Sri Lanka with GG in Rs32000/ $500 (Yala)

We covered alot of terrains, so how could we miss a National park. Yala is a deroute from the road connecting Ela and Mirissa.

Its a huge territory where the animals rule. We are permitted only in a section of the forest. And I am glad its that way. Like other sactuaries the enterance gate is located 20km from the main town. The experience is incomplete without a ride in an open jeep, its windy and dusty but worth it.

Usualy tourists book a pre-packaged deal. And it is difficult to find a cheaper deal for the jeep if you are jus two. Coz they rent the complete jeep which costs around 8000-15000 SRs.(inclusive of enterance fees). We took an afternoon slot for the safari.

Since the permitted area is more of grasslands,its very easy to spot wildlife. In adittion to the below I spotted an elephant, wild boar, deers(ofcourse) and exotic birds. The guide said that we were lucky to find a leopard in such a clearing. (Lady travelers beware , the guides are big time pile ons, so maintain the correct distance) (Tip: carry multiple sets of camera betteries, mine got exhausted just after I clicked a mongoose😫, hence a mobile cam photo of the Leopord) To add on to the trail, the jeeps take everyone to the beach, swimming isn’t allowed but its good to be at a raw & non touristy beach. After the safari, our jeep dropped us to the town. And we were back to our guest house.

Sri Lanka with GG in Rs32000/ $500 (Ella)

Ella is more about the journey rather than the destination. We were way early at the station to grab the best seats. (As I said it was all about the voyage)

There was a seperate toilet for the tourists, and we took advantage of it🤣. We had our breakfast at the confectionary situated at the platform, the shop was fully loaded with eateries . I felt like a 5 year old in the candy shop.😋

Soon our jouney began, a loooooooonnng jouney 8hrs to be precise. As I mentioned before, the first class coaches were full of different nationality travellers, some were on a guided/packaged tour & some were like us. The train had a small pantry from where one could grab hot tea, coffee, water, all at higher price ofcourse. (Better to stock beforehand)

I was mesemerised by the landscape through out the route. Also made some freinds on the way, posed for cameras while looking out of the window and just couldn’t sleep. It is a experience that every traveler to Ella should witness.

Alas during lunch time we reached the mini hillstation. I had already booked a luxurious resort (for a change) “The Okreech cottages” costing $32 for a night.But there are multiple cheaper options available starting $12.

For some reason Okreech’s kitchen was not operational. So we went to the main road for our meals, we were so lazy to climb back that we decided to come back to the hotel after ohr dinner only. We were hardly in Ee for 18hrs in Ella, but utilized our time to the fullest. Travelers with liesure time stay for 3-4 days, to hike and to visit the nearby attractions.

What we did is ate!!

We had a big lunch at Chill cafe. I ordered for a srilankan lunch platter worth 800Srs. (Food at restaurants is very expensive). But I was stuffed. The vibe of the place was nice.

We took a stroll and by the time we finished it was evening. We enjoyed some drinks and live music in a bar. And by 9pm we were in our bed, fast asleep😴

The next morning we revived ourselves with a cup of tea at our patio and yet another journey was waiting for us.

Sri Lanka with GG in Rs32000/ $500 (Kandy)

Early morning we were at the Colombo railway station. Breakfast for us was Nescafe and puffs.(Eating less and selective is the secret of not having a Delhi belly). A narrow gauge train, which looked similar to our Shimla toy train arrived at the platform. We boarded our coach, non ac but 2nd class. Apparently Sri Lanka hardly has any Ac coach in its trains.

After enjoying our 4hrs of journey we reached Kandy. The station was small, clean and less crowded. It felt like we were at a hill station, since the weather made us put on our jackets.

We took an auto from outside the station to our accommodation- Backpack Lanka Kandy (the same chain of hostels where we stayed in colombo) this one had a pool as well. Here we booked a twin room with balcony. (Don’t start to fancy the room readers, we had to use a common bathroom which was 20 steps from our room but was very well maintained). The other part of the story is that we were the only residents and it gave me creeps to go to the loo at night. The best part about the hostels is that they have a kitchen and water dispenser which ars accesible to the distressed guests like us😅

We had limited time in Kandy and had to make the most of it. I consulted the guy at the reception and he showed me multiple tour options. The one which attracted me the most was “The tuk-tuk tour”, that costed us 2400 Srs. The hostel had there own tuk-tuk. With no delay we jumped into the auto, grabbed an on-the-go lunch and were on our way to the beautiful sites.

