Thursday, May 16, 2019

Quarry Rock Hike, BC, Canada

Quarry Rock Hike is a tiny trail tucked away in the corner of North Vancouver. With a length of around 3km and an elevation gain of just 100 mtrs its good enough for a short half day outing. Having done 3 Himalayan Treks before and many smaller treks back in India I was desperately looking for a short hike to start things off here in Canada as well. One of our friends in University suggested I try Quarry Rock.

So one fine day(which soon turned to be not so fine) four of us started off for Quarry Rock. Sunil, Suyog, Divya and myself made up the group. We took the public transport buses to reach the quaint town of Deep Cove from where the trail starts. As we got down from the bus, the sky had turned dark and rain looked imminent. Before starting off, we had coffee in of the charming shops there which was bustling with the morning crowd.

The trail starts from an unlikely place. Near someones driveway. It has a small signboard saying its the Baden Powell Trail. From here starts a steep step of stairs. The first section was all stairs but later the stairs disappeared and the rough trail started. The whole section was covered by tall trees the kind of which I didnt get to see in India.  There is nothing else to write about. We crossed a few bridges over creeks and finally after an hour of walkin
g we reached the main view point of Quarry Rock. The views were spectacular. The dark and overcast skies gave the whole landscape a moody vibe but we enjoyed it nevertheless. We sat here for a while enjoying the views. But within minutes it began to rain again. Suddenly I remembered that we had packed some chai in a thermos from home. So we quickly took it out and right there, standing atop those rocks, in front of the awesome views we had some hot chai. It was wonderful. Soon, the intensity of the rain picked up and we started on our way back. After maybe 40 minutes we reached the base and we walked back to the center of the village. Here we spotted a nice park with a shelter in the middle offering views of the sea and the many boats parked near the banks. We sat here for sometime chatting with a fellow hiker who came with his dog. After almost an hour here we left. We boarded the bus back to downtown and thus ended my first hike in Canada.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A short outing to Steveston, Canada

After coming to Canada I couldn't go on any proper trips for the first 3 months. Now, going 3 months without a trip is too much for me and I was beginning to get uneasy. So I had to go somewhere. After exploring the countless options I settled down on the little sea side town of Steveston. This is because of 3 reasons. One I wanted to go away from the city. Two I didn't want to go to the mountains. Three I wanted to visit a small town. Steveston fit the bill perfectly.

The trip was short so the account here is short as well.

My partner on this trip was Suyog, part of our group of 7.(We jokingly call ourselves 'The Magnificent Seven') We started from our respective homes at around 7 am. He, from his home in Kerrisdale and myself from my campus residence. We took the bus to Bridgeport and from there we took another bus which took us directly to Steveston.

We got down at the turn of the road near the Steveston beach. The first sight that greeted us was open lands and the serene waters of the sea ahead. The sun was shining warmly above and the sky spotlessly clear. The mere sight of the clear skies and the rolling ocean lifted our spirits. We strolled ahead and stopped near the edge of the water to take in the views. The water was gently lapping on the beach sand and on the logs scattered across the length of the beach. Far ahead, as were looking, a ship moved briskly over the waters as if gliding, towing behind it another vessel carrying a container. Our heads made a right to left motion as we followed the ship's path only moving ahead when it disappeared near a bend far away.

We resumed our walk and made our way to the right deciding to go as far as we liked to. After sometime we came across the Steveston Fishermen's Memorial. Its a simple structure with circular walls inside of which stands a tall pole. It actually represents giant fishing net needle and commemorates the lives and deaths of fishermen working out of Steveston.

Moving ahead we came across a stream joining the sea. This stream was parked with many boats and yachts. Far away I could see mountains topped with snow. The whole scene reminded me of the Mt Fuji posters that were so common in India when I was a kid. It was wallpaper worthy scene.

From here we moved on to the opposite direction, retracing our steps to where we started and continuing in the opposite direction. As we strolled along at a casual pace, we passed by a number of boats parked on the right. A little bit ahead we spotted a fish market. Eager to check out the stuff on sale we made our way on to the little jetty holding the makeshift tents. We went from stall to stall, asked a few questions about the fishes to the sellers. Some of them were very patient and explained to us what each kind of fish they were selling.

