Others

Langyashan Glass-plank trip

This will be a little long post, as I will tell my experience on the trip and details about how to go to this beautiful place.

How to Go

This glass plank is located in Langyashan mountains which is located Hebei province. It take roughly 3 hours by bus to reach there from Beijing. The ideal time is to leave early and reach there by late morning. Me and my friends went there by via a hiking group/club (CET in our case). This is group works largely using WeChat (which is a social networking site extremely useful in China). There are similar hiking groups which organises trips regularly. One needs to make payment to them for organisation (which includes travel cost, organisation cost and insurance). The entrance fee and food is not included usually. After this it is their responsibility to take the enrolled members to destination safely and bring all safely. Trips are comfortable and usually pleasant.

Hiking

The bus from outside stops at a two stations from where a shuttle service transport the people to the entrance point. This shuttle service is very frequent, but boarding one is a bit unorganised in the sense that she shuttle arrives everyone runs for it and there is lot of pushing. People try to make their way through by pushing the crowd. This can be made more systematic and disciplined in future. Once on shuttle it take either 30 or 45 minutes to reach entrance point, the duration depends on the starting point of shuttle. At the entrance there is a statute on 5 soldiers, who are heroes who sacrificed their life in those mountains. The glass plank is dedicated to them and built in their memory.

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Five-heros who sacrificed their life at Langyashan

The entrance is located near this place. The tickets can be bought here. In time where there is less crowd this is efficiently achieved, but during holiday period this may take 30-40 minutes. Once inside the hike begins. The hike consists of climbing lot of stairs with regular mild inclines. There is one section of stair however which is very long and the next incline region appears after some 40 minutes of climbing. Throughout the hike one regularly encounters small shops either selling food items or souvenirs and toys. The hight of mountain on which glass-plank is located is 1105 meters. One can reach the top either by walk or by using cable-car. Cable-car has extra cost but one has to stand in long line first to buy ticket and then wait for car to board.

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Caged cricket sold as souvenir

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Scene of mountain range

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10 yuan Entry ticket for Glass-plank
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Glass-platform
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Langyashan mountains
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Downward view from Glass platform

Reaching the top may be painful to climb but the beautiful geographical beautiful view waiting at the top is worth the effort.

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View from Top
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View of tower from Glass-plank

The glass-plank has a red-star in middle, indicting the honour to the memory of the five heroes.

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People on glass-platform challenging their fear of height
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Others

Holi 2017: after 13 years

Today is Holi, one of the biggest festival of Hinduism and celebrated pompously in North India. It is a kind of spring festival of China where most people return back to their families or hometown for the festival. But this used to be done more some 20 years ago. Overtime things have changed partly due to many young people are working in far away from home and cannot afford an expensive return trip back home for 2 days (as festival lasts only 3 days). But still some do return back home for celebration.

In my case I was celebrating Holi after 13 years. Last time I celebrated in 2004, when my sister was also around, she left for US the same year for graduate studies and couldn’t come back again for Holi. After that I celebrated at my UG College for 2 times (these were crazy ones), then have been away mostly and couldn’t come back. This time I could come back home and celebrate with family.

We had lot of sweets at home for the festival. But strangely for the last few days the weather has been cold engulfing the North India in weird chill. The recent rain further dampen the spring festive air, thereby shadowing the bonfire in a gloom. Usually in the festival neighbours gather outside their houses to interact with various people and do the ritual of Holi (smearing coloured powder on each other faces, throwing coloured water at each other, hugging, wishing and feasting on sweets). This ceremony is repeated numerous times during the day whoever comes to meet. In a big gathering with loud music, usually attended by youngsters, all kind of crazy activities happen. But in family gathering it is mostly confined to the above basic activities.

In my case I was mostly inside home in morning and early afternoon. I did see many people playing Holi in park but I was not enthusiast enough to join them. Around 3pm I was having lunch when my cousins, aunt and niece arrived in big car to wish us. I was excited to see their coloured faces and as soon as I opened the door I was coloured from various sides aggressively. This was fun as I was experiencing this after a very long time and I did not protest. We played violent Holi with water and colours for some 1 hour, taking turn to colour each other in various permutation and combinations. It was crazy and fun, something which I was enjoying after a very long time.

