For many travelers Nepal is a lifetime dream.
Situated between the mountain wall of Himalaya and the steamy jungles of the Indian plains, Nepal is the land of yaks, Yeti, Monasteries and Mantras, Sherpas and snow capped peaks, temples and tigers, magic and mystery.
Last year, Nepal was hit by a disastrous earthquake that left thousands of people homeless. Our mission with the Greenhouse Project was to fundraise for the people of Nepal, which we intended to do in the month spending in the mountains of Sindhupalchok.
Our adventure in Nepal was bound to be epic from every aspect!
Crossing from India to Nepal was easiest than we thought and we got our Nepalese visa without any delays! The officials were chatty and relaxed in Sunauli border. However, the news from the bus agency were not as good, the bus route to our first stop, Pokhara, was a 12 hour route for a distance of less than 200 km! Already tired from the train, we had at least a decent non spicy meal for the first time and in a few hours we boarded the bus. Indeed, we realised that the 12 hours ride was mainly due to the bus stopping every few minutes but also due to some of the most dangerous roads we have crossed so far. The road was not even wide enough for two trucks to cross with enough space, but still there were plenty of times we even overtook a bus that was slowing our way! Thankfully it was night, so we didn’t realise all of this at the time and we managed to sleep through the most of it.
The best part was when we stopped for food, an underground shack-looking building in the middle of the mountains. That was when we experienced the local food,dhal bhat, and it was good! With 150 Nepali Ruppes, that is 1.5 euros, you got endless refills of rice and sauces, typically, bean and lentil soup, curried vegetables and stewed greens! All you had to do if you were more hungry was to shoot Khana! And there was more!
Around 6am we arrived in Pokhara , managed to find a cheap room close to the main street and finally slept.
Nepal opened its borders to outsiders in the 1950’s. Nowadays, you will see legions of trekkers ready to conquer the world’s famous trails like the Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Sanctuary but also hippies who come here to enjoy the energy of its atmospheric towns and meditate in its many ashrams.
Laid back Pokhara is the 3rd biggest city of Nepal and its main feature is the beautiful lake situated in the centre.
In the quiet streets surrounding the lake, one can choose from a wide range of activities like renting a bike to explore the area , hike to the nearest hills or simply just stroll along the streets, that come alive with people day and night! Organic cafes, shops selling traditional paper items, shops and restaurants playing live rock music made up a very relaxing armosphere!
We were there for Christmas and the town was full of locals that wanted to celebrate the day even though they are Buddhists! We managed to have a three day break enjoying the good vibes of Pokhara before moving to Kathmandu and from there to Sindhupalchok, our main reason for visiting Nepal.
In Kathmandu, the backstreets of Thamel, the foreigner’s area, countless shops with cheap hiking apparels are catering for the needs of the trekkers who are starting their explorations from here.
As were descending to the valley by bus from Pokhara we saw the vast size of the city expanding among the surrounding mountains. It seemed hazy at first but what we later came to realise was that Kathmandu had a terrible atmosphere, a mix of dust and pollution that was trapped inside the valley. The locals were walking around wearing facemasks something that made the situation better but seemed a very strange sight for us.
Other than that, we got to explore the ancient city of Kathmandu further than the tourist area.
The jewel of Kathmandu and the best example of the trace history left in this city is the Durbar Square. Durbar in Nepali means palace and as the name suggests it was the place where the Kings were once crowned and ruled the country. The Square, a Unesco World Heritage Site is full of beautiful strictures and temples, which unfortunately were ruined beyond measure durind last years 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Many of them collapsed and some of them were temporarily being held from falling with sticks. It was very sad indeed to watch a heritage of centuries almost destroyed.
The next few days we passed eating local delicacies like warm noodle soups and momos.
Momos can be found everywhere in Nepal. They are made from dough and filled with either chicken, vegetables or most commonly with buffalo meat which was the tastier option!
We were also lucky enough to spend a day with Apostolos, a crazy but amazing Cretan guy who is currently travelling the world on his bicycle. It was nice to exchange some crazy stories about both trips! With our batteries charged, we couldn’t wait to move to Takure and start working on our first AsiaQuest fundraising-voluntary project, the GreenHouse Project!