280. Don’t travel with me and Shannon because we are terrible luck.

It happened in Taiwan, it happened in Vietnam, it happened in Cambodia and yes friends, it has happened in Nepal. Believe me when I say that it’s through no fault of our own, but simply just that the vehicle gods of the universe are out to make sure we stay grounded and don’t let this incredible life we are living go to our heads.

To recap: In Taiwan, an electric scooter we rented ran out of battery, suddenly, in the absolute middle of nowhere. In Vietnam, the bus we caught broke down in the absolute middle of nowhere. In Cambodia, the tuktuk driver’s wheel got a hefty puncture in the middle of the pouring down rain and yes, you guessed it, in the middle of nowhere. And now, Nepal can be added to the list.

On the way back from Bhaktapur, my tyre went flat and Nepalese roads aren’t the roads you want to be driving with a flat tyre. And so, once again, in the middle of nowhere, we had to negotiate trying to explain the problem to locals with no language and absolutely no other solution. Of course, having this happen so many times, I’ve grown used to the fact that there is no use in panicking and that somebody is always going to help you eventually – which they did. We were back on the road again within half an hour of finding a roadside mechanic. Hopefully that’s enough for this trip…

(I wrote this post just before our trip to Pokhara where we got stuck on the road for two hours in a no AC bus. I guess hoping didn’t make a difference)

(Actually was four hours)

(That’s 12 hours in total)

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279. See the Himalayas.

I think I was about ten when my Dad sat me down in front of a blank wall, set up his projector and proceeded to show me slides of his adventures in the Himalayas. For me, that’s when I set my heart on visiting Nepal and seeing those mountains that he talked so fondly of.

Fast forward a decade and I’ve finally made my way to those same mountains that I saw on our wall.. where do I even begin? I don’t suppose it makes much sense to write a blog post about something you feel excels all words in your vocabulary, so Ill just sum them up with words that do them no justice – beautiful, unbelievable, humbling, majestic etc etc. They don’t even come close.

I spent last week wandering through mountains that dwarfed me, that rose double above what I’ve ever seen before and that seemed so close to me that I could touch the top if only I reached out my hand. I feel so grateful to have stood amongst those giants and to have watched the sunrise over Machapuchare and the peaks of Annapurna turn pink with morning rays. If you ever want to feel small, and I think it’s very important that we are regularly reminded of that fact, then there’s nothing in the world that will make you feel smaller.

278. Look for little happinesses.

Whilst I was getting my trekking permit for the Himalayas, the man behind the counter took quite the shining to me. To begin with, he asked me for a picture, and he joked and we laughed and he insisted I go back to see him after my trek. It was all in good humour. But before I left, and this might have been because he was sat in front of me and he was trying to be funny, he did offer me a sound bit of advice: ‘don’t search for big happiness, happiness is always right in front of you, not one big thing, just look for little happiness and you will always see it and your life will be complete’ and I think that’s totally right.

I think I learned a long time ago that trying to find satisfaction, real satisfaction, in getting good grades or high paying jobs or steady income or a house, was something that wasn’t really going to happen for me. My best life is one where I’m not preoccupied with any of that clutter, but taking each day for what happiness it brings me, even if that’s just a really good cup of tea or a decent run or a sweet text from someone you love.

277. Even your most hated songs can turn to bittersweet.

When I was living in Italy earlier this year, so developed an ongoing joke about how much I disliked Oasis. Upon this discovery, my Italian friends took every opportunity to sing or play Wonderwall or something equally as terrible. My last night in Turin was spent with an incredible guy and the ‘best’ Oasis cover band in Europe. It’s funny how that song I used to despise kind of changed to be a reminder of all the amazing moments I shared with amazing people throughout those few months. So, you can imagine the bitter sweetness I felt when I was wandering around the streets of Kathmandu and heard said tune echoing from a nearby bar. I got that pang of love with that pang of realisation that that life had finished for now, and now here I was standing half way around the world in a country I’ve always dreamed of wishing that all those people and all those moments could be here with me. All because of Wonderwall.

276. Eat curries in garages.

There are certainly some warnings about where and what to eat when you’re traveling around Asia. Fortunately, I’ve lived here long enough to know not to always judge a book by its cover and some of the best food I’ve eaten in my life has come from questionable looking roadside stalls and shady street markets. Whilst in Kathmandu, I ate one of the best Channa Masalas I have ever tasted, coming from a little joint that looked nothing more than an old, tangerine orange garage, except with a tandoori instead of a car in the doorway.

275. Some smiles melt your heart.

You know when you meet people and their smiles just brighten any day. You know the kind I mean, they’re rare, warm and contagious and you can’t say no to them. A few days ago, I was up at monastery above Kathmandu, Amitabha. Upon arriving, a young boy carrying a football offered to show us around the monastery, but not before his face scrunched into one of the sweetest smiles I have ever seen.

What a way to make a day.

274. The term ‘road’ can be used loosely.

Trying to negotiate the terrible roads of Nepal whilst on a scooter is an adventure in itself – not to mention quite dangerous, very polluted and in general, oversaturated with traffic. The majority of roads are covered in lumps and bumps and sometimes just endless chasms, and there are times when you think a scooter can’t possibly survive. Let’s just say there is a reason why so many people here invest in hefty looking dirt bikes. The traffic is like Taiwan, Vietnam and Italy made a baby and the pollution is like driving through a desert storm at times. But fear not, because whilst I thought that the roads up to the monasteries above Kathmandu were a little treacherous, things only got shittier, almost literally.

Whilst looking for the airport to collect Shannon’s bag, we ended up taking a little detour through what can only be described as a river of mud and sludge and who knows what else. If you’d seen it you probably would have thought that a scooter had no chance. I looked at it and thought that most vehicles wouldn’t have a chance.

Yet, we lived to tell the tale and got an excellent story out of it, which I would say 99% of the time is always the case. (The scooter also survived but we probably halved its life span.)

273. For the thousandth time, goodbyes are horrible.

One of the drawbacks to moving around a lot is that you’re always saying goodbye to people you really care about. It strikes me that wherever I go, I am always fortunate enough to bump into really amazing people. It means that whilst I am in a place, I am always blessed with incredible company and love, but it means when I leave, I am always plagued with that heavy heart and the fear that I might never get to share their company again. Sure, this is the 21st century, and it is relatively easy to stay in contact with your friends from all over the world, but distance is still distance, and that never gets any easier. Continue reading “273. For the thousandth time, goodbyes are horrible.”

272. There is no such thing as something Sicilian that tastes bad.

If you speak to Italians or spend any time in Italy at all, then you quickly realise how important food is to their culture. I remember asking a friend about the recent election and getting a ten second answer. On the contrary, when I got him talking about mozzarella, he was talking for somewhere closer to half an hour. I didn’t really understand this attachment to food until I was introduced to Sicilian cuisine. Continue reading “272. There is no such thing as something Sicilian that tastes bad.”

271. Visit the Dolomites.

If you’re looking to have your mouth drop in awe of stunning mountains then this place is sure to tick all boxes. I’ve seen mountains, in fact, I aim to spend as much time as I possibly can exploring them, but I have never seen ones quite as beautiful as these ones.

Located in north-eastern Italy, on the Austrian border, you can find plenty of ways to take in the scenery – skiing, hiking, climbing or just sitting drinking and watching the world go by. There isn’t really a bad option.