Siyad Eryadan has been pedaling through unknown terrain for a while to experience the bliss of solo travel. After college days, Siyad gave wings to his travel dreams and started to explore new destinations, and always made it a point to visit an unexplored place at least once in a year. This year, he travelled to North-east India and Bangladesh. Previously, Siyad had depended on public transport to hit the road but his mainstay was a ‘matrix’ cycle in his odyssey to Bangladesh. It took more than 78 long days for him to reach the nook and corner of Bangladesh and get a ringside view of its people and culture.
Siyad, hailing from Kottakkal in Kerala’s Malappuram district, is an entrepreneur after completing his graduation in business management and was a travel junkie right from his childhood. Initially, his destinations were places near his home and later he started to explore far-off places. He had set his eyes on North-east India and Bangladesh after visiting Indonesia just before COVID-19 pandemic started to wreak havoc across the world. For Siyad travel is much more than visiting new places as he loves to dig deep into the culture and people’s lifestyle of a particular destination.
While chalking out an itinerary, Siyad makes sure that he includes places that he really wants to set foot on. Books or stories had weaved travel dreams for him and certain journeys are a fruitful culmination of a long wait spread across many years. And Bangladesh was one such place Siyad was dying to explore.
For the past three years, Siyad has been doing online trading of exotic ornamental plants through his website succulentgallery.com. He has an exhaustive collection of cacti and succulent plants for sale sourced from many places. One of the purposes of the North-east India and Bangladesh trip was to collect mother plants of cacti and succulent plants.
Siyad’s cycle expedition started from Odisha on his Swiss-made bicycle, which had been with him since 2018, and the goal was to feel the pulse of life in Bangladesh, which was once part of India. Though he reached Kolkata from Odisha without any hassles, Siyad had to wait for seven days to get Bangladesh visa. After obtaining the visa, Siyad pedaled to Bangladesh and roamed through the hamlets there for the next 30 days.
Siyad had a credo for the Bangladesh trip: to rest in tents and not to stay in hotel rooms. But Bangladesh didn’t allow Siyad to follow his heart as he didn’t had to sleep in a tent even for one night. More than the alluring natural beauty of Bangladesh, he was bowled over by the sterling etiquette and warm hospitality of its citizens.
Siyad pedaled into Bangladesh with a prejudiced mind as there were warnings from many quarters that the country didn’t offer foolproof safety. But the hospitality and geniality were on par or better than that of the Malabar side of Kerala, notes Siyad.
“The people of Bangladesh were in awe of the person who had hit the road on a cycle to enjoy the beauty of nature. Wherever I tried to pitch a tent, the local people came forward and requested me to be their guest, and have fond memories of attending a marriage too. Bike packing is the best way to know and understand people in close quarters,” he says.
While returning, Siyad cycled up to Guwahati and boarded a train to reach home.
The sojourn to Indonesia was also exhilarating and the visit provided innumerable awesome moments as Siyad traversed 3,400 km on foot and by using public transport. He covered the length and breadth of Java Island and even stayed for four days with tribal people who conversed in an alien language.
Siyad’s desire is to visit a foreign country every year and having said that he is not an impulsive traveller who hits the road in a jiffy after the destination has been zeroed in. Though he is an avid traveller, Siyad doesn’t go on a trip very frequently. While not travelling, he loves to spend quality time with family, engage in business matters and read books.
Once Siyad has marked a place as his next destination he would set aside a portion of his earnings every month to realize his dream. As the date of journey approaches, he starts to buy essentials and gear up for the trip.
Travel light is the credo while going on cycle expedition. The total luggage weight should be less than 10kg and the pack should have two pairs of dress, night dress, tent and tools, among others.
While cycling through North-east India, Siyad loved tasting mouth-watering cuisines, especially fish delicacies, of different regions. The daily expenses were around Rs 600 to Rs 700.
“English and Hindi didn’t help me out as during the trip to Barak Valley through Tripura, Assam and Nagaland I realized that people couldn’t even understand Hindi. Different tribes have different languages and the dialect changes every few kilometers. And the best way to communicate with them is sign language,” says Siyad, who got the unique opportunity to stay at the homes of various tribal people including Nagas and Reangs.
Siyad is indebted to his father Zakir Hussain, mother Sauda, wife Sahala and son Aysan for their unflinching support to realize his travel dreams. Every journey is a pilgrimage for Siyad and even during the tough pandemic times he’s zeroing in on the next destination.