Others

Upgrade on Airline

Yes it is possible to get upgrade on airline. But one should remember that nothing is done for free. Usually this is done when the flight on which you was actually booked got overbooked (due to some reason) or got unexpectedly cancelled. Then as a compensatory measure some flights give an upgrade.

I was flying from Toronto to Trieste using Air-France, 1 weak before christmas. On reaching the airport and the checkin counter, I was informed that my flight was over-booked and I cannot be put on that same flight. This came as a shock to me as I don’t know what to expect next? and what will happen to my connecting flights to Rome -> Trieste. I was asked to go to some specific counter for re-routing. When I went to this counter for re-routing, I was given an upgrade. I was given the executive class in Air-Canada. I have never travelled before even in business class (nor perhaps I will in future). So this was new and exciting. I was given sort of royal treatment, but also lot of stare given the kind of economy class clothes I was wearing. The fun part began when I entered the aircraft, and an super-attractive steward came to take-off my jacket (which is made with feathers). The sight of feathers attached to me sweater puzzled her. This was new to me. My first reaction was of surprise, but she told me not to worry and put the jacket in the nearby cupboard. I was then offered a sparkling glass of champagne. Oh it was GREAT. I was surrounded by big guys and exotic/fashionable ladies. I spotted a yesteryear supermodel, who was constantly chewing the earpiece of her glassed and staring at me. I sort of liked her. I had a huge cabin, can not only stretch myself but also make a small bed and sleep luxuriously. Then there was a wide selection of movies to be enjoyed while one can lie comfortably on the cosy couch. Set of magazines and various assorted accessories. Beside this there was continuous flow of lovely food items and for each passenger there was a sort of personalised steward, who will take care of him/her throughout whole flight.

In my case the flight attendants noticed that I do not fit very well with the other executive class passengers, and they were right. I did feel a slight discomfort, but not too much. But I wanted to just enjoy that luxury given that I knew it had a very short life-span of few hours. During the middle of flight an attendant came to me to ask how I actually ended up being in executive class. But before asking this question to me, he became quite friendly to me over the course of flight, so that the question doesn’t turn out to be too abrupt. I explained him my story of getting an upgrade. He was keen to listen to it and wanted to make my once in lifetime stay in executive class as memorable as possible. Rest of journey was smooth and done lovely. I did not slept for the whole flight and just wanted to experience the luxury. It was fun. Then came landing and time to say goodbye. Well its same for all, no matter from which class you have come from, and as soon as you step out of airline, your mind is more focused on catching the next flight on time, so that the whole past experience just becomes a beautiful dream.

Others

Nepal Quake and my thoughts

Today a high intensity earthquake stroke in Nepal. USGS puts it at M7.9 (15 km deep). This one is very strong. It has caused enormous causalities both in Nepal and India. I first heard of it on Facebook, when lot of my friends started updating their status (sounds weird that in even in emergency situations like these, people felt that it is more important to update status on FB :)). Then I checked on USGS and soon realised that it is DISASTER.

Back when I was a kid, I used to wonder what an earthquake felt like. I was a very curious kid and liked experiencing new things (sometimes I used to even get injured while trying something new). Once we (me with my family) were sleeping in night, there were some tremors. I did not feel anything, but in morning my sister and other family members were talking about it. I asked my mom, what is an earthquake and what happens in it? She explained me its a situation when the earth starts to shake and everything moves here and there. I still did not understand or got the feeling for it (back then there was no internet or youtube). Then during my high-school time I first experienced earthquake. I felt dizzy and thought that there was some medical condition with me, so informed my mother. But after sometime I heard lot of people outside talking of it, and I understood what I felt was an earthquake (this was the earthquake that devastated parts of Gujarat, India in Jan 2001).

Earthquake is a natural phenomena, where the pressure build-up at certain points is released via shaking. Today while eating my lavish dinner at the restaurant with my friends, I thought for few second whether people at the earthquake struck area are able to eat anything or not, are they getting food, do they have access to even basic necessities which we (rest of us) take it for granted so easily. I feel sad for people affected by this natural calamity, and I hope that enough will be done by the government of India and Nepal to bring the situation back to normal.

