Researching Nepal, part: 3 – Can we get much higher

Researching Nepal, part: 3 – Can we get much higher

Trekker’s lifestyle
My time in the village was amazing. However, I wanted to experience more of Nepal and the one thing Nepal is known for is the Himalayas. To have a chance to live in these mountains, be fed by them, call them home for this period of time was a humbling experience that just cannot be replicated anywhere in the world. 

However, when I yelled and yoddled every morning to wake up and greet the peaks surrounding my village, I always wondered, how does it look from up above. The hills in my village were peaking above 2 to 3 thousand metres, however, whenever I hiked a tiny bit higher, I started to see over the peaks and discovered there are always some taller ones. I wanted to see actually how far up does life prevail in the Himalayas.

Don’t be too quick on judging the mountains’ height. This picture was taken from the bus when traveling at an altitude about 2200 meters.

After finishing my time in the village I took the bus to Pokhara. It also took two whole days, however, no form of discomfort would spoil what I was about to see. 

People that went to Pokhara at least once would use terms like “the most beautiful city ever”, “paradise” and all forms of superlatives. However, these words just can’t do justice to a place like Pokhara. 

The lake is the signature feature of Pokhara, stretching the mountains further apart, creating mesmerizing views combining beautiful temples, slopes covered with green of bamboos, waterfront cafes and the 8-thousanders peeking behind all of it. The unrealistically peaceful environment is however created by the people that visit. Tourists from everywhere in the world meet in all shapes and ages for the purpose of taking in the mountains and the locals live and breath Annapurna lifestyle. People with sun marked skin, big fat smiles all around, chilling after or before exhausting trekking, or just being at peace for whatever reason.. I swear, there are no anxious, nervous or negative people in Pokhara. There is just no place for it.

The Lakeside area in Pokhara connects temple-goers, coffee-drinkers, free-thinkers and trekkers. After spending almost 3 months in the village, having an espresso with pancakes at a view like this really seemed like heaven

One thing that is a must in Pokhara is an open air cinema called Movie Garden. Spot designed to make people feel united, connected in peace and set them off into the world. Evening showing of the movie Ghandi under the stars with a beer while passing around tokes with random strangers from everywhere in the world was pure magic.
Permits for Annapurna national park are around 35 dollars, however trekking itself consists of stuff that you need to pay for such as food, supplies and nights at the trek should be counted beforehand. For reasonable prices for such a once in a lifetime event is a small bargain to pay. When you are fine with buying food in grocery stores in Pokhara before setting onto the trek, you will only need money for warm water, emergencies and very reasonably priced mountain accommodation and transportation to and from the trek.

Annapurna mountain region is a fairly vast area with many possibilities for picking a trek that suits your skills. I have decided to go as high as I have ever been and that meant going to Annapurna Base Camp at least. One catch to it all was my stubborn decision to try and check snowboarding in the Himalayas off of my bucket list. So I took my regular Lib Tech Banana that has already seen some better days, strapped my boots into the bindings, clipped it onto my regular backpack, packed an extra layer for boarding purposes and set out on my way. I had no real training, neither have I ever done anything similar, however, with snowboarding being one of my stronger skills, I figured that getting onto the snowy parts with my board on my back would be a walk in a park with a piece of cake for breakfast. Oh, how little did I know.

The first two days of trekking everything seemed manageable enough, even smiling in pictures. However, crossing 15 villages and 7 peaks will wipe that smirk right away.

Can’t really remember the actual number, but the locals called the trek to A.B.C a Journey of a (somethingsomething)thousand stairs. Even if I am not sure whether it was 5 or 25, I guess it still counts as a f**kload. During my 6 day hike I sweat out everything I could and I needed 150% of my focus to complete the journey. When your body starts breaking down 3 days into the trek it’s not like you can just stop and quit, because there is sometimes literally no other choice but to keep walking. You can pay a local to carry your luggage for about 25 bucks a day, or you can ride a horse for 50. Yeah, right… 

I was glad I had enough cash for the way back. So I pushed through back pain caused by the snowboard shifting from side to side after each step, I pushed through my legs burning from basically doing non-stop quarter squats with 20 kg of extra weight, I pushed through 3 dripping layers a day (with necessary help of pain killing herb) and I set my sight on snowboarding the Himalayas.

However, the third day of trekking, my body broke down. Starting to hike every morning before 6:30 to get warm, having only a couple short breaks for a breather and the extremity of the condition changes throughout the day caused my legs to shake uncontrollably, my back cramping every time I put stuff on it so I got to a point where I could not carry my board for another step and I was ready to call it a trip. After 2 hours of hiking I stopped in Dovan village, 2900m with the final peaks being right there for the taking. 

