One ticket to anywhere, please! #lifechangingtrip

20th Nov 2017

One ticket to anywhere, please!

Photo of One ticket to anywhere, please! #lifechangingtrip by Aarti

I have always wondered what it feels like to travel alone; to visit a completely new place, meet new people, learn about their culture & tradition. Some part of me always wanted to travel alone.

One ticket to anywhere, please!

Being a North Indian, I had never been to beaches or anywhere in east & south India for that matter. To experience sea & beaches, I planned a week-long trip to Brahmapur, Odisha to attend my friend's wedding. My goal was not just to explore Brahmapur, but to take a glance at Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar as well. So my flight was from Delhi to Visakhapatnam, and after sightseeing Visakhapatnam, I was to take a train to Brahmapur for the wedding and then from Brahmapur to Bhubaneswar to catch my flight back to Delhi. I had planned the journey in a way that I get 8-9 hours in both Visakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar and few days in Brahmapur.

My journey started a night before I had to catch my flight to Visakhapatnam at 5:30 AM. Eagerly waiting for my first flying experience and imagining the entire week of new experiences, the commencement of the adventure had already begun. I continuously kept reading about travel tips, safety methods I should know for travelling solo. In between the peak of excitement to the deepest anxieties about travelling alone, I just couldn't sleep that night.

Day 1

I reached the airport before 3 AM, as I wanted to have some time at the airport for my ritual (I had made for myself) - buying a token from the airport. For every airport I would visit here onward, I will buy a token of that place and will add my own collection. Contrary to my expectation that I would have enough time at the airport, there was a long queue waiting for me! (you know why I had to stand in the long queue for security check - get your luggage scanned & then get your shoes scanned). And I entered the gate just 3 minutes before the closing time. But, I still managed to buy a token. In just 2 minutes, selected, paid, and then I just ran towards the gate.

The first flying experience was just magnificent - when the plane took off, I felt a distinct joy! the sun above clouds looked sublime. I could not possibly describe how beautiful it looked. I just kept looking at it till it was not visible anymore. There was something else that I experienced - not something very pleasant, though - I felt there was a sudden blockage in my ears and it seriously hurt a lot.

In a jiffy (not literally, it took about one and half hours), I was in Visakhapatnam. My plan was to make the optimum use of my time in Visakhapatnam and see all the beautiful places I could. So, I mapped things out quickly - Airport => Kailasagiri => Submarine => Ramakrishna beach => Alpha hotel => railway station. Not willing to waste even a single minute, I quickly booked an Ola rental for 6 hours and headed for Kailasagiri. While I wanted to enjoy every moment, I never forgot that I was alone. I had taken the necessary precautions - location shared with my family, map on my phone. As the driver suggested, I went to Kailasagiri via Ramakrishna beach, covering both the places in one ride.

And, my dear readers, this is the Ramakrishna beach.

Photo of R K Beach, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh by Aarti

My heart leaped with joy! The glimpse of the first beach! I stood there, looking & admiring the beauty and trying to fathom the vastness of the sea. I spent some time there, feeling waves touching my feet & sand slipping underneath, observing the beauty of it. It was daytime, so the climate was a bit warm. The beach did not seem to be polluted, and it was not crowded also - I could see only a few people around.

Then I headed towards Kailasagiri. Situated at the top of a mountain, Kailasagiri is a picnic spot, place of fun and activities, and it provides the best view of Visakhapatnam. I traveled on the mini train there, which goes around Kailasagiri, in a complete circle, providing the view of Visakhapatnam on one side and mountains on the other. It just looked similar to those beautiful landscape wallpapers. In one word - spectacular.

Photo of Kailasagiri, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India by Aarti

There was a bit of language problem as people don't understand Hindi and English. But you can easily survive using the sign language. I even had a conversation with a family on the mini train in sign language.

I ended up spending most of my time in Kailasagiri due to which I didn't have enough time other places on my list. But how can you miss food? Chicken biryani at Alpha hotel. The authentic taste of biryani, and at a very reasonable price. It was absolutely worth it. One of the best parts of travelling in Visakhapatnam was my Ola driver. He understood Hindi and was a localite. Every place we visited, he told me the history related to the place and recent events that happened there.

A random stop to capture this stunning view.

