Marcus, our Product Development Manager, recently returned to Nepal for a 4th time having already spent 9 months of his life living and working in this amazing Himalayan country. Here he tells us of some of his adventures and fascinating people he met.
‘Why is it’ my trusty traveling companion said, ‘that you try to speak to every Nepali you walk past?’ I wasn’t as fit as the last time I was in Nepal, and was very content with a few moments to catch my breath and practise my Nepali on a few people; asking how far we had to go and whether there might be rain that afternoon.
I like the fact that the British and the Nepalis share the same sort of fascination for the weather, and that this was something my simple Nepali would stretch to fairly confidently. My guide, Buddha, was helping me with a few new words as we climbed a steep path through a colorful rhododendron forest towards Dhampus. As we came into a clearing, there were three local Nepali women were perched high in the trees collecting firewood, with vast snow-capped Himalayan peaks beyond.
Needless to say, and possibly trying to over extend the extent of my Nepali, I ended up accidentally asking them all to marry me, to which giggles started billowing down from the treetops above.
Undeterred and after straightening out my betrothals, I went on to meet a whole range of fascinating people with colorful stories of where they were coming from and to, snapshots into the lives of the people who live and work in one of the most rugged terrains on Earth; it was a little like a modern Canterbury Tales, only the knight became a Gurkha and the Wife of Bath became a battleaxe of the women we met near Ghandruk.
The Annapurna Range is quite possibly one of the most stunning areas anywhere in the Himalaya, and what makes it exceptional are the villages you pass through and the smiles that meet you.
Quite often the local Gurung tribal homes are thatched, with the odd bullock in the shed beyond and the children bouncing up and down the rolling rice paddies dressed in colorful saris.
In the evenings, we sat back in one of our stunning lodges, with a well-deserved G&T. The view panned out from the rice terraces cut into the foothills like someone had taken a large comb and swept across the valley creating a patchwork of paddy fields that endlessly floated up against the backdrop of the high Annapurna peaks beyond.
There is something absolutely refreshing to be in the hills; there are no mobiles that work, no cars or noise, any hustle or bustle. It is a way of getting some peace, meeting some amazing people and continually sitting back in awe of the snow-capped mountains that tower over you.
Back in Kathmandu and we had one of the best days ever. It all started at the amazing Dwaikas Hotel built by a man who collected old medieval woodcarvings and incorporated them into his hotel. It is like waking up in a museum, only with butlers.
We headed to an old friend for breakfast, a walk through dusty alleyways filled with the soft scent of spice and incense. We sat down in his one bedroom apartment and ate traditional Nepali dal bhat or rice and lentils, reminiscing old stories and how the city has changed so much. We continued to an area in northern Kathmandu where I used to live with a family whilst on my GAP year.
I had tracked down a cricket bat that I thought the boys, now 16 and 17, would enjoy. ‘You have become fat,’ they said as we entered the house. ‘Occupational hazard,’ I replied as we sat down for steaming hot Nepali chia (tea) and biscuits.
‘Cricket anyone?’ I asked to which I was quizzed on which Indian Premier League team I supported, various batting averages and the prospect of Nepal getting to the world cup one day. We walked past a maze of new buildings that had shot up in the last decade. We found a patch of land and started playing, at which point twenty children ran out to field and the crowd appeared on the rooftops beyond to see the ‘Gora’ try and bat and bowl. It was an amazing experience to see the love of the game played in such simple surroundings. Naturally I was out third ball.
For more information on our customized vacations to Nepal contact our travel specialists on 020 8682 5075.