My first trip to Asia landed me in Kathmandu – and that place is crazy! The airport was a madhouse of hundreds touts and cab drivers, all of whom try to buddy up with you and follow you if you make eye contact with them. My flight landed late on a Friday night, and thankfully I had already booked a room with a guesthouse in Thamel, and they sent a driver to pick me up and take me to the hotel for no additional charge.
The driver tore through the dark streets with a lot of honking and without any stopping. It was my first lesson about traffic laws in Nepal: basically there are none. There are no traffic signals, and those dotted lines on the road? Those are mere suggestions. One of the things I was most impressed with in Kathmandu was that the throngs of people, motorcycles, cows, chickens, and cars all going in different directions on the narrow, often muddy streets never collided with one another.
Of course, when you mention Nepal to someone, the first thought that pops into their mind is often the staggering height of the mountains there. Nepal is home to 8 of the 14 highest mountains in the world, despite just being the size New York state.
But what I didn’t know when this trip started was that it wasn’t going to be about going new places, meeting new people, and sharing that experience with the one that I love. Rather, the trip is turning out to be a spiritual trip to the top of the metaphysical mountain instead.
Certainly, I am going to places in the world that until not too recently I had not even dreamed of going. I also opened myself up to a whole new mode of travel, with experiences meeting and working with people through sites like workaway.info & couchsurfing.com on the agenda. Those experiences are so much richer than what the typical traveler encounters when staying at a hotel in some far flung city where they know no one.
It turns out that there is more to this trip than people and places – there’s also my sometimes out of control ego and the inward journey that I’ve embarked upon. Specifically, I’m referring to the part of me that was scared to leave the comforts of home and embark on this journey in the first place. Questions loomed under the surface, and kept bubbling up over and over again. Was this the right decision? Will I regret it? What if I end up by myself? What if I don’t meet interesting people? Am I too old to be doing this?
Many of those thoughts come up over and over again, and the energy related to these stressful thoughts can and do build up if they’re not dealt with and released properly. They weigh you down and keep you from fully experiencing the travel experience.
So this is my first intention on the next leg of this journey in Indonesia – to acknowledge those negative thoughts when they come up, watch them, and then let them go so that they don’t continue to build up and block positive experiences. I’m already reaping the benefits of working on this intention – I’ve met people and done things that I never would have done before leaving America, and that feels good. Anything is possible.