How to Start A Journey of Self Discovery

Imagine going away into the mountains that will take all of us far away from the places where we are now. Imagine packing your bags. Imagine meeting new people and hugging those old friends from your past trips. Imagine stopping for a tea at a local dhaba and asking about the life of the shopkeeper and maybe share a smoke over with trippers.

The triggers for these flashbacks are sometimes the photos that are displayed as the background on my laptop. Often it is also the thoughts that float freely when hiking, that bring back these memorable moments. Many images and thoughts come to mind. So many that I can almost make a medley of it.

๐Ÿ’š I rented a camper van in New Zealand and toured the islands on our own.

๐Ÿ’™ Chartered a boat with a crew in Vietnam for a few days.

๐Ÿงก I got a berth on a train with fold down beds to go into the Arctic in Sweden and stayed at an Ice Hotel (everything in the room, including the furniture, was made or sculpted from Ice).

๐Ÿ’› In Costa Rica my accommodation was built up in a tree in a tropical forest with screen walls to watch the wild life. I could hear the monkeys at night so close we thought they would crawl into bed with me.

❤️ I stayed in a tent at a very fancy camp site on the Serengeti in Tanzania with a hot water shower in out tent and with wild elephants and giraffes wondering near the site.

๐Ÿ’œ the nice extended family in Ladakh, who spontaneously took stranded trekking tourists along with us to the next town. I'll never forget how I took this ride over the hill in the back of a van on the freshly bottled blood of a slaughtered sheep.

๐Ÿ’— the young impetuous car driver in Puri, whom we have to stop several times as he zoomed past at the speed of light to get to Chilka Lake. At the end of the frenzied ride with marginal overtaking maneuvers, we arrived happy and healthy at the lake. We invited him to a joint fish meal on the beach.

๐Ÿ’œ the helpful and open-minded shop assistant in Nagpur, who showed us the hidden winery of the place despite the opening hours of her shop and introduced us to the wine growers - although again the winery had just closed. We got our little private tasting anyway.

๐Ÿ’› the discovery of a concept in Denmark about the hygge, a way of life-based on enjoying the small things.

Traveling has always been more than moving to me. We always think that relations, things and people make us happy but what I discovered is that the feeling of having them make us happy. Being happy is what we always want and I have my happiness in traveling. Seeing places, meeting people everything that counts in for you is traveling.

The most intense space of mind is a wonderful human experience. Maybe it is the most wonderful experience created in human space. “The dialogue of two brothers... There are many things that don't belong to any of these like words without raising voice and wrong words. But they do not go to waste. Both are said to be well-understanding them”.

The last time the Ashrama visit was permanent, an electronic short residency she had referenced the evening. “So you’re suggesting the notes should go forward without the subject? Then we come forward to an infinite space. Can we better manage this intelligence and create a new ideology. I'm just saying.. "Humans are more likely to propose new meaning".

The mind that is connected to the mind is captured and is explained by the electric speed. Hundreds of years, the physical mental power of mankind was unable to reach through an insult, opens up through the intelligence space, so far without proper attention, but at a distance of thought.

You don't really have to go seven seas to travel but just step up of your zone and you'll know there's no way you want to stop. Like everyone else I used to feel that these travel movies can never happen in reality. You can't have that much money or even if you have money these actors makes it look all beautiful but one day I kept them aside and I discovered my kind of beautiful!

May these movies might not be happening with you but you will always find your way to a film in which you are the hero. We keep racing all our lives to reach somewhere and yet stay in the same place. Why not reach places and just stay, stay for while to live and gather the breath that you have been missing all these years. Why do we need a vacation?

Why not live our life like it were a vacation and nurture and love each moment of it immensely and even if we die tomorrow we won't have any regrets of not doing what we always wanted to do! Living is the only thing we ask for so why not just live! In our life time we spend so much on so many futile things but when it comes to travelling everyone is broke and you know me too.

But once you decide things to happen, things eventually fall in place you have money or you make it accordingly to the amount that you have. It's not just one step outside of your room that you take rather one step outside of the limits that you have set for yourselves.

The thread that you tied with the mortals and you know what it's not bad to have limits or being tied but knowing that you would return to the loved ones with more love in you is important.

So, as you are here reading things planing for your next trip give yourself a high five cause you're going to have a great time buddy.

Imagine sitting around a campfire with your new friends and maybe with a drink in hand, far away from phones. Imagine going out on a walk in the midnight and just because its pretty to look up, sit down and look at the stars. And once you are back, Imagine walking towards your favourite adda, smiling at strangers. Imagine catching up with friends living nearby to tell the stories of your past trip.

