As I was cycling through the marvelous scenery surrounded by soaring mountains and countless fields dressed in lush green and covered by a picturesque mist I started reflecting about what I was doing.
We are travelling for around 1 year, and when travelling for such period of time, being outside of your own country doesn’t feel like a holiday anymore. It feels more like constantly living in a new place. Long term travelling, in turn, calls for some budgeting because you can’t freely spend as much money as you want because eventually you’ll dry out, become broke and would have to end your travels. That said, we still do the activities that we want to do, but look for (and almost always find) a cheaper way to do the same thing. In this case, we wanted to go to a waterfall, that’s 18km from the hostel we were staying in.
We had various options on how to get there. We could get a tuk-tuk (local transport), or we could get a bus. We could also rent a motorbike (1000 Rupees for rental, fuel and entrance fees) or rent a bicycle (150 Rupees for rental, with no fuel or entrance fees costs). We chose to rent a bicycle and cycle the 18km distance. And I am sure glad we did.
By renting a bicycle, we have managed to save money (which was the primary reason for choosing this means of transport), but we also got some freebies we weren’t expecting. Riding the bicycle, naturally, gives you much slower speeds, that allowed us soak into our surroundings. Naked children using manual pumps to get some water, farmers working their fields, other people riding the bicycle (as part of their normal routine) to get from point A to point B. We also had the opportunity to clearly see the nature that surrounded us, and with no sound of the engine of a scooter, the silence was not broken, and we got to hear our own breath and the orchestra of music that only nature can create – birds whistling and trees crackling with the cool breeze, against the smooth south of the wheels of our bike scratching the gravel we were riding on.
This experience was made possible because we chose to take what was a ‘harder’ task (cycling for 18km, each way, on a single gear, on a 10 year old bike).
''This made me reflect about the way we live our lives.''
We work harder to make more money to spend it on objects or experiences. But this work takes so much of our time, and more often than not, we choose to take the faster, easier option. We all drive a car, and have a washing machine, and possibly even a dishwasher, and a plumbing system that supplies our households with clean water. And we all take these things for granted.
As an engineer, I love technology, and machinery, but sometimes these inventions tend to mask our lives. We are robbed of the simple things. Our car gets us to places faster, but it takes away the joys of admiring and observing your surroundings when moving from Place A to Place B. It also takes away the endorphins that are generated with the physical activity that’s needed when cycling around. Some people drive to the gym to run on the treadmill, wasting money for a gym membership, and fuel, and harming the environment in the process.
The point I am trying to make is that I wonder what would happen if we just slowed things down a little bit. So now, I am encouraging myself to slow down. To think of what I am doing, and to find ways that conventionally (in the Western world) are done using certain technologies. And through this small change I might start appreciating more of the simplicities in life, and possibly save loads of money in the process.