Tag Archives: Northeastindia

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

8 January 2018

The traveller who has visited 80 countries and gives everyone some serious travel goals. | Traveller of the Week: Abhilash Surendran

Abhilash Surendran hails from Kozhikode district in Kerala right next to a former French colony called Mahe, he calls them both home! Abhilash has quit his corporate job twice to become a full-time traveller and travel blogger. Having failed the first time, the second trial seems to be going good, he says, ‘I had not strategized properly on the pitfalls of travel blogging’.

 

Surendran considers himself to be a mix of an orthodox and offbeat traveller. He enjoys visiting tourist places as well as places unexplored by the crowd. ‘After visiting 80 countries around the world, and almost every part of India, I think every place however touristy, crowded, dirty or polluted it is – has its own charm. It’s always up to the visitor to figure it out’, he says giving everyone some serious travel goals.

 

Abhilash Surendran

 

In 2008, the now travel junkie went on his first solo trip. While working in an MNC in Chennai, he was asked to move to their office in Manila, Philippines. A scary prospect at first, he accepted. ‘Living in the Philippines ended up changing my life!

After the Philippines, I was hooked. I started backpacking to other parts of South East Asia, came back to India to do road trips around my own country, went discovering Europe, Oceania and the Americas. And I don’t think I am stopping anytime soon’, he says.

 

Abhilash loves travelling solo and makes friends in places he visits and does short travels with them as a group to nearby places, a much better way to get to know the places from the eyes of a local rarely on the tourist trail.

 

The biggest challenge for Abhilash is family! He left a well-paying job in Singapore before he changed his profession of becoming a traveller. His family was definitely not happy with his career choice. They are now fully convinced and supportive of the idea.

 

For International trips, the traveller makes it a point to have a general plan in advance for cheaper flight tickets. ‘Like, I will spend 3 weeks in Germany. But what I do in those 3 weeks, is quite flexible’, mentions the travel blogger.

In India, he travels on his motorbike, riding solo around the country which also means he can go with the flow and do a little bit of research about the offbeat places he’d like to visit and save it to google maps. Whenever he is in the area, he makes it a point to visit the pinned locations!

 

The traveller’s 5 must-visit locations would be, firstly, Eastern Arunachal Pradesh. Lohit, Anjaw and Changlang Districts are untouched and have amazing natural beauty!

Outside India, Jordan. The Bedouin culture and hospitality is amazing. Also, sights like Petra, Wadi Rum, Jerash etcetera are not only historic but also out of this world. Serbia, one of his favourite countries in the Balkan region is full of delightful people, amazing food and easy to travel or hitchhike. Next is Timor Leste, the untouched and the latest country of ASEAN, the country gets only 10,000 visitors every year. A complete adventure to travel to, he was surprised to visit villages where he was the first tourist they had ever seen!

Last but not the least, San Marino. A country surrounded by Italy, it is the only country in the world where there are more people than vehicles. The pristine city views are straight out of a renaissance movie set.

Now, on to his 5 must-haves for travelling and staying outdoors.

In India, he prefers to travel only on his motorbike as it makes any place accessible. Second would be, a sturdy and multi-purpose backpack. Not to forget, offline maps, he suggests an application called maps.me! A sleeping bag, if one is into camping outside.  Finally, a will to be flexible and adapt to situations is a must! The ability to accept different cultures, mindsets, people and the ability to get along with them makes the journey much more fulfilling.

 

The traveller loves meeting the locals on his expeditions. He does admit places, monuments and nature are great for photographs but one can only learn about the place through the eyes and the mouths of a local.

Abhilash prefers to listen to the natives and explore the not so ordinary sites, he remembers his earlier days of chasing the touristy spots, unlike today.

 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Andorra, Europe

Brahmaputra, Guwahati

Cairo, Egypt

Istanbul, Turkey

Seria, Brunei

Varanasi, India

 

Surendran has covered all states except Mizoram, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh. Outside India, his travelling has been in circuits as he usually travels for longer durations. ‘I started with the Banana pancake trail of South East Asia, which covers countries like Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Then there is the Indonesia island circuit, taking you through the islands of Java and Borneo’, he adds. In Europe, time was mostly spent doing the Baltic trail (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) or the Balkans stretch (Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, etc).

 

 

One life lesson he has learnt through travelling – ‘That the world is not what you read about in a magazine or newspaper. I am not going to lie, I had many of my biases shattered in different places that I have visited around the world. These biases were formed by media, or opinions of friends, over the years, and only when I visited the place did I know how wrong my understanding was’.

For example, he says before visiting North East India, he perceived the tribes to be orthodox and not set in present times. But once he actually arrived, he was greeted with friendliness and generosity! A much more modern mindset than the rest of India, he says the entire country can learn a thing or two.

Also, media often portrays the Islamic countries around the world as orthodox and conventional. Whilst travelling to Bangladesh, Brunei and the Middle-East, the traveller made a note to wear decent clothes hiding his tattoos as not to offend anyone. He was blown away instantly by attending the craziest house party in Dhaka! The youth did have fun but unfortunately, the media portrays most of the countries in a much different light than usual which shouldn’t stop one from exploring and travelling all the countries out there!

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Abhilash Surendran

 

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By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

23 December 2017

Journey of a lifetime, an epic bike ride to the ‘Seven Sister States’ of India

Having completed many bike trips, here is a breakdown of Ankit Negi’s ‘North-East India Bike Trip’ from earlier this year.

 

All excited for a trip to the ‘Seven Sister States’, he wakes up early, packs his stuff and is ready to roll! He sets-up the luggage on the bikes. Since it is Day 1, organising stuff becomes a hassle. The first halt is none other than Kaziranga National Park, the roads to Kaziranga are exceptional, with few initial ghats entire stretch is in plains with good quality of roads.

