📍gold coast, australia’16

With a full month of Australia, we had to include the Gold Coast! We included it because of some activities on our bucket list – SkyPoint Climb and the beaches. We also included Springbrook National Park as it was close to the Gold Coast.

We landed into Gold Coast on 3rd November, by Gold Coast time. Surprisingly, none of us were jet-lagged. So, we took our rental car, and directly drove to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Aerial view of Gold Coast

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a bit like a zoo, only they have research centers there. They have a special lorikeet feeding session in the morning and the evening. They give you a plate of milk, and the lorikeets come and drink it! They come on your hands, head and shoulders! Since they were everywhere, I still have small marks! They have grey and red kangaroos too. They have koalas, crocodiles, tree kangaroos, MANY birds and much more animals. We spent about 2 hours there in total.

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Lorikeets

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Tasmanian Devil
Tasmanian Devil
Grey Kangaroos - You can feed them!
Grey Kangaroos – You can feed them!
Feeding a Red Kangaroo
Feeding the Red Kangaroo!
A lil' red joey!
A lil’ red joey!
A Tree Kangaroo - They are almost extinct!
A Tree Kangaroo – They are almost extinct!

After that, we headed to the Burleigh Heads beach. We were staying in Burleigh Heads, so it was very easy to get to. We could see the Surfers Paradise side, with all the tall buildings and a beautifully painted sky.

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The next day, we had 3 things to do – the SkyPoint Climb, Movie World and Surfer’s Paradise.

We wanted to do the SkyPoint Climb, and not just the Observatory. With the ticket, you get unlimited access to the observatory, a SkyPoint cap, 20% off on all food and drinks in the observatory, a complimentary group picture, a certificate, and of course – The Climb.

The Climb is just wow. Its not very usual to be in open air in a skyscraper. I’ve been in tall buildings before, but never just – out, in the open. The views are stunning. Looking at the surfs is amazing, the view from the top, how blue the water is. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a whale. We didn’t, unfortunately. (PS- sorry for the bad picture quality, as you’re not allowed to take cameras/phones on the climb and they take pictures, and you can only buy printed copies, so we had to take a pic of the printed pic.)

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We went to Movie World because Dreamworld was closed after the accident. Not complaining! The whole theme of Movie World is based on the DC comics and movies. There’s a couple of different things too, for kids and generally. But to be honest, there’s barely any rides compared to shops! But nevertheless, it was cool. Personally, if you like roller coasters like me, you HAVE to go on the Arkham Asylum as well as the Superman Escape. `The Batman Ride is also cool, but you find it in every theme park. The Scooby-Doo Ride is fun if you have kids between ages 6-9. Its not complete high-end extreme, but not very kid-y either. Just in between. The Wild Wild West ride is fun too! Don’t worry about wet clothes. You barely get wet. And if you do, your clothes dry up super fast in the heat.

Arkham Asylum
Arkham Asylum

In the evening, we went to the SkyPoint Observatory – A great decision. I highly recommend going there in the evening. You can see the shadows of the buildings cast onto the sea. Grab a drink or snack and take a seat facing North towards the skyscrapers. Watch time fly while you’re on top of the world!

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After some wonderful chill-time, we went onto Surfer’s Paradise for some time. It gets a little chilly in the evenings by the beach, but not cold.

The next day we decided to go to Springbrook National Park. We saw the Natural Bridge Falls, Perlingbrook Falls, Antarctic Beech Trees and Best of All Lookout.

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Natural Bridge Falls
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Perlingbrook Falls
Best of All Lookout
Best of All Lookout
Antarctic Beech Trees
Antarctic Beech Trees

And with that, we ended our Gold Coast visit. From there we were going to some place very special. A place where a lot of people want to go. Would it live up to the expectations? Would it be what we imagined it would be? Find out in my next blog! Lets see, at the Great Barrier Reef.

📍kenya’16

We started on the 1st of October, from Chennai to Mumbai. From Mumbai, we flew to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. It was an evening flight, so we landed at night. We stayed the night there, and the next morning we met our guide- Richard, and drove to Masai Mara, our first park.

From Nairobi to Masai Mara was about a five hour drive. On the way, we also had a tire puncture, which was really really deflated. We also saw many locals, as well as rural villages. We found it similar to driving in rural India. We reached our lodge – Mara Sopa Lodge. Our stay there overall was so wonderful. We were spoiled for choice when it came to food.

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Our tire puncture
Children herding cattle
Children herding cattle

Masai Mara is regarded as one of the best wildlife parks in the world. We were there during the end of the Great Wildebeest Migration. Tall grass which lions and cheetahs could be hiding inside. You can see so, so much. The park closes at 6 PM, and we had left at 4:30, and it also takes time to go to the park from the lodge, so we were in the park for an hour.