Half a day resting, talking to passing tourists and recovering strength it became clear that there was no chance I could snowboard in the Himalayas this time. Snowline started to show well above 5500 with limited possibilities of continuous freeride lines or easy access, which would mean excessive effort for a thing that just was not worth it at that time.

Nature changes after getting over 3k. However, at this altitude you can just keep on keeping on and try not to twist your neck when looking for the top of our trail

However, the other realization that came out of half a day resting was, that there was just no way in hell I would not see A.B.C. All the tourists coming up and down described it as once in a lifetime experience. I decided to take the last leg of the trek which would take about 6 hours to complete without my snowboard. 

The thing is, nature in these altitudes in Europe looks way different from Nepal. Before reaching 3k the environment is comprised of thick bamboo jungles with other bushes growing wildly with humidity reaching 90%. After 3k however, the bushes and bamboos disappear into rough alpine that has characteristics of the Alpine peaks of France and Switzerland, but still in this altitude the only thing you can do is keep looking up.

I swear, there is no description for the size of these mountains. Shadows these peaks are throwing down the valley in the afternoon cause temperature to drop drastically when passing from a sunlit part of the trek into the shadow. Glaciers melting below the snowline gave birth to beautiful massive waterfalls all around the steep slopes all the way up to Machapuchre Base Camp at almost 4k. This was the last resting place before the actual finish line, last chance to realize how cold it actually is even on the sun when you stop, last chance to put on all layers available and last look on the valley before turning into the Annapurna glaciers.

Whether it was altitude sickness or just plain exhaustion, the last 2 hours between M.B.C and A.B.C were the hardest ones to walk. The south face of Annapurna is so massive that you can see it from M.B.C but when you think that you are almost there, you get disappointed by seemingly never-ending hike to A.B.C. 


We reached the camp before 4pm on 4th of December. The lodge itself rests at 4130 yet still, all you can do is twist your neck looking at the peak of Annapurna. The sheer size of the face is astonishing. I quickly realized why is this peak considered to be one of the deadliest mountains on the planet when I heard the sound made by an avalanche on the south face. Up here, nature is in charge. 

After spending the coldest, yet one of the most memorable nights of my life in the lodge, I could not wait for the sun to rise to warm up, pay my respects at the deceased mountaineers’ memorial, and start walking down the hill. 

No matter how beautiful this place was, to survive in these conditions means to keep moving and I really wanted to get warm as soon as possible, so after taking all necessary pictures, I left. 


Descending to lower altitudes sounds easy enough, however it still takes a toll, especially on your knees. However, to finish the trek there still meant 2 days of up and down trails in some of the most challenging conditions possible. Additionally, i had no other choice but to pick my snowboard up on the way down and carry it back for 2 more days. Your body really does notice the toll taken by these mountains after a couple of days. How do you motivate yourself to go on? You treat yourself to something amazing.

On December 6th I woke up knowing the fact that it is possible to finish up the trek later that day and have a shower in Pokhara before falling asleep. However, there was one more stop to make. 

The area was mapped out very clearly in each one of the villages and on my way back was a small mark saying HOT SPRINGS. I mean, c’mon. If there was ever a chance anyone wouldn’t go, let me know. It was even worth it to go when I knew I had to go down to the river and back up to the trail, because really c’mon. Would you not want to sit in 40-something degree water after being completely drained for several days? Would you not want to sit in hot springs so close to a glacier river that you could use it as a hot tub-cold tub treatment for sore muscles? Would you not want to relax your muscles and mind in such a spot with people from all around the world? Would you come for even a couple hours to think back on the journey accomplished and on what is yet to come? Thought so..


I finished that day by having a shower and a cold beer at a hotel in Pokhara that same day. Even if it meant getting out of the tub and push through the last 5 hours until after dark to reach the road and transportation, the last leg of the trek concluded the whole trip after 6 nights in the Annapurna region wilderness. So was it worth it all the money, all the pain, all that effort for not snowboarding at all? You tell me.
Annapurna looks massive from anywhere you look at it, whether it is from the basecamp, or from the bus 6 hours away from Pokhara. Through views like those that you realize Nepal as a country and what it takes to live here. Great distances and natural obstacles define a country to the same if not bigger extent as man made conditions. Development, quality of life and even the lifestyles themselves are subdued to the natural conditions and not to what the west considers an appropriate governance. 

