Nepal – Part 2

Written by Martin on December 19th, 2011. Posted in Allgemein

Martin: Eva (Uno) left and we decide to meet Tom, Sue and some friends of them for dinner. Walking in the streets of Kathmandu we are quickly surprised as there are small oil lamps burning everywhere and the floor of each business is decorated with painted „Hackenkreuzes“. Coming from Austria we are a bit confused, only to find out that today´s the festival of the light (Deepavali), where Nepalis worship Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. The Hackenkreuz, called Shwastika, is actually an ancient symbol for luck. The atmosphere is great and I`m happy that we can witness this important celebration for Nepalis. Next day we already hit the road again: Pokhara is waiting for us. As we postponed the departure to Thailand due to the floodings for almost a month, we decide to attend a buddhist meditation retreat and go for another hike in the Annapurna region…

Buddhism, Meditation and Yoga

In Pokhara we attend a 2,5 day introductory course on buddhism, meditation and yoga at the Ganden Yiga Chozin Meditation Centre ( Even though very short, the american monk Yeshe gives us a good overview on buddhist practice. In general, very little is based on belief but on logical observations and truths about us and our environment. Most of the things they are saying one can observe on her own by practicing meditation. One can see the impermanence of reality, as everything is changing all the time and is subject to cause and matter. By observing and understanding how we tend to construct our own reality that has often very little to do with what is really going on, one learns that most of our suffering is mind made and the only way to change suffering into well-being is within one self. As the Dalai Lama states: „We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.“ Whether we feel good or bad is mostly dependend on the states of our mind, if we are in bad or good mood is up to us. By understanding what is going on in our minds we get the possibility to actively influence our states of mind. In short: whether we see a pint of beer as half full or half empty is up to us 🙂 To go into detail would go beyond the scope of our blog, but I can deeply recommend to have closer look at it!

Having done two 10 day buddhist meditation retreats 3 years ago and knowing that it takes some time to be able to observe how our mind works I convince Sebas to stay a week longer and do a retreat with 6 meditation sessions a day and complete silence… quite a challenge for Sebas, who loves to talk 🙂 The staff at the meditation centre is very helpful, to have the least amount of destraction we get all meals served to our room, knowing that we have to keep silence they avoid speaking to us and communicate by body language. After four days Sebas signals me that he is enlightened enough and breaks up the retreat. I decide to continue and after 7 days, 35 meditation sessions and a full diary with my observations I finish the retreat and even though it´s weird in the beginning to start talking again, I have my most talkative day of the whole trip at a night out with Jocelyn and Beate, whom we met at the meditation centre. Seems I had to make up for the days in silence 🙂

The Mardi Himal trek

Actually we planned to hike one of the classical treks, the Anapurna circuit or the Everest trek, but after talking to people telling us that it´s nice but, as it´s high season, completely over run by tourists, we change our plan and after some research decide to go for the Mardi Himal Base Camp, a quite newly established trekking route. Anna from New Zealand, we met at the meditation centre, spontaneously decides to join us.

The trek is awesome, already on the first day we end up at the village of Dhampus, where we have a superb view on the Anapurna mountain range. The sky is perfectly clear and standing in front of the Anapurna giants (7000+m) and the impressive Fishtail (6990m) is simply incredible. Even though it´s just early afternoon we decide to stay here overnight and are rewarded by a superb sunset topped by a moonrise above one of the Anapurna peaks. Honestly, I have never seen a moon rise like this before. It´s almost full moon and has the size of the sun, seeing it moving slowly upwards is a one of a kind natural spectacle.

The following two days we hike up through untouched jungle and stay over in tea houses. It´s pretty foggy, so we don´t see much of the mountains, but the foggy-jungle atmosphere is pretty mystical and reminds us of the „neverending story“ movie. At some point we leave the jungle and hike above the tree line through straw colored bushes where we see a dead crow hanging upside down on a stick. Not sure whether we walked on some holy cemetery and violate the peace of the ancestors of some hill tribe we continue rather quickly and end up shortly after at the Mardi Himal High Camp, where we get to know a nice Austrian from Tirol and two guys who introduce themselves as Norwegian prostitutes. After a second of stunned silence it turns out they are joking and it´s clear that this will be a funny evening. With Jesper and Garth we crack up until late at night and with overstrained abdominal muscles we go to bed.

