Around 28000 .  I would like to mention that i was not required to take out my 
wallet from and back to the airport.   

Regards
Vamshi

> On 14-Jun-2018, at 11:29 AM, George Abraham <geo...@eyeway.org> wrote:
> 
> How much did it cost?
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: AccessIndia [mailto:accessindia-boun...@accessindia.org.in] On Behalf 
> Of vamshi vamshi
> Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2018 10:00 AM
> To: accessindia
> Subject: [AI] Independent tour: Sikkim tour with Bat Travels!
> 
> Dear friends,
> 
> I had just taken one more step in the direction of independent living for 
> blind, a tour  alone to Sikkim, Indochina border with Bat travels.  Now I am 
> in euphoria for not just completing my first tour alone, but finding a new 
> way of happy living with  new bunch of friends!
> 
> I took off alone from Banglore airport having all the apprehensions as it was 
> my first time tour without family, friends or known people.  How should I 
> find the cab at Bagdogra airport? What if other sighted tourists are not 
> ready to help me? Will I be left out on a few spots on the tour?  How will I 
> have lunch in a new place?  What if I need to go to wash room?  What if other 
> sighted tourists are not interested in talking to me?  Will it be risky to 
> depend purely on my white cane in hilly places?  Will I enjoy the picturesque 
> beauty of Sikkim as a blind tourist?  Many more like this.  But then, I 
> thought its worth giving a try.  After all, life is all about trying things 
> new.  Isn’t it?
> 
> Day 0
> Getting bonded
> All the group of 8     arrived at Bagdogra airport. Two of us were blind and 
> others being sighted.   Pleasant surprise was that Bat Travel team of Divya 
> and Ritu were there a day in advance to receive us!  Couple of hours after 
> introductions, we found ourselves cracking jokes at each others and pulling 
> each others legs.  We started to Gangtok comfortably seated in two SUVs, good 
> old bollywood music playing and I humming some  songs , more to show that I 
> knew them than to sing well (smile).  River Teesta was along side us as if 
> was showing us the way.   A river is the best friend for blind in nature as 
> it makes sound to  make us feel it.  Bat Travel team was describing the 
> nature around us, the size and shape of trees, height of mountains, how far 
> and low  is the river, the depth of valley, colour of monkeys, a fox that we 
> sighted etc.  It was as good as seeing everything.  By the night, we checked 
> into the hotel at Gangtok and rested after dinner.  And yes, each blind was 
> accompanied by a sighted in the room to orient us.
> 
> Day 1
> We enjoyed a water fall, Sprinkled water on each other and had a few snaps 
> taken.  Then we went to Enchey monastery, with Divya or Ritu describing 
> sculpture and paintings in detail, even letting us have a tactile feel of the 
> Buddhist sculpture, rare leaves, flowers etc.  Contrary to our personalities 
> and the tour, we remained  silent in praying before lord Buddha with a monk 
> chanting beside us.  After that, was the time for the most exciting part of 
> the tour, a rope slide between two mountain clifs, with a water fall beside 
> us and water flowing below  us!  A part of me was hesitant but the stubborn 
> side of me wanted to do it.  I was carefully guided to the clif and was 
> explained how it would be functioning.  Even the staff there ensured all 
> safety measures. But still, to be harnessed to a rope, and sliding from one 
> clif to another  by holding the  rope was one heck of an experience!  They 
> even stop in the middle where we can leave the rope and wave in the air.  At 
> that moment, it was a sense of achievement to think, what if I can’t do 
> certain things like sighted, here I am doing an adventure which many sighted 
> wouldn’t have done!  After having a Sikkimmese lunch with pasta, bamboo 
> shoots, etc., we returned and rested at hotel.
> 
> Day 2
> Time to touch China!  Natulla pass!  14,000 feet height!
