse and a quick coffee in the lanes off the waterfront.

In 2020, I’m most excited about… the possibility of going to Reunion Island. Hiking around an active volcano in the middle of the ocean is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

ALMOST GETTING KILLED BY DIVINE INTERVENTION IN UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA
T Krishna Prabakar, Deputy Art Director

My travel highlight… was being chased by a Naga baba at the Kumbh Mela in February.We were wandering around taking photographs – there was so much colour and character around – and  a Naga sadhu is always a compelling subject. In this case, I got separated from the group, the sadhu took offence to my wanting to photograph him, and he threatened me with his trishul. It was like a scene from a Bollywood lm – my life ashed before my eyes.

My low moment… was my journey out of Prayagraj to Lucknow. What usually takes four hours took a solid 13!

In 2020, I’m most excited about…the possibility of photographing wildlife across the world.

EATING MY WAY THROUGH TAIWAN
Amit Gaikwad, Senior Assistant Editor 

My travel highlight… was making my food dreams come true in Taiwan. One thing I had always wanted to try (courtesy Street Food, the hit series on Netflix) was the street food here. After building up an appetite and shortlisting a few night markets in Taipei and Taichung, I went out to try something new. From the famous beef noodle soup to the unusual stinky tofu, I tried them all. Taiwan truly is a paradise for foodies. I quickly realised that there’s something for every palate. My ultimate foodgasm was at Din Tai Fung. A few of my friends had recommended the classic xiaolóng bao — steamed pork dumplings – at this restaurant. Luckily not many on the trip fancied pork, which meant I got an entire serving (12 pieces!) to myself. Soft, juicy and melt-in-your-mouth, this was the best dish I had on the trip.

My low moment… was not finding enough time to explore the beautiful country of Myanmar. With just a couple of hours to spare, all I could manage was a quick auto ride in the beautiful town of Tamu. From temples to markets and famous restaurants, I can’t wait get back to explore more of the country!

In 2020, I’m most excited about… exploring some great food cities in the country. Madurai, Lucknow and Old Delhi are on my list of must-visits.

GOING HOT AND COLD IN FINLAND
Aurelia Fernandes, Senior Features Writer

My travel highlight… was floating on Lake Saimaa, Finland, in an immersion suit. I absolutely love water, but, it must be said,I am a terrible swimmer.Thanks to immersion suit that allows you to oat, I was able to chill in the icy cold waters of Lake Saimaa in the middle of a heatwave. Even though I looked like a weird Michelin man-Teletubby hybrid, I didn’t mind it one bit, as I stared at the blue sky above me, occasionally fighting the urge to sleep.After I waddled out of the lake and back on to the pier, it was time to enjoy the evening in the most Finnish way possible – sweating it out in a sauna. If my trip to Finland taught me anything, it was how to nail the sauna routine. Stepping out of the steam room, I knew I had to cool off. I had two choices – the warm hot tub or jumping back into the freezing Lake Saimaa. Before I knew it, my legs were carrying me off towards the lake.Taking a deep breath,

I jumped in, knowing better than to think about this endeavour. I felt a chill down my spine, and, just as I was about to reconsider and scramble out,I felt my entire body relax. When I travel, my days usually start extremely early and end terribly late – I enjoy being on my feet; chilling in a lake in the middle of a summer day was a pleasant change.It served as the perfect reminder that, sometimes, it’s okay to take it slow and do absolutely nothing at all.

My low moment… was missing out on oysters in Tohoku, Japan.There gionis famous for its oysters and, even though we passed quite a few stalls shucking these delicious molluscs, our guides were a bit apprehensive about letting us try them.I did manage to sneak away and get to a stall, but they were sold out by then – proof that I’d missed out on something good.

In 2020, I’m most excited about… eating my way through East Asia. I firmly believe in trying everything once(and making groom for seconds), andEast Asia is a foodie’ shaven.

FINDING LIFE TRUTHS OVER NOODLES IN UTTARAKHAND, INDIA
Amrita Lall, former Senior Features Writer

My travel highlight… was a surprisingly simple one. It was a meal I had at a nameless, no-frills restaurant somewhere in the surrounds of Binsar, Uttarakhand. There was a plate of piping-hot Maggi noodles with two scrambled eggs folded in, a side of bhang  (hemp-seed) chutney and a bowl of freshly- hung curd, followed by a big cup of rich, milky tea and some local puff pastry. I sat on a wooden bench, sipping my tea, watching the occasional cart twist its way further up into the Kumaon and the women tending buffaloes in their backyards, and exchanging smiles with cheerful passers-by. I was accompanied by photographer Krishna and Nitin, our local driver.We didn’t say much to each other for the whole stretch of the hour that we were there, and, if we did,it was only to marvel at how magnificent  the mountains looked, how clean the air felt, how friendly the locals were and how wonderful the food was.

My low moment… was  finding out last-minute that our train tickets from Binsar to Delhi had not been confirmed and then having to travel for 10 hours by road to NewDelhi, followed by a two-hour flight back home to Mumbai.

In 2020, I’m most excited about…the possibility of photographing wildlife across the world…

For more great trips and tips from LPMI staffers, check out LPMI’s December 2019 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.