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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Five Reasons You Should Go To Bali With This Guy's On His Own Trip

Think of Bali and the images that pop up in one’s mind are those of beaches and of waves crashing on those sands. Of travellers making their way to the  beaches. Some of these people have come on their honeymoons. Some have come alone. Some have met an interesting person in a hostel,on a tour or on a cruise. Maybe one of these boys first saw that girl drawing outside a temple, and they started talking. Maybe they will become closer over the trip, and maybe they shall never see each other again.

Think of Bali and you imagine pubs, and loud songs and laughter and orders for drinks being placed across the busy bar. Delve deeper and let your mind take you to the countryside, to the temples, to the villages, to bicycling through those villages, to smiling kids that wave at you as you breeze past, to peace and to tranquillity.

On such a trip we now embark, to the island that became so immortalized in Julia Roberts’ ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. Come December 9, and Cap’n Nero (yes I have started calling myself that, and stop rolling your eyes) will lead a group of boys and girls to a few of the world’s most beautiful tropical places – Bali and Gili Islands.

And here is why you should join us on this 6 day trip (@Rs 24,000 per person not incl. flights)

1) We are climbing a volcano.

How many of you have actually climbed an active volcano. We all have our travel bucket lists, and I always wanted to swim with dolphins, stay for a few days at an elephant camp, go to Antarctica, visit Madagascar, do the Tango in Argentina.

And climb an active volcano.

In the middle of the night, we shall set out on our adventure, my hearties, to climb Mount Batur – Indonesia’s active volcano. An approximate two hour hike from the base, we first hike through a forest,and then walk up on cliffs, and on volcanic ash that scatters under your boots. Look up to see the whole sky lit up with stars. We shall reach the summit just before dawn. And then the sky will erupt, into an orange golden pink haze. And the sun will come slowly, and what a sight it shall be, the sky a plethora of colours and foamy white clouds shrouding the mountains. We shall look down the crater, at the smoke spewing out from the depths of this extraordinary piece of formation.

The views of the mountains and the lake while going back are even more spectacular (since its daylight and arguably this trek is one of the main highlights of any trip to Bali.

2)  We are going to the Gili Islands.

Do you have a fascination for smaller islands in the middle of nowhere? For less frequented places? I read about the Gili Islands a few years back, these small three islands about two hours away from the coast of Bali and immediately fell in love with them.

For the Gili Islands have no motor transport. We shall spend our days there riding bicycles across the countryside. We shall take moonlit night walks on the beach, with the water lapping at our feet. I plan to lie on the beach for an entire night.

We shall have lazy breakfasts, and on one of the days, we shall take a glass bottom boat ride into the middle of the ocean and watch the colourful coral formations and marine life. And then we shall snorkel in the water, and watch Nemo and his friends - fishes of all shapes and sizes and colours scuttle across us.

Maybe a few hours after our boat has docked back at its resting place, somewhere in the middle of the ocean a little fish will be telling his mother, “Mom, I saw humans today. Isn’t that the coolest?

3) I always have a great set of people signing up for the trips

Because I am not just a regular travel agency, am I?

A standout (and maybe deliberate) feature of my group trips is that they attract a certain audience. People often ask me what type of people come on the trips. In all the trips I have conducted so far, I have got some really nice, likeminded people.

Not everybody is of course adventurous or athletic. Mostly no one is a mountaineer or a rock climber. But what is common in all the people who have come so far is that these are all people who are excited by the thought of travel, people who want to explore, who want to get fascinated and who love nature.

A lot of them come solo, by themselves. Some of them are nervous, before a trip, about whether they would be able to gel with the rest of the group.

But then it all changes. For everyone here is excited by good conversations. And they find these conversations, sometimes when we are travelling together in a bus, sometimes when we are sitting on the banks of a river, and sometimes when we are sitting in our own little mini pairs or groups.

Everyone fits in beautifully. At the end of it all, I am yet to meet anyone who wants to go back home.
There are already five people who have signed on for the trip. And I already like them.

Hah, so if you are interested in coming to Bali, get some pairs of shorts, get those summer cotton dresses, get a lot of tanning lotion, those beach hats and sunglasses and have the trip of your life!

