Today marks a year after that disastrous earthquake that brought Nepal to its knees and changed its facade forever! Nonetheless, Nepal is rising and its citizens are stronger than ever!
On June 2014, a friend and I embarked on a journey through Tibet that culminated in Nepal where our collegiality would fork into separate onward journeys; mine would explore Nepal for a week while hers would take her on a spa retreat in Thailand.
As always, our airline of choice was Qatar Airways at it offers the most direct route, we earned miles through their One World Alliance and due to their reputation, on-flight service and reliability.
As per our previous arrangements with our tour operator in Tibet, we were dropped off at the Nepalese border town of Kodari; from which we exited Tibet and entered Nepal by crossing the Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge.
Once on the Nepalese side and after we cleared customs and immigration, our next move was to find a form of transportation (a taxi in our case) that would drop us off at The Last Resort which is located close to where we had entered Nepal.
My friend and I went on it together and we did the Tandem swing, the world's highest giant swing "offering a full-on, adrenaline-filled, gravity-defying adventure" ... and let me tell you, it's was that and much more, an experience to be accomplished!
We then moved on to the capital city ... Kathmandu by taxi (read: pick-up truck) on a bumpy road (read: narrow stretch of partially asphalted road) you will not forget for sure! On the bright side, you will experience some really nice and breath-taking views of the Himalayas.
Once in Kathmandu, we decide to go full-on on our sightseeing ...
"A site on a hill overlooking the city with a large stupa and other Buddhist and Hindu iconography. One of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country. There are 350 steps to the top - the back route is less steep but the views on the way up are not as nice. Aside from the views over the city and the ancient carvings in every available space, it's crowded with monkeys mingling with the visitors. The base of the hill is a 30 minute walk from Thamel (make sure you have a map as there are several confusing intersections along the way), or take a taxi or rickshaw. As with the Boudha Stupa, are plenty of Buddhist and Tibetan-inspired trinkets for sale. There are also drinks for sale at the top, and at least one small restaurant selling momos. For those that have their own transport or have difficulty climbing stairs there is a parking lot at the back entrance that significantly reduces the number of stairs that need to be climbed to gain access to the main compound. This is one of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley. Foreigners: NPR750 for a multiple entry pass. NPR200 for single entry (Dec. 2014)."
Other than trying all different types of momos, I was able to come across, through my AFAR app, a restaurant called The Village Cafe which offers homemade meals by local Newaris while also supporting the local indigenous communities through different economic opportunities to help them advance in life. The organization that oversees these goals to be accomplished is called Sabah.
Please make sure you stop by and help out by buying some of their arts and crafts, too!
As you can see from the photo below, it is the place to come and watch the world go by. Nowadays, I ponder about the effects of the earthquake and how it might look a year after it happened!
Also within this small area, there are quite a few statues and temples to check out as well as side streets that are worth checking out too; but beware, it is also the site of bothersome vendors who will not easily give up until they sell you something, and trust me, speaking in a different language will only encourage them more as they are multilingual! Who knew they also spoke Spanish!
Some of the local sites include:
Once I had my meditation and personal well-being (Tibetan mantra) session in Kathmandu, I felt like I was ready to continue my journey to Pokhara ... not by flight as I had heard so many stories about flights being canceled due to inclement weather and whatnot; so I took the scenic route via the Greenline bus departing Kathmandu at 7:30 am and arriving in Pokhara around 2:30 pm for US$23 (lunch included). Nonetheless, I also heard that the views from above of the Himalayas and even Mt. Everest are so worth the flight!
Once I found my accommodation, Hotel Tara, I headed out to find a place for a tandem paragliding session. It's worth noting that Pokhara is one of the top 5 locations for tandem paragliding in the world!
Although I forgot the name of the establishment I chose or the one recommended through my hotel, the experience was definitely one to remember as it did overshadow my previous road experience from the Tibetan border to Kathmandu.
This tandem paragliding flight takes off from Sarangkot (pre-trek warm-up spot) which is 30 minutes away from the city by jeep through a somewhat rough road) , and then you simply run off the cliff and glide through the air over Phewa Lake while also experiencing some acrobatic spiraling as you descend next to the lake.
... and so I did, I took the taxi there and just contemplate in awe the views and waited for the sunset; but if you happen to be a trekker, check out these routes.
Most locals asked or were in doubt as to my looks; some even saying that I looked like a sherpa.
Some of the other sites that I visited were: