Most Memorable Travel Adventures + Travel Books Giveaway!

I’m finally back in Delhi after a month of travel exhilaration, first in Turkey, then in the Himalayas of Kinnaur. I have so much to write about both the trips that I don’t know where to start. Truth is, this week has felt like the kind of low Leonardo Di Caprio’s character in Basketball Diaries must’ve experienced while trying to get over his heroine addiction. After many days of being surrounded by gorgeous green landscapes interspersed with purple and yellow fields, deep blue waters, thick pine forests, misty skies, pure mountain air, and stark barren slopes, I’ve thrown myself in the deep end of city life in Delhi. The only difference is that for Leonardo, all the beauty was only a figment of his imagination.

Sometimes when you are saving for your next big trip, the interim can feel as though everyone except you is travelling everywhere you’d like to go, and to shake off that feeling, I have decided to walk down memory lane, to my most exciting travel adventures till date. And then to spread the cheer, I am giving away two awesome travel books in return for having you revisit your own memory lane of travel adventures.

Without further adieu, here are my seven travel adventures whose memories can add a little sunshine to any dull day:

7. Snorkeling with sharks on Malaysia’s east coast.

Perhentian Islands, Perhentian Island, Malaysia, Malaysia tourism
Black tips shark found near Perhentian Islands. Photo by Yusmar Yahaya.

6. Spending a night in the highest inhabited village of the Himalayas.

Pictures of Himalayas, Villages in India, Spiti, Komik
Komic Village in Spiti, at 4587m.

5. Climbing sandstone mountains in Eastern Germany.

Saxony Germany, Eastern Germany, Saxon Switzerland, Saxony Switzerland
The Elbes mountains in Saxony Germany.

 4. Living with White Thai tribes in the hinterlands of Vietnam.

White Thai, Mai Chau, Vietnam, Vietnam people, Vietnam culture
With Ho, of the White Thai tribe, in Mai Chau.

3. Summiting Southeast Asia’s fifth highest peak.

Mount Kinabalu, Mount Kinabalu climb, climbing Mount Kinabalu, Kota Kinabalu
On the Mount Kinabalu climb in Malaysia’s half of Borneo.

2. Hitchhiking along Turkey’s Black Sea Coast.

The black sea, Turkey black sea, black sea coast, Turkey Karadeniz
Gilderos Bay along Turkey’s Black Sea Coast.

1. Hiking to India’s last village before Tibet.

Chitkul, Kinnaur, Trekking in Himachal, Kinnaur Himachal Pradesh
Monsoon in Chitkul, Kinnaur’s last village in Himachal Pradesh.


Over to you,

Tell me what has been your most exhilarating travel adventure in the comments below, and you could win one of these two awesome travel books that are sure to inspire you to pick up a backpack or a pen or both:

1. Nine Lives by William Dalrymple: A collection of captivating short stories from across India, based on the extraordinary lives of nine different people in search of the sacred in modern India.

2. Chai Chai by Bishwanath Ghosh: A collection of travel stories in places you would typically stop on a journey by train or bus, but never get off to explore its terrain or meet its people.

Go on, revisit your travels and make me jealous, I’m all ears!

PS: Please don’t cook up an adventure to win a book (even though it’ll be so worth it); I’ll demand to see pictures if it sounds too far fetched!

PPS: I might be partial towards entries by those who ‘like’ The Shooting Star’s Facebook page!

Update: The last day to submit your entry is Sunday, August 19th.

Update II: After many days of contemplation, I’ve finally picked the winners! You guys made it really hard to pick just two entries, and reading about your adventures has further fueled my appetite for the road. Thank you everyone for reading, participating and sharing. Mini drum roll please….

The winners are:

1) Nishit, whose 3000-rupee trip from Delhi to Bombay immediately made me nostalgic. I don’t travel like that anymore (that cheap I mean), but there was a time when I could spend three weeks on the road at 150 rupees a day. I felt like I was right there with him, munching on those dirty peanuts in his entry! 