4) We are going on a sunset cruise

A trip can’t be only about adventure, no? Must bring in some romance as well.

 In Bali, one evening we shall dress up and go on a cruise boat into the middle of the ocean. There is music on board and dancing, performances by Balinese dancers and fire eaters. But the best bit, according to me, is catching the sunset with nothing but the ocean all around you.

Few things have the power to silence as much as nature does.

After a magnificent dinner on the cruise, the boat will take us back to the dock.

5) Eat, Pray, Love

It has been 17 months since I quit my job and started travelling full time. And there have been several adventures that I have fallen headlong into.

But travelling is not just about that. Some of my favourite travel moments have been just walking in a new country, or striking up a conversation in a cafĂ©, drinking with strangers in bars and sometimes liking someone enough to change my own plans and join theirs’.  At the end of it all, travel will be as much about the people you meet along the journey, as much about the places you see.

And hence, I absolutely want to encourage people to not just stick to a schedule, but also do their own thing. If you want, just pick up a bicycle and go find and see that temple that you had read about. No one’s stopping you here.

Go talk to that person across the bar you find cute. And if you get rejected, don’t worry, it happens to all you mortals ;) Just come back, and we shall have a beer and make fun of you.

Don’t only try to eat Indian or Western food but try the local cuisine as well. Be sensitive to the local customs and know that a country’s rules were made to suit its own people, not you.
In our regular lives, there is so much we do not explore about ourselves. And that is the special bit about travel. It gives us the opportunity to wander and discover, to learn and unlearn, to accept and even love, and to get inspired.

These trips are about all of that.

And if all these things appeal to you, or make sense, come join us on boys and girls on this trip to Bali with This Guy’s On His Own Trip.

Trip Dates:  December 9 – 15
Group Size: 10 - 12 people

Total Cost: Rs 25,000 (not incl. flights)
Fb Event Page:Here
Last date to Book : Nov 13, 2014 (5 bookings done already)


Now Read:

1) Five Reasons Why You Should Go To Meghalaya With This Guy's On His Own Trip
2)  Nero's group trip to Bhutan

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Five Reasons Why You Should Go To Meghalaya With This Guy's On His Own Trip

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

So after four trips to Bhutan and Ladakh, the next destination that I am leading a group trip to is Meghalaya (See trip details here)

It has been an exhilarating ride so far. Four trips have seen 58 people go up and down the mountains of Bhutan and Ladakh, and I wonder if the mountains still echo with our songs and laughter.

For we have gone sliding down snowy hills, we have gone barefoot into an almost freezing river and tried to see who stays longest, we have hung out of buses, we have spent a night under the stars next to a river in Nubra Valley, we have jumped into waterfalls. I am not going to talk about the time we stole apples from an orchard, nor the time when we climbed over locked gates to enter Shanti Stupa past midnight.

After all, this is not a regular travel agency organized trip.

Bear Grylls himself would have been hugely excited with this trip to Meghalaya. The place is stunningly scenic, and for someone who loves jungles, wild waterfalls, rivers, caves, it is a treasure chest.

Still, let us give you five good reasons why you should come on this sojourn with This Guy's On His Own Trip.

1) We are hiking to the living root bridges

In Cherrapunji (once upon a time the world’s rainiest place), we are hiking to the living root bridges, found nowhere else in the world. But what are these bridges, you may ask?

Well, in the depths of northeastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren't built—they grow. On the slopes of the lush Khasi hills, a specie of the Indian rubber tree grows with an incredibly strong root structure. These gnarly, thick roots rise up the tree trunk, wind themselves around boulders and rock and crisscross over each other to form natural bridges over swift flowing streams and rivers.

And it is to one of these natural “living roots bridges” that we shall trek. In our quest, under Captain Nero, the team shall pass cut past the main road off Nongriat and pass through jungles, streams and small villages with kids peering out from behind wooden doors.

The bridges, which are over 500 years old, are said to be strong enough to support the weight of about fifty people at one time.

2) We are going to the highest plunge waterfall in India.

What’s more, since we are we, we are going from its top down to the base as well.

