As a solo traveller, I believe that trouble has been my companion without my consent. Depression and anxiety accompany me during the rest of my journeys. The year passed, and being the person I am, the travel memoirs of the past only remind me of the bad experiences (lol, just kidding). Traveling doesn’t mean that you will be collecting pleasant memories on your way. The bad experiences are what shape you as a traveller and give you things to rant on social media, Tripadvisor and so on. Now that the year 2017 has passed, I am jotting down some of these experiences. Read on –
Trusting Rajasthan’s Private Transport
Rajasthan’s private transport is incredible. I think they conduct special tests and employ the ones with the worst driving skills. I was doing a monsoon trail of Rajasthan in the last week of July and ended up booking the private buses thrice. I had no idea about the bad roads and the driving. At points it was so rash that while traveling from Jodhpur to Kota, my bus jumped several feet up in the air after bumping into a pothole. The impact was so bad that the glasses of the rear window shattered into pieces. Luckily, no one got hurt but I couldn’t sleep the whole night. While traveling from Ajmer to Jaisalmer (long story, don’t ask) the driver and the conductor probably confused the bus for Pushpak Vimana and gave tickets to more people than the bus could accommodate. At one point, people were standing inside a fully air conditioned bus as if it was a local transport vehicle.
Taking a non-stop trip from Delhi to Kinnaur and return
Kinnaur is amazing but one needs to have proper number of days in their hand while traveling. There is one bus from Delhi that goes straight to Sangla. It takes almost 18 hours to reach its destination. I thought it will be a good idea to board this bus and save some time that I’d probably waste by staying in Shimla or Narkanda. On my return I did the same thing and rode my bus straight to Delhi. Both times, after my rides were over, my body was paining from the speed bumps and I wanted to poop so badly because I was riding a bus for 16 hour straight. Worse, I acquired a look that made people confuse me for the bus conductor (no offence to the bus conductors).
Trekking to Bijli Mahadev and booking a return ticket for same day
Day treks sound fun. Travel websites that write articles on ’10 weekend treks in Himachal for every adventurous soul out there’ probably count three days in their weekend because trekking and then returning home is simply impossible. Of course it won’t be applicable to those who live near those mountains or have their own vehicles and can drive at the speed of 160 kmph. And after all this, they’ll still stay fresh to attend office on Monday morning. I arrived Manali on a Saturday and planned for Bijli Mahadev trek on Sunday. Worse, I booked return a bus ticket from Manali to Delhi on the same day. Little did I know about how awesome the local buses of Himachal Pradesh are? These small buses use the same technology that was used in Pushpak Viman but its speed is slower than a tortoise (no offence to the tortoise community). The driver drives so slow that one can run a marathon and the bus will still be the last to cross the finish line. Worse, it stops after every five minutes because every passenger riding it is either a relative of the driver or the conductor and it is their moral duty to drop them right next to their home.
Now that I have ranted so much, you must have understood that how late I would have started my trek and how amazingly I would have missed my bus going to Delhi. One thing I learned, THERE IS NO SUCH THIING AS A WEEKEND TREK IF YOU LIVE IN DELHI AND DO NOT HAVE A CAR.
Being too dependent on Indian Railways
Now that I have written praises for private transport of Rajasthan and public transport of Himachal Pradesh, how can I not write an ode to Indian Railways? The biggest rail network in the world is also the most unreliable. Here is how my year has gone thanks to amazing Bhartiya Rail. I was on a train from Delhi to Lucknow. It started 4 hour late from Delhi and reached Lucknow 10 hour late. Result, I missed my next train and ended up spending an entire day in the city wasting INR 1000 on my stay for no reason. Second instance, I had a train to home from Lucknow, going to Patna. The train was 20 hour late, by the time I reached home, the train was more than 36 hour late. I had to take a bus to Allahabad, another bus to Banaras, spend one night in Banaras and then finally catch another train that was again 16 hour late, had to give a bribe of INR 100 to the TT who then allowed me to sit on that train. I could have reached Patna in 24 hours. It took me five days to reach my destination. And these are just a few of many examples how royally Indian Railways have screwed my travel plans.
