Let me admit it, I used to be freaking scared of solo trips. The thought of being in a new place with strangers all around? No way!
I would have no idea where to crash, what to do, where to grab a bite, or who to ask for help. Most importantly, there wouldn’t be anyone to talk to. I would be all alone, and this seemed quite scary and boring at the same time.
So the whole idea of solo travel didn’t really appeal to me all that much. But then these travel bloggers sing praises about how solo trips changed their lives. I had read their stories, and they said these trips had helped them discover themselves. This got me curious enough to give it a shot.
And besides, I was afraid of solo trips. Avoiding it would just let that fear hang around forever, and that’s not cool. You know, running away from stuff like that? It can haunt you for the rest of your life.
So, I decided to head to Darjeeling — this remote hill city in West Bengal, India. Honestly, I had no clue what I was gonna do there. I had always traveled with friends before, so I couldn’t imagine how being alone in a new city would be any fun.
But I scanned some YouTube videos to figure out the best spots, foods, and activities. And as things looked more certain, it became somewhat easier. I booked a bus ticket online, and threw stuff in my bag, and double-checked that I had my phone charger, and finally hit the road.
During the 14-hour journey, I had a mixed feeling of fear and excitement. Scared of the unknown but excited for the adventure ahead. I knew this was gonna be one heck of a story.
Finally, the bus stopped at the base of the hill, and I took a cab to Darjeeling. The next two hours were a roller coaster ride on steeply inclined roads with sharp turns.
Around 11 am, I stepped foot in Darjeeling. Feeling a bit nervous about what to do next. The place was packed. Roads were narrow. Houses were perched on slopes. And being at a height of 2045 meters above sea level, it was chilly up there.
Everyone was going somewhere except me. I was standing still, feeling somewhat lost and dizzy, maybe because of the altitude. Or maybe I needed some time to adjust to this new surrounding.
First things first, I decided to get a room. So, I searched for hotels that fit my budget online and found several options. The closest one was about 1.5 km away, so I walked.
Since the roads were steeply inclined, I was seriously out of breath within just 5 minutes.
After a little while, I found myself standing at the main tourist spot in the city, Chowrasta. It’s a historical public square on the ridge of the Darjeeling hill range, where you can enjoy absolutely breathtaking mountain views.
I had seen this place in YouTube videos, and now seeing it real was like a dream come true moment. Finally, something familiar in this unfamiliar city. This made me easy, and I felt happy after a long time.
I then booked a room, got freshened up, had some breakfast, and headed back to Chowrasta. Now that I was settled, I wasn’t afraid anymore. In fact, I started to enjoy the views.
The place was crazy stunning. Green tea gardens stretched across the hills. The houses and trees in the distance looked tiny against the endless blue sky. The weather was charming, and there were happy faces everywhere. It seemed a complete paradise.
My heart was racing with excitement, and a big smile was plastered on my face. I was really feeling alive. Maybe this is what people call enjoying themselves. I kept walking, soaking in the panoramic views and snapping pics along the way.
Then something happened which I will never forget!
While taking a photo, I noticed a dude my age doing the same right next to me.
We were both capturing the exact same view from the exact same angle. I smiled at him, and he said, “hi.” And we got talking. His name was Nayan, and he was also a solo traveler who had come to Darjeeling the same day.
You won’t believe this, but we became friends. And for the rest of the trip, we traveled together, sharing our travel stories, trying out local foods, and visiting remote locations in the hills. It was so freaking awesome.
Because I went out of my comfort zone and faced that fear of solo travel, my life became instantly colorful and exciting. I promised myself I would be doing this over and over. I made so many amazing memories in those two days in Darjeeling.
Honestly, I think this is what life is all about. Facing your fears and going to the unknown. I totally believe this because since the moment I started telling you this story, there has been a constant smile on my face!