In the past few days we have traveled from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Singapore to Auckland, New Zealand to Hobbiton to Rotorua. There have been several long flights and the jet lag has really been messing with my internal clock. We’re currently staying at an amazing lodge in a lush forest on the rim of an extinct volcano. This is the first Chance I’ve had to sit and collect my thoughts about our trip up to this point.
We’ve been on the road for about five weeks and we’ve traveled to nine countries. They are: Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and New Zealand.
The journey has been absolutely remarkable and neither myself nor Christy can pick one thing that stands out above all our other experiences. Everything has been a peak experience. However, all of our time in India with Rohit was joyous and special, it is something we will always cherish.
One of the great revelations of the trip was my new Fuji X-Pro2 travel camera outfit. It was a little rough to use on safari where I wished I had my Nikon with a longer lens but it did surprising well nonetheless. The Fuji performed flawlessly as an urban camera, for landscapes, documentary and street photography. I am currently writing a full review of the Fuji as a travel and expedition camera.
I have quite a bit more to say about our experiences on our third full around the world expedition so stay tuned.
Wishing family and friends a very Merry Christmas from Sri Lanka!
Udaipur lies in the southern region of Rajasthan, or as our friend Rohit says, it is Heaven. Having spend a few days there I can’t disagree. In addition to being Rohit’s hometown, Udaipur is a resort destination for both domestic and international travelers. It’s appeal was immediately clear.
When we arrived, we could see just how lovely the city was with it’s many lakes, rolling green hills and beautiful architecture. Also the air was fresh and the sky was blue. Across the lake from our hotel we could see the City Palace spilling down the side of a hill like a giant layer cake until it stopped at the waterline.
Visiting the City Palace was fun and it similar to many other Indian palaces we had visited except for the view which was really spectacular. I also really loved the shadows and light playing off all the lovely marble used in it’s construction. Windows of colored glass and mirrors showed off the shapes of the rooms and the columns.
Jumping on a boat it was really a pleasure to be out on the lake, tour around and watch the sunset. A few films had been shot at locations around the lake here and I remembered seeing the scenes. Rohit had us over for dinner at his house and we enjoyed an amazing home cooked meal as well as meeting and spending time with his family. I especially had fun sharing calligraphy with his niece. She showed me her notebook and pen and I showed her mine, inky fingers unite!
Our most profound experience In Udaipur however was spiritual. For me it was somewhat unexpected since I consider myself very grounded spiritually. This was something new and I think it something to do with the cumulative effect of spending so much time in India and being in so many powerful spiritual places. I’ll be telling that story soon.
We had been having good luck. With the exception of our first day at Bandhavgarh, we had great tiger sightings every day. Curiously, all the tigers we had seen were female. A male tiger sighting was conspicuously missing. Thankfully that was remedied in the fading light of the last hour of our last day.
He was a large 8 year old male and he was quite the character. We noticed he had an injury on the front of his left shoulder.
We followed him for for an entire hour and he was so much fun to watch.
He had a long name and number so we started calling him Sher Khan after the tiger character in “The Jungle Book.” Truly he was the king of the Jungle.
There was a tiger who roamed the hill top and she was a ghost. Our naturalist Partha told us that this was the tallest hill in Kanha. He said that from time to time there were paw prints that would be seen on the roads and paths that crisscross the area, the hill was rather remote, and the roads were rarely used. This tiger was talked about among the rangers and naturalists but all that was known was that she was a solitary female.
We had been driving and tracking all morning and the day was warming up. The ranger traveling with us suggested going to the top of the hill not so much in hopes of spotting a tiger but precisely because it was remote, peaceful, had great views and maybe if we were lucky we would see something. The road was windy and steep and none of us were thinking we’d see any tigers. We were thinking about lunch and bush breaks.
We stopped for a moment and there was absolute quiet and stillness. Suddenly the ranger pointed “tiger!” and there she was, maybe 20 yards ahead. Christy and I reached for our cameras and watched as she lay down in some tall grass and began to roll around. She was about four years old and very beautiful. We followed her for a few minutes while she patrolled and marked a tree or two before retreating into the jungle.
The ranger knew the area well and speculated that she was headed to a water source further down the hill so we followed the road for a while and turned right at a fork. Continuing downhill we met a busload of local children being taken for a tour of the park, the were adorable in their smiling faces and matching hats.
Continuing to track, the ranger knew exactly where to stop. there was a small break in the foliage and he said this was where she would come out. A few minutes later she did.
We had a little more time with her before she again went into the jungle. I asked Partha what her name was and he told us she was very shy, rarely seen and didn’t have a name. Apparently in Kanha many of the big cats had numbers instead of names. We decided to give her a name and looking at her markings I suggested Luna for the moon shapes on the top of her head. The Hindi word for Luna or moon was Chandra, we all agreed this was a good name. From that time forward she became Chandra.