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 (NAKO-TABO)

I know I haven’t written for a while, I believe that’s how daily life consumes you. But trying to relive the memories, and completing the the unfinished. 
Chitkul was a short stay but worth the tiresome journey. I was lucky enough to see a ‘Kinnauri wedding’. It’s always a joy to experience different traditions.
Since the only bus of Chitkul was busy with wedding, my driver from the evening agreed to drop me back to Kharcham from, where I was supposed to board a bus to Nako.

Waited for almost an hour and I could not even hear distant honking noise of the bus.

*Folks do not travel to Lahaul and Spiti, after Chitkul without your own conveyance. You would be stranded for hours and hours.

I hitchhiked with 2 guys from Mumbai who were driving a ‘Zoomcar‘ going to the same destination. They were my saviours and who knew we would make such good travel buddies.

4 hrs of rides and the scenery transitioned from wet green landscape to dry brown high mountains.
I could not resist clicking the picture of the board ‘you are travelling on the world most treacherous road’.

I was confused should I admire the nature or fear it. We were climbing height intermittently.

It was evening and we were there at “the windy village of Nako“, from where everything looked antsize

Nako has multiple accommodation options, ranging from INR 500-2000. They are easily available. Namely there is no major attraction but whats there to do is to understand the lifestyle of Nako people, acclimatise to the weather,  admire the structure of the houses in the village, survival stories during winters. Moreover it’s a stopover for bikers and travelers on the way to Kaza.
Ohh I forgot to mention it is at an altitude of 11000 ft/3300 m and the only phone/network  connectivity is of Bsnl. I could complete only 6 hours of sleep. The altitude was still not very comfortable for me.

The only disappointment was that the route I thought to be raw and tucked away but it was full of bikers and backpackers. I would have loved more isolation. I guess I chose the wrong time.
It was time to move towards the main town of Spiti valley- Kaza. We had planned to visit Tabo & Dhankar monastery on the way.

I was backpacking and taxis there ask for redundant amount of money for short distance, God bless the Mumbain friends.  I tagged along.

TABO

I would have loved staying overnight however couldn’t , shortage of time. But visited “the Tabo Monastery ” estb in 996. There is no light in areas where ancient artwork is done. One can use phone lights to have a glimpse of these exclusive paintings.  What I figured out was there was a lot of Egyptian art influence in the paintings.
Post the heritage walk we had a sumptuous lunch.
And we hit the road again.
DHANKAR GOMPA

This was built in a form of fortress. One can only wonder how was Dhankar Gompa created on these anthill structured mountains .

My traveler freinds were supposed to go to  Pin valley,  they were very kind to find me another ride to Kaza from the point where they took a deroute to Pin valley. The vehicle I boarded came out to be BRO (Border Roads organisation). The officer was very warm, he welcomed me to Kaza, arranged for evening tea in his office  and also made sure that his subordinate dropped me of to the hostel I booked in.It’s hard to  find such people in Metro cities.

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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The Green Kingdom of Madekiri (coorg)

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Small city settled amidst the coffee estates and the deccan hills. It is a very popular hillstation for vacation in South India. The place has got many exotic resorts and experience homestays.

I would definitely recommend coffee estate stays for a different experience.

And if you got the money stay at the Taj Madekeri, the view from their infinity pool is like you are standing at the horizon where earth meets the sky.

My hault was at a hotel named chinmayee, 3 km away from the town, on virajpet road, rooms are basic but the USP is the view from the balcony.

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If planning to stay there carry some packed food or ready to cook things as food is not available. And the network problem will haunt you coz you would not be able to use Internet.  It’s easy to make phone calls however.

I spent my day chilling at the “PAUSE CAFE” the only cool place apart from CCD in the town, where you can relax for hours with a cup of coffee and  nobody would ask you to leave. The music is good, there bakeries are, a must try.

The town is pretty different from rest of Karnataka, the people speak Coorgi instead of Kannad. The traditional attire is different.

The tourist should come here with the vision of solace not sight seeing, however there are 3 main places which one can visit.

Omkeshwara temple: it is within the city and can be walked to.

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Dubbare Elephant camp: early risers, definitely have an advantage, coz if you want to see elephants bathing, it has to be before 8am. However I was not able to make it for this spot.

Golden temple or  Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery: this is a must visit place, around 30 km away from the madekeri town towards the direction of mysore.

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Enroute mysore from coorg, there is a place called Bylakuppe which is the second largest tibetan  settlement in India. The main monastry which is also called the Golden temple is a worth the detour. The temple is magnificent. It is amazing to see the monks performing the Buddhist religious ceremonies and rituals.

Even though it is a famous tourist destination,  it is maintained very well. This because of the rules. The people can only aquire a piece of land, if they have a paddy field.

For birdwatchers it is an exotic destination to visit. Below is an early morning captured still by me.

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Don’t know

How time and situations have brought a turmoil. Uncertainty of what do I want in terms of my career and in my personal life.
A person who was so determined at her head once is lacking direction, moving in every pathway, which anybody and everybody mentions .
On top of it when I need my love to be there, he is present but is not exactly here.
I don’t know if being with him brings me stability or is setting me bizzare
Though he tries his best to keep my back in despair.
I sometimes feel guilty that I am unable to give him the love he deserves, coz he is the one who let’s me be weird.
I do not want to hurt him, but I know with my every action , he burns
I am a free bird which can never return.
I know my journey but don’t know where to start.
God I want you to show me the way , to set the spark…


At this point of time, I am so confused about everything, after I came back from my one  month travel  on 8th feb 2016 I was unable to cope up for almost 5 days. Post that I brought myself together and started to think what I wanted. The only thing which came to my mind was to get out of India and explore, whether by STUDYING, VOLUNTEERING OR WORK.

But after so much of search on Internet and talking to people I realized, everybody wants money. So did I for all the above.

Every volunteering has a fee attached
If I want to work outside india, I have to pay the consultants
And if I study, there is an additional fees for all international students, except for some colleges in germany and Finland. Still if I have to pay in euros or usd, it will surely burn a hole in my pocket.

Then I decided to take up work from anywhere, but no success on online application.

Lastly I decided to earn and spend during my leave time. Traveling forever cannot bring stability and monetary back up for emergency.

Everything comes like a phase of life & passes by.

Essentials to pack for a month long solo women backpack trip

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For all the pround first timers starting with a month long backpacking trips, below are the list of things to pack if you are heading to warmer regions :

Clothing
Trouser/jeans/lower – 2 no.
Tshirts/tops casual – 5
Party wear top- 1
Shorts- 1
Scarf- 2
Towel-1
Undergarments- 3 sets
Bikini – for the beaches
Thin jacket-1
Night dress- 1
Spread sheet

Cosmetics
Body lotion
Sunscreen cream
Kajal/eyeliner
Lipbalm
Nail cutter
Nail filer
Nail paint remover
Nail paint
Small scissor
Razor
Washing powder small sachets
Shampoo – small bottle coz it’s less messy than shampoo sachets
Shower gel with loofah- prevents you from keeping wet soap in your bag
Facewash- 50-100ml bottle
Cotton roll
Toilet roll
Tooth brush
Tooth paste

Electronics
Mobile Charger
Earphones
Battery backup/power bank
Kindle/Novels to read

Accessories
Sunglasses
Hairband
Ruberband

Footwear
Shoes
Flipflops
Trendy but comfortable flat sandals/ballies

First aid
Medicine for vomiting and stomach ache
Paracetamol
Painkiller
Band aid
Dettol
Paper soap