Things I learned during my trip to Nepal – confessions of a travel blogger
Hello, I’m home again! For a few days already by the way, but I decided to extend my vacation by a few more days. Apart from occasionally posting a social media message, I did almost nothing online. Most of all acclimatize back home again (especially to the nice and warm here in the Netherlands!), but also the horror that is called pollen allergies and I’ve enjoyed some outdoor time with my boyfriend after being away for two weeks.
Even though I truly enjoyed my trip to Nepal, it didn’t really go as planned. Far from that, in fact. Sometimes that is fun, sometimes that is not so much fun. In my case it mostly was a learning journey. Those who think that after years of traveling you would have learned all there is to know … Nope! Think again, none of it is true. The most important journey I made in the past year was probably the the journey to finding myself and who I really want to be. Now that may sound a lot more dramatic than it is, but I have to say that I had to work fairly hard during this trip. Both mentally and physically. Curious? Then continue reading below in this article about five things I learned during my trip to Nepal.
1. Trust your gut feeling. Always!
The most important thing that I learned during the past two weeks during my Nepal trip is to trust my feelings and intuition. Even if that goes right against what is generally accepted or what I am supposed to do. It sounds a bit vague, but I’ll try to describe it with an example.
From the end point of my hike I had two options to travel back to Kathmandu. The first was by jeep (I had done that on the way there) or with the local bus. Now I know that the local bus is an adventure in itself, but since the price of the bus is 10x lower than the jeep, I decided to take it. The route to be covered is one of the worst in Nepal but well, a bit of an adventure seemed fun.
Until the bus arrived. It was rightfully the most horrific bus I had ever seen and I really had the idea that it could break through its bottom every moment. My guide and I were the only ones on the bus, all the curtains were closed and within five minutes I was bumpy along a deep abyss already with my head between my legs because of nausea and anxiety. Just remember those videos of buses in India that are bumbling along an unpaved mountain road along the ravine that you’ve probably seen on Facebook.
I was sick within in five minutes I told my guide to get off at the next opportunity. The € 100 that I had to pay for the further journey by jeep was a pain in my wallet, but no way I was going to be on such a bus for another ten hours. And that turned out to be a good choice because in the end even the journey by jeep already became an entire undertaking of eight hours on a route of seventy kilometers. I am endlessly grateful that I chose to leave that bus for what it was and continue to travel in a safe and responsible manner.
2. Sometimes your body just doesn’t cooperate
And that is just plain sh*t but you’ll just have to deal with it. I have been struggling with an injury in my hip since last fall. I have already gone through various treatments by a physiotherapist and a mylogenics practitioner and although only the latter helped me off my pain regularly, there is something wrong in my body somewhere. Because after a few hours on the trail my hip started nagging again. The first day I arrived at my destination with a great deal of pain and by the end of the second day I had decided for myself that walking like this for 11 days was just not going to happen.
And so on the fourth day I made the painful decision to return to the beginning of the track instead of crossing the mountain pass. Where I was deeply disappointed at first, I soon felt at ease with the situation. “It is what it is” has become one of my quotes during recent years and instead of feeling bad, I have taken the opportunity to return to Kathmandu earlier than planned and fully unwind for a couple of days there. Which also brings me straight to the next point:
3. Going on an active vacation is just a bad idea when you’re utterly tired
I called home once during this trip and when I told my boyfriend it didn’t feel right for me because I was so tired, I got the answer ‘yes but dear, we have been together for about a year and a half now for the same length of time you say that you went on vacation far too tired! Maybe it’s time to do something about it?” He sure was right about that!
As an freelancer I find it quite difficult to go on vacation. The last time I did that was last summer when I traveled with the Rudolph de Volvo through Sweden and Norway for five weeks. The other trips I made afterwards were always work-related and I was constantly busy taking photos (Iceland), following online SEO training courses (La Palma) and doing social media (Germany).
As there is nobody who just pays you (after all, you are your own boss), it means that in the weeks before my vacation / travel I am always busy making preparations so that some things can still go on while I travel. In addition, I sometimes take on extra work to fill the financial gap that arises when I’m not working. Two weeks of vacation means two weeks less income for me. Fortunately I have now found a number of ways to create a “passive income” whereby I earn money without having to be online, but these are not yet sufficient to provide a complete monthly salary.
All this ensures that I often work extremely hard before my vacation starts. I thought I had planned it quite well this time, but due to some unforeseen events it all went a little differently than expected. The most important note to self was therefore: “prepare for the unforeseen.” Going on a physically demanding trip when your body is exhausted is not a good idea.
4. I find the Asian fiddling with money thing really crappy
Of course I know that the hassle with money is just part of Asia, but as I wrote in my blog about things I learned about myself in Indonesia, I feel uncomfortable with haggling. In addition to that, I am also convinced that being scammed just pisses me off.
When I got off the aforementioned bus, the guide asked for a jeep and one of the drivers knew a man who wanted to take me to Kathmandu for 11.000 rupees. Once at the next stop I got out and after an hour of waiting there was no one yet. My guide then had the story that the person concerned was sick (huh? one hour ago he wasn’t!) and now wanted me to pay 15.000 (= 32 euros more). There you are in the middle of nowhere. I ended up cheating with my cash and showing that I only had 12.000 and I was allowed to pay for it. To be honest, I have felt bad about it for a while. The famous scam story in Asia and I had fallen for it again. And yes, I know that it is Asia and that it comes with the adventure, but I just don’t see the charm of being scammed.
5. “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”
This quote by Sir Edmund Hillary (who was the first to climb Mount Everest with Tenzing Norquay) is really completely true and I experienced that again during my last trip. Although this was probably the one Nepal journey (after Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp) I had trained the most for and I was the best in shape in terms of fitness, I had an unbelievably hard time walking, especially the first few days. Add to that the snowfall and the fact that I barely slept the entire trip (think: yaks next to your window, a room next to the shared toilet, snoring neighbors) and you have the perfect mix for complete exhaustion. Both physically and mentally.
Yet I see this journey as a victory. I kept taking steps while I though I could not continue, I decided trust my feelings and chose the safe option (return instead of continuing). In addition, I spent four days in Kathmandu where I really did nothing but sleep, read, watch Netflix, drink beer and laze around. Four days in such a mode without feeling guilty is perhaps the biggest victory I made. That is why the day before I flew home I got a tattoo of the word “Sahaash” or “courage” in Nepali. Because it takes courage to be me, but even more courage to make certain choices in life.
“Did you actually enjoy this trip?” was the legitimate question my boyfriend asked when I told him all of the above upon returning home. I had to swallow and think. It was not the trip as planned and all in all it turned out to be more than 1.000 euros more expensive than expected (because: Jet Airways is almost bankrupt and I had to buy a new ticket last minute plus extra costs for jeep and stay in Kathmandu). But whether I have enjoyed it less? No, in the end I did enjoy it still. When you get back home to the Netherlands you can be disappointed that everything has turned out differently and you can complain about this on social media by means. Or you can choose to cherish and share the beautiful moments and accept that things simply do not always go as planned. I choose the latter. That’s called courage.