My family may be finding out about these adventures now, through this very blog, and I do want to apologize for not mentioning it — as cliché as it may sound, due to the spirituality of these places, I really wanted my trip to Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet to be focused internally — on using travel as a visceral way to journey both outside and inside of me.
I’m not a Buddha, and I’m far from being at peace with many things in life, but what I’ve come out of this trip acknowledging is that that is OK — that the very feeling of peace and happiness is impermanent, and that it’s all about perspective. These are things I thought I knew, but boy is it easy to forget.
Anyhow, without further ado, I want to introduce a brief photo journal of my journey, which I, unlike many of my travels, decided to embark on through a travel company. This, in many ways, reduced the stresses that come with planning and logistics.
26 March 2018: Arrival in Kathmandu
Upon arrival in Kathmandu airport, meet guide and transfer to hotel.
*First impression: nice, clean air – later found out that Kathmandu is one of the most polluted places on earth, especially after being devastated by an earthquake in 2015, but that did not take away from its beauty.
Bread-making in Kathmandu
01 April 2018: Paro-Kathmandu
Transfer to airport for flight to Kathmandu and visit two World Heritage listed religious sites – the Pashupatinath Temple-the holiest Hindu Temple on the bank of the holy Basmati Rivera and the giant Boudhanath stupa. See devotees taking ritual dips in the holy Bagmati River. Afternoon travel up to Swayambhunath stupa set high on a hill with commanding views of the Kathmandu valley.
*Returning from Bhutan, I was stuck by the larger amount of “Western” clothing, the human traffic lights, the symbiotic integration of Hindus and Buddhists, and the strong culture around cremation.
It takes an entire hour to cremate a body — some travel far begging to die and be cremated at the Basmati River, where up to 200 cremations happen a day: 10 bodies can be burned at once, stopping at midnight. The rest are cremated electrically. Family members should cut their hair and wear only white for an entire year.
When someone VIP dies, they have the cremation area ready for them. During a natural disaster, they cremate in piles – 15-20 at a time. It is religion and art at the same time.
I was struck by the sense of solidarity: blind people sit outside of temples to sing songs and chat in the afternoons.
02 April 2018: Patan-Bhaktapur-Dhulikhel
Heeding the suggestion by the counsel general, I took a mountain flight and saw Mount Everest — it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, including a visit to the cock pit of the plane for more beautiful mountain views ❤
Check out after breakast and commence the day with a tour of Patan city, the city of fine arts and one of the three queen cities of the valley. Visit Durbar Square, Krishna Mandir and Mahavihar-Golden Temple of Lord Buddha built in the 12th century. Then visit the ancient city of Bhaktapur, the third major town in the valley. Enjoy the cobblestone streets free of traffic andvisit Lion Gate, the five-storied Nyatopolo Temple and the Palace of 55 Windows. After lunch at Bhaktapur drive to the hill resort of Dhulikhel which lies 32 kms east of Kathmandu on the Araniko Highway that leads to Tibet. In old days, Dhulikhel flourished as a trading center handling commerce between Kathmandu and Lhasa. Today it delights visitors with its enchanting cultural and stunning Himalayan views. Overnight in Dhulikhel
Newar people – indigenous – half Buddhist & half Hindu; no real conflict among them. Different architecture, language, etc. — I love their yoghurt!
Heavy reconstruction effort throughout all of Nepal after the earthquake: Men, women, children all remarkably engaged in reconstruction efforts.
03 April 2018: Dhulikhel to Nagarkot via Telkot hike.
Morning drive to Changunarayan Temple visit the temple and hike 2 hrs to Telkot passing through the local houses by watching their daily activities and terrace farming field one side and great Himalayan views on other side. We meet our car at Telkot and drive to Nagarkot for beautiful sunset views. Overnight in Nagarkot.
*Changunarayan Temple where the history of Nepal started in the 2nd century
Road to Lhasa from Nepal was destroyed by the earthquake, and along with it, trade, travel, and commerce
08 April 2018: Lhasa-Kathmandu.
Morning we fly back to Kathmandu and visit Narayanhiti Palace Museum and Durbar Square and Ashan and Indrachock. Overnight in Kathmandu at Holy Himalaya.
*Lovely museum visit! Loved seeing the old palace, etc.
Massage : Blind center training massage — helping hands
09 April 2018: Departure
Transfer to airport for flight to home. Service ends.
Interesting facts about Nepal:
- Was part of the Silk Road
- Was never colonized
- 8/10 of the world’s tallest mountains are there
- Constitution just adopted in 2017
- Primarily Hindu
- Buddha is from Nepal (contested — border with Nepal and India)
- No death penalty
- LGBTQ community can marry, have a passport as a third gender, and have equal rights
- Babies wear black eyeliner for beautification purposes
- Agriculture accounts for 75% of GDP
- People living below the poverty like has halved in the last 7 years
- 38% of all households don’t have a toilet
- Hinduism and Buddhism were never truly separate religions in the western sense – used same/similar temples
- Nepali flag is the only one that is not rectangular in the whole world
- Must try foods: dal bhat; with takari (boiled vegetables) or chutni; momo – steamed dumpling