i went camping alone last weekend. it was something i always wanted to do, but never ended up doing because there was always something to do with my friends, and i would give that more importance. unfortunately for me, i'm a compulsive program-maker. if i have a holiday, i will call every last friend in the hope of finding something interesting or nice to do with him/her/them. which means that it's very hard to get a completely free weekend to go off by myself.
thankfully, last weekend was the weekend before diwali (oh yeah, happy diwali, everyone!!!) so a lot of people were back home with their families, and a few others had cleaning and house chores to do. plus there were no new movies. and of course, i was getting a lil restive. so at 10pm on friday night, i decided this is it, and i'm going.
here's a few things i kept in mind while packing:
- travel light (i had to bike for 4+ hours with my bag - and that included my tent - so that was even more important than usual).
- carry enough of identification, both with me and in my bag.
- carry stuff to read that i won't get bored of (i took 3 books, so i could choose depending on my mood).
- carry a lot of good music and charge my player completely.
- charge my phone completely. don't put music on my phone, as phone charge is more important if i need to contact people.
- carry plenty of cash.
- carry a good torch and plenty of batteries - super important!!!
one bad thing that i did was that i didn't inform my folks i was going alone till after i reached (they wouldn't have allowed me to go :D). i shudder to think of what would have happened if i got caught in a bad accident. i guess i'll tell my parents next time, because they'll let me go now :P. also, i usually didn't carry my watch and jacket, so i had to switch my phone on whenever i needed to know the time (not that the time was important, except when i was going to sleep, waking up, and leaving)
that's it, really. i enjoyed my ride alone (stayed off the music before sunrise, because i really needed to focus on the road in the dark). pitching the tent was amazing, swimming in the sea alone was amazing, making sandcastles alone was amazing, reading is better in a hammock than anywhere else, watching the sun set over a couple of beers with my camera in hand was splendid too.
i made a couple of friends over my last beer - that was something absolutely new to me. i never talk to strangers if i had someone accompanying me, whether on vacation or not. i guess it's much easier when i'm alone :)
swimming in the sea in the dark was simply mindblowing. it was way better than i imagined in my wildest dreams. this is only the second time i tried it, and swimming alone was....hmmm....i've run out of adjectives. just out of this world.
i had a crisis to deal with too - my tent was locked with a numeric combination lock, and i couldn't unlock it in the dark. my torch, bike keys, matches, candle, everything other than myself, were inside the tent. that's one thing i learned. next time, i'll hide a torch somewhere *before* the sun sets :D
watching the stars come out in the sky, dinner under the stars (i carried a enough of canned food and fruit - didn't have to buy anything other than a few loaves of pav and a cup of tea, and of course the beer). in fact, it was so amazing, it was almost mystical. i spent most of the evening singing to myself. strangely, i sang a lot of spiritual songs, and that's something i rarely ever do. i guess the beauty of nature around me did that :)
oh and i can't forget to mention crabs. i learned how to outwit those quick legged and wily creatures after an hour of aimlessly wandering around the beach in the dark. it was absolutely fascinating, watching them react and adapt to my presence and interference :)
i bumped into my new found friends again on my way back to my tent. it seems they wanted to check on me to see if i was fine. they found the tent closed and assumed i was asleep, when i was actually busy catching crabs at the end of the beach. ah well. i guess they were as happy to see me as i was to see them. they shared their bottle of port wine, i watched on as they played with their sparklers and rockets, and then they went back to their resort. that was the last of my dose of humanity for this trip.
morning was mostly just breakfast, a beachside crap (don't ask me to elaborate :)), a quick dip, packing up, calling home, and leaving.
the ride back was amazing, and i did it in record time and just 1 proper break (this time i wasn't scared because i had got the hang of handling the huge bag perfectly). all the screwed up parts of the road were near mumbai - basically nh4 is completely unmotorable from panvel to mumbra. it was so bad my bag partly ripped with the jerks despite me riding below 10kmph. thankfully my bag held, and it reached home in one piece...probably can't use it again tho. which is a pity, it was just perfect for a 1 man trip :(
anyway...that was my weekend. 24 hours (precisely 24 from pitching to unpitching the tent!) on an amazing beach, almost entirely alone. i'm planning on doing it again and again. maybe atleast twice a year, when the weather is right and if i can find other good campsites :)