2) Danielle, whose quest to climb Mt Fuji in her mind if not physically, won me over. In her entry, I could almost imagine braving those fierce winds and making my way for survival like she did, while thinking of the summit the entire time. 

Nishit, Danielle, please email me at [email protected] with your address and book preference (fastest fingers win) and I’ll wrap it up with a nice note and post it to you. 

And the rest of you, fret not if you didn’t win this time, I have a very grand contest lined up for you to travel in person, and not just through a book (think the waters of the Indian Ocean!).


The Shooting Star Academy

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  1. 1. Rann of Kutch – When I was racing against the sunset in the rear view mirror with only 1.5 ltrs of fuel left.

    2. Sach Pass – just a day before the pass shut for the season

    1. Wow, Rann of Kutch has been on my list for so long. Though getting stuck in the middle of the white salt desert must be a scary thought! Just google Sach Pass, it sounds stunning.

  2. 1. Kanha Kisli – When we took a wrong turn & entered in to core Jungle area. I am still trying to figure it out whether the man who gave us direction was a ghost?? pls read

    2. Tirthahalli & Agumbe – Memorable trip for me. much needed break from office, cherished all our childhood moments again. Some of those moments which we will not get in the Bangalore.

    1. Kanha Kisli sounds scary! And the second post is beautiful, the childhood we all yearn for 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Prafulla!

  3. From my solo US cross country drive, while crossing the Death Valley – one of the most driest dangerous places on earth. I didn’t see a single soul for over 2 hrs while driving through the desert trying to cross it before sunset. I even stopped my car in middle of the freeway (people drive at 100mph here) and took this snap. This remains the most beautiful day of my life so far!

    1. It looks beautiful! Read this post a few days back and thought I want to do this too 🙂

  4. 1. Adventure sports in Assam! Paragliding, canoeing, water-skiing, the first taste of all this in 7th standard. (Was ALMOST washed away in the Brahmaputra river cuz I thought canoeing solo was a good idea 😛 )

    2. Tawang, Arunchal Pradesh. It’s unrealistically beautiful and the place that still gives me goosebumps thinking about how beautiful it was. Left me speechless even at that age! interacting with the warm people over there added to the amazing experience. (Go there ASAP)

    3. Bangalore-Mysore-Ooty-Cunnor: 1 week trip, totally spontaneous, first trip without family (family still doesn’t doesn’t know), 4 best friends, crazy food, crazier interactions with fellow passengers and locals, embarrassing situations, funny moments, etc etc. Did everything possible. No strings attached trip. Brings a smile to my face every time i think about it. More of that sort to follow 😀

    1. 7th standard? Wow, you really have a head start!

      Yes, I really have to go to Tawang soon, especially after how you describe it. Did the Bangalore-Mysore-Ooty-Cunoor trail myself with a couple of friends and I know just what you mean.

      Cheers to tons of new travel adventures in the coming years 🙂

  5. Danielle Withrow says:

    One great adventure was climbing Mt. Fuji. We made it to the 9th station hut to spend the night. We were due to climb to the summit for sunrise the next day, but never made it to the top. A typhoon was coming in and we had to go back down the mountain that morning. We climbed down in a fierce rain storm – 15 of us were tied together with ropes because you couldn’t see 5 feet in front of you. Every once in a while the clouds would part for a moment and this beautiful lush green land would appear below.Like the Japanese, I consider Mt Fuji a sacred place. Often when I meditate, I metaphorically sit at the summit of Mt. Fuji – a place I have never been except in my mind!
    PS I love india and will be coming back for 6 months – maybe as early as Fall 2013. And thanks for your Turkey adventures – I might add that country back in for a more extensive return visit!

    1. Sounds wonderful, Danielle! Are you going to go back and attempt the summit again someday?

      Yes, you absolutely should make a trip to Turkey – beautiful country, beautiful people 🙂

      1. Danielle Withrow says:

        I just went through the 231-country Lonely Planet “The Travel Book” and made a list (great travel book). I have 8 countries I want to return to (incl India and Japan- will go back to Mt. Fuji for sure). THEN there are 14 Must Visit countries and 17 Maybe Visit countries. It was good to make my list of travel priorities. All other countries could be visited on a whim! Where will you go next?!

