In the Himalayan foothills

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February 3rd 2015
Published: February 8th 2015
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Blog#2 - Nagarkot

Myself and Joe had got ourselves on a bus to go to Nagarkot, a hill station on the foothill of the Himalayas. The bus was very very crowded! There was hardly anywhere for everyone to sit! Some people had to stand, others had to even half hang out of the bus! Joe and I got on early and we managed to find some seats closer to the back, though it was still a very tight squeeze. As Nepal is our first country in Asia, we weren't prepared for the sheer lack of space and, of course, the size of the bus from the inside. Neither myself or Joe would have been able to stand fully upright, more likely we would have had to crouch over. However, the bus finally got going and even though it wasn't the most comfortable of bus rides, at least we were sitting down! Due to a huge language barrier and all round confusion, we were suddenly told that the bus wasn't going to take us all the way to Nagarkot, rather to a town an hour and a half away! The town was called Bhaktapur. Luckily, the next bus was right in front of us, so we got on quickly. However, all the seats had been taken up except one. As Joe had most of the bags, he sat down whilst I stood, or crouched, in the bus. This was extremely uncomfortable! The roads in Nepal aren't the greatest; they're full of potholes and large bumps, so it was like standing up on a high speed roller coaster. About half way there, Joe and I switched positions: he stood whilst I sat down with all the bags on me. Much better!
After many tosses and turns and a few concussions later, we arrived in Nagarkot. Nagarkot was definitely a highlight in our trip to Nepal. The views were out of this world! There lay before us valley after valley of spectacular mountains, beautiful forests and small but fascinating mountain villages spread out all over this range. Relieved to be off the bus, we gathered all our bags and set off to find our hotel, Mount Paradise Hotel and off course, we went the wrong way. Instead of just heading straight across the village for about 15 minutes, we decided that the hotel was probably further up in the village, which meant a long, steep walk. After about half an hour of sweating and swearing, we thought it was best to ask one of the locals where this hotel of ours was. As I mentioned before in my previous blog, the locals are so nice that they would do anything to help you, even if they have no idea. This guy had absolutely no idea! Nor did the other three that we asked. As we were about to reach the top of the village, we asked one more person. That's when they told us that the hotel was back all the way down to the centre of the village and to the left! (Bleep!). We got down to the village centre and followed the directions given to us by the last local. He turned out to be right! About 15 minutes along this road and we came across this hotel sitting upon this ridge looking out into the vast rolling hills and a perfect view for sunrise and sunset. When we arrived, we were greeted by possibly the nicest guy in Nepal yet. His name was Mohan. What a lovely guy! Made us feel right at home and always went out of his way to make our stay as enjoyable as possible, which it was! We were shown to our room where we dropped all our bags and had a chance to catch our breaths and take in the views.
After sorting ourselves out, we thought we would go and explore the area, maybe go on a short hike before sunset. We found this nature trail five minutes from the village centre. The trail would take us 2.5km round the other end of the village. We set off. Very soon we were walking through this primitive forest, taking many photos and filming our hike. One thing that was on our mind were the wild animals. Nepal is home to 3 species of Bear and 3 species of Big Cat. We weren't too concerned about the Snow Leopard, as they live high up in the snow-capped mountains. But there was still the Tiger and the Leopard. Though we were thoroughly enjoying our first hike in the Himalayas, we were very aware that the sun was setting fast. After walking through many dark and creepy parts of the forest, we came upon an opening, where, on a large ridge, saw an entire views on snow-capped mountains and the rolling hills and valleys. Wow! What a view! At the same time, we saw the end of the village, so we knew we had made it without being eaten! We sat on the ridge, watching the amazing sunset until it was dark. We then made the long but straight road back into the village. We got back to the hotel and got ready for dinner. On our way to dinner we met two people who would become our travel companions throughout our time in Nagarkot. Camelo, from Canada and Amina, from Egypt. Really awesome people! We all sat down to dinner where we all immediately clicked. We sat in the dining room for hours, telling each one about the other and exchanging travel stories. Earlier that day, when Joe and I were exploring Nagarkot, we heard that if we walked to this view tower, about an hours walk from our hotel, we would be able to see the entire range of the snowy mountains and Mt Everest itself! The best time to go would be sunrise, which meant leaving the hotel at 5:30am. The four of us decided that we would go together to see Everest at sunrise as well as doing a 5 hour hike back down to Bhaktapur.

