Nepal… officially my favorite country on the World Tour.
Bold statement, I know. And I can actually say that definitively now, given I’m writing this post from the USA. I have officially been to all the countries on the #WMFT.
In so many ways, going to Nepal was hugely new for me… the first third-world country I’d ever been to… first first-hand experience with Hinduism and Buddhism… arriving and navigating my first days there alone (#FSS Fake-sleeping-selfie bday extravaganza, etc)… trekking through the hills and Himalayas seeing and learning SO much more about this amazing country and culture than I ever would have sticking close to Kathmandu… doing client calls from the bathroom and pitch-black dark of night being now literally on the other side of the earth #mobileentrepreneur…
I’ll let the pics and captions tell this story.
Some of them are long, but the stories are good. 🙂
Bottom line… Nepal… go.
It’s definitely on my go-back-to list.
Namaste (this is how Nepalis greet you and leave you),
So my time in Nepal began arriving at night by myself.. I mean, I was “prepared” in that I knew this was happening.. I knew to expect that I’d be swarmed getting asked for a taxi, obviously I would stick out like a sore thumb as a tourist, you know, given my blond American vibe and all. As such, I had coordinated with my hotel and had a ride set up. Perfect. The guy at my hotel told me not to go with anyone, unless they had a sign for me. Great. I can read my own name, I know my hotel, check, I got this. So I arrive, and seriously, I was in no way expecting what Nepal is actually like. WHOA. A bunch of people came up to me asking if I wanted a taxi just like I was advised.. then another guy who mentioned my hotel specifically, but he didn’t have a sign with my name on it. Not going. So a few minutes later, he comes back and does in fact have a sign with my name printed on it.. like printed out. Ok, I believe him and walk with him at this point. From here, now remember, I have never been to this country before, and in my experience, all taxis are, you know.. kind a like taxis.. a little sign on top, a meter, that sort of thing. The car we walked up to was clearly just this guy’s regular car. And very dirty and run down too. He opens the trunk and tells me to put my bag in. At this point, I’m freakin out a bit internally, my keep-myself-alive alarm bells going off and I tell the guy I’m not comfortable putting my stuff in the car, that the guy from the hotel told me not to go with anyone else. So we end up calling the guy at the hotel, I speak with him directly and only THEN do I feel comfortable to get in and go. Then, we drive into the seriously dirty, dusty dark of night, into the craziness of Kathmandu, all the traffic and the trash, and I’m staying all Condition Red in my alertness, just in case. The driver was actaully really nice, which helped ease my energy a bit, but still. When we get to my hotel, we literally pull up a completely trashed alleyway and I just can’t help but still be completely on guard. It feels CRAZY, like there’s no way this is the place. Then, at the end of the alleyway, we pull up to the door and there’s my hotel. Nuts, I tell you. I shot some video of this drive.. if any of it came out, I’ll share for sure. So I was super relieved to get to my hotel, they were also all very nice greeting me and getting me to my room. At this point, I was still pretty much afraid to shower (heard the horror stories of people getting sick from the water, even from getting it in their mouths from showering.. so I just bundled up in my jackets, scooted the chair next to the only outlet that worked, and then started to relax. :)) Oh and don’t forget this is all on my birthday. Awesome. So once settled in, I spent the rest of this night crying laughing with my pals, playing for hours with our fake-sleeping selfie thread. In the end.. BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. :)))
The next day I got recommendations from the hotel staff and actually ventured out.. I ate at one of the restaurants they said was good… I thought the irony was too perfect… had to get the pesto. READ MY PESTO MANIFESTO HERE.
Just walking around Thamel, the area where I stayed. Narrow streets with buzzing cars motorbikes. Prayer flags hanging.
The electricity is shut off for 10 hours a day here. During that time, many places use generators. Looking at the wires, it seems like a serious miracle that anyplace has electricity ever.
GivenThe India Debacle, I arrived to Nepal 5 days ahead of schedule. One of the biggest things that called to me when I ever think about this country.. was trekking. Getting out into the nature of this beautiful nation, take in the culture, and get to know some people along the way too. So that’s what I did. I asked how I could make this happen. I asked my clients for the space to be off the grid for 3 days.. I cut my bag down to nothing but water, food, one change of clothes… and I went. One of my favorite experiences of the entire World Tour.
Day one took us up up UP into the hills/mountains, and through the little towns along the way.
We made amazing time on the first day despite it being seriously like ENTIRELY uphill, up stairs.. this is the first town we stayed in.. Chisopani. When we arrived, the haze was covering the Himalayas, so I actually really didn’t know what was in store for me at sunrise the next day. I mean, I was loving THIS view! ;))
Artsy fartsy pic. Silver cups. <3
Peace. #nowifi #livinit
Binod was my most amazing trekking guide! It was just him and me the first day, then we ended up meeting these guys in Chisopani. Andy the German was comically hating it. Despite it being seriously FREEZING (I’m not kidding you, holy SH*T see-your-breath-inside cold), we had a great time and tons of laughs.
Did I mention it was SO F*CKING COLD, there was nothing to do but bundle up in everything you owned and laugh? And take a selfie to commemorate the moment of course.
Sooo sunrise gave way… to this.
Day 2 took us through other towns in the hills… this is where we stopped for lunch… there are chickens and goats EVERYWHERE.
Goats. In this case… baby goat. #SOFRICKINCUTEHOLYCRAP
More chickens. And a road through a Nepali hill town, by a home.
A stunning and moving prayer area we walked by… beautiful.
