I’ve decided to take a few of our favorite camping photos from pre-South America and tell a little story about each one. Though the photo sometimes captures the natural beauty of a place, it never really gives the whole story.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive”
I’m sure that you have all heard of the pay-it-forward movement, the idea that you do something kind for someone in the hopes that they in turn will do something kind for someone else. And for those of you who have been with me for a while, you already know about our debt to the world (which we will happily pay back for the rest of our lives) because of the amazing hospitality we have received through homestays, and the kind acts which seem to happen to us on a daily basis no matter where we happen to be. It’s these experiences, both big and small, which have made this lifestyle into the successful endeavor it has become, and so, to cap it off, here are a few pay-it-forward experiences that we have recently received, most of which came from other cyclists like us.
“Don’t tell me has educated you are. Tell me how much you have traveled.”
Why do we cycle? We do it for the peaceful nights at 4,000m surrounded by the stars and the snowy peaks. We do it to explore and discover rather than to simply sit and wonder, and we do it for the lovely people we meet along the way. One of the main reasons Kevin and I chose to travel as we do, and one of the thing that has kept us going through each and every country, is the astounding kindness of strangers and the wonderful homestays we have been lucky enough to partake in. Though it may seem pretty crazy if you haven’t experienced it yourself, total strangers really will invite you into their homes for a cup of tea (or even a night), and despite what the media may constantly tell you, our world is indeed a truly wonderful place.
“If adventure has a final and all-embracing motive, it is surely this: we go out because it is our nature to go out, to climb mountains, and to paddle rivers, to fly to the planets and plunge into the depths of the oceans…”
365 days of homestays, high altitude cycling, and beautiful landscapes throughout Nepal.
“Travel is rebellion in its purest form… We follow our hearts. We free ourselves of labels. We lose control willingly. We trade a role for reality. We love the unfamiliar. We trust strangers. We only own what we can carry. We search for better questions, not answers. We truly graduate. We sometimes choose to never come back.”
“I’m running down a narrow path through the trees, leaping from rock to rock in an attempt to follow a young girl with pigtails who is leading the way. Giggling as she runs, she is agile and confident on the small rocky path, scampering down the hillside like a goat. She takes a sharp left turn up what looks like a wall of steep rock and within seconds is perched on the top, waiting for me with a grin. Her cheap plastic sandals don’t stop her. In fact, I don’t think anything could….”
“Nostalgia in reverse: the longing for yet another strange land.”
“…“Basnu,” (sit down) she says, as I am handed a leaf wrapped around a warm, malleable hunk of brown sugar. It is delicious, sweet yet flavorful, and I realize that they are making this tasty brown sugar out of the boiling sugarcane syrup to my right. Most of the children have scattered into the surrounding fields and sit perched atop enormous piles of discarded sugarcane branches. From these lookout points, they can alternate between practicing flips and watching me.”
“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”
Part two about my amazing adventures through western Nepal.
“Their nails are caked with dirt and their stained clothes are torn in parts, but they are happy. They are free, living in an off-the-grid universe of their own, where they rely solely upon themselves for survival.”
“But that’s the glory of foreign travel… Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
Far western Nepal was astounding, a small secluded section of Nepal which hasn’t been run over by tourism and the culture wash and money that comes along with it. It was a little piece of paradise in such a seemingly crowded country.
“You won’t always be young. And life won’t always be just about you. So travel, young person. Experience the world for all it’s worth. Become a person of culture, adventure, and compassion.”
40 hours of sitting in the bus, that’s what we just went through in order to arrive in Amritsar, a town in Punjab (Northwest India) that boarders Pakistan. Though the rides were indeed painful and long (not to mention two nights of lost sleep), it was reassuring to know that (hopefully) these were the last two buses in the next two and a half years, because from now on, we cycle!
As we passed through India, from the eastern side which I cycled through last summer to this unknown area, I was shocked at the difference. This part of India is much more developed than where I have been, and certainly much wealthier than Nepal. It was much less farming, and many more giant cities, and we even passed a few McDonalds. I had heard that most of India is quite developed, and that I had only visited the least developed areas, and now I see how true that is. Kevin also pointed out along the way that Indians are much taller and larger than the short scrawny Nepalis, a definite sign of more wealth.
We finally arrived where we were to stay, a giant farm hotel that we had found through couchsurfing. With goats outside our air conditioned and spacious room, a camel waiting to great us, and baby sheep and a few colts running around in the courtyard, it seemed much too good to be true. Though people do come here as paying guests, it seems the lovely Sikh owner has also opened his giant farmhouse up to couchsurfers who are free to enjoy his gorgeous land ten kilometers outside of the city. Too good to be true, or just the most amazing couchsurfing opportunity out there? I guess we will find out.
“Sometimes, those who wander really are lost.”
As I talked about in my last post, many Nepalis want to leave in order to make more money abroad. A large percentage of these workers go to Malaysia, Qatar, and Dubai, where many of them work long hours in boring and mindless jobs, often in dangerous situations.