Yes, finally the last part of the India / Nepal trip. The last weeks we spent some time on the beach and didn’t really get to writing anymore. And then getting back home and not really getting to finish the story… Anyway excuses, excuses, over with it! Time to finish the story of the wonderful trip to India and Nepal!!!
So, the last story finished in Pokhara, Nepal, with the awesome parahawking at the beginning of January. After that we spent another week in Pokhara in which Maaike shopped a bit more (dvds for only 30 eurocents… even if only one out of 15 would have worked it was worth it…), and Brad played golf at a wonderful golfcourse. It was quite a tricky one, with the hole on the other side of a canyon and that kind of stuff… Only lost 3 golfballs though, one in the canyon, one somewhere on the fairway (really nowhere to be found?) and one outside the fence of the golfcourse, but still it was pretty damn good! Brad also did some more paragliding to add on some more hours. Before we left we have had dinner with some of our friends, our ‘old’ ones that we already knew and also the new ones that we met there. It was wonderful to meet new people with new stories again, great to travel!!!
We flew to Kathmandu and met with Raju from Curious Goat Travels (what’s in a name… but it sure is a catchy one!!), a friend of our friend Craig. He organised our taxi and a daytour for the following day. The day we arrived in Kathmandu we drove up to Nagarkot, a mountain where you supposedly have a great view of the Himalayas. The driver thought it would be a 20 km drive from the outskirts of Kathmandu, but it appeared to be a 1,5 hour drive to get there. And unfortunately it was quite foggy and the Himalayas weren’t that visible. Bummer… Driving all the way back down we decided to drive to Bhaktapur as well, an old city next to Kathmandu, as we were quite close to it anyway. Then we didn’t have to go all the way out there the following day anymore. Bhaktapur was a nice old city, with old buildings and really gave the feeling of medieval times. We snapped quickly a few photos and then drove back into Kathmandu again. Unfortunately it was really busy on the roads (rush hour) and it took ages to get to our hotel, Tibet Guesthouse, in Thamel district. Happy to get there we had dinner at the hotel and didn’t go out anymore that evening. The following day we had a tour around Kathmandu with Raju as our guide. We drove to Pashupatinath first. That is the place where cremations take place on the bank of the Bagmati river. It was pretty impressive to see some of the cremations with all the rituals around it. When the father dies, the eldest son performs the rituals (like walking around the body on the pile of wood 3 times) and starts the cremation, when the mother dies it is the youngest who does it. After the cremation, the ashes and the leftover wood is pushed in the river, to make place for the next cremation. In the meantime we saw some kids and men scurrying in the river to find some left juwelry and stuff in the water, and down the stream women were doing their washing in that same water where the ashes were floating around in. Kids were playing soccer on the other side of the river… Life goes on, shall we say… After the heavy emotions we saw at Pashupatinath we drove to Patan Durbar Square, a nice square with several temples and statues. Then it was time for lunch, Raju knew of a great place where they had really nice momo’s, and that was true. Instead of the usually closed little steamed packages of dough, those momo’s were open on the top (see the photos) so we could pour some sauce in it. It was delicious. Driving on through the city we saw loads of garbage everywhere. Really piles of garbage everywhere, it was like the whole city was like a huge dump! And besides the garbage, there is also loads of pollution in the air. Nah, not really the place to stay for too long! We drove on to Boudhanath Temple, a Buddhist temple, with next to it a Hindu temple. That’s how religions should live: existing next to each other!! There were loads of monkeys there around the temple, eating biscuits ans other leftovers. We also had a great view over Kathmandu and the valley around it. We finished the day at Kathmandu Durbar Square to see some more temples and also the palace of the Kumari Ghar, where the Royal Kumari resides. Kumari, or Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshipping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in South Asian countries. Kumari is believed to be the bodily incarnation of a goddess until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status. We were happy to see so much of Kathmandu in one day, and decided to spend the next day on one thing only: the Everest Flight!!!
Yes, we flew past Mount Everest!! The roof of the world, the highest mountain above sealevel, we saw it with our own eyes! After waking up really early and arriving at the airport at 06.00, we had to wait until 11.00 until we oculd finally board. The reason? Fog… Yeah, with so much fog they can’t take off, and besides that, the view of Everest also wouldn’t be that great. So after 5 hours of waiting and chatting with a girl from Austria, we finally boarded and took a seat in the small plane that flew us past various mountain peaks of the Himalan range. After seeing various high peaks we finally saw her, Sagarmatha, as they name her in Nepalese. Mount Everest!! We had plenty of space in the plane to always sit at a window seat and we even got to view Mount Everest from the cockpit. The rest of the day we took it easy, taking in this amazing experience. In the evening we met up with Maaike’s cousin Marit in an Italian restaurant where we treated her on a nice meal. She is working over there as a volunteer so every free meal suits her budget!! We also gave her the phone number of Craig in Pokhara, since that was her next place to work, and we hope she gets to paraglide as well.