I recommend Nepal to everyone looking to experience something different, and to anyone that lacks time to slow down. After all, man does not dictate time here, nature does. Times may therefore appear slower or obsolete to some spectators here, however the locals see it as “peaceful and spiritual” times. So come and experience the difference.

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Researching Nepal, part: 2 – Rule #32: Enjoy the little things

Researching Nepal, part: 2 – Rule #32: Enjoy the little things
On this episode of Cooking for power, come to our kitchen and eat up highly nutritious meals with rice, protein filled veggies and beans. Once in a while we make a special episode, featuring chicken meat, goat meat or fish, however you have to come early to keep your share away from the doggies

Villager’s lifestyle
As mentioned previously, I had the chance of experiencing Nepal through many perspectives. The major one was a perspective of a villager in Bathekhola, Bajhang district, far west Nepal. And I need to say, when you deliberately go to a developing country, it is THE best way of experiencing the culture. Why?
Before actually getting to my village, I had to get from Kathmandu by a bus to a town called Chainpur, the capital of Bajhang district. It took nearly 2 whole days on 2 different buses through the mountains to get there. In these parts, everyone takes the buses, whether people leaving their families in the villages to go to a bigger town for work, people from bigger towns visiting their families for holidays, or just people going from one place to another. 

On my two day bus journey, I realized a couple of things: I am too big for the bus seat, my legs are too long for the bus seat, I don’t like long bus rides, and yes, you can go three days with no sleep. The thing was, (except for the sleeping and shorter legs), Nepalese people feel the same way. Bus rides for them is a form of transportation, not exactly a hobby though. Many people got sick in the twisty turns in the mountains, even Nepalese people have a certain level of respect for the narrow roads bending into a life-threatening cliff, and since the bus is pretty cheap to travel with, the discomfort of the journey can be countered with alcohol. During our stops on the journey, we stopped at small roadside huts offering tea, warm food and Ruslan vodka. This combination seemed to sooth the discomfort of the bus journey for most of the locals who looked seasoned in these travelling conditions, I was however too excited to soak up the views all along the road. Coming from Kathmandu towards the west, the bus crosses various mountain masses, flatlands of south Nepal and twisty roads into some of the most mesmerizing valleys I have ever seen.

The nature in Nepal is the dominant factor affecting everything, from the disconnected lifestyle, slow village tempo, infrastructure, and overall conditions. For a tourist like me, the views were breathtaking. I left the bus window opened almost all the way to breathe the freshest air aromatized only by buffalo turds and sizzling stoves of the roadside restaurants. The bus is a cultural highlight of Nepal, hands down. You experience nature, steep climbs up into the mountains, never-ending honking as the only traffic signal used here, Nepalese snacks sold right into your window by hopeful locals, the rush of near death by looking down the steep cliffs and many others. Not the most comfortable three days of my life, but definitely some I will never forget. 

Bus windows provide breathtaking sceneries for miles… Just not so much when you look straight down. And not when you are in full nausea mode after sitting on a crowded bus for almost 50 hours and all you want to do is shower

After two nights and two days on the bus, I arrived in Chainpur, the capital of Bajhang district, a city where my NGO had its headquarters. I spent 3 days here before going to Bathekhola and let me tell you one thing: I prefer the village lifestyle to small town lifestyle any day. The streets were half concrete, half dirt, mixing motorcycles, with dogs, free roaming chicken and cattle. People in decent looking clothes were stepping over piles of trash, animal poops, polluted canals, unfinished building blocks, sticking metal rods and merchandise from the street shops just laying on the road. You could get fake watches right next to a shop with chicken meat and then go have a coffee at the top of an unfinished restaurant. The number of mobile phone shops seemed way too unnecessary for a town that took 3 days to get to. On top of it all, during the warmer months of the year, there is just impossible amount of flies everywhere, flying from on pile of turd to another, then to your bedroom and straight onto your food platter. 

Needless to say, I was glad to climb higher up into the mountains and be done with this town. From an outsider’s perspective, I did not see much improvement between the lifestyle of Chainpur and Bathekhola. People dress the same, pretty much do the same except for the mobile shops, yet the town people always seemed to look down on people coming down from the villages to buy their stuff. Like seriously, come on, you do your laundry in the river, eat with your hands and shower occasionally. Those fake Gucci belts don’t allow you to look down on villagers like some of these town people do. Anyway..

