When browsing through our recent posts, I realized it had been quite a while since my last Sunday Social Travel Talk, which is usually just some chit chat about things that cross my mind when I travel or when I’m home and reminiscing my past journeys. These post are actually the ones I enjoy writing the most, because they also allow me to add a little bit more personality and emotion into a post. I like to call them my guilty pleasure…
Because Nepal is still stuck in my mind and the red blood cells are still running through my veins, at least according to my colleague and Nepal expert Margreet, I figured that the blog should at least be about Nepal. When considering a subject for today, there were two options. The first one being a sequel on the popular first part of “how to poop in the wilderness” as after this trip, I’m an expert in that (missed it? check this blog). The other option would be to write about my fourth trip without social media. I chose for the latter one since I do actually have some footage for that and it reminds me of the fact that traveling without social media is actually very enjoyable.
A short recap about my previous travels without social media
A couple of years ago, I reached a point where I got sick and tired of social media. I also decided that I wanted to take blogging to some kind of next level. During my next trip, I switched off my phone for a whole week. During this week, I really enjoyed everything nature had to offer while hiking through the mountains in Austria. It felt truly liberating not hearing the beeps or vibrations of my iPhone. One and a half years later I went offline for a couple of days without choice when cruising through the southernmost fjords of Patagonia and earlier this year, I went on a hiking trip in Germany’s Sauerland region and unplugged for a couple of days again. It made me feel like I should do that more often but I only had one more vacation during which I went to La Palma. The appartment we booked was not supposed to have wifi but upon arrival, it turned out we did have a connection after all. Which resulted in being online more than I had planned beforehand.
In Nepal I would get another shot. When I googled if there would be wifi on Everest Base Camp trek, I didn’t really find any good information about it, which seemed like a good sign. The agency we booked with, told me there would be wifi available three times on the trek. This seemed good enough, I still wanted to be able to log on every now and then in case my family needed me. This may sound a bit dramatic, but it happened to me once that I received a message saying “call home when you read this” after being out of cell phone reception for a week when trekking through Chile and it was not something I want to experience again. As I didn’t think it would be smart to disappear from the radar entirely for three weeks as a growing blog, I decided to pre-schedule Twitter in Tweetdeck and a friend of mine would be handling Pinterest for me. This is my largest social media channel, on a good day I get as much as 500 visitors from it, on a bad day it’s around 150 which is still a good number I think. I decided to focus on Instagram only when I was away, from there I could easily share to my private Facebook and Twitter as well.
The flight to Lukla, the most dangerous airport in the world, was one from hell. But it also was a great adventure and we got some really great first views on the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas. I was dying to share it with my friends but upon arrival at our lunch spot and I saw everyone grabbing their mobile phones. I had a deal with myself, I could not already give into the urge to share things. So I just ate my second breakfast of the day and eventually started walking towards Phakding, a three hour trek from Lukla.
Our next destination was Namche Bazar, the touristic centre of the Khumbu valley. I knew this was going to be the last place for a while to be able to go online. Earlier that day, we took an amazing hike through the valley and along the Khumbu River and we took the first really good pictures. Upon arrival at our hotel, it turned out I could buy unlimited wifi for about 5 euros, something I decided to do. I uploaded a picture of me next to the river and within no-time I had 100 likes and a lot of nice comments. Not just on Instagram but also on Facebook. Really nice!
The next day we planned on making an acclimatision walk up to the Everest View Hotel. Our first stop was at Everest View Point and BAM, there she was all of a sudden, the highest mountain on the planet! I was staring at it in awe and was completely lost for words. We continued up to the Everest View Hotel and arrived there about two hours after leaving Namche Bazar. The hotel is the most expensive in the valley and as it turned out, a lot of backpackers and hikers had gathered on the rooftop terrace, to enjoy the most amazing views. During the days before we hung out with a couple of English guys, so we joined their table and they told us there was free wifi available. Everybody, including me and Martijn, wanted to connect and share the memorable moment of seeing Everest for the first time with their friends and families back home. I sent whatsapp messages home, took selfies, sent them to my family and posted it on Facebook. After that, I sat down and simply enjoyed the view. Martijn is always keeping an eye out for me, so he caught me taking selfies:
Four days after leaving Namche Bazar, my food poisoning was at its worst. I was a complete mess and ready to quit the trek. At that moment, the owner of the of the teahouses we were at, asked Martijn if he could help with some settings of his QWERTY keyboard. We told him we’re bloggers and asked him if he would mind liking our Facebook page. Once done, he asked if I could help him out with his Facebook page and he offered me to use his computer if I wanted to do something. So I checked email but I got hungry for me. As we had decided to stay here for another day because of my health, I decided to buy an internet credit for 10 euros. I just wanted to be connected again with the outside world, I wanted to read about the news in Holland and I wanted to know how my friends and family were doing. It made me happy to connect again because my body was one big mess, at least my mind was happy.
