Oh Nepal, why do we love thee?
Updated: Aug 2
Our trip to Nepal was like a whirlwind romance. We instantly fell in love with Nepal for so many reasons that others may have difficulty understanding it. I remembered the time when I talked to my boss asking for his permission for a one week leave. He casually asked where I planned to travel.
Without a blink, I said Nepal.
To my surprise, my boss’s face turned into a question mark (LOL!). I mean, he paused like he was thinking if he heard the right answer.
‘Hmmm. Why Nepal?’ he asked in his usual calm voice.
His reaction was not a surprise. When my sister’s friends came to know about her destination too, they had the same reaction (actually not the same, but worse). They were puzzled and mystified like we had chosen planet Mars as a destination.
‘Why not Korea? Japan? Europe?’ That’s their common remark.
Yup, indeed. Why not these destinations?
But why not Nepal too?
Okay, fine. We have our own preferences. Others love the glitzy cosmopolitan cities. Most enjoy famous destinations (Imagine a selfie with Eiffel Tower as your background. No offense about choosing famous touristy destinations. In fact, I had done that before - a selfie with Eiffel Tower or Louvre Pyramid as the backdrop - and made it as my profile pic in my FB. LOL! Well, those more famous destinations I had been, were side trips. I was taking advantage of the opportunity when on business trips).
Anyway, back to the subject.
We, Cash and Miles (yes, that's our names. No kidding), have our own preference too. Off beaten paths. The more immerse it is, the better. It excites us to experience how the ordinary locals live; how they do life’s mundane things.
And oh, if our finances just allow it, we already head to Tibet, Mongolia, Peru, and Bolivia. (Did you get the hint of our preferred destinations?)
Anyway, back to our Nepal trip.
It was my son’s spring break last 2018 and I would like to have a short holiday with him. Initially, I planned a trip back to the Philippines but then the ticket cost was very high. A one week leave and a long travel time ( 9 hours from UAE to Manila + domestic flight the next day), paying such expensive air ticket would not be worth it. But still, I wanted to travel.
And so, I discussed with my partner in crime. I mean, a partner in travel, my sister 'Cash', who was based in the Philippines.
We agreed to find a destination and to meet somewhere, halfway from the UAE and the Philippines.
But… the big problem was the visa. You know, the limitations of having a Philippine passport. So we came up with basic criteria to narrow the destination search.
Visa-free or visa upon arrival
Cheap accommodation cost (cheap in the real sense)
Cheaper airline ticket cost
A new destination, a country we have not visited yet.
After searching and discussing like an eternity, we nailed it down to one destination – Nepal. Our sweetheart Nepal met all the criteria with flying colors.
It’s a visa on arrival for Filipino passport holder. A big factor to consider. There are many budget hotels and the general travel cost is reasonable.
My sister traveled from Manila >> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia >> Kathmandu, Nepal through Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines. While we, my six-year-old son at that time and I, traveled from Dubai to Kathmandu through Fly Dubai.
Perhaps Nepal doesn’t have the wow factor of skyscrapers and an efficient transportation system like other progressive countries. When we were traveling from Kathmandu to Pokhara, I was transported back to my university days. It made me nostalgic.
The university I attended was far from my hometown. It would take around twelve to fourteen hours of travel by bus. And imagine, that was twenty years ago. The road was rough. Buses had no TV, toilet nor wifi. Non-stop bus (means bus doesn’t stop along the way to pick up other passengers) was hard to come.
And oh, you know what’s the best part. When I reached the city after hours of being on the road, I could not comb my hair at all. It was like a bucket of hair gel was dumped on my hair. It’s so stiffened. My clothes and duffle bag were covered with dust like it was buried under the Sahara desert. I was a wreck, totally unglamorous!
But then, that’s the beauty of it. We, my sister who studied in the same university and me, found our penchant for off-road traveling; of going through some grueling long hours of travel by road. Maybe this is the reason why we are so bitten by Nepal. It’s like a love bug that we can’t wait to see her again. We are itching to explore Nepal further to see more and closer (and hopefully experience) the magnificent Himalayas range.
Our trip to Nepal resurrected our forgotten dreams; our bucket list in our younger years when all you thought was fun and following your passion. It awakened again our desire to trek, to be immersed in nature, with bare necessities. It inspired us also to be minimalist, to be detached with material things. We started embracing this lifestyle though it is still a long way to go for us. It is not that easy to discard or donate all those things we’ve accumulated for years or decades.
I think our trip to Nepal helped us to be aligned with what we want in our lives and strengthen the values we want to live with. Perhaps that’s the reason why Nepal holds a special place in us because we found our heart and soul in this place.
We feel at home in Nepal.