Rarejaunt.com was recently able to catch up with our friend Karolina who discussed her time in India as well as her travels across Eurasia.
See more of her jaunts at: https://www.instagram.com/mountain_karobaba
RJ: Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, where you grew up:
I’m a 25 year old Lithuanian. My family emigrated from Lithuania back in 2008, when I was 15. Back home I was a very active and social child. A serious nerd in the true sense of the word. I loved learning new things. When I moved things were tough at first, as I had to get used to communicating in English and I had no friends yet. Nevertheless, the language barrier was only temporary and quickly I made friends with a group of Irish kids, some of who are my friends to this day.
RJ: What inspired you to start traveling?
Once I finished school, I went to the National University of Ireland to Study Psychology – probably the greatest 3 years of my life. In the first year of my course I had the chance to study Philosophy which really opened my mind and even more awakened the explorer in me. Although back then I was mainly exploring in my mind, exploring fascinated me. After I finished my studies, I had decided that therapy was my calling. I couldn’t see, however, how at that time I could have helped others and gave them advice since I hadn’t really experienced life back then. Still living in my parents’ house and hadn’t faced many struggles, I felt that I was not in a position which would allow me to excel at my dream job. That’s when the idea to travel was solidified in my mind. After working for a year and a half in an insurance company, I very happily left my job to explore the world and gain the experience I needed to help others.
RJ: What was your first overseas travel experience?
My very first overseas experience was going to India by myself. After getting out of the Metro station, which I got from the airport to the middle of Delhi, I had never felt so alone. There were a million thoughts going through my head and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. However, after a few deep breaths I reminded myself that being alone was one of the things that I wanted to learn and accomplish while abroad. I wanted to become stronger, more independent, learn more about how other people live and get inspired by the people I met. I can say that I accomplished what I wanted in my very first 6-month trip.
RJ: What are some lessons you learned early-on about relocating overseas?
Be sharp. Always. Especially when travelling as a solo female. People overseas have their own misconceptions about foreign travellers, same way we have misconceptions about the local people. People can learn how to seem friendly. Don’t allow that to fool you. Be very observant. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
On the other hand, do not allow fear to take over because that way you will not enjoy your experience as much and will not learn as much. Some of the greatest experiences I’ve had and the best people I’ve met have been simply because I took a chance.
Always remember who you are, what you stand for and what or who you like or don’t like. It’s very easy to be enchanted by the new places and people and slowly lose who you are, and lose direction. Know how to say a strong ‘yes’ and even stronger ‘no’.
Overall, listen to your sixth sense or your gut feeling while travelling. Listen to it always and train it to become stronger. It is the most important thing to keep in mind while travelling, which can literally save your life.
RJ: Where is your favourite place that you have visited?
My favourite place so far that I’ve visited is the Indian Himalayas. It’s the most amazing, beautiful, peaceful and vast place. Being in the mountains makes me feel alive, makes me feel the divine presence and gives me endless joy. I’ve never felt like that anywhere else in the world. Being there ignited a love for mountains in me.
The most beautiful place in the Himalayan Mountains I’ve visited so far was Chandrishilla Peak. Which is just an hour hike from the highest Shiva temple in the world – Tunganath. The place is holy and wonderful, we have yet to come up with words that can describe this place and give it justice.
RJ: What has your overall experience in Asia been like?
Asia is big, fast, populated and polluted. They have customs that people have followed for thousands of years. India has the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world – Varanasi, the oldest mountain range. Other countries have temples so old that it’s hard to comprehend. There is some old knowledge still floating around these areas. Some old wisdom that I don’t really feel in the West. In Asia, people and families are everything. They are much more communal than Caucasians and have different skills of communication, different goals in life and different lifestyles. Overall, I have tried to take in as much as possible, learn as much as possible and see life in a different way. I feel there is a lot Westerners can learn in Asia.
RJ: How have you found your way around language barriers in new countries?
If I am to stay in a place for an extended period of time I would start learning the local language, like I did with Hindi. However, our technology has advanced so much that usually communication is not a problem, even with the illiterate people.
When you know the local language it does seem to change everything. I feel people are much more welcoming and warm, less likely to trick you or rip you off. The local people also want to learn about travellers and knowing the local language allows more of this kind of information exchange on a deeper level.
RJ: What are some unmissable places to visit (in your opinion)?
Anywhere in the Indian Himalaya Mountain region is incredible. Nepal is also very cool and cheap – I had a great time there. Vietnamese countryside is also wonderful. There are many places I’ve yet to visit myself in Asia, but those 3 would be the top places for me so far.
RJ: Who would be (or is) your ideal travel companion? Why?
Probably myself. I’ve come a long way since that day in Delhi. I’ve travelled around with local people, other travellers and old time friends. Still travelling alone is probably the most immersive.
First of all, you go where you want, when you want, with who you want, for how long you want. You have freedom, you don’t need to compromise any of your wishes for someone else or because of lack of time and so on.
Secondly, you lose your safety net which sometimes makes you lazy and lethargic so you don’t get to see as much. You also don’t feel the need to interact with the locals or other travellers as much because you already have someone with you. Especially if you have a group of friends around you, you are way less likely to make new friends.
Obviously if you travel alone for a long time you are likely to get lonely sometimes so it’s important to remember to share your memories with others sometimes. Or take lots of pictures so you can share your memories with others once you’re back. You can write in a journal also.
RJ: What are three things you would never travel without?
This is a tough question. I try not to get attached to the material things so I wish I could say nothing, but life is life. My first item would probably be my speaker. I call it my best friend and I never leave it behind. Second I think would be a comfortable backpack. After carrying everything I own on my back, a comfortable bag becomes more important. And lastly, my menstrual cup. This one obviously does not apply to men, but lady travellers I’d say would agree. As well as wanting to leave as little of an impact on the environment as possible, the menstrual cup has saved me from many embarrassing and uncomfortable situations.
RJ: Where has been the most pleasant city to live in during your time in Asia?
The most pleasant city to live in Asia was Srinagar in the Garhwal region in the state of Uttarakhand. I lived there for more than a year and I loved the place. People respected and loved me so much. I have at least 4 families that see me as their daughter and I have a serious connection to the place. It’s my home away from home.
RJ: What has your journey while living there been, and what do you do now?
My journey living there was very interesting. I lived in a completely Indian city which is not much of a place for tourists. I was surrounded by Indians without a white person in sight. It was the very first time that I lived in a place where I was in the minority according to my race. It was very interesting and eye opening. Sometimes it was tough and lonely, but overall really worth it. I feel like I got to experience the intricacies of Indian life like no other tourist.
I was working in a school there teaching English. I learned how to dress, cook and speak like an Indian. On the other hand, I was passing all of my knowledge to my students. Trying to inspire them to be their best selves and be supporters of peace and love.
Now I’ve been living in Hanoi for the last 8 months. I’m still teaching English, but the setting is very different. Now I teach children in urban areas and I’m extending my skills as a teacher. Hanoi is much more fast-paced than Srinagar. I’ve been finally forced to learn to drive here too.
RJ: What advice would you give to someone wanting to visit Asia?
The answer to this would be very similar to what I learned. Be sharp, be observant, open minded, conquer your fears, be strong, believe in yourself and listen to your gut instinct.
RJ: Where is next on your travel list?
I’m thinking of going back to India in the summer. There are still so many places I want to visit there. Also, I wish to complete my Yoga Teaching Training Course so I can extend teaching my skills once more. After that, who knows?