What we loved…
Trekking – Hiking the Himalayas is synonymous with traveling Nepal. Prayer flag strewn trails surrounded by snowcapped mountains – I’m not sure there’s anything more spectacular and peaceful on earth. We trekked for 9 days with a stop at Poon Hill on our way to Annapurna Base Camp in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas, but there are endless trekking options throughout Nepal. You’ll be sore, smelly and tired, but it’s worth every step.
Liveliness – Stimulation overload! Vendors, motorbikes, pedicabs, pedestrians, cows, dogs, bicycles, kids, handcarts, cars, chickens, buses, pigeons, etc. all make their way down the same narrow streets . The smells, the sights, the sounds – there’s no doubt that this country is full of life. And everything from the fabrics and pedicabs to their street art and prayer flags are all so colorful.
Cost – Everything is cheap in Nepal. Accommodation, hiking gear, transportation, food, private guides etc. – you just have to be willing to negotiate. Remember, though, the few bucks you’re negotiating to save can mean a lot more to Nepalis. Negotiate with that in mind, and tip your guides and porters well.
What we didn’t love…
Hard to Get Anything Done – A typical day of trying to accomplish anything in Nepal goes a little something like this. Your Nepali friend shows up an hour late (with apologies because he ran into a friend whom he then had to share a tea with). You hop on the back of his motorbike to go see his friend who has the item you need (all Nepali’s “know a guy” for any need). He realizes you’re going to drive past his favorite bakery, so you stop for cake and masala chai. You hop back on his motorbike and head to “his guy”. You arrive to a closed storefront. Your friend gets on the phone. His guy invites you upstairs for soup and hashish. An hour later you finally head down to see what he has. It’s not exactly what he had promised, but you can make it work.
After jumping back on the motorbike you happen to cross paths with another friend (everybody knows everybody, so you always run into friends). You both screech to halts and proceed to have a conversation in the middle of the street. You make a u-turn and follow him to his buddies bar. Masala chais and hashish all around. Finally, you head back home. Your errand that should have taken 30 minutes somehow took 5 hours. But…you had an adventure and made some good friends along the way.
The Cast System – I just can’t get on board with a class system that locks people into their position in life the day they’re born. Farmers will always be farmers. Fisherman will always be fisherman. While scholars will always have opportunity. Call me foolish, but I believe in everyone having equal opportunity.
Earthquake Ravished – Perhaps this one is a little unfair considering we were traveling Nepal during the devastating series of 2015 earthquakes, but even years later, this is unfortunately still a reality. The damage caused by the earthquakes is unreal. 7 story buildings leaning against 5 story buildings. Bricks, rocks, and rubble everywhere. Roads torn apart. Historical buildings destroyed. Villages buried. And that’s just what you can see. The earthquake destroyed families, livelihoods, lives and so much more. My heart goes out to the entire country.