Who knows where life will take me in a year's time, but for now, I want to look back on this incredible year. 35,000km later, here are the best places I've been to, the worst, the most amazing experiences, the things I learnt; all combined in one little blog:
The Best Places I've Been To
Still my favourite city of all time, Udaipur is, simply put, amazing. From the roof top restaurants to the romantic old city lanes, Udaipur's a charm. There are so many places to see, from the palaces to the gardens to the lakes, the old forts and the nearby Aravalis. I spent just about five days in total there this year and I couldn't even see a tiny portion but I still fell in love with it.Kerala
Remember I was talking about the spiritual experience before? It can't happen without a night out on a boat in the middle of a beautiful place called Kerala. Go to Allapey, near Ernakulam. Find a boat, which is not that hard considering they're everywhere! The boat's cheap if you go with a lot of people and split the bill, but in any case, it is more than worth it.
But if you still can't afford the boat, go to Cherai beach near Cochin. If you're even more adventurous, go in the middle of the monsoons, like I did. The rain will freeze your butt, but as soon as you get into the water, you'll understand exactly what those Kerala tourism advertisements keep shouting about.Mulshi
Why Mulshi, you ask? It's just 40km from Pune and it's just a reservoir. Well, you have to go during the monsoons, and it'll be even better if you take a friend called Ellis Dee with you. =)
That's exactly what I saw.Most Amazing Experience
The whole month of December 2009 was an amazing experience because of the rally I was on, but if I were to narrow it down to one day then it would be the ride from Bhopal to Chhindwara. It was about 300km and took 12 hours to finish, but by the time we reached our destination, it grew very dark. If you've never been to Madhya Pradesh, then believe me, when the sun goes down, it's pitch black. There are no other vehicles on state highways but an occasional passing truck. All we could see were the tail lamps of the bikes in front and the head lights of our trail vehicle.
Suddenly I happened to glance at the night sky and I was blown out of my mind. It was the most beautiful sky I had ever seen. The distant, setting moon glowed orange in the horizon, which only added to beauty of the moment. The winding roads eventually turned into ghats and we found ourselves at the mercy of the lead vehicle since our headlights were no match for these roads. 60kmph was still too fast on blind turns. Thankfully there was no other traffic.
We passed through villages which seemed like ghost towns from the total absence of any people to seen. Some of us were freezing, some kept warm from the brutal excitement that the ride had to offer and some who, after we reached Chhindwara, wanted to just turn around and do it all over again. You can guess which category I fit into.
The Pan India Rally was another 'religious' experience, but one that I've written nothing about. Perhaps I got so depressed after the rally got over, that I just didn't feel like writing. What do you do after you spend 35 days on the road with 11 amazing people and suddenly you find yourself at home with nothing to do?
The Worst Places I've Been To
Under no circumstances should you go there, unless dry heat, barrenness and boredom is what you're looking for. The Gir sanctuary in the west and the Kutcch are the only interesting places here, but apart from that, National Highway 8 is a straight road for over 600km(!) with no sights along the way. It's the best highway in India, but unless you're in a Porsche 911, it's going to suck your energy dry.Maharashtra
This comes as no surprise, since I've lived here my whole life and I'm bored of it already. I've seen pretty much everything, from the Arabian Sea in the west to the Vidharbha region in the east. Nashik is pretty much the most interesting places and only because the Sula vineyard exists nearby. (Not counting Mulshi, Murud and some of the beaches on the coast).Things I've Learnt Along The Way
Just keep travelling. Life will take its own course and you never know where you'll end up. You'll be surprised at how much you change after a single night out on the road you haven't been on before. My favourite thing is to find a beautiful isolated beach right next to an overcrowded commercial tourist spot. Which brings me to my next point:
Don't be a tourist. Be a traveler instead. There's a difference. A tourist goes in search of a destination, while a traveler seeks a journey.
Tamil Nadu has the best 'roads to sights' ratio. By that, I mean while I haven't seen a single pot hole in TN, I've seen some of the most amazing places there. Usually in Maharashtra, the better a place looks, the worse the roads can get.
Carry a camera, always. Even if you think you suck as a photographer, you might regret not taking home a single picture from your escapades.
And most importantly, make sure you're prepared. Helmets make good sense. I know they're heavy and most of us don't even own one. Think of them as condoms - they're very effective in the long run.
Your odometer speaks volumes about what you've done. If nothing else, at least you'll have a great story to share with future generations. Just remember to get off that chair soon enough, fellow traveler!