I feel like I’m so behind with updating you guys on the destinations I’ve visited, and now I just wanna update everyone on my life. Also, it’s much easier to get a post out when you don’t have to go back, browse, and edit 1,385 photos from months ago. So here’s a little somethin for ya without so much proofreading and try-hard-ing. More of this to come!
Nepal was great! I’ve always been intrigued by Nepal (mainly, the culture and religion and the fact that they live right up against the biggest mountains in the WORLD), but I never had any concrete plans to visit so soon. Well, uh, obviously I figured I’d be back in the US and out of money by now but hey, surprise surprise everyone, it’s December and I’m still in Asia! And I ended up spending three weeks in Nepal!
I met up with Marko (that’s the boy) in Kathmandu after he’d finished trekking Everest Base Camp. I’d told him to go ahead and get the hardcore stuff out of the way before I arrived in the country, and that maybe I would attempt (a much shorter) hike somewhere else in Nepal.
Kathmandu is chaos. It’s the capital and biggest city of Nepal, yet most of the roads are unpaved and it seems like nobody really gave a damn about city planning. But it is colorful and loud and dusty and GREAT! I happened to arrive just before Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights (called Diwali in India and elsewhere) and it was perfect timing.
It’s a three day affair, and everyone lights little clay oil lamps all over the place and decorates to the max. There are markets in the street selling everything you could need for the celebration, and they just add to the chaos.
While in the city, we made sure to visit Swayambhunath Temple (the one with the monkeys and lots of steps) and the crematorium at Pashupatinath Temple, and both were definitely worth the visit.
The burning ghats at the crematorium were especially interesting and very moving – I mean, you can see families cremating their loved ones, how can it not be?! Since death isn’t a thing that’s hidden or secretive in Nepal, anyone can enter the temple and watch the bodies being sent off in flames, and some of the final moments of mourning before they’re set ablaze are quite emotional.
It was worth the money to splurge ($12) on a guide to know what was going on. And we learned a lot more about the gods, goddesses, and practices of the Hindu religion. Did you know that up until recently, killing a cow in Nepal carried the same penalty as murder?!
Oh, and of course we ate a ton of street food. I tried to organize a DIY food tour based on maps I naively devised while I was still back home. HA! As if there are street signs and restaurants with names! What was I thinking?! Still, we managed to find a few of the places, including some ridiculously good fried chicken momos and the best lassi in town (we think).
While in Kathmandu, we also squeezed in a six course cooking class to learn how to make momos, chapati, thukpa, and other stuff. But mainly momos. Turns out I am really bad at folding them.
After we’d had enough of big city Nepalese livin’ we headed to Pokhara where we’d decide whether to take on a rafting trip or a big hike, or both. It’s a touristy town filled with foreigners all dressed in their trekking gear, and there’s a nice big lake. It’s a much more peaceful place than Kathmandu (hard not to be!) and only a nine hour windy bus ride away!
To put it mildly, we had a very leisurely time in Pokhara pre and post hike. We visited the Peace Pagoda for some views of the city and the lake, and we joined a yoga class one morning (Marko’s first) despite saying were were totally going to do yoga all the time. One day, we rented a motorbike and headed into the countryside to check out Begnas Lake, have lunch, and take photos – the scenery was pretty gorgeous and I’d missed
being on the back of a motorbike #bikelyfe.
The rest of the week we spent frequenting two delicious restaurants for Chinese food and Indian curries and sat around a few cafes to get some freelance work done. Life was really hard.
Trekking the Himalayas (kinda)
We finally got our shit together and decided on a hike. Marko heard about the Mardi Himal trek from a local – it’s a relatively new one and goes up to a base camp of 4,500 meters (the highest I’ve been!). We wouldn’t need a guide, and it would end up taking us five days and four nights, despite the tour agencies telling us it’d be at least six days and that we’d probably better get a guide.
Marko planned all the logistics and I LOVE the way that hiking is done in Nepal – you don’t camp, but instead stay at these little restaurants/tea houses at designated areas along the route that provide lodging and food. (I mean yeah it’s the same menu every meal all the way up, but I got over it because I was SO hungry.)
I was a bit nervous about my trekking abilities and physical fitness – um, I don’t know what you guys think I’m doing while I’m out here traveling but I am so not fit – but it ended up being excellent. And so, so beautiful! There’s a different landscape every day of the hike, and the views of the mountains that you’re walking towards are just sooo dramatic, all rocky and snow-covered. Waking up to that every day just doesn’t get old!
Detailed posts on Mardi Himal costs and planning, the attempted DIY food tour of Kathmandu, and (hopefully) our cooking class! This post is almost 1,000 words. Can you believe I originally planned to give you a rundown of everything we did in India too?