Nepal Blog - A Taste Of The Foreign Land
Hello Sleep Lovers!
As the seasoned travelers suggest, “the best journey is unplanned journey”. Contrary to that, ours was well planned; in fact, more than 10 times. Many feathers ruffled from the initial plan that was drawn by 8 of us college friends. However, reasonable, I did not like friends departing from the plan.
In a huff of the moment, the three of us; Shireen, Shivanshu, and me of course, decided to carry on with the original plan of visiting Nepal. The craving of traveling was so tempting that we got all our arrangements done in a split second and were mentally ready to meet all the challenges that may come our way but we're determined to conquer the Kathmandu.
The Making of Nepal Trip
They were two days of hectic parlays. I am sure the time was not even easy for our parents as they decided to support wholeheartedly. Those were the moment of ecstatic emotions as we planned our trip with such a precision despite being on short notice. We booked our buses to Sunauli (Nepal Border), booked our hotel rooms and packed our backpacks whirlingly! Indeed, a spontaneous decision of fixing our trip dates was an experience of its own. The last-minute shopping and the last minute rolls of catching the bus at 9 pm on May the 16, where we could have missed the bus were frightening. Here how begun our trip to Nepal!
Reaching Sunauli at 4 in the morning was scary at first instance, but comforting as soon as we got the rickshaw to drop us to the Indo-Nepal border. Excited but sleepy, we got through the border check post after clearing all security requirements. We got our currency exchanged and booked our bus to Thamel, Kathmandu. All were in the flip of eyes.
On The Way To Kathmandu
Jammed roads, diverted traffic, and broken highways - that’s how we were welcomed in Kathmandu at 9 pm local time, which was 4 hours late than the scheduled time. (Sarkaarey Sab Jagah Ek Jaisi Hi Hoti hai). The evening of the day one was spoiled and we were bundled up completely. Somehow we managed a cab for ourselves and reached the hotel from the Kathmandu bus station. All that energy left was for a quick shower to keep our eyes open until dinner. But there wasn’t any dinner waiting for us, except some packets of chips and the cold drink. We quickly gobbled them up and slipped under the blankets on the couch.
Day 1: For a moment, I tried to nudge myself telling, “Yaayiiiii, I am in Nepal”. Alas...the excitement didn’t last as my pillow slipped out of bed telling me, “shut up, and sleep, you are tired”. The tiresome bus journey of last night snatched away the thought of being in Foreign Country and the bed seemed more comforting despite sunrise. If I were conscious of thought, it was, “The three musketeers are finally ready to explore Nepal - the explorador style!”
As the Nepali perception goes, “every Indian is super rich”, we were offered premium services by the hotel forgetting the fact that we are just students without a deep pocket. Instead of booking a special cab we turned to public transport (Uska bhi ek alag maza Hai) for sightseeing.
The location of the hotel itself wasn't far from sightseeing as it was located right in the market. The people, their clothes, their body language, the colorful market, and their selling pitch - all fascinated me beyond imagination.
The local market gave us the truest feel of a foreign land. The music of “Om Mani Padme Hum” playing outside most of the shops. After several kilometers of walking and wandering for a 100% vegan restaurant, we had our breakfast. The charm around the city was mesmerizing that we decided to take a walk and click few snaps here and there on the way to the Ratna Park Bus Stand.
Exploring Bhaktapur Durbar Square - our first place of visit in Kathmandu.
The entry fees for the SAARC countries was 500 NPR. We entered the place without thinking what to expect the next. I genuinely do not how to define the place. The beauty of the place was so embracing, so calming, while the ruins were still fascinating but were telling the sad story of the earthquake that shook the life of Kathmandu. The earthquake had stolen the beauty of the city. The infrastructure was devastated by the earthquake and a few buildings were standing still with some cracks here and there.
Although shopping was not on the cards, we bought “masala tea spice” from a local shop and a few sovereigns for the sake of being in Nepal. Exploring the entire Durbar Square was a kind of amazement we always thought of but never expected to happen. We all three were exhausted but not out yet. Just when we decided to pack back to the hotel, we discovered a place with an amazing “traveler” view. Mountains, clouds, and kaleidoscopic nature in the background - a perfect location to satisfy our craving for photography capturing all that we can in the tiny little cameras.