Next we came across a Tannery Museum which unfortunately was closed. I was actually looking forward to visiting this Museum but since it was closed there was little I could do so we continued on our walk. A couple of minutes later, we saw the famous eatery ''Pajo's'' setting its fish and chips stall. It looked like there was still some time before they opened for business so we went past it making a mental note to have some of their famous fish and chips on our way back.

Next we came across the museum showcasing the fishing industry of the 19th century. Steveston was one of the hubs of the fishing industry back in those days and the remnants can still be seen now. This museum contained some of the building structures of that era. Again it was not open but one can walk inside the park like museum, which we did.

After roaming inside the premises to our heart's content we started on our way back. We retraced the whole way we came by. In between we stopped for a plate of Fish and chips. It was delicious.

Overall it was a wonderful half day trip enough to keep my mind content for the next month.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Vancouver, Canada. Initial days and First impressions.

As I sit here in my Hostel room, writing this, its snowing outside. From my 9th floor window I can see everything is covered by a layer of white. The cars parked on the nearby roads are indistinguishable from each other, covered as they are by snow. The roads themselves are enveloped with white snow except for two parallel lines of tire marks. Far Away the university clock tower glows as it shines amidst the falling snow. Now and then a person shuffles along the empty roads. Everything looks so beautiful. Its not the first time I am seeing snow but its such a rare sight for me that it fills me with joy. The day is dark and dull but as I sit inside the warm room I look back at how it all came down to this. Its been already 3 months since I moved to Vancouver and I simply love this city.

Flight Experience

My journey started from Hyderabad where I took an Indigo flight to Mumbai. One of my acquaintances from my company was also joining the same university and was joining me on this journey. I met Mounica and her husband in the waiting area before we boarded the flight. Two more people were joining us from Mumbai. We reached Mumbai around 8 30 pm where we met Ram and Thivya. The actual pain of International flights started from here. After some laborious immigration procedures and security checks, we finally reached the boarding point after 4 hours. We only had 30 mins to grab something for dinner which we had at around 1 30 am. Then we boarded our Air China flight to Beijing. This was my first time in an International flight and I was excited enough to not get bored for the next 6 hours till we reached Beijing. I played around with the In-flight entertainment, watched a movie, looked out the windows and for most of the time, followed the flight path on the screen. Soon it was time for my In-flight meal which consisted of the following.I had requested a Halal meal package and the air hostess specifically asked about it and delivered it to be separately.

Soon we reached Beijing. It was a bright morning in Beijing when we exited the plane and made our way to the waiting hall. Contrary to all my apprehensions we had a smooth transition and we were in the waiting hall for the next flight in an hour. The airport was large and roomy and I saw lots of people wearing the long, below knee level coats. This reminded me of old Chinese movies. After 4 hours here we boarded our next flight to Vancouver. We were into our 3rd and final part of the Journey now. The excitement wore off and I slept for most of the time of this 10 hour flight. 


Weary and tired we reached Vancouver around 10 am of a Wednesday. As soon as the flight landed we let out a sigh of relief. Our 24 hour journey was finally coming to an end. We made our way out towards the exit where we found out, to our dismay that one more final hurdle remained between us and a good sleep. This was where we were to be handed out our Study Permits. This process took around 3 hours to complete. The only thing that kept our senses intact was the good humored banter of the immigration officer who kept cracking jokes now and then. Finally with our study permits in hand we  made our way out to the exit. Here Mounica informed that one of our mutual acquaintances,Lakhsman, was coming to pick her up and Thivya. So ram and myself decided to wait till Lakhsman came so that we could meet him before leaving for the Airbnb we had booked. As we were waiting in the lounge I looked around the place. Right on the opposite of the exit doors were two figures made of what I assumed to be wood with their hands outstretched. I could quickly surmise them to be related to the First nations of the country. Before leaving for Canada I had read a book on the history of Canada and I had a bit of an idea about its history including those of the original inhabitants of the country now called the First nations.

Vancouver Airport Website mentions this about these figures ''Carved by Joe David in the Clayquot tradition of the Nuu-chah-nulth people, these welcome figures are based on those that would be placed on the beach in front of a village or a big house. to greet guests.The male figure wears the traditional knobbed hat of a high-ranking person such as a whaling chief, the female figure wears the more common domed hat. The figures are carved from cedar logs David salvaged from West Coast beaches and stand with open arms to greet international visitors as they arrive to Canada.''

