Visiting Nepal was surreal, from the towering mountains to the friendly people, to the abject poverty found throughout the city of Kathmandu and beyond. When I was there I was taken aback at the piles of rotting rubbish on street corners. I’ve been told that this is not the norm. However, it didn’t detract from the amazing architecture and religious shrines in every direction.
Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia bordered between India and China. Within its borders are 8 of 10 of the highest mountain peaks in the world. Mount Everest being the highest at 29,029 ft asl (8,848 m asl) On clear days the views, in almost every direction, are stunning. I took a flight from Kathmandu into the mountains and it was breathtaking, although I was somewhat sidetracked by the beautiful Nepalese staff on the aircraft. I was even allowed into the cockpit for a pilot’s eye view.
Nepal extends roughly 500 miles east to west and about 90 to 150 miles north to south. Religion in Nepal is predominantly Hinduism which accounts for about 81% of the population, although the Nepalese constitution guarantees freedom of religion. In fact Nepal is a multilingual, multiethnic, multicultural and multi-religious society and the different ethnicities have lived in harmony since ancient times. There is no record of any religious conflicts in Nepalese history.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with over 25% of the population falling below the poverty line. I’ve experienced poverty in different parts of the world but probably areas in India and Nepal illustrated the extreme poverty in a more obvious in your face visual.
The Prithvi Highway between Kathmandu and Pokhara is 175 miles of white knuckle driving whether you are personally driving or taking one of the tourist buses. It is the only road between Kathmandu and Pokhara and at the time of my visit the conditions varied between bad to terrible, narrow in parts with stunning drops inches away from the vehicle wheels. It has the reputation of being one of the most dangerous roads in the world. That aside, the scenery is breathtaking and I would certainly repeat the journey. Sadly there are places where the view looking down included vehicle wreckage which I am sure is a regular occurrence. There was a particular incident on my trip where, with a blind bend approaching, my driver started overtaking a vehicle when a truck coming from the opposite direction appeared from around the bend while we were still overtaking and with a steep drop to the side and, I truly thought that the end was nigh. However, my driver managed to complete his overtaking manoeuvre just in time. You definitely get the feeling that life is cheap and life and death are just everyday events.
Pokhara was my destination to start a tiger hunt by elephant. It was a very exciting experience but sadly no tigers were seen,
One of several bridges for locals and trekkers in the Pokhara area. Yes, they do swing alarmingly when windy
Ploughing during the Monsoon Season with Oxen
I enjoyed the Pokhara area, very friendly people and scenically beautiful. I had decided to stay in a camp while in Pokhara awaiting the elephant safari to find the elusive tigers, sadly without success.
Nepalese dancers in Kathmandu
Kathmandu Durbar Square
The Palace of the Living Goddess, Royal Kumari
Having a break on the way to Mount Everest Base Camp
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