Nepal was a significantly different country than any others that I had travelled to before. I was more used to destinations within my own region, or sporadic trips within the Old World. Quite middle class travel. My comfort zone.
But while I enjoyed those travels too, in a way they were all lonely, even though they were usually not solo. The worries of my travel companions were not my worries. Their interests were not my interests. The things I wished to talk about, they typically could not understand.
But in Perhentian Islands, when I went on my first voluntourism trip, I met people I clicked with. That trip led to another, and another – stepping out of my comfort zone. And I wondered, what if I would meet people more like me, if I wandered on the so-called ‘hippy trail’?
Ever the sceptic, I didn’t think much of my chances, but I figured I had nothing left to lose.
Why choose Nepal?
It was all because I was going to go to Easter Island, for my birthday. And since I was going all the way to South America, I thought maybe I should also do Peru. And surely I could not do Peru, without doing Macchu Picchu.
But I had never trekked multiple days at altitude before – or at all (I’m not counting navy training). Doing it for the first time so far away, without being fluent in the local language, was a little too far from my comfort zone.
So I decided to ‘test run’ it in Annapurna. It was still within Asia, and I knew the guides spoke English, because a former Australian friend who kept raving about it can’t speak anything else (aside from enough Indonesian to enquire after illegal services in Bali).
And I wondered, maybe by travelling completely differently, I would meet people who were interested in the same things, and whose stories were finally new.