People and motion are the only two constants in a city. Everyone has to reach somewhere and everyone is in a hurry to get there. The fight to be the first is a rough one and rush hour does a brutal job of weeding out the weakest link. And where there’s motion — there’s noise. It’s hard to escape that dull background noise in a city. It could be the honk of a car or music on the radio or loud chatter. Sometimes it could be your thoughts struggling to be heard over it all. Yet, we’ve always lived in a city. The only true escape that we’ve ever had — is through our travels.
“It is better to lie quiet in the mud than to be disturbed on good bedding.”
― Rudyard Kipling
I’ve realised that silence is hard to find in our world today. You have to learn to become an escape artist of sorts and not be afraid of being alone in the middle of nowhere. It feels like a legend until you’ve discovered it. You can find it in a quiet corner tucked in a national park or high up in the mountains. But the route to get there is often treacherous or lined with isolation. Loneliness can be terrifying. But it’s a small price to pay to experience silence.
Over the past decade, we’ve tried to find places that are off the tourist grid. The vast emptiness of the Himalayan belt in Northern India, the Ring Road in Iceland, and the national parks of Central Mongolia are the loneliest places that we’ve visited so far. The inhospitable climate makes these places desolate and largely unoccupied. Tourists or travellers are the only people you’d see — when the weather is on your side.
Surprisingly, even tourist belts can have spots of isolation even if it’s for a brief instant in time. Sometimes you have to wait for the crowds to disappear (Nara) or climb further (The Great Wall) or head deep into a deserted forest (Pyeongchang). The rewards for that extra effort are always sweet.
It’s been hard to select few from the many wonderful places we visited. Here’s a walk down memory lane…