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While we all #stayin due to the current situation around COVID-19, reminiscing, and dreaming about our past and future travels are totally acceptable. Don’t we all love to vicariously live through our favourite travel bloggers’ amazing travel stories? Through #TNLRevisits, we get your most loved travel bloggers to spill the beans about their favourite places, off-the-radar destinations, and about countless other experiences that they have encountered through their journeys. Photographer Surbhi Kaushik, co-founder of GoodShotz shares with us the hidden gems of Hawaii that she recently discovered. By Amitha Ameen
1. Tell us about your fondest trip of 2019?
My fondest trip has to be the one in Hawaii. Last July when I was in Europe, my friends who had been to the US were talking about how amazing some places in Hawaii are. While listening to them I was imagining how it would feel to visit those places. Suddenly I had a deep desire to visit the US. If at that time someone had told me that I’ll be exploring the US in a month’s time, I would’ve laughed at that joke. But it happened so fast! Right after the Europe trip, I got an invite from Tourism USA to choose any place and they wanted to sponsor the entire trip!
I chose San Francisco, LA, Vegas, and Hawaii in my last US trip. Starting from the anxiety about getting an US visa to getting into the longest flights of a total 40 hours to visiting the most iconic places, this one tops my travels of 2019.
2. If you have to revisit the same place once travel bans are lifted, how differently would you explore the place this time around?
First of all, I would have a great appreciation and gratitude for the fact that what seemed normal to us was actually a blessed time, when we could all freely travel and be together without any fear. I think if I had to revisit, I would take double the pictures and cherish those moments much more than I have ever done in the past.
3. Do you remember meeting and interacting with locals there?
I have travelled to many countries, but the kind of friendliness and warmth I experienced throughout this trip was unparalleled. Good thing — language wasn’t a barrier and I found the all-inclusive, always ready to help, polite culture extremely appealing. Warmth is what makes you really remember and re-visit places. In Hawaii, I made lots of friends, including the pilot of our island and the Uber driver who was actually a scientist!
Oh and another thing I completely fell in love with, was ‘Aloha!’ The word they use to greet while offering beautiful hibiscus flowers or a flower necklace.
4. What hidden gems did you discover there?
Hawaii is factually one of the most amazing places. It has one of the largest active volcanoes in the world, the islands are completely made of volcanic eruptions. Hawaiian state consists of 137 islands and I visited Maui.
I love animals and feel deeply about the marine life. Hawaii has taken extreme measures to preserve them by forbidding physical interaction and banning plastic completely. Maui offered me an opportunity to come super close to the massive sea turtle resting on the beach and to witness a fleet of dolphins jumping freely in the ocean. The feeling of being one with the life we share our world with cannot be described in words.
5. What about food memories? Any particular local food that you would like to recommend?
I’m a vegetarian so the options generally get narrowed down. But in Hawaii not even once did I feel that I did not have enough to eat. I loved the food trucks with organic smoothies, tacos, the fruit sellers, customised dishes based on my preference that the chef of my resort – Travaasa – patiently curated. And of course, binged on my favourite salted caramel frappuccino at Starbucks!
6. Give our readers 5 reasons on why should they visit this place once the pandemic evaporates?
– Hawaii is literally the last stop in the western world. Traveling via the west coast, it took me about 40 hours to travel to Maui. The thought of traveling to the end of that side of the world was in itself very exciting.
– The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated island chains in the world; there are literally no snakes or monkeys there. It’s super calm and totally worth a visit.
– If you like to surf or experience Marine life real close within their natural habitat, Hawaii is a great option. You would be generally relaxing on the beach and the next thing you know, a turtle chooses to give you company!
– Hawaii is also pretty fancy; I enjoyed spotting, shoot locations from some of the famous movies such as Jurassic Park and The Hulk.
– You should absolutely visit and go for a chopper ride that will fly you over the massive waterfalls, mountains, and ocean. You’ll feel like you’re sitting inside a drone!
7. How are you coping with the lockdown?
I’m just trying to not think about travel because the more I think, the more difficult it feels to stay put. I am trying to utilise this time to learn a lot. Taking up online classes, developing the skills that I otherwise would’ve not got time for. I have lots of raw files from my travels through these past years; I’m processing those. Also, I’m eating healthy and patiently waiting for things to come back to normal.
8. Where would you travel to when things get back to normalcy?
I was supposed to have a month-long trip in April — the first half in Paris, Amsterdam, Brugges, Prague, Moravia, Germany; and the second half in Los Angeles, Vegas, Utah, Death Valley, Grand Canyon. This trip got called off due to the COVID-19 situation and I can’t wait to resume it once everything seems fine!
9. Any armchair travel tips?
During the lockdown, I’m finding bliss watching travel documentaries on Netflix. I also like to watch YouTube vlogs on places that are on my bucket list. Another powerful thing to help you explore the world from your home is Google Earth; I find it so amazing!