  6. sumthingofeverything says:

    My climb to Mt.Snowdon in Wales. I fondly call it An^^Ascent^^to^remember..

    Whenever I read about trekking, rafting or any adventure where things like adrenaline rushing through the veins, etc. are said, my mind disobediently transports me to the memories of our worst adventure. May it cannot be more insane, as any higher degree of it would have claimed our bodies, or may be some parts of them, or may be no one would have known what had happened to me. It was short of 20 meters to reach the summit and we had to stop because of ruthlessly strong winds. Slipping to sleep in hostel at the end of that long day, that thought rang my mind again the nth time..would those twenty meters matter ? I think the answer is both Yes and No. If we had done that extra bit we would have been at that 2 x 2 feet where many great climbers would have stood, which also means, we would have achieved what we had in mind when we had started out. At the same time, we were not prepared for an expedition and taken that the train itself was not operating on that grueling-turned-fortunate day because of winds, we as humans could reach so far, which was incredible. Well, why do people climb mountains in the first place ? To sense an achievement ? I think its more important to invade the mountains within us…, the mountains of obstacles in our path to live out our aspirations.

    Please see the blog at An^^Ascent^^to^remember..

    1. Whoa, just 20 meters! I know what you mean, it’s as much about conquering the inner battles as it is about making it to the summit. Off to read that post now!

    2. Danielle Withrow says:

      To sumthingofeverything
      I totally agree about scaling the “mountains within us” and what travel or trekking or whitewater rafting does is just help you think about such things. Many years later, my experience of NOT reaching the summit of Mt. Fuji has been a far more important and postive lesson than if we had actually been able to make it to the top.

  7. 1) A bike trip from Bangalore to Valparai and back to Bangalore (1300km round trip) in 3 days when whole of India was watching the world cup cricket final match in 2011 🙂 The highlight of the trip was the 40 hairpin bend ride onto the top of Valparai and also riding up to ooty from Mettupalyam in darkness

    2 The bus-top ride from Bhunter to Kasol in Himachal Pradesh on route to the Sarpass Trek Base camp. It was an awesome ride on the top of an speeding bus watching the himalayan mountains for the first time.

    1. You rode the Himalayas on the roof of a bus? They don’t make them like that anymore!

  8. Most adventurous for me has been kailash mansarovar yatra!

    1. I can imagine. I’ve heard brilliant things about it!

  9. Vandhana Mohanraj says:

    My most memorable travel adventures would be:
    1.Paris- This was my first solo trip ever to anywhere.I landed at a french metro station without a plan or a map,and made my way around in this beautiful city.The high of travelling alone kept me grinning throughout this trip.I was also particularly amused when I was stopped several times for directions(mostly by lost Americans) during this trip.Not that I had any clue to directions,being lost and a terrible map reader myself ;P
    2.Havelock Island,Andamans – The second most beautiful beach I have ever seen.All the beaches on this island are incredibly beautiful with white sands and turquoise seas.And surprisingly,mostly deserted!
    3.Chickmaglur,Karnataka – The drive from Bangalore to Chickmaglur was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever had.It’s so picturesque and green,that we kept stopping the car to look at the scenery.The people here are also warm,soft-spoken and pretty wonderful!
    4. 2 day trek with CTC(chennai trekking group) to Nagala – After a grueling(or so it felt to me) day of trekking,lying under the stars on a rocky bed next to river felt like heaven.The river water was crystal clear and we had a amazing time playing in the water.
    5.Chania,Crete,Greece – I fell in love with these islands,partly due it’s beauty and it’s amazing people.I had so many people(all strangers) looking out for me on this trip.The food in Crete was amazing at all the small inns that dot the island.The produce was typically home-grown,leading to some amazing medditerranean food. Crete has the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen,from the places I have traveled.

    1. Wow, how am I ever going to pick a winner for this contest! Those sound like amazing adventures indeed, time to pen them on your blog, no?