Temple of the sacred Tooth relic

Girigama tea plantation

Bahiravokanda vihara Buddha statue

Railway museum

Kandy lake

Ranawana temple

Sri Lanka with GG in Rs32000/ $500 (Colombo)

It was october and I got a new job while the joining date was in December, I had to take out some days to plan a voyage between the switch. I asked multiple friends to accompany me but who knew a girl from school will become my travel partner. I immediately booked Jet airways flight to Sri Lanka which costed me Rs18000 two way. E-visa is available for Indian citizens which is trouble-free to apply and costs $20. Itenerary-Colombo>>Kandy>>Ella>>Yala>>Mirrisa>>Hikkaduwa>>Bentota>>Colombo Early morning we landed at the Colombo airport with no local currency, funny that the forex exchange counters denied accepting Indian currency( we were the victims of demonetisation) And my ATM card was not internationally enabled, luckily my freind’s card was a saviour. As per my usual budget trip rules, we took an auto to the nearest bus stand which is 2km from the airport. Secured a seat in a local bus that took 45 min to reach Colombo (30km from airport) Note:Auto’s are pretty expensive and charge like 200 S.Rs for 2km. Ohh did I forget to mention that we were not having iternational internet activated, so finding our accommodation was another story. We were finding it all around when it was right under our nose. We booked “Backpack Lanka hostel”, they were accommodating to our ,way too early checkin and let us crash in their lobby and cater to all our requests for food, charger, bathroom, toilet etc😆 We both were done with our morning chores ready to explore the city on foot. Took the feel of wide roads, cleanliness and the way people cross streets. Colombo doesn’t have much of attraction points so one day is good enough. In this one day, we booked the train tickets to Kandy and to Ella, also visited the Kelaniya temple. Local bus was our mode of transport to and from the temple which we boarded from, near the railway station. In the evening after taking a nap, we took a stroll at the “Galle face”. Family spent time here enjoying the local snacks and the breeze from the sea. It was a exhausting day and we had to catch the train the next day , hence we bid gudnight to our 1st day in Sri Lanka.

Shillong & Guwahati 

This was the day to explore the capital. While walking the streets I wondered how humans themselves spoil the surroundings they live in. Buildings, shops and markets have destroyed the climate and the beauty of the town. The exteriors/ countryside are marvelous, rich in greenery but the centre of the town is crowded and conjusted. Since the lanes are narrow, it’s better to walk, else one would be stuck in long traffic jams.

Today I would be be meeting my freind and where should we meet?? I had heard a lot about Dylan’s cafe, well it lived up to its reputation. Cozy seating, warm sitout, lovely view and a book shelf. I could have spend the whole day reading and sipping coffee.

Soon Gaby joined me, we ordered breakfast platter and creamy shakes.

I was so full, and needed to walk to digest. On the ground floor of Dylan’s cafe is an outlet showcasing the agricultural production of Meghalaya. I bought black rice, bamboo pickle and tea.

It was now shopping time!! She took me to the plaza where there were imports from Bangkok and I got more stuff to fill my wardrobe. In the evening we went to Living roof-it’s a pub with board games and a pool table. Looked like ‘the’ hangout place for shillong’s youth. This was my last evening in shillong and had to travel to Guwhati the next day. Had dinner with my relatives that evening in nice Chinese restaurant.

Cars were arranged to drop us to Guwahati. We stopped at th Umgot lake.

There are couple of restaurants in the middle on the shillong- guwahati road. That’s why it’s important to plan your meals accordingly.

There was only one thing on my agenda in Guwahati and that was the “Bhramaputra cruise”. It was very warm and I was missing shillong. The cruise costs Rs 300 per person for the upper deck. It is for about 45 min, with live music and menu to order. It was amusing to be sailing on the river about which we studied in our General knowledge classes.

