2018: A year through my Instagram Travel photos


So, I started doing this annual roundup as way back as 2013. But it was only from 2016 that I found the best way to do a roundup: Instagram. And now, 2018 brings me yet another reason to do this again.

I have it very clearly mentioned on my instagram profile that I am NOT an influencer (although, I have taken some rare influencer agreements in the past), but Instagram has a much bigger role for me in my travels. To ensure that I have a chronological record of where I travelled, and what I saw each day. Kind of like my Project 365, but without the compulsion of having to post something every day.

 

And as 2018 – a pretty interesting year for me – comes to a close, I went back to search for my best memories of the year. Again using my trustworthy Instagram account.

Here are the best moments of each of the months in this year.


Further Reading: Have you checked my instagram roundup of 2017?


January

The year 2018 started off with the continuation of the K2K2K ride. I remember I was exactly in Arunachal Pradesh, crossing the Pangsau Pass to Myanmar, around the new year eve. But after that, I spent the entire months in Assam. Especially, a couple of weeks in Majuli, which has now become one of my favourite backpacker spots in the North East part of India.

 

February

Half of February was spent riding from the North East towards Kolkata. And the other half was spent in Andamans. I kept my motorbike in Kolkata and took a flight to Port Blair, to check out the beaches. And, oh boy, does Andaman have the prettiest beaches in India?

 

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. Don't bother with the world. Chase your own footsteps. . Once, Time magazine called it Asia’s best beach. And that description does stand out for Radhanagar beach, despite the increase in tourist numbers - all thanks to ‘Time’. (Walk a little further and you can still find secluded spots like this one). . A long stretch of white sand beach (kept immaculately clean - Andaman is really different from rest of India in maintaining their beaches intact), I spent nearly a full day on this beach, just finishing a book and getting a little more tanned than my natural skintone. . And then, the sunset set in with all its glorious hues and colours. I found myself chasing my own footsteps back. . . . . . . . . . . . . #radhanagar #radhanagarbeach #havelock #havelockisland #andaman #andamanislands #andamanandnicobarislands #everydayindia #beingindian #indiaphotoarts #inspiroindia #iiframe #creativeimagemagazine #tripotocommunity #indiantraveller #natgeotravellerindia #storiesofindia #ngtdailyshot #natgeoindia #india_gram #inspiroindia #iiframe #tripotocommunity #NGTIndia #beachtime #skyonfire

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March

March was a gritty riding month, as I took my bike all the way from Kolkata to Kerala, with various stops along the way. But the best part of it all was coming back home after many months, and seeing some of the best aspect of kerala – its vibrant theyyam culture.

 

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. Meet the gods of god’s own country. . . Being born and brought up as a secular Hindu in Kerala, its amazing for me to compare the Hinduism that is practiced in Kerala, versus the rest of India. I still don't understand the anger in Northern India when I tell them I eat beef. They never understand that the cow just isn't that holy enough in our interpretation of the religion. (Touchy topic, but we are notorious for speaking our mind) . . But more remarkable, are the practices of thira and theyyam. Both of which are ritual practices with ancient roots, where a performer acts the role of god, while being dressed in colourful attire and makeup. . . This was at Varkala, a few days ago, during a temple procession of thira/theyyam. Those colours!!! . . . . . . . . . . . #thira #theyyam #varkala #kerala #malayalam

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April

In April, I finally finished the K2K2K ride! Having started from Kibithoo in December, it took me 5 months to ride from Kibithoo to Kanyakumari, and then to Koteshwar, to complete the East-South-West ride through India. After the feat, I rode further to Chandigarh, and just chilled off there for a way. Mainly to give my butt some much-needed rest.

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. I rode for 4 months and more than 10000 KM to see this sight! . . This is the Koteshwar temple, located in Narayan Sarovar, the west end of the Kutch district of Gujarat. In other words, this is the westernmost point of the giant country called India. And I finally reached here 2 days ago!! . . It feels like it was only yesterday that I started riding from Kibithoo, the easternmost point of India on Christmas eve 2017. But after 4 months, and a small detour through Andaman islands and touching the southernmost point of the country (Kanyakumari), I think the K2K2K solo ride has officially come to an end. I had imagined reaching Koteshwar in my head a million times, and all of those times I was happy and elated. But surprisingly, I am not. . . The recent events in India (Unnao and Kathua) have left me extremely uncertain about the future of this giant country I just traversed. It has fallen deeply into the hands of right-wing, ultranationalist, hate-mongering hordes who make Trump look like a messiah in comparison. A group of people who give more rights to cows than to women or children. . . Will it ever rise above all this hate? I am at my least optimistic right now. . . Click the link in my bio to read about the entire K2K2K ride. . . . . . . . . . . #Koteshwar #gujarat #temple #K2K2K

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May

After riding through India for the last 6 months, I left the country for a bit in May. The first stop was Oman, and then I spent the entire month of Ramadan in the North-African country of Tunisia. It was a challenge for me to spend Ramadan in a muslim country, and I had thought that I would end up loosing a lot of weight by the end of it. Surprisingly, I ended up gaining weight at the end of this trip. Tunisian food is soooo yummy!

