Solo travel is something that a lot of people don’t understand but I really love. I haven’t travelled to a lot of places solo but the few trips I’ve taken have left me with great memories and experiences. I am someone who does their research and avoids taking too many risks while travelling alone but here are some of my craziest travel moments.
Sunset at Matanga Hill, Hampi:
In December 2018, I went on a solo trip to Hampi. This was my second solo trip. Hampi is an ancient village in the south Indian state of Karnataka. It’s dotted with numerous ruined temple complexes from the Vijayanagara Empire. A lot of locals work as guides, who show you around and tell you about the temples and their history. I decided to hire one for my first two days. I told him the temples I wanted to see and insisted on being taken to a good point to catch the sunset and sunrise. The Matanga Hill has the ruins of an ancient temple and from its roof you can see an amazing sunset over Hampi. We got a little late while sightseeing and in an endeavour to make it to the top of the hill on time, my guide insisted on taking a shortcut. The hills in Hampi are all made of big huge boulders. We started our ascent finding our way through these boulders. Half way through, I started panicking because I realised that it was just us two and no one else for miles and I also didn’t know where we were exactly going. I started cursing myself for being so adventurous. At one point, we entered a dark cave and at that point I was sure I’m not making it out of there alive. Thankfully it was just a wrong path and my guide found his way to the right path. We had been hiking for about 40mins at this point and my heart was beating crazily out of fear. The right path, which I was thankful that he found, was the craziest path ever. Also I have an insane fear of heights. The path included climbing this huge boulder through these tiny miniscule crevices in it – one missed step would mean plummeting to death. I gave up and refused to go ahead. I told the guide, I’d walk back the way we came up but that I wasn’t ready to risk my life just for a good sunset! He convinced me that he’d pull me up, so I closed my eyes (not a good idea when you’re climbing) and went for it. Definitely the worst 20 seconds of my life – I just wanted to message my parents and tell them that I love them. After another 15mins of crazy hiking, we reached the top. Granted that the view and sunset were worth it but that one hour was the scariest one hour of my life.
Sunrise at Malyavanta Hill, Hampi:
If my adventures from the sunset weren’t crazy enough, I agreed for a sunrise quest for my day 2 in Hampi. The guide agreed to pick me up at 4AM to head to the Malyavanta Hill for sunrise. It was only when I was in the auto at 4AM in the pitch dark and empty streets that I started freaking out a little. I texted my sister my live location even though I was sure she was asleep. I was insanely scared the entire 25 minutes journey. It was dark and quiet, so quiet that I could hear my own heart beat! We reached the temple and the noise of the temple bells and priest chants filled the air, leaving me so relieved. At 4:30AM, there were around 20 tourists huddled in the temple with the priests singing and chanting bhajans. We proceeded through the ruins of a century old temple to this hidden view point. We sat there with some monkeys for company for 2 hours waiting for the sun to rise. We had climbed to the point in pitch darkness, seeing the surroundings lit up in the morning light was such an amazing experience.
Sunset at Howrah Bridge, Kolkata:
I am a sucker for sunrises and sunsets. Most of my trips revolve around them. During my trip to Kolkata in January this year, I decided to catch the sunset on the iconic Howrah Bridge (built in 1942). I was at Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s house and my next stop was Howrah for sunset. The sunset was supposed to happen in 25-30 mins and on checking Google maps it showed that by cab it would take me 25mins to reach the bridge. It also showed a walking route of 18mins to the bridge. I decided to walk the 2kms to the bridge to ensure I don’t miss the sunset. Now this walking route turned out to be a route through a crazy dock area with no women around and only hundreds of men. About 10mins into the walk I started regretting my decision as the route was pretty shady and I was freaked out. But I could see the bridge and decided to make a run for it. Literally while saying the Hanuman Chalisa (a popular Hindu prayer), I navigated my way through some shady streets with no light and hundreds of men to reach the bridge. I was 100% freaked out my now – but once I climbed up to the bridge it was a nightmare. There were 1000s of people rushing and pushing. It was day end and all workers were rushing home on the bridge. I literally couldn’t walk 10mtrs without being pushed by an impatient walker by. My freak out from before had hardly subsided and I was so so nervous that I decided to hail a taxi and just head out from there. This was definitely my bad planning and I should have chosen the bridge for a sunrise pass through instead of visiting it at its most crowded time. Pro tip: definitely avoid visiting the bridge at sunset!
Paella Lunch in Valencia, Spain
I’ve already written a blog with this story so I’ll recap it in short. I didn’t have any crazy adventures during my solo trip in Spain. In Valencia for lunch I decided to go to one of the most recommended restaurants for Paella. This was this tiny cutesy corner cafe like one often imagines a cafe in Europe to be. But to my horror, they refused to serve me paella since I had come alone and it was a two people dish. I tried to convince them that I’d pay for the full dish and they could give me only half if they were concerned with me wasting the food but they refused. This wasn’t a crazy moment but I think this was the only moment during my entire trip that I wished I had someone with me and it left me teary eyed.
I can’t wait for the world to go back to normal so that I can go on more solo adventures and add to this list. What are some of your crazy travel memories?
PS: Re-sharing this post I wrote in May’20. I’m still working on getting back to writing with my writer’s block and general mood. I am also trying to concentrate on getting my work back on track – so all my thoughts are focused there.
In the mean time, check out my other latest posts/rants –