Taking a leap of faith in life is something everyone believes they’ll do one day, but how many of us actually find the balls to do it? Over the past few months I have been incredibly inspired by a friend and now, fellow travel writer Louise Watsham, who decided to turn her life upside down by quitting her London office job, exploring the world as a solo female traveller and finally moving to Nepal.
Like many other U.K University Graduates, Louise followed the beaten path of moving to London, working a 9-6 job and drinking herself silly at the weekend. She did this for almost three years and she admits that “it got me nowhere, except in a lot of financial trouble”. She finally decided to cut down on the booze and the materialistic spending and saved herself enough money to wave goodbye to London for good. The unhappiness she felt in her current situation and the bravery she had to take a leap of faith is truly inspiring. Here’s her story…
“Let me set the somewhat melancholic scene. It’s Monday morning, the double hangover from the weekend was threatening my already fragile head, and it was heading into winter for my third year in London. It was 7:30am, the sun had not yet risen and I could see my breath as I climbed out of bed carefully avoiding touching the damp walls. This was not the life for me, this was beyond depressing. It was on this day that I handed in my notice and booked a one-way ticket to Nepal – talk about making a rash decision! I suppose I had always feared that taboo word; ‘change’ but this time around I was going to embrace it. Why did I fear it? Because change meant no longer conforming to the status quo, it would mean a huge modification to myself and the environment I had spent 3 years creating in London. I was fortunate enough to have an incredible support network – not one person doubted my ability or questioned my motives – except me. I have always reflected on my round-the-world-trip when I was 18 as ‘the happiest I’ve ever been’…the opportunities, the freedom and the endless choice, not to mention the sunshine, the beaches and life being one big party. I know travelling when you’re 18 is just the ‘done thing,’ you aren’t in search of anything and you can barely soak up the culture through your bleary eyes from the night before. However, this time I promised myself that it would be different. I didn’t want to make a plan (much to my parents’ lack of amusement), I wanted perspective and I sure as hell needed some time to myself to re-evaluate certain aspects of my life.
First Stop: Kathmandu
An airport that makes my garden shed look like Chateau Marmont, the first culture shock struck pretty hard! Some lost luggage and a no show from the taxi driver, things were going terrifyingly badly and I was kicking myself for making the decision to go it alone. However, I soon learnt that in this situation I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. It isn’t necessarily the aesthetics of Nepal that do it justice, it’s the people.
I have never felt so welcome anywhere in my life, even though I had no bag and no driver. I’ve never seen so many genuine smiles or so much eagerness to help. They are proud of their country, and as long as they can get by, sometimes on happiness alone, that’s all that matters. I arrived during festival season and every Nepali from my Hotel Manager to my taxi driver (he eventually showed up!) wanted me to come to their homes to celebrate. At first I was, of course, mega reluctant but I gave it a go and what an experience! I travelled Nepal for two weeks and found the whole country both visually and mentally overwhelming and it certainly offered me the perspective I had been craving for so long, I fell totally in love.
Second Stop: Indonesia: Lombok/ Bali
Or should I say paradise. Three different destinations in nine days, the island of Gili Trawangan which is a Gap Year haven, cheap booze, 24-hour parties and the archetypal postcard beaches that stretch for miles.Then onto Seminyak with its great restaurants, perfect climate, incredible beach villas and trendy fashion and art boutiques.
Finally it was onto Ubud, where I lived deep in the jungle for three days surrounded by monkeys and other such wildlife. Ubud became overrun with tourists in 2010 as it is where part of Eat, Pray, Love is filmed but this certainly doesn’t spoil it. Overall Indonesia was a memorable experience and I learnt a great deal about myself. Every location was so diverse, the people are divine, there is plenty of culture to soak up and the food is to die for.
Third stop: Dubai. As I had been on my own for so long I decided that as I was so close to the Middle East I would stop off at Dubai and see some friends from University. I was also lucky enough to coincide dates with none other than Jess from The Travelista, probably not wise that I divulge too much of what we got up to!
It’s basically London-on-Sea, everything is super clean and westernised, the skyscrapers are something to behold and their idea of luxury is next level, the ultimate culture shock after travelling through some of the poorest countries in Asia. One thing I will note is that there is NO culture, Dubai is simply a modern show. It was out with the harem pants and on with the Kurt Geigers! After many days spent on the beach, I was lucky enough to attend the last Formula 1 race of the season in Abu Dhabi and spent the evening on a yacht sipping champagne with Prince Harry in my peripherals, it didn’t seem real, it still doesn’t.
After Dubai I spent a short time back in Nepal, in a place called Pokhara before returning home to the UK for Christmas. As predicted, nothing had changed, I was still hearing moans and groans about money, living arrangements and the fact that the temperature had dropped by 10 degrees in three days. So very festive!
If today you have complained about being underpaid, about the bad weather or you’re just generally unhappy, maybe – just maybe – it’s time for you to leave your comfort zone and make a change to your life. What better change to make than the opportunity of travel. The art of non-conformity is now something I swear by and I wholeheartedly admire those who like living a little on the edge. There are a few pieces of advice that I learnt along the way which I will happily share:
- Exploration of art, culture and new countries is good for the soul
- To improve is to change – often to change is to improve – making change presents new opportunities, grab them
- And last but not least prioritise spending your money on meaningful experiences, you wont regret it
It has almost been seven months since I quit my nine to six (or seven, eight, nine) job and I feel I have achieved beyond my wildest dreams. I have jumped off a mountain with nothing but a small Nepali man and a parachute attached to my back! I have walked through a jungle on foot and come face-to-face with a family of angry black bears, I have trekked to 3,000 metres and seen views that I still find it hard to believe exist, I have met some of the most interesting people alive and heard some of the most inspiring stories. It all sounds rather clichéd but I still can’t quite believe that I did it. I now live in Pokhara, Nepal (my little Nirvana) and work as a travel writer; I have no idea what day of the week it is, and I like it that way. I have plans to travel further when the time is right, but for now I am extremely content with the way my change turned out.”
Our days are numbered and life is all we have, so make it a good one. Bon voyage mes amis!
What did you think of Louise’s story? Has this post inspired you to take your own leap of faith or have you had a similar experience? Please leave me (and Louise) a comment in the box below and let us know what you think! x
Want to know more about Louise’s Nepal adventures? You can follow her at