Sundarban, Sikkim & Lava trip: Details

Sikkim – Sundarban – Lava trip was a crazy solo trip where I was constantly on the road spending crazy hours in shared jeeps mostly.

Usually, I prefer to spend more time in a single place than keep hopping. But this time, I decided to hop every day, esp because I was solo and didn’t want to feel the lack of company. In the end, it turned out to be yet another good trip. The places were good enough company for me… perhaps except Gangtok!

A few friends asked me about the trip expenses and if I would be providing a break-up like I did for Borneo.

So, here it is along with a few other stats.

1. Itinerary

12 days from 4 May to 16 May. 12N 12 D to be precise.

Day zero: Home – Airport – Kolkata. Stay in the airport (yeah, quite used to sleeping on chairs 😉 )

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Sundarbans – Drag net fishing

Prawn seed fishing is a prominent river-bank occupation in the Sundarbans, done mostly by the women and children who are usually forced to do it to supplement the meagre income of their families. (Men usually are engaged in honey collection, boat-fishing, pulling rickshaws, mono-crop agriculture etc)

Drag net fishing - 1

A rectangular net, as seen in pic, is immersed in the water and dragged along where the women (or children) wade through the clay bed in chest high water.

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Sikkim and Sundarbans

The backpack is ready!

After quite a while, am travelling again.

This time, it is solo backpacking to Sundarbans and then to Sikkim for 2 weeks.

The plan is to stay for 3 days in Sundarbans (in a not so easy to reach village where there is no electricity) and then to head to Sikkim for the Goecha la trek. I hope to find a group to join, else the cost of doing the 8-9 day Goecha La trek alone would be pretty high (and I don’t want that).

Here are a couple of pictures that I hastily clicked using my pocket camera.

Sorry, am in a hurry and this is all I can post for now. Will blog in detail later.

Wish you a fantastic 2011!

Wish you all a fantastic 2011!

May all your dreams come true! May the travel gods smile upon you! May your bikes take you places! May your cameras click wonderful images! May you live the life you always wanted to! May there be more leaves when you want to travel! 🙂

May your life be wonderful!!!

2010 through the rear-view mirror:

2010 to me was fantastic in terms of travel and photography!! Initially, I thought I would do a full fledged year review, but thought year reviews are too personal and hence wanted to save you the trouble of reading through yet another boring review.

So, I thought I will just list a few memorable moments of 2010.


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Backpacking in Borneo-11: Epilogue

Okay folks! Time to wind up living in Borneo!

Filipino market

This is mostly a meta-post about previously written posts to give a better perspective of my trip. Also, I will try to cover a couple of things I haven’t spoken about yet.

First, thanks to the people who made this trip possible and a successful one.

  • My wife who was pretty cool about me leaving her and going to an exotic location for 10 days
  • Adarsh for being a wonderful companion and for all the painstaking research on Borneo
  • The kind-hearted taxi driver who helped us at Kota Kinabalu
  • Tong Ali, our amazing and friendly guide at Uncle Tan
  • Lan, Olong and other friendly guys at Uncle Tan
  • Yunus, our soft-spoken and gentle guide for the Mt Kinabalu climb
  • Jenny, the energetic guide at Gunung Mulu

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Bangalore to Melkote / Melukote: A day trip

“Nann hesaru Basappa antha, illi thumba varushadindha iddinee (my name is Basappa, I’ve been here since many years)”, the Dasayya at the Kalyani (pond) in Melkote tells me, polishing his brass vessel with lemon.

Melkote Basappa

Every morning, he comes to the Kalyani near the temple and performs religious tasks for devotees at a small fee. His day starts early… applying the Vishnu nama on his forehead, polishing his brass vessel and plate, cleaning the shanka (conch) and jagate (stick to hit the plate)… and then approaching devotees offering his service.

Living this way is the only thing he knows. Clearly, life for this Dasayya revolves around the temple. Before I could ask him more questions, ‘clients’ arrive and I thank him for his time and leave.

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Backpacking in Borneo-8: Climbing Mt Kinabalu

Our guide Younus

‘Younus! How do you think we managed the climb?’

Long silence…..

‘Hmmm… okay’, muttered our guide. More silence…..

‘Hmmm…. you guys took a lot of time’, he added.

‘Aaarghh! No, you are not supposed to speak like that in our video’, I told our honest guide!

A video for self glorification was being shot at the top of Mt Kinabalu at a height of 13400ft. What the guide just told in front of the camera was not exactly what we wanted the world to know.

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Backpacking in Borneo-7: Expenses & tips to keep it low

“How much  did the Borneo trip cost you?”

“How did you keep your expenses low?”

These are two questions many of my friends had asked me. This post is an attempt to answer these questions. I hope you find it useful too.

The 11 day trip (from Aug 27 evening flight to Sept 6 evening flight) cost me INR 52018.5 including the visa application, insurance and other expenses that I incurred even before starting the trip. You can download an excel sheet containing the entire list of expenses here.

Most of the planning was done by Adarsh Raju, my good friend. It was indeed his effort that really helped in keeping costs low at the same time not skipping on the good things that Borneo has to offer. So, all credit to him!

At first thought, it might appear not so cheap, but considering the number of things that we did, I think we did fairly well to keep things tight.

  • 8 flights, 2 of which were international
  • Kuala Lumpur (transit), Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu, Miri (transit) and Mulu covered
  • Food, accommodation for all days including stay at places like Sutera lodge atop Mt Kinabalu,  Gunung Mulu national park,  Unce Tan adventures, etc
  • climbing Mt Kinabalu, guide fee, permit
  • 4 boat safaris
  • 3 forest treks
  • 4 cave explorations
  • 1 canopy walk
  • connecting travel (taxi, boat and bus rides)
  • visa, travel insurance, trip related purchases

The flight expenses were INR 23992 and non-flight expenses were INR 28026.

The average cost of acquisition of a Malaysian Ringitt to me was 15.3 INR. Every MYR expense was converted to INR by multiplying by 15.3.


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Given below are a few reports that indicate the expenditure trend. Since the flight expenses are much higher than anything else and skew the report (one bar will be much higher than all of the rest), I have excluded the flight expenses.

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