I had booked Ginger hotel for the night, which was the nearest hotel to the ai protection and fit my budget. I had an early morning flight to catch, thanks to Uber, that riding to the airport wasn’t a task.

At the airport before the security check they have economically priced eateries.

Post my breakfast I was ready to fly back to Delhi and join office.

Meghalaya-Land of clouds

While I was searching for some information for my trip, I rarely found any descriptive blogs about it.

Since I have explored it now , sharing my experience with everyone.

Days needed= 5 days (long weekend+2days leave). This was one of my short trips.

One can reach shillong from Delhi by taking a flight to Guwahati and then a 2.5hr drive by cab. If you book a cab it costs Rs 2000 and if taking a shared cab it costs 500 each for 4 people sharing one vehicle.

The drive is smooth, it was warm in Guwahati and I was just waiting for the ascend to get some pleasant breeze.

I was a privileged as this time I had somebody known at the destination. And fortunate to have two, my aunt and a college freind. I just had to book my flights and the rest was taken care of. This trip was the most convenient and the safest. The iternerary was pre-arranged by my uncle and home cooked food was an added perk.

Let me show you where was I staying,  it is a holiday retreat in itself.

Day 1 was at leisure enjoying the surroundings of the “Assam rifles” cantonemnt area. The weather is beautiful, as the name suggests ‘Meghalaya’ it is bright and sunny in the morning and starts raining by 3pm. It gets cold at night that a sweater in necessary to go out, may be because this area was 7 km from the main city.
Day 2 was a trip to Cherapunji. About which I read in my Geography or General knowledge classes. “Which place in India recieves the maximum rainfall”. However it is no more topping the list.

The attractions were:

Seven sisters– A place where 7 waterfalls, signifying the 7 states of North East. (A sight to be visited in monsoon, else a waste, since they are dependent on rain water)

Mawsmai caves – Calcium caves, USP of meghalaya. They are only found in the North East. (These can’t be visited as they are flooded)

So one needs to make a choice between the two or visit twice😉

It’s important to note that there are not many public transport in Meghalaya and it’s always better to hire a cab. 

In the evening I went to visit my freind, we met at the ‘5th mile’ cafe, located in Upper shillong. From there we walked to her place.  I stayed overnight, met her family, got to know the traditions and ate Khasi food.

Day 3- it was Easter, my freinds family was all dressed to ho to church but I had to go back to my aunts place, to push off to Mawlynnong.

It was a 3hr drive, also because the roads were busy with celebrations. But it was a sight, I was getting familiar with a new culture.

Living root  bridge one needs to climb down about 150 steps to reach the bridge. There is a double decker bridge in Cherapunji which is 300 steps. These were created by the natives by entangling the roots of the trees and later settling mud over to make a pathway. 

The cleanest village of AsiaIt deserves the title, nobody can say that these people are not horticulture and landscaping experts. The food is available in  one or two restaurants. It is bit expensive as the resources are limited and it is one of the means for the locals to earn.

The cold dessert of Lahaul & Spiti (CHANDRATAL)

The extra day at Kaza went in lazing around, chilling at the cafe and strolling on the streets. Very next morning we were headed to Chandratal. We did an advance booking for the tent at Chandratal. 
(It goes till 2 degree in the night there, this gave me shiver and I made sure I bought the hand woven socks and gloves. Yes even in the month of August).

It was a very smooth drive , crossed “Losar”, another village of interest for travelers, with a beautiful background. We halted in between to have Maggie. 
The deroute from the highway is where the difficult ride began. Most of the year this area is covered in heavy snow, thus there is no way the roads can stay intact. There were steep uphill where all the passengers except the driver ofcourse had to get off . 

And after  4hr of drive we reached the camp site, which are setup 2km before the lake.

There are options or Swiss tents but as we were on budget trip we went for basic ones. 7 tents and only one WC to share with no water supply. I avoided drinkint water so I don’t have to use the loo.

Wrapping myself in woollens and my walking shoes, I was ready to take the 2km trek from the campsite to the lake. There is also a partial motorable way but I chose the difficult but the adventurous path.

