The Journey

Day 1 – Nepal

My first time travelling in Asia

The 27 hour flight to get here went actually pretty well. Ottawa-Montreal, Montreal-Istanbul and Istanbul-Kathmandu. Considering I feel claustrophobic in a plane I have to admit that the flight here was long but overall I felt calm.

After getting my passport stamp at the Nepal airport I walked outside and felt the hot and humid air on my face. I got into a cab and the experience I got from the drive from the airport to my hostel was … memorable !

Welcome to a different culture Val !

CHAOS TO SAY THE LEAST

In the narrow street of Kathmandu there were:

Bikes, motorbikes, bus, cars, pedestrian, dogs, people selling things or asking for money as soon as we were stationary.

I felt my personal bubble, like my personal space, getting smaller and smaller.

They have something similar to Uber here but it’s with motorbikes. Pretty cool but also pretty crazy. haha I am not sure if I will give that a try after seeing how cars and bus drive around motorbikes! I kept my hands in the taxi car because I could have easily touch any motorcyclist with my hand. That’s how close they were. Crazy!

In Canada everything is so organize and structure. This is chaos. But there was something I must admit spectacular about how people just flow through the traffic adapting their driving to whatever came in front of them. No one was screaming at each other but people were just going around things that were coming up in front of them. What would have felt like being cut off back home here felt like a simple thing that you could just go around (and not a personal attack!).

I have been driving an emergency vehicle for 15 years so it takes a lot to surprise me... but this for sure did!

It looked so chaotic somehow it worked. I am not sure why they have lanes because no one seem to care about them! lol Along the road I could see very little shops that were more like a hole in the concrete wall with no doors. People from the shops were sitting outside selling clothing, food hanging in the sun and the air was filled with dust from vehicles going on this unpaved road. I thought to myself it will be hard to not get sick here. This was actually one of my worry: Getting sick while I am all alone in this part of the world. I had brought a pretty complete advanced aid kit so I could be self-sufficient if anything arise. I had packed this medication kit thinking it was mostly for my mind to be reassure until I find comfort in this new part of the world I was going too but after seeing raw meat sitting on a table facing to the sun and in the middle of the road covered with dust I thought to myself that I am most likely to need it.

I finally arrive to the hostel (Zostel-Kathmandu) located in Thamel which is the downtown for Kathmandu. The taxi driver drop me off on the side of a road where there was no sign for the hostel. He pointed a narrow road (where his car could obviously not fit). I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed with everything. So far I had not seen anything that was close to the conditions I live at home. He must have felt my stress because he got out of the car and walked me to the hostel. We took this tiny narrow walking path. I was grateful that it was day time because at night I am not sure if this path would be safe. We got to another narrow path that got us to the hostel. It would have been hard to find if my taxi driver wouldn’t have walked me to it.

I got my dormitory bed assign and walked up to my room. I dropped my backpack and was finally able to lay down. I haven’t lay down in more than 48 hours and had slept 45 minutes here and there. I was tired. My head hit the pillow thinking I would close my eyes but instead the anxiety rise up like a space rocket.

From my bunk bed view I could see the ceiling and this was my view from the window:

The noise, the heat, the chaos, the lack of hygiene, the language barrier… I was trying to connect to something familiar but I could not find anything. I felt far. Far from everyone. Why did I leave that comfort that I had back in Canada? Than the anxiety started increasing as I realize what I had gotten myself into. I was in a poor part of the world and I would be getting sick and I had no one here. The down spiral started and I started to feel angry at myself for putting myself through this. So far from everyone. What the hell Val?? Why did you do this? Don’t you find that you had enough struggle this year?

I reach out to my phone and texted a good friend of mine who had travel a lot solo in similar parts of the world. Lucky me he was online and available to chat (🙏 so grateful). We chatted about the culture shock. I had never experience this before. Not to that extend anyways. I was wishing for someone I knew to be with me. To reassure me.

In the last few weeks people have told me how courageous they found me. I never felt that courage I mostly felt that I was doing what felt right. But now I was starting to see a little bit what they were saying. But I guess the important message here is that despite the courage there are also moments like this. Moments of fear, of anxiety and of self-doubt. Moments of regrets.

Life had hit me with a couple good shots in the last 6 months and my resiliency was still in the process of being rebuild. Knowing that I was leaving alone, the doctor at the medical clinic suggested that I bring some stronger anxiety medication in case something comes up during my trip. A pill that would act fast to calm my nerves if needed. Well let’s just say I did not expect to need one that quick. Although pills are not normally my number one choice for assistance I thought to myself that the lack of sleep, the jet lag combine with the culture shock well that I could use some external help at this point. As I finish talking with Jordan on the phone I took my pill and than hung up shortly after with him. I am so happy he answered the phone. Going from ‘courage’ to an ‘anxiety pill’ how ironic!

A few minutes after hanging up with my friend someone arrive in the dormitory and we had a quick chat. He had travel quite a bit and felt the culture shock too when he arrived here 1 month ago. He said it took him one week to settle even if he had travel in other poor country before. That brought me peace. Maybe my reaction was normal. I closed my eyes and slept 3 hours.

The hostel had good reviews and their kitchen looked clean so I thought I would have my first meal Nepali meal here. No need to tell you that I order a vegetarian platter.

Than I met a girl from Sudbury Ontario and another girl from Winnipeg. We are lucky Canadian to meet other Canadian pretty much anywhere we go.

After diner I went on the roof top of the hostel. They had a big net set up where you could sit on it and see the city. This city of 1.3 million people suddenly looked different. There was a nice refreshing breeze, it was quiet and people were walking around peacefully in the street. I took a deep breath and felt at peace with the town. At peace with my choice. I had a moment of doubt earlier and I had overcome it. Good job Val 👍

What a beautiful place to write my first blog from Nepal.

Thank you for all the support and messages I got before leaving for this adventure. Thank you to all my dear friends that are there for me! You guys are amazing and I wouldn’t be where I am today without you 💚💜

Bonne nuit 😴

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