Travel

Travel

The Eudaimoniacs 2018 Travel Bucket List


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Wooosh! 2017 was a rollercoaster y’all. We covered the beautiful country of Japan (which is totally a random trip), as well as the much-awaited Machu Picchu which Linda has been dreaming of setting foot on since she was 13 years old. Let’s strike that off from our bucket list, shall we?

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There are however, other amazing countries that we have visited along the way. We have met alot of new friends, went to the depth of Earth, got stuck in a strike in Turkey and a natural disaster in Philippines, bask in the beauty of Mother Nature, learn about humility and respect. You will learn more about yourself as you open your mind to unfamiliarity. So try not to limit yourself to just your bucket list.

To add to this, if you feel like travelling solo, just go for it! Don’t wait for anybody. You will be able to meet new travel companions who will turn to lifelong friends throughout your destination. That’s an opportunity for another post. We’ll leave you tips on travelling solo in the next article!

As for now, here’s our recommended places to go for 2018.

Numero Uno

GREECE

Santorini. Athens. Mykonos. Rhodes. These are the favourite places that one will visit when in Greece. No doubt you have to see those majestic ancient Greek temples. However, Eudaimoniacs recommend something, abit more ‘off the beaten track’.

METEORA

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Yes guys, this is in Greece. Looks like a painting isn’t it? Wait till you go there and see it for yourself. The landscaping in Meteora is exquisite. Be sure to visit the monasteries that are perched high up on some of the rock formations.

Fun facts: For our Singaporean readers, do you know that our 11-hour flight from Singapore to Athens, is only SGD 245 (all-in)? Check out SCOOT!

Numero Due

EGYPT

Sail around the river Nile and explore the chambers of The Great Pyramid of Giza. There are alot to do and see in Egypt than just the pyramids. Check out the Library of Alexandria or the Temple of Karnak. Wherever you are in Egypt, it will take your breathe away.

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If you are in Cairo, there will be chaos. You just cannot escape it. But what you can do is enjoy the experience, find your zen which you’ve been practicing during your yoga sessions. You are surrounded by hoards of touts. As long as you don’t take out your wallet, you’ll be fine. Use that moment, to talk to them. Learn more about them. You’d be surprise at how easy they will put aside their persistent-selling and have a conversation with you without trying to rip you off.

Egypt is mad cheap and the country is trying to build its economy through tourism again. So know that you are doing a good deed in contributing help and support towards the livelihood of the locals.

Numero Tre

JORDAN

The mystical land of Jordan leaves us speechless everytime we talked about it.

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That is a photo of the famous Treasury taken at Petra. Just like most of the ancient sites in Egypt, Petra showcases ancient architectural art etched into its reddish rocks. At night, this treasury is the backdrop of a candle-lit stage for a musical performance and stories on the origin of Petra and The Bedouin. Isn’t this just Instagram-worthy?

Numero Quattro

MARRAKECH

Get lost in the busy souks of Marrakech, as it’ll leave you with a sensory overload. Be in awe by this bustling market. You’ll be experiencing the smell of Moroccan spices and herbs, while intoxicated by the motorbike fumes under the hot sun. The shouts of stallholders will probably drive you crazy as you try to admire the potteries and woven baskets.

But hey, this is the Marrakech souk experience. You will actually find that there is peace in all those chaos.

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Don’t forget to try the plethora of flavorful local delicacies.

Just be wary of your belongings as you wander through its souk.

Numero Cinque

ARGENTINA

I mean c’mon. Just look at this photo. How can it not be in your bucket list? This is like the Mother of all waterfalls. It’s so big that it borders two countries: Argentina and Brazil. Iguazu Falls is taller than Niagara Falls and twice as wide.

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Numerous islands along the 2.7km long edge divide the falls into many separate waterfalls and cataracts, varying between 60 and 82 m (197 and 269 ft) high. The number of these smaller waterfalls fluctuates from 150 to 300, depending on the water level. About half of the river’s flow falls into a long and narrow chasm called the Devil’s Throat.

3 ways to view the Iguazu Falls

  1. From the Brazilian side, you can take in better panoramic views of the falls from all directions. There are also lookout points from the Argentinian side as well.
  2. From the Argentinian side, you can literally walk into the heart of the falls at the Devil’s Throat and take a boat ride under the tumbling waters.
  3. Helicopter ride for a bird’s eye view of the massive waterfall.

 

There you have it. Our top 5 recommendation for places to visit this year. Share with us your bucket list. What’s YOUR Top 5?