The initial climb was steep and I had to stop after every 10 min to catch a breath (also because the altitude made the oxygen level low). Not that I was in a very good shape.

We met two Shepherds with their herd , they were the only source of direction to us. Both of them said the same thing “go right don’t take the left”. 

After 2 hrs of trek I could see the calm blue water stretched amongst the red/brown dry mountains. It was a serene sight, I could have sat there the whole evening introspecting. 

But soon the Serenity changed to a tourist spot coz a herd of tourist flocked there clicking selfies. Such a spoiler. Human is the one who destroys nature and the day will come when nature will destroy human. 

And we headed back. I was sweating but still freezing, my body was confused. The gushing wind made it worse. We took the motorable way back. I was so exhausted, that’s when I heard some bikers going the same direction. It was offroading. But we took the risk and climbed on the bikes. My  co-rider was a girl riding a Royal Enfield. There came a turn with a descent and she got disbalanced and we were on the road with the bike on my left leg. But I managed to escape serious wounds and planned to walk down. 

On the camp the caretaker had cooked rice, dal and some vegetables. The wind was very strong and it was freezing outside. We sat in his kitchen tent near the cooking gas and ate our food.

In the night the temperature dropped and the wind stopped. I had one quilt below and 3 quilts over me. I was unable to decide is breathing important or staying warm.

Morning sky was clear blue and it snowed at one of the peaks. I had realised that these experiences are rare but camping at this height is not my cup of tea.

Soon we started towards Manali. The road was terrible because of the rains that  it took us 8hrs to cover a 120km distance.

But I was so relaxed to be back to Manali.

The cold dessert of Lahaul & Spiti (NARKANDA- CHITKUL)

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After 3 months of no travel, finally the day came when I could get on with my wishlisted trip of lahaul  and spiti circuit.
Left on the Friday evening,  took a volvo till shimla. Our badluck, it rained on Friday in delhi, so the consiquence was a major jam, which caused delay.

At 10am the volvo dropped us at the outskirts of shimla, and since I had backpacked to this place before , so knew taxi was an expensive option, instead we boarded the intracity bus and got dropped ahead of old bus stand. From there the lift to the mall road was a walkable distance. Suprisingly there wasn’t the amount of crowd I expected to be on a weekend. We quickly freshend up and had our lunch. Post that we walked through the market downhill towards the bus stop, through the long canal, amidst locals, with an 8kg backpack and on the top, it was rainning !  We had to board a bus to Narkanda , luckily got into one which was just about to leave, it was packed, no seats were available.  We had been travelling for almost 18 hrs by then, needed a seat badly , we did get it but after 2hrs of standing in a Zig Zag ride and swaying at every turn. Body and eyes were shouting for a warm bath and a comfy bed.

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After 3 hrs 30 min we were at Narkanda which has 3-4 roadside motels, exorbitantly priced. Got into one, paid 1600 per room after negotiation.

Next day was a long one, we targeted 8 am to catch a bus to ‘karcham’ . Unlike Shimla bus stand we had to wait for 1 hr for the bus. The bus journey was beautiful. The landscape became more scenic as we headed from district Shimla to kinnaur.

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But through out the way it was rainning,  which made the route, all the more riskier.

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Day 2- Travel time to reach destination (CHITKUL) was 8 hrs.
Reached karcham after 6 hrs, it is just a name on the map, you cannot  find even a chai or a cigarette shack there. Thank God we immediately got a bus to Sangla. It’s a detour of 18km from NH22 and has a very limited bus service.

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A 1.5 hr of roller coaster ride on the narrow, twisty and deconstructed  road literally got our hearts in our mouth. The Baspa river gushing on one side. On reaching we took a sigh of relief, ate some “assorted  veg Pakora and teas” to calm us. It was cold, we had to take our quilt jackets out.  Now was the delima , since it was already 5pm and we planned to reach Chitkul which is 1.5hrs further, the same day. But sangla was not a beauty and we didn’t want to waste our day. There is only one bus which is owned by the resident of sangla, so it moves as per the situation of the village. If there is a wedding the bus will go in the baraat, and will leave the travellers to figure out their own mode of transport.