In this time, we saw our first lion and watched it for about 15 minutes. It kept making some sounds, like soft roars. It looked like it had just entered adulthood. We saw a couple of lioness too, with a few cubs about 500 metres away from the previous lion. We also saw 2 cheetahs, lying down for an evening nap, quite tired. We saw very few Wildebeest, Thomson’s Gazelle and Impala (A type of Deer).

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Thomsons’s Gazelle
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Impala
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The lion making soft roars

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The Cheetah
The Cheetah

On our second day there, we decided to stay in the park till about 3, so we got our lunches packed. We saw herds of Wildebeest, Gazelle, Impala, a Jackal, Topi (Another type of deer), African Buffalo (A major on our list!), herds of Zebra, Various Birds, A cheetah feasting on a small animal (not clear), 2 lions, Olive Baboon, A waterbuck (Another type of deer), A serval (Like a Jackal), Hippo, Spotted Hyena, African Elephant and Ostrich.

A Jackal
A Jackal
Topi
Topi
African Buffalo
African Buffalo
Zebra
Zebra

You can tell the difference between a leopard and a cheetah by two basic differences : 1. A Cheetah has a small head, and slim body. A Leopard is more like the body of a tiger and its head is like a tiger too. 2. Cheetahs have tear-like streaks on their face (2), whereas leopards don’t.

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Cheetah
You can see the flesh of its kill
You can see the flesh of its kill
Herds of Wildebeest and Zebra
Herds of Wildebeest and Zebra

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Herds of Wildebeest and Zebra
Herds of Wildebeest and Zebra
Olive Baboon
Olive Baboon
Waterbuck
Waterbuck
Serval
Serval
Hippo
Hippo
Spotted Hyena
Spotted Hyena
African Elephant
African Elephant
Ostrich
Ostrich

On the second day we saw a giraffe that had died naturally as well (Only its skeleton was left) as well as some vultures eating a dead (naturally) zebra.

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On our third day (OUR BEST DAY), we saw what we came for. First, we saw giraffes, more olive baboons, buffalo, gazelle, topi, giraffes, warthog. And now, for the big thing : We saw 3 lions for one to one and a half hours! It was absolutely amazing!

First, there was only one lioness, on some rocks, near some Buffalo. It was lying down, not intending to kill. Then, another lioness and lion came down from the slope. The three of them lay down on the rocks, and didn’t care about the Buffalo. Then, one of the lioness and the lion got up and crossed the road. We were so busy taking pictures, we didn’t realize where the other lioness was. It went behind behind us and onto the tall rocks right next to us! It was less than a meter away! Then, it went and sat in some grass on the left side of the road. The other lion and lioness were on the right hand side. We ate lunch right next to the left hand side lioness, a meter or two away. Then, after half an hour or so after it started raining, the single lioness got up, walked over a huge rock, and disappeared. The other two followed after 5-10 minutes, but after, we followed them until they sat in some grass.

Before we saw those lions, we saw a group of three, not too clear, which were sleeping, probably after eating a lot. And after we saw another group of three, in some grass.

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Giraffe
Olive Baboon
Olive Baboon
Herds of Buffalo
Herds of Buffalo
A Baby Jackal feasting on a small carcass
A Baby Jackal feasting on a small carcass
Another giraffe
Another giraffe
When all three of them were together at first
When all three of them were together at first
The lioness on the rock
The lioness on the rock

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The two of them following the other lioness
The two of them following the other lioness
When the two had climbed the rock
When the two had climbed the rock

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When they lay down
When they lay down

The next day, we left the park and went to Lake Nakuru National Park. Lake Nakuru is famous for Rhinos, Flamingos and Tree-Climbing Lions. We saw 2 Rhinos (We were so lucky!), we were not able to see flamingos close (they were very far), but we saw a lioness climbing a tree! When my father first told me there were tree-climbing lions, I thought that they climbed tall trees. That’s not true. They climb short trees. We stayed only one night there. We also saw a normal lion.

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Olive Baboon Family
Olive Baboon Family
The First Rhino
The First Rhino

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Climbing!
Climbing!
A Baby and Mother Rhino
A Baby and Mother Rhino

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The day after that we went to Amboseli National Park. We were there for three days (Including arriving and departure day). We went for one safari each day. Amboseli National Park is famous for Elephants.

The evening we reached, we went on a safari (A short one). We saw a gerenuk (giraffe gazelle : It has a long neck), very few elephants (they all would have gone to the center of the park because of the night), three cheetahs (they were playing and lying down).

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Gerenuk
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Tons of giraffes!
An Elephant
An Elephant

The difference between African and Indian Elephants is that African Elephants have larger ears, and tusks are very common. Indian Elephants have a larger body, smaller ears, and tusks aren’t common.

