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October 24th 2016
Published: April 18th 2018
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One of the pre-planned episodes of this trip was a morning plane flight over mount Everest and the surrounding Himalayas, which is pretty much unmissable unless you have a complete aversion to mountain vistas. The choice of airline was Buddha Air, and the early morning check-in at Kathmandu's domestic terminal revealed that this excursion rides high in the popularity stakes. As you might expect, each passenger has a window seat, and unlike any other airline you might have flown with in the past, an invitation to join the pilot in the cockpit is part of the package. The Himalayas are an expansive mountain range, and many peaks appear to vie with Everest in the 'scrape the sky' sense, so it is very indicative when the pilot and cabin crew point out which of the peaks is actually Everest. A certificate presented to declare that the experience has been fulfilled completes the set, and back on Terra firma, it is time to check out the rest of the landlocked mountain kingdom that is Nepal. Heading east out of Kathmandu, the first town of any note which you will come across is Bhaktapur, which is yet another enclave of magnificent structures and building styles to sink one's teeth into. The centrally-located Durbar Square is the main hub of activity, where the town's main bulk of attractions are located, and somehow the highest admission cost of entering any urban area in Nepal is justified by the wealth of attractions within. Shopping and eating out are two activities also well represented here, and those appreciative of great architecture will no doubt revel in the traditional styles and finely-tuned detail which a fair number of the town's buildings consist of. Of course, Nepal is synonymous with trekking and tourists who come in search of trekking trails which will fulfil all of the spirit-of-adventure needs and desires. The trails are numerous and varied, and those with real widescreen ambitions might want to attempt a route such as the Annapurna trail, for instance. In this traveller's case, trekking was not destined to be the primary focus of the trip, so a trip to the hillside town of Nagarkot seemed like the best plan to cram a mini-hike into the context of just one solitary day. Upon arrival in Nagarkot, it soon becomes apparent that the main cluster of lodgings and eateries are in the immediate area of the bus drop-off point (hardly a bus station!), and the impressive hillside vistas of layered hill terraces are visible right from the off. Time was an issue of sorts, so a walk up to Nagarkot's viewing tower, despite being a constant uphill slog, was the very best which the time frame could have permitted. Upon arrival, the viewing tower affords stunning views of the surrounding area, and a pause for refreshments at one of the area's numerous stalls / seating areas could be a wise move before embarking upon that downhill route back to the bus park with an option of catching a glimpse of the views en route which you might have not enjoyed on the uphill climb. Back in Kathmandu, or a hotel in Patan, in this case, and you are reminded that the urban and the rural, when combined within the context of the same day, are an interesting juxtaposition, with the levels of city pollution making it glaringly obvious how much healthier rural air can be! The Nepalese episode was thus laid to rest, and Bangladesh was now a mere short hop away, but in terms of the overall enjoyment factor, it appeared as though the words 'stiff competition' readily sprang to mind.


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