Alas we got a cab, on negotiation we brought him to Rs1000 for just dropping us 24km further to sangla. In delhi ncr I ride an uber for 30 km in just Rs400, so this came as a shocker.

Good that we went to chitkul because it was worth a night stay.

Chilling breeze
3 small restaurants
Accommodation ranging  between INR 400-4000
Tibetan dogs as size of me.
A beautiful temple.
Travelers to share experiences.

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Nepal(Nagarkot) – Country tucked in the Himalayas *|)@y 3

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Soon started with the day long journey again and our destination was Nagarkot, there isn’t any direct bus, so had to change in Kathmandu again. I found out that the bus had complimentary wifi, I browsed the maps and realized that the ‘Mankamna devi temple’ (which was in our list of attractions ) was on the way. We made up our mind and got down before kathmandu.

It is a wishful temple and very worshipped by the locals. The way to the temple is via cable car. It was a two in one offer, how could we miss it. The fee for the cable ride is INR 350 for Indian nationals, however it is very expensive for non SAARC countries plus you have to wait  in never ending ques to get in the cable car while departure and arrival and also to see the goddess.

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After that we took a 12 seater traveler to reach kathmandu. By then it was already 1830hrs.
We took a local bus to get to the bus stand, and what we got to know was that there are no bus service post 1900hrs.(what era is this 60’s). We had no choice and had to burn a hole in our pockets and hire a cab to nagarkot for NPR 3000. (Fyi – Nagarkot is just 30 km from kathmandu).
It is a small hillstation which was once used by the royal family as a summer retreat. The driver took us to a very nice resort named THE STUPA. After a negotiation, again booked a family room for NPR 3300, which was absolutely worth it for that sort of property.

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We got up early morning in a hope to see the HIMALAYAS , which was our only reason to visit Nagarkot. But the weather disappointed us. It remained dusty throughout our visit to Nepal.
Dissapointed, we continued with our trip….

Nepal – Country tucked in the Himalayas *|)@y 1

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It is the holi weekend and this time 5 of us decided to take a trip instead of celebrating holi. We booked our tickets for Kathmandu. Unfortunately, we all could not get the same flight, I flew in early with a friend,  the rest were supposed to reach by 11 in the night.

As we were about to reach we saw something right outside our window, which looked similar to clouds but to my surprise, they were the snow capped peaks of the himalayan range. The glaze of the sun made it glow in pride.

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On landing, it felt like India, beacuse the people, the terrain, most of the things were similar. We filled our immigration form and got an easy access through the check point.
(Note: Indian nationals should either have a passport or a voter id card, nothing else works)

Once we were out it was easy, there were free NTC SIM cards available just at the exit of the airport and additionaly it had a NPR 50 top up included in it. But later on we realized that the NCELL network which has the monoply in nepal had better call rates.

I was hungry and as you step in Nepal, there was only one thing in my head – MOMOS. Every shack you go to will definitely have Momos and chowmien.  That’s what I ate for lunch at Kantipur restaurant  (the only restaurant at the airport)

Now we had to go to New bus park to check for buses for Pokhra. The taxis were too expensive, so after consulting a local, we got into a local bus which comes to the airport  every hour.

The bus took us through the whole city of kathmandu, almost took 1 hr to reach the bus station but it was good to explore the city as a local.

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On reaching bus park we got to know that after 7pm there is no bus service to Pokhara. If we have to go, we would have to reserve a personal cab. We thought of giving it a try, and checked with the local cabs giving us mind boggling offers, a Pajero for NPR 20,000 to drop us and bring us back the next day.
For 260 km -20K  are you kidding me!!

We dropped the idea and planned to stay overnight in THAMEL (hauz khas of kathmandu) and to catch the 1st tourist bus the next day. All the buses start from a single point in Kathmandu, 6am onwards.
(Book the bus tickets, only once you reach the bus stop or through a travel agent coz the hotels they keep a huge commission, we were charged NPR 1000 for a 700 ride)

One can find all category hotels in Thamel ranging from 6$ to 50$.