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A Journey Within Travel Terms

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Often travellers ask one another why they travel. Different people, different answers, overlapping in some way and yet so unique. But I think at the core of most traveller’s hearts is a sense of curiosity. A curiosity to witness what makes a place so beautiful, a curiosity towards the culture a place has crafted not just in the elaborate relics of their past but also in their day to day lives, in the celebration of their festivals or the games their children play or curiosity could even be about the veracity behind myths that add to the magical draw of a place. And just what would a story be if it didn’t prick upon that curious bone inside our heads? What would our travels be if we weren’t curious about the world? For the ones who wander not just with their feet but also with their minds, here’s a brief look at some of the terms in the world of travelling.

Pacific Ring of Fire

Where: New Zealand, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Bering Strait (between Russia and Alaska), West Coasts of North and South America

Ah no, my WWE loving friends that’s not where “Ring of Fire” originated! Heh. Stretching for an approximate distance of 40,000 kms along the Pacific Ocean, the Ring of Fire or the Circum-Pacific Belt is a path made up of over 450 volcanoes. It is home to 3 out of the world’s 4 most active volcanoes, Mount St. Helens (USA), Mount Fuji (Japan) and Mount Pinatubo (Philippines). The deepest ocean trench, Mariana Trench, resides in this ring. In the seabed between the Ring of Fire is the Pacific Continental Plate which expands and hits the North Atlantic Plate, the Eurasian Plate, and others. This collision and compression cause high volcanic and seismic activity. This earned it the name of the Ring of Fire because as indicated in the image it forms an almost natural ring on the world map which lined with 80% of the world’s active volcanoes can certainly be said to be made of fire!

Pacific Ring of Fire
Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/science/what-pacific-ring-fire-facts-12342864

Bermuda Triangle

Where: Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Miami

In the Atlantic Ocean, roughly between Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Miami is a deadly triangle in the deep blue waters. The loosely defined region is blamed for over 8,000 disappearances. A pamphlet back in 1609 described it as “a most prodigious and enchanted place, affording nothing but gusts, storms and foul weather”. Presently theories, stories and even movies have pondered over this mysterious triangle which is also suspected to have been the shipwreck mentioned in Shakespeare’s Tempest! Writer Vincent Gaddis first coined the phrase “The Bermuda Triangle” in 1964. Some refute its reality while some are staunch believers about the Devil’s Triangle also known as “The Limbo of the Lost” or “The Hoodoo Sea”. One of the popular incidents is of a US Naval vessel, Cyclops, which left from Barbados with 304 sailors aboard only to be declared “lost at sea”. Another tale is of Flight 19 where 5 US Naval Air Avengers off for a routine exercise radioed to state “We cannot be sure of where we are”. The 13-man crew sent to rescue them exploded in air. Meanwhile, no traces were found of the Avengers either.

bermuda triangle
Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/television/secrets-of-the-bermuda-triangle-review-bbc-documentary-series-5875568/

Chorten

Where: Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, India, etc.

Defined by Webster as a “Lamaist shrine or monument”, the word chorten can be traced back to as early as 1891. The Tibetan word actually came from “mchod rten” in the language which signified “offering holder”. The religious monument relics of Lord Buddha and other renowned lamas. Commonly referred to as “stupa” in India, the structure is said to resemble Buddha with a crown in a posture of meditation upon a lion throne. The crown is said to denote the unison of the Sun and the moon, while the square at the spire’s base is the head, the vase shape is the body and the foundation base the throne itself. This is a general idea, in actuality Buddhism is said to have 8 different kinds of chortens, each for a distinctly significant life incident. Chorten is thus said to literally mean the “Seat of Faith” or the “Mind of Buddha” by those who practice the faith. It houses items that are deemed sacred such as nails, hair clippings, ashes and other objects.

chorten
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Memorial_Chorten,_Thimphu,_Bhutan.jpg

Yeti

Where: India, Nepal and Bhutan

Arguably the biggest myth from the Himalayas is of the yeti, a muscular bipedal creature, i.e., one who walks on two legs, with reddish-brown or grey hair and approximately 6 feet in height. Its aura has prevailed in the Himalayan air since centuries. Alexander the Great had demanded to be shown a yeti in 326 BC but couldn’t. Folklores include one which mentions a yeti raping a girl, and also that of a yeti growing with the rising Sun! Journalist Henry Newman mistranslated the local “metoh-kangmi” meaning “man-bear snowman” into the Abominable Snowman. With Sir Edmund Hillary returning with a scalp presumably of a yeti only to be discovered to be of a high-altitude goat’s and a Nepalese monastery claiming to house a yeti’s finger, only to have scientists declare it to be human, clearly the yeti has numerous tales and caused quite a furore. Enough suggests its existence but there still isn’t concrete evidence. Some suggest it to be a legend intended to instil fear in young children to prevent them from sauntering into the wild. They see the yeti as a wild animal. And some believe in the humanoid creature, part ape and part man.

yeti
Source: http://awesci.com/yeti-probably-exist-fun-yeti-facts/

Click here if you want to know about other mystical creatures!

Waterspout

Where: Florida, Greece, off the east coast of Australia, etc.

