Cheerful trip to Asia.

Dating in Malaysia
As far back as I can remember, since high school indeed, I have always wanted to go far away, to live elsewhere. This is what I did after my nursing studies. I moved to Reunion Island for five years. My first dream came true, but it was not enough yet. I wanted to go far away, to a culture different from mine, alone, with no time or space limit. I felt the need for it deeply. Not doing it was like living next to my life. So I quit my job, returned to my apartment, kissed my boyfriend one last time, and took a flight to Bangkok. Then a second for Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand, where I started my first work on a horse farm. My job? Take the horses out of the paddock and accompany the tourists on day trips. Then I realized another dream, that of riding alone on horseback.

Woofing
Through another volunteer from this horse farm (an Austrian one), I met a group of travelers who had met themselves at a youth hostel in the city. People who traveled like me, alone and who came from all over the world. From that day on, I wasn’t alone for a single day on my trip – at least, to Malaysia. I met some of these travelers. We crossed Laos together, met other fellow travelers, then Cambodia. We laughed, from the first word exchanged in the morning, still in our dorm beds, to the last traded in the evening, sometimes until the middle of the night. I felt free, even though I could see there was always a limit. But freed from all responsibility, I felt lighter. I had no idea what tomorrow would bring or where I would be, but I knew anything was possible.

Dating Cambodia
Our paths all parted in Kampot, Cambodia. A page that was turning. I also chose to travel to find myself alone, face with myself. So that’s what I did in Malaysia. Weeks, independently, constantly moving, meeting people but fleetingly.

island Malaysia
And then, this virus, whose name sometimes appeared in conversations between travelers, this virus was more and more heard. One day my ex from Reunion called me. I was then on an island. I was looking at the sea. He told me that things are getting worse and that a choice will be imposed on me, that of returning very soon or remaining stranded for an indefinite time at the other end of the world. I told her that I was never the type to take precautions and would only turn back when I got to the end of the road.
Two days later, as I leave this island to continue my journey, I take a boat with dozens of travelers rushing to the airport, taking the last flights home before Singapore closes its doors. I think the world has gone mad. I think I might be missing my chance, maybe the last, to get home. But I will continue. Only to find myself confined to the city afterward. I moved into a hostel, where I met a group of about fifteen people, from 20 to 80 years old, “backpackers”. We all live together, happily, the start of confinement in Malaysia. We are comfortable there, we each have our little wooden hut, we go to the beach during the day, and we meet in the evening to play cards or talk together. We hear news from our respective countries. The Italian is worried, his whole family is there, and the situation is more than catastrophic in Italy. The Australian has lost a friend to cover. We watch it from afar. Our countries are asking us to return as soon as possible. But we stayed. What’s the best out there? The void is much more present there, and by limiting our movements, we also restrict its propagation.

The endless roads of the journey

The body is in motion. Movements of the body that moves forward and relaxes. Transition and change.

The road, the wheels. Rotation. The kilometers that go by slip by. Unwind the dry thread of landscapes in the colors of the sunlight. Land without water lets the green disappear into cracked horizons.
To push, a physical metaphor for a mental state that hopes to let go. The bodies move forward, and the spirits follow—the impulse of the living.
On land without water, where nothing grows, you have to push. To move forward, the will of the mobile state seeks life. Leave the stagnation of flesh and thoughts.
The voyage, the paths of adventure and letting go. In the direction of the unknown, I embark. I embrace life and the chaos that will present itself.
Morocco, land of fire. 2021. Coach in the Un Monde Reenchante expedition.

Marion Swar, author of the book “Hemisphères en movement” and facilitator in the development of people, to better understand one’s potential and reconnect with what is alive in us.

What traveling companion do I want to be?

