I have spent the last year travelling through Europe and Asia, and my favourite place by far was Nepal. I spent one month exploring this wonderful country, and I’ve thought about it every day since I left. At first, it was a lot to take in, as Nepal was the first country in Asia that I’d ever been. However, it only took a good sleep and a panoramic lunch view to begin to see the beauty in Kathmandu. The colourful buildings everywhere are a treat to look at, especially at sunrise and sunset. And once you get used to all the people and noises, it is the most peaceful place. The shopping in Kathmandu is also incredible. They are unable to import much, so most of the clothes, bags, and jewelry are all handmade – and there is so much to choose from. It is also quite fun to be able to bargain and talk with the locals while doing it. The more Nepalese you know, and the more you know about their culture, the better they will treat you – talk about incentive. The food in Nepal as well, from mo:mos to dhal baat to fruit curd and everything in between, is unbelievable. The Nepalese people just understand flavours so well, and they utilize every spice and grain of rice to the fullest. And the best part is that you get to eat it with your hands (however, forks are available). Everyone I met in Nepal too - from locals to fellow backpackers were such kind and genuine people. It is just such an amazing place to see, and truly is good for your soul. I feel so lucky to have been able to visit this country in my lifetime, and I will definitely be back.
We participated in a cooking class in Thamel in order to get the full Nepalese culinary experience. There were two other couples there, plus the owner and two chefs, so it was quite intimate. After introductions and meal discussions, we all went together to the local market to pick up ingredients for mo:mos and the vegetables were all so pure and colorful ingredient – it felt like we had gone back in time. When we got back, everyone was delegated a task and we ended up making the filling and two dipping sauces, and then learned how to properly put a mo:mo together. It’s quite a skill really. We even got to make snickers ones for dessert!
I spent two weeks trekking through the Himalayas, and the mountains and terrain that you hike through were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s absolutely stunning, and because there is minimal cell phone service or wifi up there, you really get to disconnect and be one with nature. Furthermore, the villages along the way are so minimalist and precious. Because the Nepalese people have so little, they make the most of everything they have and it’s so humbling to see.
Once we returned from the Himalays, we visited a town called Bhaktapur for a few days, about a thirty-minute bus ride from Kathmandu. It looks like an ancient city and is the most interesting and unique place I’ve ever seen. It is still recovering from a lot of earthquake damage, so many people spend their days working to rebuild structures. But it is so calm and peaceful, and truly felt like stepping back in time.
We stayed at this amazing hostel in Thamel called Wanderthirst, that had a great atmosphere, amazing views of the city, and an all you can eat breakfast every morning for 100rp (app. 1 USD). We stayed there for several nights and met so many people. We ended up going in a group of about 12 people on a 2-day hiking trip to Nagarkot. We took the bus to a town nearby and then spent the day hiking to our destination. It was much different than hiking through the Himalayas, as the trekking itself was much easier, but the villages are essentially untouched by tourism and it’s quite amazing to see. All 12 of us sat in our hostel room that night, and went around in a circle talking about what we were grateful for from that day. We ended up having to go around twice because there were just so many things that we wanted to acknowledge and appreciate. As I said earlier, it is just such an amazing place to see, and truly is good for your soul. I feel so lucky to have been able to visit this country in my lifetime, and I will definitely be back.
We spent our last two days in Nepal in a town called Pokhara. We took an overnight bus to get there and back so that we had as much time as possible there. Pokhara had similar shops and restaurants to Kathmandu, but were a bit more unique and interesting. There is also significantly less people around, so the city is much cleaner and more relaxed. One of Pokhara’s main attractions (aside from being the starting point of the Annapurna Treks) is the lake surrounded by stunning mountains. You can take a canoe or paddle boat out and just relax in the sun for the day.