Due to the location of Chainpur in a river valley, the sun gets to the streets around 9am. In the meantime you can warm up by hopping over trashy puddles, or stop and stare at the Saipal mountain in the back

Village life was amazing. A-ma-zing. It can be summarized into one Nepalese proverb: simple living, high thinking. I was truly staggered when I realized that this is the way of life that actual nepalese scholars and religious leaders have been preaching for ages. During my goodbye ceremony at the school the teaching staff wrote this proverb in nepalese language on a traditional nepalese hat I received as a gift. And what does it mean exactly?

Imagine being woken up before 6am every morning by a rush of cold on the uncovered parts of your body (just your nose is plenty enough). Get your warm clothes on and go out of your room to greet everyone. The sun rises over the mountain peaks after 7am but visibility is solid before 6. People are hopping around in their flipflops and yak sweaters before the arrival of Shurya, Nepalese sun. 

After smoking the first one of the day, people usually make a fire to prepare tea or warm buffalo milk with honey to keep the cold away. Just before 7am everybody stops and starts to stare in one direction, east. The sun as a symbol sits in the nepalese flag twice: as a whole and as half a sun setting over a valley. Waiting for the sun to get to the valley signals the beginning of a new day the same was a sunset means the end of all daily activities. Understandably though, there are no street lights in the Himalayas.

Yep, the sun just came over the peak, it no longer looks odd to be wearing flip flops this high up in the mountains. Sunrise yoga however, is never a bad idea

For the rest of the day villagers are mostly scattered around the mountain, husbands in the fields ploughing, wives on the hillsides cutting the grass to feed the kettle, kids running around in the mountain in their flipflops looking for stuff to do, and the elders are just chilling. This was actually the the single best fact about the village lifestyle. When I went to take a walk a bit further out of the school premises to smoke and enjoy the view, I could see the elders do the same thing everywhere I looked. 

Whether you are herding the kettle, or ploughing the fields, or just doing plainly nothing, there is always time to sit down, chill and enjoy the view, whether you are a visitor like me or a local. Get your ciggie, chewing tobacco or whatever you are into, drop everything you are doing and stare at a view for a while and let your thought flow- simple living, high thinking (multiple times a day). This makes people more relaxed, necessary work is still done, and there is never a shortage of relaxing features in Nepal.

That moment when you are two minutes into View and Chill and you forget that you left your daughter in charge of the cattle. No problem, she’s got it covered. I gotta finish this view

I was a temporary member of a teaching staff in a local school, which meant having pretty much all the advantages possible in the village. Another proverb in Nepal is: guest in your house is like a God in your house. Put this together with being a teacher – socially a very respected position – and the hospitality standard in Nepal will leave you speechless. Whenever I wanted to partake in meal preparation, wood chopping or anything that seemed a tiny bit demanding, someone came to do it instead of me, because I was the guest (solid reasoning, I guess).

One might think that to be completely remote from stuff like electricity, internet, even means to communicate with most of the locals, one will find complete loneliness. To the contrary- one will find complete peace.

Sun setting, monkeys yelling, J burning, high thinking, simple living. And everyone was Shanti

Nepalese language is fairly limited in the number of syllables, however it has plenty to offer on meanings. The word “peace” and “high” is the same- Shanti. Even the people that did not smoke charas, found a way to “get high”- high on the peace arising from moments like these, high on view, high on fresh air, high on hiking, high on thinking, high on life. And everyone was at peace.

Researching Nepal, part: 1 – Dignity on the rocks

Researching Nepal, part: 1 – Dignity on the rocks

I am a city boy, however, the proportions of my small country enabled me to spend enough time in nature. I felt ready to go to Nepal and experience the harsh conditions of a developing country incomparable to anything I have experienced before. I was getting ready to come to Nepal for the better part of 2016 both physically and mentally. Oh, how little did I know.My Nepal experience had 3 different chapters: villager, trekker and a self-proclaimed legal researcher. If you can relate to any one of these roles, I guarantee that Nepal is the place to go. I was lucky enough to combine these different perspectives to form a coherent review to motivate more people to explore this under-appreciated country.

Bathekhola village resided around 2k altitude, however, it felt much warmer than the same altitudes anywhere else. The Sun was the major contributor to the lifestyle as a whole


Researcher lifestyle

To set the record straight from the beginning, I chose to come to a remote area that lacks some of the essentials of the 21st century. I think it is necessary to do all possible objective research on the situation of human rights, the level of human dignity and economic growth to see the country from both sides- the advantaged and the disadvantaged parts of the society.

