We made it to Nepal! We crossed the border on Sunday (Valentines Day) and were glad to escape the mentalness of India for the relative clam of Nepal 🙂
We first visited Lumbini which is one hour from the India/Nepal border, and is the exact birthplace of Buddha, which was an awesome thing to see. The garden around it is covered in Buddhist prayer flags and many pilgrims.
We then left here for a small undiscovered town of Tansen, where we only met two other white people in 2 days! This town was a really nice introduction to the Nepalese people and culture, without the usual tourist trappings.
We left here for Pokhara on a local bus at 5am in the morning, and today have just sat outside in our accommodation garden relaxing, due to possible exhaustion. Maybe the stresses and the constant travel and changes have exhausted me, because today I’ve hardly been able to muster enough energy to get up. This does not bode to well as we wanted to start a 10-14 day trek into the mountains in a few days! Maybe one day in one place doing absolutely nothing will be enough?!
New experiences in Nepal are varied and many, just within the first day i did four new things i’ve never done in my life before:-
1. Visited the birth place of Buddha
2. Rode on the roof of a packed local bus (more on this…)
3. Had water-buffalo for tea
4. Crossed the Nepal/India border
This was all on Valentines day and i don’t think i’ll ever have such a varied one again.
Riding on the roofs of buses in Nepal is awesome, the Advantages include:-
1. The best air conditioning
2. The most leg room (inside the bus is always packed well beyond capacity!)
3. Stunning scenery
4. You get to keep an eye on all your luggage (theft is a real problem on the Nepali buses, Chrissy already foiled two attempts of theft, while she was trying to pay for tickets!)
5. You get to meet interesting characters (like the smiley Tibetan who was doing a circuit of the four major Buddhist pilgrimage sites)
The dangers however are… everything! Bus crashes are common in Nepal, and most roads travel along mountain passes, and of course you’re not strapped in, hold on tight! Also the practice seems quasi-illegal, traffic police don’t like it at all, and motion for you to get down, until the conductor intervenes and sorts it out!
As soon as i have energy again we’ll be departing for the Himalayas trekking along the Anaapurna base camp trek, so this will probably be the last post until Kathmandu in about 14-18 days time.
So for now we just need to focus on getting a warm sleeping bag, trekking shoes, warm clothes, let our embassies know and organize a trekking permit!