I heard a voice from the past a few months ago, a 23 year old me. We'd been doing quite a bit of house tidying, and I rediscovered a beautiful (if a little bashed) suitcase that holds my diaries from when I went travelling on a round the world trip with my friend Andrew. I've picked up the diaries before and skimmed through their pages. This time I sat down and read a chunk from my first few weeks away. It was strange to see my neat writing and read those words, an echo from half my life away. In the case, I knew there were a couple of rolls of film that I hadn't had developed when I returned. But tucked down at the bottom in a little pouch, I discovered a couple more. I couldn't believe they've been there for so long. I wasn't sure what they'd reveal, or even if they'd still be OK.
UK Film Lab (now known as Canadian Film Lab), had developed a few rolls of film for me in the past, and being really pleased with the results, I sent them off in a big brown envelope, not knowing if the secrets stored inside would ever develop. A short while later, an email containing the zip files appeared in my inbox. Each click on an image felt like I was drawing with a magic marker to reveal what lay beneath. Bursts of colour, scenes stored in my distant memory, each film grain and speck of dust adding to the story. The ones that resonated with me the most, were of a few weeks spent in Nepal. We flew into Kathmandu on September 23rd 1993.
From Kathmandu, we travelled to Pokhara, where we trekked for a few days in the mountains. We witnessed the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets and watched the light dance on the Himalayas. We walked alongside patchwork rice fields, stopped for refreshments at tiny cold drink stores in the mountain villages, visited temples and schools, and watched the clouds swirl beneath us.
Our boots gathered dirt and dust as we walked further into the mountains. We met kind, generous people who looked after us on our journey, who cooked for us and gave us sweet tea. Looking at the photos of the children we met, I can still hear their laughter, it was so infectious. We played many games of hide and seek and kick the can! I look at these photos now and wonder what they're all up to 23 years on.
It's sometimes hard for me to believe I did this round the world trip. For quite a few years now I have had anxiety and panic attacks around long distance travelling. But I'm getting itchy feet, and there are so many places I want to discover. Looking at these photos makes me realise how much I achieved, and how it is all very possible again.