Next morning we are lucky again, as the sky cleared up overnight and we realize that we are standing just in front of the 7.200m Anapurna South peak. It doesn´t last long though and after some time the whole scenery is covered in fog again. We decide not to hike up to the base camp but hike back into the valley. We take another route that takes us steep downhill the jungle where we see some monkeys. At our last tea house we found out that the jungle is also full of tigers and bears, but after 3 days without shower the chances we might spot one are very low 🙂 In the early afternoon we reach the village of Siding but decide to continue and look for some accommodation later on. The trek is not indicated at all and as it´s getting dark and we somehow lost orientation, we get a bit nervous where to spend the night. At some point we see some mud-brick houses surrounded by rice fields, so we decide to go there and ask whether they have a place to sleep.

We find out that we ended up in Kalimati, the village we had in our mind to spend the night. We ask an old man at one of the houses and he leads us to another place, where we are allowed to stay over. The family is incredibly nice, they clear one room for us, we get a superb Dal Bhat for dinner and it turns out their son is the head of the kalimati youth club. It doesn´t take long and we are surrounded by kids from the club who tell us about their life in the village and what they do. They offer us to show us traditional dances but it´s rather late and, even though it would have been interesting, we politely decline. Talking to his dad we find out that many Nepalis work abroad, mainly in Arab countries or Malaysia, in order to make a living and most of the money is sent home to their families. It´s kinda sad, as the wife and son of one of his kids is staying with them, waiting for her husband to come back after 10 or 12 months abroad just to see him for a month or two before he leaves again.

Next morning we say goodbye to the family and are impressed as when we ask them what we owe them for the room and food, they tell us to give them whatever we feel is fine. Overwhelmed by their hospitality we calculate what we would have spent in a tea house and give them that amount plus a tip. We continue and after 4 great days we reach Pokhara again. The hike was again beautiful, almost no other people and as the trek is not yet touristically exploited, locals are incredibly kind and hospitality of higher value  than money. In case you´re interested, here´s the offical  link to the hike:

In Pokhara we say goodybe to Anna, who had been great to travel with, and spend another great evening with Jasper and Garth that ends up with a massive hangover the next day 🙂 Back in Kathmandu I manage to meet Madav whom I have got to now at one of the meditation retreats I had done 3 years ago. I´m very happy to see him again and we spend a very nice evening together. We organize the transport of our bikes with the great help of Suraj from Eagle Export. We drive our KTMs to the airport where they are prepared for their transport in wooden boxes. We spend another very nice evening with Sue, Beate and Tom, but as Sue had been sick the week before I start feeling quite weak the next day in the morning (thank you Sue :-)) It´s a pity, as we are invited to Suraj´s home for dinner that evening, but as I´m not really sure what´s wrong and don´t want to contract them with whatever I might have, I decide to cancel it and stay in the hotel. Sebas doesn´t feel too well either but doesn´t want to be impolite and joins the evening for the both of us. Well, as I feel great again the next day ready to go to the airport, a pale Sebas is lying with stomach ache and chill in bed. He´s so much looking forward to Thailand that I hope he´ll recover soon to be able to enjoy it and will not have to stay in bed while I get a sunburn lying on the beach 🙂

It´s time to say goodbye to this beautiful country and we leave to the airport, where we board our plane shortly after. The goodbye is sweetened as we fly along the Himalaya range and pass by Mt. Everest. Nepal had yet again been a great experience, spectacular landscapes, incredibly hospitable people and excellent hikes. Iwas very happy that I could share part of my experience here with Eva (Uno) and celebrate our 10 year anniversary in this country that is so special to me. Now I`m looking forward to Thailand and am happy to be able to ride Eva-Dos after almost two months again.

BTW, Thailand hit us yet again by surprise and what we experienced there was simply incredible.. but that´s another story.  Stay tuned 🙂