I Was Scared To Travel To Spiti But When I Finally Did, It Changed My Life


2012: The first time I heard about Spiti.
2018: The first time I visited Spiti.

The rest of the years in between were lost in planning, panicking and postponing. Let me elucidate.

I still remember the first time I heard about Spiti. Of all the boring, mundane listicles that were doing the rounds on Facebook, one instantly piqued my interest. I don't know whether it was the brilliant marketing or the breathtaking photographs, but all at once, I was intensely, madly and hopelessly bewitched by Spiti. I was only 16 years old and travelling anywhere without a guardian was an alien concept for me then. So when my parents, (who are otherwise always down to travel), used their ignorance to justify their lack of enthusiasm, Spiti along with 8762 other places was buried in my bucket list.

Two years later I started going to college and the passage of time rendered me invincible. Like any other 18 year old, I was brimming with hope only to be dejected every time a friend backed out from my well thought out plan. It became a cycle; detailed planning, ruminating about the places, and never materializing the plan. I did manage to travel with my friends to a bunch of places, but all the trips took place under college supervision.

Despite travelling to a number of spectacular places, my burning desire to travel to Spiti never wavered. I realized If I wanted to visit Spiti, I couldn't bank on my friends so I started contemplating travelling solo. That's where the trouble began.

At first, when I learned about the paucity of public transportation in Spiti, I overwhelmed my mind with logistical worries.

What if I miss a bus? What if all the homestays are booked and I have nowhere to stay? What if I accidentally move in the wrong direction? How would I figure things out if I get lost?

And then, when I found out that you get only BSNL phone network in Spiti, I started worrying even more.

6 days without contacting my loved ones? What if I'm in some trouble and I need to call them?

And then came the most petrifying worry. I read a story about a girl who couldn't remember anything about her trek after a severe form of altitude sickness hit her. I knew Spiti's villages were located at high altitudes. And so, a harrowing fear consumed my mind.

If I go to Spiti all by myself, I might get altitude sickness and die. All by myself. And no one to call my parents because my phone won't even work there.

And with that, I just gave up on travelling to Spiti.

But two months later, a stroke of serendipity led me to The Doi Host, a travel company led by Disha and Sambit who curate wonderful, unique trips. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to travel with them. While my well-wishers were concerned with my decision to travel alone with a bunch of strangers, my mind was still occupied with high altitude fears.

Each place's altitude was imprinted like a tattoo in my mind so when the trip began, like a devotee who chants her rosary, I began recalling these high altitudes. I was perfectly alright for 3 days (probably because I knew the elevations weren't very high). On the 4th day, however, when we reached Nako(12,014 ft), I ended up giving myself a panic attack which was followed by an incessant stream of tears that (thankfully) soon morphed into anger.

Cut the crap, everyone is fine and you are too. You are not going to die. So buckle up and enjoy the beautiful ride.

Self-talk is not my forte but somehow, it really worked at that time. The entire journey was 9-day long and we only scaled greater heights from there (up to 15,000 ft). I won't lie, I definitely had random bouts of panic every time we reached an altitude higher than before but they only lasted for a few minutes and I always received help from my wonderful co-travellers and strangers I met along the way.

At the highest post office in the world. (c) Sambit Dattachaudhuri

Photo of I Was Scared To Travel To Spiti But When I Finally Did, It Changed My Life by Ishvani Hans

Spiti not only made me conquer my high altitude fears but also made me realize how trivial a lot of worries can be. Spiti also taught me to believe in the kindness of strangers.

I'm already planning my next trip. If you have been to a great place, please write about it on Tripoto. If you're looking for some travel inspiration like me, these stunning videos would definitely blow your mind!

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