This is basically my story when I traveled solo. I hope it gives you the courage to do the same :)
It all started when I liked being adventurous (I have always been adventurous). Since then traveling solo had become a wish and I had added it into my bucket list. Same time, last year one fine day I just packed my bags and left. Booked tickets just an hour before and before I could even realise, there I was traveling solo, unplanned and unafraid.
It was at 3 am in the morning when I woke up suddenly and realise that the bus had stopped for a tea break in the middle of the journey. I got down for tea, it was hot so I took time to drink and in no time I saw the driver starting the engine and I shouted ' Bhaiya! ruko ' , he looked at my tensed face and with a calm smile he gestured showing that he was waiting and that he would not leave a passenger and go. I felt relieved. I still didn't wait the tea to get over instead I took it with me and crossed the road. I was approaching to my seat and the driver told me to sit in front and go back after I had finished the tea. I sit, and a conversation backed up. It was really inexplicable you know, knowing a different person altogether. Bhaiya told me about his family and everything, and asked me what was my story. Funny thing, he thought that I had a family in Coorg or that my friends were already there waiting for me. As soon as he got to know that I was alone and that I would be traveling alone he told me that it was the first time in ten years he was experiencing something like this, a woman traveling all by herself. He told me I am strong and that I have a lot of audacity and there at 4 am in the morning I realized that it actually takes something to travel alone. Turns out that this impulsive decision is the best decision I had ever made till date.
The bus stops again, my eyes open again. It's 6 am. We have reached Coorg. I have to get down, it's still dark so Bhaiya tells me to sleep till light comes out. I think he's right so I go back to sleep again. It's 7 am now and it's still foggy. I'm up. Awake and alert. I grab my bag, I get down. Say goodbye to bhaiya, he gives me his number incase I need it and I leave, unaware of the things I am going to do and experience in this strange town with these strange people. All I have is confidence and a knife(you gotta do what you gotta do) and my bag of course!
Everything is closed, I have to look for a place to freshen up and start exploring I don't have much time. I find a restaurant. Phew. Now, I am done with the morning rituals- shitting, brushing my teeth and washing my face so I finally head out. What am I gonna do? I look around I see some taxis. Those taxi drivers who reach out to tourists and basically empty their wallets by hiking the prices for everything and nothing at the same time. One of them comes to me and in no time starts blabbering about the places that this town is known for. I am not convinced, I am not here for sight seeing. I am here to explore and I am gonna do that. Just then I see the same bus going past me and Bhaiya waving at me. I wave back but my heart tells me to stop the bus and get it. By the time I actually realise I should've stopped the bus, it had gone. I am not giving up! I call him he tells me to come fast and that he has stopped. I start walking fast but I go to the opposite direction, he then calls me tells me some address and luckily I get an auto. The bus full of passengers waited for 20 minutes and I literally thank bhaiya and apologize to everybody in the bus (etiquettes you know xD)
Now, this bus is heading to some place that is 40 kms from Madikeri (where I had gotten down and where I have to catch the bus again). I still don't know where I am gonna head to. All I know is this 'i am full of fire and this fire just ain't gonna douse.'
The bus stops halfway again, this is a village called Napoklu, few passengers get down here. It's a very small village. It surely had a limited population. Getting down for tea I start looking for places that are uncommercialised. I find a place called Tadiandamol Hills. I ask people about it, they tell me it's 20 kms from here and that there are buses that drop you nearby and that it comes at 9. I had half an hour in my hand, snuggly. So I decide to eat something. People here are very helpful trust me. It felt like everything was happening as if it was supposed to happen this way. People really want to help, they just wanna hear your stories and experiences in return and they help you with all their heart. I find this uncle in a canteen, after listening to my story he asks his friend to drop me and also gives me his number in case I need it. The clock strikes nine and I Thank God as I really wanted to take that bus.
I tell him my destination and I doze off. Not only the conductor wakes me up but I see that he has already spoken to a taxi driver who agrees to drop me at the respective place. This place didn't make me feel that I am in a strange land at all and that I am coming here for the first time. I thank him and I get down. The taxi driver agrees to decrease the amount as I tell him that I'll drive halfway ( I don't know how to drive, I swear ) but to my amazement he agrees to it ( because he doesn't know xD ) and warns me that the roads are very sloppy. God, that seems like a challenge. YAS!
It's just 3 kms drive after that it's a walk of 9 kms, like a plain trek. The roads are dangerous. So I sit back and embrace the beautiful scenery but I don't wanna just sit.
" Bhaiya, ab main chalau?" and he stops the car, I go sit front "Par mujhe chalani nahi aati!" and he is like "main batata hoon" and trust me he instructed me so well that I actually could drive. It was my first time experience of driving a car in the hills on that sloppy and rocky roads. I had a great adventure driving that small yellow van. He takes the seat after a while because I was too slow and I guess it requires a huge amount of patience to teach someone how to drive on roads like these.
Finally, I am here starting my trek. I am excited. During the whole trek I hardly see any people. I meet a French couple and see very few people. It felt like I was the only one walking that hill and trust me it was one of the best feelings I have felt in a while. Walking there alone in a deserted place with nature, with bushes and trees grooving to the sound of the wind and then my music and me, all by myself, alone, just alone.