The Cheetahs
The Cheetahs
A beautiful sunset!
A beautiful sunset!

On the second day, we were very lucky to see Mt.Kilimanjaro, which most visitors don’t see because of the clouds! It was around for very little time, but at least we saw it! We also saw Ostrich, many birds, elephants and hippos.

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Mt.Kilimanjaro
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A Lilac Breasted Roller
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A Herd Of Elephants
An Ostrich
An Ostrich
Flamingos in Flight
Flamingos in Flight
A Baby Elephant
A Baby Elephant
A Mother and Baby Hippo
A Mother and Baby Hippo

The third day (our last day), we decided to take a safari and go out of the top gate, back to Nairobi. This day we saw Mt.Kilimanjaro again and elephants. The Elephants (A herd of about 24) were around the area, then crossed the road, right in front of us! It was so awesome! How many times in your life are you a meter away from a group of African Wild Elephants? We were also able to see a HUGE group of flamingos in flight as well as a spotted hyena.

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The babies are always the cutest!
The babies are always the cutest!
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Full herd : All sizes available – XS, S, M, L, XL
Crossing the road : Look both ways
Crossing the road : Look both ways
They looked like normal birds from far, but up close, you can see their beauty
They looked like normal birds from far, but up close, you can see their beauty

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A Spotted Hyena
A Spotted Hyena

We stayed a night at Nairobi, and then flew back to India, for some Indian adventures. I hope you enjoyed this blog.                                                       Check out my parents views -> Amboseli National Park ,Lake NakuruMasai Mara                                                                                         Remember, keep smiling :))

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

America vs India : The realistic differences

I recently visited the United States of America, and living in India for 12 years, only going abroad on travel, and staying there for almost 3 months, I noticed a lot of differences.

Disclaimer: I am NOT being judgemental or discriminative. I am just expressing differences between two countries.

America is a land of opportunities. In America, you can go into the film industry, you can help in finding new technology for mankind, you can educate others in various fields. You can become a doctor, a musician, a scientist, a programmer, a designer, an architech, an actor, a revolutionist.

In India, of course you have opportunity. But, you don’t have such a wide range of things to do, or things you can be. Another reason for this is because our 75% of our country is illiterate. Which means, people voting for the wrong people, that means opportunity being less. Most parents hope for a child who will become a doctor, or an Engineer. Most parents don’t want their kids wanting to be a singer or actor. So, when a setup is made for children with different dreams, very few kids attend, which means the setup is over.

Another thing America has is roads. A well maintained Highway system. Even in the national parks- Perfect roads. Directions. Proper lanes. Traffic Lights at every junction. An Interstate system with exits.

99.9% of Good Roads in India is found in the National Highways. And the other 0.1% otherwise. People break rules, don’t care about lanes, honk for no reason. People break traffic rules.

America has material. By material, I mean supplies. Personally, for a person like me who loves art, its amazing.The variety of things you get is actually mind boggling. People who live there don’t even realise it! And art isn’t the only thing- many, many fields.

India doesn’t have as much variety. I’m not saying that there is nothing. I’m just saying that I wish I had more, because its possible.

Major point: Cleanliness.

America is much, much cleaner. I’m not saying everywhere is spic and span. But, there are dustins everywhere. People generally don’t have a tendancy of throwing garbage generally.

India : Complete opposite. People throw whatever they want, everywhere. You can find cows, stray dogs , birds eating garbage. It’s actually disappointing, where we could be, compared to what we are.

In America, people can wear what they want. There’s less concern about safety. And it can also be a good thing sometimes. It can make a person feel confident about themselves.

In India, you have to wear ‘Decent’ clothes. If denim shorts means ‘Unsophisticated’ or ‘Improper’, then I have to say, our country will never develop. Of course, safety is a concern. But, men in our country are made to believe wrong things. Women are made to believe that they cannot show their legs. If God gave us legs, why do we have to cover them?

America, for children, means education. They have good public schools which give great education, and are not meant for the ‘poor’. Their public schools have clean classrooms, good sports facilities, etc.

Public schools in India are government schools, which are for the ‘poor’. They don’t get proper education, are not taught English, don’t have proper classrooms, some children don’t wear shoes. In fact, I am a huge witness to this. The complex where I live is literally 100 metres diagonal to a government school. The complex where I live has modern people, who want change. So, a group of people, incluing my father decided to go on some days to the school, and teach the kids. I have gone personally sometimes, and helped them read. They’re such beautiful children, like me, who deserve to have a good life.

I’m getting very emotional right now, so lets move on to good things about India.

