Travel in Asia enabled me to embrace a whole new world of sensory input. After a happy, conventional life as a nurse, wife, and mother, I learned about faiths I hadn’t been exposed to before. The vibrant colors and music of Indian religions appealed to me as did the peace and acceptance of Buddhism and Taoism. It was a proverb by Lao Tzu that inspired me in my life: “Those who flow through life as it flows, feel no wear or tear, need no mending, no repair.”
I combined my love of travel with my other passion: motorcycling. I bought a 500cc Royal Enfield motorcycle in Chennai, India. Little did I know at the time that I would be on the road for seven years! Despite the mysticism of Asia, it was whilst riding in “off the beaten track” Australia that I was scratching my head in disbelief.
Someone comes once a month…
I really thought I had guardians watching over me when my bike practically broke in half in the northeast. I’d arrived at a tiny aboriginal settlement when the front part of the frame was sheared, rendering the bike unrideable. I asked some local people if there was a welder in the place. “Someone comes once a month,” drawled someone leaning against a doorpost of the only shop. Fearful that he had visited the previous day, I tentatively asked when the welder was next due. “T’morra!” was the answer. Incredulous, I camped outside his workshop that night—I was not going to miss him.
The next day, this kind man welded the frame back together, refusing payment because he believed it would be good for his karma to help a traveler. Traveling this way attuned me to a sixth sense, to gut feelings.
Still in the outback, I became aware of a mental nudge to check that my sleeping bag was still attached. I got off the bike to look. It wasn’t there. I’d been riding on a rough dirt track for hours. It could have been anywhere in the last thirty miles. I turned back and had got no further than fifty yards when I saw it in the middle of the track. Luck? Coincidence?
I would like some good company!
By this time, I hadn’t seen anyone for days. I was a bit lonely and although I enjoyed my daily campfire fare of sardines, rice, and dried peas, I longed for a proper roast dinner. There’s nothing like sleeping under the stars but I thought of a nice soft bed rather than the hard-baked Australian soil. I lifted my face to the wide Australian sky and shouted, “If you’re there, I would like some good company. I’d like a roast dinner with fresh vegetables AND I’d like a soft bed under cover. Ha! There’s a challenge for you!”
Dusk was almost upon me but I ignored a perfectly suitable wild-camping spot just off the track and rode on against my better judgment. The road was potholed. Kangaroos, untrained in road safety, were coming out to graze. However, something drove me on.
Soon, in the approaching darkness, I could make out some large white boxes which, as I got nearer, reshaped into portacabins. At the sound of my motorbike engine, a door opened and a woman stepped out and beamed. “Oh, another woman! I have a roast dinner on. You can sleep in the cabin in one of the road trains.” She was the boss of a road-building operation and the workers were due in for their meal. I had a wonderful dinner and companionable evening at the encampment followed by a comfy night in a soft truck-bed. What sorcery was this? I could almost hear the outback gods giggling!
As my motorcycle travel years went by, I felt I was being looked after and learned to trust everything and everyone. I found I could turn negatives into positives. A broken leg in Pakistan enabled me to experience a different way of life when taken in by a Pakistani family. I had such an enjoyable and interesting time and look back with gratitude for that injury.
Love is universal and under our noses
At the end of my seven-year odyssey, my daughter asked, “What have you learned on your travels, Mum?” I took a breath and replied
“To trust and have faith in this strange and wonderful Universe. When you’ve seen the highest mountains, the whitest sandy beaches fringed with palm trees and turquoise sea, the most enchanting forests and the widest deserts…the most memorable feature is the people you meet. Love is universal and under our noses. Most people in the twenty countries I’ve traveled through have been kind.”
That, and the spiritual feeling that I was never alone, is what I’d learned.
© Jacqui Furneaux
Driven by curiosity, I explored twenty countries from India to the UK on my motorbike over a seven-year period.
My book “Hit the Road, Jac!” (Amazon.com) tells countless stories of the kindness of strangers and of many mystical experiences.
Here’s the Amazon.co.uk link > Hit the Road, Jac!