May 2017 05
You might miss on some interesting places to see and things to do if you do not follow a guidebook, but it’s much more fun when you go to a place without knowing anything about that place.
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When I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, my couch surfing host suggested me that I shouldn’t miss Mombasa and before I could read anything about Mombasa, I was dozing in the sleeper bus to Mombasa from Nairobi.

So I arrived in the Mombasa city next day early morning and checked in in a hotel close to the bus station.

Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city after Nairobi. It is located on the Eastern coastline of Kenya bordering the Indian Ocean which has made it a popular destination for its beaches.

I started my day in Mombasa with a walk along the Pirates beach where I met many Somali people who taught me how to chew khat like a pro. Khat for breakfast was a good idea to kick-start the day as it makes you euphoric.

Few minutes later I found the euphoric me wandering in the bazaar of Mombasa and negotiating for a thawb. A thawb for $10, I think was a sweet deal and I could not resist from trying it out right there itself.
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So there I was, slightly uncomfortable carrying thawb but all set to get lost in the lanes of Mombasa to discover all it has to offer.  I started clicking everything that amused me. The beautiful architecture, the bustling bazaar and the warm people. I noticed that at times people would cover their face if they don’t want to be clicked. I tried my best to click from the hip and be as stealth as possible. With brown skin, thawb and DSLR,  I was definitely an odd one out there and I was noticing being noticed.

It was all going well until I saw a gang of women furiously abusing and chasing me. They had noticed me clicking them but I wonder if I had committed any crime. I started walking away and at the same time I did not want to miss clicking more pics of this beautiful gang chasing me. So it was click – click and run. They were abusing me in Swahili and I was looking around for someone who could translate that for me.

Seeing all this, a group of teenagers were having a laugh. They said something to those women that made them wonder and smile. I could feel that they felt sorry for bothering me unnecessarily. I thanked both the groups and asked teenagers to explain to me why they were after my life.

“Haha, they thought you are a muslim since you are wearing a thawb and you know it’s the month of Ramadan. They were cursing you for you are a bad influence and you are committing sin by clicking women when you should be fasting” , one of them said and offered me a bunch of khat leaves.

That evening was as euphoric as the day!

Apr 2017 23

After a month long travel on silk road without shaving ,I had started attracting a lot of attention.Throughout silk road and especially in Xinjiang region, I was often asked by curious Uyughurs “Are you a muslim?”.To which I’d often reply with a smile and salaam waleykum.

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Pooja and I started our journey from Chengdu, Sichuan and the plan was to wander through the old silk road without any itinerary. When we arrived in Urumqi, the world’s farthest city from the sea, after our longest non-stop train journey, the first thing we noticed was that there were hardly any travelers in the city. There was a bit of tension in the air. There were tanks on the street and it looked like the army has taken over the city.

From the train station, we went straight to the youth hostel we had booked counting the number of tanks on the way. Every shopping mall, 5 star hotels and big supermarkets were heavily guarded.

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At several public places we noticed posters like this one showing DOs and DON’Ts. There was a clear instruction from the local government about what one should wear and what is not allowed. We also noticed people not adhering to these instructions and the consequences.

We spent our first day doing some bit of research and getting hold of the situation and then keeping the situation in mind, we decided that wherever we will travel in Xinjiang, we will travel together, always holding each other’s hand.

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Xinjiang offers a lot in terms of people, culture and natural beauty. It makes up 1/6 of all of China’s land area and is home to China’s finest mountain views, grasslands, lakes and dry deserts but still remains as one of the most under-appreciated destination in China. We spent more than a week wandering through Xinjiang’s beautiful grasslands and deserts eating Uyghur naan bread and samsa.

One day while Pooja and I were waiting at a bus station in the town of Ili, I decided to go for a stroll as the bus to Urumqi was delayed and we had more than an hour to kill. I was not even a minute away from the bus station when I noticed few army men secretly following me. They were watchful and curious. I was not sure why I’m the only one watched after. Then I realised there were hardly any outsider in that town and with my unshaven, tired and dusted look, I definitely looked suspicious.

I had two options, either to continue strolling and wait for them to come to me or head back to the bus station. I chose the latter for I’d no idea what I’d to if they come to me when I’m all alone and question my whereabouts. I noticed one of the army men looking at me and speaking to someone on his walkie talkie when I took the turn towards the bus station.