I came to a village called Bathekhola, less than 3 hours hiking from Chainpur, the capital of Bajhang district. I took a part as a volunteer in an educational program of a certain local NGO and I became a temporary teaching staff at the local secondary school. 

I had the chance to see the interactions between government regulations and the traditional village life. For example, the kids have school at 10am but the crops are ready to be harvested? Guess what- The kids are not coming to school because they are helping their family get ready for the winter. 

But is it wrong to put school second to existential needs such as food and resources to survive the winter season? 

In the West, one might find it odd, however, the human dignity is sort of taken care of by the governments of the west. Basic goods are available, electricity, running water and governmental protection of fundamental values are viewed as the bottom line for the respect of human dignity. In Bathekhola, dignity is such a different concept. Would the westerners consider not having a trash disposal administration in place? Would you consider having zero proper thermo-insulation in schools and houses as dignity? Probably not. 

I had the privilege to experience the lack of what westerners call “basic resources for dignified living” and to be honest, I didn’t die. How would you answer if someone asked you what would you do without internet access? How would you survive without having full accessibility to electricity? How would survive without proper hygiene? How can your rights be respected and protected by the government when the nearest police station is a 3 hour hike through the mountains and the nearest proper hospital might be too far for emergency purposes?

After spending nearly 2 months in this remote village, I realized one thing from the researcher standpoint: yes, some of these conditions might deteriorate westerners’ perspective on what is human dignity, however, does it mean that villagers in far-west Nepal are less human due to the lower level of perceived dignity? 

To the contrary, dignity becomes a personal objective rather than a state-controlled condition. Infrastructure and basic needs in the west are provided by the governments (or at least should be), whereas in these parts what is provided by the governments would just not cut it as dignifying for a westerner. Dignity therefore becomes a choice, a necessary one. Some of the eastern scholars talk about two types of dignity: potential and actual. Actual dignity in Nepal is shown by how civilized an individual is trying to be in the actual living conditions, therefore potential dignity is some level of man made conditions that a man deserves from the standpoint of human rights and the “fundamental” dignity.

So how does one find out what is dignity and how can one achieve and exercise it? I found the answer to this to be quite mesmerizing. The best example is a story of a farmer.

After I spent the first two weeks in Bathekhola with a foot infection that disabled me from walking, I decided to take a trip further into the mountains with my Nepalese friend. He told me about a village, that was responsible for all the production of mountain charas (also known as nepali gold, for westerners just imagine hashish made from fresh cannabis plants rather than dried ones). 

I was really excited to take this trip, that was less than 2 hours hiking through the mountains. One thing I started seeing along the way was, that the further away from the river, or the roads, or the main city in the district you go, the less “civilization” follows. More distant villages had less sources of first world, such as no propane cooking, no policing structures, no permanent health care stations, no need or interest for TV or sources of outside information, less hygiene, and so on. 

So when I came to a village called Sheragadala, the remoteness was on full display. For many of the villagers, I was the first european they have ever seen. Even the concept of trekking shoes I was wearing for better traction seemed odd to them. Their lives orbit around the fields. The fields are a source of food, everyday routine, social gatherings and income. The men plough the fields, the women plant the seeds and beat the crops, the kids feed the herds of cattle, everyone is working in the field. It was just like any other village that you see. However, this was Sheragadala.

I took this trip to “research” the cannabis production in the villages and the lifestyle it brought, so logically enough, I was jumping out of my boots when I saw the first canna-bush growing near the entrance to the village. Around the altitude of 2200m, the conditions for growing classic crops like rice and oats start to disappear mostly due to firmer soil structure. I realized, that products such as rice, flour and others had to be purchased unlike in other villages where these could be grown. So how do these people obtain basic goods with no source of income? They either sell their charas, or straight up exhange it for food. Just imagine it in our society- you come to your local dealer, give him a couple bags of rice and you get your rice-worth of weed. How freaking cool is that?

He may not earn much considering his efforts, however everyone wants his job. Sometimes you just do it for the view

I had the pleasure of being invited to a decent sized field in this village. The farmer was a man of small stature, in his late 40s with a couple of kids to feed. I spent a better part of the day in awe from the beauty of the field, set in this mesmerizing mountain environment with views of Himalayan peaks for days, no one to bother the plants, that varied from tall to taller, from green to greener, with some buds shading into legendary purple strains. In Amsterdam, this guy would be an authority. The forms of making cannabis into a market form vary from district to district, some produce usual dried up buds, some make so called temple balls (hash rolled into golf-sized balls) and some districts, like this one, stayed loyal to the original ways- hand rubbing charas. They rub the plants with their palms, and then collect the resin oil with the pressure of their thumb. This process seems easy enough but to make 1 gram, your palms need to be covered in resin and it takes about an hour. The price for one gram was ridiculous: 0,08 EUR. 