People help in India. Its a tradition here that we are hospitable, so if you stay in a hotel, the staff is basically at your feet. In fast food restaurants like Taco Bell and McDonald’s, the staff help you till the end, and sometimes make you feel good if you’re having a bad day. Its easy to start a conversation with people. You have people to help you out.

In America, mostly everything is self-service. You have to cook your own food, clean your house yourself. You can’t start a conversation with the person taking your order.

INDIA DOES NOT SELL GUNS! AND I AM SO SO PROUD OF THAT. Nobody can shoot anyone after getting drunk. Nobody can threaten you with a shotgun.

I was actually shocked to see stores like ‘Gun Depot’, even in sporting stores, like Big5, I was shocked to see a gun section. I know people have to show several documents, and most people only buy then for safety. But anything can go wrong. A drunk father can kill his family. A theif can steal it, and sell it to someone who”ll use it wrongly.

In India, its easy to find family, friends, company. Thats what peoples’ priorities are : people. You can always find anyone to help you out, give you comfort and hope, and send you home feeling safe.

In America, most people are concerned about work, and not people. And in America, you have to work continuously. And your boss doesn’t understand your excuse to go back to your family.

There’s many points that I haven’t included. You can’t write everything at once. Thats for another post. And I’d like to conclude by saying that I’m grateful. I get proper education, I have a good house, have amazing parents who love me, I can travel, I can take the time out to write this, I can laugh, I have friends, I get food, and I’m happy.

Remember : Don’t give up 🙂 Keep smiling 🙂

 

📍niagara falls & new york ’16

 

Disclaimer : This was between 19 – 28 July 2016.

NIAGARA FALLS WAS SO SO BEAUTIFUL! It isn’t very tall, like most falls,  but it is incredibly beautiful, and very wide. There are two activities there- Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds. I liked Cave of the Winds better, though.

Maid of the Mist is basically a boat ride, that takes you closer to the falls by boat. It was very fun! They give you ponchos to wear. But, it is overcrowded. DEFINITELY OVERCROWDED.  But, we saw rainbows over the falls, and it was very, very pretty.

Cave of the Winds is basically a walkway that takes you so much closer to the falls. There is a ‘Hurricane Deck’ where you can stand right in front of the falls, back facing the falls, and get a free natural massage. We couldn’t get many pictures, because unfortunately our camera didn’t have a waterproof casing. The sound was thundering. The water hit the rocks like how lightning strikes people in movies.

Unfortunately, we didn’t go to the Canada side of the falls, but the US side had the Cave of the Winds AND Maid of the Mist, whereas, the Canada side only has the Maid of The Mist. For the people who didn’t want to do Maid of the Mist, but wanted to see the falls, the Canada side provides a much better view.

Also, at night, they illuminated the falls with lights! It was so so pretty!

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We finished all this is one evening, so out of the blue, we decided to rent a car, and drive to Cleveland, and go into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was free to go in because of Donald Trump’s Republican Party Convention, sponsored by AT&T. I thought that was wonderful. It was a big deal for my father, who absolutely loves Rock Music. I like Rock Music too, only not so much as him. There was also a very small section on today’s modern mainstream music.

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After that, we flew to Boston, where two of my parents’ closest friends live. They have a daughter- Raji, and a son- Sam. I met Raji last April. We instantly clicked! They live in Rhode Island. They took us a bit around Boston, before we went to their house. We were only there for one night unfortunately 🙁 They took us on the Freedom Trail as well as to a beautiful Park. We even vistied Harvard University!!

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Outside the Harvard Library
Outside the Harvard Gates
Outside the Harvard Gates

After that we went back to New York. This time we visited the Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 memorial, Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.

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And that was the end of our American adventures for 2k16. I hope you liked this blog 🙂 Keep reading for more blogs + thoughts 🙂 Have a wonderful day! Remember, you’re free to be the greatest because you’re alive 🙂 Don’t give up 🙂 Keep smiling 🙂

 

 

 

 

📍dc’16

Before you begin reading, I would like to point out that this article happened from 13-17 July. Sorry I’m uploading this late, I had some wifi issues and didn’t have much time.

DC is all about museums. We went into the Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, Natural History Museum, American Indian Museum, Holocaust Museum. We also saw the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial as well as the White House. Personally, my favorite museum is the Air and Space Museum because I am fascinated my space and want to be an astronaut or scientist.

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We didn’t take too many pictures, mainly because we were so engrossed in what was there. What was so amazing was that all the Smithsonian Institution Museums were all free!! And they provided SO SO MUCH Information!!!

The American History Museum was pretty cool too. The bottom floor had tons of interactive games and things to do, and learn, that it wasn’t just a history lesson at all!

