KTM reunions,Chitwan Trip & Pokhara Mountain hikes

Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
Trip End Oct 16, 2014

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Summary: Back in Nepal, Kathmandu…welcome again at my second home in Patan, sharing a bottle of wine with Sini and Masse and watching Glee with the kids! Also spending quality catch-up time with friends! And…reunited with my house-on-wheels! Followed by a spontaneous motorbike trip with Naba & friends around Kathmandu valley…Soon after its time to hit the road again, driving to Chitwan to visit Naba's family and go for an Elephant shower, followed by a waterfall shower on route to Pokhara. Saying goodbyes and hello to a friend of a friend, who tells me to skip touristy Annapurna trails and come into the mountains with him…so has been done, as well as a new hike idea for end of May. After some Pokhara Lakeside days, the UK crew and I travel back to Kathmandu! Now getting preps done for my Big Hike going East…

Leaving India….running from immigration to immigration across the border I just NOT back it for the bus to Kathmandu, forgetting about the 15 min time difference (Nepal ahead of time) after very very slow bus ride… Just when I accepted the fact that I will have to spend one night at this Nepali border town, a guy offers to bring me to a bus that left already…10km down the road!!!! So I jump on the motorbike with all my gear, somehow making it into the bus without any injury! Thank you Bhai, a nice welcome-back to Nepal!

Returning to Patan, Kathmandu, back to my second home…where my own room and things are waiting for me, thanks to the hospitality of Sini, Masse and the kids! This time celebrating our Hello-Again with a bottle of beer…. and lots of episodes of Glee, which Olivia and Anttoni kept for me to watch together. Being on the move brings new places, faces and experiences…loving it…yet from time to time…being surrounded by familiarity…I love it to! Kathmandu time flies by. Organizing my things, checking up on my house-on-wheels, it starts at the first attempt! Me happy! As well as lovely quality time reunions with friends: Thamel get-togethers, Wine@home evening, Dutch brainstorm sessions, unplanned-Indian reunion, Nepali hang-outs… and a spontaneous Kathmandu Valley motorbike ride! With Naba as our guide we set out on a day trip into the valley, away from the KTM crowds, exploring a Newari town and villages. The roads are scenic showing green paddy fields terraced against the hills, green patchwork in between. We stop at a local house where we ask for some more 'goat diarrhea medicin’ and are served locally made roxy & popcorn as well! Naba and I take turns riding the bike, giving me the rider’s feeling once again! Our day away ends far too soon with a real Newari meal at a local food place, recognized only by the green door curtain! Should do this again, thanks Ajit, Natasha and Naba the guide ;-)

It’s trekking season now, so do not want to linger too long in the Big City. Time to hit the road again… Taking Jenny to Chitwan and visiting Naba’s family as well, before continuing to Pokhara. Whilst making plans Naba’s uncle dies suddenly. So he has to rush to his family home in Chitwan as he needs to take part in the burning funeral and other rituals that take place over the next 13-day period. There are lots of traditions and rituals part of Nepali culture. When someone dies there are many as well. Some of these things are the following:
- The wife, now a widow, is never to wear red cloths again in her life
- The sons and directly related male family members are to shave their heads, preferably on the day of the burning, but it hás to be done before day 10 of mourning.
- The dead person is burned at a burning ghat next to the river as soon as possible. The whole ceremony lasts for hours. Women are not allowed to attend this.
- The sons (and daughters, but in this family there are only sons of the deceased) and widow wear special white cloths for 13 days. They also cook their own food and cannot be touched by any other family member (nor their own children)
- All 13 days special prayers and pujas take place conducted by a Pandit
- Any relative is not to drink alcohol, milk nor eat meat, salt and egg during the 13-day mourning period (within the Brahmin cast at least)

These are just a few examples. There are many more, which even my friend Naba could not all repeat. We paid our respect to the family and whilst holding hands with an Auntie I could feel her pain of loss and yet also acceptance in the inevitable. From my own feeling and by request of the family I have not taken any photos. The few photos I am showing you are made by Naba and with his approval included.

As the first 3 and the last 3 days of the 13-day period are the most important, Naba is able to spend time with Jenny and me in between. We spend a few days at his brother’s house.  In the neighboring village there is local festival ongoing: Music, dance competitions and drinks. There is a strict division between the female and male crowd. Guess it’s mostly to protect the women as the guys can get very touchy when drinking too much roxy! However it also stops Naba from being with his family and us, so the both of us go next door and have some great talks. Due to some offered roxy I find myself on stage later that night next to a famous Nepali singer, dancing as well! Will I find myself in the newspaper again? As far as I’m aware I have been spared…

We all go to nearby Chitwan National Park, one of the major tourist have-to-go places for Elephant riding, spotting wildlife and the famous Elephant shower. Been here before, but happy to take the family! We stroll around and have a picnic at the river side. The next morning Jenny and I feel totally refreshed after the Elephant shower! For only 100rp (less than 1 euro) even I could not by-pass on the opportunity! These animals are huge, strong and immensely impressive when sitting on top!

