Monday, 5 December 2011

Day Drive from Vancover to Whistler

Whistler is a small town (nearly 10k population) in British Columbia, Canada. It is around 125 kms / 2 hour drive from Vancouver. The town successfully hosted 2010 Winter Olympics. One can do Mountain Biking, Skiing & Snowboarding, Hiking, Helicopter ride, Gondola ride etc. All these can be done in 1 day tour from Vancouver.

We went by Bus from Vancouver to Whistler - the road is smooth and ride extremely beautiful. It passes through lakes, and small mountains.  As you move forward, on halfway through the journey, there is a single big granite rock where you can try rock climbing.

 On reaching Whistler, we bought tickets for Peak to Peak Gondola ride. Here, one Gondola takes you to a peak in around 20 - 30 mins and then you need to change to other Gondola that takes you to next peak. As you rises above you will see more and more snow coming - you can also spot a bear, if lucky. On reaching top it is very cold and snow every where. We played in snow (as usual making and throwing snow balls) for around 10 mins - after that our hands and face become very cold and numb, and we decided to move on.

 Then we went to Helicopter ride for a peak view of glaciers. It is 10 min drive from town. Staff again is friendly and courteous. They have 3 helicopters - all of different size / capacity. Ride is of approx 20 mins - it can become longer/shorter or interesting/dull on your interaction with pilot. so do not be silent and discuss whatever comes to your mind. If weather is good then it drops you to a Glacier that is completely yours for around 20 mins till the next group comes.

Drive from Toronto to Niagara Falls

We went from Toronto to Niagara in a Tourist bus. It is around 75 miles / 120 km and takes about 2 hours to reach. The road is smooth & well maintain.

On our way we took a break for wine tasting in  a small winery - staff was courteous and explained us the entire process followed in making wine. Whistler is famous for its ice wine that is very sweet in taste. It is normally taken as a post dinner desert.

Comes Niagara. Technically speaking, there are basically 2 falls, first come the American Falls (as the name suggests it is in USA), and then comes Canadian Horseshoe Falls. The Horseshoe Falls is the bigger one with 167 ft high and throwing water at 23 lacs litre per second. An interesting fact is that nearly 20% of the World's freshwater lies in the Great Lakes, and mostly flows over Niagara Falls.

Best months to travel are June, July and August - of course as water flow is at its peak. There are 3 main things that one should definitely do in Niagara:
  • Maid of the Mist Boat Tour. Wear a plastic coat (provided free) and get into a powerful boat (ground +1). Try and get a place in font of the boat on the first floor i.e in where the driver cabin is. First it will take you to the American falls where you will experience getting wet by small droplets of water. As you move forward to the main and more beautiful Horseshoe Falls, the density of water droplets will increase. There will be tremendous sound of falling water, blowing wind with water and then one realises the power of nature (and the power of boat as well)

  • Journey Behind the Falls. Elevator at street level takes you down to an observatory (for side view) and a 46 m long tunnel (for literally behind the falls).  Again a full body plastic cover is give (free).
  • Falls at Night. What changes in night is light - instead of sun light, falls baths in 7 different lights. Of course, sounds remain the same :) 

You can also try (if you have time) Cave of the winds (on Goat Island for a spectacular view of upper Niagara river) and a walk over Rainbow bridge.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Are you Planning to Own a Bullet ?

Somebody said, if you are evaluating your options of buying a Bullet or a sports bike like Pulsar, then you should buy Pulsar, as the one who thinks of buying a bullet does not think of anything else.

Bullet is the ultimate King of Road. Its heavy metal frame (~200kgs), 500 cc displacement, 27 bhp power, classy looks, pick up beats everything else. Practical evidence to this can be found in the most sought after destination in the entire World - The Himalayas. As you go up there you will find more and more people enjoying on best of the best scenic road.

So, what are the broad options in Bullet: Bullet 500cc (good for riding at very high attitudes and tough terrains), Bullet 350cc (best for city traffic and medium altitude), Thunderbird 350cc (amazingly comfortable on long drives).
                                                       Both 500 & 350 cc are available in Classic variant - it has the same look as the first World War Bikes. At present in India, it is available on 2-3 months booking time. Recently the company introduces 2 more colours - Desert Storm & Battle Green.

It can give you driving experience for a full life time if you love it and maintain well. If you can fix on a single good mechanic and maintain some relationship with him then it will make your ride that much smoother. I've fix on a mechanic called Raju. He has given me 300% more benefit than its cost (tip of 100 Rs  per visit) - sometimes he fills the oil level / change spare part for free / do oiling etc.

What Speed Do We Drive ?

Speed on road is actually derived by two factors:

A) Things that are not in your control
  1. Technical - Type of vehicle (Car / Bike),  Kind of vehicle (100 CC / sporting)
  2. Condition of Road
  3. Time (only 10 mins left to reach office)
  4. Weather
B) Things that are in your control
  1. Mood - best drive happens in best mood 
  2. Songs - your choice can result in you automatically pushing on accelerator
  3. Something happy ahead - speed increases
  4. Planning going in mind - speed optimises and remains constant
  5. Company of Opposite sex - speed increased in teen age, maintained post marriage, and declines post kid

Monday, 28 November 2011

Best Stretch, Udaipur to Rajsamand (Rajasthan)

The best stretch / Road that I traveled and traveled many a times is from Udaipur to Rajsamand. It is a 65 km drive that goes through natural & historical beauties of South Rajasthan.

The best way to enjoy is take your own car / bike as there are as many as 7 scenic / historical spots in between.

The first one is called Chirwa Ka Ghata which is a 5 km drive. Ghata means Valley. The road rises through hills of Arawali. There are spots when road bends where you can enjoy the beautiful mountain & valley view.

Next one is Ekling ji which is exactly on the road. It has 108 Temples of Lord shiva that were build more than 1,000 years ago. Try Mirchi bada at road site sweet shop. No dedicated parking available - so be careful.

Move on, as you will soon found yourself in a calm village - Delwara. It is famous for 18th Centuary Devigarh fort palace (now hotel) and 14th Centuary Jain Temple.

Go straight, a road on your left leads to Haldi Ghati - A mountain pass where a famous battle was fought in 1576.

Come back to the main road again and go straight for Nathdwara that is very famous for temple of Shrinathji. It is 45 kms from Udaipur.

Go straight and take a left (ask the locals nearby) for Kumbalgarh fort. It was build in 15th century and has a perimeter wall that is 36 km long.

Come to the main road again, go straight for Rajsamand. It has a beautiful lake, Nau Chowki, Old Fort and Dwarkadhish Temple.

Roads are good and safe. If you go directly from Udaipur to Rajsamand (65 kms) then it will take 1.5 hrs.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Favorite Books on Travelling

List can go on and on as i love both, but the best amoung best are:

1) Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig
2) Papillon by Henrie Charriere
3) Into The Wild by John Krakauer
4) The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton
5) Jupiter's Travel by Ted Simon

Let us hear it from others aswell....

Best Road For a Short Drive in Gurgaon

I was bored of conventional way of spending weekends - TV / Books / Net -  It is not that i don't like it, but thought to having some exclusive time with me, my bike, my music and my goggles.

The road is a small stretch of 3 kms but is new, six lane and practically empty.

It is near Vatica City, Sohna Road. If you are coming from NH8 (Delhi to Jaipur), then take left at Rajeev Chowk. Go straight for 5 kms, cross Park View appartment on your left and then turn left. Again go straight for 2 kms and take 1st right.

It was an intellectual ride - at times difficult to think and ride fast - but you get habitual :)

So, enjoy the ride if you are in Gurgaon and want a small track to speed up.