(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘NOMADONROAD.COM’)
When You travel Solo , You never come back alone said everyone who travels Solo. Then came a point in my life where I decided to travel alone. My life was juggling so much between work and family and daily chores that I almost forgot the love, I had for traveling. That was the year of 2012, I was back then working with Oman Air – National Carrier of Oman posted in Muscat, Oman, I had to break the Monotony, Called my boss, took a leave for fortnight and packed my bags without the destination being decided… yes , that’s the truth…. It was that trip which was unplanned but guess what? The most amazing trips are the ones which are unplanned.
Always fascinated by the mountains, the hills and the simplicity of the people I chose Nepal to be my destination..
Yes, Nepal 🇳🇵 it was. I know almost everyone has spoken , written about this Country so yes I was lil reluctant in writing about the same place that must be the reason why I kept this on hold for quite a long – it is close to five years now. However I gave a thought the place may be same , but each and every one has their own share of story to tell us about .
So here goes mine… I flew from Oman 🇴🇲 to Nepal 🇳🇵…, working with an Airline, it was quite advantageous for me to Travel as and when required – provided, I had a sufficient amount of leaves, the moment I landed in Kathmandu I knew that I wasn’t wrong about my destination – the freshness , beauty , warmth, it had everything.
Although I was alone as a traveler – “Nepal” never made me feel lonely and that was the beauty of that place. I had landed at Tribhuvan International Airport – Kathmandu on 25th November 2012, being Winter – temperature was around 2 degree celsius which is very cold when compared to Muscat, where I was posted, very soon I realized that I wasn’t prepared for this kind of weather.
I took an Airport Taxi from the Airport to Thamel – commercial neighborhood in Kathmandu where I thought of spending my Night for a day and figure out my travel plan – to explore Nepal. Soon after resting for a night at Kathmandu . I had to head towards the destination unknown. I knew I wasn’t there to explore the city because I want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city where I was living . So yes I decided that my next destination to be Chitwan from Thamel, I radmonly chose the destination based on the distance, it was around 158 Kms from Thamel via E – W Hwy/AH2 and I had clearly decided on how I need to travel – Hire a Motorcycle. I had my Map ready – locations mapped – I also planned to spend some time at some of the pit stops which I had planned on the way to Chitwan – I had one more intention of speaking to the local population wherever I stop, by which I can have a direct connection and cultural experience with the locals.
I hired a motorcycle 🏍 Yamaha FZ Series from BS Motor Bike – Motorcycle rental agency in Kathmandu ( Thamel Rd Bhagawati, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal), they were very helpful and price of rentals were also quite economical, entire process just took less than 15 minutes and hit the road all by myself . Words wouldn’t be enough at all to express how i felt . Well, everything is so vivid even now. Honestly, I felt so liberated riding a Motorcycle in an awesome weather, scenic hills, curvy roads along with pleasant sound of the motorcycle’s exhaust, light music on the ears – what else anybody can ask for 🙂 – I felt as if I was the most happiest person on the earth at that moment, I don’t know – that is one strange feeling I get whenever I saddle up on the Motorcycle – it is one of the greatest joys in life, I remember someone quoting that we should be okay with the emotional state “Motorcycle” puts you in.
On the way, I stopped by, to capture natures beauty through which I was travelling, this was only possible cause I was on a motorcycle, I could stop by most of the places as and when required.
I reached Chitwan around 6:30 PM and I started searching for the accommodation for the night as I had no pre booking, finally I settled in a place called “Chitwan Jungle Lodge”, the lodge was quite good and an excellent supportive staff, as soon I checked-in I booked my wildlife tour for the early morning slot. As I had nothing to do – night had settled in – had a big fat Dinner along with a Beer and headed to Bed.
As I mentioned before that I reached the place quite late at night, I had no idea of how the place looked like but When I woke up in the morning, I was taken aback by the beauty it had to offer, Chitwan was amazingly beautiful. I got ready for the Wildlife Safari and headed to see the Wildlife by around 8:00 AM, Interestingly I thought the Safari would be on Jeep or on forest department vehicle but it turned out to be on an Elephant back, actually it was my first ever wildlife tour on an Elephant back and for me it was quite an adventure – I got to see quite a number of animals such as rhinoceros, Deer, Samba, Leopard, Elephants, Crocodile etc. Here are some of the moments I could capture….