Soon Lakhsman came and after a brief conversation we parted ways. Lakshman,Mounica and Thivya
 went on their way and Ram and Myself walked out of the airport. One of the main things I was worried about was the temperature. On that day it was around 3 deg. Not too cold. We  hailed a taxi and were soon on our way to our Airbnb. Our Taxi driver was an Indian and soon engaged us in conversation.Knowing that this was our first time in Canada he started offering us tips and advice. In between nodding and replying to his questions I kept looking out the window. The landscape looked like all those Hollywood movies I grew up watching. We sped past huge warehouses, neat and clean streets, pretty houses and modern fancy looking buildings. Suddenly a police car raced along with sirens blaring. By far it was the coolest police car I had ever seen. It reminded me of the Need for Speed games. We soon reached our destination. The driver could locate the house just by the street and house number which was quite fascinating to be honest. The neighborhood looked quiet and nice. Looking at it, the first thought that came to my mind was the movie Halloween, specifically the first scene where Micheal Myers makes his appearance near the Hedge. With these thoughts running in my mind, I took our bags inside our Airbnb. It was a decent place. Our room was on the ground floor. Two of our friends from India had already arrived and were staying in the same Airbnb but they were not at home that time. So with nothing much to do Ram and myself soon went off to sleep.

By the time I woke up it was dark outside. The house was quiet and still. I dragged myself off the bed groggily and  walked over to the nearest window. I drew the curtains aside and looked out the window.A row of beautiful houses ran along the street . They were enveloped in the yellow glow of street lights. But not a sight of a human being. My reverie was interrupted by the rumblings of my stomach.  I was mighty hungry. I had to eat something. I was thinking what to do when I heard some laughter from upstairs. I figured the other guys were home so I walked up and there I met Namendra and Pavan for the first time. After a brief chat I went downstairs. Ram was still sleeping and I didn't want to wake him so I just carefully walked out of the room to go to the nearby hub of shops and eateries.

This was going to be my first walk in Canada and I would be lying if I said I was not apprehensive. I walked out of the house dressed in multiple layers of clothing, woolen socks, gloves and a beanie. All ready to brave the Canadian winter. Guided by the directions given by Namendra I began my walk. Our street was lined with beautiful houses on either side. All made of wood and with pretty little gardens around. A neat pavement ran along both sides for the pedestrians. I walked on this as I looked around the houses. Now and then I had to cross a street and a few cars which were on the roads stopped to let me cross the road. I last experienced this kind of stuff when I was in Bhutan. I soon reached the main street of Kerrisdale. But all this while I didn't meet even one person. Not a soul. I was so used to the mass of people back home that this was a bit unnerving. Anyway I looked around for something to eat but found that most of the eateries had closed for the day. The only thing open was the familiar McDonald's. And since I knew that the meat wouldn't be halal I just bought some Egg Muffins to go with and trudged back home. As I walked back on the empty and desolate streets I couldn't help but wonder at the solitude of the whole area. I could see the houses and the lights inside but everything was so quiet. As soon as I reached the Bnb stay I had one muffin and I Jumped right back into the bed. Thus ended my first day in Canada. In summary it was just a tangled mass of tiredness, confusion and uneasy sleep.

University of British Columbia

I woke up the next day, my brain still disoriented and muddled. We were to go to our University today to complete a few formalities. Though I did not feel like going, I did not want to miss out, so reluctantly I joined the others. After some much needed breakfast we started our walk to Kerrisdale. The morning air was cold and fresh. I could see the pretty houses much better now and the whole locality looked immensely beautiful. We were to take the public transit bus to UBC from Kerrisdale. This was again a first for me. Thankfully I had the company of Namendra and Pavan to guide me about the process of using the buses. I liked two things about the system immediately. One was the use of cards to pay the fare. One has to simply tap a card at a screen at the front of the bus and its done. Second thing was the way everyone greeted the driver while getting on the bus and saying 'Thank you' while getting off. 

