Pashupatinath Temple (Nepal)

 Pashupatinath is one of the most important Hindu temples in Nepal and is located near the Bagmati River. At the ghats (stairs where you can descend to the river), plateaus are made that are used for the open air cremations that take place on a daily basis. The Pashupatinath temple is not accessible for non-Hindus but it is the cremations that attract many visitors, both Nepalese and foreign visitors. Cremations are part of life and death, but it is something that you do not want to be confronted with to many times.

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Trekking in Nepal – Ramecchap Indigenous People’s Trail

The Ramecchap trekking map.

The first of its kind in Nepal, the ‘Indigenous Peoples Trail’ offers unique, living, exposure to one of the most culturally diverse areas of Nepal. The ‘Indigenous Peoples Trail’ offers scenic trekking at relatively low elevations, below 3000m. The Indigenous Peoples Trail presents an incomparable and natural blend of cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity coupled with breathtaking Himalayan panoramas, stretching from Dhauligiri and Annapurna in the West to Numbur Chuli and Kanchenjunga, world’s 3rd highest peak in the East. The two predominant religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, are ever present with the variety of gods and goddess, temples, stupas and monasteries.

During the IP Trail, we experienced to stay overnight in private homes in traditional villages far from commercialized tourist trails. It is such an amazing and enjoyable experience to be a treated like part of a Nepali family, we get to live the life as local people do. Their homes reflect the traditional and simple atmosphere of the people. Sometimes, we just don’t want to leave, the families who hosted us just know how to receive and pamper their guests.

The IP Trail trekking experience has allowed us to discover the real Nepal and its untouched countryside.

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From Kathmandu, we took a bus from Ratna Park to get to Mude, where we will take another bus to Dunge. But it was quite late when we arrived in Mude, so we decided to spend the night there.

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12.04 Mude. There is nothing to see here aside from few food stalls that serves Thali and chai, we stayed the night at a homestay infested with fleas. We’ll start heading to Dunge first thing in the morning. Excited.

12.05 Dunge. Arrived in Dunge via crowded bus, so for 2 hours our bums were perched on top of the bus where we had the best views of the scenic Himalayan range. The roads were terribly bumpy, its like riding a rodeo bull! We alight at the little village of Dunge, had chowmein and chai for lunch then proceeded on walking to the next village, Kholakarka.

But there was a slight problem. We were walking for about 30 minutes and I’m already exhausted. I don’t think I can make it. I couldn’t even walk uphill for 100m. And guess what, there’s 2 more hours ahead of us to reach the other village. Maybe, it could have been the backpack that’s dragging me down, or the cold weather, or my trekking shoes, or just me?

We ended up staying a night in Dunge. Same thing happened the next day – so couple of nights in a remote village of Dunge. Not nice. I really feel bad for dragging Valerio slowly on the trek. 

Our host in Dunge is a family of 5, has a very basic home with only one partition, a room for their 3 daughters. Outside it is where trekkers could sleep – a common room with 3 beds, heavy blankets and a table. There is no toilet.

12.06 Kholakarka. A small bus in Dunge took us to Kholakarka, along the way was narrow, steep, winding roads that leads to the village. Again, we are a bit late so we stayed in a homestay and postpone the trek to Sailung the next day. The house is very basic, but renovated to meet the tourist-style comforts. Our daily meals on this trek are mostly rice and steamed veggies and chai, and the most important thing, clean toilet! Eureka!

I have a strong feeling that I am not going to finish this trek 😦

12.07 Sailung and Valerio’s Birthday. We went to climb the 3400m Sailung (higher than the highest mountain in the Philippines). From there, we have the most amazing view of the Himalayan mountain range. There are a couple of ancient chorrtens on the top. Such a very serene place. I loved it.

Serenity found in Sailung.

This group asked me to take a photo of them. On the top of Sailung.

Nepali kids in our homestay.

The view of the Himalayas from Sailung.

12.08 Surke. We walked 6km to Surke from Kholakarka. Stopping by a tea stalls and chatting with the locals. Here we are already “immersed” with the untouched part of Nepal. We’re very lucky to have done this trek before it gets polluted like how Annapurna circuit has turned out to be. Here in Ramecchap, there are no places to connect to the internet, no sodas, no sweets, no cheese, no milk, no ketchup, no hot water. No luxury. As we walked for 5 hours, we came across different villages, some amazing, and some doesn’t seem welcoming. I enjoyed the long walk for there are many beautiful things to see. 🙂

At around 3pm, we reached Surke. There were few houses in this village. I felt so relieved when we found a guesthouse, Krishna’s – a tourism authorized homestay. There is a big bed, warm blankets, and HOT WATER! There is also milk in my coffee! I was so happy!

We suddenly felt at home when Krishna started taking care of us. As a host, he really knows how to handle foreign tourists, also collected very good testimonials from previous trekkers who stayed in his home, some stayed 3 days and some for a week. His family were very nice, his 90 year old mother, wife and a 9 year old grandson, Ashim are very warm and accommodating. We stayed with him for 3 nights.

Surke

Curious pupils from Krishna’s school.

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Beautiful morning in Surke. 

Smiling baby girl from Deurali.

This boy helped his mother collect branches for fire.

12.09 Deurali. Still staying with Krishna, 2km from his home is the village of Deurali. This village consist mostly of bazaars. This is also where the people from Surke get their provisions.