  10. Abhinav Arora says:

    1. Eight years ago, we were trekking within the Sahastradhara river near dehradun, we came across waterfalls, rapids, hillock climbs and mini gorge within the river. We trekked within this river until it was dusk, and couldn’t see much. Got out and took the adjacent hill only to be intercepted by the forest ranger. He couldn’t believe us 🙂

    2. On a bike trip to Ladakh in 2006, we were doing 150 kilometres roughly everyday. Little did we know that once a week, Monday, if I am not forgetting, the roads were closed between Rohtang and Leh for bombing, owing to road expansion. We were not told that! 70 kilometres on the succeeding Monday, we were stopped at a check post stops and they couldn’t believe our silly endeavour. We had no choice but to carry on till the next guest house 30 kilometres away, and those were the longest 30 kilometres we ever rode. All the workers on the way were laughing at us all the way and only at the check post we found out why!

    1. Lived in Dehradun for 16 years, and still haven’t done this. *hangs head in shame*

      Haha, the best adventures are born out of lack of information 😉

      1. Abhinav Arora says:

        Really! the best trips where you are in for the journey.
        “Everybody’s searching something they say, I get my kicks on the way! Over the mountains, across the seas
        Who knows what will be waiting for me?” – from a song

  11. In a recent trip to Valley of flowers, Uttarakhand, me and my buddy got lost in a maze of wild ferns taller than us. We had embarked on a nature’s trail and after some meters the trail faded away..we were left on our own, among uncrossable streams and wild non-trampled bushes. It took us some dare-devilry and presence of mind to find our way out..Took a stream’s path downstream to finally catch up with a glacier on the stream. We then crossed the glacier to reach the other side..a trail of 2kms had been stretched to more than 5 kms..In restrospect was the adventure worth it..yes, but would i recommend it to someone..never!

    1. Wow, how did you manage to cross the glacier? Similar thing happened when we lost our trail in some wild shrubs in the forests of Kinnaur, adventurous only in retrospect 😉

  12. I don’t know what’s it with me that every once in a while i keep getting into some trouble during my rides/travels. But ones that stand out are visiting a very eerie havelie in Kutch earlier this year ( or that one time when I got lost while trekking on the beaches of Gokarna ( or that first one when riding into the zanskar valley itself was an adventure (

    PS : I don’t want it feel like that I am promoting my blog/spamming. Just thought that one needs to read them to have the real experience. Please feel free to delete the comments if you want to. Trust me I wont be offended. 🙂

    1. Haha, no deleting any of this! Sounds like the best adventures really do come from getting lost. Lesson: Go without a map 😉

  13. 1. The very first trip to Mysore I took with my hubby was exhilarating. On a motorbike ride from Bangalore , the trip was not only enjoyable but I had the time of my life covering every bit of Mysore !
    2. The recent trips to Valparai and Kolli Malai with my kids and hubby was equally enticing. The hair-pin bends at kolli malai especially weremore difficult covering but the scenic beauty of both the places is etched in my heart forever.

    1. Both sound lovely! I’m yet to do a bike trip (as a co-rider :p) anywhere, but it’s high on my bucket list. Just need to find a bike rider, haha.

  14. So good to read of your wonderful travels (love the pictures)! Back in 2009 I worked and lived in Chitkul for a month and the lovely old woodwork in the houses there really caught my fancy. Not surprised to see it at No. 1!! : )

    1. Thanks Chandni 🙂 Wow, now I really am envious, a month in Chitkul! How did you ever survive getting back to civilization? I went into depression upon coming to Delhi after staying in the region just a week.

