Nepal – Part 1

Written by Martin on November 20th, 2011. Posted in Allgemein

While Sebas is getting the carnets stamped, Martin gets friend with the border guards and people from the border villageSebastian: From the Indian border we drive over a rough gravel road to the one of Nepal. The visa is done in no time and while filling out the carnet the passage Martin is already making friends with the police men outside of the customs hut. When I finished the documents the police man looks me in the eyes as he shakes my hand and tells me that:” Now we are happy to also welcome you as a guest in our country!”. Well that is a warm welcome and it gives me goosebumps comparing it to a passport control in good old Europe. We leave the border and find ourselves on a beautiful asphalted road in perfect condition.

Even though we only crossed the border, the landscape seems different to me. It looks somehow “better arranged”… everything has its place and I have the impression we have left the chaos of India behind us. Every house, every tree (even the cut ones that lie around), just everything has been put in the right place. Also the country is much cleaner than what we have seen in India. The street leads as a straight line through the landscape as we pass by beautiful rice fields and forests.


Together with the grandmother and one of the kids after we are blessedDASEIN festival

First stop is in a very small village right after we entered the area of the Bardia national park. We end up in a small family led guesthouse. Lucky as we are we are the only guests and while having dinner we get into a great conversation with some of the kids staying with their family during the so called Dasein festival. They impress us with their perfect English, their openness and curiosity. We learn discuss a little bit about the cast system in Nepal (which is officially illegal but still practiced in a way) and learn that the next day will be the last day of the said Dasein festival. The kids will have to get up early and will receive a TIKA – a somewhat red rice paste – on their forehead. It is the blessing and generally given to the kids by the eldest, in this case the grandmother. When they ask us if we also want a red painted face we are clearly in for this treat!

Before leaving the kids ask me if we could take them for a ride on the motorcycle. Since Martin’s bike is already at the limit (clutch issues) I have to take the responsibility to take a tour with them. Honestly, I was quite impressed how calm the 3 young ladies sat on the bike… I remember myself on a motorcycle at age 5 or 6 looong time ago in Italy. Driving for about 10 meters I almost wet my pants… and those kids here go for me for 1 km smiling and being happy! But never mind, NOW I am a man, that’s what counts, isn’t it?

We continue our trip direction Kathmandu and I feel like in a documentary film that makes you want to leave and go far away instantly while you are watching them (sitting at home eating chips and having a beer). Everything around is just soooo beautiful and people are amazingly friendly and relaxed. At one moment we just stop to get a drink and find ourselves in the house of a man who invites us a small lunch and is more than happy to “tika” us once again.


...and here we ended up the same day after having to fix yet another flat tire...with a group of Nepalis who invited us to stay at their placeGetting used to flat tires

Actually our plan for this day is to reach Kathmandu and it seems feasible until,… yes until I have the next flat tire (2nd within 3 days…). It is already night so the situation is quite tricky. We are on a small road (in a beautiful valley btw 🙂 ) where trucks and buses drive like as if they were on drugs. After having tried and failed yet again with our liquid caoutchouc repair set (seems to be the biggest sh*t we bought for the trip) once again I have to take of the tire and leave Martin behind in the dark taking my tire to the next fixer. And also once again the next fixer is just 500 meters away.

I park Martin’s bike in front of a small shop and right away people come out and start talking with me. While the fixer is working on my tire we discuss a little bit (of course they LOVE the bike) they insist that we should not continue in the dark and that we can stay at their place. After a short discussion with Martin (I already brought the fixed tire back) we decide to stay and find ourselves for the second time in 2 days with a family enjoying their time together all being slightly drunk from a so called “nepali wine – ROXY”. It reminds us of the rice wine that you get served in Chinese restaurants in Europe. For us they even empty one of the bedrooms as we go to bed at midnight ( an they sleep on the floor instead!). The cock that sits on the top of a door next to our room will turn out to be our most reliable alarm clock in the morning as we head to Kathmandu at around 6.30 already.


We are approaching KathmanduKathmandu

The way to Kathmandu is also beautiful except the last 30 km where the road turns into a battle field and is in a horrible condition. When we arrive Martin finds us a hotel (since he spent already sometime in Nepal 3 years ago he knows where to go) and we realize that we did it! The “first part” is behind us. 17.000 km in 3 months and uncountable impressions that overload the memory part of our brains. Also Eva (Uno) – Martin’s girlfriend will visit us here. The plan is to stay here for one month without using the bikes (sniff). The 3 days until Eva arrives we just hang out in Thamel, the tourist area of Kathmandu, which is perfect for cheap shopping but gets on my nerves after 2 days already – too much we have learned to enjoy the non touristic areas.

Eva arrives on their 10th anniversary what I think is just a great timing! Martin picks her up at the airport and also for me it is very nice to see a familiar face which is not Martin’s :)). We spend two more days in Kathmandu to check out the permits for the trekking that we planned and to do some minor sightseeing. We visit the beautiful king’s square in Kathmandu and have lunch on a terrace overlooking the palace. This district impresses us with the many Newari style houses with wooden facades with incredibly detailed and artistic carvings (16th century).


