Woooooosh and my 6 month travel adventure comes to an end. What a brilliant decision it was to leap on to my pause button and take some time out to discover a piece of the world and who I am in it. What a priveledge it is to have the freedom of no ties as a woman in her 30s, to have this adventure all on my own terms with no other responsibilities. My pockets are full of experiences that have made me a little more assertive, more relaxed, more self assured, more aware of my boundaries and independence. I’m less afraid and more capable of making my own decisions and judgments. Ive confronted my shadow side and given myself permission to be a little more selfish (putting my needs ahead of others) and sitting in the uncomfortable emotions that arise when allowing this in.
So how did all of this happen… here are my highlights over the past 6 months:
I knew that I wanted to spend a lot of time in the mountains but I never expected it to be the top highlight of the whole trip. Although the trekking in India was great I never thought that the overall highlight would actually be in Nepal. My favourite experience (possibly in my whole life) is the month I spent trekking through the Himalayas in Nepal. The Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp trek was immence, everyday I was blown away by the changing landscape. What suprised me is just how much I love and need to spend time in nature. Simplifying things and carrying everything I needed on my back was just the perfect experience. The physical aspect of trekking has left me feeling amazing and in the best shape I’ve probably ever been in.
This is such a big highlight for me…and the common theme across the 6 months seemed to be about connecting with super awesome women. From the Israeli and Polish women I went trekking with in Munnar, sharing our narrative and bonding over our similarities and differences. The Australian and British/Israeli women that I travelled to Rajasthan with and then Nepal. They looked after me when I was ill, we laughed, we cried, we had a great time together. The young Israeli women I met in Auroville, I was so impressed by their approach to travel, to life. The two English ladies I met in Hampi and then Varkala. The Scottish lady that held me when I cried. The wonderful English woman I met through a mutual friend, we opened our hearts and created a beautiful mandala together. And so many more women and of course men, from across the globe, spanning 19 – 70 years old, that inspired me, motivated me, held and healed me.
I had a lovely serving of spiritualuality whilst in India, something that was a real pull for me in the first place. Topping that list was my experience in the open Satsang with Mooji in Rishikesh. I think a lot of threads were weaving together before going there which made way for a big shift creating the most gorgeous foundation of self confidence, peace and fulfillment.
Other delicious spiritual experiences involved a weekend retreat at the Isha Yoga Centre where I develop a great love for Sadhguru, learnt a very gentle stretching and meditation routine and ate a lot of incredible vegan food.
The most ‘out there’ experience I had (and didn’t actually write about as I found it quite hard to put into words) was my visit to the Matrimandir in Auroville. A friend quite brilliantly likened it to walking into a scene from a Sci Fi movie, the bright white interior, everyone wearing white socks and walking in single file up the spiral ramp to sit in a circle around a huge crystal in a deafeningly silent room. It was nuts. It was awesome!
I definitely had the most adventures on local buses. From having an absolute ball in Coorg, being wowed by the colour and scenes before me. Being suprised to see a man sitting next to me with his penis out just outside of Munnar. Almost vomiting on the way to Pondicherry on my first sleeper bus, I now know to avoid the back of the bus if you want to feel well. Being amazed and a little scared at just how crowded local Nepali buses get and laughing at being 1 of 17 people and a goat crammed into a jeep.
Goats, cows, yaks, chicks, dogs, cats – I love them all! I never really had a big attachment to animals until I heard a goat being killed outside of my window. In India and Nepal you’re really exposed to animals being used as meat to be eaten by humans. I’ve never had this exposure before and have since stopped eating meat and drinking milk.
Female Solo Traveller
To say that I was terrified before coming to India is an understatement. I was scared of being alone, being unable to fulfil my needs, being disorientated, being unsafe. The reality is so much different. I felt unsafe once when I was followed by a man in Kodaikanal but apart from that I was 100% safe, being on my own or in a group. I found I had some of the most random adventures when I was on my own. The fear of being on my own was always worse than the reality. A big lesson. The other big lesson was to listen to other people’s opinion but draw my own conclusion. I listened to so many people saying the North of India was more challenging than the South and got really quite scared and almost didn’t go. Again the reality didn’t align with the fear and I learnt that I’m a lot more resilient than I give myself credit for.
On the flip side of that I am still a massive softy, can’t haggle to save my life and as a result spent way more money than I anticipated. But do you know what, I did it my way, the way that suited me and I feel like I played India just right…avoiding the big cities and wrapping myself up in nature.
Whilst in Nepal I had a Skype interview and landed myself a job so I have something lined up for when I return (jammy). More on that another time!
So thank you India and Nepal for your colour, your spirit, your kindness, your hardness, your beauty. I’m so incredibly grateful for this experience and can’t wait to get home and share it with my loved ones.