“I don’t have a diary, I don’t write things into a diary. I imprint myself into the sky and when the sunlight shines brightly, I can stand under the sun’s rays and everything I have imprinted of myself into the sky, I will begin to see again, feel again, remember. And when the wind begins to blow, it blows the details over my face, and I remember everything I left in the sky and see new things being born. I am unwritten.” ~C. JoyBell C.
I’m going to remember 2016 as the year I imprinted myself into the sky. I fought my nocturnal ways to be awake for more sunrises; I lay under more starry, moonlit, thunderous night skies than I ever have before. And sunsets became my daily dose of inspiration.
With my annual round up this year, I want to remind you (and myself) to slow down and savor some of life’s simplest joys!
The last sunrise: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
I witnessed many beautiful sunrises during my month-long stay on Lake Atitlan, but the last one really blew me away. My bags were packed and I was ready to go, waiting impatiently for the first ferry to make an early morning bus, when the sky burst into the most magnificent pink and orange colors!
Releasing 2-hour-old turtles into the Pacific Ocean: Baja California, Mexico
Holding a newborn Olive Ridley turtle on my palm, placing it on the golden sands, and watching it scramble towards the setting sun into the vast Pacific Ocean – that’s a sunset I’ll never forget.
Night adventures with my nun friends: Nyerma, Ladakh
I finally learnt to photograph night skies this year – starting with my ‘home’ with my nun friends in Ladakh. I was so excited about my first Milky Way photo, that I ran to show it to them – and they ran out excited to see what this ‘thing’ in the sky was! Lots of laughter and a big photo shoot happened that night, and even if most photos are blurry, my memory of it certainly isn’t.
Clouds rolling into my sunrise: Phu Chi Fa, Thailand
I trudged up with a friend to one of Northern Thailand’s highest peaks to see the sunrise. But we got caught in a massive, merciless rain, without rain gear or warm clothes. We shivered under a tree for what felt like an eternity, and when the rain finally stopped, gorgeous clouds rolled in below us and made our morning!
That ‘home’ feeling at sunset: Baños, Ecuador
Sometimes, the best things happen when you lose your way at sunset. I had been hiking alone in the countryside near Baños, got quite lost, and ended up taking a very long way home. Enroute, I fell in love with this beautiful, abandoned house in the golden hue of the setting sun.
A pind, a rooftop, a charpai: Gunopur, Punjab
I was looking for a cheap way to get from Southeast Asia to India last month, and I found a 9000 rupees flight on Scoot, from Singapore to Amritsar! I got on it, marvelled at the Golden Temple, and made my way to a little pind near Gurdaspur. I expected mustard fields and heartwarming conversations, but lying on my roof at Punjabiyat, under a thousand stars was a sweet surprise.
Read: From Punjab, With Love
The sunrise that lifted the veil of the forest fires: Sarmoli, Uttarakhand
Early May was a depressing time to be in Uttarakhand – seeing miles of pine forests on fire on the otherwise verdant hills of Kumaon. The haze reached all the way to Munsiyari and hid the gorgeous snow-capped mountains for a week. Then one morning, I woke up with the first rays of the sun pouring through my window and saw that the veil had been lifted! A surreal feeling.
A shared sunset: Odenwald, Germany
I had a rather packed trip through the Hessen region of Germany this September, but one evening, while driving with a newfound friend along the forests and wildflowers of Odenwald, we pulled up on a hill, laid out a blanket and caught a breathtaking sunset over stories of how she began living in a hippie commune.
The Milky Way on the other side of the world: Wales, UK
North Wales was my biggest surprise this year – a region with spectacular rugged mountains, vast meadows and more sheep than people! On the shores of Lake Vyrnwy, after adventurous days of surfing and mountain biking, I was ready to rest my tired feet, but when I shut the lights, I was surprised to see a million stars (and the Milky Way) twinkling outside my window. Who needs sleep with such a gorgeous night sky?
A fisherman in my sunrise: Mauritius
I only spent a couple of days on Mauritius’ east coast, and had to force myself out of bed to keep my vow to be awake for atleast one sunrise in every country I visit (being a late riser sucks like that). The sun’s colors scattered in the dark clouds above the Indian Ocean, just as a fisherman set out on his boat… it was like the universe had conspired to make it a perfect wake up call!
An “End of the world” sunset: Munduk, Indonesia
I’ve heard way too many people dismiss the rain and clouds as bad weather; I even found a score of article on “bad weather photography”! Having grown up with plenty of sun in a tropical country like India, rainy, thunderous, misty weather is my favorite kind. I got exactly that at the coolest infinity pool I’ve swum in this year, at Munduk Moding in Bali.
A resolution for more starry nights: Vikramgad, Maharashtra
My Southeast Asia plan kind of fell through, and I found myself without an abode on New Year’s Eve (again). As luck would have it, I connected with Hideout Farm on Twitter and fell for their promise of “vegan, starry starry nights”. This little sanctuary is one couple’s work to transform barren, rocky acres of land into a flourishing fruit forest and organic farm. Every night, sometimes with newfound friends and sometimes in solitude, I lay out under the vast open sky… and when the calendar turned to 2017, I pledged to fill my year with more starry nights and shooting stars!
Thanks for joining me virtually on my adventures in 2016! Big hugs x
Where were your most memorable sunrises, sunsets and night skies in 2016?
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Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, “sustainability influencer,” social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes that travel – if done right – has the power to change us and the world we live in.