Just imagine.

Red Pyramid of Dashur

I came down to the vaulted burial chambers, which felt refreshingly large and cool. The air was sparse and had a stale smell to it - the kind of which you’d expect from a room that’s been sealed for millennia - but I can honestly say I breathed a sigh of relief when I got down there.

But the most intriguing thing, however, was that I heard singing: it was eerie and beautiful, and at first I thought they were playing some music for the tourists down there, on some unseen modern-day speakers, presumably installed into the pyramid together with scaffolding, rails, electrical lights and (entirely inadequate) ventilation.

But then I got into second of those three chambers, and figured out from where the singing was coming from: from two Asian girls who descended there some time before us, and then - for some to me inexplicable reason, but for which I shall be grateful to them till the day I die - started chanting some unknown songs in some to me incomprehensible language.

I don’t know if those girls were Korean, Japanese, Chinese or some other -ese, but their singing was godlike beautiful! And so I walked in the stony echoes of that serene music, as if I really descended into the watery gloom of the Egyptian underworld, all calm and blissful.

Eventually, as those lovely Asian ladies finished their singing, the time came for us all to go back up; and if the descent into the pyramid was bone-wrecking exercise, the ascent out of it was thrice worse. I had to go up a rather steep slope, so bent over that my knees were practically kicking me in the face.

I could hardly breathe, feeling like I was kicking the air out of my lungs with each step I took up; yet I couldn’t stop and rest, because the air in the corridor was so thin and sparse that I felt like I was drowning. For a moment, I really started to fear that I was going to suffocate. And then, finally.

Coming out of the pyramid felt like bursting out of the water in which one was submerged for far too long. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it felt as an actual physical rebirth: I was gulping on the fresh desert air, basking in the warmth of the sun, and stretching under the light of the open sky, like a corpse risen out of a tomb by some ray of divine splendor.

My parents, who were with me on that journey, sat on the nearest two stone blocks and went on bitching about how much their bodies hurt from this entire ordeal.

I, on the other hand, was rewinding in my head everything I ever read and knew about ancient Egyptian mythology, about their beliefs of death and afterlife, about the nightly journeys of Re through the underworld, the burial and resurrection of Osiris, the Ankh and the breath of life and it all began to make complete, intuitive and simple sense to me.

Like… this was it! This is what was all about. Death and suffering, descent into the underworld, eternal rest under magical chants of priesthod, and the glorious rebirth in the face of sun-god. Those ancient Egyptian priests and builders - who must have had similar experiences coming in and out of those tombs - really knew their shit, and accordingly designed and built the pyramids as real (to paraphrase Le Corbusier) “machines for the afterlife.”

A Memorable Trip to Ladakh

And there was this special encounter in the distant Ladakh, to which I often like to think back. It was an adventure that I left without knowing what to expect, a solo trip that ends up being a group trip. I entered Ladakh alone, and as I added towns, kilometers, and anecdotes, I started becoming a world traveler, with around 5 travelers from all over the world.

I walk on the frozen layer through spectacular rocky gorges flanked by mountains of almost 6000 meters and we will see some of the most remote villages of this corner of the Himalayas.

Discovering the pleasure and privilege of sharing, I end up distributing the little that the traveler has. Yours is mine and mine is yours, from the mosquito repellent, sunscreen, cutlery, toilet paper, pillow, and in the absence of individual rooms - a bed for 3; a jeep for 5 and the crumbs of some cookies after long hours on the jeep.

It was April, and the Indian summer was slowly announcing. The days were already pleasantly warm, but at night it was still bitterly cold with temperatures around freezing. Ice still floated on parts of the lake, where we occasionally spot a few birds in the distance. And in those weeks when the landscapes and people were changing, the shallow bonds became deeper, in which the Indus has gone from being a river of common flow and width to being the broadest river that I have crossed.

We know that a river crossing awaits us today. One of the tributaries to the lake must be overcome. There is no other possibility. However, there is no bridge. We know about the upcoming adventure, especially in times of snow melt in the mountains.

Walking deeper is just as little an option. The high mountains are not far. And, there may be leopards there. I'm torn by the thought of them. On the one hand, I would like to meet one in the wild. In the other hand, I also have due respect for a possible unexpected meeting. We enter a monastery and see how the monks live; in addition to knowing other aspects of the society that often go unnoticed.