12.11 Doramba. We reached Doramba in the afternoon, already late but still okay – there’s still daylight. We came all exhausted with our dusty faces and backpacks and the people gawk on us as if we were creatures from different planet. Local kids follow us as we search for our next host, Mabin Thing (as recommended by Krishna). My legs felt weak, and all I want to do is to sit comfortably and have a warm cup of coffee. We successfully found Mabin and his wife, the whole village knows each and everyone who resides in Doramba.

Mabin’s home is located on top of the terraces. They have a big home and a farm, we were showed to our room and it is incredibly clean and looking warm, and also, they have the cleanest toilet ever in the whole Nepal!

His wife cooked delicious dinner and also prepared us a metal pot with burning coal in it so we can warm ourselves – it was very cold! The next day we were invited to see a cultural show being held downhill where we saw more interesting abodes and farms. Doramba is impressive.

This baby named Subani, is playing with us the whole time we were having snacks in her mom’s shop.

My most adorable photo of the day.

These two ladies asked me to take their photos, they were jealous that I am only taking the photos of the kids. 🙂

A curious little one.

This lady just stopped her little girl on wandering around after the show started.

DorambaWe attempted to leave Doramba by walking to Khandadevi for another 5 km but this time, I knew it was impossible for me to finish. My leg hurts, my calves are already shouting at me. I just wanted to go back to Kathmandu and get a proper hot shower and a slice of cheese sandwich. 

The next morning, we took the 7am bus to Kathmandu. It will take us 7 hours to get there, depending on the road conditions. We gave up the trek (still very sorry :() and just decided to leave Ramecchap. The road to Kathmandu is horrible. Not for the people with fear of heights , actually, not for most people I know! We drove along the newly paved mountain-side, the roads are too narrow, sometimes we have to drive over a gushing waterfalls to get through and there were big rocks on the road side.

5.30pm we reached Kathmandu and I started craving for steam vegetable momo.

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Quick facts and highlights from HERE

  • best time to visit: all season trail; views clearest during autumn, and may be too warm from March through August
  • environment: subtropical to high-hills
  • maximum elevation: Sailung Peak (10,325 feet, 3147 m)
  • minimum elevation: Lubughat (1755 feet, 535 m)
  • facilities: lodges, home stay, tea houses
  • duration: 5-7 days
  • difficulty level: easy
  • formalities: Nepal Visa on arrival ($25 USD for 15 days, $40 USD for 30 days, or $100 USD for 3 months);
  • Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) card: currently not needed
  • food and lodging costs: minimal
  • typical Nepali dish: daal-bhat tarakaari (rice, lentil soup and vegetables)
  • typical drink: chiyaa (sweet milk tea)
  • highlights: Nepali hospitality, Himalayan panoramas, village scenery, Majhi, Thami and mid-hills ethnic groups, cultural interaction, caves, Tiger Rock, medicinal herbs, religious activity (including Animist, Buddhist, Hindu and Shaman)

Acquiring an Indian Visa from Nepal

…is a total pain in the a**. We have spent almost a week and breakfast-less mornings just to arrange our visas for India. We succeeded only after numerous attempts completing this and that.

If you are in Nepal wanting to travel India (unless you are from Bhutan or Nepal), you might need a visa to enter India. We’re actually lucky enough to arrange our visas when they changed the system. Simple but complicated. So, be very well prepared.

First, you have to complete the Indian visa application form that can be downloaded here. Make sure that you fill in every single information required. It is also very important to write down the address of the guesthouse or hotel you are staying at. <- This is the part we missed, it asked for “Home Address”, and we wrote down our home address from our respective countries. NO. It has to be the address of the hotel/guesthouse you are staying at.It will also asked for a reference person in Nepal, put the name of a local you know  with a local phone number/mobile number. The visa assessor is very strict on these little matters, and just in order for you to do not consume too much time going back and forth, you gotta follow the rules. 🙂

Secondly, make sure that your Nepali visa is not expired. Don’t be confident on the fact that you can pay overstaying penalty fee (3USD) even though your visa is expired you can apply for the Indian visa, no. Your Nepali visa needs a week more before the expiry so they can issue you a visa. (I tried arguing with this, but they’ve got a point.)

Lastly, be patient when queuing. Do not buy a “queue number” from anyone who offers it to you. This visa issuance center is crowded and has long queues and will really consume your patient – I saw people pushing each other, a lady shoving her hand to another lady’s face, screaming, disappointed people. So, if you get bored or a little irritated, chai stalls are waiting for you outside by the gate.

When I got my Indian Visa stamped on my passport, I can’t help but jump for joy! I was too excited for another adventure. India must be worth it – for we had spent too much time getting irritated and frustrated for some days just to get the visa.

This calls for a celebratory dinner.

Patan, Lalitpur: City of Fine Arts

“Call me brave, for I ride a bike to Patan, 5km from Kathmandu.” NOT!

Imagine how crowded the streets are in Kathmandu: Merciless motorists trying to avoid manslaughter, the honking that stress you out, the locals who cross the street like a pinball, they can all be found in the streets of Kathmandu. It is nearly impossible to ride a bike around Kathmandu, it’s a silly idea, I know. Maybe feasible if only we get out of the room before the day starts to get busy.

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We came across a festival wherein little girls are gathered and dressed in red and ornate headpieces. We didn’t get a proper explanation about this, but we guessed that it has something to do with honoring the Kumari.

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Patan is an amazing place. Its Durbar Square (or gathering square) is impressive. There are  three main courtyards in the palace: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Besides these courtyards, the complex boasts impressive temples, religious shrines, and historical places, all noted for their exquisite carvings and beautiful display of ancient Newari architecture.

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