Hi everyone! I hope you enjoyed the trek post by Hoch! I seriously would love to come back one day to do it again or try other treks in the area. 🙂 Maybe one day… Anyways today’s post will talk about how we spent the rest of our time in Nepal. Not only were we leaving Nepal, but also switching up continents so it was our last few days in Asia as well. We are now in Central Europe which is quite different, but easier to adjust to for us (so far) than Asia was. Though we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Asia, we were ready to change it up. So the last few days in Nepal were a little bittersweet. We relaxed and tried to fit in a few more touristy things before our departure.
We ended up spending a few more nights in Pokhara before heading back towards Kathmandu. Shibu and Santhosh, our trekking guide and porter, invited us to Shibu’s home to perfect making mo:mos and meet their families. So the morning after returning from our trek, we went out and bought some fruit and sweets to take with us as gifts and met them around noon. Shibu’s father, mother, wife, and young daughter were there. His mother also joined in on the mo:mo making party and made quite a few (I think she also made the dough and filling before our arrival). Santhosh’s daughter was still in school, but we were able to meet her once she returned. We ate the mo:mos along with soup and some fruit for lunch followed by afternoon tea on the balcony. Their kitchen was on the 3rd level and if it weren’t cloudy, we would’ve been able to see some of the mountain peaks. It was such a nice way to spend the afternoon. We really enjoyed getting to hang out with Shibu and Santhosh again and of course I love seeing how the locals live and go about their daily lives. It was definitely a highlight of our remaining time in Pokhara. Hoch – Shibu nonchalantly placed his daughter in my lap and let’s just say I am still unbelievably uncomfortable with how tiny babies are. Darn cute baby though.
Our last full day in Pokhara, we had planned to go see a popular peace stupa along with a couple of museums. Well, we woke up to a pretty cloudy day which means no views at the stupa so we decided to skip that. And then we couldn’t find a motorbike rental place so we ended up renting bicycles after much debate (and wasted time) and riding them to the first museum on our list. Afterwards, we realized the second museum closed earlier than we thought and we weren’t going to make it in time, so we ended up doing a mini bar crawl instead. Well 1 out of 3 isn’t bad I guess. H – I was a big downer that morning because I already missed the mountains with no people. Mountains good, (some) people bad. It took some time to be readjusted to the hustle and bustle.
The museum that we did make it to was called the International Mountain Museum. The museum contains information on the several ethnic groups that call the mountains home and on the history of several climbers including some old climbing gear displays. It also had some comparisons between mountain people in Nepal to those in other parts of the world. Some of it was interesting while other parts were a little funky and even confusing. The flow of it all did not always make sense and it involved a lot more reading than usual so towards the end I was skimming through a bit. Here are the only photos we have from the museum:
So we planned to get to Kathmandu via the same bus route that we took to get to Pokhara. Then the plan was to take a bus the following day to a small village a little closer to Everest (Nagarkot, in hopes of seeing it along with the other mountain ranges in the area). Well for this journey, there was a landslide and festival/holiday traffic which ended up making the ride several hours longer, 11 hours instead of the intended 7-8 hours. We didn’t even think about how the Dashain Festival would affect our travel plans until we saw how bad the traffic was upon arrival in Kathmandu. After checking into our hotel and speaking to the guy at the front desk, we decided it would be better to stay in Kathmandu and avoid the hassle of travel and worse getting stuck somewhere and missing our flight.
The Dashain Festival is the most popular festival in Nepal. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, lasts 15 days, includes a goat sacrifice, and several places close down in order to celebrate. Locals were traveling back to their home towns to celebrate with family so all buses were going to be jam packed if they were even available. Though it would’ve been cool to see the festival in a small village setting, it was nice to relax for the remainder of our time in Nepal plus I get the feeling it is more of a family event rather than an open festival in the streets.
The days leading up to our flight involved a lot of relaxing and satisfying any final Nepalese food cravings. I also ended up taking a yoga class one day, and we were able to visit Patan which was on our list of things to see while in Kathmandu. Technically Patan is its own city located in the Kathmandu Valley. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and several historic monuments are located throughout the city. Similar to Durbar Square in Kathmandu, a lot of the historic buildings and monuments were damaged in the earthquake, but what we could see was pretty cool. It ended up being one of my favorite things we did in Kathmandu. We took local transportation to and from (always a unique experience) and spent several hours walking around the area.
