Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nepal - The most beautiful place on earth!

Nepal. I am not sure what I expected - maybe nothing - but what I got was the most awe inspiring 3 days of my life. Nepal is by far the most beautiful place on earth I have ever seen. Describing it will be difficult, and I know my pictures will not even begin to capture the essence and the colours...especially the liuid, brilliant greens...
We visited 2 large cities and a remote farm in Nepal.
Flying over the mountains into Katmandu (not the Himalayas, but a smaller, greener range between India and Nepal), I was shocked to see such a large city as we approached Katmandu. Archituecture here is very different from anywhere else I have seen. Skinny, tall houses and buildings, sometimes 5 stories high, painted in bright colours dotting a large, green valley. Katmandu has all the colour and vibrance of Indian cities - without all the garbage. It is clean. They sweep the streets and there are even sidewalks! (unlike most of Calcutta). Mostly the people are Hindu, and wear the same dress as in India, but there is less noise, less honking, and cleaner air.

The weather was warm/hot by day, and cool by night...perfect really. The best of the tropics without the humidity. And the landscape is breathtaking!

The country is mountainous, with skinny valleys along rushing rivers...the people all live on the hillside...some homes are on stilts, roads are steep.
We left Katmandu to go to a remote farm outside the city of Pokhara. The road was, well, let's say...TERRIFYING!!!!! Interestingly, I was completely calm as we careened around blind corners on steep mountain roads. Honest! Joel was a basket case, grabbing at the door handle, my leg, anything he could grab....sure he was about to plummit over the cliff to his early death....
What you have to imagine is that the road is say, 20 feet across. At the edge it goes straight down for hundreds of meters. We are in a large, rickety bus with a dozen or so people on the roof (throwing the centre of gravity off no doubt), and anytime we go around a sharp corner (which is every 14 seconds) the bus lilts and you see nothing but a rushing river in the vally below...then there is the continuous passing of various vehicles on blind hairpin corners.
I am not kidding, it is utter insanity and I loved it! It's weird...anyone who knows me well, knows I am not a good passenger. I am terrified of anyone's driving save my own...but I swear...I was so very enthralled at the scenery, and at how very blessed I felt to be there experiencing all this, that I scarcly noticed we were constantly seconds away (at all moments) from a head on collission.
I think I figured that if I was to die around the next corner, it was meant to be, and I died doing what I have always wanted to do...experiencing and seeing my world.

Anyway, after surviving the 8 hour journey from heaven or hell (depending on who you talk to), we entered the city of Pokhara. Definately a place I want to return to. A vibrant city on a beautiful lake surrounded by stunning mountains and lush green hills. There are dozens of hotels that dot the lakeside...5-6 dollars a night! I swear I will come back to this place.
After Pokhara we went to a remote farm where we spent the night at an organic demonstration farm. It is here I found the most desirable place on earth...and I wondered if the family that lives there, know just how lucky they are....but then, I speak with the husband who runs the farm, and hear about his brother who used to live there too, who was recently killed by the Maoist rebels...and I wonder...
The organic farm is perched atop a finger of land that pokes out from the mountainside. We had to walk down 347 rock steps to get to the river valley, then cross a swinging foot bridge, and climb back up the side of the mountain to where it plateaus. There we are surrounded by 360 degrees of the most lush, green, stunning beauty...backdropped with majestic white rocky peaks of the Himalayas.
We slept in an open air hut made of rocks and grass (this is what they live in year round). It gets cold at night, for it is winter here, but the family covered our hard cotton mattresses with a thick cotton blanket that kept us warm. And when I awoke in the morning, the sun was shining on the mountain peaks, and I felt so blessed to see such a sight....
Joel slept through the early morning spectacle having a fitful sleep due to the the 5 resident dogs scaring away the wild animals with incessant barking all night. I slept fitfully too...but grateful for the 5 resident dogs keeping the wild animals out of my doorless, windowless grass hut!!!

The family was hospitable and kind...they emply 12 "untouchables" there at the farm. The untouchables are the lowest class of Hindus...unemployable.
I will pause here to describe a little food culture (enjoy Darlene...). As in Africa and India, I have NEVER eaten so much food in my life! In Nepal it is customary to eat only 2 LARGE meals a day...and turning down seconds and thirds is rude...
breakfast consisted of about 3 cups of rice pudding (my fault, after not being able to eat the 5 cups of rice I was served for supper, and feeling guilty about the waste, I mentioned that in Canada we often make rice pudding...duh!!), curried potatoes, some kind of yummy seed things, apples, and sickly sweet tea, and fresh, warm milk from the cows...then before my plate was empty, they offer more,, YUP, three helpings, and I am turning green for fullness!
I was still full from the 5 cups of rice, bowl of lentils, french fries, green bean gooey stuff, and some indesribable meat form from supper! AAYYYAAIII
Interestingly, when we arrived in our hotel in Chennai, India last night, there was a weigh scale, and I weighed in at 125...I was pleansantly suprised since I was sure I must be pushing 150 by now. Joel weighed in at 159...down from his previous weight. Funny. BUt I digress...

I love Nepal. The people are warm and friendly. They wish for peace. They want toursits to come back.
I promised I would be back. The family on the hill, with the organic farm, is building a guest hut and new toilet facility (see picture of current guest toilet), and will charge an exhorbitant $50/week for you to stay in their little piece of paradise...the most beautiful place on earth!
BTW, this intersting little place is completely self sustaining. They have endless supplies of fresh mountain water, they use the cow dung to create bio-fuel which they use for cooking. They grow all the food they need there on the farm. And, best of all,they wake up each morning to clear, crisp air and a view few people on earth will ever see. If only theMaoist rebels would leave them alone...
Before leaving Nepal, we went on a flight over the Himalayas...stunning...enjoy our photos...we are off to Thailand.


Bruce said...

Hi Sweetheart; Your pics.and observations of Nepal make me wish I was there with you. Too bad these vicious politics have to play a negative roll in such an otherwise peaceful and beautiful country. Your flight shots of the mountains are breathless. My flying buddy wants to know what A/C
Buddha Air flies......good quetion.
Love Ya Dad and Meemaw

Tammy said...

Stunning pictures really. I can imagine how beautiful it must be there. Safe travels to Thailand. Tammy

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True Nepali said...

I'm so glad to know that you really loved Nepal and I'm feeling more to say that the problems you said about Maoists and other political conflicts has ended long time ago. Nepal is now not only beautiful place it's peaceful too and harmonic more than ever. I'll be very happy if you'll come back again to Nepal and enjoy more beautiful visits to other parts too. We are always keen to welcome you and all others who like Nepal and Love as well.
Hope you'll soon be in Nepal.
And lastly I'd like you to know what really NEPAL stands for;
N - Never
E - Ending
P - Peace
A - And
L - Love :)

Gold Mountain Nepal Treks said...

Nice to read your article.