If I met…
In the street, in the metro, on the road, in a bar, at work, would I want to know myself? Would I have the taste (thank you Quebecois expression that I love so much)? To take the time to stop and learn who I am?
If I met, would I want to be my friend? My travel companion? My roommate, my employee, my boss, my collaborator? My lover, my lover, my husband?
Can I ask myself this question every day:
Right now, if I met, would I focus on who I am?
Then, act accordingly. What actions, words, thoughts do not please me, do not correspond to me? Is it me? How do I become my friend again?
Honestly… if I look back, no. Many times, I would never have accepted that a friend of mine would act the way I did. Not every day, not all the time. Especially on the roads of travel where everything is amplified, intensified, sometimes complicated. A perfect cocktail of emotions that can lead to many misalignments.
I improved over time. I learned to respect who I am, stay aligned, want to meet me, want to be my friend, and love myself.
I, I am myself.
Far from me wanting to be perfect, to embody the ideal. Already, because my perfection is not yours, then, because I can’t please everyone, I don’t want to please everyone… Anyway, I’m working on it. I take away from myself the – unhealthy – need to be loved by everyone. I would like to please myself. My imperfections often appeal to me.
When I groan and find the grumpy child, I make myself laugh. When I cry in anger or grief, I get emotional. When I rediscover innocence in my ignorance and sometimes in my stupidity. When I get impatient, scream, run away, I sympathize. I will continue to be my friend in many of my imperfections because that is who I am too.
Thanks to them.
To those who supported me when I couldn’t do it myself. To those who loved me when I was unable to. To those who enjoy what I hate about me. To those who stayed, when I ceased to be there for me.
To my friends, lovers, brothers and sisters in blood, heart and soul, for traveling, to my parents, thank you for being my friends and for walking with me the paths of self-love.

My solo trip to the Canadian Rockies, one road trip too many.

I took my envy in both hands – and my courage – I set off entirely on my own to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks, the Canadian Rockies. I was far from imagining what to expect. From beauties in galleys, from loneliness to the tourist crowd, overpriced accommodation to harsh nights. First time not planning anything, and it might be the last!

A year of dreaming of these landscapes that the whole world admires.
Weeks am I looking for the cheapest: renting a car or going on an organized tour? Hours of comparing, considering all options, sending messages to find fellow travelers. Finally, I rent a car in Banff and go on my own. I leave it to nature, to chance, to encounters, to my desires. I’m leaving without an itinerary, without a reservation, only a return date. Nine days to explore, get lost and find each other.
It could have gone well…
… If the weather had not been so erratic, between clouds, wind, rain, cold… It is mid-June, some lakes are still frozen, and the snow makes me wade, slide, even fall while hiking… Almost a year that I am in Canada, and I saw the summer five days, absolute despair begins to take birth in me. I can’t say enough about how the weather determines my mood. The colors and contrasts are so different when big black clouds fill the sky with gray. I swear to you that Lake Louise, without the turquoise water highlighted by the sun, is not so crazy…

Agnes Lake
… If my loneliness was not paradoxically opposed to coaches crowded with tourists, hikes in single file, swarming viewpoints of the 300 or so people around me. I am neither alone nor accompanied. The click-click of the burst photos starts to make me cringe. The selfie saddens me even more with every stop. Nature in all its splendor has become a pretext for the new Facebook photo. We take it from all angles, forgetting to admire and let ourselves be touched by the essentials since we think of the framing, his skin, his hair and am I not looking too fat there? I dreamed of calm, of listening to the birds, of singing in the forest… I had not planned to do a concert for the 30 people around.
… If the accommodation weren’t so expensive! I have never seen that! Youth hostels for $ 60. So yes, these are luxury hostels. It’s as beautiful as everything, but do they understand the principle of backpacking? Traveling on a budget! Not to mention that the homes are all stormed! You can’t show up unexpectedly, thinking you’ll find a room with the snap of your fingers, unless you’ve got $ 200 to spare. Tourist, I told you! Ciao spontaneity, adventure, chance! Otherwise, it’s camping. And again, first come, first served. I tested it. I gave up after spending a night in my car in the backseat. Each member was so stiff that I would wake up in the middle of the night to moan. For nine days, I was bored buying and carrying a tent, the mattress and the inflator… So instead of enjoying the landscapes with the flowers in the wind, I spent my day wondering how I would find a solution to sleep… I found myself in the most rustic inns in the country, without electricity or running water, shelters that you pay 30dol. An excellent experience for a few nights. If you like washing dishes in dirty water, not taking a shower after a day of trudging, being eaten by mosquitoes, especially when you pee-poo on the dry toilet who are disgusting and stinky, BUT have a breathtaking view of the mountains and the small river, share the campfire with real travelers at the roots. Magic and authenticity! For a long time during my travels, I closed my eyes. Now I can’t stand it…
Finally, if I had been accompanied, we would surely have laughed!
It is in those moments, of ultimate despair, when you do not know where you are going or how you are going to sleep when it is raining, that you do not enjoy as you would like, and that it costs you an arm in addition! That being at least two warms the heart. Because together we overcome the slack, the fears, the hardships, the hardships, we exceed our limits, and we take it more lightly. Sleeping in the forest together is immediately more reassuring. Beyond sharing the expenses, the hikes, and pleasures, being with someone can count on the energy, experience, knowledge, and brain of the other to find a solution together and support each other, whatever happens. When you’re alone, you have to get them well in your positive resources!
The difference is that with someone, everything around you takes on a different resonance.
The energy of the emotions that pass through us, caused by the adventures we live, the landscapes that amaze us, circulate from one to another. It echoes between our bodies and amplifies it over and over again. This is the magic of being several!