First of all, it took us FOREVER to find the bus stop. We walked to where it was shown on the map and it was nowhere to be seen. We asked a cop about it and he told us to wait there, but then he went off to direct traffic so we wandered over to a bus terminal. It was a mad house with people getting onto buses, but these were not the local city buses, only buses that were heading out of town. Hoch asked several people where we could catch the bus to Patan and each person pointed in a different direction than the last. Finally, a guy told us the street to catch the bus on. We walked there and did not see a bus stop sign, but did see several vendors set up on the sidewalk which was a sign we were getting close. We finally saw a large van drive by with the conductor hanging out the door and shouting something in Nepalese. People started hopping on and off and we ran up to ask if the van was stopping in Patan. Sure enough it was, we hopped on and paid him and after waiting a bit for the van to get full, we were on our way. Our way back was a similar story except that the conductor was a young boy, probably the age of 10, and his mother was the van driver. Since it was close to rush hour, traffic was getting worse and then at one of the stops a ton of people just surrounded the van and were trying to push themselves on. We had to push hard just to get out of the door. I should’ve taken a photo of the overcrowded van, but I was too focused on getting off intact.
While in Patan we went to a museum and picked out a few monuments to see and wandered through the local streets to find them. The museum had a lot of information on Hindu gods and was located inside a historic building with a courtyard in the center. The random monuments hidden in the city was the best part for me. We just walked through what looked like a regular street and then all of the sudden there would be a historic stupa or temple. I also liked that it wasn’t very crowded and touristy. It felt like we were just seeing daily local life as we walked by.
Overall, I really enjoyed our time in Nepal and am happy that we were able to visit during our travels. The people are really nice and the country is beautiful. A little side note though, I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts about the poverty and beggars in Asia, but I haven’t really touched on it too much. It is easy to get wrapped up in your own world and you can forget how different other parts of the world are. I’ve always been pretty good about not letting it get to me and to be honest ignoring some of what we’ve seen as we’re traveling or else it could bother me and perhaps ruin certain experiences. I have had a few moments in which it really got to me though. One of them was on our second to last night in Kathmandu. We were walking to dinner and a guy was trying to sell some retractable contraption that was worthless. I guess people do purchase them, maybe for their kids? Anyways, I politely told him no thanks when he tried to sell me said item. He smiled and moved on to the next possible customer. After dinner, we walked the same route and came across him again. I again told him no thank you and we kept walking. Well I immediately felt the need to go give him some money. I wandered how many of those things he even sells daily. It can’t be much. So I turned back and found him. I told him I did not want to purchase anything but wanted to give him something. I held out the small bill and he would not accept it! He politely declined my donation. I hope I didn’t offend him and good for him for not taking a stranger’s money, but I will tell you it broke my heart. I had to walk away quickly since tears were starting to well up in my eyes. I don’t know why it provoked so much emotion in me, maybe it was just built up since my last weak moment in Myanmar, but it made me sad. The way some people live just seems unfair. I know my being sad about it doesn’t help them, but I can’t help but to wonder why it is the way it is. I know once I return home I will get wrapped up in daily life again, but I will try to always remember some of these “weak” moments and the people that caused them so that I will not take for granted the life I’ve been lucky enough to live. OK enough for the downer tone, just something I wanted to share. Nepal is great, the people are great, and if you’re into hiking, you should definitely consider coming for a visit! H – This is the same issue that destroyed me emotionally time and again in Asia. Perhaps that’s why I get irrationally upset by aggressive touts and taxi drivers; I know deep down they are just trying to survive and provide for their families, and I can’t help but get defensive because of the inherent inequity of those situations. It’s all really fucked up and any attempt to rationalize it just further highlights the manipulative nature of mankind. I don’t have a solution and I’m afraid no one will. But, seriously, fuck taxi drivers forever.
Per usual here are additional photos not included in the blog:
And links to my other Nepal Posts:
After our first overnight airport experience of the trip (Doha airport is freezing and the chairs suck), we finally arrived in Central Europe to start a whirlwind tour to end our 6-month travel! H – to clarify, The Doha airport in Qatar was one of the largest and best airports I will ever visit. It is incredibly convenient, clean, and well-staffed. And the seats are perfectly fine for sitting but a bit less so if you are trying to lie down – which is the intended design. I will try my best to keep you posted as I have been, but I think it may be a little difficult since we will not spend the same amount of time in each country like we did in Asia. So bear with me as I try to find my new rhythm for this leg of the trip.
Until next post!