Being on the road can be a heady experience, especially when you travel at a steady pace, not nesting anywhere. It takes a few days for the body and mind to cope and adjust, but once you get used to the journey it can be liberating. You understand freedom by experiencing freedom, and slowly a strange resilience and confidence builds up. No destination seems hard to reach, no journey feels impossible and no discomfort can discourage. To travel is to live immersed in every moment, to stay suspended in a constant state of amazement and to learn what’s really important to you. I may be romanticising travelling a bit but this is how I reflect upon it.
When I set out on this trip I was determined to keep expenses to a minimum and spend no more than Rs. 1,000 (USD 15) per day (for 2 travellers) and at one point it seemed like a lost cause. Just to give you an idea, our travel cost (mostly bus) for the first day and a half itself touched 1000 bucks!
To come anywhere close to sticking to our budget we needed to cut corners. This meant exclusively using local transport and hitchhiking when possible. Over the course of the trip we spent hours in buses, local trains, over-crowded general coaches of inter-city trains, shared auto-rickshaws, took a ferry, hitched a ride on a truck and with bikers. The commute was often uncomfortable and sometimes back-breaking!
Through all this I noticed two things,
1. When you travel at the pace we did, your memory only registers the overwhelming times and dulls out all the uncomfortable ones around it, even when those uncomfortable moments last ten times longer.
2. After a few days of strain & exhaustion the body starts to bounce back, as if getting a second wind. If the trip was a week long we probably would have come back tired and sore, but after a week we started to cope with the intensity of the journey and by the time we got back there was very little fatigue.
The trip spanned 3 states, 1 UT, around 15 cities, beaches, waterfalls, lakes, ravines and ponds, small towns, hill stations and lazy coastal villages. One day we were laying on a beach and the next walking through a trail in the hills. The rain made everything prettier, everything green.
In most coastal towns (except Goa) we were regarded with much interest and a constant query, ‘Tourist in this season?! ‘What will you do if it rains?’
We might as well have been the only travellers along the Konkan Coast! The water at this time of the year is too violent to risk venturing in, so most tourists avoid beach destinations. We were counting on this and expected prices to be low. They were not! Due to the off season slump we were met with eager business owners looking to squeeze out the most they could. Though not to paint everyone with the same brush because we did meet extremely helpful people all over the place. So much so that we often found ourselves overwhelmed by their generosity.
A quick take on each city we visited.