Before moving to the UAE, Nepal wasn’t one of the places I was thinking about visiting, until we had a 4 days long week end and I decided to go away for few days. My choice was mainly based on the lack of time I had, and because I promised myself that I wouldn’t leave 2015 without stepping foot on Asia (even if technically I LIVE in Asia now, but this doesn’t count).
Nepal is located in the Himalayas, bordered to the west, east and south by the Republic of India and to the north by the People’s Republic of China. Although it is not a common vacation destination, It’s a destination that mostly attracts adventure junkies and nature lovers. With Nepal’s rich cultural history and religious influence, any visitor should expect to see a lot of monasteries and temples visited by people from all over the world. So if you want to know all the things that I loved in Nepal (that are not Mt Everest 🙂 ) keep reading.
First of all, I loved the way the mountains look at sunset. When the sun sets in Nepal, the clouds typically cover the peaks just enough for the suns rays to look like radiant beams of light trying to make their way through, and brilliant colors of gold and pink follow. It is beyond beautiful!
In Nepal, cramming as many people as you can in a small bus is hilarious. Well under other circumstances, getting into an old bus (if we can call it a bus) for a 4 hours trip in the middle of beautiful foggy mountains would have been scary, but in my case I was thinking about the next scariest thing I was going to do…
Imagine a bridge over 160 m high tropical gorge, with one of Nepal’s wildest rivers raging below, can you see it? Can you hear the water running? Now jump!
I’ve been wanting to do Bungee jumping for a while now, so when the hotel receptionist told me that I can book a Bungee trip to a place named “The last Resort” (how ironic!) , I said “Ok, why not!” without even blinking. Now that I think about it, deciding to jump off a bridge was faster than choosing which shade of blue I want to have for my couch (I need help). I knew I should have given it more thought once I discovered the actual bridge (I’m sorry I didn’t realize how wide 160 m was!).
This experience was the scariest I’ve ever had in all my trips! (yes including that night I got lost in one of Cape Verde’s islands with no phone, not light and no one to help me find my way.), but it also was one of the most liberating ones, you can’t imagine how free you feel when you’re actually free falling (again, I need help).
Another thing I loved in Nepal is related to food. Most specifically a dish called “Momo”, It’s the simplest, most basic, food to try in Nepal. In fact, when I first asked my waiter what a momo was, he looked at me like I had 4 heads. I think it would be like a foreigner asking a Moroccan what couscous was. Momos are a sort of pastry stuffed with delicious meat or veggies, and SO GOOD!
Finally, we can’t talk about Nepal without talking about it’s culture. Nepal is a culturally rich nation, and at the heart of its culture there is religion. In the valley of Kathmandu, one can find elements of Buddhism, Hinduism, and animism almost everywhere. I visited a few of the well-known religious sites in the Valley and learned so much about the Nepali people, their worldview, and culture.
Starting from Patan Durbar Square which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the Boudhanath which is a Buddhist stupa in the northern part of the city recognizable with the golden peak featuring the eyes of the Buddha and surrounded by hundreds of prayer flags, discovering the origins of what they believe in was one of my favorite things to do in Nepal. I can still hear one of the most common mantras carved in my head: “Om Mani Padme Hum”.
I have to say that Nepal is not recommended for the faint hearted. Some might get sick at some point, get bitten by a number of mosquitoes and take in some pretty tough sights to swallow, especially after the last earthquake and this is not avoidable. You are also likely to encounter plenty of power outages and some pretty dodgy transport experiences. However, If you are the outdoors kind of person, you will LOVE the mountains and they alone will make your trip SO worth it. If you enjoy rich culture, you will just LOVE city life and the people! Either way, there is no doubt it will be an incredibly worthwhile experience!