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The American Indian Museum was a favourite of my parents. It was much bigger than I expected, and had full detail on everything. It wasn’t the most interesting to me, because just before, my dad promised we would go into the Air and Space museum again, but on the way, we saw the American Indian museum, which was on our list and went in. So, I was a little moody. 🙂

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The Natural History Museum is on everyone’s list! Its always crowded! But, many exhibitions, big exhibitions, from mammals, to jewels, to early man, to dinosaurs, etc. The big elephant statue is indeed in the front of center when you enter. The Natural History Museum had an iMax Theater (The Air and Space Museum did too.) and we watched a film on dinosaurs there. It was really good quality.

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Next up, we have a museum that shook all of us : Holocaust Memorial Museum.  It is about what the Jews faced when the Nazi was in control. It was very disturbing. Its actually very crazy, what one man can do to change world peace.

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Shoes of all the people who were killed
Shoes of all the people who were killed
Skulls and Bones
Skulls and Bones

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Now lets hear it for all the memorials and monuments in Washington DC! *Imagines entire America cheering*

We visited:

  • The Capitol Building    
  • The National Monument
  • The Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • The Martin Luthor King Jr. Memorial
  • The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • The Vietnam War Memorial
  • The White House 
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The Capitol Building
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Thomas Jefferson Memorial
National Monument
National Monument
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
The White House
The White House
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

 

Well, that’s it for this blog! I hope you enjoyed it! I’ll be uploading a Niagara Falls + 2nd trip to NYC soon, so be sure to check it out!

                                                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

📍american road trip fillers’16

Along the way on our Great American Road Trip, we had many short stops along the way from Point A to Point B, including the Bodie State Historic ParkManzanar Historic Sitethe Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree National Park. Personally out of all the above mentioned places, the Manzanar Historic Site was my favorite. Want to know more? Keep reading!

The Bodie State Historic Park is an abandoned ghost town. It was discovered by W.S Bodey and was found to have gold. But, caught in a blizzard, Bodey never got to see that the town was named after him. Although the spelling of his name was not right, who wouldn’t feel good of discovering gold? By 1879, Bodie had a population of approximately 5000–7000 people and around 2,000 buildings. It was a town that lasted only ten years, but found gold worth almost 34 million dollars. It was actually very scary personally. It was like your typical ghost town image. Bullet holes in several places, lots of alcoholic drinks, wood-brick buildings… *shudders*  In fact, in the museum inside the park there was book, full of letters from visitors who had taken something like a rock or flower from the town. It turns out, they had been hit by serious bad luck after that.

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Very, Very Scary
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House Interiors
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Notice the Bullet Holes?
Drinks were an all time favorite….

Next up….. Manzanar!                                                                                        Now this… was very emotional.

The Manzanar Historic site was were humans were forced to be put inside this, this cage and were forced to adapt to this harsh windy climate, where people saw the dark side of America. It is one of 10 camps which was set up post the Pearl Harbor bombing. It was where over 100,000 Japanese immigrated Americans were sent for suspicion reasons, with no evidence found against any of them, showing racism in its clearest form. The Japanese were free to go after the war. After time progressed, President Ronald Reagan said that they were wrong, putting these innocent lives, including children into torture for no reason whatsoever.

This was actually very emotional to me, seeing how the world was broken, long before I came, seeing how PEOPLE do this to PEOPLE. How we humans, treat humans like, aliens. How people can send lives into torture for NOTHING. It sent me into tears.

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Moreover, I have to say, I realized something 98% of the people who visit wouldn’t. If you are a tourist in America, then you obviously go to tourist destinations. And where are majority of the people from? Japan. Yeah, Japan. And that gave me a little faith in the world. One thing that really shook me, was that when we were talking to a ranger at the visitor’s center, she said “You know, some people who visit, they were here. They were part of the ones who were tortured. They were the young boys and girls who were still in their teenage years when they were tortured. And now, they come here, and they show their kids their childhood in one place.”

Next up, Death Valley!

I honestly did not like it. It was a 100 degrees Fahrenheit at 8 A.M, It was scorching heat always, and personally, it was not very interesting to me. Yes, it was beautiful, but it was not my favorite.  Nevertheless, in Death Valley, we visited the lowest point in USA- Badwater basin and saw some beautiful rock formations.

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Last Stop…… Joshua Tree!                                                                                  Now this stop was quite sentimental for my father. People who know him know he’s a rocker by heart who was saved by all kinds of rock music. So, one of his favorite rock bands- U2 has an album called “The Joshua Tree” which was a bestseller, with the song “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” known worldwide.

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Joshua Trees
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“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”

We walked the Hidden Valley trail there, which. I. Hated. So. Hot. Completely. Isolated. It. Feels. Like. You’re. Lost. Oh. My. Gosh.

