I’ve been home one whole day since my trip with GoPro to Nepal. I’m going to do my best to recap the trip without completely typing your ear (eyes?) off.
Where to start…
This was my first time heading out of North America (see previous post to find out why haha).
I wasn’t nervous until the evening before I boarded my first plane. All kinds of thoughts rushed through my mind, some good and some bad. Nonetheless, I got through security and knew it was real and the time had come to just embrace each moment ahead.
After some frustrating time in China (almost being denied access into the country and having to empty my bags with security) and two easy flights later, I arrived in Kathmandu. The airport was small and “rustic”, a few guards sat behind desks in the corner. Probably one of the easiest airports to navigate – one arrival room, one baggage carousel and absolutely no where to get lost.
I met up with the GoPro crew, Hannah and Matt, we left the airport and headed to our first hotel. Had to snap a quick photo of the guards outside first…
Seeing Kathmandu for the first time was a very eye-opening experience. From the colourful buildings, busy markets, garbage on the streets to the animals walking happily through town. It was beauty wrapped up with a layer of crazy!
The city was absolutely incredible. The smells, sounds and visuals will forever be stuck in my memory. I was instantly in love.
The drive to the hotel was both terrifying and amusing. We discovered very quickly that they didn’t have much as far as driving rules go. Dodging cows, bikes, entire families on one motorcycle – it was amazing. As far as I know, honking was the only method of communication for any action you wanted to do with your vehicle.
We arrived safely to our first hotel which was was very unique and fancy. I was extremely jet-lagged so lasted about an hour before crashing.
I slept well despite the time change and woke up to the smell of fresh rain. My first breakfast consisted of Momo’s (a steamed dumpling filled with meat or vegetables), homemade yogurt and some kind of corn-bread muffin. It was the perfect thing for my very confused/jet lagged body.
At around 10 am we called our cab driver from the previous day, Mohon, and departed for Pokhara. We knew Pokhara was 7 ish hours from Kathmandu but we wanted to see all the villages along the way and experience a drive outside of the city.
The drive was breathtaking and horrifying. Each corner involved a blind pass made by our driver and usually a bus coming straight for us. I’m not sure I’d want to know the actual risk level of the drive because I’m pretty sure it would be somewhere in line with jumping off a cliff…
We made it safely to Pokhara and I was instantly excited! Pokhara was much bigger than I had imagined – For some reason I had pictured it being more of a village than a city. Nonetheless it was beautiful and we escaped the main city centre to stay in a hotel on the edge of town.
Pokhara has so much character and charm. I knew right away that a week was not enough time – I will be going back to stay there for at least a month. I couldn’t stop looking around, meeting people and just trying to morph into the culture. The buildings were colourful and beautiful. I loved seeing a view of them from the other side of the lake – they all stand out so well in their own way.
We spent the week exploring temples, monasteries, view points and doing lots of filming along the way. It was a cool experience to have a trip be about me! I felt awkward at first with the camera but then it became more natural and fun!
I loved getting some insight on how to improve my shots and it was cool to see the different angles and settings Matt would use to capture moments. Below are some images that he took and a few he edited for me:
One of the highlights of this trip for me was going to the Pema Ts’al Sakya Monastic Institute. It was truly a stunning sight. The building itself was a work of art – each and every detail stood out. The drawings that lined the walls were intricate and beautiful. After playing with the kids we called “baby monks”, we joined them inside the monastery to listen to them chant. I don’t think I have every smiled so big or had so many goose bumps in my life.
Before going inside, we let them play around with the GoPros and I think I probably have an hours worth of video from that haha. They chased each other around trying to have a turn and the expressions on their faces was priceless.
On the last day before we started the trek back home, we adventured up towards Sarangkot viewpoint to do some painting and filming. The weather was moving and changing so quickly that we only got a few moments without cloud cover. As I painted, people started gathering around to watch. I could hear some muttering and looked back to see big smiles towards me. Once I finished my painting I gave it to our cab driver (and friend), Suk, whom we had spent a lot of time with!
One of my favourite things about being up there was seeing the paragliders floating in the sky. It looked like they were all going to hit into each other from where I was.
Before the trip, I had this idea that I was going to Nepal for the mountains. All I could think of was snow capped peaks and ranges that went for as far as the eye could see. I would have never imagined it becoming more about the people and the experiences I had with them than being there for the mountains.
It was monsoon season so most of the views and options for trekking were limited – but I don’t think that would have changed the way I felt being there. Not to say I won’t be back to get awe-struck by their beauty, but this trip meant more than being in the mountains. It was about connecting with a different culture in a way I had never experienced. The entire time I had an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and appreciation for being in that country. I love Canada and it will always be my home, but there was something so special about that place. The people have a connection with one another that I have never seen before. Aside from them being completely friendly, caring and accommodating – they want to share their lives with you. Walking through town you can see people washing their laundry, bathing their kids and tidying house. The doors are all open and everyone is out visiting or having tea on the front steps.
The thing I admired most was their ability to just exist in a moment. Whether it was the kids splashing through the mud puddles for hours or the man sitting on the lakeshore – they could just “be”. In our culture I feel like we are always moving onto the next thing, constantly battling with what to do next. They could just sit and watch – there was no “something better to do” – life is just happening and they aren’t missing a thing.
Despite the language barrier, I didn’t have trouble meeting people and sharing some kind of story with them. Whether they knew a bit of english or not – they would smile and laugh along (probably laughing at me haha). I just felt lucky to be there – and almost selfish in a way because I wanted to somehow contribute more. I know this longing to be there won’t go away anytime soon. I’ll be looking into options to get more involved in the communities and do either a homestay or maybe teach english somewhere. For now, I’ve got to work on my Nepali – so Namaste!