  15. Decided to go from Delhi to Bombay by road last winter – by public state-owned buses only. Left Delhi on Day 0 evening and reached Bombay on Day 6 morning. Left Delhi with backpacks, map and no plan in mind. Spent every night on a dirty state bus, reached our destination in the morning, brushed teeth and performed daily motions and bus stops, headed out to explore the city/area/region, ate at the cheapest possible places, headed back to the bus stop at night, took out the faithful map, picked a new destination and hopped onto a bus! Can’t even begin to describe the adventures we had on the way – they include getting petrified of a snake charmer’s basket in the back of a tempo, trekking for a half hour to find a waterfall to bathe in, chatting with a policeman over some very dirty peanuts, getting lost in the third level of dungeon below a palace, chanting with Buddhist monks at a stupa… Saw the whole of Madhya Pradesh in the process (Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Pachmarhi, Shivpuri et al) for a grand total of Rs. 3000 (all-inclusive). Fun!

    1. WOW! I almost thought I was on those buses with you while thinking that. I think I’ve gotten used to a bit more luxury now and can’t do such a cheap trip anymore, but did something very similar while in Vietnam (with the added no common language and no vegetarian food whatsoever, lived off Choco Pies for 3 days)!

  16. The other awesome time was when I fed sting-rays with live fish (like, really big dangerous ones) in the cleanest water (ever) in the Maldives. Fun!

  17. I am actually on my most memorable travel adventure yet 🙂 . Its about to finish in a day and i have so many pending posts to update.

    An incident that just crossed my mind when I read about this. I was on a trek to Triund from Mcleodganj with friends. I was getting tired and hungry and this small shack on the way made the best cheese omlette i have had till date. Washed it down with a nice coffee and thought will lie down for couple of mins and asked my frnds to move forward. When I woke up my friends were gone, the shack was closed and I didnt see anyone around. It was dark and I started walking towatds the top. In the way I swear i saw 2-3 ghosts, couple of animals with shiny eyes, i bull who hit me with its horns, random sounds and a very very scary scream. I somehow kept fingers crossed, kept remembering my mom all the time and reached the peak later. My guys were worried and had even come down to search for me but somehow had never heard them! Was a scary day. Infact it is a quite a bloggable trek an trip, should write about it.

    And yes the Cheese omlette was memorable!!!

    1. You saw ghosts on the Triund trek? Phew. (Should be asking you with pictures that show women in white with legs turned 180 degrees :p)

  18. I’ve known an adventure or two. There was a cyclone last time I was in the mountains in Nepal – that wasn’t much fun. Crawling through a doorway in the ruined temple at Beng Melea (Angkor Wat) to hear a guide wave to the stone beneath my knees and announcing there was a cobra under there. Squashing in among the boxes of mangosteen in a little boat bobbing down the coast of Cambodia … time to pack the rucksack again, I think!

    1. Ouch, glad you managed to escape the cobra (and assuming you didnt have time for a picture :p)! Yes, all these adventure stories are making me want to head out the door right away too!

  19. Reshmy Pillai says:

    Passing through the white boulder-filled Chitradurga mountains in Karnataka on NH 4, while on a road trip from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh to Kerala. The whole range looks like someone has manually placed those huge giagantic boulders atop, with those stone balls balanced and poised at the most impossible angles! Driving through a road cut right through these structures with them rising majestically into the sky on both sides – protecting and intimidating the traveller – is a must see. One can only gape at the wonders that only nature can show us.

    1. Wow, that sounds like something I have to see! Adding it to my travel list in Karnataka, thanks for sharing Reshmy 🙂

      1. Reshmy Pillai says:

        Any time Shivya 🙂 your blog is very inspiring and so is your story. I can connect as even I took an year’s break from my corporate slavery to explore the ancient architecture of this wonderful country. Bravo.

        1. That must’ve been beautiful! Off to your blog to read all about it now 🙂

          1. Reshmy Pillai says:

            Those aren’t there :/ just started blogging. Those days I was too busy savouring the treasure our ancients left us, have concluded that this lifetime may be too short to explore even a part completely! 😉

  20. While searching for a image of a falling star, I came across your blog. Your pictures (from the few I have seen) are beautiful. Even though I have never been to India I am a deep, abiding
    interest in her spirit, culture and people. I look forward to spending time experiencing India and beyond through your view.
    Peace – Carrie


    1. Welcome to The Shooting Star, Carrie! Looking forward to your virtual company on my travels across India and other parts of the globe 🙂

  21. Trekking in Peru to Machu Picchu in the Andes and through a bit of the Amazon jungle was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Natural beauty,Inca history, ancient tales, adventure, and fantastic food all rolled in one trip was a deal that indeed is difficult to beat for a long time! My second favorite was a visit to the Yosemite National Park in the United States. This park in winter was unbelievably beautiful, and being my first ‘snow’ experience, made it all the more thrilling not to mention the the skulking bear we almost encountered in there when there wasn’t a soul around! A great way of making us reminisce Shivya!

