Namaste Nepal! That isn’t just some saying that only gets used in chic yoga studios across the western world. It was literally how EVERYONE said “hello” in Nepal. It was lovely! For those of you that aren’t sure of the meaning, it’s been passed down to me that it means “the light within me (my soul) acknowledges and honors the light within you”. Now isn’t that a better way for introduction than “hey what up?” I loved it, I loved the fact that it was real, that it was used between even strangers. It was used in India of course, but not in the same way as it was used in Nepal. Everyone greeted you with a smile and a “Namaste”.
Where o’ where to begin? I think I packed more in 6 days in Nepal than I did in a month in India. You’ve already heard of my arrival and the Evel Knievel bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Seriously, there was so much bouncing on that bus ride I regretted not wearing a sports bra and helmet. The mountains and valleys that lead up to the Himalayas are scattered with tiny towns, colorful Nepalese farm houses, rice terraces along every hillside, and women carrying bushels and bushels of rice and burned fertilizer. They looked about 70 too! I was quite embarrassed as that internal voice in my head complained while carrying my “high maintenance” Mammot hiking backpack. Who looks more badass in the pictures? Yup, her. I think that was the first difference I noticed in Nepal vs India, the women. I saw many running their own businesses, riding their own scooters and just generally seeming much more independent. Now, this is the simple perception of a know-nothing-traveler, but you get a “feeling” of places when you travel, and this place feels more equal and free to me in that sense. Another obvious difference is the cuisine. It’s a little less spicy, and although there is still curry and rice galore, the general consistency is less , dare I say, mushy? I don’t mean that with ANY disrespect to Indian food, it just seems like the flavors and the ingredients in Nepalese food are allowed to have their own personalities. Whatever it is, it’s delicious and highly recommended.
During my stay in Pokhara, I crammed in hiking, sunrises over the Annapurna Mountain range (picture below), canoeing the mountain lake at sunset, haggling with Nepalese store owners for “best price” (They all say “I give you good morning price, it good luck!”), and white water kayaking down the Upper Seti with a friendly Brit and his silly accent.
I spent one night in Nagarkot, this FANTASTIC little Nepalese mountain town, a treat after the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. Since it’s closer to the mountains it offers spectacular views of the Himalayas , pedestrian free narrow roads, and cold mountain air that sent a shiver up my spine. Granted I’ve been in India for a month, so it was probably still 60 degrees, but still. The little boutique hotel takes the luxury of banging on your door at 5:30AM to make sure you don’t miss the sunrise. How kind of them. 🙂 A 4 hour hike down through the rice paddies brought me to Bhaktapur, the most unbelievable ancient city littered with art, architecture, pottery, metal and wood work, festivals, and the famous Durbar Square.
Before this story gets to long, it wouldn’t be complete without the highlight and most reckless thing I could possible have done in Nepal… the Mt. Everest flight. For all my time flying in the Navy, I’ve never been so scared as climbing into a Nepalese plane. You know, the ones you hear about crashing at least twice a year!? Mt. Everest was of course breathtaking. I’ve heard the Tibetan side is even more exquisite since it’s less obstructed, and has a steeper face, but it’s kinda hard to get in the country right now due to the Chinese regulations. Oh China. None the less, it was simply surreal. As we touched down in Kathmandu, I could tell everyone was holding their breath. But alas, we survived another day for another cold shower 🙂
Alright, gotta get back to my Balinese afternoon of surfing, yoga and spa treatments… already changed my flight to stay here an extra week 😉