Traveller

How Travelling Solo Has Made Me A Better Person

I was 21 the first time I set out on my own. I did it again when I was 22. And a third time when I was 23. I am a self-confessed airport crier, last-minute packer, document misplacer and chronic over-thinker who finds leaving anyone and anywhere a huge deal. Yet I have never once regretted going. I have missed things (people, birthdays, my graduation, home cooked meals, etc) but I have never once thought “I should never have gotten on that plane.”

Travelling solo is the best thing I have ever done. It is when I feel that I am more than just alive; I am living. It makes me feel present and proactive and strong. It provides a unique combination of control and freedom that I have yet to find anywhere else. Every time I arrive in a new place I surrender myself to it. There’s no way of knowing what adventures will be had, what people I will meet, what ideas will be shaped or what discoveries will be made there. Yet I have decided to go there and I will decide when I leave. I always have the power to stay and go, stop and start. It’s a power I lack in many other aspects of my life and that’s what makes it so special.

Going it alone has, somewhat ironically, also made me more sociable. I’ve always been the kid with two or three very close friends rather than a gaggle of bff’s and tend to find big groups of people intimidating. After a few awkward experiences I learnt that it’s much easier to pull up a chair and nod along until someone asks you your name than lay on your shaky bunk bed and contemplate a night of listening to fellow guests having a great time right outside your door. On the whole travellers are friendly folk and you have the perfect conversation starter in “So where are you from?” Talk will inevitably turn to where you’ve been and where you’re heading next so you already have at least one thing in common. I’ve found that I tend to form quick and intense bonds with people when travelling, some which last long after we’ve gone our separate ways and others which end when the bus leaves. Both are perfect in their own way and completely unique to the time and place. Sometimes, when I think of cities I have visited, the faces of the people I met there are the first things to pop into my head.

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Having said that travelling on my own has also given me what is perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all; the knowledge that not only can I survive on my own but I can feel comfortable and secure in my own company. When I look back on my solo trips, two of my biggest achievements are learning how to dine alone in restaurants and go to the cinema by myself. I know many people, older and more self-assured than myself, who still struggle with being alone in public settings. I also find that when travelling I like to think about things. Not talk about them, just think and maybe jot a few ideas down on some napkins. Travelling is my time to figure out how I feel about things without the input or influence of anyone else.

So to summarize, travelling alone has made me more aware, more conscious, more accepting, more welcoming and more likely to say yes. Because of it I am more interesting and interested. I am braver than I was and I trust myself so much more. But most importantly it has given me stories. So many stories that will make me smile and keep me warm when I am old and taking off with just a backpack for company is no longer an option. Leaving is always harder than staying and people will undoubtedly tell you a horror story about a backpacker who got shot/murdered in a freak attack that would never had happened if they just stayed home and been an office temp, but the experiences you will have will serve you well for the rest of your life. The act of going might just be the most liberating thing you will ever do, after all men have been doing it for years

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Travel Memories 2013

Travel photos are a wonderful way to treasure memories and remind yourself of your brave, fun-loving side. They are a great pick-me-up if you ever feel blue or bored; a snapshot of a time when you pushed yourself, discovered or experienced wonder at something new.

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When kolkata transforms into art gallery

Durga Puja, the ceremonial worship of the mother goddess, is one of the most important festivals, is celebrated every year in the month of October with much gaiety and grandeur in India and abroad, especially in Bengal, where the ten-armed goddess riding the lion and killing the Buffalo-Demon (Mahishasura) is worshiped with great passion and devotion.

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The traditional icon of the goddess worshiped during the Durga Puja is in line with the iconography delineated in the scriptures. In Durga, the Gods bestowed their powers to co-create a beautiful goddess with ten arms, each carrying their most lethal weapon. The tableau of Durga also features her four children – Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati and Lakshmi.

The huge temporary canopies – held by a framework of bamboo poles and draped with colorful fabric – that house the icons are called ‘pandals’. Modern pandals in Kolkata are innovative, artistic and decorative at the same time, offering a visual spectacle for the numerous visitors who go ‘pandal-hopping’ during the four days of Durga Puja.

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Experience the Sundarbans

A tour of the Sundarbans is equal parts peaceful and adventurous.  On the one hand, you are far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city; the only traffic fishing boats on the rivers and the incessant horn honking is replaced by bird calls.  On the other, you’re visiting a jungle, complete with predatory wildlife including the famed Royal Bengal Tiger.

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Even if you don’t spot any tell-tale stripes, there is still plenty of wildlife to make traveling the Sundarban Forest interesting.  The birds alone are worth the journey.  Hundreds of species of birds call the Sundarbans home, to hear all their unique voices is something you won’t soon forget.  There are 8 species of Kingfishers alone, not to mention Parakeets, Herons, Pelicans, and Storks. If you are even remotely interested in Bird Watching, a trip to the Sundarban Forest is a must.

If you’re hoping to see animals of the four-legged variety, you will not be disappointed. Chital deer are frequently spotted dashing gracefully among the trees while crocodiles roam the banks and small monkeys climb through the leafy branches above.

Some of the most impressive wildlife aren’t in the sky or the grass, they’re in the freshwater streams and rivers that wind through the forest.  Keep your eye trained on the water and you might catch sight of a Fresh Water Dolphin.  These dolphins are smaller than their salt water cousins, but no less acrobatic or impressive.  They are however one of the most endangered species of the Sundarban Forest and in the world.  In late 2011 the government of Bangladesh declared three separate areas of the Sundarban Forest as dolphin sanctuaries in an effort to protect the elegant river animals and hopefully encourage the species growth.

One of the most interesting animals to spot on a tour of the Sundarban Forest is the Mud-skipper.  Aptly named, this fish is just as active on land, or in the mud, as it is in water. In fact, it’s completely amphibious. These adaptive fish use their fins to move on land, in a skipping motion.  They are also quite strong, able to flip their bodies up to two feet in the air. Truly a marvel to observe.

A track of Bengal Tiger. Sundarbans mangrove is the largest mangrove in the world covering both India and Bangladesh. This is the only mangrove tiger land in the world.

For the adventurous, the Sundarbans offer unparalleled hiking and trekking opportunities.  Whichever style of travel you prefer be sure to consider not only safety, but the environmental impact of your visit.  In either instance, you should travel with an expert guide to the Sundarbans in order to get the most out of your experience, and as with any natural treasure, endeavor to leave the area as you have found it.Whether you hope to spot a wild animal, experience an ecological marvel, have a grand adventure, or even just relax while taking in the beautiful flora and fauna, a visit to the Sundarban Forest in Bangladesh is a true experience.