After Umling La summit, biker Gerinda eyes Kanyakumari trip
Source: Chronicle News Service / Niranjan Oinam

Imphal, January 23 2023: Gerinda Loitongbam, the first woman biker from northeast, who reached the Umling La Pass, the world's highest motorable pass located at a height of 19,300 feet from mean sea level, is now planning for another bike trip to Kanyakumari, the country's southernmost city located in Tamil Nadu.

The 26-year-old brave and bold woman biker is the second daughter of Loitongbam Johnson and Maibam Somi of Lalambung Makhong Takhellambam Leikai, Imphal West.

She has an elder sister and one younger brother.

Gerinda became a public figure after she went on a solo car trip up to Delhi carrying the awareness message of 'Crime against Women' when she was just 22 years old.

For the trip, she was honoured with National Women Excellence Award 2022 by National Academy for Art Education, Pune.

She went on another trip on her motorcycle up to Ladakh on September 5 last year during which she reached Umling La Pass.

Upon her return, titular king of Manipur and Rajya Sabha MP Leishemba Sanajaoba accorded her a warm welcome on October 4 .

In an exclusive talk with The People's Chronicle, Gerinda informed that she had keen interest in watching adventure programmes on Discovery, National Geographic and other adventure channels over kids' channels like cartoon network since her early childhood.

Driving by her strong urge to go on adventure trips and explore different parts of the world, she asked her parents to allow her to go on a solo car trip to Delhi at the age of 20, but her parents did not agree due to safety concerns.

But she kept insisting and after a gap of two years, her parents finally gave in and allowed her to take the trip.

Gerinda started her trip on January 29, 2019 on attaining 22 years of age and drove over 2400 kilometres on her own during the trip, she recounted.

Adorn with a smiling face most of the time, Gerinda's charming face is not to be mistaken as a sus -ceptible person.

While confiding that she always liked to challenge the stereotype the society has towards women, the young woman affirmed that she decided to take the solo trip to make a statement.

On the motivation behind her stand, Gerinda said that some of her male friends often said that a woman can go only far up to Sekmai on her own.

This remark, which is somewhat a common notion in the society, motivated her to take the solo trip up to Delhi, she said and also informed that before the trip, she had visited Delhi only once by flight and the 2019 trip was her first inter-state road trip.

As for her motorcycle trip to Ladakh, Gerinda said that she loves motorcycle since her childhood but her parents did not approve it.

However, after her Delhi trip, she started mixing up with some biker friends and participated in their tour.

A trip to Ladakh is a dream tour for every biker in the country and she wanted to achieve the feat.

Consequently, Gerinda set off for Ladakh on September 5, 2022 on her Jawa Scrambler motorcycle, which she fondly refers to as 'Habibi'.

She was part of a group of bikers in that tour but she got left behind as she had already become a YouTube vlogger and always wanted to explore adventurous trips in remote and extreme parts of Ladakh.

She travelled around 8500 kilometres in the trip, she said.

Sharing her experience of the trip, Gerinda recounted that she took the trip through Srinagar and returned via the Manali route.

Road connectivity was good in most of the trip.

However, the Zoji La Pass, situated at the height of 3528 metres from mean sea level, is a bit risky as the road condition is bad.

Riding through the pass always involve the risk of getting killed even in slight mishap.

At'the same time, the stretch from Leh Ladakh to Umling La Pass also involves lots of risk.

The stretch experiences frequent rainfall, snowfall, strong wind and trouble breathing due to high altitude.

Despite those hardships, reaching the pass is always a rewarding adventure as the location is filled with breath-taking views of colourful hills of the Hanle village, Gangong Lake, which is not only the world's highest salt lake but also its water changes colour every minute.

Achieving the feat is a major accomplishment and she forgot all the hardships she faced after reaching there, she confided.

Gerinda also shared her ambitions of taking road trips to Kanyakumari, the southernmost city of the country and added that Denmark is also on her wishlist.

While confiding that she is strong drawn towards motorcycle now after her Ladakh trip, she maintained that what she loves about bikers is the bond of brotherhood they share.

She also informed that she did not receive any financial assistance from the government or any organisation except for some medicine kits and other assistance provided by some individuals or groups.

Her family bear the entire cost of her trips, she said.

She also said that she simply took the trips to follow her passion and not to gain popularity, so it does not matter if she gets help or not.

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