Departure for Nepal

When I got there, it was a bit of a shock. I left one world to discover another so different. Cars drive on the right; there are many people and noise in the streets—a constant mixture of dust and pollution. During the day, we can meet many dogs sleeping on the road, but they give us a happy concerto in a gang in the evening. I had read in books that once there, the smells of spices and incense misted the streets, and it’s true that wherever you go, you can smell them, it’s so pleasant.. It was a chance to leave with this combination as I wouldn’t have learned so much going alone, I think. Indeed, this association managed construction sites in 4 different villages more or less far from the capital. It allowed me to discover different ways of living depending on the ethnicities. And above all, meet extraordinary people throughout the trip. The vast majority of Nepalese have their hearts set on their hands. No matter what path I take, I have constantly bumped into lovely people. You take the bus in one direction, and then finally you get lost a bit on the way, but there, a Nepali sees that you are having a hard time and starts to help you, then invites you to drink tea with his family. I learned so much from the locals there. No matter how much you read books, look on the internet or watch reports, there is nothing like going there and being immersed.
When we decide to leave France for Nepal, we give up a certain comfort. Indeed, there are often water problems no matter where you are. Sometimes you can have water, but it will be cold even in winter, or you may not have water. But ultimately, we adapt since we have no choice. In the villages, the volunteers and I washed either with basins of water or showers, created by some volunteers, fitted with resistance to heat the water. Then if not, in winter, if you don’t wash every day, you tell yourself it’s okay, it’s the same for everyone, and we all laugh about it. We also face the problems of power cuts that are very common, not very surprising given the cable nodes everywhere in town. Sometimes it could be restrictive since I was working on a computer with part of my work team.

Christmas with volunteers in the village of Gairimudi
We have different means of transportation to get from one point to another. So, to get around the most touristic cities like Pokhara, Kathmandu or even Chitwan, there are tourist buses, the most comfortable, easy to find either in the capital or once there. You still have to manage to find your way around the city. The beginnings can be a little difficult because of the streets, which are all alike, with the similar stores that can be found side by side. When it comes to transport, you have to know how to negotiate well, because as French people or as “white” people, of course, we do not have the same prices as locals. It takes between 600 and 700 Nepalese rupees to get to these almost equal-distance cities. The roads aren’t great, but I assure you that when you’ve been to more remote villages and taken local buses, these are the best roads you’ll take on your trip. Local buses are more minor, much narrower, and as long as they can fit people into them, whether standing or sitting, they will. It is all the more difficult to make trips of 7 hours or more on these buses, especially if you are tall. I am 1m64, and given the state of the roads, when I was standing, I could bang my head against the ceiling several times or even while sitting; I had my knees touching the seat opposite. On local buses, the Nepalese can also give you their baby or child on their knees if they do not have a seat, and you do. Besides, once again, I was surprised because the Nepalese are more likely to give you their seat on a local bus and yet when you have several hours of road to do already sitting down, it is tiring, so standing up, I let you imagine.
There are also taxis used a lot there and which are very practical since they are present everywhere. Again, you have to successfully negotiate for each location, especially if you choose to go to touristy places. They will not hesitate to inflate their price. Then, with the other volunteers, we used apps like “Tootle” and “Pathao”. It’s a bit like the principle we have in France with “Uber” style taxis except that they are motorcycles or scooters. We choose a starting point and an ending point. The driver calls us to confirm and very quickly, we find ourselves strolling through the streets of Kathmandu. It is much faster than a taxi, depending on the traffic, but maybe a little more dangerous because they do not offer us a helmet, so you might as well invest in a helmet once there if you stay for a while—long duration.
I think staying and living for so long in Nepal. A developing country has given me a much more extensive view of the world. We see tough things there, and it makes us want to be better. I learned to live in simplicity, with simple people filled with love. I understood the importance of giving without counting and without waiting in return. I had never met so many people in my whole life than during those eight months, endowed with so much kindness.