Considering Chitwan, place apt for relaxing, thought of staying overnight at Chitwan and plan for the next day travel, there were lot of shacks which served good Beer and food, I dropped by one of the shacks, picked up a beer and food and started planning for the next day, meanwhile the sun had started to set-in which added much more beauty to the place, captured some beautiful pictures. By this time , my plan for the next day has been done – Plan was to travel to Pokhara…
After a very good sleep, I started my Journey to Pokhara, all saddled up on my motorcycle – left Chitwan at 6:00 am, I was very much excited to visit this new destination – Pokhara. Brief Background about Pokhara – Pokhara is a city on Phewa Lake, in central Nepal. It’s known as a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular trail in the Himalayas. I reached Pokhara at around 1:30 pm, I stopped at very few places now, as I wanted to reach much before Sunset – as per my plan I just wanted to spend the night at Pokhara and didn’t want to extend my stay – as I had few leaves left – wanted to explore Kathmandu and rest of the place close by with the remaining days left. I wanted to return back to Pokhara in the future for the trekking expedition of the Annapurna circuit. I stayed at “Hotel Grand Holiday Pokhara“, it was quite a good place and was on my budget, had a splendid evening – again with a Beer, Gazing at the Lake – truly enjoying the moment – I find it very difficult in expressing a feeling you get when you watch the nature at its best, I could clearly see perfect view of the snow-capped Mountains, the lake and laid back life which I felt was perfect.
As beautiful as the place is I must admit people here are equally beautiful . Always ready to help you , guide you and always wears that smile which comforted me as a traveler. After spending a wonderful night at Pokhara, I started my Journey back to Kathmandu – thought of staying in Kathmandu for a day, do some local shopping at Thamel – then very next day I had planned to head back to “Muscat, Oman” – My work place. I started early in the Morning – my usual time of 6:30 am from Pokhara, I was thinking I was headed in the right direction towards Kathmandu but I missed my route and went around 40Kms in the wrong route, that is when I met a group of young guys while asking for the right route, fortunately they told me that I was headed in the opposite direction and they too headed towards Kathmandu and they would accompany me until Kathmandu – this is what is the beauty of Traveling, you meet so many people you never end up being alone, two of these young guys became my close friends even till today while write this blog, they were Arjun Joshi & Santhosh Sen – both were studying their Engineering at Kathmandu. I followed them from this intersection until Kathmandu and by the time I reached Kathmandu we exchanged conversations about Nepal, People’s life style, Politics etc and we built that connect and became friends. we stopped midway a certain places to take some pictures – because pictures are very important at least for me whenever you look at them it will take you back to the place & People – down the memory lane.
This Scenic beauty below is my – all time Favourite. This is between Pokhara and Kathmandu – Trishuli River, The Trishuli River- is a trans-boundary river and is one of the major tributaries of the Narayani River basin in central Nepal, It originates in Tibet Autonomous Region of China where it is called Kirong Tsangpo. The Trishuli is named after the trishula or trident of Shiva, a powerful god in the Hindu pantheon,There is a legend that says high in the Himalayas at Gosaikunda, Shiva drove his trident into the ground to create three springs – the source of the river and hence its name Trisuli. More than 60 per cent of the total drainage basin of the Trishuli lies in Tibet with about 9 per cent being covered by snow and glaciers
We reached “Thamel” around 4:30 PM, My New Friends Arjun and Santhosh dropped me until my Hotel at Thamel, but they decided stay back with me at the Hotel and they took me around Thamel – Places I never visited on my first day, since I was taken around by the localities I got to taste the delicacies of the Country and I can vouch the food is one of the kind which one shouldn’t miss. I still don’t know what was in me these guys din want me to leave the next day , They promise to show me around the unexplored places and am a big fan of such unexplored places – so I agreed, I called up my office and extended my leaves for another 2 days and rescheduled my flight. we already made plans for the next day
- visit Pashupathinath – one of the famous temple to the east of Kathmandu dedicated to the deity Pashupathi.
- visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square – is the plaza in front of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom, again towards east of Kathmandu
- visit Swayambhu – is an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu City
So the plan was made, so we decided that we visit Swayambu first since it was towards the west and other two places were towards the east. so early morning around 8:00 am we headed to swayambu – I had no idea as how Swayambu would be, it was so elegant – with structures of Amitabha Buddha, Padmasambhava & Avalokiteshvara – I have never seen such huge structures of Buddha – Must place to visit while in Kathmandu, here are some of the captures from this place.
After our Visit to Swayambu – we headed towards PashupathiNath, as mentioned before, it is one of the scaredHindu Shrine dedicated to Lord shiva, we got to see the temple complex and also in the vicinity of the temple we could see cremation going on, we could also see some of the sadhu‘s around considered to be the holy men – they live in isolation in the temples, you identify them with bright saffron-colored clothes as the one I could capture below 🙂
Since we were running out of time and we had to cover Bhaktapur, we set our next destination to Bhaktapur, by the time we reached Bhaktapur it was around 2:00 pm, Since i was taken around by locals I got to taste the delicacies of the country for Lunch and I can vouch the food is one of the kind which one shouldn’t miss. finally we entered Bhaktapur Durbar Complex – I was simply amazed by the Architecture and the size of the complex is quite huge, In General Bhaktapur is really Beautiful Old city and anyone would be definitely marveled by the architecture – if you are in kathmandu you should never miss to Visit Bhaktapur and one should definitely visit Shiva’s Cafe Corner you get to taste more authentic Nepalese dishes. Here are some of the sneak peek into the architectural landscape of Bhaktapur…
Finally we all three returned to Thamel and by the time we reached Thamel Sun has set it, we decided we hop in to some of the pubs and have some good time concluding the day, I got to taste Nepal’s Local Alchohol made of wheat and rice – one should try it while you are here, we did a certain bit of Pub hopping and I have to say that Thamel has of the best pubs, good taste of music, good crowd, well each place has its own charm.
Well, as they “All good things must come to an end “so did my one week of stay in Nepal came to an end. Next day i’d be on my flight back to Oman , I packed my bags and was ready to bid Goodbye to one the most amazing place I got to visit but what took me by surprise was these boys who compelled to come drop me to the airport.
I am not good at “Goodbyes” so I was so overwhelmed by their gesture so I could not deny the offer.
Like I mentioned in the beginning ” whoever travels alone never comes back alone” yes neither did I . Now I carried along some very good moments , some very good friends who I still keep in touch.
So , here it is my trip that liberated me , my soul…….
Some tips I would wish to provide if you plan to Visit Nepal:
- Before traveling to any place, try to know about place, people and culture – this helps ( Google :))
- Pack Lightly – carry what is required
- Try and get bottled water wherever you go
- While travelling on Motorcycle or in Buses and if the journey is quite a distance, try to drink less water or try to clear bowel before the journey, when I traveled there were quite less Pubic toilets (Most of them were squat Toilets), hence would request to keep this in mind.
- Make sure to have enough Nepalese currency and make sure that they are exchanged before leaving Nepal, there are certain legalities related to carrying Nepal currency outside the country
- Nepal uses 220 Volts, hence please make sure you carry the required adapter
- Please limit the use of Plastic items.
- Night life in most of the places close by 10 PM with certain exception in Thamel
- You can plan most of Kathmandu and close-by places towards end of the Journey
- If you are visiting Heritage places, please make sure that you budget for the Entry fee into the Heritage sites.
- Should be aware of strike and Protests in Nepal which might cause local disruption to transport – hence you might need to account this.
- I would not be able to provide any tips related to Trekking etc in the region since I have not done trekking as part of my journey in Nepal, I would again travel to Nepal in Jan 2018 to cover the trekking circuits – more info would follow then.