Travel Tales: My first experience Travelling Solo!
Last year in April, I decided to travel solo to Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeastern part of India. At that point,I had never travelled alone. Ziro which is a place in Arunachal Pradesh has been on my bucket list since I was 13. Luckily, my college roommate lives in Arunachal.
The spectacular state of Arunachal has the lowest population density in India and is the home to the maximum number of tribes in India. Throughout my visit , I could hardly spot any tourist. The nearest airport is Guwahati Airport in Assam , it takes about 7-8 hours from Guwahati Airport by road to reach Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh by road. Interestingly, you can also go from Guwahti to Arunachal by helicopter, but it's really hard to book a seat, since the timings and slots are fixed and naturally, I didn't get the booking.
For some, travelling solo isn't a big deal, but as a 19 year old girl travelling to the easternmost part of the country in the middle of a pandemic, alone for the first time felt like a challenging task.
So basically, To visit Arunachal Pradesh , one needs to get an approved Permit called the Inner Line Permit which nowadays can be availed online , HOWEVER , even though I applied for the permit a week ago , I couldn't get it approved. On 22nd April, midnight, I told my mom that I didn't have a permit to enter Arunachal, I was a little anxious but I still decided to board my flight the next day. On 23rd April , I was boarding my flight from Delhi and I vividly remember refreshing my phone anxiously to check if I had recieved the permit but sadly I had not.
One cannot enter the state of Arunachal without the permit. I was a little worried and there was NO plan B. The moment I landed in Guwahati , I checked my phone again and I had still not received my permit , I felt like panicking but I think I was too tired to even panic. I had woken up at 4 AM that day for travelling and now I was standing alone in Assam without a permit and a plan. To be honest, it felt like hell.
I went to collect my luggage and I asked the nearby counter about the cab facility to reach Itanagar. I still didn't have a permit to enter Arunachal, God knows how I had the courage to ask about a cab facility. I think the cab service guy quoted around Rs. 2500. "transportation , sorted!" , I thought. I refreshed my phone again and this time I had receieved the permit , somehow! As i was sorting out the permit payments, I received a call, this one was from the Helicoper service in Guwahati, they said that my seat had been confirmed because some VIP did not show up. I completed the payment for the inner line permit , rushed here and there, figured out the helicopter servicr and sat in the waiting line.
In one day, I had travelled alone to a different state without a permit and now I was getting to experience a helicopter ride for the first time. Too many firsts in a day.
As I was sitting in the waiting area, I asked a couple of questions from a northeastern girl who was also waiting in the same helicopter service line and she looked at me weirdly and giggled.
"Is something wrong with my face?" I thought and opened the front camera of my phone , I had forgotten to take off my face shield after landing , my hair was a complete mess, I was sweating and I looked somewhere between stoned and anxious. I saw a reflection of myself , my t-shirt was weirdly untucked , I removed my face shield , took a deep breath and made myself realise that everything was in place now , I WAS GOING TO ARUNACHAL (WITH A PERMIT)!
Travelling to Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life and I would love to visit the place again (and again).