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Posted 24/03/2022 in Asia by Deanne Scanlan

NEPAL HIGHLIGHTS


Nepal holds a special place card for me. Apart from being one of the gateways to Bhutan, the people are both generous and warm-hearted, genuine comes to mind, something that can be rare in today's world. We learn to appreciate struggle and life with a path that is often bumpy, a path that is still filled with gratitude. The people of Nepal are resilient in the face of adversity, something we can all learn from. 


My journey begins in the capital Kathmandu. While some would find it daunting with chaotic traffic jams, incessant chattering and sobering silence, there is always a smile, you just have to encourage them to show you. I position myself in the inner region of Thamel where you find many of the hotels that provide easy accessibility to the local market stalls and wonderful restaurants.


Some who come in from the country find it less palatable but as a tourist, Kathmandu and in particular Thamel is lively and always full of the hustle and bustle of locals doing business. Stupa like Swayambhunath with her hundreds of monkeys running amok grabbing things from unsuspecting tourists and the monks that walk clockwise in prayer are marvels that we see every day. I have very strong advice for my clients on what to take to the temple and what not to do with the monkeys, especially the strong males. It is fascinating to be there during the baby season and while the mothers are happy to sit quietly with their new offspring, the fathers are overly protective and rabies is still a problem in the area. That said, do as we suggest and you can still safely grab great photos.


While the pyres may be a little confronting for some, it is a celebration of life and a commemoration of death at the Pashupatinath Temple. Yet again there are more monkeys, some quite comical and calves lazily watching the passing parade. It is not unusual to see a Sharman sitting cross-legged observing the proceedings of a funeral and many will happily allow you to be photographed alongside them. It is always courtesy to have a small amount of cash to present to them.


One of my favourite sites is that of Bhaktapur, an ancient city within a city. Durbar Square is filled with people taking time out to reflect and thankfully the city has now been rebuilt after the devastation of the 2015 earthquake - a 7.8 Richter scale monster that demolished a large portion of the buildings will never be forgotten. 


With so much to see in Kathmandu, I do not want to spoil any surprises so we are now travelling to the beautiful lakeside city of Pokhara. Here cows have right of way (much to some shop owner's chagrin) and can be seen strolling down the middle of the road at all hours of the day. The second largest city in populous, it is located 200 kilometres west of Kathmandu. Phewa Lake is stunning at sunset but it is well known in trekking circles as the base for the world-famous Annapurna Circuit. It is also known as an important part of the old trading route from India to China. Historically, the Mountain Museum is a must with stories of those who succeeded in scaling Mt Everest and those who perished. Of important note is that on May 29 1953, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer Sir Edmund Hilary conquered what no man had before - that of Mt Everest. 

The THIRD POLE in Thamel will outfit you with gear - it is our go-to place when in Kathmandu. 


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