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About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Off-roading in Chennai..

If someone told you "let's go off- roading in Chennai" you might have stared at them long and hard and burst out laughing. Right? Well, that is pretty much my reaction as well. But then when I met Arka and team, came to know they have been doing The Palar Challenge for 8 years and are all set to get started on the 9th year event, I was zapped. Who knew Chennai had such a mean streak to it.. 

And so, that sunday I was all set and excited to see what lay in store.. All I knew was we were going to be travelling to Vayalur and exploring the off roading tracks in the Palar River bed. I had 9 others coming along and all of us were equally excited and anxious. We met a few from the Terra Tigers Team who gave us a ride to the venue. 

A good 90 kms from Tiruvanmiyur, on ECR is where I saw the board "Vayalur". A sharp right turn and down the road is where we came upon the Gated community. Wondering what the plan was, I sat back and told myself to just enjoy the day. The cars were all parked, and we switched to the 4 wheel drives there. Beyond the property is where the dried up Palar river bed was. And woah, it was huge and open and I could see nothing but sand for a few kms. 

About the event:
The event is an annual team-based off-road competition held around the Independence day weekend . Each team consists of 3 vehicles and 6 competitors and there are a whole list of parameters based on which teams are chosen/finalised ...

The very first event was back in 2006 where the core team flagged off with around 21 members of the Jeep Thrills community. Today, the event has gained national prominence with entries pouring in from across the country.Over the last couple of years, the event has seen international off-road drivers of repute competing with the best Indian off-roaders.  Now they put a cap on how many teams can participate and are quite firm on the rules laid down. 

Palar river is a with its source in the Nandi Hills in Karnataka, the river traverses three different states over a distance of 350 km to meet the Bay of Bengal near Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu. The terrain is a mix of water, sand, slush, boulders, rocks and rubble that offers excellent opportunities to set up challenging competitive Off-Road Special Stages. And when it rains, or there is water, the challenge gets even more exciting... there is slush, there is chaos and much more... 

The event also goes to Kancheepuram for another round of off-roading during the Challenge. It gets exciting as the team keeps changing the special stages, and throws the drivers off with their quirky routes and markings. 

For us, it was one helluva experience. We were in different 4 wheel drives and got to experience the thrill of making it over each of the special stages. Some vehicles struggled, got stuck and shivered, while others made it with ease. I got to ride in a Fortuner that managed most stages but got stuck at one tough one, to a point where the rear bumper was nearly falling out. And we had to be towed out. We got to witness how vehicles are towed out, helped out of a sticky situation and how the team comes together when one is in trouble. 

I did a round with Arka in his jeep which is a mix of nearly 17 other vehicles. He says he is very picky about his jeep and ensures that others too follow the rules. A seat belt is a must, cage is a must have and similarly there are quite a few other items that need to be checked off before hitting the sand.

But the bottom line of this event is that the vehicles all need to adhere to rules, have safety processes and equipment in place and ensure conditions are met before hitting the sand. 

On that gorgeous Sunday, we not only got the opportunity to enjoy the rugged terrain, but interact with the Terra Tigers team- each one with a unique personality. Almost all have a full time job but have gotten into this out of sheer passion. There are professional sports photographers, travellers, people working in auto industry and so much more, but what connects em all is their passion, thirst for speed and eagerness to overcome challenges. 

We spent the entire day out in the sun, with the team making sure we had enough liquids to stay hydrated and we enjoyed the day. When we would up around 6pm, we had a big grin on our faces much to the surprise of the TT team. We were all high, even though the day had been hot, we were running on an adrenalin high!! 


Deflated tyres before the ride..







 The Terra Tigers team [Photo Courtesy: Karan]

While we were out there, we also spotted a few ATVs zip zap zooming around. Predominantly driven by foreigners who seemed to be having a whale of a time, this is another activity that I would love to try...sometime! 


Now, am looking forward to witnessing the actual Palar Challenge as it happens in the 2nd week of Aug... 