It's lunchtime. We have been on the road again for a few hours now. The idea of having a lunch break makes us consult together when a small boat approaches us. It is a local native who has come to see us from afar. The river carries a lot of water and is very difficult to cross at the moment. So he offers to take us by boat. We look at each other for a moment, feel unity and jump into the boat, beaming with joy.

We arrive at his village, and a few greet us. Are we hungry? They were just about to have lunch. This time we do not have to look at each other and accept the invitation immediately. What an honest and spontaneous hospitality!
They have cooked some fresh fish from the lake, with potatoes, onions, and other herbs.

We get bread and butter out of our backpacks. We enjoy the delicacies. Of course, a toast with a local beer could not be missed. In conversation, we learn that they are currently building a stable shelter for the hikers, so that more people come and get to know this beautiful area.

When asked about the loneliness out there, they answer that they love nature and they will like to be out here all the time. And what about the wild animals? I want to know. They exist, but they are more afraid of us than we are of them. They would not have seen one for a long time. They offer us to stay and spend the night at the village.

The fact that we speak some Tibetan makes this encounter easier, more harmonious, and more intense.
I love the Tibetan culture, and they are cultures that are very difficult to understand here, but you have to understand them very well when you live with this type of people. This, in the end, opens our mind, and we put ourselves in each one's place to be able to understand them.

The life of people here has been simple as for centuries, that we with globalization have been abandoning, becoming more hermetic, individualistic, materialistic, and undoubtedly more selfish.

I feel nature in capital letters on my skin as I share exciting times during the night around the bonfire. I love the world and traveling because of the feeling of freedom that it gives me. It is a way to open my head, to overcome my prejudices, to understand that there are many different ways of looking and living. It helps me to change the prism and also to know myself more.

It helps me run away from the routine and make each day count. Each day have one or more stories to tell. The next morning I crawl out of the tent. The villagers point a bit in the direction we came from yesterday and asks us if we want to see a leopard. I look at them questioningly and puzzled. They explain that fishermen have found a dead leopard cub on the shore.

It probably was attacked in the area by an older male. When the little animal lies in front of me, I see the bite marks near its head. I am a bit sad, knowing that this has happened in real nature and wilderness.

After the breakfast, we dismantle our tent, shoulder our backpacks and say goodbye to the villagers. Not without promising to once again return to this place. The farewell is difficult. The warmth of the villagers in this beautiful and intense, but also deserted, wilderness will not let us go for a long time.

Silently, we walk side by side, each one pausing in their thoughts and leaving the beautiful place behind, step by step - but remembering that, we take it home.

When I saw a group of children with some wood, bricks and bamboo canes create trucks, and spend time sharing an imaginary world, I could not help but wonder, what happened to our children. Have they lost the ability to imagine? Have they lost the innocence of being children, as adults have lost the ability to smile at strangers, even the neighbors?

I laughed sometimes for others, sometimes alone with me and sometimes with those wonderful strangers. And I find that strangers are friends and that the most beautiful thing about traveling is not just to know new places, nor to get drunk with beautiful landscapes, nor that the palate goes mad with a whole new repertoire of flavors, the real beauty of traveling is in people, and what they bring to the trip.

I can incorporate their different cultures, experiences, and the experiences of life into my own. So my soul vibrated between surprise, the joy of discovering new landscapes, new customs, new people, new feelings and bittersweet moments like the farewells to the new friends.

It is bitter because I fear they may be final, and sweet because they mean they are reflective of common stories, beautiful memories that will remain engraved in the heart for life.

This is not new for me. I have traveled the world a lot, and very intensely although never as much as on this occasion and I know that that is what really makes a trip exciting. It is clearly expressed by that phrase that says the real destiny is in the trip.

More Than Mountains in Nepal

It's early in the morning. Everything outside is still very quiet. On the horizon, the first dim light is visible. I quickly slip into my warm clothes and go outside. I want to welcome the new day above, in the small stupa with colorful prayer flags. It is a wonderfully clear morning and the mountains emerge slowly from the darkness.

I'm on a ridge about one and a half hours east of Kathmandu. The physical conditions constantly change, and the experiences go flying on the bumpy ride on the longest but most comfortable route from Kathmandu to Sindhuli. Now that I'm here, I feel my breath and listen to the birds. The prayer flags flutter in the wind. A reddish glow appears slowly on the horizon that bathes the mountaintop in a golden red light.

