Our trip to Nepal was one that we’d been looking forward to for months before we arrived!
The very idea of visiting Nepal evoked images of amazing conquests (thanks in large part to this being the gateway to Mount Everest… and some of the world tallest tallest mountains) and just a general sense of mystery and exoticness.
As soon as you arrive though, you very quickly realise that this is all very much made up in your head and that there is so much more to Nepal than you’d realised!
For starters, arriving into Kathmandu, you arrive into some seriously tropical heat! I kid you not – I packed a winter jacket in my suitcase (though to be fair– we could be going across the country over almost 2 weeks so it wasn’t the worst idea in the world to be prepared for any kind of weather).
Oh, and then there’s the cloud of dust you arrive into. Without rain for a few days, Kathmandu gets really dusty – a fact you kinda forget once you hit the hustle and bustle of the city! It’s so exciting (and I wish I had my camera out with me at the time to show you what I mean).
Anyway, within about 30 minutes or so from the airport was our hotel (might take longer depending on traffic) and for our first night – we would be staying at The Traditional Comfort, a hotel you very quickly feel comfy in (perhaps in large part due to the blast of the AC hitting you as soon as you walk in).
Oh, almost forgot to mention – the hotel come with a roof garden and roof top bar! 😉
Our plans in Nepal were to go travelling across the country with a larger group, some of whom we would be meeting for the first time at dinner so after a quick shower, we headed a few streets away from our hotel to Utsav Authentic Nepali Restaurant, where we would be having dinner that night.
Utsav Restaurant feels like a touristy place to go for food, right down to the traditional dancing and music you get while you eat (though to be fair – most restaurants you’d find here probably woud be, Nepali locals are more likely to have dinner at home than in a restaurant) so the main thing worth considering when looking for places to eat is how good the food is and the food here is pretty decent. (It’s not the best that we’d have during our time in Nepal though at this point).
We had momos (delicious little dumplings with pockets of meat and veg), dal bhat (which is like a mix rice, lentil soup, meats, spinach and some more veg) – all washed down with Nepali beers (after a bit of what I think I heard was ‘rice wine’ but honestly have no clue what it actually is – all I know is that it’s very strong! 😀 ).
The next morning, we got up bright and early (I think we got up at 5am to leave the hotel for 5.30am) for our long drive to Chitwan. For this, we had our own private bus for our group over the two week period (thankfully with air-conditioning).
Thing is, the drive isn’t actually that long but the traffic along the way can get pretty heavy in the morning… and if we missed crossing a certain road where construction was going on, we would have to wait hours while workers carried on fixing that road before re-opening it, so 5.30am start it was!
The important thing I feel like I have to mention here is the obvious fact that Nepal suffered a huge earthquake in April 2015 – something which brought parts of the country to a halt and so some of these road works, dust in the air and certain quirks you wouldn’t find anywhere are actually due to Nepal re-building itself and so, once you bear that in mind, you’ll very quickly be able to fully appreciate everything that’s going on around you.
Also bear in mind that Nepal wasn’t the wealthiest country to begin with and really relied on tourism – a lot of which disappeared after the earthquake and is starting to return now so the recovery from the earthquake isn’t quite as fast as what you might expect perhaps say in wealthier countries like Japan.
We pretty much followed the Trishuli River (which comes all the way from Tibet) stopping off every so often for a drink, to stretch our feet and to see certain places in more detail.
One of said places was the longest suspension bridge across the river, which I have to say, is not a sight that people necessarily stop to see but is one that we all really wanted to as there are so many like this across the river, their sheer height and connection from mountain to mountain was far too much to ignore. (Our guide, Suman decided that if we wanted to see any of them, it made sense to stop at the longest one).
Walking on that bridge by the way is absolutely terrifying if you’re scared of heights. It bounces and swings slightly but never feels unsafe though. It’s fairly new and professionally done (not just a patch-work bridge) so you get over your fear of heights on here very quickly.
There’s not much to do on the other side so we headed back, hopped onto the bus and pretty much dozed off the rest of the way till we arrived at Chitwan – which is one of the hottest places you can visit in Nepal – and one of the most fascinating.
More on that in the next post! 🙂