As seen on her blog here
Nepal, 3 – 6 September 2016
Earlier this year, I made a super random trip plan to the most unexpected place anyone (well, Indonesians, really) would ever go. NEPAL. It started out as a trip planned with my adventurous travel partner aka cousin, Michelle to India. It has been our long life goal (since 2009 actually) to ever set foot in the land of the Bollywood! Then after recruiting other travel companions, we decided to place a journey further to explore Nepal. Crazy, I thought, given the fact that we know NOTHING about this foreign place, except for the fact that it lays the world’s famous highest peak, the Mount Everest and one of the many countries that Himalayas were stretched upon.
We let our tickets settled and buried amongst other important emails in our inbox, with nothing planned, until two weeks before our departure. I know, CRAY. So here was the flight itinerary: Jakarta – Kuala Lumpur (transit) Kathmandu – Delhi – Kuala Lumpur (transit) Jakarta. The last few weeks before departure we found ourselves enfold in tabs after tabs of travel blogs, catatan perjalanan, tour websites, airbnb, hotel booking sites, immigration websites, currency converters and all that other shiz. Honestly, with this kind of long haul plan, we should at least have them covered and finalized at least one month before! Visa processing and documents handling can be tough, but thankfully we’ve all got it sorted out just in time, within our crazy busy schedule.
Fast forward to when the trip starts. Note that we were traveling on a budget, and as crazy as it sounds, we were traveling without a baggage! So we tried really hard to keep our backpacks filled empty and loose – which trust me, is hard. You may have a clue on how many items were left out in the journey and how difficult it is not to shop in places that produces the world’s finest handy crafts! TOUGH, I tell you. Anyways, the trip started with our transit in Kuala Lumpur, and within reaching the next transit gate to Kathmandu, we found ourselves in the middle of MEN. Many men, Nepali men in exact, who are apparently workers in Malaysia. They come in many variety of faces, skin color and aroma. Nekat, we thought. Four Indonesian girls traveling to a developing country without any expectation. But it was awesome, I thought, something totally different than the kind of traveling I’m used to.
After getting our Visa on Arrival with the cost of 25 USD, we were welcomed nicely by the immigration staffs.”First time in Nepal?” “Yes” “Hope you enjoy Nepal” all smiling and stuff. Arriving in Kathmandu, I was literally holding my bags close to my body, afraid of people snatching them off me. I mean, all those mass media exposure about how India is famous for crime activities and rapes had really gotten into my head and thinking that Nepal would be the same since they’re only borderline apart. I was wrong, obviously after days passed, I could only find people who are humble and helpful and definitely tourist friendly!
Driving away from the airport, the sight of the city was seriously captivating. The old cracked buildings (remember Nepal earthquake?), vintage cars that produce clouds of grey smoke, puddles of mud and rain water makes blurred reflections of stray dogs and cows on the road. Meanwhile, the mountains timidly poked out from every directions, as if showing off that no matter how deficient they seemed, this country has something grand to offer. It was different, I thought. A sight so heartbreaking yet beautiful and exciting at the same time. My eyes saw and cultivate the heart to love it. And that was just it. I straight away had an unexpected crush on Nepal.
After talking to several sources and finding recommendations on where to go in Nepal, we finally book a hotel in Nagarkot. Nagarkot is a hilly area in Nepal famous for its beautiful sunrise and sunset views and it is only 1 hour from Kathmandu. It is a fairly best alternative if you don’t want to travel too far to Pokhara – which is a city close by to the hills and foot of the mountains, if you want the thrive for that sceneries and adventure hikes. After reading reviews of hotels that are within our budget, we got ourselves staying in Hotel Mount Paradise.
All four of us in the room, with a balcony view of the mountain and city. I set up an airport pick up from Tribhuvan International Airport to the hotel, which was planned accordingly well by Mr. Mohan, the hotel owner. The better English speaker, humble and thoughtful hotel owner I’ve ever met. He set up the room perfectly and arranged our pick ups and drop off really well. He was also the one that assured us that Nepal is “safe”. He understood our panicky faces, I assume, when we wanted to find a nice dinner near the hotel. “Anytime day and night, here in Nepal is safe. 100 percent!” Very convincing. We believed him.
We trekked down a little away from the hotel that late afternoon to find some dinner. We managed to find many shops, hotels and food stalls and settled in a small cheap wifi-accommodated restaurant to stop by and try their traditional dishes. Mo:Mo (traditional meat and potato curry-filled dumplings), Thukpa (noodle soup), Biryani rice and Chicken Curry are few of the fancy foods we tried that night. Too cozy with the wifi, we didn’t realize it was dark already and we had to walk our way back to the hotel! With only one handphone flashlight, arm in arm, four stupidly brave girls walked back pitch black, in an open wet roadway with the breeze from the mountain. Scared af, but we made it back to the hotel safe and sound! Mr. Mohan was right. Nepal was safe.
We weren’t very lucky as we arrived in Nepal when it was all wet and rainy. Same goes that night in Nagarkot. I was really excited to hike up to see a beautiful sunrise that morning, but the weather will not let us. All awake at 4:30 am, hard rain kept pouring that early morning, and it was just impossible to get out from the room. Disappointed, I went back to sleep. When the daylight hits the window of our room, we decided to open the balcony door and felt the chills. It was nice. We could only see the fogs right up there moving in and out of our room. The weather was that bad. I was sad.
Then back to our beds and gossiping for hours later, Michelle saw the window and startled, “Wait, LOOK! Was that there before??” mentioning about those gorgeous mountains so grand that peeked out from the fogs! It was around 7:30 or 8:00 am and the fogs settled down, revealing one of the most remarkable view I ever witness in my life. All just from a balcony of a budget hotel room.Subhannallah. We couldn’t stop taking pictures, it was green, foggy, sharp, dark blue, any beautiful sceneries in the distance that captured my heart so blissfully. Though pictures alone don’t really do justice, I sank in love with the sight. Feeling well-acquainted with the wonderful scenery, we prepare ourselves to go back to the city, staying in the most crowded touristy spot of Kathmandu, Thamel.
(To be continued…)