I sat near the window and took in the views as the bus went on its way. Soon we entered a forested area. I could gather from the google maps which I had opened in my phone that we had just entered the University Area. Soon we reached the last stop, the UBC Bus exchange.We, like everyone else, conveyed our thanks to the driver and got off. From here we parted ways with Namendra and Pavan who were going for some other work. Ram and myself strolled around a bit. We walked around the aquatic center, the Life Building, the Nest building and the UBC Bookstore. From what little we saw we found it beautiful. But before we could explore further we had work to do. We headed over to UBC Book store to apply for our UBC Id cards. As soon as I entered the bookstore I recalled the words of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir when he visited Kashmir for the first time. He said ''Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hami ast" which translates to ''If there is paradise on earth it is here, it is here, it is here. I could alter it a bit and say 'gar firdaus, ruhe UBC ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin as" The collection of books was excellent and they had a huge stock of UBC merchandise. Hoodies, Sweatshirts, sweatpants, caps, t shirts, mugs etc. We completed our work and left the store soon. We then had to visit a bank and then we were done for the day. By 3 pm we were back in our room. As it was winter, it was dark by almost 4 pm. Thus ended the first day of our UBC experience.

Christmas Eve and Downtown.

Days passed with us going out to complete all our formalities regarding our stay in Canada.Meanwhile three more friends joined us, Sunil, Rehan and Suyog. That made us 7 in all. Till now the only exploring I did was go around the locality I was staying in and that one day stroll around the campus. Soon it was Christmas time and we thought going to downtown was the  best way to take in the festive spirit. So off we went to downtown. We called up other people of our batch and we all met near Canada Place. A building designed in the way of a yacht with sails on top of it, it is the main cruise ship terminal for the region. We wandered here the whole evening till it was dark. From here we moved on to the streets of downtown, moving around casually with no set destination in mind. The streets were a sight to behold. The shops were adorned with lights and wreaths bringing out the quaintness in them. The street lamps were lined with strings of lights. There were a number of Christmas trees here and we soon found the biggest and the best one near a street corner. A band was playing music nearby. The whole scene looked so surreal and beautiful. I spotted a shawarma food truck nearby. Namendra and myself got one soon and settled down on the steps of a nearby building. We ate the shawarmas and took in the whole atmosphere. It was a memorable evening.

Kitsilano Beach

One other outing we had was when we visited the Kitsilano Beach. Eager to go to a beach we visited the nearest one. The place where I used to work before I came to Canada was near the sea. The last time I visited the beach there I touched the water and made a mental note to myself that the next time I will be touching the water of a beach it will be the Pacific Ocean thousands of kilometers away. So the one first thing I did as soon as I reached the Kitsilano Beach is touch the water there. The beach itself is quite picturesque with nice chairs to sit on and take in the views. And plenty of area to take walks. 

New Year

Finally New year rolled along and we headed to Canada Place for watching the fireworks display. We had planned to watch the 9 pm "kids" display. Arriving 2 hours early we jostled among the crowds for a while before we zeroed in on a vantage point. We were not sure from which part the fireworks will be launched so we chose a spot in the middle and waited there for 9 pm. Finally the countdown started and at exactly 9 pm the fireworks began. To be honest they were a bit underwhelming. Maybe the 0000 hrs fireworks were to be much grander but we had no intention of watching those and we headed back home.

And thus ended the first 15 days of my new experience in Canada. One of the biggest concern I had before coming here was the weather. I had heard too many stories about the extreme temperatures of Canada but Vancouver had none of those. The temperature ranged between 0 to 4 Degs for the most of the days and that wasn't much of a problem to me.

Classes were to start from the next day and I slept with high anticipation of me going back to college life after a gap of 5 years.

5 things that I immediately liked about Vancouver
1. The public transport
2. The multiculturalism
3. The sidewalks and road crossing
4. The Police cars
5. The Waste disposal system.

Monday, February 18, 2019

My 100th post!

7 years. Around 70 trips. 3 Himalayan Treks. 99 posts.

Bungee Jumping. Scuba Diving. River Rafting. Trekking. Zip Lining. Forts. Waterfalls. Obscure palaces. Jungles. Caves. Beaches. Mountains. Cities. Towns. Museums. Lakes. Rivers. Hill stations. Quirky railway stations. And many more.

It has been an eventful travel and blogging journey so far. I started off my blogging journey in 2011 with my very first post which was about my visit to a remote fort near Karimnagar in Telangana. My main purpose in starting my blog was to maintain a diary for myself so that I could come back years later and relive my experiences all over. And it was my brother who actually gave me the idea to start a blog.  Over the years as I traveled more and blogged more it started to gain some attention. There were quite a few highlights over the years, a few of which I have listed here.