    1. And a great way of building my own bucket list too! Both your adventures are high up there, will look out for your suggestions when I finally make it 🙂

    1. Sounds lovely! Can’t seem to see the picture unfortunately, privacy settings?

  22. Had many an adventurous travel stories…
    The top on the list would be the three week 3800km bike ride that i did with my friends last year to every bikers dream place Leh. Starting from Delhi, we rode through Chandigarh.Manali,keylong,Sarchu and finally reached Leh. We got late when we started the ride from Keylong to Sarchu. By the time it became dark, we still had some 15kms to ride. It was cold.We just rode as fast as we could even though it was dark and dangerous cos it was really cold..damn cold..Once we reached the sarchu tents, just ran inside, jumped on the beds and covered ourselves..We came out only when the charming ladakhi women got us our cups of hot tea and omlette..that was the most wonderful tea i ever had… 🙂
    Crossing Khardungla to go to Nubra valley was wonderful. You should definitely go to Nubra valley if you havnt. you would love the scenic beauty of the place..There is this one stretch of road in the middle of nowhere..just a mountain ahead and vast stretches of plain land on both have to go there to experience it. Also the ride to Pangong Tso lake was wonderful…We couldnt control our joy and we kept riding till the bank of the lake where no one could be seen or could see us.:) The ride from Leh to Kargil,again in the night, where one of my friend put his bike down just before a 50ft fall..or the ride from srinagar to amritsar where we got lost and went via roads where we couldnt find a single soul for miles together…aaaahhhhh..memories fresh and re-lived..
    The other trip that i loved was to tarkarli and devbaug beaches..we were taken to the sea to a dolphin point.Our boat engine stopped and we were stuck in the middle of arabian ocean for an hour..i was all sea-sick and trying not to friends were laughing at me….the so called tough guy who has rode to some dangerous terrain but struggling to sit in a boat for an hour..cant forget any of these…..apart from the numerous other bike rides from bangalore to nearby places..
    If i were to comment in this page in the month of october, i would surely have more to write…because i am going on a three week solo ride across sikkim and bhutan starting from siliguri in the first week of september..This is gonna be my first solo ride(my friends ditched me and thats why its a solo ride 😉 ) and i am looking forward to it..Have been transporting myself to these places ever since i started planning and reading about them..gurudongmar lake..yumthang valley..kupup..thimpu..haa valley..paro..tiger nest monastery.. i am already there. 🙂
    Sorry this has been very long.. 🙂

    1. Wow, that just makes me want to pack my bags and head to Ladakh. Got to find a rider so I can co-ride though 😉

      1. 🙂 I have sent you a PM in facebook. If you find time, please do reply to that.

  23. I have both the books, please announce the next reward…:-)

  24. I have both the books, please announce the next reward…:-)

    1. I hear you! Coming up soon Anu, and this time it involves actual travel than just through a book 🙂

  25. Hello Shivya! I have many memorable experiences … but waking before dawn to walk 14 kilometres along the banks of the Ganga to get into Hari-ki-pauri, Haridwar ont he most auspicious day of the Kumbh Mela — and then losing my group and having to walk back alone, in 40 C. heat, not knowing the route, with millions of people streaming towards me … nothing beats that adventure! It was an amazing experience and one of the high points of my life; I learned so much and of course received a priceless blessing. Here’s the full story:

    1. Wow, I’ve lived in India most of my life but still never attended the Kumbh Mela! You inspire me 🙂

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