Officially a Digital Nomad in Himalayas @ Manali

Officially a Digital Nomad in Himalayas @ Manali

Monastery in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India
There comes a day in your life when waiting anymore feels like a waste of time. Euro Trip was just that for me. There came a time when I decided to take the plunge all by myself. Sounds like m talking about getting married or some bigger decision in my life? It was big to me. Introvert by birth, in this trip, I was like a panda trying to learn kungfu. But just like in the movie, I started to enjoy every minute of it.
Now that I had decided to fly solo, I decided to put myself in self created experiment by not only travelling alone but also making sure that I am surrounded by more and more strangers – instead of cozy hotels, I decided to crash at hostels sharing room with other travelers and I purposely did not carry any internet or phone with me when I was out on roads.
How did it feel? On the first day, it felt like I was a self torture trip but as days passed by, I became more comfortable with choosing my own path, deciding my own routes, and dealing with last minute gate changes at airport, finding my way around the cities while taking directions from strangers, and meeting some great people on the way. All in all, the trip changed my opinion about myself. I, quite literally, surprised myself.
I always thought Manali to be a destination for honeymoon couples and families, but what I experienced firsthand was a whole new story. Old Manali is filled with backpackers, digital nomads, solo travellers, mountaineers who are moving ahead to Leh and other places. It inspired me in many ways through people I met there.
This was my first solo trip in India and officially very first one as a digital nomad. I wanted explore the Himalayas and wanted to go on a Spiti Valley road trip but had to settle down for Manali due to availability of high speed internet. My Airtel 4G was running faster in Manali than in my own house, surprising but true. So here begins my journey as a traveller and a digital nomad in true sense of the word.
Johnsons Cafe, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India
The trip had many firsts for me. Solo trip in India is difficult one to take, especially for Indians, more psychologically than practically. We come with pre-conceived notions about safety. After convincing me, convincing my mom that it is ok to go to Manali alone was not an easy task. I don’t really think she completely bought it but as always she let me have my own experiences.

Being a digital nomad is no easy job, self discipline is the key. I was not sure if I would be able to strike a balance at first, after all I had taken only leisure trips before this one. But that balance I just talked about, came naturally to me, may be because I enjoy my work as much as I enjoy travelling.

Manali, Himachal, Himalayas, India

While working from the comfort of my home one day, I just read some blogs about solo trips to Manali and I just booked my one way bus ticket for coming weekend that time – Bus is the best way to travel Manali. HRTC buses plying from Delhi are really comfortable and punctual. Mine reached an hour and half earlier than scheduled arrival.

Another hurdle to cross was to book a nice hostel, which has good internet connection, at notice of 4-5 days. In peak season, believe me, it was not easy. I was sure that I want to stay at Zostel, India’s largest chain of traveler hostels, but as I said there was no availability for first 2 days of my trip, so I booked it for what time it was available. Oh! Did I tell you that this was my another first? I had never stayed in traveler hostels in India before this one. The experience here was amazing.

Zostel Manali, Himachal, Himalayas, India
The Hosteller Manali, Himachal, Himalayas, India

I ended up staying at Hostellers Manali in New Manali for first two days of my trip and it was not such a great experience, hostel was fine though. It was a honeymooners paradise indeed, and not at all like what I read on those blogs. I went for a walk on mall road and to Vashisht Temple while in New Manali as those were close by and inhaled more diesel and petrol smoke than I did in famously polluted Delhi NCR. While going to Old Manali to continue my stay at Zostel, I was wondering whether I made a right choice of coming here.

But the moment my auto entered Old Manali I started to change my mind – Small streets, cafes with great ambience, hostels, guest houses, home stays, and streets buzzing with travellers (not just tourists) & backpackers. And yes not many vehicles – what a relief from all the smoke finally. The whole vibe of this part of the town was so different from what I experienced in the last two days. When I reached Zostel, the feel of the place was so vibrant that my first question to Pranav (the person managing the hostel) was “can I extend my stay if I want to?” and I did extend my stay by about a week.

Zostel Manali, Himachal, Himalayas, India
I came to Manali to for doing nothing, new experiences, meeting new people, working remotely, and enjoying the Himalayas and I got much more than what I expected. It was a surprise package which I really enjoyed.
Having said all these amazing things, I would like to tell you that I have so many takeaways from Manali that I will divide my experiences in 3 subsequent posts to cover Cafes in Manali (they are so many and so good), inspirational people I met on my journey, and last but not the least – Places to visit and things to do in Manali. I will come up with them real soon – till then stay tuned to TravelShots and enjoy the pictures of my travels across the globe.

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