 

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. . The force is strong with this one! . . From the island of Djerba, I came to the desert town of Tataouine. If you are French, you are probably wondering if it is a real place (because there is a French expression “it is in Tataouine”, which means something is far away). Well, damn sure it is, mon cherie! . . But why did I skip the deserts of Rajasthan just a month ago, and yet, come to spend a week in a Tunisian desert town somewhere in the middle of nowhere at the North of Africa? To see the Star wars connection for myself. No, I am not a Lucas fanboy and I am yet to see even one of the star wars movies. But when you hear of a town which has been extensively used for shooting scenes from Star Wars, you become a wee bit curious to see what it looks like. . . So, do you recognize this place now? . . . . . . . . . #tataouine #tunisia #desert #ksar #ksour #movie #africa #indiantraveller #indianphotographer #indiantravelblogger #neverstopexploring #exploremore #goexplore #exploretocreate #matmata #chenini #starwars #r2d2 #c3po #skywalker #lukeskywalker #enoughclues

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June

Most of June was spent in Ethiopia, which was another culturally diverse place for me to explore. I skipped the Southern route or the omo valley trip, because it is nothing short of a human safari. And went the northern way, towards Gondar and Bahir Dar. It was a revelation.

 

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. . Inside a 14th century Ethiopian church. . . In Bahir Dar, I met a group of travellers and we decided to hire a boat for a day that would take us around Lake Tana. Ok, not the whole of it, because Lake Tana is huuugeee!! But we got to check out 3 different islands. . . The first was Zege peninsula. Its not an island, but it would have taken me hours to get here from Bahir Dar. So a boat-trip seemed like the best bet. . . There is nothing much on the peninsula, except the Ura Kidane Mehret, a 14th century Ethiopian Orthodox church which is considered the most beautiful in Lake Tanna. . . Orthodox churches are amazing sights, with entire walls and doors painted with murals. Next to one of the doors, this little dude was playing away. He was more than happy to be clicked 🙂 . . . . . . . . . #bahirdar #laketana #urakidane #urakidanemehret #gondar #lake #orthodox #orthodoxchurch #addis #addisababa #addisisawesome #ethiopia

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July

In July, I visited my 83rd country. Azerbaijan was yet another surprise. The entire country, was an eye-opener. From the futuristic architecture of Baku to the silk route culture of Sheki, it was one of the best solo trips that I have had the pleasure of doing this year.

 

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. . Because Baku is full of gorgeous curves. . . After 5 years of living in Singapore, I used to tell myself that it is impossible to impress me with modern architecture. But that changed when I came to Baku. I think this city stands neck to neck with Singapore in terms of interesting buildings. . . And this is the best of them all. The Heydar Aliyev memorial center, is one of the most impressive designs ever made by the brilliant mind of the late Zaha Hadid. It was flowing with curves and poetry oozed from every wall and brick. . . In frame: @tanya_balitskaya . . . . . . . . . #baku #baki #bakuazerbaijan #azerbaijan #azerbaycan #instaqram #azerbaijan_instagram #aze #aztagram #bakutagram #visitbaku #tourismofazerbaijan #bakutoday #caspiansea #azerbaijantravel #wow_azerbaijan #vscocam_azerbaijan #_natgeoazerbaijan #oldcitybaku #heydaraliyev #zahahadid

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August

August was a rough month for me. I returned back to Kerala, and flew to Thailand for a collaboration with Novotel Phuket. But immediately after I flew from the Kochi airport, Kerala was subdued by a flood. And my entire 2 weeks in Thailand were spent stressing out over the safety and security of friends and family back home.

 

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. Typing this from the Cochin international airport, as I am heading back once again, to the country which was my first backpacking destination. I know it is mighty cliched, but I have a never-ending love affair with Thailand! . . It was back in 2011 when I set off on a trip to Thailand, and since then, I have visited it 8 or 9 times. But everytime, there is something new for me to explore there. And so it is this time, as I find myself planning for a little bit of leisure in Phuket, Hua Hin and Bangkok. If you are in any of these locations, give me a shout. . . P.S: Photo of fire-dancers taken at Koh Phangan during my first trip to Thailand, at an age when I used to love taking monochrome pictures. I think it’s safe to say that my life became more colourful over the years. 🙂 . . . . . . . . #kohphangan #firedancing #monochrome #blackandwhite

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September

The first half of September saw me back in Kerala, helping with some flood relief and and some cleaning operations that were happening all over kerala after the floods. By the end of the month, I took a flight to Guwahati, for yet another stint in the northeast. This time, it was for the Ziro Festival in Arunachal.

