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Written by Deepak K on September 21, 2017 Share on

Meet Soumita Roy Choudhury – The first Indian woman to ride to Bhutan on a Vespa!

“The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.” – Augustine of Hippo

Travelling is interesting. It is not just a one layered experience. It is multi-dimensional and is ever evolving. It rejuvenates your soul. Helps you meet new people. Takes you closer to a new culture. Opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Helps in building memories. And what not!

But travelling is not all roses, there are thorns too. Bad roads, safety, language barriers, substandard food, and shabby hotels. There are plenty of challenges that come along with travel. Added to it, if you are a woman in India planning to go on a trip, then the challenges increase multifold, not to forget the discouraging negative comments. Normally, all this is enough to shut doors on a girls’ travel dreams and make her believe traveling is not for her. But, it didn’t seem to work on Soumita’s case – a determined traveller, photographer, and proprietor of Dream Artisans Photography in Kolkata.

When she came across such a situation, you know what she did? She ignored all those comments, packed her bags, got on her red Vespa, and rode all the way from Kolkata to Bhutan. While it may sound simple, perfecting it in real time takes courage & effort and here is what Soumita Roy has to say about braving all the odds and breaking the cultural norm in India by going on an extensive road trip.

road trip to Bhutan on a vespa
Fully geared up and ready to explore the world

Soumita Roy Choudhury – Young, Bright, and Brave

A young entrepreneur, photographer, and an aspiring photojournalist, Soumita Roy is always on the lookout for an adventure. Hailing from a middle-class family, Soumita at one point in her life felt her dreams dampened but she never gave up. She pushed the boundaries and set her goals clearly. Soumita believes putting your heart and soul into what you love will do wonders. 

I am a full-time wedding and lifestyle photographer for the past five years now, born and bought up from Konnagar, a suburb town in Kolkata. I am passionate about many things – photography, travelling, riding, and music, to name a few. I believe gathering new experiences is the best way to live one’s life. Doing new things from time to time feeds my soul and helps me to beat the blues off stressful work schedule.

road trip to Bhutan
The enchanting view along the road to Bhutan

Destinations travelled and Soumita’s bucket list

Travelling is a part of Soumita’s life. While we are still struggling to figure out how to balance our personal life and work, Soumita has made it a rule to take some time off work and travel more frequently. She also prefers to explore what her heart desires at the moment.  

I have travelled to Ladakh, Meghalaya, parts of Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Kerala, and many other South Indian states. But, Bhutan trip is my first long distance ride. On my bucket list I have – Spiti Valley, Ladakh, and North East India. So you can expect me to go riding to any of these places. Although I must warn you, I am not sure and prefer to keep my plans open. 😉

road trip to Bhutan
Quick stop to relish the accomplishment

Soumita’s record road trip to Bhutan

It’s always exciting to get to know how one’s travel journey went about and in Soumita’s case, the excitement levels were at an all-time high. We still can’t believe that she rode from Kolkata to Bhutan on a Vespa and we wanted to know all about it!

My road trip to Bhutan started on the 1st of September 2017. Prior to riding to Bhutan, I rode from Kolkata to Mandarmani and back.

My trip was not an entirely solo trip, I was accompanied by my other biker friends. Our trip started from Kolkata and we rode all the way to Jalgaon via Siliguri. There we crossed the border, completed our immigration procedure at Phuntsholing and then continued travelling to Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha.

road trip to Bhutan
My road map from Kolkata to Bhutan and back
Day 1:  Kolkata – Raiganj (400 Kms)
Day 2: Raiganj – Siliguri (158 Kms)
 Day 3: Siliguri – Phuntsholing (157 Kms)
 Day 4: Phuntsholing – Tsimasham (95 Kms)
Day 5: Tsimasham -Punakha (147 Kms)
Day 6: Punakha – Paro (127 Kms)
Day 7: Paro Taktsang trek (A must do if you are in Bhutan! It’s steep climb, but the spectacular views were more than worth it.)
Day 8: Paro – Mendabari (194 Kms)
Day 9: Mendabari – Raiganj (304 Kms)
Day 10: Raiganj – Kolkata (400 Kms)

road trip to Bhutan
Just being in the moment!

The life-changing journey

When you set out on a journey as big as this, you travel deeper internally, as much as you travel outside on the road. This journey, in particular, has been an incredibly rewarding one, giving Soumita the opportunity to discover herself and she is even more confident to take on the world right now.

I feel more confident about long distance riding now, especially when it comes to riding in mountains. I clearly know my strengths and weaknesses on road now. This will help me a lot in planning my future rides. And personally, I can feel the change in me.

road trip to Bhutan
There is nothing more enriching than nature

Soumita’s perspective on travel

At Pickyourtrail, we always tell people to ‘Stop touring, Start travelling’. When we put out this question to Soumita, we were eager to know what she thinks. We found that she firmly believes in the art of slow travelling and at-your-own-pace discovery of destinations. So yaay!

I started travelling late, maybe at the age of 25. With passing years and travelling to more places, I’ve almost become addicted to travelling now. This is the healthiest addiction and one that I don’t want to get rid of (visualize her beaming with pride)! Travelling is the ultimate feast for my soul. When I travel to a place I just don’t want to be a tourist there. I want to know more about the people, their culture, learn their language, taste their authentic food, and try & spend more time with them. I also like to spend some alone time with myself as I believe travelling gives you the best opportunity to discover yourself.

road trip to Bhutan
Dochula Pass on the road from Thimpu to Punakha

Travel inspiration – The Soul of Soumita

As much as we were eager to know about her travel journey, we were equally intrigued to know about her inspiration behind it. After all, this is not a small feat. And Soumita’s answer brought a smile to our face. 🙂

“To travel is to live.”

I believe in this quote and it has become an essential part of my life. My combined love of travel and riding is what that set me off on this wonderful journey, even when people told otherwise. Explore more, fill your life with experiences and live fullest. You don’t need a reason to travel.

road trip to Bhutan
Even my Vespa likes to soak in the views

 Soumita’s 1 year of happiness

Her Vespa gave Soumita the wings and the freedom to explore. The powerful engine and its stylish looks represent Soumita’s enthusiastic nature and her desire for travel. For her, it’s the Vespa and for us, it’s Soumita who’s inspirational. 

(laughs) It has been a year since I bought my Vespa and I must celebrate that. What better way to do that than taking a trip to mountains with my Vespa. And I am looking forward to celebrating many more years together with my Vespa. Fingers crossed!

road trip to Bhutan
Couldn’t resist the backdrop

Challenges in the trip

The bad stretches of road across Bengal were quite a challenge for Soumita, especially as she went on the trip right after the floods. Apart from that, she says travelling in Bhutan during the nights is safe and there is nothing to worry about fueling stations. But she also warns us not to ride alone because it is difficult to find people on the road after 8 pm. So in case, you lose your way, you won’t be able to ask anyone.

I was a little nervous before the trip thinking if I would be able to make it or not. But as soon as I hit the road I felt much confident. There weren’t any major challenges that I had to face. Keeping cool and being focused while riding makes everything smoother I suppose.

road trip to Bhutan
Paro Taktsang standing in all its glory

Message for women worldwide

To say, Soumita inspired us to travel would be an understatement. She has definitely set the trend for travel in India and we are more than happy to voice her message for you. 

Definitely, I would encourage women to travel more. No matter who you are, a guy or a girl, no matter what you ride, Superbike or a scooter, your will, determination, and strength can take you anywhere in the world.

Believe in yourself.

Ride on.

Soumita’s complete Bhutan gallery

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