A Road Trip That Took 6 years of Planning
Ok, the title of this blog may sound overly exaggerated, but it's true.
My best friend since my kindergarten days and I planned to take a trip together for a long time. However, the plan never fructified mainly due to the usual reasons - something to do with family, kids, work or money. It was mostly either, or, all!
So this time, when we saw a window opening, we spontaneously booked our flight tickets from our respective locations to Delhi. However, after securing the tickets, we realised we hadn't quite figured out a destination. So the only condition that my friend put on me was, "Make sure it's somewhere cold!". Sure, let's go to the Himalayas!
Another unsaid and high-priority condition was that the place should have high-speed wi-fi.
After researching, taking advice from fellow travellers, and reading about the weather conditions, we (mostly ME) chalked out a plan to visit Uttarakhand.
Such a beautiful state! We decided to explore Lansdowne, Mussoorie, Landour and Dehradun in 7 days.
Since we couldn't find any confirmed train tickets from Delhi to Dehradun and the bus timings did not match our schedule. I spoke with multiple cab drivers and realised we could not go with these options.
Firstly, because we had to work during office hours, we had a small window to explore the place (early mornings and late evenings). It was expensive to have a cab a phone call away for eight days.
Secondly, I felt that my friend and I wouldn't be able to spend quality time together in a stranger's presence.
So the genius in me came up with a foolproof place to rent a self-drive car from Delhi. Things were fine until then. Then, when our family members realised that one psychopath and another half-crazy woman would drive around in the mountains (me being the only driver), many waves of panic erupted.
Since I'd already made the booking and advance payments at the hotels and car rental service, there was no turning back.
Finally, D-Day arrived, and we set off on our road trip not before there were some minor setbacks. But, eventually, it was all under control, and we made it to Delhi.
Here's the itinerary of our 7 days road trip across Uttarakhand
Day 1: Delhi Airport to Lansdowne (Distance: 267 km)
Day 2: Explore Lansdowne
Day 3: Lansdowne to Landour (Distance: 173 km. This took way too longer than ETA due to the crazy traffic in Mussoorie)
Day 4: Explore Landour
Day 5: Explore Mussoorie
Day 6: Landour to Dehradun (Distance: 42 km)
Day 7: Dehradun to Delhi Airport (Distance: 266 km)
Now, you must remember a few things if you are taking a road trip with your best friend, especially if this is her first "real" trip. Here it goes.
Before starting the road trip:
1) Train her on "How to read Google Maps".
You may show her videos or a quick run-through to get help with the directions.
2) Give basic information on the responsibilities of a co-driver.
For example: While driving, hand out the bottle of water AFTER opening its cap.
The most important one: NOT TO MAKE A SUDDEN GASPING SOUND EVERY TIME THERE IS AN OBSTRUCTION ON THE ROAD.
3) You may have to remind the co-driver frequently during the journey, but from the start, tell them TO REMAIN CALM under ALL CONDITIONS.
4) Be prepared for a roller coaster ride because YOU are the driver, navigator, and DJ for the next 7 days.
During the road trip:
1) You may have to ask the co-driver multiple times to play the music of your choice.
2) Listen to the constant cribbing about the heat while driving the car with windows down, especially while climbing uphill.
3) Politely remind your friend that you are NOT the chauffeur and to hang up the phone calls.
Before I get to the part where I tell you the instructions, you must follow "After the road trip".
Here are some of the high points of our trip
1) Driving at 140 km/h speed to get to Landsdowne from Delhi before 6 pm, since travelling through this road is dangerous and is not allowed after dark.
2) Driving through the deep, dark valley and losing network coverage while singing songs from horror movies.
3) Getting caught by cops for not having the proper documents in place. If you are in this situation, ensure your smile is as pretty as mine. Otherwise, get the UK road permit and other documentation checked when hiring a self-drive car.
4) Car getting stalled multiple times while doing steep climbs in Mussoorie.
5) Getting a lift late at night from a random guy on his Yahama RX100 to save cab money.
6) Getting called out by the hotel staff for playing loud Bollywood dance numbers in the middle night.
7) Experiencing the Mussoorie traffic.
8) Getting lost in Delhi traffic.
9) Getting beer served in a coffee mug because the cafe didn't have the permit to serve alcohol.
10) Getting into a fight with each other and then moving on as if nothing happened.
11) Getting drunk together.
These are just some of the things I recollect as it's almost a month since we returned to our mundane life.
Before I end this post, I want to tell you the most crucial instructions you must follow before ending your trip with your best friend.
After the road trip:
1) You first need to share ALL the pictures/videos from the trip with her. I mean ALL. Trust me on this!
2) Before you say goodbye, make sure that you hug your friend a little tighter and a little longer. That's the warmth that you are going to miss the most.
I still get goosebumps when I think about it. We collected memories for a lifetime. I can't wait to do this all over again and wouldn't want to change a thing.
If any of you would like to know the deets on the Car Rental Service, Hotels or anything about the destination, then feel free to drop me an email.