Sometimes things just don’t work your way. Maybe you got up on the wrong side of the bed, or the sun decided to hide behind a pocket of clouds, or someone was really mean to you.  And that’s how life is. The lows might often outweigh the highs. And, this year has been pretty rough. There were moments when it was hard to see the silver linings. Or hard to learn to let go and breathe. That’s the time, I look back at some of the most difficult moments on our trips, and in a way, it helps me relax. And I realise that if I could do that — I could definitely beat those lows.


I’ve never been good with heights. And I’ve never been the intrepid traveller. But, here’s the thing with trips. You never know what’s in store for you and you never know how you’ll react to a situation. Fear is, probably, the first to cripple you. And when your mind finally decides to take over; you’ll be okay. In 2009, I experienced AMS for the first time in the mountains of Lachung. I refused to take our shared trip, to our hotel, in the main city. With no reservation, in a peak tourist season, a helpful local rented his attic for a night’s stay. The next day, we took local transport to get back. And in many ways, this trip, shaped our later trips. We realised that it’s always best to plan your own trip.


In 2011, we decided to go back to the mountains. The Manali-Leh journey takes you through some pretty high passes and stunning views of the mountains. After three restless nights, and flashbacks of 2009; I reluctantly agreed to this trip. It was not just the breathing or the palpitations, or the dull buzz in my head, or occasional nausea that got to me. Back then, this circuit hadn’t really picked up. The seclusion and silence can be terrifying. And for most of the journey, I was the only girl. Professionally or even in college, it never mattered to me, because I’ve always been one of the boys. But, on such trips, it isn’t the best experience, and trying to look strong isn’t easy. This picture was shot at a pit stop, on a mountain pass, with about 15 men (besides Basil and our driver), and a really sick me. My only thoughts at that moment were to flee. When I look back now, I know how much stronger I am because I faced my fear — of the mountains and fickle human nature.


Sometimes, you just want to get out of a moment. Just let it pass. And while it may look fantastic in pictures, whenever I relive the moment, I wonder if I would ever do it again. The hike along the ‘Great Wall’ was not what I expected it to be. I remember giving up and I remember having a very painful knee (something that motivated me to hike all the more after that), and wanting to be airlifted if possible. I remember, seeing almost everyone else, in our group, making it to the last point. The only thing, on my mind, was to reach back to the base — without injuring my knee any further. And I did make it back and that’s what mattered the most to me.


In Jeju, last month, we took waking very seriously. After a short hike, we stumbled on one of the marked walking trails. And as the sun shone brightly, and it approached lunch time, I remember wondering if we’d ever reach our hotel. Sometimes those feet want to give up and you dream of that soft bed to crash into. And your mind tries hard to convince your foolish feet that it will be over soon. That’s when you have to carry on and chances are you will make it.


We hiked Mt. Hallasan on the last day of our trip to Jeju. And although, we didn’t take the trails to the summit, we opted for two different routes. And the route, on our descent, was supposedly very easy. Brochures encouraged couples and honeymooners to take it. And it was a relatively easy trail, except for a stretch of rocky stones. And I think, I gave up somewhere in between. The feeling of being crushed was inescapable. Because I really thought I could do this without any discomfort. I did struggle and when we reached the main gate — it was worth it.

Posted by:twobrownfeet

Writer-Photographer Duo. Now in Seoul.

28 replies on “Flashbacks

  1. Yeah, this year has been a hard one. I feel you. I felt that throughout this year I’ve faced challenge after challenge. Just when things are getting better, they go pear-shaped once again.

    I like your story of hiking over the years, from not attempting your hike in 2009 to actually giving it a go these days. We all have limits, and it is always okay to stop halfway and turn back. I hope the people in your group were understanding when you climbed the Great Wall, and Basil was also understanding recently when you attempted Mt Hallasan. I was going to suggest that you try going slower, but sometimes I myself am slow when I’m hiking and there have been instances where I’ve not gone all the way to the end of the trail – sometimes I’d feel too exhausted to finish, sometimes I find it too windy, sometimes too cold or too hot and feel my skin burning under the sun.

    1. I hope you’re able to get through the challenges you’re facing, Mabel. Sending you loads of positivity on virtual space. Hiking has changed me and I’m so glad I’ve been able to witness nature — raw and up close. Believe me, I am a very slow hiker. Haha! And I’m working a lot on my fitness. In many ways, I wanted this post to be an inspiration of sorts. I’m so glad it’s appreciated. And I hope your moment of challenge passes by. Have a great week! 🙂

      1. Thanks for your kind words, and your post inspired me to hike more, Cheryl. I’ve only started hiking this year, and I am a very slow hiker too. When it takes the average person to go home a hill one minute, it will take be about three minutes, lol.

  2. I cannot imagine hiking the Great Wall. It looks like its hot and lacking greenery, just a long dreary walk on concrete. Haha. I applaud your bravery on some of those mountain passes. I too do not tolerate heights well, nor sheer drops.

    I say ….don’t worry if you don’t finish a walk. Who cares? Stop when it is no longer fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Interesting well written post.


    1. Haha! We chose a wrong time to hike the Great Wall, Peta. It was so hot and really difficult mainly because of the heat. I guess spring or fall might be beautiful. I know, I’ve stopped caring about not finishing or doing many walks. Or even doing it at a slow pace. Thanks for stopping by, Peta. 🙂

  3. It’s always fun to sit back review your trips -life in flashback! What seemed like a difficult period then..You realize you survived and did pretty well!

      1. Haha! Thanks so much! 🙂 We’re pretty boring in the ‘real’ world. I guess, I try to compensate in ‘virtual’ space. I’m glad it works! 🙂

  4. I would LOVE to hike the Great Wall and Leh has also been on my list for a long time. Sometimes those hard times seem awful in the midst of them but so wonderful in retrospect! When I am fearful or exhausted and just read to quit on a difficult trek, I try to think ahead to the days when I can re-live the adventure and talk fondly about it, and somehow that gets me through it!

  5. You have such an indomitable spirit. Bravo. Be careful not to push yourself too far, though. Sometimes pushing through the pain means you injure yourself more seriously.

    1. Thanks, Penne. I am more cautious with my knee after the Great Wall Hike. But, I’ve realised that walking has helped it get back to normal. Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

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