Pandemic quarantine in third countries gave many expats an opportunity to experience destinations they have never been to in their lifetime. If one is a lensman, then it is an icing on the cake.
Muscat resident Bipin Babu Varghese Meloottu flew to Armenia for transit after being stuck for 5 months at home when the Sultanate banned travellers from India during the peak of Covid-19.
A passionate photographer, Bipin used the two-week quarantine period to travel the countryside and experience its beauty and culture. He says it was an ‘experience of a lifetime’ never to be missed.
A sound and projection technician with Majid Al Futtaim, VOX Cinemas, in Muscat, Bipin realised his dream of travelling and enriching his experiences from his Armenian visit.
The visit enabled him to compile 18 episodes of ‘My Armenian Story Book’ in Malayalam which was appreciated by his friends. Earlier, he has also shared many TikTok videos.
Bipin and his fellow travellers travelled during the warm months of July so were able to visit more places as heavy snow blankets the mountainous regions from October through December.
From their hotel in Yerevan, they set out to forested town of Dilijan, Haghartsin and Tatev monasteries, religious and scholarly centre of Goshavank, Mother Armenia statue, Yerevan Cascade, Theatre of Opera, Khor Virap, a famous pilgrimage site at the foot of Mt Ararat, Jermuk Waterfalls, Amberd fortress, Pulpulak, Armenia’s unique answer to free water, ropeway of Tsaghkadzor and others.
However, Bipin, regrets being unable to visit Blue Mosque, the only Muslim mosque in a country with its earliest Christian civilizations, and the first church built in Armenia which was closed for renovation works during their visit.
Comparing the Sultanate with Armenia may be far-fetched but Bipin says “both the countries give prominence towards sustainable tourism and are a money spinner. A number of Omanis visit Georgia and Armenia each year.”
He appreciates the depth of hospitality and care from Armenians who speak only Aramaic and Russian. The Armenian flatbread called ‘Lavash’ has some similarity to ‘Rakhal’, the Omani bread,” he says.
George Joseph from Raeis International SPC, another stranded traveller, said, “The city is clean and neat, posing no problem to tourists. The fastest zip line in Armenia and the Tsaghkadzor Ropeway are worth a visit. Lake Sevan is one of the largest freshwater high-altitude (alpine) lakes in Eurasia.”
The group were able to taste a variety of fruits which have a unique taste and are famous not only in Armenia, but also abroad. They saw almost all countryside homes cultivate apricots (national fruit), peaches, apples, plums, grapes, figs, pomegranates, quince and others.
Sudzhukh is another popular sweet prepared with walnuts. Another dried delicacy is Alani made of dried peaches and walnut filling.
Jams are prepared from quince, white mulberry, dogwood, fig, pumpkin, rose petals, and even eggplant.
Babken Aghajanyan, an Armenian tourist guide, helped him with necessary tips. His pre-departure preparations included watching travel episodes of solo traveller and entrepreneur Santhosh George Kulangara and the Facebook page of Sanchari Travel World.
Bipin is a skilled videographer and video editor. This immensely helped him vlog his trip. Earlier, he was part of the technical team of Moonnamathoral, first high-definition (HD) cinema digitally distributed to theatres via satellite in 2006 and Anandabhadram, the first Malayalam feature film screened digitally in Kerala.
His future plans include visits to Georgia and desires to come back to this calm land locked country and enjoy its nature.
More videos on YouTube Page https://youtube.com/c/BipzStudioClub