Just when I reached the bus station and had an eye contact with Pooja, I saw a troop of army men rushing inside the bus station. I ran towards Pooja and they ran towards me. I had no idea why I ran but I just wanted to hold her hand before they ask me to surrender or fire a bullet. I was next to her and now both of us were looking towards the commander.

What happened next was something we could have never imagined.

The commander saluted us and asked us for our passport. “Ah, Indian”, he smiled and then left us without asking a single question.

We kept holding each other’s hand tightly till our bus arrived.

Music accompanying this piece :

Apr 2017 10

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While I was waiting for the bus to Bucharest at Sofia bus station at the middle of the night, I thought of grabbing a tea before boarding the bus. The only cafe at the bus station, which too was about to shut down, refused to accept Euro or my international debit card and I had no Bulgarian leve left in my pocket. Right then a stranger came out of nowhere and bought me a Nestea telling the cashier – “Take my money, give tea to Che Guevara”

Thank you Stranger! Thank you Che!

 

Aug 2015 28

All the past must be resurrected. #kashgar #OldTown #kashi #xinjiang

A photo posted by Saurav Arya (@sauravarya) on

Eat stay love Kashgar #kashgar #Kashi #xinjiang #foodoftheday

A photo posted by Saurav Arya (@sauravarya) on

Wonder why they store so much fat in their backside…Fat tailed sheep in the animal market in Kashgar

A photo posted by Aujin Rew (@aujinrew) on

Aug 2015 13

Since last 8 years, I’ve been chasing wonders and collecting countries. It all started with three weeks of Eurotrip back in 2007 during which I got inflicted with an untreatable addiction to world exploration. After an year, I made up my mind to visit all 198 countries.

It’s been 56 countries so far and here are some highlights from the journey :

Santorini Sunset

At one of the world’s best island – Santorini, Greece

Maldives

At the world’s lowest (also, one of the most exotic) nation in the world – Maldives

_Lowest point on earth_Dead Sea

 At the lowest point on Earth, Dead Sea, Jordan

Gho_Bhutan

Get, set, ‘Gho’ at the world’s happiest country – Bhutan

Kissing my love

 Kissing my love at the world’s farthest city from the sea – Urumqi, China

Rotorua

Enjoying hot spring with friends at the spa town of the world – Rotorua, New Zealand

20 Yuan

Showing the world the inspiration behind 20 Yuan at Yangshuo, China

Pretending to be a Masai in Kenya

Biking to highest road

At the highest motorable road of the world – Khardungla, India

Burj Al Arab_Dubai

When in Dubai, do it like Emirati do – Dubai, UAE

Climbing living bridge

Climbing up the world’s only double decker living bridge – Meghalaya, India

Cu chi warrior Vietnam

Posing as a Cu Chi Warrior in Vietnam

HK harborscape

At the Victoria harbor, Hong Kong

Khaosan dreadlocks

At the centre of the backpacking universe – Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

Kyrgyz China border crossing

At one of the world’s most remote border crossings – Irkeshtam pass, Kyrgyzstan/China

Laos

In awe with the beauty of Laos

Nagaland

Meeting tribes from Nagaland, India

Pole dancing in a yurt

Pole dancing in a yurt in Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Remarrying my wife in Xining

After remarrying my girlfriend at Dongguan Mosque, Xining, China

Sgp performancePerforming at the Universal studios, Singapore

Snake swag_KL

Pretending to be a Baba in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Song kul Kyrgyzstan

In awe with the beauty of Kyrgyzstan

Stilt Fishing in SL

Stilt fishing in Sri Lanka

Indonesia

At the largest ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world – Borobudur, Indonesia

Stonehenge_UK

Chilling at the Stonehenge, England

Swissland

With the most-photographed mountain in the world – Matterhorn, Switzerland.


Yes I did it Pyramids

 ‘Yes, I did it!’ moment at the great pyramid of Gyza, Egypt

Boracay

With one of the best sunset ever – Boracay, Philippines


Shinkansen Japan

Riding the fastest at the world’s largest metropolitan area – Tokyo, Japan

Bagan

Meditating in the sea of temples – Bagan, Myanmar

Turkey

At the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Asia and Europe – Istanbul, Turkey

Cambodia

At the largest religious monument in the world – Angkor Wat, Cambodia

IMG_2587

In the land of Marco Polo and Nikola Tesla – Croatia

Stockholm

In one of the cleanest capitals in the world – Stockholm, Sweden

Oslo

In the world’s most expensive city – Oslo, Norway

 Zanzibar

In the land of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and the Serengeti – Tanzania

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