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India

Gokarna – The Secret Paradise


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Gokarna. A small South Indian village lies at the coast of the Arabian Sea. Sharing God’s creation with the Middle East – Yemen and Somalia. We stood on a cliff infront of Sri Rama Temple. What we saw was breath-taking. Sea hawks and butterflies decorate the skies and sounds of crashing waves brought peace to the ears.

Gokarna is located an hour south of the Goa and it’s around 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Bangalore, the state capital.
Getting to Gokarna
The nearest airport is Dabolim, in Goa. From there it’s a four hour drive to Gorkana. Alternatively, trains on the Konkan railway stop at Gokarna Road station, 15 minutes from town, as well as Kumta and Ankola stations, both around 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Gokarna. Gokarna is also well connected by bus from major cities such as Madgaon in Goa, and Mangalore and Bangalore in Karnataka.
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It’s 4am and fishermen were getting their nets and boats ready for the day’s catch. Thoughts circle about on what I want to do today. Trekking the four ghats (Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats, they run parallel to the coast on either side of the Deccan plateau and meet at the southern tip of India) or just sitting still inhaling the salted air. Gokarna is a town unified yet, divided by 4 ghats. We are now at Gokarna Beach. Beyond this beach lies a beautiful green plateau leading to Kudle Beach. At Kudle, you can see a little bit more foreigners. Shacks and Chai shops occupy the whole stretch of Kudle. However, the sound of “OM” resonates in everything and everyone with an invisble melody, calling out to sunseekers who dare trek through it’s unchartered, rocky domains. This is where the party begins. Western and Indian foreigners flock to OM Beach, basking in it’s glory. There’ll be bonfires at night and hippies playing guitar under the moonlight.

The plateau leading to Kudle Beach

Beach No. 1:  Kudle Beach

Sunrise at Kudle Beach

Villagers gawking at fishermen’s catch of the day

Beach No.2:  OM Beach

But wait. There’s more to Gokarna than just this. Enlightenment can be found everywhere if you look hard enough, or ironically, not at all. Curiosity besiege us to discover what lies beyond OM. Prettier beaches? A more magnificent landscape? or just the journey itself. Only the bold will dare to cross the thick forest leading to Half-Moon Beach. One have to pass through the thick forest, barbed wire and cliffs. At Half-Moon, we hardly see any other foreigners. It’s just us. For now. There were some shacks, more black, sharp rocks and bigger crashing waves. I feel like I’m in the movie, The Beach.

Beach No. 3:  Half-Moon Beach

A tired Linda after trekking through the jungles to reach the isolated Half-Moon

To get to every beach, one must be able to cross mountains, forests, cliffs and plateau. The terrains get harder each time. However, the ability to reach our destination and see the magnificent sights, makes it all worthwhile.

Just one more mission to achieve: To reach Paradise. Paradise Beach. The best out of all the beaches, was so they claim. Located at the far end of Gokarna. The fourth and final beach, where sands are barely untouched and white as snow, water as blue as Lake Camiguin in Philippines. To reach Paradise, one must learn to stay calm and trust his/her own instinct and follow the signs.

Now, we need a “Thumbs Up”.

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Journey to Paradise Beach

We have finally reached the much raved about beach in Gokarna called Paradise. Instead of trekking the dangeorus terrain, we were offered a ride in an antique Fiat Padmini, the last of it’s kind of that model in 1996. While going out for breakfast, we were invited by a Sadhu called Swami Giridhara whom we met at a temple on a cliff dividing the Main Beach and Kudle Beach. We were lucky to be in the company of another special Swami named, Yogaratna, Saraswati who was born in Paris, France, of Australian parents and raised in India.

Cruising along the coast of a fishing village in a vintage Fiat Padmini, accompanied by two Swamis.

Swamiji Giridar from Rishikesh and Materji Yogaratna.

Finally, we reached Paradise.

They were planning to visit an old saint living on an island only reachable by boat and only during low tide for he sits in meditation in a cave conveniently carved off from a cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea. We agree it sounds far-fetched because we ourselves took a few days to digest the overwhelming coincidences and timing of everything that happened.

When we reached the jetty, our noses were greeted with the aroma of diesel and drying fish. The jetty was primarily used as a fishing vessel berth and the fishermen were busy either refueling or doing maintenance works. The rest were occupied with laying dried fish leftover from the morning haul.

At the fishing dock, waiting for our ferry.

A 5-minute ferry crossed us safely to the fishermen’s village. We were surprised to learn that most of the island residents were Muslims and they spoke the best English I’ve heard so far in my short term in India. Another suprise, though unfortunate, was that the saint the two Sadhus intended to visit had passed away 3 years ago. The fishermen offered us a private tour around the island on their fishing boat for a small fee before returning us back to Gokarna.

