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Posts tagged ‘travel review’

Dehradun: a Charming Valley at The Himalayan Foothills & My Hometown.

Perched in the cradle made by the Himalayan foothills to the north and the Shivalik range to the south, Dehradun is that small valley where you can tell the season by looking at the flowers in your garden.

dehradun, spring

Spring comes home.

dehradun, valley, doon, mountains, clouds

The clouds kiss the mountains, as seen from the valley.

You can see your flight hovering over mountain tops when landing in Dehradun, and you are gradually lowered into a misty land where green is the predominant color.

Dehradun, valley, take off, airport, flight

Taking off from Dehradun.

Often shadowed in the eyes of visitors by the hill-station of Mussoorie, the valley is what glitters with sunrise, sunset & Mussoorie’s night lights after dusk, everyday.

Dehradun, Doon valley, mountains, sun, sunset, uttarakhand

The sun starts to set above the mountains.

Dehradun, Doon valley, sunset

Driving into the sunset.

This valley is what I call my home town. It’s what you dream about when fast city life stops beckoning, where you don’t have to rich or successful to be popular, where everyone lives in a house and doesn’t call it a bungalow, where there’s a leechee tree in every backyard, where you don’t go out late in the night because you love tucking away at home, where you look forward to the chilly winter so you can bask under the day sun. Everyone has a relative, a grandmother, an aunt in Dehradun. Yet you can cover the entire town within 3 degrees of separation.

Dehradun, Doon valley, mountains, Sahastradhara, drive

The mountain view from the Sahastradhara drive.

Dehradun, Doon valley, transport, road, uttarakhand

Riding on.

Like everything beautiful, Dehradun fell victim to commercialization in becoming the capital of the state of Uttarakhand. While that meant increased development, it also meant more commercial establishments, people & traffic. A lot of the town’s beauty is now confined to its outskirts, where clouds still grace rooftops, where the sunset still makes passers-by look up in wonder, where green is still the dominant color.

Dehradun, doon valley, sunset

Sunset in the valley.

In the transition phase of this once sleepy town lie a basket of experiences you don’t want to miss :)

Photo credits: TianyakeProdigalSistaDeepgoswami, ankyuk.

Maxwell Hill: Malaysia’s Oldest Charm

One minute, the clouds are descending upon you, transporting you to the heavens. The next minute, you’re running for shelter and watching the rain, intimidated by its intensity and the gusty wind. Just then, the rain and the mist both go into hiding, revealing an untouched blue sky.

Most people think Cameron Highlands or Genting Highlands when choosing a hill station getaway in Malaysia. Their lesser known cousin, Maxwell Hill aka Bukit Larut, therefore still retains its quaint English ambiance and a mystic poetic isolation.

old English Bangalow, maxwell hill

Maxwell Hill's old English ambiance shrouded in mist.

Bukit Larut, Maxwell Hill

Bukit Larut aka Maxwell Hill

Maxwell Hill, bukit larut

Royal old bungalows to spend a quiet weekend.

maxwell hill, bukit larut

Could you find a better place to write?

blue sky, maxwell hill, bukit larut

The mist, rain, wind disappear to reveal a blue sky.

A mere 4-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur takes you to the base of the hill. To get to the peak or midway up, you need to rent a 4-wheel drive or trek for 4-5 hours. Neither option is for the faint-hearted; the road is as steep as it is winding, and the jeeps appear to be from the era of the British rule in the region! In our impromptu trip, the tickets for the 4-wheel drive were sold out early on a Sunday, resulting in a great deal of negotiation and hitch-hiking, doubling the thrill of the ride (imagine, if you can, riding a jeep down a hill with 12 other passengers).

Maxwell hill

The winding road leading up to Maxwell Hill

4-wheel drive up to Maxwell Hill

Thanks to the 4-wheel drive & our pro driver, we survived!

Maxwell Hill is a royal way to spend a weekend, soaking up the charm of old English bungalows (they get booked up to 3 months in advance), seeking poetic inspiration, or simply whiling away time watching the sky perform magic.

Halong Bay: Misty. Mysterious. Magical.

You’ve seen calm seas and you’ve seen sprawling mountains. Put the two together, throw in some evasive mist, dig up some extravagant caves, and shake a magic wand. You might get something close to Halong Bay in Northeast Vietnam.

Over 3000 limestone structures arise out of the waters, as though the heavens are really beneath the surface and gracing the earth, forming a spectacle of beauty, mystery and magic, like you’ve never witnessed before.

Halong bay, vietnam, north, southeast asia, natural wonder, gulf of tonkin

halong bay, vietnam

I cruised along these waters of the Gulf of Tonkin (Halong Bay) on the Imperial Junk, one of the many mid-range options to be part of the land on water phenomenon. Imagine sitting on the deck of the cruise, gazing at scores of limestone structures, each with it’s own touch of perfection, looking as stunning at sunrise as at sunset.

Imperial cruise, junk, halong bay

The Imperial Junk

Halong bay, vietnam, sunrise, travel, southeast asia
Halong Bay at Sunrise
Halong bay, sunset, north, vietnam, natural wonder, gulf of tonkin
Halong Bay at Sunset

Each cruise provides food (quality is proportional to the price of the cruise), water activities like kayaking and limestone cave exploration. The limestone cave open for exploration is decked up in lights, and although the ambiance is artificial, the intricate stalactites and stalagmites are very real and stunning indeed.

limestone cave, halong bay, vietnam, stalactites, stalagmites

Stalactites & Stalagmites

limestone cave, halong bay, vietnam, stalactites, stalagmites

The limestone cave

Although neither Halong Bay nor Halong on Land made it to Lonely Planet’s world’s greatest natural wonders, both are mysterious, magical, charming and perfect in their own ways.

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