2 years ago, I went to Nepal.
That’s what the date on the saved draft says anyway. I’ve been wanting to write about Nepal and my travels and time there so badly but I never got to it! Just like I never got to writing about my Europe travels and most probably India too.. or did I already write about India?
Lately I’ve been dreaming Nepal. My memories on Facebook keep notifying me about the good times had in Oxford and the amazing time I had travelling through Kathmandu and Pokhara and I’ve been playing Nepalese music on loop on my YouTube playlist that I set in 2009. I miss Nepalese food, my Ghurkha friends and the amazing people I met in Kathmandu. I can’t wait to travel back in 2017!
Nepal was a magical experience. Kathmandu reminded me of the old Mumbai perhaps, a bit crowded and polluted but that doesn’t take away from the big smiles that people carry. The people are always so friendly and chirpy. Not that I had a doubt about Nepalese hospitality before, but even the small ‘chiya ko dukaan’ (tea stall) to the fancy hotels, the big smiles and big hearts were always so welcoming. I made friends with the bellboy and the receptionist and the milk man and the guy in the souvenir shop in the midst of bustling Thamel. It was hard not to!
The minute I would say ‘hajur’ with respect like my ghurkha friends in Oxford had taught me or ‘kathi daam ho?’ (how much is this?) with a smile, they were won over. Not in a shrewd way of course, but they were so impressed that I got the best of the hospitality packaged with a whole lot of love. Getting love from people and getting people to make you feel like home… now that’s something you seldom experience while travelling. Having travelled a fair bit, I know Nepal made me feel so welcome and embraced my insides. Such a warm feeling!
I was in Kathmandu in December 2014 so it was a bit chilly. Though the weather varied heavily in Kathmandu from mid 20s to 30 degrees in one afternoon, Pokhara was constantly chilly and cloudy. Luckily for me, it wasn’t too cloudy to hinder the paragliding, zip lining, bungee jumping and the treks that I did. I did a short trek to the World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara and another night, got on a bike of a dai I met via this blog, at 4am in the morning to climb the Sarangkot view point to see the sunrise over the Himalayas. Typing the words out now, there are goosebumps forming on my skin- the view was that mesmerizing. Magical.
The sun slowly rose from behind a heavy blanket of clouds and the orangey yellow glistened through. When the first ray of sunlight, hit the first mountain on the Annapurna range, the peak turned to pure gold. And then a sea of warmth shone brightly through the clouds, like a waft of golden honey being dripped on the entire mountain range, pinnacle to foothills and the whole range glimmered in the ocean of gold! I will always remember that magical sunrise as one of the most exhilarating and magical moments of my life. I’ve seen beautiful sunrises and sunsets but having trekked up at 5am, having done a freezing bike ride at 4am and knowing that the sun rose from behind one of the Everest ranges- nothing beats it.
If I can disconnect myself from that fantastic view and moment, the momos of Busy Bee bar in Pokhara were the bomb! A backyard connected to a small alleyway leads you to Busy Bee where mind you, it is very busy. As the sunsets, live musicians serenade you to popular English songs where you sit around an open fire, shisha for those who prefer it and beers for others with steaming hot momos, ordered by the plate. Busy bee is definitely worth a visit, or worth many visits for the ambiance it creates and the momos! Momos are steamed dumplings with either chicken, vegetables or pork filling. Unfortunately pork ones were not available that night but I had the pleasure of having some on a short stop riding a bus to Pokhara from Kathandu.
I also met a group of Chinese travellers who I eventually went paragliding with and did some lunch with. They thought I was someone special and we had some very nice photos together. On a weekday, Pokhara is quite lovely to just stroll around or sit by the Fewa Taal (lake) and collect random thoughts about life. Its so very peaceful and beautiful. The little tourist shops here maybe a bit more expensive than usual even though they are very luring and the products look very good! I brought back heaps of little artifacts and a Khukri (Nepalese dagger) home and you just feel like buying everything but its wiser to buy in Kathmandu.
Back in Kathmandu, I did the usual sight seeing of Swayambunath Temple and a few others including Bhaktapur square. The holy places, old palaces and ruins, its all so beautiful and some of them looked Tibetan inspired as well. For a solo traveller, I felt quite safe but I did not wander out after 9pm on my own as Thamel turns into a little club after hours. All the tourist shops close and the bars on the top floors of the buildings start coming to life. Most of them are called ‘dance bars’ and out of curiosity on asking, I found out that a Dance Bar has women dancing and people can dance which to me spelt out as a male attraction so I steered clear from it.
I plan to hopefully do Everest Base Camp next year so counting down 359 days until then to visit Nepal again and relive the magic!
And a shout out to all my beautiful friends from Nepal. You guys are as beautiful as your little magical country!