Those were the few stops we had along our 21 day adventurous road trip. Since I have time on my hands now, expect a few more blogs on San Diego, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Niagara Falls, New York City and more. Thanks for reading!

 

Ze Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon was very different from other national parks that I have visited. Its not a forest type of environment. Its a canyon. With two rims with a distance of 10 miles apart, and the canyon a mile deep. The Grand Canyon National Park encompasses canyons, river tributaries, and surrounding grounds. It is located at North-Western Arizona. It is shaped by the Colorado River and receives 5 million visitors annually.

We were completely awe-struck, went on the South Kaibab Trail, had several photo-shoots and we absolutely loved it! We reached at a time, which was perfect to watch the beautiful sunset behind the canyons, more beautiful than the most beautiful sunset behind a horizon.

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After that, we headed to our lodge- Yavapai Lodge, which is inside the park itself. We fueled up our energy overnight, and the next morning we were good to go!

So, we viewed several beautiful viewpoints along the way to the geology museum. Let me just say, that IT. WAS. BURNING. Although the viewpoints were great, we all felt that it was a little, well, hazy, due to urban industries.

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That evening, we attended a ranger program about Californian Condors. We learnt a lot about them. These huge birds (9 ft wingspan) had come to the edge of extinction with only 27 surviving birds in the 1980s! How crazy is that? This was due to several reasons- people using leaded bullets and not non-leaded bullets for hunting, since farmers were pretty close t0 the canyons back then, when a cow died and since condors are scavengers, they would come and start feasting on the cow, so farmers thought the condors killed the cows! And several more reasons too.  Fortunately their numbers are now much better at over 425 condors after a recovery program.

That evening, we took the Grand Canyon shuttle bus to several more viewpoints, which were absolutely beautiful. The sun’s position was perfect for some of our major photo-shoots.

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The next morning, my mom and dad woke up early to go to a sunrise. They didn’t see much, because it was quite hazy, as they had told me.

That morning, we went on the South Kaibab trail. The walk down was easy, but the walk up was hard. We only went down to Ooh Aah Point, which is the closest point. Yet, it was so far down. But, so beautiful. The whole trail was beautiful.

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After that, we checked out of our lodge, loaded the car and headed to Sedona.

 

📍yosemite’16

Yellowstone>Yosemite any-day.

But still, its absolutely beautiful! It receives about 4 million visitors a year! Yosemite is a glaciated landscape, and the scenery that resulted from the interaction of the glaciers and the underlying rocks was the basis for its preservation as a national park. Iconic landmarks such as Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite Falls, Vernal and Nevada Falls, Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, the Clark Range, and the Cathedral Range are known throughout the world by the photographs or paintings of countless photographers and artists, both amateur and professional.

Generally, in all these national parks, I learnt different things, but also learnt the same things repeatedly- Don’t feed wildlife, or the animals will become habituated to human food. Don’t cross speed limits. Don’t go off trail. Don’t leave food, or any trace other than footprints wherever you go. Don’t throw garbage generally, dispose them in proper bins, and that wildlife and nature should be preserved.

Yosemite is famous for several waterfalls, the main one being the Yosemite falls. The Yosemite Falls are grouped into 3 parts, the Upper Falls (1430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet) and the lower fall (320 feet). You can hike either to the Lower Falls (.5 miles) or to the Upper Falls (Takes about 4 hours for even the fittest people). We just stuck with the lower falls, which are gorgeous. I even drew it! On the walk, you can see the complete falls, so you don’t miss out on much. Squirrels are everywhere! And they are just so cute!!

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We also entered the Tuolumne grove, which has Giant Sequoia Trees. Its away from the main part of Yosemite (Yosemite Valley) and you have to walk about 5 kilometers (3.2 miles) but its absolutely eye-dropping. These trees can live upto 5,000 years! How crazy is that?

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We were staying inside the park, in a place called Half Dome Village, in tent-like-cabins. Our car was over 1 Kilometer away from our cabin. There were about 750 cabins in total. No food was allowed inside our car or cabin. Metal food lockers were available outside every tent. While a bear can smell food in a locker, the bear can’t get into the locker if it’s closed and latched properly. So, we had to put all our food in bear-proof lockers outside our cabins. They were made in such a way that bears cant’t access them. Showers were about 100 meters from us, and food was eaten in the guest lounge, the only place where you could eat food inside a room and not freeze to death and charge your things and access wifi. At night, we FROZE. We were staying for three nights. The first night, we weren’t prepared at all. The second night, five layers wasn’t enough. The third night, 7 layers wasn’t enough. Well, another adventure happened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

📍yellowstone & grand teton’16

Now this, this was awesome. Like, really awesome.

