Nepal has special meaning to me. It’s the country in where, for the first time in my life, I travelled completely alone. February 2013 is my arrival in Kathmandu, the capitol of Nepal. I stay in Thamel, a busy touristy area of Kathmandu. It’s a fun place to go shopping, eating, drinking and get lost! Wow what a lot of winding streets, I look over my shoulder wondering if I still remember the way I came. My biggest problem that day is finding my hotel once more. At the moment I’m sort of a control freak, ha ha well actually, maybe I’ve always been… That is why this time I pre-booked all the hotels and tours from the Netherlands to avoid any surprises along the way.
The first few days I visit all kinds of holy places in the Kathmandu area; Bouddhanath is a really big and beautiful stupa, one of the biggest in the world. Many believers visit this Stupa an walk many times counter clockwise around the building.
Pashupathinath is a sacred Hindi temple with places for cremation along the river. This cremation area is being used all the time and as a visitor you are able to see the traditional cremation happen from a distance. The deceased are being put on a pedestal and covered with rags and branches. The son of the deceased brings the flame to the body (through the mouth) and the pile catches fire. An impressive event. I see a foot stick out of the branches and rags which makes it all feel a bit lugubrious.
Bhaktapur is a pretty old kings-city with beautiful architecture. I walk around, take pictures and let sun shine on my face. I drink a small coffee on a roof terrace and let myself recover a bit from everything I saw at the temple.
I’m enjoying the travelling!
From Kathmandu I travel with the local bus to Chitwan, it’s a long trip. In the bus there is a young woman with her baby. We don’t speak the same language, but try to talk a bit anyway. I show her my pcitures and she points to interesting places on google maps.
When she goes to the bathroom, she gives her baby to me as if it is the most normal thing to do in the world. People who know me would know that I almost never hold babies, how funny is this. I’m like a proper babysitter walking around with the baby in my arms and enjoying the situation.
Chitwan is warm and a lot nature, beautiful! I hear the birds sing and the water of the river flow. I’m in the middle of nature!
The next day I join a tour to the elephant breeding grounds and we start looking to wild rhino’s. First we receive some information about the danger of wild animals. So listen carefully, this may come in handy one day. When in danger and the rhino starts to follow you, you have to run in a zigzag pattern. Rhino’s can’t zigzag. Helpful tip I would say. If we encounter a bear than we should shout hard and hit him on the nose?! I don’t think I want to get so close….
In the early morning I go on a bird trip, the jungle is really alive, excellent! Also the spiders and webs are still in the trees. Because I’m something like 30 cm longer than my guide, I’m the one ‘catching’ all the spiderwebs, for me a really scary walk. The guide laughs and shakes his head; not afraid of rhino’s but afraid of spiders.
Besides all the beauty I see, I feel really alone sometimes. Bah, it doesn’t feel good, which is for the first time since the start of my travels. Before I started this trip, I wasn’t feeling too good. I’m fighting this feeling, because I have the strong conviction I should be enjoying this. That fight doesn’t make me feel better. After 4 days of ‘fighting’ I know that crying my eyes out helps a lot more and really clears the air. Relieved and relaxed I travel on to Pokhara.
This timing is just fine as I’m going to submerge myself in Buddhism and Yoga. Besides all the knowledge about Buddhism and the various poses of yoga, I learn to be in total silence for longer periods for the first time. When we are not having lessons we try to talk as little as possible.
Thereafter during my trek in the mountains near Pokhara, I also enjoy the silence. My guide and I don’t talk a lot, we don’t understand each other that well and this makes the daily walks feel like long sessions of meditation. I enjoy it immensely. The area is exceptional beautiful to walk around and I’m definitely will return once.
Afterwards I let a taxi drop me off at a monastery full of nuns. The nuns and tourists that stay here spend their entire day in silence and in meditation. After two days the silence is too much, I can’t go for a walk and there is no distraction at all. Okay, this is a bit too much for me I realise, especially as I don’t have any reach with my cellphone either. The feeling that I cannot leave almost causes me to panic.
But it turns out there is a phone available in the kitchen of the monastery and I’m able to call a taxi to come pick me up. While sitting on a terrace, sipping on a Tiger beer with the view at Pokhara lake I already laugh at the previous situation.
And finally a flight over the Himalaya; a must see!
At 05:00 in the morning I’m being picked up to go to the airport. There awaits me a big group of people who just as I are going to go on a half hour flight above the Himalayan mountains. Well, if the weather lets us. The first day I’m out of luck, but the second day the flight is possible. YES! We fly with a small airplane above the clouds and can’t see anything of the surrounding landscape but all of a sudden the highest peaks of the Himalaya are visible above the clouds. Among which is Mount Everest. Wow, how cool and what a way to finish my journey. Totally relaxed I return back to the Netherlands and can look back satisfied on my first solo trip. I love travelling alone.
But bad luck is around the corner… my computer crashed a few months after my journey and I didn’t backup my photos. What a beginners mistake pfff. Besides the few photos here I don’t have any pictures left of this trip. No time for feeling sorry, as it’s probably karma, I just have to return to Nepal once more.