Anjaly Thomas is an avid traveller who has visited 65 countries all by herself. She is known as the woman who travels the world solo and has showed no hesitation in even trekking to deep forests and high mountains. Anjaly documents all her visits through photographs.
Her travel diaries describe numerous adventurous and risky trips along with varied sights and experiences.
After her LLB, Anjaly became interested in journalism and travelled to Bengaluru to realize her dream. "That was a turning point in my life," she says.
The trip made travelling and writing an integral part of Anjaly's life. "The confidence I gain after each journey propels the subsequent trip," says Anjaly.
She says that before starting the journeys, she erases all negative thoughts and anxieties about the adventure. "There is nothing to worry if you have the support of friends and family. Nobody will cause any harm if a woman travels all alone," affirms Anjaly.
The inveterate traveller now invites readers of Onmanorma to join her in the series, 'Travel with Anjaly.' She shares her experiences of "different worlds and places" and the "sights and sounds" of those destinations.
Some of the adventures she was involved in even changed Anjaly's attitude to life.
Anjaly responds to some queries about her travels and on herself.
Do you consider yourself a lucky person?
Nothing can be achieved with luck alone. You need a strong desire, backed by very hard work. Only then would luck favour you.
Wherever I go, I ensure that my experiences as well as what I hear during the trip are noted down. I squeeze in time to write in detail about the places I visit and the interesting sights there.
I have often wondered why I am doing this. It is, in fact, the love for travelling that drives me.
One can realize dreams only with hard work. I don't miss even late night parties. Having a wonderful time there helps me have a refreshing start next morning.
At boarding school and workplace, I always followed strict rules. But now I enjoy setting out on journeys without a fixed plan. Each person I meet at a new place has a lesson for me.
Is it easy for a woman to travel alone?
Certainly! Many women are afraid of being attacked while travelling solo. Maybe there's some truth in that, but that alone isn't the reality. During my solo trips, I realized that more people are willing to help you. However, I have gone through very bad experiences, too, during my travels.
Still, I always remember the best moments of a trip. It could a beautiful flower, an invite for a coffee or carrying my heavy bag at a crowded place.
Whether I am in Turkey, Uganda or Australia, my thoughts are the same. If you have an open mind, people of any country will understand you. If you are prepared to experience the situation of whichever country you are in, tacking any situation will be easy.
What inspires you to travel solo?
I like interacting with others in a very cordial way. I feel that everyone needs to travel solo at least once in their life. I prefer such journeys because of the joy of freedom that such trips offer.
Meeting new people, learning about their experiences and relating those experiences to others and watching their reactions are all very interesting.
Could you tell us about some of your major trips?
What drives me is the love for travelling. The confidence I gain during each trip propels the next one. There were thrilling as well as horrifying incidents during my trips. In fact, most people are worried about travelling to unfamiliar destinations.
What you primarily need for travelling is courage. I have visited Africa and Korea, but nobody took me captive. But I have been cheated and harmed in other ways during my trip to Papua New Guinea. On the other hand, total strangers have come to my aid.
There were dangerous situations like in Komodo Island, where a dragon chased me.
I came out unscathed from all these incidents, each of which has been a great experience. The thrill involved makes me travel solo all the time.
Which are your favourite countries to visit?
There is no particular country that I hold dear. Each nation has its own peculiarities. I have been able to feel the respect, love, kindness and betrayal of the people of each country I visited. In many places, I felt at home.
However, I loved the journeys in Africa. Each person I met there had something I could learn from. Also, the experiences in Papua New Guinea, a place steeped in poverty, made me a much more confident person.
(Next episode: How a good storyteller became a bad photographer)