‘LEH LADAKH IS ONE OF THOSE TRIPS THAT I CANNOT STOP TALKING ABOUT’
HETAL KOTAK, CEO, LEE COOPER
TRAVELLING FOR BETTER CUSTOMER INSIGHTS
Travel from a professional context helps you understand the customer better, especially in a country like India that is not homogenous. Travelling is one of the best ways to get a clearer picture of your market, the target consumer and new, emerging trends. I travel frequently for work, and my favourite work trips are in bustling markets, where I can meet and interact with consumers. Being a retail guy, there is no greater feeling than to see the store floor flooded with customers. While I love travelling for work, it is only on holiday trips that you can really discover and learn new things about a place. My favourite thing about leisurely travel is that it is not bound by an itinerary, leaving greater room for spontaneity.
OF TRAVEL AND CAMARADERIE
I regularly travel with my childhood buddies, a group of 15 friends. We have this annual biking holiday that we do in a location within or around India, riding through places like Ladakh, Guwahati and Nepal. We choose mountainous destinations that are usually colder, because we enjoy cold weather. Our trips usually span ten days, and are a great occasion for us to catch up and relive old memories. My favourite travel experience has got to be the trip to Leh and Ladakh that was the starting point of these annual trips, in the summer of 2013. I don’t think I have seen anything more beautiful than Leh and Ladakh. These trips are different from the usual vacations because it’s much more than seeing a new place. It’s about enjoying time together and bonding with each other while exploring new terrain and relishing new experiences. There is also a certain liberation you feel riding through these places because you do not have to manoeuvre around the kind of traffic you see in the cities. It’s the ideal place to get away from work, traffic, commutes and really unwind. The air is clean and refreshing, and what makes it even better is that I spend so much quality time with close friends. Leh Ladakh is therefore one of those trips that I cannot stop talking about.
A MEMORABLE JOURNEY
This trip was not without challenges – there is the scarcity of oxygen at that altitude, so breathing and riding the bike was quite difficult. The roads are also difficult to ride on, and the weather can be a bit unpredictable. On several instances, we were caught in a sudden spell of rain that left us drenched and cold. There were times when we’d find the roads flooded with water from the melted ice, someone’s bike would break down or a tyre would need changing. We realised the importance of fitness because riding a bike in such terrain is back-breaking. There is no mobile signal and no data network, so you cannot rely on Google Maps. We had to chart and plan our route well in advance. For us, this holiday was not so much about the destination as it was about the journey. Yes we struggled at times, but our entire holiday was filled with adventure and memories to last a lifetime. People often ask us why not take a car instead? But how can you possibly experience the majestic beauty of the mountainside sitting in a closed vehicle? One would have to experience that to know what this trip meant to us! This was the trip that started our annual tradition of taking one biking holiday together, and this year we hope to cover Arunachal
On our Leh Ladakh holiday, the only food available everywhere was Maggi noodles, but that was something we welcomed at the end of a long day on the road. I am not much of a foodie honestly, but I enjoyed anything that was warm and comforting. The locals would often serve us a delicious broth, like a clear soup with herbs and garlic that we enjoyed. They also have a special salty tea, which is very popular. This trip of course was not so much about food, but we experienced great hospitality from the locals wherever we went. That was really special. Travel should be more than just the destination; it is important to enjoy the journey and savour every experience. I also enjoy getting to know the local culture and flavours of a new place.
HETAL KOTAK CEO, Lee Cooper
On the Leh Ladakh bike trip Pradesh. I am really looking forward to that.