Namaste, Nepal!

Namaste!

This is their way of saying their soul honors our soul; they honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within us, because it is also with them; and in sharing these things we are united.

The land of Buddha Eyes, monks, prayers and momos. This is Nepal.

My trip to Kathmandu was surprisingly the most humbling experience. Weeks ago as I was planning my 4-day holiday in Nepal, I was focused on what food to try and which temples to visit. My friend insisted that we take a plane ride to Pokhara which I declined as I had a limited budget and an additional plane ticket would mean breaking the bank and using my credit card. I heard Pokhara is very nice place, but it can wait; I can always arrange another trip in the future provided I save enough. After all, Nepal has a lot of other things to offer for every kind of traveler.

HOSPITALITY

Upon arriving in Kathmandu, we went straight to have drinks, grilled meats and nachos at Mezze by Roadhouse. We enjoyed a cold glass of draft beer under the stars. The place has a fun, chill vibe with good lighting and spacious outdoor seating. The restaurant also has a good selection of wine if you fancy a glass or two.

We stayed in Kathmandu for 4 days in a lovely hotel where we experienced Nepalese hospitality at its finest. Staying in Summit Hotel has been amazing and I have met friendly waiters, housekeepers, masseuse and the General Manager. Not to mention, the relaxing garden and view of the mountains.

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On my last day at the hotel, I was offered a really good Chai by my new friend, Pyari, which I enjoyed after a relaxing back massage by Sarika.

MOUNT EVEREST

Seeing Mount Everest was the highlight of my trip.

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We took the 45-minute mountain flight to the Himalayas via Yeti Air. This was arranged for us by Shiv Raj Thapa, the Managing Director of Summit Nepal Trekking/Pan Himalaya Travels. The driver picked us up from the hotel at 5:30am as the flight was at 6:30am. The weather was lovely – the sun was out. We flew at an altitude of 25,000 feet, and were treated to an amazing view of the snow-capped mountains.

The night before this day, I was praying for clear skies (the booking came with a refund if the mountains are not visible, which happens) as there were storms a few days before we arrived. Seeing it made me realize that the world I know is too small. Who would have thought that a part of the Earth is up at 29,000 feet? I remember fighting back the tears for feeling too much. I thought it was a spectacular sight and was overwhelmed by the whole experience.

They served a glass of champagne while descending which I thought was a nice touch.

FAITH AND RELIGION

Nepal is known for its Hindu temples. I was especially interested to explore the country after watching Doctor Strange where some parts of the movies were shot in Kathmandu.

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  • Swayambunath
    • Prayer wheels line the giant stupa and visitors walk clockwise, turning each wheel with a swipe of the hand. According to Buddhist tradition, spinning the wheels has the same effect as reciting each prayer aloud.
  • Bouddhanath
    • The all-seeing ability of the Buddha. If we are wise, we can see beyond material things; what we then see is the truth.
  • Pashupatinath
    • Located on the banks of the Bagmati River, this temple is considered one of the sacred temples of Hindu faith. We witnessed the cremation of the dead, and met temple Sadhus (or Holy Men) who gave us blessings of good health and long life.

DUST AND DIRT

I love Nepal because of the temples but I do not like the terrible traffic, unbearable dust, dirt and crowd! The roads are bumpy, the streets do not have lanes and traffic lights, and everyone seems to be in a hurry. Drivers have total and complete disregard for traffic rules. It is a commuter’s worst nightmare! To a foreigner, crossing the road in Nepal is almost like playing chicken with oncoming traffic. It would have been a challenge for me to do it without dying. Good thing I had travel insurance in case something happened to me.

As we walked around Thamel I noticed the electrical wires were a mess which made them a fire hazard. It scared the hell out of me (but of course, I had to take a photo for souvenir). I stood on a “suicide spot” for a few seconds only as I was imagining sparks and fires just like in the movies. Talk about tempting fate.

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I guess these are some of the things that gave this city its unique character. No, not really. Seriously, the Nepalese government needs to do something about this.

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE

We went to Pashupatinath Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu, and Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Another interesting spot is Patan Durbar Square where we saw some of the temples being restored after the earthquake in 2015.

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A typical Nepalese home is a multistory brick house with carved wooden door frames. Due to the massive damage brought by the 2015 earthquake, some of the houses that were not rebuilt are now being supported by poles and beams. Unfortunately, this temporary form of support can collapse anytime. Quite a pitiful sight.

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Now, about the Budget…

My total budget for the trip was only AED 1,000 excluding tickets and visa. Most expenses are split into 2 as I was traveling with my friend, such as taxi rentals and outside food. Here is the breakdown:

  • AED 1,700 round-trip ticket from DXB to Tribhuvan Airport
  • AED 100 for 15-day tourist visa (For instructions on how to get a tourist visa to Nepal, click here)
  • AED 635 Mountain flight
  • AED 35 hotel buffet breakfast (1)
  • AED 30 breakfast, snacks and toiletries (3 days)
  • AED 60 outside food (3 days)
  • AED 40 back massage
  • AED 50 t-shirt souvenirs (2)
  • AED 20 fridge magnets (4)
  • AED 40 taxi, whole day (Tuesday)
  • AED 25 taxi, half day (Wednesday)
  • AED 7 entrance fee to Swayambunath
  • AED 15 entrance fee to Boudhanath
  • AED 35 entrance fee to Pashupatinath
  • AED 0 hotel accommodation – thanks to our amazing friends at Summit Hotel!

Just a few reminders…

  • Bring a hand sanitizer. Most temples have prayer wheels to turn and you might want to wash your hands with hand sanitizer as access to water and soap is limited.
  • Face mask is a necessity as the city is polluted and dusty. I also noticed that a lot of locals coughed a lot and are not shy about it (they don’t cover their mouth) which made me uncomfortable. To protect yourself from infection, better to bring a mask, and make sure you have a STRONG Immune System before coming to Nepal.
  • Hydrate! During our stay there on the last week of August, it was dry and humid. Our taxi did not have an AC on so we were sweating like crazy. It was very important for us to bring a bottle of water and hydrate.
  • My friends who have been to Nepal has discouraged me to eat street food for sanitary issues. I did not want to risk having stomach problems so I only ate at the hotel and 2 other restaurants whose kitchens are visible from where I was seated; at least I was able to watch how they prepared my dish.

From beautiful greens to centuries-old architecture, Nepal has so much in store for tourists.

Find out how I got my Visa here, and check out the local food here.

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