It is unique in my life that I walked such ups, downs and distances in mere 1,5 weeks.
After 10 days on the Annapurna Circuit, our focus turns rather to touristic, religious and other attractions. Every time I think back to Nepal, a kaleidoscope of impressions enfolds in my head, loud like a freight train und colourful in its contradictory facets. There is only one way to get a glimpse of the plenty of highlights that come with this kind of journey: go there yourself!
Fragments of my own trip, unless already stated in the posts of the first twelve days, are the following:
- Anger: We had fantastic weather conditions (bright sun, cloudless sky, NO WIND!!!) in the bleakly town of Johmson – still no plane was there for our long-booked flight through the world’s deepest valley, hence no promising views on all Annapurna peaks and on our own footsteps were to be seen. My anger told me quite some about Buddhist impassivity and that I still have a long way to go… Yet the 10-hours-bumping-bus tour showed us more of the Nepali real life that enfolds among agriculture, garbage and tourism (with special outlooks on Chinese domination in local roadmaking).
- Foreignness: Holy Hindu temples, conflicting convictions and the alignment of modern business and religious traditions left me mute and agitated. The 108 waters of Muktinath and the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu proved that when approaching Hinduism, this ancient religion shows more parallels to Christianity than I had thought, yet remaining entirely strange to me.
- Adventure: At no time in any bus or other means of transportation have I felt concerned. Still, driving on busses through rivers or circling on unsecured serpentine “streets” (jolt tracks) may be considered as low-risk-adventures. Bruises with stories (“…and then the bus dived into the low water of the river…” / “…some centimetres of the tires may or may not have been in plain air while the driver managed to take the turn with neither fall nor crash…”) are guaranteed!
- Beauty (part 1) / Architecture: Elaborated wooden elements in houses and temples, neat proportions, white stones and red bricks, windows and roofs and the altogether of historical (ancient) cities… it is outshined by the Stupa Bodnath and the circle of ancient houses around. Or perhaps even outrivalled by the ancient palace of Kathmandu?
- Food: Delicious, multifarious, with influences from China and India and roots in ancient cultures. Tibetan soup, Newa style Momos, Dal Bhat, curries, vegetables, eggs, fruits, yak steak, rice, cake, fish, … Nepal is full of good food, especially when you avoid places that serve pizza for stubborn tourists.
- Beauty (part 2) / Buddhism: Buddhism is visible almost all over Nepal, especially in the higher regions of the Himalaya. Not once did it disappoint me in its appearance or its approach. Less formal than the Hindu religion, much more welcoming. The outer features of temples and cloisters reflect the inner sparkling of the monks. Those we talked to seemed to be entirely grounded in patience, kindness and contentment. The souvenir of the inner and outer beauty we met whenever getting in touch with Buddhism will stay with me for much longer.
- Dirt: Although I avoided pictures of it, garbage and dirt have been more present than I would have liked. Remember my flight day in March, when I ended up at the side of a young Nepali who talked enthusiastically about the “Clean up Nepal” campaign? Given the spread-out garbage around the huts and houses, I thought back to this conversation quite a lot. Only Bhaktapur had garbage bins speckled around downtown and was astoundingly clean – except for the omnipresent dust that lays on your skin, your lungs, your clothes. When going to Kathmandu, ensure to bring some breathing mask with you. Here, garbage, burned bodies, dirt and dust combine to one of the worst air pollutions worldwide. Yet, the town is all worth it.
- Jetstream 41: Finallly, I had my first flight in a small, very small plane. The Jetstream of Yeti Air comes with about 20 seats and at least a glimpse of the Annapurna peak above the clouds. The plane was cute, the Himalaya a bit hazy, still it was the most charming flight I ever had.
- Cities: Bhaktapur, Phokara, Kathmandu – each of it (at least) is worth a visit. Vivid centres, market streets, innumerable temples, all kinds of people, ancient and current architecture, shops and restaurants… Whatever you like best in cities across the world, you may find it here. Except for fake facades and modern skyscrapers, that is. Bhaktapur has been a perfect start, Pokhara means luxury tourism and Kathmandu is rich of highlights – I might be drawn back some day.
- Himalaya: Never had I thought to get this close to the highest peaks of our planet. And yet I had the Annapurna peaks within reach for days… Still flashed!
- Patience: Not the best of my given talents yet, but surely improved during my weeks in Nepal. People are kind, the world is multifaceted and life is great. So, why hurry?