The expedition to India was absolutely inspiring, I experienced so many things that I never thought about before. Even from the first day just breathing 40 degree New Delhi air and experiencing the colourful and bustling traffic was eye opening.
Another incredible memory was the flight from New Delhi to Leh, over the Himalayas. I can’t imagine a more majestic, humbling experience and then being able to see the same beauty every day was an absolute privilege. Another incredible journey was driving from Leh to Manali; it was just so beautiful with mountains covered in jungle like foliage and rushing waterfalls that seemed to float out of valleys. I couldn’t take my eyes from the window it was like being in a painting.
I quickly learnt how at home you can feel in an area with so much character yet so far from England. I was so sure that India would feel like an alien planet but, I got very attached to Leh, the fluttering prayer flags, beautiful markets, people and free roaming animals.
There were steep learning curves involved; I found being a medic quite a challenge as it required a lot of responsibility and challenged my confidence, especially when communicating with my peers. Thankfully there were no major incidences and I most definitely came home with improved self confidence which I have always needed and a new ready to step up to a challenge attitude as well as feeling more responsible, improving my independence.
Other learning curves were being part of a team for a month, I thought my skills here were pretty good after doing D of E expeditions and being part of the school CCF but India has taught me so much about patience and keeping a positive mentality, much of which I have learnt from amazing people on this trip and the challenging treks and cycles. Yes, trekking and cycling were massive challenges for me but it’s very clear that you get out what you put in. How else can you cycle on one of the world’s highest roads, cruising past glaciers and mountains, or find yourself at the top of awe-inspiring passes where the terrain is made up of sparkling rocks and tiny crystals, incredible!
In India I also realised the rewards of seizing opportunities and making the most of what’s in front of you. Many of my favourite memories weren’t on an itinerary somewhere but lay in moments of spontaneous opportunity grabbing; in Manali our taxi driver tipped us off about a local waterfall and after a bit of a hike. We arrived at the most beautiful place and joined in local kids jumping off rocks and splashing around. The water actually sparkled from all the glittering rocks and it was so fresh. I still can’t believe how lucky we were to go somewhere like that. The Dalai Lama actually walked through our camp as he was on route to bless a local river.
We also cycled off to explore our camp one day where after jumping through marshes and over rivers we found a geyser; even then it was a shock to see such a wonder in its natural beauty without paths or guide ropes. My favourite moment was when we decided to briefly visit a small school, we asked the teachers if we could look around and they told us they had a meeting so we got to teach the kids for about an hour. The children were so excited and yelled twinkle twinkle little star and the alphabet and also loved running around in duck duck goose or dancing in the hokey cokey the children were so happy and amazing to be around. I now definitely want to do more voluntary work like this some time.
We also got to see a nomadic school in the middle of the mountains and the kids there taught us hand clap routines like our pat-a-cake pat-a-cake. It’s strange to think how lucky we are to have so many opportunities and to have so many thing to do when children there have so little yet make the absolute most of it. In my time after coming home I have decided to try to go on another expedition where I will be able to work in the community more like the DES Kenya expedition and I have also started my gold D of E, my first job as a life guard and I will start to volunteer with my athletics club. After my experience as medic I still hope to go to medical school and have written lots of letters applying for work experience.
Thank you greatly for sponsoring me, it wouldn’t have really been possible for me to do this expedition otherwise and it now means I am considering going on another expedition knowing there is so much support. My month in India was the best month I have ever had and I made some great friends and memories in my trip.