Day 2: Family and friends were in mind of a day too, besides being tired. Hence, we decided to keep the day easy. Instead of traveling deeper inside Nepal, we turned to the local marketing for shopping. After breakfast at the only “vegan restaurant” we left for the market to explore the best of Nepal products, their unique designs, the themes, and the endless stories that we inquired almost at every shop! There were several shops selling pashminas, Kashmiri shawls, metallic bowls, dream-catchers, and what not!
Hauling the markets, making some bookings, and Crazy Shopping!
I had a huge list in my mind, as there was a command from home to bring something for everyone. (Do they really knew our backpack was already full? Hehehe, not really.) So, my picks included dreamcatchers, bead necklaces, shawls, metallic bowl, bags, bracelets, and the Buddhist flags! This was a necessity, believe me! I was so immersed in things the market was selling that I didn't even pay attention to what Shireen and Shivanshu were buying. (Hey guys, did ya buy anything?) :P
After the shopping, we headed to the Gongabu Bus Park. There we found an Indian Mithai Shop. It felt like a heaven we found in Indian delicacies there. We couldn't stop ourselves and rushed in to order something (or probably everything). We had sweets and typical “Chola Bhatura”! Imagine our teary eyes. Indeed, it was as we're so happy discovering Indian food. Immediately I realized why Indian food is the best!
Day 3: Honestly, none of us three wanted to go back to India. The reason being that the hot summer and scorching heat were waiting for us back in Lucknow. Okay jokes apart, we all three were in love with the gorgeous Kathmandu and wanting to explore further (had our parents allowed :P)
Hence, it was the last day in the neighboring country! A pre-booked taxi was waiting outside the hotel to take us through all the main attractions of Kathmandu and surrounding places. We got all our utilities, packed our bags, cleared the hotel dues, and got ourselves in the comfort of the cab before bidding a final goodbye to Thamel. We started our sight-seeing journey.
Leaving our mark in Kathmandu - Sightseeing
Starting with our first attraction- Swayambhunath. The place had a spiritually soothing environment and was blessed with amazing natural beauty. Visiting the place, knowing its history, and again shopping a few more things, marked an end to the place’s visit. Second on our list was the “Pashupatinath Temple”. Been to Kathmandu and not to the Shiva Temple? Your trip is incomplete!
Our driver did not tell us about the closing of the temple in the afternoon, which disheartened Shivanshu. He being a true Shiva Bhakt was desperate to pay his reverence to Lord Shiva and attain Shiva darshan. His words still echo in my ears “We won’t go anywhere until we take darshan here”. We thought we lost a great opportunity here. But, Ziddi in me was not ready without Darshan. I inquired with the security and got to know that the temple will open for a few minutes for their own internal purpose.
It was like lord Shiva himself wanting us to be there that he opened a small window for us for the Darshan. After the darshan, while coming down we saw some restaurants and thought of savoring ourselves with some food.
Our third place on the list was the Boudhanath Temple - the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. This was one of the most beautiful places of Kathmandu! The circular area with shops and restaurants in the circumference had an amazing ambiance altogether. What I got to experience this trip was that people in the city feel “Their life goes on, their devotion persists, and stupas are still sacred.”
Completely stunned, mesmerized, fascinated, and any other adjectives you can find out from the dictionary.
Time to bid a goodbye to the beautiful trip to Nepal-Kathmandu! We reached our bus station and after we thought this trip had no surprises left for us, we were blessed with a bus that had free WiFi, and a television that played “Baahubali 2 - The conclusion” on it! This made Shireen asking me to pinch her after she received a free water bottle from the conductor.
I loved my trip to Nepal! A tiny country, which is often mistaken by people as an extension to India, is filled with magnificent and amazing vistas of trekking activities, and lovely cities! Kathmandu - the over-crowded city streets, the steep slopes, and the helpful and friendly citizen made me fall in love with the country!
Wish me I can visit the country again soon. With You?
Wait for me next Sunday morning with a new post on Ahikshetra Jain Temple.