We had flown to Salt Lake City, after a wonderful stay with my parents’ college friend- Jagdeep Auntie. I was finally with kids there and we all clicked well immediately. Riya is my age, and Sachi is 8, but we all had a complete blast and I’m looking forward to when we stay for 10 days with them in July. After we landed in Salt Lake City (Utah), we got our rental car and drove into West Yellowstone (Wyoming) . We stopped at Walmart, and picked up groceries, mostly microwavable food. This is because since travelling is expensive, we simply cannot eat out everyday. Wherever there is a microwave, we take the opportunity to use it.

We reached late evening, and decided not to go anywhere today, because we were really tired, so we had a good night’s sleep. But our motel was wonderful! It was called Alpine Motel and the owners were so kind, the rooms were very comfortable and they had free snacks to munch on!

The next morning, we all were so excited to finally go into the actual park.. And let me tell you, Yellowstone is more beautiful that reviews, pictures, etc. There’s beautiful pines and mountains everywhere and its just beautiful. We saw loads of beautiful, colorful geysers, and loads of wildlife! I even did the Junior Ranger Program, which is a program for kids, or interested adults to become a “Junior Ranger”, by buying a booklet and doing activities in it to get a junior ranger badge and patch. I did this in the Everglades National Park as well. Basically, every national park which is run by National Park Service has this program for their respective park. We saw 2 grizzlies, 6 black bears, a thousand bison, elk, pronghorn and wolves! We also attended various ranger programs, some abut the park, some about animals. We noticed that in most of the animal-related talks, the ranger always got the fur of some animals. There was always a grizzly fur, and you could touch it. There were also wolf, coyote, beaver, etc furs. (They got the furs from dead animals).

For me, its hard to explain the geology of Yellowstone. But I understood mom, okay?! So, I’ll just tell you the basics. Yellowstone is on top of a volcano. So, over time, this volcano that lies below has shaped this land. If you are interested in geology, check out my mother’s blog.

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GRAND PRISMATIC SPRING- A VERY COLORFUL SPRING

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OLD FAITHFUL GEYSER (THE MAIN ONE)
YELLOWSTONE LAKE
YELLOWSTONE LAKE
ME TAKING THE JUNIOR RANGER PLEDGE
ME TAKING THE JUNIOR RANGER PLEDGE

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YELLOWSTONE FALLS
KEPLER CASCADES

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YELLOWSTONE FALLS
THE GRAND CANYON OF YELLOWSTONE
THE GRAND CANYON OF YELLOWSTONE
HAYDEN VALLEY- WHERE MOST OF THE BISON ARE SEEN VERY CLOSE
HAYDEN VALLEY- WHERE MOST OF THE BISON ARE SEEN VERY CLOSE

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A BISON CALF
A BISON CALF
ELK
ELK
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A BISON WHICH HAS SHREDDED ITS WINTER COAT IN CELEBRATION TO SUMMERS ARRIVAL
PRONGHORN- PRETTY RARE
PRONGHORN- PRETTY RARE

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TWO BLACK BEAR CUBS PLAYING
TWO BLACK BEAR CUBS PLAYING
A CUTE CHIPMUNK!
A CUTE CHIPMUNK!

One thing, before we move on. When most people think of Yellowstone, they think of the Old Faithful. The only geyser which has a predicted eruption. To me, it wasn’t so exciting. It was like a put-up show. With stands for people to sit, and saying “It will be at so-and-so tine”.

Then, we moved on to Lamar Valley, another side of Yellowstone. There, much more bison than Hayden Valley. And that’s where we saw the wolves too. The wolves were very very very far away, even by our very powerful binoculars, you could barely see them. They were in a small dirt road, were rangers advised us to go for wolves. Unfortunately, we saw nothing else, other than bison and wolves. We had left 3 days for Lamar Valley, and so we stayed in Cooke City, so it was much faster to get there.

Thousands of Bison!
Thousands of Bison!

We also went on Bear-tooth Highway, which is one of America’s most scenic drives. It gives a beautiful glimpse of snowy mountains, frozen lakes and snow which turned into ice. Just because its ice, doesn’t mean a snow fight doesn’t start!

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A beautiful sunset at Cooke City
A beautiful sunset at Cooke City

I didn’t talk about our great grizzly sighting yet, so here it is. It was on our first day. We were by Yellowstone Lake. My parents got down to take a picture. I was asleep. Then, someone told my parents that there was a grizzly there. They immediately woke me up and we rushed to see it. It was there, some 100 meters away, in front of a pine forest, just by the lake.

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It then crossed the road, and went off into the huge forest on the other side.

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We watched it for some 1 hour, before it disappeared. By the time it had gone, some 100 cars were here. When it was first seen, there were only 5 cars. But now, I felt so lucky. We actually saw a grizzly bear. For an hour.

