Riding the Rails to Shimla

If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far this journey, it’s that I love train rides. And slow travel, more broadly, but train rides in particular. Keyes and my train ride out West. Multiple trains across Japan and Korea—some slower than others. The 38-hour ride from Bangalore to Agra on the overnight train (top bunk with air conditioning—don’t worry, I didn’t suffer too much).

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And then the beauty that was the train ride to Shimla. My tour group (via Intrepid Travel) took a regular train first to Kalka and then transferred to what’s called the “toy train” to Shimla, a hill station (mountain town) north of New Delhi. It’s called a “toy train” because, unlike its other Indian counterparts, it’s a smaller train on a narrow-gauge track that chugs through over a hundred tunnels (and hundreds of bridges) that are of their original design (from the late 1800s).

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Shimla is now a honeymooners’ getaway (and a state capital), but it was once the summer home of the British colonial government, when they wanted to escape the heat of the then-capital of Calcutta. It was also where some of the first discussions about independence were held between British and Indian leaders in the mid-1900s. And in many ways, it still reflects the effects of its colonial legacy (check out this article in The Guardian for an interesting reflection/critique on Shimla’s past and present). Continue reading “Riding the Rails to Shimla”

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Slow Living: 시골 Life on Jindo Island

There’s something about the pace of life in Seoul that is amazing and ever-changing–but also exhausting and perhaps, for some, crushing. I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends about Korea’s rapid modernization, and one thing that has come of it is a 빨리빨리 (“hurry, hurry” or “quickly, quickly”) culture.

And it’s exactly that hurriedness that I wanted to escape. So I went to about the most rural (시골), most inaccessible (but still accessible) place you could get to in Korea without taking a boat or plane: Jindo Island.

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Watching the sunset from Sebang, on the western side of Jindo

Continue reading “Slow Living: 시골 Life on Jindo Island”

The World is a Big Small Place

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After months of planning, piles of stuff hauled to the thrift store (two pickup trucks full, to be exact), selling my trusty Toyota Corolla, dropping off my cat at my parents’ house (bless them), and days and weeks of goodbyes, my round-the-world journey officially launched last Tuesday.

It seems like a big thing, right? A thing people think of doing but rarely do. That big, “What if?”

It was a “what if?,” but was fed until it became a “yes,” became a “why wait?,” became a, “now.”

As a friend said once when I was discussing doubts about this undertaking, “What would you regret on your deathbed one day? Not taking some job here or there or not taking this risk?” Continue reading “The World is a Big Small Place”