2016 has been a year full of travel for me. I have been to new places, done things that used to scare me and made so many new friends. But I have highlighted these 15 experiences that have been life-changing for me this year.
1. Lion Safari
In January, I went to Vasona Lion Safari Park at Silvassa, India. It was the first time in my life that I laid my eyes on the Big Cat! There are 3 lions in that park. I was fortunate to spot all three of them. The lions are beautiful and majestic. They truly are kings of the jungle!
2. Met Yaks at Tsomgo Lake
There are yaks all over the place at Tsomgo Lake in Gangtok. You can pat them, ride them and have a ton of fun! I used to think yaks are wild and cannot be tamed. But the yaks I met were calm and very friendly. I can play with them all day!
3. Took a flight
2016 brought my first flight to me. Or should I say first two. I flew from Bagdogra to Delhi; and then from Delhi back home to Mumbai. It was the most surreal experience of my life. The world looks beautiful from the window seat of an airplane. It is really a miracle how we can fly!
4. Dared to drop
I experienced the thrill of riding the bone-chilling drop towers at Imagica as well as EsselWorld. According to me, the tower at EsselWorld was taller and faster than the one at Imagica. I felt the thrill and experience of being weightless and falling. I can still feel the adrenaline rush!
5. Attended the YouTube Fanfest
On my sister’s insistence, I attended the YouTube Fanfest in Mumbai in March 2016. The fest has changed my life. I met the famous YouTuber Kurt Hugo Schneider, saw so many YouTubers perform live on stage and, since then have immersed myself into the world of YouTube! YouTube can give you anything – music, dance, advice, tutorials, anything!
6. Watched a movie alone in the theatre
Being an ardent Harry Potter fan for years, I was really excited to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But none of my friends are as crazy as I am. So had to go alone. Or should I say, I took my friend for life – ME!
I went bowling with my friends at EsselWorld. It cost us Rs. 100 for 20 turns. It was a playful experience with my friends that I will cherish throughout my life.
8. 14,000 feet above sea level
I took a ride to Nathula Pass while I was in Gangtok. I was more than 14,000 feet above sea level. The view was amazing and the weather was freezing. Engulfed in clouds, it was the first time that I felt so cold and was so high up. China was just a stone’s throw away for me.
9. Went by cable car
I used the cable car first at Imagica and then at the Ropeway in Gangtok. The one at Imagica didn’t cover a lot of distance and was not so high up. It merely connects the Theme Park and Aquamagica. The Ropeway at Gangtok gives you a complete view of the city. It is a must-visit if you go to Gangtok.
10. Visited a monastery
Gangtok is full of monasteries. The first monastery I visited was the Chorten Monastery. It feels very peaceful in a monastery. It is a place where one can meditate and pray in silence.
11. Durga Puja in West Bengal
Durga Puja in West Bengal is really special. The entire state is lit-up and everyone celebrates it with grandeur and joy. I had the privilege of staying at Kalimpong in West Bengal during Durga Puja. I visited so many pandals and really enjoyed myself.
12. Made friends in dogs
I made so many new friends all over the world this year. But two of them are really special. They are Bravo and Nicky! The canines I met while I was on vacation in Gangtok. They are so far away from me now and I can’t keep in touch with them on social media. But I’m sure that even if I go to meet them after 10 years they will recognise me. 🙂
13. 40+ hour train journey
I learnt so many things about life in the train journey from Mumbai to New Jalpaiguri. I have stopped complaining about trivial issues and am more grateful about the good things in my life.
14. Royal buffet and stay at a 5-star hotel (for free!)
I had the privilege of staying at Novotel Imagica for two days and one night in July. Along with that, I also got an express ticket for Imagica Theme Park, Snow Park and Aquamagica. The royal buffet, fantastic parade, and the hospitable staff increased the joy within me. And all this was for free!
15. Trekked up a hill
I went for the Karnala Trek with my friends. This was the first trek of my life and I was pretty scared. But with a little help from my friends, I successfully reached the top.
I sincerely hope that 2017 brings more opportunities to travel. I am gonna travel the world and now, there’s no turning back. Thank you! 🙂