November 19, 2015

Awakening

The last two years have taught me a lot about myself, others and life. I learnt how to travel and survive as a solo backpacker. I learnt to trust in others more and in the universe. I feel comfortable simply rocking up at a hostel and not pre-booking a bus ticket. I don’t need to shower everyday or have a great meal or a good night’s sleep. I’m happy to have a cold bucket shower, to use a squat toilet, to eat noodles for breakfast and sleep on a bench in the airport. I have stretched my comfort zone and continue to try new things. I don’t shy aware from the unknown and accept I don’t know music artists that others my age would. I’m happy to give things a go whether it was snorkelling or deep sea diving. I believe that travelling solo enables you to gain some great insight about yourself. It gave me time to think about what I really wanted, was I ready to go home for instance? Or did I want to try and explore another country/city? It equips you to deal with the unexpected; people don’t all speak English, you will get lost, miss the bus or be delayed. Travelling is also, by far, the greatest education. No book can prepare you for the beauty of Patagonia or lying on the white, sandy beach in Ilhe Grande, Rio. No book can help you feel the warmth of Paraguayans or the love of Brazilians. It is only when you put yourself out, into a new city that you will fully be able to embrace a new culture. It is better to come of the tourist track and explore villages or towns not in your guide. Try exploring a city that isn’t a touristic hotspot or party island. I took the ferry from the South of Singapore to the north of Sumatra and I was the only backpacker.

We all have a different path to follow in life. Whether you are university completing your degree or starting a new profession or planning your next adventure. For some, they don’t wish to backpacker or become a nomad, the off beaten roads simply don’t appeal to them. Job security, plans and tours give them a sense of relieve. These people don’t opt for spontaneous trips or spend time thinking about ‘what ifs’. I am certainly not one to judge. Before I left for this trip, I had never travelled solo and I certainly didn’t plan on embarking my trip for so long. I left home with a suitcase not a backpacker and I over packed immensely. I was pretty happy planning my trip and need heaps of reassurance from friends that I would be fine. Prior to this trip, I knew I wasn’t cut out for this 9 to 5 job industry that most people are part of. I didn’t want to be part of the rat race, I could and certainly had been for 3 years. Designer brands or latest gadgets never appealed to me. I didn’t want to work hard, save money and have to wait to spend it, wait to live my life. I don’t need job security, sure I need money and yes a job but I’m hopeful something will work out because something always does.

If I hadn’t embarked on this adventure, I would never have met so many like minded people. I would never have encountered so many young, lost, wonders seeking more from life and wanting to explore every corner of the world. I knew or was pretty sure, that I couldn’t be the only one who felt suffocated living within this system, trying to follow social norms that I don’t agree with and hence, wanting to break free and try something new. So, when I met fellow backpackers, travellers, it was a breath of fresh air, I was able to connect with people quickly on many levels. We would discuss politics, political parties, the media, religion, history and literature. These intellectual discussions appealed to me greatly and made me think about my understanding on issues. It made me want to read more, research more and gain more knowledge about issues I had never focused on before. I was delighted to find that these moments happen everywhere and anywhere, while boarding a bus, sat around the breakfast table in a hostel, out on a walking tour, crossing a border or sat inside a volunteer house. I became closer to people that I would perhaps have over looked or been to shy to approach back home. I opened up and trusted people like I had never done so before. I had people open up to me and expose their scars and stories. These moments are truly magical, they keep coming in waves, taking me with them.

I have some great family and friends back home whom I miss dearly and shared some great moments with. I know upon returning home that things will be different because I have changed, grown even but I know that these friendships will continue. I know that they are there for me and waiting to share a meal together, a drink or a night out. It was these very friends that encouraged me on, it was them who continue to believe in me and support me. They have forever told me to carry on for as long as I feel necessary. Of course, there are days where I wish I was back home to celebrate a birthday, a leaving due, a house warming party, Christmas and new years. I know I have missed a lot back home but I know I have gained experiences that will last a lifetime.

I don’t know many Indian backpackers who have embraced the road and the unknown and continued to travel for as long as I’ve done. I want more Indians to travel, I want them to explore cities and cultures and live their dream. My motivation of setting up my own web page is to inspire, educate and empower others. I want to appeal to all those travellers who are unsure or hesitate and reassure them that they can do it, they can take the plunge. Culture, religion and tradition should not stop you from pursing your goals and shaping your destiny. Sure, you may believe in reincarnation but I believe in making the most of this life because who knows what or when we will be back. So join me on my journey, follow my ups and downs and feel free to ask me for advice or suggestions. I will do my best to help and guide you along your travels. I don’t know everything but then who does? I’m happy to share tips and give suggestions about how you can prepare or plan for your adventure.