Here's How the Solo Trip Bug Bit Me!

Tripoto
30th May 2017
Photo of Here's How the Solo Trip Bug Bit Me! by Pravin Malik

''Go unplanned. You will have more stories to tell.''

-A random person in the train

True. Isn't it? First you plan the entire trip in advance, read about all the places you will visit, discuss about all the fun you will have and then on the actual trip you do the EXACT SAME things!

Where's the surprise element? Half of your 'adventure trip' has already lost its thunder on Quora the previous night.

It's like planning and paying for your own spoilers.

Expedition Kerala: Day 1

So I decided. I had 6 days...around 2000 rupees and a single 'plan' in mind. ''Minimum expenditure, maximum exploration.''

I was familiar with the jungles of Goa. Had recently enrolled with a wildlife NGO too. It wasn't a difficult choice. Among the popular tourist places in Kerala, 16 are wildlife sanctuaries and thus options were plenty.

With a powerbank, charger, few set of clothes and a diary, I started the first-ever solo trip of my life. (This blog post was drafted on the same diary from a lodge in Munnar)

Photo of Here's How the Solo Trip Bug Bit Me! 1/1 by Pravin Malik
Packing for the first-ever solo trip

Tourist places in Kerala? Nahhh!

But where do I start from? And how?

I inquired at the nearest bus depot in Ernakulam about popular tourist places in Kerala as I wanted to avoid all these tourist places in Kerala. It was difficult to convince the depot staff about my 'plans' and seek directions to a place which had no name.

"I gulped all the questions I wanted to yell at him and without uttering a single word handed a crumpled (knowingly) 10 rupee note to him."

''Anna...tourist?'' A toy-seller rushed towards me.

''No Anna...''- I replied instantly looking at the toy sets in his hand. ''I'm a locallaa'' I further added with a conscious effort to ape the local accent.

''No...toys...me...no selling...tourist bus there'' He pointed at a state Govt. bus behind me.

I had heard a lot about Munnar and its scenic landscapes. Though it wasn't exactly a wildlife sanctuary as such and was still among the popular tourist places in Kerala, yet it was THE best tourist place in Kerala and hence worth a try.

So, without breakfast and bookings, my journey towards Munnar began.

It was the first week of June and monsoons hadn't begun yet. I could feel the intense humidity in the air. But as the bus started going up the high range hills, I started feeling the cool breeze and could quickly feel the difference in temperature.

A similar picture from shutterstock

Photo of Kerala, India by Pravin Malik

After around 3 hours, the bus halted for lunch. I needed a quick nap, so I didn't get down. While I was adjusting my seat, a few hawkers pushed their little handcarts and walked passed my window crying, 'Chana', 'Masala chana', 'Khara chana'...

One of them entered the bus with a few packets and kept a packet each on alternate seats. Before even I could turn around to see what was happening, he came back to my seat and stood there silently staring at me.

''Saab paisa..'' -He mumbled after a few seconds seeing no response from my end.

''Hello, at least ask if I need it.''

''Just because I looked at you doesn't mean I'll buy.''

''Is it a Polio pamphlet to distribute randomly to people?''

''And if it was not free, why did you even give it to me in the first place?''

I gulped all the questions I wanted to yell at him and without uttering a single word handed a crumpled (knowingly) 10 rupee note to him.

The Iconic tea-plantations in Munnar

"Upon making circles with her hands placed on her eyes like binoculars, she realized there were tourists in the bus. She immediately gestured to her right and a few more heads popped-up."

The bus was now passing through a Ghat section. There were tea plantations almost everywhere on these mountains. Due to the gaps in between the tea saplings, it had formed nice layered patterns.

Shutterstock has this exact same replica of what I saw in Munnar

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Pravin Malik

Roads in between tea plantations in Munnar (Pic ture from Shutterstock)

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Pravin Malik

As I was adjusting focus on my camera, I saw something emerge from the plantations.

Wearing a dark green, a little oversized full sleeves shirt, head and ears covered with dotted scarf and a huge bamboo basket tied to her back, a 50-55 year old looking woman started waving at the bus.

Upon making circles with her hands placed on her eyes like binoculars, she realized there were tourists in the bus. She immediately gestured to her right and a few more heads popped-up. It was a picture-perfect frame, the kind you will see in Kerala tourism ads.

Workers in tea plantations in Munnar (Picture fom Shutterstock)

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Pravin Malik

The bus had slowed down too. After posing for a while, they disappeared back in the bushes.

I feel we as Goans, have a lot to learn from Kerala. Both these states are blessed with natural beauties. One has several miles of scenic coastline, while the other has a mix of both, sea and forest cover.

But the way Kerala govt. has handled the entire tourism business and all the tourist places in Kerala is really commendable.

Though there are resorts and dormitories everywhere right from the buffer zone to the interiors of wildlife sanctuaries, everything seems to blend so nicely with nature.

There is no debris lying around near newly built hotels, the resorts painted to compliment natural surroundings, proper provision for vehicle parking etc...

Boundaries between human and nature defined so well, everyone obliges honestly.

'Munnar- 4 kms' - Amidst the dense fog, the signboard was barely visible...

Be the first one to comment