Activity · Actors · Movie · Philosophy

Death of an Artist: Robin Williams

Today my post will be a bit philosophical and may be serious. When I opened the internet today I was shocked to know that Robin Williams (RW) has died (apparent suicide). I was bit numb. Didn’t know what to say or write or talk. I don’t know if I was exactly shocked or not (or may be so), as I just sat on my desk staring the laptop screen for few minutes. Wrote something on FB and then went on doing my daily routine job. But every now and then whenever I took a small pause from work or break, the thought of Robin Williams death came lingering to my mind. Indeed it is something unexpected and my mind is trying to get used to what it didn’t expect to happen and perhaps move one. May be that’s why it was every now and them pondering over the issue.

I came to know RW long time back when I was school kid. I saw his movie Jumanji, which was recently released in India, and our cable operator was showing it on TV after few months. The movie was kiddish to others, but interesting to me as the idea was new, gripping, creative etc. I watched the movie. My english was poor (there were no subtitles at that time and dubbing was rarely done), so understood the story from the video, but every now and then catching the english word which is recognisable in the different pronunciation. I enjoyed the movie, fun it was. I didn’t know who the actor was, but sort of liked him. Later after some years I saw his another comic movie `Flubber’. Again new concept, idea and interesting. I thought that this comic character was really good. Well I was too young at that time to judge anybody’s credibility. But in my own frame he was good. Later on during the college time, when I became more mature, I saw his movie `Good Will Hunting’. This was very good movie. I haven’t seen some of his recent movies though.

Recently I have become a sort of movie fanatic guy, and have watched large amount of movies from most of languages (thanks to subtitles). So now I can compare better, which movie is better or bad, and which actor is good or bad or exceptional. I recently happened to screen `Good will Hunting’ again in my institute, and saw it again (this time with a critic eye). The movie is good (overall), good story, editing. Acting is good, I will not call it exceptional though. RW was pretty good in his acting and through out the movie was in his role. I liked him (acting wise). Believe me not many actors are there whom I count as good (may be less than 5%). I wonder now why being such a successful actor, he died or (may be) committed suicide? He was an artist kind of person. As he used to do his role very seriously. 

I have noticed (and have also read at many places) that most of the comedians are usually sad, Why? I thought over it sometime and argued with myself on this. It could be that when a person is sad, then he is deprived very much of happy moments from his life. In such circumstances a person becomes hungry for the happy moment. Therefore he/she is always on a lookout for happiness, in things, in moments, in activities of people. They develop a keen eye, allowing them to see even minute happy situations, which are normally missed by common happy average man/woman. In some situation these circumstance allow a person to become better artist, poet, writer, photographer etc. Most of the big names I know of have grappled with these eccentric situations. May be RW was himself going trough a similar phase, with which he couldn’t cope up. 

He will be missed very much I guess. Until the movie industries find a replacement. But in few years things will change and be back to normal. It will become history. In coming years people will watch his movies, recalling their childhood years and will feel nostalgic. Soon the new generation will come, who will hardly know who RW was. Then again like always it will become history and perhaps after century will be forgotten. I wonder who were the great actors who used to work in silent movies. I saw Hugo and Artist some years back. I was quite touched by them. Now people hardly care who those silent movie actors were. The kids these days don’t even know that there once used to be silent movies also. Sometimes I wonder what this world and its inhabitant are, and tries to understand them. Of course there is a heartless pattern followed in the world in the way things evolve, which I know, but just find it difficult to accept. Again, the life has to move one. Civilisation has to evolve.

Activity · Food · Fun · Others

Coconut Dumplings

Few days ago I tried something new which I haven’t eaten before elsewhere. Of course I have eaten dumplings before at several places in world, but believe me this was something very different. From outside one will think it is some extraordinary exotic food. Of course it does look something exotic. Its a sticky rice dumpling with sweet grilled coconut filled in the inside. This is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed (I guess). Its taste very good. Its a bit sticky. So when you open the banana wrapping it has a smooth shiny surface, which immediately gets contaminated once touched by fingers. You will get a spongy sticky feeling on the finger tips, but the sensation is good (believe me, yes you know what I mean :)). Then you can immediately put the stuff in your warm mouth to enjoy the delicacy of the banana leaf scented sticky rice coconut dumplings, and feel naughty after eating it. That may be because of some rice fermentation (may be, but it doesn’t cause any stomach ailments, only one feels good and drowsy). This is something one should try. I will definitely recommend. 

