When living in Brazil, the mere mention of Bali evoked me thoughts of a far away paradise. I dreamt about a tropical island with white sands and clear blue water populated by surfers and tanned people.
It’s 6 o’clock in the morning and we are sitting in a safari car in the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. Another jeep parks alongside just before we spot a beautiful tiger. We start talking to two photographers in the car next to us about remote locations to travel to. They are from Australia and seem to be the type of people who know where the wild things are. We share our experiences. They mention their favourite wildlife places in Australia, and that’s how I hear about Ningaloo Coast for the first time, two years ago, while tracking tigers in India.
The pursuit of freedom has always been behind great travel experiences, whether it’s on horseback, by motorbike or practicing extreme sports. I enjoy exploring this idea during my journeys. I travel to discover new cultures, get lost in remote locations, encounter exotic wildlife or experience the pristine nature. Since two years ago, though, I found one more reason for travelling. And this is called Kite Surfing.
It was during a trip to Bhutan, a year ago, when I first saw, and subsequently fell in love with the Himalayas. You see, those giant mountains mean different things to different people. To some, it represents a chance to meet with and conquer a real-life giant, something every mountaineer finds irresistible. To others, it is a region to be feared, respected and admired from a distance. But to me, it was a sort of mystery, waiting to be unraveled. The five days I spent in Bhutan were clearly not enough. I wanted more. I had to travel deeper into the region and walk among these giants to fully grasp their magic.
Approaching the Himalayas by air, the anticipation is like that on no other journey. Giant empty mountains framed by a bright blue sky under our noses. It’s a scenic 40 minutes flight until we have a dramatic landing in the most dangerous airport on earth. We arrive in Luckla – Eastern Nepal – in the shadow of Mount Everest.
Life is never as amazing as when we share the special moments with our loved ones. When looking for a unique experience to share with our dear friends visiting us from Brazil, Fernanda, and Claudinho, we came across diving in Komodo Island, a board of Alexa. Nothing sounded to beat such a beautiful boat navigating towards one of the best diving spots on earth (CNN Survey 2015).
Two years ago, I put my feet in India for the first time. That was just a three-day trip, but long enough to fall in love with the remarkable Taj Mahal, drive 300km from Agra to Ranthambore National Park on a Royal Enfield Bullet, and track wild tigers in their natural habitat. Two days were way too short for a trip to India. Nevertheless, it was during this journey when a huge desire to learn about this compelling country was born.
If you have the curiosity to see what an undeveloped and new nation is like you should go to East Timor. I say new nation because this former Portuguese colony became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century in 2002. The country was utterly ruined in 1999, when the Indonesian troops who had occupied it for 24 years were forced to withdraw after a United Nations referendum resulted in its independence. Almost 15 years after this event, it is still very poor and there is not too much going on in East Timor, as we expected. And this is actually the reason why we decided to visit this little nation in the Indian ocean. We wanted to see how a country in its very beginning is like.
I had long wanted to visit Bhutan. A country that stands apart in the Himalayas as it has been saved from the damaging effects of tourism that have affected the rest of Asia for the past 20 years. The rising of popularity of Bhutan, however, cannot be denied. Slowly the country is throwing open its doors and coming out with new hotels, airports and flight connections. The high prices, on the other hand, will still keep the mass market at bay for a long time.