5am came, and we all set off towards the view tower. As we got closer, we started to see the first few rays of the sunrise. Fearing that we were missing the sunrise, we picked up the pace and made it to the view tower in good time. As the sun rose higher, Everest and the surrounding mountains came into view. Word cannot even begin to describe how utterly outstanding it was to see this view. The sheer might of these mountains were indescribable! For a while, I was speechless. We spent a good hour and a half at the view tower, taking in the pure awesomeness that was this view. As we hadn't had breakfast, we started our way back down towards the hotel. On the way down though, with the day starting, we saw spectacular scenery. The rolling hills were covered by a beautiful morning mist. The sun was casting a brilliant light upon the mountains. What a great start to the day! After breakfast and a little rest, we set off for the long hike down the mountains into Bhaktapur.

During the day, Nepal can get quite hot, so we went out in just jumpers and trousers but packed out jackets just incase it got cold, because high up in the mountains of Nepal, it gets very cold. Walking down this mountain was a relief, we had began the hike walking back up past the Everest View Tower and from then on, it was downhill. We were told by Mohan, the owner of our hotel, that there was a monastery on the way down which we should all check out. After an hour and a bit into our hike, we came across this group of friendly kids who were also heading the same way as us. They were awesome. So happy and fascinated by these four foreigners. After another hour, we suddenly came across this mountain village where some sort of festival was going on. We, of course, went to check it out. The festival was some sort of religious event and we were welcomed in and had the traditional mark put on our foreheads. What an experience! Everyone was so friendly, coming up to us, shaking our hands, asking our names and where we were from. As we hadn't eaten since breakfast, we had lunch by this small stream on the outskirts of this mountain village. As soon as we had eaten, we set off down the mountain again. We soon came across the monastery Mohan had mentioned but unfortunately it was closed. Oh well! We then decided when we get down to Bhaktapur, we would either stay there for dinner or take the bus back up to Nagarkot, because it would be pitch black walking back up, also we were very tired. When we eventually all got down to Bhaktapur, we had a quick drink and came to the conclusion that we would all take the bus back up the mountain and have dinner back at the hotel. The bus journey was short and, thankfully, uneventful. We got back to the hotel, showered and had dinner. During dinner, I thought it would be a good idea for our last night in Nagarkot to have a camp fire. All over Nepal at night, the locals sit outside their shops or on the street and make small fires. I, personally, loved the idea of doing that so myself and Camelo went out to find some snacks for the fire and some firewood. When we got back, the hotel staff helped up get the fire started. We then sat outside in the cold, mountain air, warmed by the fire and talked and watched the stars. It was an awesome, awesome day! As we had been hiking all day, we were all exhausted, so we called it a night. The next day, Joe and I were to return to Kathmandu for one night before setting off the next day to Chitwan National Park, something I had been really looking forward to for a long time. It was time to part ways with Camelo and Amina, though we had made plans to meet up with Camelo in New Delhi, India. Thanking Mohan for his amazing hospitality, we made the long but slightly more comfortable journey back to Kathmandu.

Thankfully, we were staying in the same hotel, The Buddha Garden Hotel. We put all our bags in our room, rested up for a bit and went off to find some dinner. One thing that myself and Joe had been discussing was how we were going to get out of Nepal. Either we took the 26 hour + bus ride or we took the short, but expensive flight straight to New Delhi. We decided to take the bus as it was the cheaper option and we would also get the chance to see more of Nepal and India by road. How wrong we were! But that's a later story. Whilst looking for cheap bus tickets, we bumped into Amina! It was great to see her again even though we saw her earlier the same day, though we thought for the last time. We then planned to go for a shisha and a drink after we had dinner. We had a really nice time! The next day, she was to be travelling to another hill station further up the Himalayas and myself and Joe were heading south to Chitwan. We said goodbye to Amina and headed back to our hotel for a couple of hours sleep, for we had yet another 5am wake up call.

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