In the traditionally male-dominated arena of motorbiking, four women have come together to embark on a historic bike expedition to promote the cause of Telangana Tourism and Women’s Safety and show the world that road trips are a viable option for tourism development.
The “Bikernis” - Jai Bharathi, ASD Shanthi, Shilpa Balakrishnan and Piya Bahadur literally kick-started their 17,000 kilometres journey, titled “Road to the Mekong” amidst much fanfare at the Paryatak Bhavan in Hyderabad on Sunday, 12th February 2018.
Traversing 7 nations in 7 weeks, they will ride across India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh and visit 19 different UNESCO World Heritage Sites to promote adventure tourism in India, especially in the newly formed state of Telangana by screening travel videos and documentary films that showcase the rich legacy of the country and also interact with youth everywhere.
The four women have undertaken a challenge that will test their nerves of steel, as being on the road, away from family and friends for 7 weeks will not be without its share of ups and downs. However, their sheer grit and determination to see this through, and experience the high they get from doing something they love with so much passion is what will help them get through this exciting adventure.
Jai Bharathi, the leader of the expedition, is no stranger to adventure. She’s the first woman to ace the GoUNESCO challenge, visiting 28 World Heritage Sites in India in one year for the same. No stranger to daring acts, she has travelled solo across the length and breadth of the country, and through this ride, aims to show that there are safe tourism opportunities for women travellers in India. She believes that India has a great potential to emerge as an adventure tourism destination and with hardly any paperwork needed; foreigners can rent bikes and travel for 3-4 months, which is the best way to explore.
Shilpa Balakrishnan is based in Mumbai and has an adventure in her DNA as she has travelled extensively with her dad since childhood. She’s been on a 27000km all India ride in 2016-17 and is always looking for new challenges.
The third member of the team, A.S.D. Shanthi, is an SHE-Teams cop and is quite rightly in-charge of the safety of the entire team on the expedition. She wants to show the world that India is indeed a safe country for travellers, especially for women, provided certain precautions are taken and promote the cause of Telangana through the expedition.
Piya Bahadur, the fourth rider, says that the desire “to push their limits and seek adventure in foreign lands” was the main motivation behind ‘Road to the Mekong’.
The ride has been meticulously planned, the women will stay clear of forests, but since this is a newly opened highway, there aren’t many clear guidelines available. The paperwork for the journey and other permissions itself took three months, but they’re off now on the adventure of a lifetime.
There is a Telangana tourism bus that has the rest of the 8-member crew riding with the women, who are embarking on the longest ride of their lives so far. They have all worked hard on their physical and mental fitness, and are confident that they will be able to overcome any challenges that they face.
With a smooth terrain and weather on their side, the team plans to be back much before the monsoon starts in the North East, which seems like a reasonable target.
We wish the bikerni’s all the very best for their exciting adventure ahead, and stay tuned for updates as we cover their week on week adventures on Momspresso!
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Picture courtesy: Road to Mekong on Facebook