The time was ticking and I had to rush to Visakhapatnam railway station. I was on the station in time and I boarded the train to Brahmapur. As I reached Brahmapur, I found my friend, Priyanka, had come to receive me with her 2 brothers (they were to carry my luggage :p ). Let me tell you about my friend Priyanka (fondly called lucky by her family). In one sentence, I can say "the toughest girl I know". She handles everything with maturity and grace.

We reached her home, finally. It was a long day - I barely made it to my flight, saw Visakhapatnam, and after a long train journey I reached Brahmapur - and all I needed was a good food and a cozy bed.

Day 2

We planned to visit the beach near her place during sunrise. Pretty excited, it was on my bucket list. Next morning, we headed for the beach. It felt colder as we moved closer to the beach. Gopalpur beach - It was clean and beautiful; during the sunrise, the hues of colors adorned the and the beach looked enhancing! We spent enough time there. Shells were in abundance there and, I have my own collection too :p

Day 3

Sunset at Haripur Beach

I was always fascinated by the idea of visiting a desolated beach - not many people around, no hawkers, just a beach which is not yet commercialized. And Haripur beach is just that. So one evening, I escaped to visit Haripur beach. It is one hour drive from Priyanka's home. We had to cross Haripur village to visit the beach. It is an isolated place. No people to be seen at the stretch and a beautiful sunset view. We sat at a higher concrete built structure which was an ideal place for drinking some cold beer. Although we didn't (and believe me we didn't), it was a place for a bonfire and chilled beer. So if you get a chance to visit Haripur beach ever, carry a few beer cans with you.

Day 4

Then, I attended wedding functions for 2 days.

Day 5

And the bride :)

The food

Being a Punjabi, I am used to rajma chawal, butter chicken, parathas, and other Punjabi stuff. In Odisha, they have very different taste in food, even on weddings - rice, daal, fish (fresh and different), chicken, and mutton. I was surprised to know that they have never tasted rajma!

Initially, I was pretty apprehensive about the food (it was difficult for me to swallow). When folks around me realized, Priyanka's mom actually made me eat from her own hands. Well, I would agree the food was actually tasty after mixing all dishes. Another interesting thing I noted about that people eat - they mix everything on their plate, and then they keep tossing it to make it spherical, and then they eat. It was pretty surprising as I had never seen anything like that before.

Day 6

The Puri Beach

As I had planned my trip, it looked I would be visiting Bhubneshwar alone. But lucky me, I got company. One of Priyanka's friends who attended the wedding was from Bhubneshwar. He accompanied me for the entire day and we also went to Puri together. Puri beach is one of the busiest beaches, a lot of people bathing, lifeguards available, horse and camel rides, a lot of hawkers selling food around. It is very commercialized. If you plan for Puri beach, I would recommend camel ride and bath. You will never be short of company there.

And my trip finally ended at Bhubneshwar airport, where I bought a token of Sun Temple - my ritual, remember? And was off to Delhi.

It's not only about the seas you travel, but also about the people you meet ashore

I had never imagined that I would receive such a warm welcome from Priyanka's family, cousins, and friends that would make the entire trip so memorable! Her mother is sweet, caring, and has a cute smile. With Priyanka's cousins and friends, it was the bachelor's party that helped break the ice & we all mingled. And when we planned a number of activities together, I got to know them better. A visit to Haripur beach with Sibasish (a gym enthusiast). I and Vivekananda, Priyanka's brother, a self-proclaimed dancer & a young entrepreneur, prepared a dance performance for the DJ night, but when the time came he forgot almost all the steps. Siba (a real dancer, no offenses Vivekananda :p) danced and choreographed many performances. My visit to Puri beach with Debabrata (one with the innocent look);and many others - Saswatika, Gayatri, Debo Smita, Avinash. We all danced, enjoyed, clicked photographs. It was good to know them. A big thanks to all of you (especially Priyanka) for making my trip memorable.

Photo of Bhubaneswar Airport, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India by Aarti

My Key takeaway & why everyone should travel

Travel to see how beautiful the world is, what different things it has to offer; travel to know and live different traditions & cultures; travel to meet new people, to know their stories; travel for new experiences. In this trip, I got to taste a bit of everything I used to imagine & read about travelling. I started this trip alone, and I came back with memories and friends I had made along the way.

So, just pack your bag and leave!

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