Solo travel. For me, it gives me time to breath. Space to re-calibrate my mind. Space to think about the most fulfilling way for me to live my life. In 2013 I completed my first Solo trip to Nepal. It was a long time ago, but the lessons and memories made will stay with me forever.
1. Fear pushes me further than hunger or exhaustion ever will
The faster you trek. The earlier you can order a Dal bhat. Sit down. And eat. If only that logic was enough to get my thighs to move faster.
Nepal is basically built upon mountain ranges. So ascending Poon Hill wasn’t like any other hill you would find in the UK. I was crossing waterfalls, hugging rocks so I wouldn’t slip down the edge. Watching out for Big foot (in my head). Looking for bridges so I could cross gapes in the ground safely. Hacking branches; helping to establish new paths close to where the old ones had broken off into the abys. Stopping every 2 minutes because the air was getting so, so thin. Checking my calves to ensure I wasn’t being sucked by leeches. And standing in awe at Gods creation. I saw the most beautiful clear blue springs. Enclosed by what I could only describe as the purest natural rock formations. The greenest planes. The varying scenery was just amazing. None could fathom. Words cannot describe the beauty I laid my eyes upon.
The varying landscape made for an extremely challenging trek. The energy I was using surpassed the amount I could refuel myself with. So, for a large amount of the trek. I was hungry and exhausted. I’m not talking about hungry like ‘I could eat a sandwich right about now’. I. Was. STARVING. My guide kept telling me move faster. But I couldn’t. Then I saw the donkeys. They were transporting goods from the city below to the villages in the mountain range. I am not scared of donkeys. But when sharing a path, that is about 1-meter wide, with an animal that is ready to risk it all. You really start to get moving. Fear kicked in, and my thighs as if by magic started to move really quick. ‘If I can get on top of that boulder out the way, before the donkeys get to where I am, I should be fine’.
Boy if it weren’t for them darn donkeys, I’d probably still be climbing Poon Hill.
2. I don’t like the dark. I mean, it isn’t natural
For the first night in a long time I had to sleep in the dark. In the complete dark by myself. As I laid my head on the mat, extended my neck, and stared through the wired window. I could kind of see the moon. I laid for about 30 seconds before I was like I can’t deal with this. I mean. Not even a night light. She is brave, but she is not stupid. Sleeping in the dark has never come naturally to me. So, I got up, the floor was still cool, and asked one of the ladies to share a room with me. The younger kids were confused as to why I couldn’t sleep in the dark by myself. So, they offered to give me even more company. They were excited to be sleeping in a different room. I am just thankful that they understood how much of a scaredy-cat the thought of sleeping in the pitch dark made me. Thank you.
3. My mum is hi-key obsessed with me
– Your mum has been calling me every day.
x What, what do you mean? She has been calling me every 2-3 days. I knew she called you a couple times, but not every day. Are you sure?
-Yes, I’m pretty sure. She has been calling me every day. She just wants to make sure you are fine. When the phone is ringing. I know it is her. How is she calling me all the time? Her phone bill must be very high.
X Mate, I have no idea. Phone cards I guess.
/ Your mum calls Bicky all the time, my dad hasn’t called me once since I’ve left.
X Lol. That’s probably because I’m 18 and you are a bit older. I’m sure when I get older she’ll calm down a bit.
/ These chips. I should have got some Dal baht.
4. Loneliness is an actual emotion
I had never experienced loneliness on such a deep level. How was that even possible? I was around people constantly. I never did anything ‘alone’. Yet, at times I felt like the loneliest person in the world. Looking back, I think it is because I didn’t know how to be all of me. I was lost. Despite everyone being so welcoming. I felt like I couldn’t be all of me. The decision to go to Nepal was a last-minute decision. It was based on so many emotions that I had to support myself through. My theory is that when I moved myself from a familiar to an unfamiliar environment, it gave me more space to try and reconnect all the dots. I quickly realised that a lot of the dots were either missing or not strong enough. Consequently, all the strings came back to me. I chose to burn the ends over tying them back together.
5. I am super brave
I mean. How many 18 year olds do you know have traveled across the world solo. Not many?
Brave: showing no fear of dangerous things
And I believe I did just that. Reflecting on the experience, sometimes I’m just like how or why you did that? You absolute nutter!! In the space of one month I experienced my only two near-death experiences. Arrgghh, it’s the worst feeling ever. The first time It happened I was floating in a river. The second time. I was sat on a bus. I was sat in the passenger seat in the driver’s cabin. Winding our way down mountain ranges to Kathmandu. I could see the steep drop down and it wasn’t forgiving. Still, it made for beautiful scenery. I had my head stuck out the window most of the journey, with my arms perched on the bus door. The bus that I was in tried to overtake on a one-way road. Let’s just say the lady sat by me flew into the windscreen. I had my seatbelt on.