As millennials stuck in a rut, many of us have dreamed of taking off on a solo trip to a faraway land, probably the Himalayas. Being a Himalayan girl, I thought it’d be easier for me to explore the mountains. But as things turned out, I’d still have a lot to learn as a single female traveller in Leh, Ladakh.
Ready to Take the Road
Monsoon had just hit Himachal Pradesh, and I had my bags ready as soon as my bus ticket to Leh got confirmed the night before.
My journey began when I boarded the Himachal Pradesh tourism bus to Leh — and it was far from being a joy ride. Icy and muddy passes down the mountain, where a bike could hardly make it through, were somehow giving way to a 32-seater hydraulic bus.
There were so many times the bus would tilt to an extreme as if it would roll down the valley, with all of us screaming and holding on for dear life! But we survived the road trip.
As we got closer to our destination, the fear got replaced by awe. Huge mountains, open grounds, and all sorts of colours spread through the horizon — we had officially reached one of the highest points in the country.
Going Solo in Leh
People in Leh are extremely helpful. Since my trip was planned so last-minute, I had no place to sleep when we reached Leh bus stand at 7 pm.
With just one phone call, a friend from Leh (who now lives in Chandigarh) arranged a homestay for me.
Snow View Hideaway is run by a very warm family and truly has a homelike feel to it. Every night at dinner, the owner, David sir, would sit across from me, telling me interesting stories of the geography and the culture of the region.
On my first morning in Leh I met Stanzin Gyurmet, who helped me explore this unfamiliar land, which I soon grew to love. Clear blue lakes resembling the sky, narrow green valleys, and barren rocky mountains with snowy glaciers — oh I saw it all!
One tip I picked up is that everybody in Leh asks for a lift from the local vehicles passing by — and these vehicles happily help hitchhikers get closer to their destinations. This is the level of trust and kindness seen here!
Travelling all by myself was definitely daunting, but the people I met — from the helpful bus driver to that friendly guy at the cafe bar — made the experience worthwhile.
What I Learned
– There is no easy way to leave your comfort zone and head into the unknown, but once you do, you know it’s worth the effort.
– Be open to trusting the locals, but trust wisely.
– If you feel positive and are good to others, it is always reciprocated.
– As a solo traveller, have your basics in place: avoid heavy luggage, keep your phone charged, always stay connected with someone you know, and use apps and GPS so you’re not lost.
– Don’t be afraid to talk to new people. You can make friends over chai at any place — and there’s chai everywhere!
Discovering new places without anyone stopping or directing you is the best reason to go solo. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience filled with lessons, but no regrets.
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