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Iih—The guy who walked across Nepal

I first heard about Iih through a friend. She sent me his Instagram profile and told me it was something I wouldn’t want to miss. So, I took a look, and I couldn’t stop going through his stories. The stories in his post were simple, something that we see in our everyday life yet it had a charm to it. In it, there was series of stories which he had captured and shared throughout his journey. The more I scrolled through his posts, the more I wanted to know his story, his drive, his purpose. Without hesitation, I messaged him and asked if we could have a chat, and without hesitation, Iih agreed.

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Iih, 23, is the guy who walked across Nepal. He started his journey back in May last year and ended it in April this year. He made his way through the snow-capped Himalayas, the green hills and finally the plains only on foot. Just a light bag on his back, a phone to capture his journey, a pair slippers and he was off.

“When you travel on vehicles, you won’t feel the warmth of the city you are crossing, the people there, the animals that stray around. But when you walk, you get to encounter each and every aspect of the journey. It just feels overwhelming.”—Iih

In his expedition, he has traveled across the three belts of Nepal on foot. He had walked for 224 days covering a distance of approximately 6000km. And what drove him to do that? His “curiosity and calling”—well, that’s what he says. When he first hit the road, his bag was 17 kg which included energy bars, a small blanket, a pair of pants alongside his necessities. As he walked, he got rid of some of the stuff from the bag. He offered his bars to the people he met during his walk, shared his belongings to the people who needed them. By the time, he had reached Muktinath the bag’s weight slumped down to just 1 kg which included a power bank to charge his phone, a cloth, zandu balm, a raincoat and a kindle.

He’d been a curious cat since his childhood. His way of making sense of the world was by being inquisitive and asking questions—mostly about the things that life had offered him. In school days, when he was in grade 10, he didn’t really like the way one of his teachers had taught. His peer had the same impression of it so he started a petition and moved forward. Be that as it may, the school didn’t favour the order. He went against it, questioned the system and got the idea of how it worked. Loathing the process of it, he wrote a letter to the school and left. Since then he hasn’t been in a classroom.

Iih was born and raised in a city but had always wondered about the life away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan. He had always wanted to travel, explore and discover. His first step into the world of exploration began after he left his home at the age of 14 years—right after he had dropped out from his school. Since then he has been going around, engaging himself in a number of activities.

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He took his first trip one and half years ago with a friend as a trek around Gosainkunda. Before his walk, he had traveled to different dandas–hills that had caught his eyes, and every place he could think of.

As he traveled, going to a place and coming back from one felt tiresome and pointless. As every time he traveled to a place, he had to return to Kathmandu, and then plan another trip which followed the same pattern of getting somewhere, coming back and again the same thing. That’s when the idea triggered of traveling all around the country in just one swing.

Once the idea had struck, he bid his time for the right circumstances. He needed to plan and prepare. The first priority was the budget. He didn’t have money saved up for travel; now, he needed to save. He wanted to capture his experiences while he walked, but he didn’t have a good phone to take pictures with.

After four months, he had saved the bare minimum budget to start his journey. A friend also offered to lend him a phone. There were a bunch of people who were willing to support him financially. Things were falling into place. He decided to take a bus to Dharchula and make his way to Muktinath walking across the mountains.

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He walked, talked with the local and got to Muktinath. Once he reached Muktinath he had found his flow. He had gotten the rhythm and knew his body could keep moving forward. He then headed to the west.

As he walked, there were times when he lost his way. The first time he got lost was in Khaptad. That was the first time in his journey that he felt unsure, anxious, even confused. “Once I got used to it, it was no big deal,” says Iih. “By the end of the day I knew I would end up somewhere, so there was no need to be anxious. The anxiety left me.”

After a year of walking, Iih had to finally stop. He sustained a ligament injury in his left ankle—he had walked too much. He didn’t want to stop, but his body had given up. He needed to hang up his slippers at least for the time being.

Iih’s the one who walked across Nepal alone, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the kindness of people from every walk of life.

“People that I have met throughout the journey were really kind and humble. They offered me a place to stay, hotels charged me cheaper. My friends, whenever I was to reach a place or so, I would post on my social media and my friends were very generous as they would message me back saying they had a relative or a friend there who could give me a shelter for the night.”

Before the journey, his friends helped with the money and the phone, during it, they connected him to their relatives in even the most unknown places to him in the country. Help even came from the most unexpected of places, the kindest of strangers he met along the way, even the Nepal Army. Now after he has finished his journey, random strangers, like myself, connect with his stories and experiences and share his work and encourage others to explore, to share and to connect

Iih has stopped walking for now, but his mindset remains the same. Now he just goes to new places, meet people and have a conversation.

“I am a person who finds a way to follow his passion, and this trip was my calling. For others, they might have their own calling. It might not be the same for them. But for me, IT WAS A FULFILLING EXPERIENCE.”—Iih 

On his walk, he had met a lot of people who had shown him kindness. He has uploaded some of the stories of such people in his Instagram account, iihzee.

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Written by Dorjee Khando

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