Then we flew back to India again and started a roadtrip. Didn’t really plan to do Delhi – Agra by road, but since all flights were cancelled from Delhi due to fog (really thick fog) we had to go by taxi. We arranged a nice luxurious vehicle to take us and all our luggage to the city of the Taj Mahal, which we saw the following day. It was great to see one of the manmade wonders of the world with our own eyes. Another one ticked of our list! We saw the beautiful marble mausoleum from up close and inside and were amazed by the different types of marble our guide showed us. There were also optical illusions on some of the outside pillars, which were just 4 sided, but looked star-shaped. Pretty impressive to make! We had an official guide to tell us all about the Taj. And he loved to take our picture for us. He kept on asking for our camera and started to make us pose with the Taj from all angles. ‘Ok, put your hand on his shoulder, and go sit on his knee…’-kind of things. After the 90th (we’re not exaggerating…) photo we thought it was enough, but no, just 2 more photos please. OK. After the Taj we checked our photos and our smile looked still quite spontaneously on the first 30 photos and pretty much frozen on the last 60 photos… After the Taj we drove on to Jaipur, also known as the pink city. We couldn’t quite see the pink of it, just the pollution and the lots of traffic. Maybe it used to be quite pink, now we could only find a few reddish coloured buildings. In Jaipur we changed taxidrivers, so our driver could drive back to Delhi again and we continued in Jaipur with Jai, a friendly old man. He drove us for some sightseeing to a few of the forts that Jaipur has. All of a sudden he stopped an let a man in our car, with the announcement, that he could make music for us. We thought he invited ‘his friend’ to get some money out of us, but after the man played a song for us on a very special instrument (it looked like a little sitar with a short neck, made of wood and leather and he had little bells on his violin-bow with which he played the instrument), Jai asked the man to bless us. Jai told us afterwards the full story: The man was one of the few of his tribe and according to our guide Jai was it very very special to meet him, as he can bless us. The tribesmen are also very rare to see, Jai (in his sixties) had never seen one before in his life. Wow, as uninterested we were in the beginning (you get so weary of the ‘friends’ that people bring), as interested we were and special we felt after the experience. It gave us a feeling to be more open to those experiences as well, as you never know who might bless you! After a good night’s sleep in a great hotel (Chitra Katha, really new) we drove around in a tuktuk to do some sightseeing in Jaipur. We first went to Jantar Mantar, a stone observatory (from early 18th centrury), the largest and best preserved of the five observatories built by astronomer prince Jai Singh II. It was very interesting to see how they measured various things like the position of the stars and the moon and so with all those stone objects. Then we went to Hawa Mahal, the famous sight of Jaipur, a palace with all little windows and peekholes. It was part of the city palace, and used to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict "purdah" (face cover). After lunch we decided to drive back to the hotel again. The Jaipur city life was pretty hectic, polluting and damn scary at some times. At one point there was a truck almost touching Maaike’s sleeve on the righthand side and stopped just in time. Hello headlights, strsight in my face. OK, time to relax at the hotel!
The next day we flew to Goa, where we spent a few weeks on the beach. We had a lovely hotel right on the beach, in Arambol, in the north of Goa. Our room was a hut on top of the concrete building and luckily for us it had a mosquito net. Not necessarily for any mosquitos, since that season was over, but for the huge cockroaches… Those huge flying cockroaches yes. We only saw them the first night, but after you see those huge monsters (yes monsters!) crawling on the net and flying around in the room, you’re scarred for life… 😉 We also saw a little snake on the balcony, which Brad flicked off with a stick, onto the next roof. The people over there immediately started looking around to see where that thump came from and after they relaxed when they saw that it was that specific type of snake, we also started to relax again. Although we did check under the bed a little extra and made sure the mosquito net was tucked in at all sides! On the beach we saw the usual: tanning people (including some disgusting old men wearing nothing or justa tiny tiny g-string), people doing yoga or tai chi, hippies (Goa is a true hippie town, besides the trance scene that goes around over there, but we hadn’t seen that in Arambol), and a few cows looking for their towel. Other than the tanning, Brad went paragliding (and taking loads of sand out of the parachute again at the end of the trip), we both did a lot of reading, swimming in the sea, bodysurfing (Maaike got pretty good at it! Catching some nice waves!), watching beautiful sunsets through the palmtrees. A great way to end a great trip!!!
And so were back home again now, Brad snowboarding and studying in Germany and Maaike working and spending time with her family in the Netherlands. Thank goodness Brad is coming to the Netherlands next week again to spend some time here!!
Thank you for reading our stories of our adventures in India and Nepal!!! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did travelling it!!!
Lots of love, Maaike and Brad