Trek: Day 1

Trek Day 1: Nayapul to Ulleri
Goodbye Civilization!
Written by my good friend and trek mate Trish Johnson
Photos taken with a combination of my cell phone and the "big camera" when I felt like pulling it from my bag.

The first leg of the trek was from the "flat" plains of Pokhara to the small village of Ulleri. Almost as soon as we left Pokhara the landscape changed from small town to intensely rural. The buses dropped us at the roadside village of Nayapul and after crossing a small river we began trekking on a dusty dirt road. The road ran out after about 1.5km and for the next 12km we walked straight up. We trekked past small villages, women working terraced corn and barley fields, children on their way to school, water buffalo grazing, and the mountain ponies who go up & down from Tibet to Nepal carrying everything - from soap to coffee to water to candy bars - that the people living in the mountains need. If the ponies (or people) don't bring it, you don't need or have it. There are no stores, save what people sell out their windows to the trekkers - mostly water, soda, cookies & candy. Have you ever been somewhere with no roads? Not even a dirt road or path? It's mind-blowing. The only way out is by foot, hoof, or MediVac.
The link between the villages are rough, hand-placed stone steps. They climb steeply up the mountainsides, broken only by the occasional suspension bridge. The high mountain villages consist of some houses, a couple tea houses (restaurant/rest stops), and the guest houses (hostels) where trekkers can get a room for the night.

Our guesthouse was clean & basic. I'm not really a hostel kinda girl, but it's amazing where you can sleep (or pee) if you're tired enough. The food though is a miracle of creativity and resourcefulness. A delicious feast of fried rice, curried veg, momos (dumplings) was cooked for 18 by one woman in a tiny kitchen on a gas stove by a single light bulb (no electricity in the village last night.)

Porters carried our bags up the mountain--I was amazed at how much these small men could carry up the mountain and arrive at our destination before us!

After a stop for lunch (the national dish of Nepal is dal bhat: lentils, rice, veggie curry) we arrived in Ulleri in late afternoon, tired & sweaty. The clouds and fog that had obscured our views all day gathered strength, and turned into a monsoonal mountain downpour. Lightning, hail, and torrential rain swept the mountainside. The reward though was waking to our first glimpse of the snow-covered massif of Annapurna South.

Silent Sunday

View of Dhaulagiri from Poon Hill--the highest point on our trek.
Linking with...Photalife

Bhaktapur: Durbar Square Celebration

Nepal is a country of contrasts. In Kathmandu, smog chokes the air giving legitimacy to the face masks individuals wear.  Untamed traffic moves in a chaotic, life threatening circle. Evidence of the earthquake that struck the region a year ago still abounds--tent cities, long lines for gasoline, electricity shortages, poverty, piles of rubble and lack of first world services is common place; this is a 3rd world country!

But when you leave Kathmandu (and you will want to) you are stunned the Rhododendron forests, the breathable air, the majesty of the mountains, the kindness of the people, the simplicity of their lives and you remember why you came to this country in the first place. 

We spent two days in Kathmandu. On our second day we toured the Unesco site of Bhaktapur and Durbar Square. Under the rubble you can see this was once a beautiful town center, but the earthquake hit this area quite hard so many of the buildings are being stabilized by scaffolding. It happened to be the Nepali New Year so we were fortunate to participate in the celebrations. Parade goers dressed in vibrant red costumes traveled from temple to temple making offerings of cookies, crackers, flowers and incense. 

You'll have to forgive the number of photos, I just didn't know how to capture it all without some many. 

Linking with...Friday Photo Journal * My Town Shoot Out * Pierced Wonderings * Weekend Bloghop * Weekend Wanderlust

Kathmandu: Boudhanath Stupa

I've been missing lately; a busy travel schedule is to blame--I know, poor me.  I was home just short of a week from our Spanish spring break when I loaded my backpack and headed off to hike in Nepal for a week. Though I am still in process of editing my Spanish adventure, I did manage to get a start on the Nepal pics. The photos below are from our first day of sightseeing in Kathmandu.

The Boudhanath Stupa temple site is the holiest Buddhist temple complex outside of Tibet. I've swiped a photo off the internet to show what the temple site looked like before the earthquake. Today the stupa is covered in scaffolding to repair the damage when the top completely crumbled off during the earthquake.
The complex is surrounded by artisan shops including a Thanga mural workshop where students learn the art of Buddhist painting. We were given an interesting tutorial then walked through the complex enjoying the sites and sounds of the worshipers.

Linking with...Randomosity * Life Thru the Lens  *  Thru My Lens * Our World Tuesday