[AI] Independent tour: Sikkim tour with Bat Travels!
gvamshiai at gmail.com
Thu Jun 14 01:40:23 EDT 2018
I found a new friend from delhi who is sighted and wishes to travel with bat. He has been a great friend who has been my room mate all along. But you need to be independent. I take help only in a new place and that too far the first time.
> On 14-Jun-2018, at 10:52 AM, Payal Kapoor <payal69 at gmail.com> wrote:
> hi Vamshi,
> that was a wonderfully detailed description and sounds really
> exciting. so good to see folks out there walking their talk when
> offering inclusive travel options for the blind.
> what i am curious about is the response of other travellers in the
> group? what was their response to having two blind persons on the
> trip? did they engage with you and help you with things around, like
> descriptions or just anything at all?
> i am sure your feedback will encourage many of us to take trips with them.
>> On 6/14/18, Amar Jain <amarjain at amarjain.com> wrote:
>> Thanks for penning it down beautifully. I am yet to have drinks with Ritu
>> and Divya, but one thing which I really like about them is that they are
>> really pocket friendly people and still offering pretty much the same thing
>> which other players are doing in the industry.
>> Amar Jain
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> On 14-Jun-2018, at 9:59 AM, vamshi vamshi <gvamshiai at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Dear friends,
>>> I had just taken one more step in the direction of independent living for
>>> blind, a tour alone to Sikkim, Indochina border with Bat travels. Now I
>>> am in euphoria for not just completing my first tour alone, but finding a
>>> new way of happy living with new bunch of friends!
>>> I took off alone from Banglore airport having all the apprehensions as it
>>> was my first time tour without family, friends or known people. How
>>> should I find the cab at Bagdogra airport? What if other sighted tourists
>>> are not ready to help me? Will I be left out on a few spots on the tour?
>>> How will I have lunch in a new place? What if I need to go to wash room?
>>> What if other sighted tourists are not interested in talking to me? Will
>>> it be risky to depend purely on my white cane in hilly places? Will I
>>> enjoy the picturesque beauty of Sikkim as a blind tourist? Many more like
>>> this. But then, I thought its worth giving a try. After all, life is all
>>> about trying things new. Isn’t it?
>>> Day 0
>>> Getting bonded
>>> All the group of 8 arrived at Bagdogra airport. Two of us were blind
>>> and others being sighted. Pleasant surprise was that Bat Travel team of
>>> Divya and Ritu were there a day in advance to receive us! Couple of hours
>>> after introductions, we found ourselves cracking jokes at each others and
>>> pulling each others legs. We started to Gangtok comfortably seated in two
>>> SUVs, good old bollywood music playing and I humming some songs , more to
>>> show that I knew them than to sing well (smile). River Teesta was along
>>> side us as if was showing us the way. A river is the best friend for
>>> blind in nature as it makes sound to make us feel it. Bat Travel team
>>> was describing the nature around us, the size and shape of trees, height
>>> of mountains, how far and low is the river, the depth of valley, colour
>>> of monkeys, a fox that we sighted etc. It was as good as seeing
>>> everything. By the night, we checked into the hotel at Gangtok and rested
>>> after dinner. And yes, each blind was accompanied by a sighted in the
>>> room to orient us.
>>> Day 1
>>> We enjoyed a water fall, Sprinkled water on each other and had a few snaps
>>> taken. Then we went to Enchey monastery, with Divya or Ritu describing
>>> sculpture and paintings in detail, even letting us have a tactile feel of
>>> the Buddhist sculpture, rare leaves, flowers etc. Contrary to our
>>> personalities and the tour, we remained silent in praying before lord
>>> Buddha with a monk chanting beside us. After that, was the time for the
>>> most exciting part of the tour, a rope slide between two mountain clifs,
>>> with a water fall beside us and water flowing below us! A part of me was
>>> hesitant but the stubborn side of me wanted to do it. I was carefully
>>> guided to the clif and was explained how it would be functioning. Even
>>> the staff there ensured all safety measures. But still, to be harnessed to
>>> a rope, and sliding from one clif to another by holding the rope was one
>>> heck of an experience! They even stop in the middle where we can leave
>>> the rope and wave in the air. At that moment, it was a sense of
>>> achievement to think, what if I can’t do certain things like sighted, here
>>> I am doing an adventure which many sighted wouldn’t have done! After
>>> having a Sikkimmese lunch with pasta, bamboo shoots, etc., we returned and
>>> rested at hotel.
