Travelling- It leaves you speechless and turns you into a story teller…. Ibn Battuta
Travelling is a passion for our family and after travelling almost the length and breadth of the country, we started making plans for our maiden trip abroad.
Visiting a foreign country is no longer a rich man’s fantasy. Courtesy the decline in the air tickets and e-visa application system, travelling abroad has become much cheaper and easier.
We started following the travel blogs and watching the travel videos religiously. Meanwhile, the invitation from our Indian Australian friends Rajkhowas started becoming more intense. So, one fine day we applied for the Australian Visa. And even before the arrival of the visa, we booked our flight tickets to Melbourne to go on that long overdue trip. No matter how many trips one has taken earlier, but travelling abroad results in manifold emotions especially before the trip. Eventually, the visa also arrived and we eagerly awaited the arrival of the big day.
Lying in the bed at night, unable to sleep, I started making list of all the things we need to carry for the trip. While I took care of the shopping part, my husband did all the bookings, accommodations and money exchange. Finally, the big day arrived and we boarded the plane from New Delhi airport and reached Melbourne, Australia via Singapore after almost 14 hours of flight.
The moment we landed in Melbourne, I was completely taken aback by the beautiful clear blue sky, fresh air and the blazing sun. Heading towards our first destination, Box Hill, a beautiful suburb of Melbourne, I could not stop admiring the city of skyscrapers with its beautiful and vibrant graffitis and well planned roads and sidewalks. Our beautiful hostess gave us a warm welcome with refreshing drinks and hot scrumptious food. The food felt heavenly after the long flight and a warm bath. But what left me flabbergasted was that one can drink water directly from a tap without filtering it.
The next few days in Melbourne were like dream come true. Our hosts tried their level best to give us the best of the experiences. Every new day was full of surprises and better than the previous one. From wine tasting in the wineries to island hopping, barbecue picnics to street shopping , long drive on the great ocean road to trying our hands in betting at the racecourse, we left no stones unturned to make everyday more happening. We also explored the amazing night life of Melbourne. The quiet streets of the day turn all flashy, lively and exciting at night with its plethora of bars, pubs, casinos, discotheques and restaurants.
Australians are very friendly people. Apparently, we were always greeted by the most humble and hospitable locals who were more than willing to help with the warmest of smiles which makes the country all the more beautiful and tourist friendly. Besides, Melbourne is home to many Assamese people who made us feel at home. Being foodies, we tried various delicacies like Lebanese, Vietnamese, Australian, Chinese etc but nothing can beat home cooked assamese food. Our assamese friends treated us with the best of the assamese delicacies. There was something very magical about their hospitality and warmth that gave a distinctive taste and aromatic fragrance to the exotic assamese savoury. Needless to say we were deeply touched and honoured. We met as strangers but instantly clicked as if we have known them for years. Each of these very special people left a piece of themselves in us.
Our next destination Sydney, the harbour city with its spectacular mountains and fabulous beaches didn’t fail to amaze us to the fullest. The world famous Opera House and the Sydney Harbour bridge stood tall as some of the amazing masterpieces of human creativity. The bird’s eye view of the Australia’s largest city, Sydney from The Sydney tower is absolutely breathtaking. Our taste buds too had a satisfying experience at the famous Darling Harbour which is a foodie’s paradise.
Next in agenda was a visit to Cairns, Queensland. Cairns is famously known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest . Unlike Sydney and Melbourne, Cairns is a very laid back city. Kuranda scenic railway ride and sky rail was a very delightful experience. We also visited Hartley’s Crocodile adventures which not only breeds crocodiles but many other animals like Koalas, Kangaroos and snakes to name a few. No trip to Cairns is complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. We booked a day cruise with Quicksilver cruises and had the best of the snorkelling and diving experiences in the beautiful coral reefs. The magnificient marine life left us awestruck. One has to see to believe the beauty and vastness of the Great Barrier reef.
But the icing on the cake of this trip was witnessing an Australian Open Grand Slam at the famous Rod Laver Arena. Finally, what better way to end the journey of a lifetime than cheering Team India at MCG in the ODI between India and Australia? Whoa! Our cheers worked and team India made us proud yet again by winning the series.
Time flies very fast when you are having fun. It seemed just yesterday that we had started planning for our trip and sadly it was time for us to fly back home. With lots of good memories and a heavy heart we boarded our flight back to India. In the flight as I closed my eyes, I started reflecting on the memories which are etched in my heart. I began reminiscing the wonderful times spent with some very amazing people, who are now our friends for lifetime. The memories are beautiful more so because they are shaped by these beautiful people sharing desi connections and common interests.
Living at the Rajkhowas was an absolutely fabulous experience. My heart can never stop thanking them for their love and kindness.
We are now back home, unpacked and returned to work. The souvenirs we brought are gifted to friends, best of the pictures are posted in Facebook and lots of likes are also received. Two weeks have passed but we still can’t get over the Australia fever. Well, to beat the post holidays blues, we have already started planning for our next trip.
Bandana Baruah is an educator with the Birla School, Pilani in Rajasthan. She is a PhD Scholar in English and also has a recognized ability for teaching students from diverse backgrounds while developing individualized plans. She is an avid traveler and has travelled wide and across the country and abroad. Her hobbies include writing travelogues and writing and designing educational innovative plays and skits for children.