SOLO TRAVEL: Meghalaya (You never know until you try…)

31st May 2017

A couple of broken hearts can make you discover a whole new side to yourself. I never really thought this was going to be up my alley, but if I know something about myself, it's that I enjoy taking risks. It was with this thought that I attempted my very first solo trip in India.

Photo of Meghalaya, India by Arushi Dutt

Having moved around my whole life, I discovered very early on that travel was something that was in me. It just took a couple of rocky experiences to really spark the flame. I had my first fling with travel when I took a family road trip across the United States, covering all the major cities. However up until the age of 25, I’d always tagged along with my family. I never had the guts to travel anywhere alone, or atleast I thought I didn’t, not until we moved back to India.

My family and I moved back to India from the US about five years ago. At that time, I was the terrified NRI who couldn’t even cross the streets without holding onto a friend. When I moved to Mumbai to pursue media, I was more petrified than ever. The never-ending hustle and bustle of the city was intimidating. But as the risk taker that I am, I took on the challenge to make the city my own. I grabbed my camera, convinced a few strangers (who I befriended eventually) to work for me, and began a YouTube channel, my excuse to explore the city. The daze and confusion that came with being in a new place and getting lost gave me an absurd rush. But the feeling of overcoming the confusion and mapping out a plan for myself was the most satisfying feeling ever!

Photo of SOLO TRAVEL: Meghalaya (You never know until you try…) by Arushi Dutt

Fast-forward to present day when I announced to my parents that I needed to take a solo trip. The idea of their only daughter, roaming around India alone, with no support or companion to hold her hand, freaked them out, as expected. But I have amazing parents, who always have and continue to support my dreams and desires, and eventually agreed.

I researched endlessly about my first destination, networked like crazy on social media to book a guesthouse and transport all within a span of a week. I was off to my dad's hometown of Shillong.

Photo of SOLO TRAVEL: Meghalaya (You never know until you try…) by Arushi Dutt

After reaching Guwahti airport and surviving a rather nauseous three-hour car ride to Shillong, I realized then that I was now completely on my own. The unfamiliarity of it all freaked me out, and I thought I couldn't pull through. On the first day, I walked everywhere! Shillong is very walkable and with the pleasant weather, I managed to see Ward's Lake, Police Bazaar, Lady Hydari Park, Don Bosco Cathedral, and Laitumkhrah, which is where I was staying.

Through the next five days of roaming Meghalaya, I had the time of my life (not to mention an insane workout) exploring the hills of Shillong, Cherapunjee, Dawki, and Mawlynnong. I got lost and figured my way out. I befriended a few locals who helped guide me. I dove into the different but rather interesting local cuisine. I made some amazing friends. And best of all, I came out of it all feeling like I was a new woman who could now take over the world, quite literally.

Photo of SOLO TRAVEL: Meghalaya (You never know until you try…) by Arushi Dutt

Transport is fairly convenient as there are share cabs that take you anywhere within Shillong for Rs. 10. To get to places outside of Shillong, I booked a guided tour on the government buses by the Meghalaya Tourism Corporation. A day trip to Cherapunjee was Rs. 350 per head, and Dawki and Mawlynnong cost me Rs. 500. Although there were times that I felt quite alone roaming around everywhere, traveling these long distances by tour buses were a good idea, because I befriended other travelers.

Buses are fairly safer than cars also because the roads to Dawki and Mawlynnong especially are extremely narrow So much so, that on the way up, we rammed into an oncoming car, alarming us all! But luckily, nobody was seriously harmed. Cherapunjee tours consist of eight stops out of which my favorites were the Nohkilakai Falls and the misty bridge (picture above). The adorable village of Mawlynnong showcases local flavors from the cuisine, to local villagers such as these cute kids I met there (picture below). Approaching the India-Bangladesh border to visit Dawki was a surreal experience. Even though it was the monsoons, boating through the calming waters of Dawki against the serene landscape, is an experience I'll never forget.

Photo of SOLO TRAVEL: Meghalaya (You never know until you try…) by Arushi Dutt

It’s with a renewed confidence and belief that I am approaching life now. I have never felt more accomplished and motivated in my life. And trust me, this is something those of us in our mid-20s could most definitely use. More importantly, it was this solo trip that made me realize that I’m never going to hold myself back at anything. Often times, with societal norms, peer pressure, and conventions, we feel the need to conform and/or wear masks to fit in. But are we really listening to our heart’s desires to be ourselves?

I have come to realize that I am not somebody who is meant to fit in. I’m meant to stand out of the crowd. Going on this solo travel has become that first step into this exciting journey of this discovery and many more, and I just can’t wait!

Photo of SOLO TRAVEL: Meghalaya (You never know until you try…) by Arushi Dutt

If you want to check out my solo trip to Meghalaya in a glimpse, check out my travel vlog on my YouTube channel:

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @ThatGlobalDesi

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