I watch this fascinating spectacle of nature. As the first rays come forth, I enjoy the warmth and feel connected with the mountains, humans and the universe. It is another one of those magical moments for which I love to be on the road. The Himalayan mountain range lies in front of me, almost close enough to touch. The mountains seem to float on the horizon with its snow-capped peaks.

I was there in the mountains. I get happy to be away from everyday life as the fresh air fills my thoughts and actions. Memories of the last few days pass through my mind of the ups and downs of the hiking trails, small mountain villages, and my cheerful Nepali companion.

This was my first big self discovery trip. I always wanted to travel far away. My parents were less than thrilled with my travel plans. Therefore, this trip for me was not only a detachment from their protection but also the limitations of staying with parents. It was an important step in my independent life as for the first time I took my "own decision" and dared to realize my desires against objections from the outside.

The time in Nepal was really a journey into me. There were ups and downs, moments of enthusiasm and also silent and lonely moments. As I walked around with open eyes through the world, many things became apparent to me, where I learn more about what actually constitutes myself. Because I gradually learned how relative that may be what is considered "normal".

I had to find my way every new day as nature also took some "tests" on me. One of the most impressive moments I experienced on the trip, was when I caught a cold after washing my hair at 3,500 meters with ice-cold water. Then for the whole day, I sat in a heap at the table and my Nepali friend forced me hot soup after soup.

I had no idea how I would survive the next day's tour. But there was no turning back. At four o'clock in the morning the alarm went off - and after a short feel in my body, I suddenly knew that I can do this. I was still shaky, but after a few hundred meters, my body started to work. My abdomen felt like a slow machine that ran steadily forward. My body showed me exactly what my speed was.

I just listened to myself and went quite into my own rhythm. The climb went on but I was connected to myself that lifted me in the vastness of the mountains around. Up at 5,200 meters, I was overjoyed and extremely grateful for what my body has done for me. I was even one of the first to reach one of the cliffs. I never thought that I can mobilize such forces in me.

I eat very little. Moreover, I undertake hours of endurance until the pain in the limbs become almost unbearable. It was an incredible challenge! In addition, I controlled myself throughout the time of the trail to be consistently silent. I keep walking with a tent on my back through beautiful landscapes, streams, and forests, over mountains and past crystal clear lakes. Hiking through the remote mountains broadened my horizons and the way I looked at myself as I get fascinated by the majestic mountain scenery, Buddhist culture and friendly people.

I see poignant beautiful landscapes. Every second house in Nepal is like a temple and everywhere the belief of the people was palpable. These people were just so incredibly nice, that I cannot but be happy as people walk around with a smile on their face. It was the joy and attitude of the people which give me strength and courage to go on and on in a search for myself.

In the evening as I sit by the fire, I look in the vast starry sky as people talk about their experiences about how they live in a friendly way with wild animals before I lie down in my tent amidst the roar of the fox perhaps from afar. Here l learn not only a lot about nature but also a lot about me after an encounter with a wild yak that was certainly very close.

I made some wonderful friendships with local villagers and realize the grandeur and glitz of modern cities bound by time are all superficial. When I danced with locals full out, I get answers to my questions and best of all I almost answer it myself, because only I know in the end what is really good for me!

Through all the experiences I found more security and joy in myself. The impressive thing I felt was that as if I am in the home even though in a foreign country. I felt my heart was "here" and everything else was far away.

Somehow I "arrived" in this once alien world. I spent a week in an almost lonely cabin in the mountains and pure nature to find complete solitude and understand myself. I had enough time to think without distraction and I became slowly aware of what I really need in life to be happy.

This place is almost unreal with extreme colors of yellow, to orange to red, depending on the time of day and lighting conditions. This almost paradoxical contrast makes me speechless. I learn if it is not done today, then maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow - or next week. Getting upset does not help here. Things are not always so important in life, as I thought earlier. Much more important is to live in the present and enjoy the moment.

Equally impressive was when I got back home. I remember those faces again and again who make me forget my worries and problems at home. In this day and age, we often care too much about others than to ourselves. We forget who we are, what we really want out of life and what makes us really happy. The newfound fitness gives me the drive for my future!

This trip was like a door opening into a colorful, fascinating world to me. On this journey, I found true freedom because I lived for months only with the essentials. I played with my body to excel and grow not just once beyond me. It helped me get out of my comfort zone. I recognized that a lot of things in life are important but not as I thought before.

Life is an adventure, but the question is what you make of it! Up there, the world is still OK!
Kalyan Panja