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Namaste Nepal

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The movie Seven Years in Tibet is probably where my mad desire to visit Nepal came from. I already fell in love with the colorful prayer flags, temples, peaceful monks, and the majestic Himalayas even before seeing them in person.  I’ve talked and talked about visiting Nepal to my friends and family ever since, but never really thought that I would be traveling there soon since the airfare was out of my budget at the time. I also had a regular job back then, and taking an extended leave would be impossible.

I was checking for flights to Nepal last December (which I’ve started doing out of habit) when I finally found cheap airfare! I instantly took it as a sign, believing that the universe was telling me something, so I booked the ticket and quit my job a month after. I had no back-up plan, but it just felt like the right thing to do at the time. I decided to live my life one adventure at a time starting from that day.

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My friend and I had just spent 18 days crossing countries in Southeast Asia before Nepal, so coming from a tropical adventure, we were not prepared for the cold in Kathmandu. We were freezing as soon as we stepped out of the plane.

I was supposed to spend 8 days traveling Nepal solo because my friend had to leave after 2 days. But back at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, another solo Filipina traveler approached us and asked if she could join us. From then on, I never spent a day in Nepal alone: a testament to the saying that you are never really alone when you travel solo.

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We woke up the next day feeling excited, when the receptionist informed us that there was a strike or Banda, so most of the stores and roads were closed. This meant that it would be hard for us to get a taxi to tour the city. So on our first day, we simply decided to try and see as many famous sites as we can by foot.

Some of the places we managed to visit that day were the Swayambunath Temple (aka Monkey Temple), Durbar Square, and Pashupatinath, where I witnessed an open cremation for the first time.

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Around Nepal, you will see strange looking men, dressed in bright colored outfits with painted faces. They are called Sadhus: wandering holy men who chose to renounce their worldly life to search for enlightenment. I honestly felt anxious when I first encountered one begging on the street, but it turned out that they are really kind and friendly.

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I took the early morning 7-hour bus ride to Pokhara the next day, and said goodbye to my friend who was already heading back to Manila. Pokhara is known as ‘the jewel in the Himalaya’ because of its pristine air, spectacular backdrop of snowy peaks, serene lakes and surrounding greenery, a place of remarkable natural beauty. It also owes its popularity to the enchanting Phewa Lake: a place where travelers can relax, and enjoy boating in its placid waters.

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When in Nepal, you definitely shouldn’t miss paragliding in Pokhara. It is an adrenaline-pumping experience, given the fact that there is nothing between you and the beautiful scenery unfolding before you. In the distance lie the majestic Himalayas and down below are the villages, temples, lakes and jungles. Not to mention, you also get to see huge birds of prey like hawks and eagles flying near you, making you feel as if you are one of them.

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Ten days in Nepal is not enough especially when you plan to trek. I decided to do the 5-day Ghorepani Poon Hill trek as I had limited time to do any longer treks.

The trek wasn’t as hard as I expected. I even met an 83-year old man and a 6-year old kid along the trail. The only thing that made it hard for me was the cold weather, especially at night, as the accommodations available were very basic and some didn’t offer hot showers. Out of desperation, I even used my towel as an additional blanket just to keep warm, and it was surprisingly effective.

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I reached Poon Hill early morning on the third day expecting to see the sunrise view it’s famous for, but the weather gods were unforgiving that morning. Nonetheless, I didn’t feel disappointed at all. I was too happy to finally reach the viewpoint after 3 days of trekking. Even those gloomy clouds couldn’t possibly ruin my experience to get a glimpse of three out of the ten highest peaks in the world.

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The last day of our trek was coincidentally, also Nepal’s New Year. Talk about perfect timing! Our guide invited us to the festival back in town after the trek and we came along with two other solo travelers from Korea whom we met in the trail. It was a really lovely way to end my stay in Pokhara.

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Being a budget traveler, I stayed in cheap hotels and guesthouses that cost less than $6 a night. So it was a good thing that I brought with me my lightweight Aquazorb towel because these kinds of accommodations seldom offer towels to their guests.

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Aside from the breathtaking landscape and scenery, it was also the lovely people of Nepal who made my experience unforgettable. Nepal is by far the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to and I cannot wait to be back again next year!

 

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GeleenGeleen

Geleen is a twenty-something freelance multimedia artist who likes to spend her time alone in the great outdoors. She used to make more animal friends than human friends while traveling, but she’s trying to change that, now that she plans to have more solo backpacking adventures in the near future. She is currently consumed with the mad desire to trek Everest Base Camp and will do everything just to make this come true.

You can follow more of her adventures on her Instagram account!

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