The timing of this 100th post couldn't have been better. Recently I  moved to Canada for Higher Studies. This post neatly divides the travels in India so far and my upcoming posts about travels in Canada and hopefully other countries (Insh).

Some of the highlights of my Blogging journey so far.

1. I was featured in ''The Ultimate List of the Top Travel Bloggers in India'' by Holidify (2015)

2. Three of my photos were featured in the newspaper ''Times of India'' Raipur Edition. (2016)

3. Lonely Planet Pathfinder
It was always my wish to be associated with Lonely Planet in someway.Finally, I became an official member of Lonely Planet's Pathfinder program for Bloggers. (2017)

4. Thomas Cook invited me to write an article for them. (2017)

5. My pic of a Heritage Building was featured in the newspaper ''Hans India'' (2018)

6. One of my blogs was featured in Blogadda's ''Trekking destinations you need to explore!'' (2015)

7. I was featured in Touristlink's - ''11 Travel Blogs You Should Follow – Round 5 '' (2016)

8. An interview with Bongyatra (2016)

9.  I was featured in this list by - ''Indian travel bloggers who inspire your wanderlust'' (2016)

10. One of my pics clicked during a trip got featured in ESPNCricinfo. (2013)

Best Feedback.

I get a lot of comments on the posts that I make on different paltforms. Here I have compiled some of the best I have recieved.

1. I am happy the writer, definitely an enthusiast and not a time pass gentleman, has done a splendid job with refined touches of his own contribution, (like the info on Vagli). I am proud of you for your interest! May God bless you. (This was by famous Historian K R A Narsiah)

2. Very good report, I like the full details of bus times and journey lengths, etc. This information is very valuable to others.I looked at your "Razz was here" blog too, very interesting... It will give me some entertaining and fact filled reading.
I also liked one quote "You looked at the artifacts with interest, and the tourists with disgust..." Brilliant!

3. What a story! Loved reading it and the photos are a delight - like being there almost. We have lost so much of our precious history and culture chasing mirages. May be one day you can publish a book of such quaint places!

4. What a fantastic job this was, a great adventure and result. Its one of those lost treasures in rural India. Do record some detailed notes as to the location. It could be lost again otherwise. Thank you for an exceptional post..

5. Marvellous post, Razz. And I just discovered your blog* (what took me so long?).... brilliant writing. Keep inspiring us with your travel stories

6. I'm overjoyed with the photolgue as no other post has such a detailed trek diary on Druk Path Trek.

7. absolutely hitched up. Travelogues are itself intriguing. And this is a trekkelogue, just cannot wait for it. Pour it Razzaq. You have a great way with your narrative.

8. good report and photographsi like your choice of words:
murmuring brooks,fallen trees,chattering monkeys,moss covered culverts and butterfly filled clearings
there is a poet in you

9. Wow razzaqfccf, this is an amazing write up of your scuba diving experience! Like Nick mentioned, I felt your excitement reading along and informative as I have never done one before. This will be my activity during my next visit to Pondy. Cheers!

10. The locations you go to and your trip reports are always unique. Excellent as usual!

11. Great thread ! I love the way you write

12. It's a great spirit as well as great idea!!!!!! Cheers razzaqfccf

13. I have never before read a description of what it is like for a novice to dive. I've never done it, I can't even swim. I really got the feeling and excitement of your adventure underwater. Thank you! 

14. surely have guts....lovely narration...

15. wow! you are inspired me from this article ... now i am motivated to take a trip to the Himalayas Mountains next year... thanks and yeah! your articles and Pics were awesome.. thanks

My Top 3 Favorite Posts

Though I enjoyed writing each and every post I have a special liking for the following 3 posts.

1. Roopkund Trek,Uttarakhand. Day 4.Summit Day

2. Prologue.Trekking Trip to Bhutan

3. Ib,Orissa.The shortest Railway Station name in India.

A short video of my travels over the years.

My Youtube channel  

Some other random pics

My 101st post will be from Canada. Its already been a couple of months here and I can't wait to share my experiences of this beautiful and welcoming country! 

Keep the feedback, suggestions, comments, shares and follows coming!