I've decided to dedicate Tuesdays for all my travel related posts :) A disclaimer from the Traveling Gerbil: I am not much of a luxury traveler but I do like to pamper myself with a few treats here and there..generally, I'm more of an independent traveler on a BUDGET. The suggestions I'll be giving are based on my personal experiences as a regular traveler so please don't expect swanky digs, Moet and Chandon, and high rollers on my posts, hehehe :)
Today, we travel to the HIMALAYANS! Ladies and gents, meet my pal, NEPAL.
If you're looking for a break from the bright lights and skyscrapers, then Nepal is the destination for you. This place is for the adventure seeker, the nature lover, the exotic foodie. Aside from being the home of the great Everest, Nepal offers more than just mountain climbing. Culturally, you can't go wrong. They have centuries worth of traditions and religious practices plus lots of ancient structures and relics that are carefully preserved by the locals. Although this is a popular tourist spot, one must remember that it is still a very poor country and people live very simply here. There are a handful of western hotels but only a few are really of the 5 star caliber, so expect spartan quarters throughout your trip. The streets of Kathmandu are chaotic with bikes, cars, cows and even monkeys (na-uunggoy ba ang mga unggoy?!?) darting from all directions..but it's a beautiful mess to witness especially as an outsider. The countryside will show you a more laid back Nepal..people there are generally more timid, very trusting and wide eyed. Kahit yung mga baka sa probinsya napaka-steady ng disposisyon! Chill..Mooo..Chill. And since they're mostly Buddhists, they live harmoniously with their animals..they sleep next to their cows, dogs, goats! And you know what, they're surprisingly CLEAN! There was no foul smell of livestock at all! It's because the Nepali people are very tidy, they just sweep and sweep all day long! Galit sila sa walis ting-ting...sweep,sweep,sweep!!! Since they value their animals and environment so highly (one with nature!), they always make sure that their surroundings are clean. Kakatuwa talaga sila :) We could learn a thing or two from the Nepali people :)
Draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, Nepal is where the ice-cold of the mountains meets the steamy heat of the Indian plains. It's a land of yaks and yetis, stupas and Sherpas and some of the best trekking on earth. The Himalaya's most sophisticated urban cultures took shape here, in the three great minikingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley - Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur - home to a world-class artistic and architectural heritage.
Behind the Vishnu shrine of Ichangu Narayan, northwest of Swayambhunath in the Kathmandu Valley, rises the 'Abode of Snows' (Himalaya in Sanskrit), a magnet for trekkers and mountaineers the world over. Only in Nepal can you trek for weeks without the need even for a tent. No longer does your name have to be Tenzing or Hillary to set foot in Everest Base Camp. Out of the mountains, get your adrenaline kick from world-class white-water rafting, kayaking and mountain biking, or from the spine-tingling sight of your first tiger or rhino in Chitwan National Park.
Nepal is not just a bungee-jumping, apple-pie eating Shangri-la. It's also one of the poorest countries on earth. However, many visitors, drawn to Nepal by the promise of adventure, leave equally enchanted by the friendliness and openness of the Nepali people.
From the natural rhythm you ease into on a trek to the rhythm of a tabla drum at one of Kathmandu's palace restaurants, Nepal is an amazingly diverse country that offers something for everyone. One journey through this land is rarely enough. The first thing many people do after a visit is start planning the next one.
Trip duration: A 5 day trip is more than enough to explore Kathmandu alone. But I suggest you spend 10-12 days to explore Kathmandu and the rest of Nepal. You should also allot at least 3-4 days for trekking up in the mountains, maybe an entire week if you're more hardcore and really into mountaineering.
When to go: I was there late October which they say is the best time to visit Nepal. This is when the mountains are most visible and the temperature is rather nippy but bearable still. Winter time might be a bit too much for the average traveler. In the Kathmandu valley, the climate is much more pleasant at around 15-19 degrees.
How to get there: There are still no direct flights from Manila to Kathmandu. Your best bet is to fly to Bangkok or Delhi and take a connecting flight to Kathmandu via Thai Airways and Jet Airways.
Religion: Hindu and Buddhist. This is why it's such a peaceful country! People live so simply here and their lifestyle is very organic: one with nature :)
Visa required: YES. As long as you get the proper documents in place, you should be able to get your tourist visa in 2-3 working days. Contact the Nepal Consulate to get the current list of requirements needed.
5th Floor, The Athenaeum Building, 160 Alfaro Street, Salcedo Village, Makati
|The Sapana Lodge|
|Images from Shopbop|
Costs: Food is very cheap in Nepal, think karinderia/jolly jeep prices. Same goes for hotels, you can get a decent room for 1,000+ pesos. Entrance fees are also very reasonable. The peso stands much stronger than their currency so your wallet can definitely relax here. Your biggest expense will be your airfare.
The Big Splurge: I spent 100 USD for a short mountain flight across the Himalayan range. It was the most surreal experience to come up close and personal with the majestic Mt. Everest. It was sooo worth every dollar!
Food: Nepali food is very SAUCY. It is very similar to Indian-Arabic cuisine with lots of rice, beans, and vegetable dishes.
|Image from the Web|
Another interesting "sight" to see in Kathmandu comes in the form of a little girl, the living goddess. Yes, literally a DIYOSA! Talo si Anne Curtis, hahaha :) I visited her home and caught a glimpse of her for a few seconds as she peeked outside the balcony. Since she is revered as deity in Nepal, they didn't allow us to take any photos of this little girl. I found this link online though just to give you guys an idea :)