I had been staying in the tranquil Nepalese tourist town of Pokhara for a month when a travel writing assignment came in. It involved researching retirement in Nepal—and I needed to find some expats.
As I sat drinking my morning chai at a lakefront breakfast joint, I wondered where all the Westerners were hiding. I had seen only a handful since I arrived, and they all seemed to be just passing through. Then it dawned on me—sitting there, across the lake perched high on a lush green ridge next to a magnificent white Buddhist stupa, sat an ornate Newari-style guesthouse.
I had heard that it was owned by an expat from England who made Nepal her home after visiting the country for 20 consecutive years.
“Perfect,” I thought.
Now all I had to do was figure out how to get there. The most common route was apparently to hire a canoe and paddle across the lake, but with my deadline approaching, I needed a faster route. I would need to rent a moped.
Driving through the Nepalese uplands involves skirting past steep drops on at least one side for the duration of most journeys, but this trip made that a bit more precarious as the monsoons were rolling in.
Mud flicked up into my face as the small bike whined and stuttered, but I was making good progress. On my way, I spotted a Nepalese lady making the journey by foot. I offered her a lift, and she gratefully jumped onboard.
It was a tough journey, but a rewarding one. Back in the U.S., this just wasn’t the type of thing I could have ever pictured myself doing. I got into the business with no writing experience and terrible spelling.
Getting my first by-line was tricky and I had started off by sending entire articles to editors. I had no idea I could save myself a whole lot of work and still win commissions by simply sending article pitches. But when I saw my name in print for the first time, it was worth it. Once I got that first step on the ladder, work has flowed in more regularly.
Now, here I was being paid to go on crazy adventures in far-flung Nepal.
We made it safely to the guesthouse and after a pleasant chat with the owner, myself and my new companion jumped back onboard. I slipped and slid my way back down over loose gravel and running mud, but we made it without injuring either ourselves or the bike.
After running over the notes I took, I was able to write up my story in a couple of hours. I got it sent in ahead of deadline, and payment came soon afterward. It’s not your everyday job, but the life of a travel writer is a thrilling one.
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