And I drove to Durbar Square. Some 25,000km on this journey of mine, nearly a year on the road, so many stories, a wild ride, and yes, I’ve ‘officially’ connected the two dots on the map. Hanoi, meet Kathmandu. Kathmandu, that’s my dear Hanoi.
And I remember being here eight years ago, just a young kid overwhelmed by this extraordinary city. And even leaving Hanoi, I thought ahead of reliving these memories again once I get here. But today, after Nepal’s recent earthquake, Durbar Square is all rubble. Yet, life goes on, even here. And there’s a lesson, something on acceptance, to be gained here. Pushing on through thick and thin for an entire year just to get ‘here’ again, only to find that ‘here’ is no longer there, but maybe, it’s been ‘here’ all along?
And this charm of Kathmandu I had experienced back then, only magnified in my head each day over the past eight years of longing to return, it will now only exist and even continue to grow, within.
Parting with a Friend
And the reality hits me, it’s here that I’ve got to press on the brakes. Printing posters to find a new home for my Nemo (or I would, if there was any electricity). And it will break my heart to part with him, but in the back of my mind, I guess I always knew that wherever we ended up, it would have been a one-way road.
One last Journey
Driving through rocks, deep into the mountains nearing Tibet and I only have barely enough petrol left to get to the mythical Muktinath and back. And a local guy with a kid on his bike flags me down. He’s out of gas and stranded. Damn you, life! You’re testing me, aren’t you? I don’t have enough for myself and I’ve been anxious about it all day, so I give him half of mine. “Go get your boy home.”
Into The Wild
My last campsite. Surrounded by mountains, I start a fire. The heat is appreciated in these frigid Himalayan temperatures. And with the fire dying, I’m fading to sleep when, a wolf howl, right by me. Wild wolves come by to check out my camp, and I’m both too humbled and too terrified to leave my tent and face them.
Kathmandu, Pokhara, Mountains
Days have gotten cold, nights frigid. The weather makes me feel alive. And my days are spent with a quiet mind, a notebook in hand, with breaks for chai (or chiya, in Nepal), with highlights of homemade nan and paneer, in company of colourful strangers not at all strange to me.
Be Good, Nemo
I gave up my tent and camping gear to a local who offered me some food and a night’s stay. And finally the sad day comes when I have to part ways with my Nemo. And I left a little note on his side covers for any traveller who might come in contact with my dear bike one day. Goodbye, Nemo. He continues on from here, with another travelling soul, as I’m taken by life in another direction.
And I used to think I’d end this journey like a story, with a neat conclusion, but now, any literary resolution feels limiting and contrived. But I know I have journeyed my full “character arc” and far beyond. I’m elsewhere today from where I was a year ago. Where? Here. Just ‘here’.
And in a slightly different context, yet with much the same intent, in the voice of American Beauty’s Lester Burnham: “You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry, you will someday.”
And that’s about it. So yup, let’s cue the music:
“I am a passenger.”
For more on Matt’s films and travels, check out the Etherium Sky Production Blog at EtheriumSky.com/ProdBlog