FMLM – Bike Trip to the Andaman – By Gayatri Patel

Breaking the Stereotype on a Bike

 Of #Bikes and #BikeRiding 

I am a passionate biker & wandering is an intrinsic part of me. I love exploring the unknown & taking off-beat tracks. Driven by this innate desire to travel and explore, I have been to most places in #India and even #Bhutan on my bike! And I can tell you this with confidence – every journey is unique and is a treasure trove of precious memories. We often hear people say that they have been to all the four corners of the country. But what we all typically forget is one nook, which I like to call the 5th corner, faraway from the mainland, tucked in the beautiful Bay of Bengal – the #Andaman & #Nicobar Islands! 

The islands are replete with picturesque beaches, turquoise blue waters, history and are popularly considered as a little slice of paradise. Its water fronts are enticing, likes of which we don’t get to see in in the mainland and are home to some of the most spectacular marine life in the world. The sheer colour and diversity of the marine life underwater can leave us all spellbound. I had heard and read a lot about these islands and so, I wanted to explore them. But on my bike! And so, I started planning out the logistics. The entire trip got finalized for February 2019. The ride was organised by Flying Squad ad Mystic Riders along with The Throttle Club.

My rider friend #VishakhaFulsunge aka #RiderGirl and I decided to do the trip together and create a record to become the first women duo to complete a bike ride till Andaman. 

 

I rode my bike from #Kolhapur to #Hyderabad, about 540 kilometers, to meet Vishakha and then we rode to #Visakhapatnam (over 600 kilometers), where we loaded our bikes onto ‘Nancowry’, a passenger/cargo ship. It absolutely wasn’t the luxury cruise I had portrayed in my head. While entertainment options on board were limited to none, we had a generous viewing of the sea and its expansiveness. 

 

It took us about three days to sail a distance of 1200 kilometers to #PortBlair. And what a beautiful sight it was to spot a piece of land! 

When I first saw the Andaman islands far on the horizon, I was super thrilled, may be even ecstatic. I literally felt like Columbus, when he had finally spotted the promised land! Back on land and with our precious bikes in tow, we had roughly about two days to explore the islands before the ship would sail back. The bike rides were super satisfying. Roads were good and there was this unmistakable laid back, peaceful vibe in the islands. It soothed us and the entire ride was meditative so to speak. We visited many a beaches, and all of them, yes, all of them were typical postcard-like blue or greenish and truly mesmerizing. We even came across a colony of tortoises, which were native to the Andaman islands only. 

No trip is complete without doing something you have never done before. So, on this trip, we did some night trekking. It was a truly exhilarating experience. The star-studded night sky, sound of the sea and perfect silence – and some of us making our way to a destination unknown – it was poetic as well as cathartic. We also visited the #CellularJail, popularly known as Kala Pani, which was used by the Britishers to exile political prisoners those days. It was a place of mixed feeling. We felt sad as well as grateful to the many greats who made the ultimate sacrifice for all us to lead the free lives we live now. 

Next on our itinerary was the famous #HavelockIslands, which we visited on a local ferry boat. The island with its sublime silken-blonde beaches and teal shallows is a travellers’ paradise. Scuba diving a big attraction here. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it as we were short of time. We had a tight schedule and a lot of places to cover in the two days. But it was one of the best trips in my life. 

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The Andaman Island is truly a gem. It’s a combination of astounding natural beauty, very rich history and cultural diversity, one that few can match. The locals are very helpful and the traffic discipline is impressive. It is a must-visit place and should be on the bucket list of all off-beat travellers. And in spite of how much I missed the land when I was on the ship, I would recommend you to sail to the islands instead of flying as it makes for a more vibrant experience. End of the two days, we boarded the Nancowry again and docked this time at #Chennai after three days. 

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We had completed our epic bike ride and had succeeded in creating a record for being the 1st Women (duo) from mainland #India to ever complete a bike ride (on own bikes) on Andaman islands! From Chennai I rode back to my hometown Kolhapur (covering over 960 kilometers) and completed my Kolhapur- Andaman – Kolhapur ride. 

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