That day, I felt I like can achieve anything, absolutely anything and that nothing can bring me down. That moment there, was priceless.
There comes a point when people generally stop, chill and head back. Honestly, I didn't feel satisfied. I wanted to walk more and keep exploring and so I did. After a few kms I started climbing a mountain and stopped halfway. I still didn't want to but I was alone I had to be responsible and make back on time. So I sit there, in the middle, play some songs feel the freshness of the place and start heading back.
It's very important to make sure that you are positive ALL THE TIME and that you should know everything is absolutely alright and that nothing will happen. Things will fall into place and you will not even realize it.
I have completed the trek, but it's a long road again and there's no one. I sit down and relax and just then I see a bike crossing and out of nowhere I stop that bike and making a puppy face I ask him to give me a ride. He smiles gently and comes back. My first hitchhike of the trip! He shows me his house on the way, and tells me his stories. He tells me about this Chelavara waterfall. He drops me at the start of the road that leads to the village that has Chelavara waterfalls. Giving me his number he tells me to call him, if I need help again.
I catch a bus to reach my destination. The bus gave me a tour of the village and dropped me just 3 kms before the falls. The conductor was hilarious. He whistles to stop the bus and that was the most fun part. It's a good feeling to see people enjoying what they do. They don't have big dreams. All they wanna do is earn a sum that gives them food and shelter. They're contented with what they have and laugh away the worries and the things they don't have. They know the real value of life and are yet underestimated.
After getting down from the bus I start walking and obviously start looking for vehicles to hitchhike. This time I meet a local family in a Maruti van (sounds scary eh?) This family does not ask me anything just open the door, smile and give me a lift. Only two daughters of all knew English so they translated my story to the family. Their smiles made me feel more confident. That day I sensed something from all the people I met. I could sense positivity, that spark you know. I felt like maybe I am able to set an example for their daughters and see that we are capable of anything and everything.
Waterfalls are beautiful. It is so serene. The falls gave my ears a soothing tune and I was relieved. I felt free from the burden of the world, the people and the society and basically everything. You know there's this thing about waterfalls: they flow on their way, nonchalant, as if nothing had come in between and I guess that's just the other way of seeing life.
Heading back, looking for lifts again, there I find a bike coming towards me again! This is a special one. On asking him to drop me till the main road he tells me "Koi dekhlega toh?" and smiling at him I reply by saying "Toh bol dena main aapki behan hu!" and I think my answer did please him as he agreed to drop me xD
So while we were on our way we shared our stories and he tells me that he is a pandit and that he has two temples here and I am like "Mujhe dekhna hai!" That's it! All I had to say was that I wanted to visit the temples and he takes me to his home and makes me meet his mom and his two dogs ( I don't remember their names though ) but both the dogs were absolutely adorable. There was a temple just opposite his hut. He shows me the temple and his mom invites me for lunch. I could never have imagined that I would ever have an experience like this if I hadn't stopped him and asked for a lift.
Now, hitchhiking can not always be safe, it's very important to trust your gut. If your gut strongly denies, do not go for it. I repeat. DO NOT GO FOR IT. One more thing never look for unwanted attention while travelling solo. It's a BIG NO NO! Not that I have traveled alot, just simply sharing what I might think would help.
After a warm homemade lunch and lovely conversation he drops me back and gives is number (yes.) and tells me to call him once I reach (there are good people). Here's a picture of them,
Now, I start hitchhiking again, this time again I find a family. It's a family from Kerela. They drop me till kakkabe.
Napoklu is now just 9.3kms away.This time I take a lift from an old man who is driving a jeep! Damn this is all day one! This was the best part, he was giving lifts to whoever came on the way and dropped them till wherever he could. Well, Napoklu was on the way so I got down, thanked him and went on.
I was looking for that uncle who owned that canteen. He wasn't there but I see that his old man and the old man's friends are sitting, sipping that evening tea and having a gala time in his canteen. I join them and we are chatting and laughing simply when our talks are interrupted by his son ( that uncle ). I meet him, I feel satisfied now and so I bid them goodbye and start to leave. As I am walking I listen honking and turning back I see my uncle had come on a scooty to drop me. He is going to drop me but before that he starts showing me around. He showed me a masjid, spoke about their cultures and over that evening tea we witnessed the sunset. The sunset indicated me to leave. Finally, with one last goodbye and one selfie I leave for Madekeri.
What a wonderful day it had been! Took local buses, trekked for 18kms, hitchhiked, ate lunch with strangers and what not! It definitely had to be the best day of my life and yes it was indeed the best day of my life.
Here I am back again to the same place where my journey had started, Madekeri. I realize I still have an hour or two to catch the bus so I start sight seeing. I visited two temples, one church and some local markets. Now, it's finally time to board the bus after a day that gave me innumerable and unforgettable memories that is going to be with me till the end.
Well, that's how my first solo trip ended. This trip not only gave me an amazing story to live with but many experiences that made me stronger and more confident about myself and it totally changed my outlook towards life. So if you haven't traveled solo yet, what are you waiting for?
GO AHEAD AND TRAVELLL!