> It was all the more tantalizing when we had to wait twice for permits to 
> reach there.   With every passing mile up, the temperature kept dropping and 
> air freezing.  I deliberately refrained from wearing jacket till we reached 
> there to see how it will be like, but only to loose the battle with the 
> weather as by then my hands also started paining.   It was a hike to the top, 
> with either of the bat travel buddies or  sighted friend holding one hand and 
> my white cane in the other.  There were steps, treacherous passes, snow 
> passes, other tourists and what not, but it was a great experience to use the 
> white cane at such a place and reach the peak.  We could see Chinese 
> buildings, flags at the other end.  My impish side got better of me as I 
> poked my cane beyond Indian border and was duly cautioned by the army person 
> against it.  After saluting the army friends, on our way down, we had hot 
> tea, jilebi and popcorn.  We had a few pics and shouted Jayho to India at the 
> border!  On our way down, we stopped at beautiful Tsomgo lake to have a yak 
> ride.  Ritu went so far to walk ahead of me, or rather the yak to take a 
> video of my ride.
> 
> Day 3
> From east to west of Sikkim.
> We visited Temi  tea gardens on the way to west of Sikkim.  It was planned 
> that we will have lunch in the middle of tea bushes!  But nature had 
> different plans as it rained.  However, it was no less an experience with 
> having lunch at top of a building of 50 feet height with the entire tea 
> garden below us, mountains around us and clouds along side!  We visited the 
> factory and got the entire process of producing tea explained.  We even 
> handled one or two machines to get hands on.  Then we proceeded to Okhrey, 
> visiting the golden colour 130 feet statue of Lord Buddha on the way.  
> 
> Day 4
> Wooden Home stay in a Sikkimmese village, and disability etiquette of a 
> village boy        
> Putting up on second  floor of the wooden building was a rare experience.  A 
> few humming birds woke us up in the morning.  We argued amongst ourselves for 
> guessing the name of  the bird that is humming, obviously with no one knowing 
> it correctly!  It was a loving family that served homely food in the village.
> Then we went through a forest trail, and I have met a special person.  
> Ashish, a twelve year boy.  He kept all others away from me and guided me all 
> the way through the trail across patchy ways, streams, rocks, trees etc.  He 
> went so far to step on the ground ahead to check the firmness  and then place 
> my cane.  After sometime, he took the cane away from me saying the path is 
> smooth and my hand would pain for holding it for long time.  I took the risk 
> of giving up the cane and prepared for an  injury for the love and concern he 
> had for me, but his confidence took me through.  I thought Corporates and 
> governments need to be sensitized with prolonged campaigns and agetations, 
> but a village boy from a north eastern village just had the right attitude 
> towards a blind whom he met for the first time.  Hatss off to him!  The day 
> ended with a Sikkimmese music and dance performance, again with Divya and 
> Ritu describing the steps.  I even tried my hands on the instrument and 
> Sikkimmese dance, which was followed by Anthakshiri sitting around bond fire.
> 
> Day 5
> Good bye Sikkim
> I travelled all the day, in a car to Bagdogra airport, in  flight to Chennai, 
> RTC bus to tirupati, and finally a auto rikshaw at 1 in the night to my home. 
> See? I am confident of independent travel!
> 
> Follow up
> I received all my pics and videos taken with detailed description as to who 
> are all there, our poses and  the background.  Isn’t it inclusive tourism at 
> its best?  
> 
> About Bat Travels; Ritu and Divya
> It requires great passionate hearts to give up jobs and start something like 
> Bat Travels.  And great professional minds to run it.  But their uniqueness 
> Lies in the fact that they get sighted tourists on board with blind after 
> duly sensitizing them about blind etiquette.  See how a village boy from 
> north eastern village helped a blind man from tirupati to have a life time 
> memory!  It was my first innings with the “Bat”.  And given my experience, I 
> will surely have more, and longer innings with them.  Would surely recommend 
> to all my friends, blind or sighted, to go with bat Travels! 
> 
> 
> -- 
> G. Vamshi 
> Mobile: +91 9949349497
> Skype: gvamshi81
> 
> WWW.VIBEWA.ORG
> EQUALITY AND DIGNITY
> 
> 
> 
> 
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