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Published: October 29th 2015
Sitting on the top of a jeep, surrounded by sacks of every imaginable vegetable known to man in addition to a few of those men as well, my transport descended from the cloudy mountainous town of Basantapur down to the steamy valley below. I soon found myself over the course of the next week making my way northwest on the flat southernmost road in Nepal (along the northeastern Indian border), before turning sharply north and back into the mountains, first to a town called Tansen, perched on the side of hill. Tansen is known for it's medieval feel, steep and narrow streets and unique architecture. It did not disappoint.
I spent the next few days walking up, up, up and down, down, down the steep, steep, steep roads in town. I found a forested, very green park at the top of a steep road with so many hiking trails I never had to step foot on the same one twice. At the summit of said park, had the day been clearer, I would have had amazing views of the Himalayas. I was, however, alone and able to enjoy the view of the hazy horizon, sitting quietly in the
silence surrounded by nature; there was no one else up there. Back in town, I randomly chanced upon a fellow traveler with whom I had had a lengthy conversation back in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, many months before. As this is not a touristy town, what are the chances of re-meeting someone, so many countries and adventures later? I ate more than my share of the dangerously addictive momos (delicious, flavorful and juicy Nepalese dumplings), my favorite being the buff momos, made from the meat of water buffalo. I bought a pair of sunglasses from a lovely lady with the world’s smallest shop.
It’s funny to think, in the least likeliest corners of the world, who and what the locals might know about. I befriended a local middle-aged man who loved hosting travelers for free through the website Hospitality Club. Hospitality Club is similar to CouchSurfing where hosts open up their homes to travelers, who can stay for no charge and enjoy a mutual cultural exchange. Many friendships have formed this way; I can attest to this as I still keep in touch with many people whose couches I have crashed on. His English was decent,
so we enjoyed good conversation and shared a delicious meal from a place only he, as a local, would know about. This is what travel is about.
I was soon off to Pokhara, the traveler's Mecca of Nepal, and only a few hours north of Tansen. Eleven nights I spent there and could have spent eleven more had it not been for a restrictive, short visa. I must admit, Pokhara sucked me in: I didn't feel the need or desire to go trekking, paragliding, boating or any other sport in which most people who go there participate. All I wanted to do was relax, chill and enjoy life in the slow lane, despite all the tourists running about. I took daily walks along the waterfront of Phewa Lake (the body of water around which Pokhara is centered), walked up to the World Peace Pagoda for incredible views of Pokhara itself as well as the magical, snowy Himalayan Range and even found time to journal and catch up with my seemingly never-ending and constantly increasing pile of notes. I ate scrumptious food, both local goodies and, I admit, indulged in familiar international cuisine, all of course with a
Nepalese flare and price tag to fit my budget. I found a small guesthouse and stayed in a cozy, non-symmetrical single room for 150 Rs/nt (at the current exchange rate, this was hovering just under $2/nt).
I scribbled on a restaurant napkin at dinner one night. It was nothing poetic; there was no “wow factor” or impressive verbiage, just simple words to express what I was feeling at that particular moment. This is what I wrote:
I'm somewhere in the mountains in the middle of Nepal. Wow, what a stunning country! The snow-capped Himalayas, picture-postcard valleys and villages, clear lakes, fast-flowing rivers and majestic vistas that are heart-stoppingly breathtaking. It's a world of difference from India, although certainly India has some nice places as well. The people here are much more calm and accepting and as a solo female traveler it's such a gem of a country to be traveling in.
And how true these words still are.
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