Time to move to Pokhara… Naba knows all the great places…so after a tasty fish lunch we stop somewhere along the ‘highway’ to climb up the hill for another shower…this time under a waterfall! One of the best wild shower spots ever: Amazing view, nobody able to peek and the water not freezing cold. It’s a bit of climb, but definitely worth it! A place to remember and return to one day! Refreshed and cooled down in a hot day like this we arrive in Pokhara full of energy. They take a room in the guesthouse of a friend, I parked up in front. Monsoon seems to arrive early this year with daily afternoon showers, but enough dry time to stroll around and say hello to people I met in January. Too soon Naba & Jenny have to return to KTM, we spend our last evening together cooking in my home! Well Jenny did most of the cooking ;-)

Via a friend I meet up with Roshan who knows a place to park my van during my hike into the mountains. Great guy full of energy who knows what he wants ánd makes it happen at the age of 26! Something I admire and envy in a certain way, lacking the discipline most of the time. We connect well and he suggests skipping the touristy beaten tracks at Annapurna. Being a local, knowing the people and where to go, he tells me of other great hikes in the area. I’m all for it and so the original plan is off. The next day we park up the van and jump on his off-road motorbike to Kilang…a 3 hour journey off road on road making our way through mud, over rocks and partly in the rain. He knows how to ride! A friend is there greet us and put us up for the night, his mum cooking a tasty hot dahl baath warming us up. The next day we wanna go to Tara Hill top: great Full Moon location and hopefully good mountain views in the morning. Some friends spontaneously come along carrying a 10 liter container…water?... no… Roxy!
The hike up and up and up is hard! Realize once again I am NOT in the best of shapes! Yet also know the first day is always the most difficult, my legs not used to mountain walking. Very happy Roshan insisted on carrying my bag! One friend makes me a walking stick within seconds, very helpful on the slippery parts. His mum gives us some fresh buffalo milk at their temporary hut, from which they take care of the animals. More up we go, leeches greeting us…no not now already!! Memories of our rainy leeches Rollwaling trek spring to mind! But fun we had nevertheless, hug to you Martin & Mara! Just when my legs refuse to climb further we reach the plateau, on top of Tara Hill! Tara means ‘star’ as on a clear night you are able to see lots of them decorating the sky. After a rainy lunch hurtled around the fire in the tea house we are greeting by a bright Rainbow! Thank you nature! That night, sitting around a campfire, we’re looking up at a sky full of clouds… but then…the moon shows herself through a sky window!! Giving me the opportunity to continue my Full Moon Art collection. Spending Purnima night in the mountains with great company, singing & dancing (well them this time!), not bad at all ;-)
Waking up early the next morning to full view of some of the highest Himalaya mountain peaks…Impressive to say the least! During the spring months they show themselves only for a short time in the morning, hiding behind fog and clouds again soon after. For full day views its best to come Oct-Dec time. The German couple and their crew leave soon after, giving us alone time at the top, enjoying another dahl baath before hiking to Siklis. Well, me and Roshan, the others go home. Luckily today my legs protest less, the trail easier with alternating up and down parts. At some point we are greeted by a short hail storm, nature giving us all during this trip! We and some workers find shelter in a small hut: tea break time. Siklis is scenically situated on a hill side with the Himalayas as a backdrop. We take an alternative route conveniently avoiding the permit office. Another friend is putting us up in his guesthouse as the rain makes camping less appealing. We go visit someone who has a pool table in his house!!! First time ever I see this in Nepal… how did they manage to get it up there?!
The area is dotted with Gurung villages with their typical knifes, house structure and local language, Siklis being the largest of them all. The people live on farming mostly, have electricity 24/7 due to hydro power and are getting some income finding the local ‘gold’ (ashyagumba: a half caterpillar – half mushroom) in May-June. Something I will most likely be part of, going high into the mountains with them for 2 weeks, material for my first article?

We have to cut our trip short due to some stuff Roshan has to arrange in Pokhara. But soon after I am back in the mountains again: this time visiting his farm-in-progress. Arriving by local bus we meet Map, a mountain boy who has been taking under Roshan’s wing living with him at the farm. Acting as a true guide he takes us to the farm. The place is in progress, quiet, with fruit trees, goats and lots of potential; situated far enough from Pokhara not to be swallowed by the city in the future. Best of all, surrounded by nothing but trees and mountain tops! The next day we hike up the mountain visiting his parents’ village and even higher to enjoy far-away views. Passing through small settlements where people live simple hard mountain village life. Life so opposite to the touristy Pokhara city ways! Yet most (young) people are drawn to these ways, leaving empty houses behind. I understand their curiosity, wish to make (more) money, yet I am more drawn to what they run away from… living simple, away from the crowds, in contact with nature.

The last few days back in Pokhara, spending time with great local people, new faces, old faces and even other Overlanders (people travelling in a house-on-wheels as well)! I always knew they were  around, yet somehow I never meet them! Days flow by…then time to head back to KTM… the UK crew coming with me in the van. I share the secret with them: the waterfall shower. It turns out to be a Looooong drive due to lots of traffic jams, but no problem with great company! Pissing off the landlady by returning to Patan after 22.00PM (they sleep early here!)…ah well…home again.

For a while at least… to be part the Dutch Goodbye-party of Hedda/Willem and to get some things organized before my Big Hike going East… 3-4 weeks going into the mountains solo…with tent, food, @ gas burner… gazing at Mt. Everest! Life is sweet.

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Shenaz on

ANGIE THIS IS AMAZINNNNNNN. keep on journeying and sharing your journeys with the world.

Erwin on

Hi Liekie, gaaf om iedere keer je avonturen weer te lezen! En je foto's zijn weer adembenemend mooi! Groetjes uit het pittoreske dorpje Vlijmen :-)

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