From Machhermo we continued on to Gokyo, where it turned out I could still use the same internet credit as before. However, after uploading just one picture, the connection was gone, which wasn’t really that surprising at 4.800 meters above sealevel. The days after are a bit of a blur as my health didn’t get a lot better and most of the time, I felt like a zombie putting one foot in front of the other like a robot. Not having internet connection was the least of my worries! Each day we’d get to our teahouse, I’d crash onto my bed but since I wasn’t allowed to sleep during the day (we were using Diamox which helps to prevent altitude sickness, however one of the side effects is insomnia, so we could only sleep during the night) I was just reading. And reading. And reading more. Until the battery of my Kindle ran empty. Luckily, I bought an old fashioned paper book in Gokyo, where I visited the Highest Bookstore in the World and found a copy of Anatoli Boukreev’s story about the drama on Everest (for those of you who are interested: he was a member of the team of Scott Fisher, the other company on Everest together with Rob Hall and Jon Krakauer from Into Thin Air). I finished reading it within 72 hours! Five days long I did not have any connection with the outside world and I loved it. I could have bought wifi everywhere but I didn’t, as I made an agreement with myself. Wifi for no more than three times …
The day we hiked to Everest Base Camp was a legendary one. The whole story can be found here. Upon arrival, we took pictures and enjoyed nature like we had never enjoyed it before. Legendary climbers as Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norquay had been here, too, before reaching Mount Everest for the first time. A couple of years ago we visited an exhibition about Sir Edmund Hillary in New Zealand (where he was from) but back then I could never have imagined I’d actually follow his footsteps up to 5.360 meter. I took a series of pictures with my iPhone, which we recharged with our solar charger, as I did have to share this moment once back in the land of the living. From Holland many people were following us and a few of them knew we’d be reaching EBC that day, if everything went well.
Once back in our teahouse in Gorakshep, I asked about the possibility to use the internet. I could buy one hour of wifi for 5 euros. The lady told me it could be possible it wouldn’t work, but if that’d be the case, she wouldn’t charge me. As we arrived back at the teahouse as the first ones, it turned out to work quite well. I started by sending messages and pics to my family, then I uploaded a pic to my personal Facebook page and finally to Instagram, Twitter and our we12travel Facebook page. My phone kept on buzzing because of the incoming messages, everyone was really supportive and proud. “Happiness is only real when shared” are the famous
last words of Chris McCandles and even though I don’t agree with him, all the kind comments from people, did make the moment extra special. My picture of EBC is my most liked picture on Instagram so far and I don’t think I’ve ever had so many replies to a Facebook post before…
After an hour my battery ran empty (also because of the cold) and so I switched it off, only to switch it back on a couple of days later when I had the chance to recharge it again. In Namche we returned to the same hotel so I had wifi there again (it was unlimited) and after that, just in Kathmandu.
Once home, I decided not to switch on my laptop and leave that off until the next day. Ofcourse I had been online while on the train home but opening up my laptop, didn’t feel right. The only thing I missed was blogging, my head was full with ideas and stories I wanted to write and share with the rest of the world. On our next long trip (sometime in February we’re heading out to Tasmania) I will bring my laptop but by the time you are reading this, I’ve changed my heavy Dell for a Macbook Air, which is much more compact and lighter, so easier to take with me. If I’m going to post live from Tasmania, I don’t know. At least I have the possibility to immediately write down my stories and check email on a normal screen every now and then. Having missed blogging feels good because it makes me realize that my biggest hobby, is still my hobby…
Have you ever traveled without social media? Did you like it? Or could you do it?
Want to read more? Check out my previous posts about travel without social media!
– Travel without social media – how it affected our blog?
– Travel without social media in Patagonia
– Travel without social media – how it all started
Thank you for sharing!