Prior to the trip to the Indian subcontinent that prompted my joining this website my experience of travelling was limited to say the least. Holidays to locations such as Amsterdam, Paris, Florida, and New York were extremely enjoyable but hardly the stuff of adventure. Before I went off to university to study Classics at the ripe old age of 24 my only real adventure had been a five day trip to Rome on my own. I loved it. Vatican City, the Colosseum, the day trip to Pompeii (including the not-so-delightful bus ride through Naples) – it was an incredible trip yet, as I’m sure the more experienced travellers among you are probably thinking, not the most intrepid journey. It was safe. It was still just a holiday.
It was not until my first year at uni that my resolve abroad would truly be tested when myself and three friends became embroiled in a plot to hitch-hike from the comforts of Cardiff to the city of Marrakesh, Morocco. Throughout the year it was our objective to raise £350 each for a charity involved in developing education for numerous deprived countries in Africa. By Easter our target was met and with ready thumbs and practiced smiles we endeavoured toward the south coast of England, to Portsmouth, before sailing across to Le Havre and continuing to hitch-hike through France and then through Spain: through Caen, through Rennes, through Nantes, through Bordeaux, through Burgos, through Madrid, through Cordoba, through Malaga, to Algeciras. From there we crossed the straits of Gibraltar and, due to advice not to hitch-hike within Morocco, we took a cramped overnight train from Tangier to our final destination Marrakesh. Maverick British truckers, confused yet lovely French hippies, one drink-driving Spaniard, one insane Algerian lorry driver: these were just some of our charitable chauffeurs. Our time in Marrakesh was brief; five days in total. We explored, we haggled, we ate shawarma. Everyone should eat shawarma. Our last night we slept on the street outside the airport (who knew it closed at night!?) and then flew back to London the next day fully worn out from our enterprising 15 days.
I wasn’t able to afford another trip abroad during my time as an undergraduate, though I ached to see more of the world. My decision to do a Master’s would delay this ambition for another year. It was during dissertation season when days in the library were long and tedious that my brother phoned me to ask me my plans for the following year. I had nothing concrete planned. A trip to Nepal and India and Sri Lanka he proposed. Three months exploring the Himalayas and the subcontinent. I leapt at the chance. We booked the flights the next day and saved and saved for four months until January 7th 2013 loomed and my latest and greatest (so far) enterprise began.