They say that "Travel is the best teacher".
In my last 12 years as an army officer's wife, I have had my share of travel. However, I have developed a love for travelling solo in the past five years.
I have travelled solo in Singapore, China, New Zealand, and India. I often get mixed reactions from various individuals when I talk about my solo travel trips. Some doubt my love for my kids and family. Every time, a recurring question that I encounter is, "How can you leave your kids behind and go?". Another one is, "How can you enjoy yourself without your kids and husband?"
Solo travelling has opened up a whole new world of "SELF LOVE" for me. It is the same as meditation but a paid version of it. I have become more mindful of my surroundings ever since I started solo travelling.
Travelling can expose you to the unimaginable. The experiences, the food, and above all, the people that you encounter turn out to be a blessing or a lesson.
This post is about that I experienced during my recent solo trip to Himachal. I was doing a work-cation from a small town called Naggar near Manali in Himachal. I used to work remotely from Monday to Friday and explore the place on the weekends. From my homestay, about 11 km away, was a small waterfall. So I decided to visit the waterfall on a weekday and come back by 11 am to start my work. A day prior, I went to ask about renting a two-wheeler. But it was an expensive deal to rent out a two-wheeler for just 3 hours. So I decided to do what I usually do in such situations: Go with the flow.
The following day, I woke up early, took a quick shower on a chilly morning, and searched the location on the Google Map. It showed a minimum 1-hour walking time. I mentally changed the time to 1.5 hours to reach the waterfall. I was pretty confident that with my fitness level, there is no way I am finishing that walk in 60 minutes.
I started treading on the hilly road towards the direction of the waterfall. Shortly after, stray dogs began walking with me. I love the dogs in the mountains. They are the best travel companions. A few minutes later, I heard a bus coming in my direction. Its destination was the same as mine. I decided to take a chance, so I showed my hand to the driver to stop the bus, and to my surprise, he did. The bus conductor asked me for Rs. 25 as the ticket fare. Again, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the ticket amount.
After an adventurous bus ride on the narrow and curvy roads of Himachal, I reached the small town where the waterfall was situated. I saw 6/7 shops and a few houses in the village as I looked around.
I asked for directions from some localities. It's incredible how people from small villages find time to socialise early in the morning. In contrast, the city people are always rushing to get somewhere. The Google map showed 2 km to the waterfall. I told myself that I wouldn't get back to my room on time for work if I didn't walk faster. I found myself alone on the road towards the waterfall. It was too early for tourists to start visiting the place.
After about 200 metres, I saw a local guy approaching me on a two-wheeler. He stopped to say hello and asked me where I was heading. Unfortunately, I don't remember his name now. So from now on, let's address him as "the good guy". I told him that I was going to the waterfall. He offered to drop me at the waterfall after picking up his son on the way back.
I was hesitant at first, but I decided to take a leap of faith. A few minutes later, a little boy was standing on the edge of the mountain, with a school bag hanging on his shoulder.
The road was full of gravel—one of the most bouncy rides.
All 3 of us reached the waterfall, chit-chatting. I asked the boy about his school. The good guy, his son and I stopped outside a small eating joint towards the end of the road. He said he ran the eating joint with his wife, who served traditional Himachali food. I peeped in and saw a little girl doing online classes on a mobile phone. I said hello to his wife and said I was running late and decided to take their leave.
Read: The Good Guy | Part 2
I asked the directions towards the waterfall and thanked him for the ride. As I was leaving, I was in for another surprise. The good guy told his son to take me to the waterfall. The little boy gladly accompanied me and started leading towards the waterfall. Finally, after climbing about 50 stairs, we reached the waterfall.
I had the best conversation with the little boy. At that moment, I realised how hard they all worked and still managed to keep their dreams alive. His parents worked day and night to provide a good education, a comfortable life, a happy childhood, and a holistic upbringing to their kids.
Yes. That's him with my headphones and googles!
After spending some time at the waterfall, we came down to the good guy's restaurant. Unfortunately, my phone was about to die, and I also had to head back to my hotel room. That's when his wife offered me freshly cooked food. I couldn't say no. So her husband arranged for my seating outside. It was a perfect spot where I could see the valley and catch a glimpse of the waterfall.
A few minutes later, the little boy came with a big plate full of food I'd never seen before.
Here's what it looked like:
Head to my Instagram profile @mindfuljugni to know what's on my plate.
I quickly managed to finish it all. Although I wanted more, I didn't have enough time to savour it. I had to get back to my room in the next 45 mins, and my phone was about to die.
In the next post, I will write about how I managed to get back to my hotel room on time after a few setbacks.