If you are curious about this event and want to know more, check out the links below--

Video: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5v7Ry1KkTM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q09dt4dtYw [by Avanthi vissa]

Facebook pages- 










Other references:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-excursions/135792-palar-challenge-2013-a.html

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday Challenge.. Going back in time

"OLD" (Vintage, Antique, Rusty, Secondhand, Long ago, Aging, Senior,...)








These pictures were clicked during the Vintage car rally that I got to be a part of a year or so ago.. We rode from Chennai to Mahabalipuram... The cars are all in brilliant condition, maintained well and some have been restored as well. 





Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday Challenge.. Dogs

Today's theme is "FAVORITE" (Thing, Photo, Person, Pet,...)


I love dogs, and this little piece caught my eye at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok... :-) 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thursday Challenge.. In person...

"SOUND" (Noise, Music, Singing, Birds, Insects, Vehicles,...)


It was 2003 or 2002, don't remember the exact year. But I do remember the euphoria I felt after the concert. Watch showed it was past midnight but we were still high,atleast I was. The joy of seeing him live, listning to him croon out all those tracks that I enjoy was just magical. And this was the 2nd concert of his I was attending. 

It was a very last minute decision. I had been planning for the concert for months but the week had a bit of craziness- friend fell ill and I wasn't sure if I could travel since I was holding fort at the office. Spoke to her and she gave me a good kick that said "go for it woman".. Another guy [RJ/Station head] I know had called earlier to say he has 2 passes and all I had to do was get my butt to Bangalore. 

The saturday morning I got to the station, stood in line, bought a train ticket and travelled to Bangalore for the weekend. What fun it turned out to be~! 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Skywatch Friday. One among the many temples..



While exploring Karaikudi, we stumbled upon this temple, majestic and beautiful. it was closed and so we did not go inside. Did however spend some time in the Museum nearby and a book store of sorts adjacent to it.

In this region, people are classified based on which temple zone they are from. This temple falls into one of the nine zones.  The entire temple campus was empty but for a few guys who were enjoying a cool swim in the temple tank.








For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Grand Palace, Bangkok

It was our 4th day in Bangkok and the one place we were yet to visit was The Grand Palace.  As we were stepping out of our hotel, the lady at the desk gave us a tiny slip that contained a small note about a scam that is done commonly here.. we gave it back to her saying we had been subjected to it the day before but luckily dint fall for it!! :D [written the scam tales at the bottom of the post]

Built in 1782 - and for 150 years the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government - the Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people. Within the majestic walls you will find the Thai war ministry, state departments, and few other buildings as well.  

Within the palace complex are several impressive buildings including Wat Phra Kaew  (Emerald Buddha temple), which contains the small, very famous and greatly revered Emerald Buddha that dates back to the 14th century. Even though the Thai Kings stopped living in the palace around the turn of the twentieth century, but the palace complex is still used to mark all kinds of other ceremonial and auspicious happenings.





















A strict dress code applies

The Grand Palace with The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is Thailand's most sacred site. Visitors must be properly dressed before being allowed entry to the temple. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves (no tank tops. If you're wearing sandals or flip-flops you must wear socks (in other words, no bare feet.) Women must be similarly modestly dressed. No see-through clothes, bare shoulders, etc. If you show up at the front gate improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entrance that can provide clothes to cover you up properly (a deposit is required).

We were all set to enter the place when a man stopped us near the entrance and told us we weren't in the right attire. I was wearing a 3/4th sleeve shirt and capri, and so had to rent a Skirt.. Friend was wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts. She had to also pick up a skirt, the guy infact told her to rent a shirt but she decided to cover up with her stole. But alas, we weren't allowed inside. Ended up going to a souvenir store and buying a Tshirt for her! Oh well, good to respect the rules and follow them! 

