What happened when I tried being a traveler instead of a tourist

A year ago, I took a trip to Manali with one of my best friends. Since it was just the two of us, I was worried that the trip would eventually get boring or we would run out of things to do because Manali is a small town. But it turns out that by living in a hostel and exploring the town on our own, we got to meet lots of interesting people and do lots of interesting things.

I had been to Delhi for a day before my friend and I took a bus to Manali. I was waiting for her to arrive in Delhi at a Starbucks. This was the first time I was all alone in a new city, with nowhere to be in particular. When people see that you are travelling solo, they are surprisingly nice to you, at least that was the case in Delhi.  The waiter at Starbucks even offered me a caramel cappuccino for free (highlight of that trip) just because I initiated a conversation with him (also because his best friend’s name was Nisha).

Cut to, we are in Manali and my friend got her period. Yes. How unfortunate. I really wanted to go on this trek that we had been talking about for weeks. She could not join me on the trek. I was very skeptical to do it alone, but met these two amazing guys who were from Manali. I used to be a ‘I will only talk to you if you come and talk to me first’ kind of a person. However, I could not be that person at this point because I really wanted to go on that trek. So I decided to approach the two guys who were about to start their trek and asked if I could join them. That is the thing about travelling alone or with your best friend, you can be whoever you want to be. Re-invent yourself and there won’t be anybody to judge. So along with the two locals, I went on this trek which lasted for about 6 hours. It was totally worth the journey, we came back, picked my friend up and headed out for lunch. We learnt so many things about the two gentlemen in those few hours that we spent with them. One of them had even worked with the Discovery Channel as a photographer. Both of them were from the same background as us but lived very unconventional lives which was very interesting to talk about. They took the six hour trek every weekend apparently!

We did not have an itinerary for this trip. We simply woke up, went out did things that we wanted to do. On some days, we took a walk around Old Manali, visited multiple cafes, tried their local beverages and dishes came back and slept like sloth bears. On other days we were a bit more adventurous and did paragliding!! This was an activity which was long due on my bucket list (at the brim actually) which I could finally tick off. We even had a near death experience during this trip. We slipped on the snow and almost fell into a river. Not joking.

Someone once told me that when you travel, you either have the time of your life or you learn something new. This trip was a combination of both. I cannot possibly describe every experience of the trip because (a) It would never end (b) My parents will be reading this blog. So this was a gist of some of my favorite moments from this beautiful trip. 🙂

-N

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