The Nokalikai falls is possibly one of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll ever see in the country. It falls almost 335 metres in  a straight sheet before hitting the surface and forming a deep blue green lagoon at the base. What makes this waterfalls even more beautiful is  that the gorge here is green and trees grow around like in a rainforest.

You can take some fantastic photographs from afar, of the entire panorama, of blue sky, a green carpet-like forest and a single sheet of white falling down the cliff.

When everyone is done with their selfies and are looking all happy, well nobody’s going back. We are then going to go down a small path down to the base of the falls. Cmon lads and lasses, you haven’t come all the way to India’s most incredible, just to stand and take pictures, have you?

Check how people who have seen these falls have raved about it?

3) We are going to the Cleanest Village in Asia – Mawlynnong.

Somewhere in the east khasi hills, lies this little village of friendly Khasi people. In 2003, Discover India Magazine declared it the cleanest in Asia, and the BBC reinforced this a couple of years later.

We are going to mingle with a few of the 95 families in the village. If your approach doesn’t work, don’t worry, we still have my dimple. As the saying goes “Khasi people like Mallu dimples”.

Obnoxiousness apart, yes, the idea is to spend time with these villagers and have lunch with them. Then if one of the boys or girls is nice enough to guide us, we shall follow them to the streams and see how the locals fish. We’ll also go to the treehouse, made completely of bamboo, and raised high on stilts on a sturdy tree with two bedrooms, a living room, a machan and a view of a waterfalls and a natural pool. And once we are on top, we shall know how the characters in Enid Blyton’s books felt. 

There is also the Sky View, an 85 feet high viewing tower that’s made of bamboo. There are stunning views from here of not just the village but Bangladesh as well. And guess what? Since Bangladesh is just a stone’s throw away from here, we might just step foot into that country and hop back. Actually, I am going to put one foot on either side and take a photograph.

4) We are going for a ‘caving’ experience.

Meghalaya has the best caving networks in India, and attract visitors from hundreds of countries. A few of the caves in the state are among the longest and deepest in the world.

And we are going to one of the finest ones – The Mawsmai caves. One of the best lit by Meghalaya tourism, it is the board’s shining beacon (pun intended) and has become quite famous due to the stunning natural limestone, stalactite and stalagmite formations inside. Now, there is a 150 metre ‘regular path’, but hey on our trips, nothing is regular is it? We shall find our own nooks and crannies, and do our own caving.  In some places, the roof is so low that one has to bend over, in some places one has to practically crawl. Narrow, wet, uneven, we shall be like Indiana Jones and his adventurers exploring caves with torches in our hands and pluck in our hearts.

5) This Trip is Going to Be one of your favourite ever

To be honest, at heart I am a solo traveller. Have never been much of a tourist, so rigid itineraries and plans don’t do much for me. In these trips, we stop where we feel like – If we are driving on the road and we spot a stream, we run down and play in it. I live by the rules  that one must play in a waterfall whenever one can, pat a dog whenever one can, befriend strangers, try local food, and sometimes just be with oneself and the universe without anyone else intruding in that space.

Some people who haven’t been part of group trips feel it is not for them. That, they don’t like itineraries and that they don’t feel comfortable in groups. I have taken 58 people on my own trips, (and maybe as many on my heritage walks in Delhi), most of who came alone, and at the end of each trip, I have never seen anyone not being upset at the thought of going back home. The hangover that people have once they are back in the cities is, heh, a story for another time.

What we don’t know is that often people find it easier to open up with strangers rather than close ones back home. And over sixth months of conducting tours, it makes me smile to see some of these people become such close friends and plan their own travel together.

The credit for all the bonding, of course goes to the travellers on these trips. The people that come for these trips are usually similar in some ways – They aren’t hardcore adventurers but people who are all ready to be enchanted by nature, by new cultures, by the thought of chasing butterflies, and an evening of great conversations.

Want to join us?

Trip Dates: Nov 22 – 27
Facebook Event Page: This
Trip Cost: Rs 17,000 per person (not including flights)
Group Size: 10-12 people
Status: 6 bookings done already

If you want to join us or receive an itinerary, please contact me:

Now Read:

1) Nero's group trip to Bhutan
2) Nero goes to South East Asia
3) Nero goes to Spain