Day 2 was fun because we hooked up with some other peeps.. Andy and his guide, and a few other Nepali kids out trekking for their own holiday. Thought it was really cool that they do the same thing for their own fun. We had met a big group of other guys in Chisopani the night prior doing the same thing too. Cool. One of the kids dreamed of being a writer but felt blocked by some circumstances in his life and family.. I encouraged him to start his own blog.. I hope he does.
Along the way…
Given we’d be parting ways again the next day, had to get the group #GoProselfie at the end of our epic day together. :)) Awesome people, all these guys.
Sunset from Nagarkot. The Himalayas were covered up for the most part by clouds again, but it didn’t make our time here any less awesome. This sunset alone.. wow. And the food was DELISH!!!! (Binod, my amazing guide, totally gave me the go-ahead to eat, and oh did I eat! YUM.)
Way YUM. Binod and I had already pretty much eaten all of them before I thought to take a pic.
Terrible lighting, holy delicious.
On the move…
Binod was the best… truly made my time so perfect… was chill yet confident… educated me here and there along the way (like this pic and the Hindu practices, prayers, etc), and really, we just got to know each other and enjoyed our time. If you ever go to Nepal and are looking for a guide, I couldn’t recommend him more highly.
Back in town, time for some beers! Brian had made it in from India, it was time to enjoy and catch up.
We walked long ways through the city, to the stupa, to the Monkey Temple, and just around, taking it all in. This picture is a pretty good representation of how it looks in a lot of places in Kathmandu. Mostly rubble.
I don’t know why.. I just loved it here. Felt so much peace. Really felt like I was able to just be, ya know?
Monkey Temple. S’up monkey. #MonkeyBusiness
Making my wish.
I look like a unicorn in this pic. Maybe I am…….? #deepawesomethoughts
What up dude.
Oh and with the time difference at 10 hours and 45 minutes ahead of the East coast, client calls absolutely ended up in the middle of the night. I planned early sleep, middle-of-the-night wake-ups, followed by more morning sleep. Yeah, I’d say this time difference was absolutely the most challenging of the entire #WMFT. I even had a few calls down in the hotel restaurant, talking in the pitch dark, waking up the front desk guy, but making it happen because the wifi had gone out upstairs. The funny thing about this is that there was a blinking light strand around a Buddha that was there with me, blink-blink-blinkety-blinking as I worked. As challenging as this one sounds, I actually felt totally energized that I was able to make it work and be with my clients here too. #HAVEIMENTIONEDILOVEMYWORK? #brokenrecord #mobileentrepreneurship
One of the most unique cultural things I’ve witnessed to date is here in the Nepali culture, how they go about their funeral ceremony. The river here is sacred… holy… interesting how culturally the river is sacred, and how truly everyone throws trash into it without thinking or seemingly caring. It seems that the truly don’t see it as a bad thing to throw trash anywhere and everywhere. Very notable difference in culture, I thought. So their funeral ceremony involves bringing the bodies of their loved ones down to the river, erecting a lovely funeral pyre, covering it with beautiful flowers.. dipping their loved ones’ feet in the river, ceremoniously putting them on the pyre, and burning their bodies to ash ultimately putting all the ashes into the river as well. It was very moving to witness this part of the Nepali culture.. stayed here for hours, just bearing witness and paying simple respects as best we could as those clearly from outside this culture and religion.
Hindu men performing a personal ceremony beside the river as well. I was sitting above them on the wall.
Looks like this pretty much most places in Kathmandu.. in the city areas..
Shopping for tourists.
And a trip to Nepal wouldn’t be complete without seeing Everest. The mountain flight was honestly the perfect thing. It really was just so cool to see Everest. :))) #bucketlist
Last, but certainly not least… my ring. I saw this ring the very first day I went out walking in Kathmandu. I even went into the store and chatted with the guy in the store about his stuff and this ring (trying not to give it away fully that I loved this exact one).. he told me the price, gave me some info on the design, make, difference between this ring and the other lower quality rings, etc. We chatted about other stuff too and, I know this is going to sound like I’m the most naive person on the planet, but even though I walked out of there and even though we’re to know that most people in that role are meant to swindle.. I’d say we actually connected. And I know the difference. I mean, it’s SO easy to see a swindler.. you feel it, ya know? So anyway, I did NOT get the ring on the first day. I didn’t get the ring the next time I went in there either.. on the day when I planned to barter (something I historically have not been awesome at hahaa, and certainly do not like)… nope.. after my failed barter attempt, when the guy didn’t even flinch at my consideration of a lower price, nor did he flich when I walked out the door… I took it upon myself to go out shopping for another ring… to see if I could find this ring, or something similar that I loved equally or more, in the other stores in town. What I learned in the end though.. is that the guy at that first store.. actually was legit. There was literally NOTHING else even close to this ring, this design, anywhere in town. And trust me, I looked. I basically spent an entire day in Kathmandu strolling around shopping. I looked at and tried on many other rings in many other shops and every time I went to walk out the door there, the guys tried to get me down in price, and it was very clear the swindle. So ultimately, I went back to this first store again and had a straight conversation with this guy.. that the truth is I love the ring, but that it really and truly is out of my price range. I gave him my legit honest top price which was lower than what he had said, and he agreed. I suppose there’s always a chance that I got swindled, but the truth is I LOVE MY RING. This piece is the piece that I will keep forever as my memory of the WMFT and this huge and wonderful life adventure. It was worth every rupee. ;))