Although not a travel marvel to see, this one is a natural phenomenon which can leave one awestruck. Also casually referred to as a sea tornado, a waterspout is a whirling column of sea and mist. Picture a funnel rising from the water and leading into massive cloud! It is common for waterspouts to be accompanied with severe thunderstorms, persistent lightning and even hail. When a rapidly swirling air comes in contact with a water surface, this phenomenon results. Typically occurring in warm tropical regions, its occurrence is caused by the change in direction of a vertical wind shear. It can even assume shapes or even occur as a series or a family, i.e., multiple waterspouts spread out together! While onlookers had started to mumble that a waterspout sucks up water to great heights, the reality is that it only makes the water at its point of contact rise till about a good 1 metre approximately. However, this rising act does even pull in fishes and frogs within the vortex which then fall onto land from the height!

waterspout
Source: https://www.chinookobserver.com/news/local/summer-ends-with-violent-thunderstorms-

Bivouac

Literally, the term bivouac means “a usually temporary encampment with little or no shelter”. But tracing back to its origin back in the 18th century when the French word meant a night watch by the whole army. This was probably picked from the German word “biwacht” which signified “additional guard at night”. The crux of the word thus denotes minimalistic outdoor camping or to camp out with bare minimum essentials. Adventurers have had to make basic bivouacs since ages, not just out of choice but also as a consequence of unexpected adversities. The highest ever bivouac was in 1975 by Dougal Haston and Dough Scott who again had to bivouac while climbing Everest. They did so at 28,750 feet by digging up a snow cave! Thus, bivouacs have seen many forms through the course of time, sometimes completely open, sometimes under a tree, inside a cave or what not. A bivouac isn’t just an adventure, it is a decision and one that can prove to be life altering.

bivouac
Source: https://www.europastar.com/highlights/1004091489-the-saga-of-the-bivouac-by-favre-leuba.html

Crampons

If “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” then in the world of mountaineers (of all gender!) crampons are certainly the best friend. Crampons are a metal plate with spikes which is fixed onto a boot. This helps one while walking on ice and rock climbing. They are especially a must for those taking on treks in deep snow and glaciers. Walking in the snow, while a beautiful sight, is still extremely challenging. Beyond the altitude, the texture and depth of the snow can cause some clumsy footing which can even prove to be fatal. That’s why crampons are an essential item of winter treks. However, it isn’t as simple as getting the gear. Crampons actually have specific techniques for their use which one ought to know so that the tool can prove to be effectively helpful. Knowing the proper method is also key so as to avoid unnecessary injuries. So, before you get your crampons make sure to do your homework right!

crampons
Source: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/how-to-use-crampons.html

Fjords

Where: Norway, New Zealand, Alaska (USA), Greenland, Chile, Canada, etc.

Fjords are a dreamy creation of nature which I’m dying to see, so, how about you and I pray for me to see them soon? Whoops, sorry! :-p I meant, a fjord is an undersea valley which has a U-shape. It is a lake-drain or a narrow elongates sea surrounded by steep mountains or cliff like structures on its sides. Basically, picture yourself on a slowly moving boat where you enjoy the slow pace because it allows you to gaze at the thinly stretching out sea in front of you even as massive cliffs stand guard on the sides with their draped greenery and their rocky carvings. When a glacier retreats, then the sea enters the carved out drained area and fills up the valley floor. Skeleton Inlet in Antarctica is the deepest in the world, going 6,342 feet below the sea level! This pretty inlet of sea between steep slopes is also a sight to behold in Norway, Canada and other parts of the world.

fjords
Source: https://www.busbud.com/blog/how-to-see-the-norway-fjords/

Natural Geyser

Where: Iceland, Chile, Russia, New Zealand and USA

Every winter you crave a nice hot shower courtesy of your faithful geyser which is a mere appliance in our homes and so overlooked. But fun fact, the appliance was bestowed with this name thanks to its counterpart found in nature. Natural geysers are hot springs that send hot water gushing out in a misty looking thick stream. Due to geothermal activity, Earth’s crust has cracks and vents. When the heat and pressure intensifies it turns into steam and erupts like a water based volcano out of the land. The word comes from the Icelandic word “geysir” which meant “to gush”. This in itself is an indicator of the significant presence of geysers in Iceland where they are quite a popular sightseeing attraction. Meanwhile, it is Yellostone National Park in USA which is actually home to approximately half of the known geysers in the world! The ones found here can go as high up as 300 feet into the air, erupting within every 50 to 100 minutes duration!

natural geyser
Source: https://www.bookmundi.com/t/must-visit-geysers-in-iceland

Marfa Lights

Where: Texas

The mystery lights found in Texas on Highway 90 just East of Marfa have a ghostly phenomenon around them. When dusk falls in this area, after the warm evening glow strange lights appear in the shape of disco balls. The lights are said to both appear and disappear out of nowhere. The lights are said to have been first recorded in 19th century but just as any phenomenon does it sparked off worries as well wonder. So, what causes these Marfa Lights? It is speculated that refract light with different layers of air or a mirage could be behind this but there hasn’t been a conclusion yet. Of course, folklores narrate much more delicious tales such as the likelihood of aliens trying to make contact or the presence of earlier years Spanish crusaders. The most popularly passed down story is that the late Apache Chief Alaste haunts the land and the lights are a mark of him. But tell me if you were to witness these lights without having ever heard or read about them before, would you find them fascinating or frightful?

marfa lights
Source: https://www.wideopencountry.com/really-deal-marfa-lights/

And there we have it, a brief look at a few of the many words of travel that one could journey into!

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