  • Opening Hours: Daily 08:30 - 15:30
  • Location: Na Phra Lan Road, Old City (Rattanakosin)
  • Price Range: Tickets sold from 8:30 - 15:30 and cost 400 baht! One ticket includes entry to Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.
The Scam

So, there we were all set to explore The Grand Palace before heading over to Wat Pho. We got off the tuk tuk and were about to enter the Palace when the guard stopped us and told us the place was closed and open only to locals. It was 4pm and we knew the place shuts around 5.30pm. We stood there looking at all the people [ of varied nationalities] coming out and going in. 

Once again probed but the security refused to let us in. He then suggested we head down the road to Wat Pho & then do a visit to Wat Arun by tuk tuk. The tuk tuk he suggested was for 600 baht and the guy was parked right there on the curb. We knew these places were within walking distance and so told him we will walk. He went on insisting we take the tuk tuk and lowest he would come for was 450 baht.  It dint sound legit, and I dragged my friend and told her "lets get going.. we will come back to the palace another day" and we walked ahead towards Wat Pho... 


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday Challenge.... The Skytrain

"LINES" (Linear Marks, Strips, Railroad Lines, Telephone/Electrical Lines, Line ups,...)





I fell in love with the BTS Skytrain in Bangkok- the trains are so well organised, the stations are super convenient, sorted out and it is very easy even for a non Thai speaking person to figure their way out.. 

All we had to do was go to the machine on the wall, pick the destination, drop in coins to that total and pick up the ticket [ which was a black circular coin or a squarish one] and get going.. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Wat Arun, Bangkok

Next up on our agenda was to visit Wat Arun temple, which had to be reached through a short ferry ride from the jetty. After grabbing a quick bite to eat outside Wat Pho we made our way down the road toward the Jetty.. All along the way there are hawkers selling everything from fresh fruits, fruit juices and there was a row of shops selling souvenirs of all kinds - magnets, bookmarks, caps, bags, key chains and much more.. It was a riot of colours. You buy the ticket for the Ferry which is 3Baht per ride per person and made your way down the wobbly path to the boat. 

A boat arrives, we jump in, find a spot to sit and get set for the short ride across. The Wat Arun Temple looms large across the river against the blue skies. 

Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng, is situated on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different to the other temples you can visit in Bangkok. Wat Arun (also called the temple of the dawn) is partly made up of colourfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water. The spire (prang) on the bank of Chao Phraya River is one of Bangkok's world-famous landmarks. It has an imposing spire over 70 metres high, beautifully decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain placed delicately into intricate patterns.

You do need to pick up a pass to enter the temple campus, it costs 100 baht. If you are not wearing the right kind of attire [ hands and legs covered for girls, then you can hire a sarong or shirt for a small deposit] The temple is open daily from 08:30 to 17:30 and the last boat ride I think is at 6pm.

We said a quick prayer before entering the temple premises. the steps leading to the top towers are quite steep, to say the least. I managed to climb up two flights but the third was tricky, almost vertical.. and it was super crowded, so taking your own time getting up was out of the question. The view from the 2nd was breathtaking, you can see the entire river winding around and Wat Pho as well. Apparently, if you go all the way up you can see Grand Palace as well. 


History

Wat Arun was envisioned by King Taksin in 1768. It is believed that after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya, which was taken over by a Burmese army at the time, he arrived at this temple just as dawn was breaking. He later had the temple renovated and renamed it Wat Chaeng, the Temple of the Dawn. It used to be the home of the Emerald Buddha, before the capital and Palace was moved to the other side of the river. This can now be seen at the Grand Palace.


The central prang was extended during the reign of Rama III (between 1824 and 1851), and is now one of the most visited sites in Thailand. It was also Rama III who added the decoration of the spires with porcelain, so that they glimmer in the sunshine.

We spent a good hour or hour and a half here and made our way back to the jetty to catch the boat. It was one memorable day indeed. The only place was the Grand Palace, which we set aside for another day! 


Attire that is available for hire, wear and take a picture :) 

























Stay tuned for more...