Travelling to Nepal from India
After India, I travelled rather spontaneously to Nepal. When I was working as a flight attendant, we used to have a route to Kathmandu. But I never had the opportunity to visit. From Delhi, it was such a “short” distance that I decided to travel there. From Delhi, you can take a bus Gorakhpur and from there you can take a bus to the Nepal border. It was the perfect time to visit Nepal and enjoy the Tihar (Diwali/Dipawali) festival!
Due to missing a bus (it never showed!), I left Delhi 5 hours later than planned. I arrived very late at the Nepal border which was far from ideal. For that reason, I missed the bus to Lumbini and Pokhara (apparently) and ended up sleeping in a hotel at the border as it was already 9 pm. If you take this route, I’d recommend arriving early and travel onwards as the border isn’t the nicest place to sleep and stay. I got scammed straight away and lost a nice amount of money due to some insane exchange rate to pay for the visa. Then a drunk guy tried to convince some people to stay in his hotel for an overrated price and the overall feel just wasn’t great… The last kilometres in India and the first in Nepal were pretty bumpy as well. They were working a lot on the roads which were filled with dust and sand. So I was happy to have a long shower when I arrived and slept like a baby!
1. Travelling in Nepal
Although the idea was to stop in Lumbini, I decided to travel straight to Pokhara the following day. From the border, it was super easy to find a bus and the connecting bus was also straightforward to catch. I was told the journey to Pohkara would be 6 hours. But the bus took the route via Bharatpur and it took around 11 hours to arrive! There were many accidents along the way! And just like India, the trucks here were painted in beautiful colourful designs.
The music on the bus made the trip so local and we stopped many times picking up and dropping off people. We drove by beautiful mountain ranges, nice villages and winding rivers. The houses were decorated with beautiful coloured tiles and kids were playing on the swings made from bamboo. Travelling around in a local bus in Nepal is an experience I will never forget. I loved the food that was offered whenever we stopped. And the chaos I’m not used to, made travelling in Nepal a very special experience. At this point, I was travelling for 48 hours (from Delhi) and I was looking forward to another good night sleep! Luckily I found a lovely guesthouse and I decided to stay here for 10 days!
Pokhara is a lovely lake-side town and there is a lot to do! From everywhere you can see the misty hills and snowy mountaintops of the Anapurna mountains. One of the first things I noticed, was that my name (Marga) was written on every street! Marga means as much as “The Way” in Nepali! I found the people super friendly and I loved exploring the town as well as new foods! One of the most traditional dishes is Dal Bhat, steamed rice with a cooked lentil soup and lovely spices. When you visit, you’ll also have to try Nepali Momo! These are dumplings with different fillings.
In Pokhara, I really took some time out and didn’t do too many things. The guesthouse had a lovely garden and I was getting some work done for a client. One of the things I did really want to do, however, was paragliding!
And what an amazing experience that was! I am pretty adventurous and not easily scared. It was so funny to notice that my brain was all up for running off a mountain, but my legs were shaking tremendously! Once in the air, I just loved the experience and the amazing view of Annapurna.
Things to do in Pokhara
Apart from paragliding, there are some great things to do in Pokhara. Take a boat trip for example on Phewa Lake. You can also visit Devi’s Fall, the World Peace Pagoda and the Stupa Walkway. Visit Sarangkot for an amazing sunrise. Or go on one of the many hikes that will start from here.
3. The smiles
Wherever I was, whoever I met, I’ve never been greeted by so many smiles. Nepali people are amazing! They will welcome you with open arms and share a chai or two when they can. They really left a mark and made me want to come back again. As a matter of fact, I travelled back to Nepal only 2,5 months after I left! I learned a lot about their culture, the festivals, the food and a little Nepali. For now, I will still have to communicate with hand and feet mostly!
I’ve only been able to see a small part of the country, and I’m so ready to explore more! Coming from the low lands (The Netherlands), it’s amazing to see mountains that reach over 8.000 meters! I was not able to go on any organised treks during the 2 months I stayed in Nepal. But I did go on a hike around Ramechhap. Walking past ricefields, streams and mountain views was absolutely stunning. I didn’t see a single tourist here and I loved this local experience. Learning how they farm, cook, use locals ingredients and the basic way of life opened my eyes in SO many ways. This was one of the most humble experiences in my life! There will be power cuts, you may not have a hot shower for a few days, and you might be forced to be offline for a few days, but it was a journey I’d love to experience again. By the way, as a Dutch person, I appreciated all the weed that’s growing freely in Nepal! No shortage of that 😉
5. Traditions and festivals
I’ll probably overexaggerate when I see there are 360 festivals a year in Nepal, but it certainly felt that way! I arrived just before Tihar (Diwali) and I loved all the dance, music and traditions that came with it. The 5-day festival consists of different celebrations and are dedicated to for example the crow, the dog, the cow, the goddess Lakshmi and brothers and sisters. It is very much a festival of light and you’ll see candles burning everywhere, as well as colourful patterns on the floor. They welcome the goddess Lakshmi into their home for wealth and fortune. And children go from house to house asking for gifts and singing songs (deusi). You will see lights and marigold everywhere and if you’re lucky, try to celebrate the festivals with locals.
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and here you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city. Visit the Budha Stupa, which is one of the biggest in Asia. It was badly damaged during the 2015 earthquake but rebuild and a must-see when you visit Kathmandu.
The Swayambhunath Stupa is another must-visit place, and it’s also known as the Monkey Temple. From the ancient religious complex Swoyambhu, you have a beautiful view over Kathmandu and Kathmandu valley. Visit Durbar Square in Basantapur where you can visit the royal palace and spectator ancient buildings of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex. These were also badly damaged during the earthquake and were still being rebuilt when I was there. You can also visit the living goddess Kumari who is making a daily appearance in the courtyard of Kumari Bahal. Don’t forget to Freak Street and the market for souvenirs. If you’re looking for a peaceful moment you can visit the Garden of Dreams. If you’d like to enjoy some nightlife you can explore the many bars in Thamel.
There are many more things on Nepal I fell in love with! Like the amazing food, the shape of the Nepali flag, and the fact that they have a completely different calendar then we do. Nepal is simply fascinating! It has many layers that only multiple visits can unravel. I for sure, cannot wait to be back!
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