My Time in Nepal
I’ve been in Nepal for over five weeks and counting, and I must admit that it’s one of my favorite countries I’ve visited. I wasn’t really sure what to expect before coming here, other than the fact that I was finally going to reunite with my very good friend Prina who I met while studying in Bangkok, and I was going to do some trekking in the Himalayas. Other than that, everything was a complete mystery to me. But alas, it has been a wonderful experience and has surpassed all of my nonexistent expectations.
For starters, the people are simply amazing. Incredibly friendly, humble, seemingly happy, and willing and open to invite foreigners back to their home for family dinners. I met a few lovely girls at a 10 day yoga and meditation retreat I did (two Aussies and one British), and the four of us continued to travel together for a couple weeks after that. We were casually having dinner in the Thamel district of Kathmandu one evening when a woman who works there approached us and asked if we would like to come join her family for dinner to celebrate Daisan Festival, which is the largest and most important Hindu festival of the year in Nepal, lasting for about 15 days. We all graciously accepted, although in the end I wasn’t able to make it for some other reasons. I can’t even think of one time I have come across a Nepali who was anything but warm and welcome, with shining eyes and open arms.
I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Kathmandu. The city itself kind of resembles one massive construction site, a lazy attempt to rebuild and reconstruct, and the roads are begging to be leveled out just a hair, but hey, nobody’s perfect. It’s still a nice city- lively, energetic, and scattered with very old temples, lots of history, and some really nice restaurants. Aside from Kathmandu, the country itself is absolutely beautiful. Beautiful mountains, lush green hills, rivers and streams. I’ve taken quite a few bus rides through Nepal, and unlike China where the bus driver is always chain-smoking cigarettes and the passengers insist on screaming their conversations at each other, bus rides in Nepal have been relatively relaxing. I’ve been able to sit back, chill out, and listening to my go-to long-distance old school travel tunes: Jack Johnson and Red Hot Chili Peppers, marveling at the beautiful scenery of this country.
One thing I do find odd about bus rides here, however, is that for some reason the bus drivers insist on having our “potty breaks” in the bushes. We’ll be driving for hours and pass heaps of little villages with suitable toilets, but nevertheless the bus drivers consistently choose to pull over on the side of the road on the highway, and everyone scurries off and urinates in the bushes a few yards away from each other. Luckily for me, I’m no amateur at popping squats in the bushes, so no real complaints from me. But I have noticed that no local Nepalese women ever do such a thing- they remain seated. It’s usually just me and a bunch of men, pissing in the bushes on the side of the street. Keeping it classy, as I do.
I’ve been lucky enough to have some really unique cultural experiences here since as I’ve mentioned, my good friend Prina is from Kathmandu. She took me in to her beautiful home in which she lives with her husband Ayush. Ayush is one of my favorite people I’ve ever met, very intelligent and well-traveled, with a fantastic sense of humor. Being with the two of them was great fun. We drank wine together, grubbed out on late night after-hour dinners together, and got into some mischief together. They took me out to celebrate Dasain Festival by gambling and BBQing wild boar at their friend’s house. We went to Ayush’s family’s home where I got to meet the whole gang; they all kindly included me in the festivities, giving me tika blessings by placing red paint on my forehead, praying for me to be successful and “get married soon” (Yikes!). Prina took me to her family’s home one afternoon to have lunch with her mom and I got to meet her brothers and nephews. They brought me to Ayush’s cousin’s wedding which was by far the most colorful and interesting wedding I’ve been to. We all dined at their local restaurant multiple times and had drinks and danced around at their local bar, Capital Grill. I spent quite a few afternoons lounging poolside at the gorgeous hotel that Prina’s family owns, Hotel Shanker. We had some good laughs, made fun of each other, and even shockingly woke up hungover one morning and watched the “Shit White Girls Say to Brown People” video on You Tube. Clearly, I became cultured on many different levels in Kathmandu. They were some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever had the luxury of staying with- and they hated when I told them that.
On the more physically adventurous side of things, I went paragliding in Pokhara which was fun but I don’t think I’ll ever do that again- I was terrifed. I’ve gone on one trek, which was a four day trek up to Poon HIll. It was beautiful and challenging but unfortunately we had to cut it short due to a heavy monsoon that hit. But alas, I am as stubborn as I’ve always been and refuse to give up so easily. Tomorrow my new British friend Sam and I are going on an 8 day trek to Annapurna Base Camp, so stay tuned. Nepal has been wonderful but It’s not over yet!