My journey into Nepal started at the Indian border and continued east to Lumbini, birthplace of Buddha. My first days were spent on a 2-day trek through the jungle of Chitwan national park, involving an up close and personal encounter with a real wild charging rhino, a bloodthirsty leech, and an unstable canoe carved from a tree trunk which predictably upturned while I was still in it.
Looking back at my photos of Nepal I see that I hardly took any of my time here and it all seems like a blurry muddle of dreams and reality. I think really I was still reeling from my trial-by-fire start in India and being plunged into the chaos of Kathmandu only stirred up my confusion. Culture shock aside, I loved Nepal and it remains one of my favourite places in the world today, tied only with Laos for beautiful people and beautiful surroundings.
I loved the crazy, dirty, busy life in Kathmandu – fluttering prayer flags, monkeys, street kids, hippy cafe and insane traffic all co-existing together and never stopping for a moment.
My 5-day hike in the Annapurnas was a highlight of my trip and definitely an experience I would recommend to anyone. I didn’t know how I would handle it, having done very little fitness training in preparation. It was tough no doubt, but the rewards were unbelievable. You never realise quite how strong you are until you push yourself. That first photo of the snow covered peak (I can’t remember which one, but no doubt my father will chime in, in the comments) was the first glimpse I had of the real mountains after a hard uphill slog of several hours on the first day. It was worth it.
Nothing can compare to watching the sunrise and sunset over some of the highest peaks in the world and one evening we sat on our balcony in our sleeping bags and just watched the sun go down behind the mountains for hours until it was pitch black – about a million times more entertaining than tv.
It gets cold in the mountains and I was ill-prepared. I would go to bed wearing all my clothes and three pairs of socks but my thin sleeping bag was not enough for the altitudes. I had strange dreams and woke frequently in the night, my body unable to maintain the warmth needed for sleep. In the dark I would sit up with a jolt, not knowing where I was and why my feet had turned to blocks of ice.
My time in Nepal was way too short and I was sad to leave, but one day I will return. I want Made, Maya and Kiran to experience the mountains too.