The fun part is that I am writing this blog sitting in a train to Delhi (it is five hour late :P)
Banaras Dev Dipawali
I love Banaras (in a very non sarcastic way) and I have been attending the Dev Dipawali festival of Varanasi for 4 years. This was the fifth year and the first time when I would have gone to the event with my DSLR. So what happens when a lesser known festival appears on the global map of every travel website? This year’s Dev Dipawali saw such a huge crowd that it was not ready to handle. Millions of people walked all over the Ghats, knocking out diyas and pushing each other. This was unlike anything I have seen in the past. The exit point of Assi Ghat got so crowded that people starting jumping and running over the cars and jeeps to cross to other side.
Attending Cherry Blossom Festival
This year, one festival that made its presence felt all over the social media was the Cherry Blossom Festival of Shillong. The festival authorities made sure that every travel buff(oon) knows about the event through paid promotions and content on every major travel website. As a result, the festival saw a huge crowd and participation from travellers and photographers from all over the country. What the festival attendees didn’t see were the Cherry Blossom flowers in full bloom. For me, it was a colossal waste of time and money. However I was lucky to see the full bloom only the day after the festival ended.
Getting high in Spiti and trekking to Chandratal under AMS
I used to believe that I have the endurance that one needs to travel in Spiti. After-all, I regularly travel with a 30 kg of weight on my back. But even this tough guy couldn’t withstand Spiti’s weather and altitude.
The story goes like this – I had to trek to Chandratal. A logical way to trek is by spending some time exploring Kaza, Hikkim and Tabo and getting used to the altitude. Instead of this logical approach, I planned for the trek first and then decided to stay in Kaza afterwards. The trek for Chandratal starts from Battal which is a small stopping point in middle of nowhere. Here I met some other trekkers who offered me a joint. And after a few puffs, I felt asleep.
On a day when I had traveled from Manali to Battal, was already tired and wanted to sleep, I failed to take every precaution that a trekker should be taking. I woke up with the worst headache of my life. Next morning, after a couple of glasses of ginger lemon tea, I started my trek. I realized that I would faint. I took a lift and then walked and then took a lift again. When I reached Chandratal, I ended up puking my guts out.
Not keeping gaps between my travel plans
I am a content writer who believes that he has luxury to work from any part of the world. But to write content and get paid, it is important to stay at the place, lose tiredness from continuous travel and then deliver quality content to the client. I learned that the hard way. Here is an example what happened, after spending a week in Kashmir, I took a train ride to Banihal, then a jeep to Jammu and then a direct bus to Delhi. By the time I reached Delhi, I was in no shape to stand properly, forget write. Worse, I had a bus for Rishikesh next morning and then a trek to Valley of Flowers. During this time period I wrote zero blogs and hardly delivered any content to any of my clients. This was the time I learned that I am supposed to keep a gap of at-least a week between my two trips.
Holi at Mathura
Holi at Mathura is considered as an amazing festival that one needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. Only that my experience turned out to be on a bitter note. Instead of Holi, I saw tourists coming to the festival with the sole motive of eve teasing and groping the female travellers. I am so sure about these people being the tourists as their appearance was extremely different than that of the locals. Of course, the locals of UP hold a PhD in molestation and bad behaviour but I felt that this aura made the visitors take a chance and bring out their perverted self under the disguise of colors. Worse, in the first few minutes the festival started, water went inside my camera and it stopped working. When I took it to the service centre, they took out ounces and ounces of colours from everywhere. I am never going to Mathura again.
Full moon experience at Taj Mahal
Full Moon tour of Taj Mahal is an example that how far the tourism companies would go to scam the ‘wanderlusting souls’. I spent INR 500 on this full moon tour of Taj Mahal, the paperwork for which is more complicated than visiting Area 51. But the trouble would be worth it if someone was truly able to experience full moon over Taj Mahal. Instead, the moon was straight opposite of the building, over the entrance. The tour only goes for 15 minutes, as they need to accommodate more people who voluntarily want to get scammed. May be, the full moon would finally go over Taj after 1 AM or something, but I am not taking that chance again.
These are some of the biggest mistakes that I made in the year 2017. Some lessons learnt and old mistakes are to be avoided in the year 2018. But in the first three days since 2018 started, I have already missed a bus, a train and now on another train that is 5 hour late. Welcome to the year of new regrets and bad decisions.