I love Nepal. I love everything about it. I love her people, her valleys, her mountains. I love Nepal’s culture, the mix of races, religions and people. I love the healing qualities of the Himalayas, the spiritual and sacred spaces that appear in every town, village and street of Kathmandu. I love Nepal’s ceremonies, the rituals, the traditions. I even love the chaos that is Nepal’s order. I love the weather. I love the struggle of one of the poorest countries on earth to become the wealthiest without being over run by it’s two powerful neighbours. This is a country where survival is an art. Where music, dance and love are just a natural part of life. I have Nepal in my blood as much as I have my own birth country, Australia. But please don’t ask me to choose, you may be shocked at my choice.
For 35 years I have take every friend, family member and client I could find to Nepal. We’ve visited wildlife parks, rivers, mountains and more. We’ve played, prayed and forayed into the beauty of Nepal.
No where else on earth is it like this. Sacred mountains, rough and tumble reality, powerful rituals, dancing drunk in mountain lodges. And, Namaste, it’s all in the name of love. I don’t know what else to reveal. I am who I am because of Nepal. I am going back home to Nepal in November 2016, for my 51st trip. You are welcome to join me. And I guarantee … no tents… good food and plenty of adventure.
Nepal has to be the most underestimated country on earth. Mainly underestimated because it can be its own worst enemy. It serves the back pack economy at one end of the scale of self abuse and the elite mountaineering fraternity at the other both of whom, until recently came into Nepal, took as much as they could get for free, and left.
In Nepal there are no masks, no screens, no disguises. It is raw humanity. Nothing is swept under the carpet. People care about people. They pray to God’s and temples. They work hard. They strike for improvement. It’s not decorated with political control or stigma. Individuality and reality are one. Human beings living their truth.
A street vendor will, of course, try to get an extra few rupies from you as a foreigner but that’s also done tongue in cheek. There’s always space for a laugh. Life seems to be, no matter how harsh, in context to something more important than schedules and clean seats. Even entering a five star hotel in Kathmandu to try to escape the dust and fumes of the streets, there’s no guarantee that there will be the tranquility of the water fountain echoing off the marble walls. More often than not, pensioners waiting for their air conditioned tourist bus jam into the lobby with a trekking group just arrived back from a 20 day walk through the mountains, unshaven, unwashed, dusty and laden with backpacks wait for their rooms to be sorted. I love Nepal.
From the moment you arrive in Nepal to the moment you leave you are treated as a human being. Your qualifications, your fancy car, your Gucci suit all drop away. You are a person. A soul, a being. You wait for hours at immigration when you arrive, there’s no first class or business class queue. You wait. Only two of the ten booths are open to check your visa and then you walk down dusty steps to watch your Samsonite hurled down the chute together with boxes of whatever, trekking poles and broken luggage. Your trolley only has three wheels working and when you hit the street, there are hundreds of desperate taxi drivers willing to take you to your hotel before you realise what a taxi ride is really worth in Kathmandu. You either learn to laugh or you don’t survive.
I love Nepal because all this cacophony of human reality sits on some of the most sacred ground on the planet. What, in Europe, would be fenced off and shielded with glass, in Nepal, you walk on, walk through and touch. Great temples, beautiful monasteries, sacred lakes. There are a few signs that say “do not” but those are really hard to see and rarely enforced.
Nepal is a land of great healing. It humbles you to the reality of human life. Your first world problems look and feel totally ridiculous compared to even the luckiest in Nepal. You realise that you are so blessed back home to worry about the temperature of the toast while others live happily, more simply.
In the mountains the contradictions become even more apparent. All my thousands of dollars of trekking gear, goretex labels and branded sleeping bag become a farce that only a trek can reveal. The magic, the majesty, the purity and magnificence of being in those mountains is not enhanced one single molecule by the value or brand of the gear you wear or carry. Your heart is the difference between loving it or hating it. Occasionally a selfie with a pure wool jacket from New Zealand makes the $500 investment worth while – but rarely with the joy of being up in the mountains do selfies get taken with clothing in mind.
I love Nepal because it changes me. It reminds me of the big picture. It soothes my bones. It ruffles my hair. It opens my heart and it puts life back here in Bondi, back into context. Our concrete footpaths, our collected garbage, our convenience stores and $13 smoothies, $5.00 coffees, and parking meters. It puts it all in context. Makes you ask yourself “why am I really here?” and i think that’s a great way to start the day.
As I close this blog, I confess that, although I have written much and spoken much about my love of Nepal, the final answer I must share is that “I don’t know.” You love something, sometimes you love something, simply because… Then, when there is no why, you truly feel that you really do love it, totally and unconditionally. Ultimately, I confess to be lost for words in describing why I love Nepal but what I do know is that I’d love to help you go there and experience it for yourself. So, if you’d love to go, let me help you find an itinerary that’d be fun, exciting and exploratory to the level you’d feel comfortable with.