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We saw another grizzly, but much further away and for much less time on our last day here. See if you can spot it!

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We then entered Grand Teton National, not far from Yellowstone. Grand Teton is known for its beauty, and not wildlife, but there is still wildlife… and we did get lucky….

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Sunset at Mt.Moran
Elk crossing a river
Elk crossing a river

Just as we entered the park, we saw a Grizzly, some 100 meters away, for about 10 minutes only. It was by complete luck again and only 3 families (including ours) actually got to see it.

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And so, we left these two parks, in complete happiness, to a relaxation point, before our Great American Road Trip began.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

📍amazon’16

The Amazon was a very, very, very exciting trip. VERY VERY EXCITING.

We entered through Iquitos, a remote place where you can only go by air. There are no roads going there- you can only go there by ship or by boat. We were picked up from our hotel by our amazing guide and we had to go to a small village called Nauta, where we took a boat to our lodge- Libertad lodge. It was 3 hours in total to get there.

We reached there by lunchtime, but the first day itself, we wanted to get started on our activities. We were so excited! So, we went pink dolphin watching and sunset watching. It was amazing. After dinner, we went caiman hunting. For those of you who don’t know what a caiman is, then its a alligator that can grow 20 ft long. Yeah. 20 ft.

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A beautiful sunset on the River Amazon
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Two Pink Dolphins (Only lower side is pink)
Baby Caiman!!
Baby Caiman!!
They have beautiful eyes!
They have beautiful eyes!

We had a very good sleep, and woke up well in advance for our early morning activity- the sunrise+bird watching. Since it was cloudy, there was no sunrise. But, we saw many birds. My mother was really happy because she is a complete bird freak.

Then, we had breakfast. Let me mention that the food here was always very delightful! Just like home! So, after breakfast, we went FISHING!! It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Why? Because we were fishing PIRANHAS! They sure have sharp teeth. My daddy caught 4 piranhas, I caught 6 and my mom was just sitting and watching birds…

I caught it!!!
I caught it!!!
I was so excited... little did I know I would catch 5 more..
I was so excited… little did I know I would catch 5 more..
Sharp teeth!
Sharp teeth!

Then we went canoeing in the black river! The Black River is literally black. It kind of looks like black tea. But if you put your hand in, its very clear.

Canoeing is harder than it looks!
Canoeing is harder than it looks!

Then, we had a wonderful lunch! The cook even cooked the piranha for us to eat! My mom is a vegetarian, so obviously she didn’t try it. My dad loved it! I didn’t like it too much.. the piranha isn’t a very fleshy fish, so it wasn’t too tasty in my opinion. After lunch, we took some rest time.

Then, we went bird-watching. Well, our goal was to see the macaws. Macaws are exotic amazonian birds that come in three colours. The blue macaw (we saw it several times) is most common, the scarlet and blue and yellow (which is hard to see) and the scarlet and green (very rare). Macaws are endangered birds. My mom and I love them a lot, and really wanted to see them in the wild! And we did! We saw the scarlet+yellow+blue macaw, for only 2 minutes, but it was worth it!

YAY!!
YAY!!

Then, we had an awesome meal, as always and had a good night’s sleep.

The next day, we wanted to see a sloth. A lot of friends we made there had told us about it so we wanted to see it. Along with the sloth, we went to see the giant water lily-pads, the world’s biggest leaf!

First, our guide took us to a small family who lived in the sloth area, who kept two sloths. We could hold them and pet them! And OH MY GOSH THEY ARE SOOOOOOOOO CUTE!!!!!

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We also saw two wild sloths and three green iguanas! Then, we went over to the lily-pads, which was a pretty tiring walk.

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In the evening, we decided to go fishing+dolphin watching. This time, there were literally no fish! We didn’t see too many dolphins either! But, out of nowhere, a fish called the Dracula fish jumped out of water, and landed in our boat! Our guide and boatman said it was a prized possession, because it was a pretty big fish, and said they were going to take it for their dinner.

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Very sharp teeth!

Then, we had a good meal again. Then, we went to see TARANTULAS! And oh boy, we did see one. A big one. The guide has experience, so we got to hold it. My dad got it on his arm, I got it on my neck, back and chest! I didn’t even want to put it on myself, but my dad did.

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We slept again, me feeling brave, my dad feeling normal and my mom feeling queasy.

The next morning after breakfast, we went on a jungle trek. We mainly saw only plants, ants, termites and monkeys. It was wonderful!

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Then, came a sad part- leaving.

To be honest, we all felt like crying. The place felt like home.                       And after what I thought was a once in forever experience, I knew I was coming back, with my parents, kids and friends.