 

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. Back to the land of festivals. I missed you so much, Northeast! . . Landed in Guwahati yesterday, and that is a really difficult thing for me to type. Because the last time I was in the Northeast, I was on a motorbike. But this time, I left my motorbike in Bangalore, and it is good old backpacking for me. Also, unlike the last time where I lingered around northeast for 4 to 5 months, this time its just 2.5 weeks, and only in Guwahati, Ziro and Dimapur. . . I came to join @discover.northeast and @camp.zingaros for yet another festival. Did you know that Northeast is the land of festivals? Last year, I attended the hornbill festival (where this picture was taken), the Sangai festival, the Shillong Cherry blossom festival and the Garo Wangala festival. Phew, that was quite a number, but I missed out one important one. . . Who else is heading to the Ziro music festival this time? Give me a shout, and I will get you your first glass of rice beer. 😉 . . . . . . . . . . #guwahati #hornbill #hornbillfestival #nagaland #kohima #dimapur #festival #northeast #ziro #zirofestival #arunachal #arunachalpradesh #northeastindia #discovernortheast #indiaclickindia #igramming_india #natgeotravellerindia #storiesofindia #indiaclicks #yourshot_india #ngtdailyshot #natgeoindia #igersofindia #india_gram #_soi #_woi #iiblogger

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October

Came back to Kerala again, mainly to check out the rare event of the Neelakurinji bloom, which happens every 12 years. There were fears about road safety after the floods, but to the credit of the Kerala government, the roads were up and running, and I finally got to see the Neelakurinji. And unexpectedly, the Nilgiri Tahr.

 

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. . And that’s 2 rare events in one picture. . . I went to Munnar to see the Neelakurinji flowers (strobilanthus kunthianus) which has the longest blooming intervals. They bloom once every 12 years! So if you miss their bloom in 2018, the next bloom would only be in 2030. . . The bloom is almost nearing its end, and should last maybe a week or 2 at the max. But what I did not expect to see was the Nilgiri Tahr, the rare mountain ibex which is endangered. There are only 3000 of them left scattered in different mountains of the South, but the biggest concentration is in the Eravikulam national park, just 15 km from Munnar. . . I think this view made for the best birthday gift ever possible. 🙂 . . . . . . . . #idukki #munnar #eravikulam #nilgiri #nilgiritahr #tahr #kerala

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November

I think this was the only month in the entire year when I spent everyday in my home state of Kerala. I rode around different corners of the state, checking out places that I have never visited before. And there were some crazy finds. Like the impressive Jatayu rock sculpture, which completely blew my mind.

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. . This is the future of tourism in India. . . One interesting fact about the Jatayu Rock Statue, is that it is the first tourism project in India on a BOT model. BOT is Build-Operate-Transfer. So, a private firm founded by the movie director Rajeev Anchal leased land from the government, and built this statue and the adventure park around it. Since the land was barren, there was no environmental or local concerns either. So, although this was a government project, no taxpayer money went into the construction of this statue, and the land and sculpture will both be given back to the government after the lease period. . . The best part? Since this entire project costs only 100 crores, the break-even should only take a few years. So, everybody is happy that way - the investors, the government, the people. . . Wait, I hope you are NOT you comparing this to the ‘statue of unity’, built with 3000 crores of taxpayer money? 😉 . . . . . . . . #jatayu #jatayurock #jatayustatue #chadayamangalam #jatayuearthcentre #kerala

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December

December had me move back to Bangalore, where I will be staying for a while. (yeah, I am back to searching for a job now :-D). There were mostly short rides, like to Gokarna and Pondicherry.

 

I think I will finish the year on a little subdued note J

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. . Hoping that this place does not go the way of Goa. . . I am back! Spent the last 5 days in Gokarna, and it was idyllic. I did not touch my phone (except for google maps, which was my lifesaver on this ride), and spent my time in a 500 bucks beach cottage, just chilling away and reading a book. Gokarna is divine, but I can’t help but wonder. Why has it not become like Goa yet? . . The answer lies in the infrastructure. Unlike Goa, the beaches of Gokarna are all slightly more difficult to get to. The 2 popular beaches of Om and Kudle (where this photo was taken), both require walking a long series of steps. The longest beach (main beach), does not have very good connecting roads. And the amazing Paradise beach and Half moon beach require you to actually trek to get there, and camp if you want to stay overnight. All of this means that Gokarna does not get too many Indian tourists, unlike Goa. . . But that is going to change soon. The highway between Sirsi to Gokarna is almost complete, and there are access roads being built to the Gokarna main beach. All this means that in a couple of years, people are going to be flocking here just as much as they flock to Goa. . . I am not sure how I feel about that. What do you think? . . . . . . . . . . #gokarna #karnataka #ombeach #kudlebeach #gokarnabeach #beach #coastal

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About Abhi Surendran

Abhi quit his corporate job, and decided to immerse himself in travels, photography, occasional periods of bankruptcy, and copious amounts of insanity. He is currently working on a book of his experiences, and a dream road trip through South Asia. Both in a haphazard fashion. He blogs at Iamnothome and you can also catch him at times on Facebook and twitter.

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