Getting mentally ready for a roof-top bus ride to Dhunche...Finally – we conquer the mountains

The next day we are set to go to the Langtang national park just north of Kathmandu… the “just north” becomes quite relative as we sit on the roof of a local bus – with around 30 other people piled one over another still smiling. The advantage of that is the fresh air and the great view that we enjoy, the disadvantage is that you feel like falling off and down a hundred meters at any moment and that we have to climb down and up every time the street gets a little bit rougher – which it does regularly during the last couple of kilometers. At a point we even have to pull two buses to makes them drive up a steep part of the completely destroyed street. Most surprisingly one lady that is sitting behind me on the roof breastfeeds her baby during the whole trip – making the most relaxed impression to us and laughing out loud when the road get really bumpy. In Facebook language: I LIKE! What also caught our attention was the young guy who climbed all over the bus while it was driving through curves and horrible roads to collect the ticket money from the passengers… just take a second to imagine this… In Austria, IF anybody would do something the like he would get a complete extreme climbing outfit, with safety rope etc to feel save enough – this guy did it with sandals…

...we are above the tree line, enjoying a beautiful view on the mountain rangeWe arrive alive in Dhunche and leave the next morning to finally do it, walk up the mountains of Nepal! Our target are the holy lakes of Gosaikund at around 4.300 meters. The first 2 hours are hard work. It has been long that I didn’t do any sport and the trek goes up steep without any flat parts to regain forces. But when we arrive at the first hut where we have lunch I know that this will pay off. The sky is deep blue and the landscape is wonderful. We continue hiking until we stop for the night at a charming hut at 3.300 meters with a nice view into the valley (yep, again a nice sunset 🙂 ). When we continue the next day we leave the trees behind us (or better underneath) and as we do so we see IT the first time – the Langtang, a mountain of 7.300 meters height directly in front of us… wohooo. I cant stop to take pictures even though Martin assures me that we will have a much better view later on – and he was right!

View of the mountain range at full moon..We arrive at Laurebina and I can not stop feeling happy about this amazing image in front of my eyes. On the right we have huge Langtang and then, all the way to the left we have a mountain range of other 7.000+ mountains covered in sugary snow… In our guesthouse we then get to know Sue and Tom, a couple from Australia, with whom we spend a great evening. They recommend us to get up early for the sunrise the next day and that is what we do. Getting up at 5.30 has never payed off as much as this time… The sky is completely clear, only some fog hanging in the valley and bit by bit the peaks of the mountains start glowing in the sunlight – not to mention the beautiful moon that is still far up in the sky…

The lake is just beautiful..This day we walk up to the lakes where I cannot resist to jump in just to freeze myself (hope that keeps me young 😛 ). Actually at a certain month of the year hundreds and hundreds of pilgrims come up her to bath themselves in the lake. Interestingly the moment we arrive the blue sky covers up with fog and clouds within seconds… quite impressive! After having lunch and a short chat with a french couple we walk back and spend the night again alone with the “hut family” further down on the trek. We spent a nice evening playing cards and enjoying for once a nice meal (the prices and the quality on the trekking route are not really convincing – water costs up to 15 times the price in the villages…).

This one could have been taken in the Alps... despite that here we are already higher than the Großglockner, Austria´s highest peakThe next day becomes a hard test for my knees as we have to walk down steep for hours. I do not normally have any problems but walking down – my knees just hate it! After a short part I already feel the psychological knife that found it’s way into the side of my left knee and now the fun begins… I can not really enjoy this day, but nevertheless it is also a very beautiful trek though forests with the view on the Langtang ending alongside a beautiful white water river in the valley. We stay there for one night and take the bus home – the same adventure expects us – well only Martin and me since Eva didn’t feel like going through that once more and organized herself a jeep to go back to Kathmandu!


Durbar Square impressionsSightseeing around Kathmandu

Back in the capital we still had some work to do – the obligatory sightseeing :). On the menu where the kings places of Bakthapur and Patan aswell as the so called monkey temple and the biggest Stupa in Nepal which is located in Bodnath. The architecture of all these places is just breathtaking and I think it is best to have a look at the pictures since its sophistication is hard to describe with words. Very interesting was also visiting the most holy place for Hindus, Pashupatinath, where funerals take place. BUT there is quite some difference to a funeral as we know it. Here the dead bodies are put on wood piles and set on fire. When the body is burned the ashes are thrown into the river (right next to the fireplace) and one of the relatives has to bath in the water/ash… We didn’t see anybody bathing but we saw burning bodies and that was already kind of strange (question of habit). We also get the transport for our bikes organized and meet up with Fabian and Janine, the couple form Switzerland that we met in Iran and with whom we drove through Pakistan.



Last stop is Pokhara in the center of Nepal. Here we stay at the beautiful Phewa lake which, one day, we cross with a small wooden boat to walk up to the Peace Pagoda from where we will have a beautiful over the Annapurna range and the so called Fishtail, an almost 7.000 meter high peak that has the form of a, yes you gues it, fishtail :). We also visit the local SOS Childrens Villages in Pokhara and are, once again, impressed by how well its maintained and how great life seems for the kids here (we will soon publish our next article reporting about this visit!).

After a little bit more than 2 weeks Eva leaves and I have to take care of Martin by myself once again. I prepared tissues, beer and Haribo hoping that it will help him to get over this hard moment – anyways Eva will be back in a couple of months! Unfortunately we had to decide to postpone our flight to Thailand because of the horrible floods and will stay for one more month in Nepal – our plan: retreat in a Buddhist meditation center and another hike. Let’s see how that turns out!