From there we drove about 10 minutes to reach a dead end. A local told us Paradise Beach was only accessible through a 15-minute trek of which you need a guide (obviously he was making a rehearsed sales pitch but we had no regrets for we would really be lost without him).

The journey was extremely fun. Dangerously floored with dangerous red dirt, adrenaline was a constant companion during the trek. Tall bushes, coloured flowers, dancing butterflies and grazing cows added to the picturesque humid weather. Finally, we heard crashing waves and beneath a downhill slope lies Paradise Beach.

Frankly, we were disappointed. All we saw were dilapidated shacks and plenty of empty glass and plastic bottles. Our guide told us that the police banned any sort of business or residential property here for it used to be saturated with drug abusers from the West, polluting the holy vibe of this temple town. There we sat in silence digesting the isolation and the strong playful waves making a symphony by crashing onto the nearby rocks.

The infamous Paradise Beach

We left the place and received an inspirational quote from within about life:

“The experience of the journey is the Paradise. The destination is just an excuse”.

India

Eudaimoniacs RTW Series: Leg 1 India (Mumbai) Day 61 to 63 – Thosai and Chai


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All good things have to come to an end. Unfortunately for us, we had to leave our paragliding family to continue our journey. We decided we needed to rejuvenate our bodies and do nothing for a while. Discussing with our paragliding mates, we opted for Rishikesh, the world capital of yoga. Unfamiliar with the complicated train system in India, we opted to pay extra for convenience by flight to Dehra Dun’s Jolly Grant Airport, 25km from Rishikesh.

From Kamshet, we had to go to Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport and fly to Delhi, transit for 1 hour before heading to Dehra Dun. Our dear fellow paragliding pilot, Hemanshu, volunteered to host us for our short 24 hour stay in Mumbai before our departure. Leaving Kamshet in a jeep, we descended down from the Deccan Plateau to the most populated city in India – Mumbai.

We reached Hemanshu’s place around midnight. Stuck in a complicated avenue, we called Hemanshu for help and like a galiant knight in shining armour, he rode a scooter from behind and showed us the way to his colony (in India, residential buildings under the same management are called colonies).

There i was greeted warmly by his aunt who surprised me with my second birthday cake in India (altogether i had 3 birthday cakes this year in India when usually in Singapore, nobody cares). We slept about 1 in the morning, woke up early to catch the sunrise on his rooftop while having breakfast made by his lovely mum and then began our hectic tour of Mumbai.

First stop was Hemanshu’s office. He is a lawyer specializing in real estate and the ambience of his office really commanded respect though it was balanced by his humble character. The afternoon went by quickly with Hemanshu driving us to malls, newly developing properties in Mumbai’s ballooning real estate market and passing by some slum areas. And yes, all this while we were experiencing what driving in a gridlock city feels like and it does not feel good at all. Stress and forced patience were constant companions throughout.

At Hemanshu’s law firm

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We went to Marine Drive, home to the biggest Bollywood celebrities. By chance, it was Shah Rukh Khan’s birthday and there was a huge crowd of fans and paparazzi in front of his bungalow gates. We stayed for a while before heading off to Haji Ali Mosque.

Outside Shah Rukh Khan’s mansion. Hundreds of fans came to catch a glimpse of the birthday boy.

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Haji Ali Mosque was a sight. Even the drive there was a magnificent sight. We had to drive past a newly constructed bridge that resembled San Fransisco’s Bridge. The mosque is situated in the sea and is only accessible by a tiny road which was heavily packed with stalls and sightseers. We watched the sunset and headed back to the carpark to meet our other paragliding buddy, Husein.

Haji Ali Mosque

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He brought us to her sister’s house and we were totally shocked by the grandeur of her apartment. Being a security guard to support myself through polytechnic, i’ve seen a fair share of what a wealthy apartment looks like but this was something else. In short, her apartment was the best i’ve ever seen in terms of aesthetics, view and technology.

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After that we went off for a long savoury dinner followed by a combined cake for the November babies – Linda, Husein and myself. We spent about an hour by the coastline before Hemanshu and Husein took shifts to drive us around Mumbai covering the iconic Taj Hotel and Queen’s necklace. We had a final cup of coffee together and all of us were getting drowsy from a lack of sleep.

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Husein went home and Hemanshu painstakingly drove us to the airport punctually at 4am. In short it was a comfortable tour of Mumbai made possible only thanks to our paragliding buddies, Husein and ESPECIALLY Hemanshu. So with that, we would love to say our thanks once again to the both of them and rub our palms in anticipation of the adventures that await us in Rishikesh. Until then, we are in desperate need for sleep right now.