>>> Day 2
>>> Time to touch China! Natulla pass! 14,000 feet height!
>>> It was all the more tantalizing when we had to wait twice for permits to
>>> reach there. With every passing mile up, the temperature kept dropping
>>> and air freezing. I deliberately refrained from wearing jacket till we
>>> reached there to see how it will be like, but only to loose the battle
>>> with the weather as by then my hands also started paining. It was a hike
>>> to the top, with either of the bat travel buddies or sighted friend
>>> holding one hand and my white cane in the other. There were steps,
>>> treacherous passes, snow passes, other tourists and what not, but it was a
>>> great experience to use the white cane at such a place and reach the peak.
>>> We could see Chinese buildings, flags at the other end. My impish side
>>> got better of me as I poked my cane beyond Indian border and was duly
>>> cautioned by the army person against it. After saluting the army friends,
>>> on our way down, we had hot tea, jilebi and popcorn. We had a few pics
>>> and shouted Jayho to India at the border! On our way down, we stopped at
>>> beautiful Tsomgo lake to have a yak ride. Ritu went so far to walk ahead
>>> of me, or rather the yak to take a video of my ride.
>>> Day 3
>>> From east to west of Sikkim.
>>> We visited Temi tea gardens on the way to west of Sikkim. It was planned
>>> that we will have lunch in the middle of tea bushes! But nature had
>>> different plans as it rained. However, it was no less an experience with
>>> having lunch at top of a building of 50 feet height with the entire tea
>>> garden below us, mountains around us and clouds along side! We visited
>>> the factory and got the entire process of producing tea explained. We
>>> even handled one or two machines to get hands on. Then we proceeded to
>>> Okhrey, visiting the golden colour 130 feet statue of Lord Buddha on the
>>> Day 4
>>> Wooden Home stay in a Sikkimmese village, and disability etiquette of a
>>> village boy
>>> Putting up on second floor of the wooden building was a rare experience.
>>> A few humming birds woke us up in the morning. We argued amongst
>>> ourselves for guessing the name of the bird that is humming, obviously
>>> with no one knowing it correctly! It was a loving family that served
>>> homely food in the village.
>>> Then we went through a forest trail, and I have met a special person.
>>> Ashish, a twelve year boy. He kept all others away from me and guided me
>>> all the way through the trail across patchy ways, streams, rocks, trees
>>> etc. He went so far to step on the ground ahead to check the firmness
>>> and then place my cane. After sometime, he took the cane away from me
>>> saying the path is smooth and my hand would pain for holding it for long
>>> time. I took the risk of giving up the cane and prepared for an injury
>>> for the love and concern he had for me, but his confidence took me
>>> through. I thought Corporates and governments need to be sensitized with
>>> prolonged campaigns and agetations, but a village boy from a north eastern
>>> village just had the right attitude towards a blind whom he met for the
>>> first time. Hatss off to him! The day ended with a Sikkimmese music and
>>> dance performance, again with Divya and Ritu describing the steps. I even
>>> tried my hands on the instrument and Sikkimmese dance, which was followed
>>> by Anthakshiri sitting around bond fire.
>>> Day 5
>>> Good bye Sikkim
>>> I travelled all the day, in a car to Bagdogra airport, in flight to
>>> Chennai, RTC bus to tirupati, and finally a auto rikshaw at 1 in the night
>>> to my home. See? I am confident of independent travel!
>>> Follow up
>>> I received all my pics and videos taken with detailed description as to
>>> who are all there, our poses and the background. Isn’t it inclusive
>>> tourism at its best?
>>> About Bat Travels; Ritu and Divya
>>> It requires great passionate hearts to give up jobs and start something
>>> like Bat Travels. And great professional minds to run it. But their
>>> Lies in the fact that they get sighted tourists on board with blind after
>>> duly sensitizing them about blind etiquette. See how a village boy from
>>> north eastern village helped a blind man from tirupati to have a life time
>>> memory! It was my first innings with the “Bat”. And given my experience,
>>> I will surely have more, and longer innings with them. Would surely
>>> recommend to all my friends, blind or sighted, to go with bat Travels!
>>> G. Vamshi
>>> Mobile: +91 9949349497
>>> Skype: gvamshi81
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