 

In no time, its time for breakfast, desi style mutter paneer, paratha, omelette and a glass full of milk at a roadside dhaba!

 

Trip meter reading is approximately 250 km on the NH715.

An evening jeep safari for the National Park has already been booked. A perfect timing of the year to spot wildlife, the guide mentions spotting a full-size Royal Bengal Tiger a day before!

 

The safari is successful, he spots greater one-horned rhinos, wild elephants, several species of antelopes and deer.

 

Day 6, approximately 310 km on the odometer, Ankit bids farewell to Assam and gears up for Meghalaya. After covering about 270 odd kilometres, he finally reaches Umiam Lake around 4.30 PM. The sun was about to set over the lake.

Almost dark, we leave the lake, Shillong is only about an hour ride from the lake.

Not a normal hill town, there is traffic everywhere, some complex to one-way streets with no parking to be found anywhere

Riding across from one street to another in search for some reasonable hotels, however, Shillong proved to be pretty expensive.  A guy on a ‘Hero Impulse’ bike spots him and helps in finding a budget hotel in the expensive town.

 

Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh

Assam

Majuli Island, Assam

Manipur

Meghalaya

Caves of Meghalaya

Mizoram

Nagaland

Tripura

Photos by Ankit Negi

 

Travel Day 7, the odometer now reads 650 km, a long day, today Inner-Line Permits for the remaining North-East States (Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh) is secured!

Now the main challenge, riding back to the Shillong city!

The Sun is down and the temperature dip is significant, riding back in a single layer of clothing with freezing hands and feet is fun too.

 

 

Travel Day 8, 710 km, next location is Cherrapunjee!

The route from Shillong to Cherrapunjee highlights the dense rain forests, amazing waterfalls of Meghalaya.

The month of March and it has already started raining here, well it’s Cherrapunjee! The hike starts, the target is to reach Nongrait Village, where lies the infamous Double Decker Living Root Bridge.

First Living bridge!

The forefathers of Khasi tribe were the original architects of living root bridges. Khasi tribe is one of the prominent tribes of Meghalaya.

 

Day 9, trip meter reading crosses 700 km, the most challenging part of the trek is to climb more than 3000 vertical stairs! This is achieved in around 2 hours, less than average time is taken, not to forget!

 

Next day, reaching the underworld, heading for some serious caving exploration. There are many caves in Meghalaya, it also has the largest cave network found in the Indian-Subcontinent.

However, Mawmluh Cave is a network of 7 km of natural underground tunnels. We climb a bit to enter the underworld. We have no idea what awaits us!

Waist height water crossings, a bit of rock climbing, crawling narrow passage to move any further as well.

And to add, there are large water holes throughout the patch, one wrong move and you’re stuck!

The day is not over yet, a visit to the tallest plunge waterfall in India, ‘Nohkalikai Falls’, Cherrapunjee.

 

Leaving for Dawki, it is famous for its boating in crystal clear waters of the Umngot river. 900 km down, he reaches Dawki in the evening and finds the place too crowded, later realising tourists from Bangladesh visit too!

 

Planning to camp on the riverside, a secluded place away from most of the tourists. Shnongpdeng around 10 km north of Dawki proves to be the perfect place for camping! A local named James takes cares of everything, homemade dinner, bonfire, starry night and the soothing sound of the river.

 

Day 14, Unakoti, Tripura which is famous for its rock structures carved on hills! Many folk stories associated with it nonetheless.

Unakoti’s name refers to the number of Gods turned into stone by the angry Shiva. i.e one less than a crore.

Allowed to pitch tents in the tea garden of Tripura, next morning is made to explore the tea gardens.

 

2280 km, somewhere in Mizoram, an interesting observation, the number of kids spotted on the entire journey.

Day 22, offroading into Mizoram makes one tired pretty quickly, and what else is required than fresh fruits to regain the energy?

 

One suggestion from everyone right from planning days was never riding after dark in Northeast India.

 

Day 24, exploring the local market of Myanmar and a beautiful local monastery! 3 days later, Nagaland, leaving for Dzukou Valley trek which is one of the scenic treks in North East India. Surprised to find a fully functional rest house at the top of the valley, it starts raining heavily, a glass of hot milk with an omelette sandwich couldn’t have been any better at that stage!

 

Majuli – largest River Island in the world, day 30!

Situated in Assam, a river island in between the mighty Brahmaputra River and the only ‘Island District’ in India.

Owing to its remote connectivity from the external world, it’s a different world out here. Rich in its cultures and old traditions, this place is gold-mine when in terms of community or culture-based tourism!

 

Travel Day 32, approximately 3700 Kms, Ziro Valley, a place where one will find a unique culture of ‘Facial Tattoos’!

 

 

 

Travel Day 35, 4250 Kms, en route the Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh.

Suddenly, a clicking sound, the bike loses its power, the chain has broken! This is the first mechanical issue since in 30 days of riding! The day is saved with the help of Indian army and a returning biker group.

Now is day 36, Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh. Icy roads, skiddy tyres and chilly winds, managed to reach the notorious Sela Pass and take shelter in the Indian Army Cafeteria as the weather turns bad!

 

Travel day 40, 4485 km down, a quick selfie from the other side of India, Bumla Border Area in China.

 

It is day 44!

Trip meter reading is exactly 5127, Ankit Negi reaches Guwahati, loads his bike on the train and catches a flight back to Mumbai. The ride has been intense and also one of the most epic journeys of his life!

 

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