The Great Australian Road Trip

To celebrate my graduation, we decided to travel across Australia.

What better way to do that if not by road? For a second we considered taking a RV but looking back I’m glad we got cozy hotel beds to sleep in on our 12-day Great Australian Road Trip.

After touring around the city for two days, we crossed off the Yarra river cruise (an informative and interesting cruise), Queen Victoria night market (Wednesdays nights during Winters) and The Melbourne Star from our touristy checklist.

I recommend these fabulous spots to everyone coming to this city especially because you get to see the beauty of the city and taste food from around the would.

Since this was my dad’s first visit to Melbourne, I took him to my favourite place – Southbank which is a tiny walk away from Flinders station. Lined with amazing bars and restaurants along its bank, the Yarra river looks mesmerizing at any given time. Since my graduation was at the Royal Exhibition Hall, dad also got to see this World Heritage Site-listed building that also happens to be one of the world’s oldest remaining exhibition pavilion. Being a unimelb student, we’ve given our final exams here – several times in the last two years.


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If you’re curious about our trip, read on to find out the places we covered and the highlights of each destination.

Day 1: Melbourne to Warrnambool via The Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles

Distance covered: 344 km


Highlights: We started the day in no hurry but by the time we had our stop overs at Geelong and Lorne, it was clear we needed to rush to see the 12 Apostles if we wanted to see them in their glory while the sun was still out. Although it says that this famous attraction closes at 5 PM online (which is exactly when we reached), we (thankfully) found a lot of tourists still taking pictures and hanging out. The highlight of this trip was catching the 12 Apostles view at sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous. Although this was my second visit to the Apostles, you can never truly get enough of the view.

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11 nights in Ladakh: Places to visit

What’s the magic word? Julley!

Ladakhis say ‘Julley’ to express ‘Hello’, ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Thank you’ and it’s that one word that helps create a bond between two strangers in this mysterious land. A paradise on earth for mountain lovers, Ladakh is located at the crossroads of many civilizations mainly inhabited by Indo-aryans and Tibetans. Due to its fragile location in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian military has a prominent presence and maintains a symbiotic relationship with the locals.

Ladakh is surrounded by the majestic snow-capped Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges amidst several sightings of melting glacier water flowing into streams and beautiful monasteries.

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Pangong Tso

Super windy, Pangong Tso is a beautiful lake, only a part of which is situated in Ladakh. The lake is at a height of 14,270 ft and is 134 km long, 60% of which extends to China. Enroute to Pangong, we crossed Chang la, a high mountain Pass situated at 17,590 feet. People crossing this area are expected to experience shortness of breathe and are therefore advised to take diamox before the onset of their journey to Ladakh. Thankfully, a small army unit located here readily helps passersby by checking their vitals.

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    Enroute Pangong Lake, just the most beautiful view of wild horses in the valley.

Finally, we reached Pangong Tso after 6 hours of tough terrain, low oxygen levels leading to two stops at army camps and constant headache. Was it worth it? I’ve always believed we’re on the planet to appreciate nature. And to be in the presence of the majestic mountains around Pangong Tso was only possible after nature tested our bodies and patience.

Tso Moriri

This was one of the most memorable road trips in Ladakh. A truly amazing, picturesque view after view, mountain after mountain. Landscapes change with every turn, we were able to see Ladakhi wildlife. The list included Kiang (Tibetan wild ass), Marmot (large squirrels), Yaks, herds of sheep and even wild fox. Don’t forget to take a ton of sunscreen for Tso Moriri is at a height of 14,836 feet.

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    The most picturesque view enroute Tso Moriri aka Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve

Khardung La Pass, Nubra Valley, Siachin Glacier

To reach Nubra Valley, travelers have to cross Khardung la pass which is at a height of 17,582 feet. Similar health problems to that felt in Chang la pass can be seen in travelers here. Like the rest of Ladakhi area, Nubra is known as a high altitude cold desert.

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    Khardungla Top!

I was fortunate enough to see the Siachin Base Camp. This is the second largest glacier and is manned by the Indian Army. Infamous for its territorial dispute, Pakistan has previously tried to take advantage of the ambiguity. Through operation Meghdoot, the Indian army took charge of the key bases around this area in 1984. This move has been the most courageous act by the Indian army in the highest battlefield of the world.

Have a look at a few snippets of my trip.

Side note: On 20th May, we headed to Nubra Valley, Ladakh, one of the stops on our trip. In Hunder, we witnessed the double humped camels being abused by their “caretakers”. This was done by: Using the camels to make money from tourists. Camels were controlled through ropes piercing their nose. These ropes were tugged on… Read more, view the video of the camels, and PLEASE sign the petition. These animals DO NOT have a voice, please give 2 minutes of your time to bring this inhumane treatment of these camels to light.

Dunagiri – The Land of Mysterious Mountains

On a recent trip we went to Dunagiri  (also called Drongiri and Doonagiri) to a place called Dunagiri Retreat which is at an astounding height of 8,000 feet surrounded by lush forest overlooking scenic snow peaks. Its situated 400 km North of Delhi,  and it takes about 10-11 hours to reach.

The retreat offers organic vegetarian food, fireside dining, inspiring walks and treks to the nearby mountains, and modern bathroom facilities in the middle of nowhere. It truly is an amazing location, with a beautiful view.

When we met the owner of the retreat, it was revealed to us that the place was famous for its temple of Shakti known there as Dunagiri Devi. Apparently, this location is where “Bharat”,  the son of Shakuntala, was born. The mountains were said to have special energy.

In one of our conversations with the owner, we shared that almost every night we randomly woke up between 3 and 4 AM, which he found to be normal since that was the time “Mata ki chowki” landed on the adjacent mountains.  On one of two days I spent there, I even stumbled upon a medium-sized snake, and when we shared this with the owner, to my surprise he found it rather odd. Why? Because he has been living there for years and never once saw a snake in his campus. Weird, right?

Here are a few pictures from my trip. (all self clicked, some edited via snapseed app)

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Two-day trip to Datong, Shanxi Province, China (2012)

So we finally went on our much delayed trip, Datong is a quiet city, such a contrast to Beijing.

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We left shortly after classes and reached this city which lies in Shanxi province after a 6 hour train ride with the locals who could not stop talking to us. I have never seen more curious people almost too fascinated with foreign skin. We reached at night and roamed the city streets after checking in a recently opened hotel. We managed to find a restaurant open and ate whatever we could find normal on the menu which was quite a task.
The next day, we started our journey early morning and took a taxi to The Hanging Monastery located outside the city. This amazing temple happens to be lodged on a cliff-face with rooms linked by mid-air walkways. Just the feel of standing in the middle of mountains was enough to take my breath away.

After this we head towards our next destination – The 1500-year-old Yúngāng Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These mountain-side caves and recesses are filled with 51,000 Buddhist statues – the largest being a 56-foot Seated Buddha while the smallest is only a few centimetres tall. The thought of how such accurate and precise buddha statues were made back in the ancient times is bound to cross your mind several times. I cannot question enough how people then could carve through stone and make such gigantic statues. We saw the Nine Dragon screen next located in the middle of the city, followed by fortification ruins which was just huge and beautiful!

Later we also made a visit to a local noodle shop but I ate KFC instead [no judgement please] because i don’t like noodles thankyouverymuch. Got back to Beijing the next day which felt great. Out of all the other cities in China this city is home to me. And it feels great to be back here each time.