Richu Mon is a travel consultant from Kasaragode in Kerala. Travel is not just a part of his profession, but a passion that drives him. Richu Mon believes that you don’t need a powerful and expensive bike to travel long distance. He proved it by travelling all over India as well as Nepal and Bhutan on a single trip with his 109-cc Honda Twister.
Which was your first ever long ride?
I used to go on rides to nearby spots like Coorg, Madikeri and Chikmagalur. My first long ride was not a pre-planned one. It started when I took a 2-day leave to attend a wedding in Malappuram. I wanted to unwind and take a break from my work-related stress. I went on my Honda Twister to the wedding function. I didn’t realize that it was the start of an all-India ride!
I went on my Honda Twister to the wedding function. I didn’t realize that it was the start of an all-India ride!
Wow! Attending a wedding got turned into a nation-wide trip? We are eager to know how did that work out for you?
When I decided to attend the wedding, I had thought of riding further down south to reach Kanyakumari. My idea was to spend some time there to witness the beautiful sunrise and sunset Kanyakumari is well-known for. But my plan got changed in a big way. I asked myself, why stop there? I decided to travel to Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi since they are not far from Kanyakumari. I relied on Google Maps and local people to get directions as I didn’t have any plan to travel there. On reaching Dhanushkodi, I roamed around until I reached Velankanni. A lot of cultural and religious spots to see there. I had a great time in Velankanni and went straight to Pondicherry.
Haha! You kept on adding more and more placed to your journey?
Yes. I simply couldn’t stop riding. I reached Pondicherry and enjoyed the glorious view of the golden sunrise. Since I didn’t rent out any place to stay, I had to make myself comfortable with whichever place I got. I even slept under a Gandhi statue on the beach. I was running out of money since the initial plan was to attend the wedding and go back home. I had to borrow some amount from my close friends. My plan was to return home after visiting Chennai. But again, that’s not what happened. When I checked maps, I thought it would be a nice idea to visit Hyderabad as well while I’m in Chennai. My Honda Twister is not a model designed to ride long distances. But it could handle a distance of more than 1200 kms perfectly. So why not push further till my mind tells me to return home. Even though my plan was to reach Hyderabad and return to Kerala via Bangalore, I soon found myself riding further North. The appeal of travel was too much for me to handle. I rode to Puri via Vijayawada and Vizag. I didn’t have any plans on where to eat and where to sleep. I decided to ride till I get tired, eat what whatever I can get and sleep wherever I could find.
Did you face any difficulties in this unplanned journey?
Yes, I had some problems with adjusting to it. But soon I realized that it was part of the experience. My wanderlust made me feel comfortable even if I had to sleep on the ground. Sometimes I had to satisfy myself with nothing but a packet of biscuits. I ate when I felt hungry, I drank when I felt thirsty and I slept when I felt sleepy - simple as that. No plans, no schedule, no itinerary!
I ate when I felt hungry, I drank when I felt thirsty and I slept when I felt sleepy - simple as that. No plans, no schedule, no itinerary!
How did the people you met on the way treat you?
People were really friendly and helpful. “Atithi Devo Bhava” - I realized the true meaning of that phrase on my journey. I was treated with compassion and kindness. My passion to go further was strengthened by this attitude of the people I met. I realized that most of these people don’t care about language, religion or caste at all. I began to find the true essence of India. We have so many different cultures, languages and religions. But the soul of India still keeps all of us united. I got to experience it first hand. I didn’t feel any shame or fear to ask for help. Most of the people were more than happy to help. The journey changed me in a lot of ways. The hollowness of religions and such absurdness was apparent to me. I also began to appreciate small things in life. Travel changes people in a good way!
Where did you go after reaching Odisha?
From Puri, I headed straight to Kolkata. After spending some time there, I headed straight to Sikkim and then to Bhutan.
Bhutan? You started from home to attend a wedding and reached an entirely different country?
Haha, yes! Bhutan was a too-good-to-miss place. I took my time to explore the country before I went to North-East India. I visited all “Seven Sisters”. I sought help from local people as well as the army while in the North-East. I made a lot of friends there too. One bitter experience was losing my wallet while sleeping in Guwahati railway station. Luckily, I didn’t lose any of my original documents and ATM card. North East India was a delight. So I felt a bit sad returning from there. But there were more sights to see as I was headed to Nepal.
Nepal too? So it became a multinational trip.
Yes. Since Bhutan and Nepal don’t require any hard-to-obtain documents or permits for us Indians, visiting those countries was just a matter of riding there. Nepal let me take away a lot of good memories. I headed south to reach Bihar and Jharkhand, then travelled to Varanasi and Lucknow.
Bhutan and Nepal don’t require any hard-to-obtain documents or permits for us Indians.
Are there any Indian states you didn’t visit on this trip?
Just 2 states - Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. I didn’t avoid them deliberately or anything. It was only later I realized that I didn’t visit them. I simply wandered around India to see new places. So I didn’t keep track of the places I visited. Thinking back, it was a nice idea to cover those two states. But again, my aim was not to establish some record or anything. I didn’t want to brag that I went to all Indian states in a single journey.
Which are your favourite places from this journey?
It’s kind of hard to pick one or two places. India is a very diverse nation. Since I managed to travel through almost all the states I really got to experience and enjoy that diversity. All of them are different and beautiful in their own ways. The way people live, what they eat, how they spend their free time, how they treat visitors are all so different in different places. North-East, especially places like Meghalaya, are so clean and tidy. I think their way of life and cleanliness has to be chosen as a model for the rest of India. I also tried to enjoy the local cuisines of these states. Since I was travelling on a limited budget, I had restrictions on my spending. Sometimes I used to eat just fruits and boiled corn. They are inexpensive and can give an energy boost that lasts an entire day. Also, I drank sugarcane juice as it is light on the stomach and can give enough calories.
Fruits and boiled corn are inexpensive and can provide enough calories for riding long.
North-East, especially places like Meghalaya, are so clean and tidy. I think their way of life and cleanliness has to be chosen as a model for the rest of India.
Did you face any bad experience on your trip, like accidents?
Just one minor accident. My bike got punctured on Lucknow-Agra highway. Luckily there was a workshop nearby. So I could resume my journey without any difficulties. Also, my bike got tripped over while riding through water-filled road because of undercurrent. I got help from a Malayali there. He helped to repair my bike and resume my journey.
Did you have a daily target on the distance to cover or time to ride?
I usually travelled up to 600 kms a day. But I didn’t have any daily target or limit. I took my time to enjoy all the sights. I had a sleeping bag with me which I used to sleep even on the sides of roads. So I didn’t have to rush to find a place to sleep.
Are there any dream destinations you would like to travel to?
Yes, I love to have a backpacking trip through South-East Asia. Countries like Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia have a lot to offer for travellers. I’m not sure when I go there, but that trip is definitely on top of my bucket list.
Ask yourselves why are you travelling in the first place. Learn to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
Always stay hydrated. Really important!
You can refill pure water at fuel stations. Feel free to ask them for water to drink and wash your clothes.
Try to keep basic tools like a puncture kit with you.
Make your own travelogues
Article Info & Credits
- Published on
- Interview byCharles Andrews