Activity · Others

Gloomy Rains

what? seriously? gotta be kidding me? OMG, are the kind of questions that come to my mind when someone in my office tells me that its raining again. Oh I am tired of it. Earlier it sounded beautiful. The monotonous sound of droplets trashing the windows and leaves and the slight chill it used to bring in the otherwise hot weather. But seriously, every time I decide to go out for buying something or having a dinner or for just casual cycling, it starts to rain. I mean, come on. May be I should get over it. Sometimes I do enjoy rain, as in my previous post I described how I enjoyed cycling in rain. But then after all mirth or cheer is over, there comes THE silence, a long and monotonous silence, having nothing other than the white noise of rain droplets. Its some what like the north european winter, long gloomy, cannot go out much, have to stay at one place, allows to work efficiently. Actually I read a scientific article sometime back which stated that gloomy weather helps in doing better academic work. Why not? I mean its obvious. If you are alone and stuck at one place, what more one could do, in order to keep oneself sane and keep the mind busy? Thank CERN for developing internet :). At least on days like these I can sit in my cosy bed with a bowl of spaghetti and write a blog :).  what am I doing, GET OVER IT :).

Activity · Movie Review

Shorts

I recently saw this bollywood movie `Shorts’. This one is a different. I normally don’t watch B’wood but sometimes I feel homesick :). Also after a long day’s work sometimes I want to watch an entertaining stuff. Commercially successful B’wood offers a power pack which most movies from the west tend to miss. Movies from the west are good (actually sometimes too good), but the obsession to make something perfect becomes so overpowering that the whole idea of making something entertaining goes in dump. Anyway, I am not a critic. Just a movie lover. 

So this movie `Shorts’ is very different from the usual one. I saw in the name of actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui so realised that this will not be disappointing (as he is a good actor). Of course he is also a serious actor and most of his movies are a bit thought provoking (rarely comic, as he picks heavy role). I wanted to watch this movie. The movie consist of 6 short films of 30 minutes each. Each short is very captivating, has a gripping story. The actors are big names. Some stories are thoughtful while some are very abstract (specially the one in which Nawazuddin Siddiqui has played the role). I personally liked the whole movie. It was not from the point of view of entertainment, but from the art point of view. I would definitely recommend watching at least once this movie `Shorts

Activity · Others

Elephant on Road

Ya u heard it right. I spotted a baby elephant on road today. I was told by the two owners, who were making him walk on road, that the elephant is a 2 years old baby. I asked them where is the mother? no replies. Anyway, it is common in Thailand to spot a elephant on road. Although it is illegal to bring the elephant on road (unless there is proper supervision), but it is hardly followed. Elephants are cute, everyone likes them, specially if you spot a baby roaming around playfully and making gestures with his trunk every time he gets some sugarcane. Yes, thats the key thing.

Nobody is able to overcome that irresistible desire to touch that cute chubby baby elephant. But to come close to him/her you have to buy the sugarcane from the owners (20 bhats for a small packet containing four finger long sticks of sugarcane) and feed the elephant. Then you can touch the elephant and of course take pictures while the elephant is thanking you by lifting his trunk in air. Its a adorable sight. Aww. Also it is considered by some that if you feed the elephant then you get blessings, which will help in the growth of business.

I feel pity for the baby elephant, who is made to do all this. I hope he gets ample time to play and have fun. Poor fellow must be missing his mom.

Activity · Others

Cycling in Rain

Ahh … that was fun. I always enjoy showering in the rain. Its so much fun. But most of time I am busy doing something else or occupied elsewhere, so not always possible to cherish the feel of rain.

Today was special. I went out for cycling (have recently started this has a daily routine). The idea was to go to gym after cycling. But while I was cycling, i noticed the heavy dark clouds advancing towards the campus. It looked terrifying. This was perhaps just a glimpse of what was in store. I took one round of the campus and began the second one, when it started pouring. Initially it was drizzling, so I thought that perhaps if i rush, may be I will reach gym on time, before it starts to pour heavily. But no. It started and intensity became high very quickly. I decided to halt and stay under tree. But it was not much of use. I was getting wet anyway. Then I decided why not try cycling in rain. It was a crazy idea, given that I have glasses on my eyes, which have power for long distances. I removed my glasses and went for cycling in rain. Oh, it was just pure fun. Felt amazing. Wetting in the rain is so great. Rain was hard. Wind made it even more psychotic. I was the only one on the road, while everybody was standing under the shade, staring at me.

I got complete drenched. But that was the purpose :). I guess I took shower in rain after a very long time. Reminded me of my childhood.