Monday, October 23, 2006


Gokarna is situated in coastal Karnataka around 450 KM from Bangalore and 55 KM from Karwar. It is famous for the Om beach, a beach with an uncanny resemblance to the Indian OM sign. If driving from Bangalore, take the Tumkur road towards Karwar.

The road trip itself is a mixed bag, with stretches of amazing road with lush green paddy fields on either side merging into the blue of the Western Ghats and lousy stretches of road with little strips of road strategically placed in between pot holes you can bury an elephant in. The transition between good and bad stretches of road is totally arbitrary and the car speeding at 120 kmph suddenly becomes a plane and achieves lift off where the road inexplicably decides to demonstrate the principles of space time warping due to gravity. Our overall trip was punctured with two punctures, a bovine causality, wacky co-passengers, one off-road skid into the forest at night and several other memorable events that I fail to remember right now.

The beach/town does not seem too crowded, rooms were available at Gokarna International hotel in town, but all the shacks on the beach were occupied.

There is nothing cooler to beat the combination of relaxing on a shaded restaurant looking at the Arabian Sea eating Prawn steak sizzler with cold beer to wash it down and Caribbean/Jamaican reggae beats playing in the background. Not to mention the hot bods in bikinis around. Except maybe smoking weed, which the waiter told us is permissible in the restaurant as long as you manage to get your hands on some.

We bid adieu with reluctance and a promise to return and spend more time relaxing on the beach and a stay in a beach shack.

Gokarna also gave me one of the best photographic opportunities in my life and hopefully I have been able to do reasonable justice to it.

Jog falls is enroute

The falls

The next 5 pictures were taken on the way with my SE W810i mobile

Love roads like these

Om beach

That's the Om

Lost and found

Heavenly Light

Parts of beach are 90% shells, 10% sand

sigh ...

Looks like something out of Serengeti (except for the cows!)

Patterns in the sand

The woman silhouetted against the mountains adding that one crucial element that makes this picture

What a sky!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Chiak-san trek : Korea

The geography of South Korea is such that close to 70 percent of the area consists of hills and mountains

The Chiak-san mountain is around 100 KM drive from Suwon and is more than 1200 meters high. The initial 3 KM hike to the base of the "climbing trail" is easy, the climb itself is of 2.4 KM length and of moderate difficulty, consisting of climbing endless flight of steps followed by scrambling over rocks formations and rough trails. Ropes are provided to serve as rails for the final 1.5 KM and one has to practically drag oneself up using the ropes since the rocks are uneven and dangerous.

The rest stop off the highway is crowded with holiday makers. Cars and tourist buses are a plenty as reflected in the restaurant window

A gazebo at the rest stop

Starting off

The water is amazingly clear

It was autumn and the leaves were just turning into spectacular colors

Red hot chili peppers

Along the way

Gateway to the forest

Statues at the bridge

Temple entrance in the forest

Buddha at the gate

A spring emptying into a pristine pool

The easy part

The many colors of autumn

Flowers on the way

Up, up and away!

Where did the stairs go?

The peak

Assembled stone pillar on the peak

On the way down