When I came to know that Scout My Trip and OYO were organizing a road trip covering Ladakh combined with the Highest Bloggers Meet at Khardungla which is one of the highest motorable roads in the world, I applied at once. Ladakh has been on my bucket list and my previous two trips to the region had got cancelled, the last one was just before my birthday. Would I get to go to Ladakh this time round? When you are waiting for something, even seconds tend to drag on. I felt the same.
As the day for the results approached, I was restless. Morning turned to afternoon and then evening but I received no call. Ladakh seemed a distant dream once again. At around 9.00 pm, Vineet Rajan, the co-founder of Scout My Trip called to say I was part of the selected 20 bloggers who would make history. Do you know how many applications Scout My Trip received for this road trip? A whopping 500. My wait was over. The excitement began. Our epic road trip began on 11th July with a flag off from OYO Flagship Gurugram and OYO Resorts Jammu was our pit stop for the night. OYO comfortably ensured we got our much needed sleep at all our night halts throughout the trip.
We encountered our fair share of hiccups on the road trip. Ramban is a landslide prone area and multiple landslides caused us to make it an unscheduled overnight halt. The evening was spent on the banks of the mighty River Chenab while some of us took darshan at the Shiva Temple and explored Ramban’s tiny market. The next day’s departure was at 4 am to try to cover up the distance. But a landmine threat delayed us by another 2 hours. I saw metal detectors which I had only seen in movies so far. There was tension in Srinagar and we took some rushed snaps at Dal Lake before heading further.
The rest of the road trip was a mix of off roading, music, getting to know each other, taking in the landscape and being punctual for early morning departures. Along the way we stopped/explored Sonamarg, Mulbek, Lamayuru, Dras, Kargil and Leh.
16th July-the D Day for the Highest Bloggers Meet saw 28 of us including the co-founders of Scout My Trip, Scouts, OYO representatives and bloggers brave the lack of oxygen and the daunting weather to accomplish what we had set out to do-make history. And we did. Not once but twice over.
With 2 records in the India Book of Records. The first one was the Highest Bloggers Meet in India and the second for the First Bloggers Meet at Khardungla at 18,380 feet above sea level.
But OYO had another amazing surprise in store for us with the launch of OYOnauts. This is a platform for travel lovers, bloggers, photographers and writers to choose the destination where you wish to travel be it in India, Nepal or Malaysia and guess what? It’s an all expense paid trip for you. A fully funded travel trip in return for telling other travelers how much fun you had through your photos, blogs, write ups, stories and videos is exactly what OYOnauts is all about. Wow right!
The road to Khardungla itself had its fair share of landslides and off roading but the earth movers or dozers stationed at various points ensured we reached safely on time. Hats off to Border Roads Organisation BRO for the excellent work they do in such challenging weather and terrain and to our scouts, Neeraj, Samarth, Amit, Pratik and Shakeel for ensuring we went back with a lifetime of memories.
Also a standing ovation to the co founders of Scout My Trip, Vineet Rajan and Deepak Ananth not just for the dream of having the Highest Bloggers Meet in India but for its fabulous execution. Their dream has become my reality and I proudly wear the black t shirt which says ‘I was at the #highestbloggermeet’.