I did some math and by the size of that particular field, the farmer makes about 300 EUR a year, maybe less. In Europe, the same product is being sold literally 200 times more expensive. But would you call this farmer a criminal? Is he dangerous for society, when he is selling the only available crop growing in his backyard? I would not. 

Back to my original point of the story- dignity. 

This farmer is feeding his kids with the money he makes the only available way- seling charas. He does not diminish his potential dignity because he is technically a criminal, nor does he cause harm to others’ dignity because he is not a drug dealer. He is a farmer. His actual dignity is kind of higher than one of the people buying his product in the lower villages and selling it further for a higher price. He would not sacrifice the dignity and lives of his family because of a man made law that prohibits him from growing. Dignity is therefore not determined by adhering to the law (if the laws are unjust) neither is his dignity any different from ours. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, didn’t you know that? This man was just lucky enough to be born next to the best conditions for growing weed, the same way I was born in the best conditions to recognize prejudice, the same way people in Italy were born in the best conditions to drive their cars around the most beautiful roads. 

You cannot escape your conditions. You just got to live in them with swagger, smile and love for the one’s who matter

So what did the research part of my journeys discover? Dignity is not a choice, it’s an adjustment. We are all born with it equally, and it is not diminished by the conditions (mostly made by governmental administration), it is exercised differently, like a language- everyone has it, everyone can learn to understand the one of others, but if you do not speak the language, you cannot feel equal at all

What to ask yourself before volunteering in the Far-Far-West Nepal and have your world changed

 

Why did I decide to come to volunteer here

I was in the final semester of my MA studies, working on a research for my thesis, when I started realizing that I am going to be done with a huge part of my life of going to school. After this I wanted to keep on pursuing things that I believe in which are human rights.

I wanted to expand my research into different environments throughout the world and Nepal was on my list of countries for my research so, I went.

The Himalayas themselves have always been appealing to me so it seemed like the right choice to make while my body can still handle these conditions well enough. My academic desires and personal dreams kind of joined into and idea of going to Nepal.

Once I decided to pursue it for real it was not too hard to google my way into a remote NGO working in the far-west Nepal doing developmental work for the villagers that suffer from the lack of basic needs.

I decided to help out an organization called Creative Innovative Himalayan Group which does have a certain swag to it’s name.

I talked to the director of this locally based NGO for 10 minutes, while we discussed practical questions that you need to ask before coming. It basically came down to: “Come to Chainpur for as long as you like, your research is most welcome. We will see you at the end of September.” This made the planning so much easier, because I had to do everything any tourist would have to do without any complications :).

My decision to come specifically to Bathekhola was therefore purely a throw of a dart on the map and randomly picking the most amazing piece of peace on earth.

 

What did I expect from this experience at the beginning

Having three months to prepare for a trip that should have lasted for unknown time, I expected many challenges for the lack of preparation. But to be honest I spent more time preparing mentally that there is no way around getting sick for sure at least once, and that for certain there would have to be an adjustment period, which of course there was.

I expected that some moments might get uncomfortable and challenging so I tried to make my peace with it before.

I also expected new perspective on the global problems from such a different culture that I am used to seeing in my travels and studies. The things even little kids in my country know about Nepal is that it is the roof of the world and that badass dads go to Annapurna.

However after actually landing to Kathmandu, all my expectations shattered and open up to an unbelievable experience from the very first moment to the last.

 

What has this experience enriched me and what did it take from me

I could write fifty pages about everything that happened during my time in the remote mountains, which seem like an island to everything else that is actually going on in the world. However, if you are a traveller or an actual researcher, this is THE best way how to explore a country- through the areas where governmental help is not reaching full development of some areas such as Bathekhola valley, next to Chainpur, Bajhang district.

The views are stunning from literally wherever you stand on the mountain, the higher up you go to take a hike you discover breathtaking views of enormous chunks of earth that these mountains are. You really get a new perspective about the remoteness of these villages when you look at most of these mountains.

The biggest thing you realize in Nepal is the connection of the villagers with nature, dependence of their daily schedule upon the sun, with the appearance of modern looking clothes and great sense for general good looks and self care. Influenced by the teachings of great Hindu teachers that believed in natural beauty and kindness make, Nepalese villagers are the most amazing and peaceful people I have ever met. To live among these people and be so welcomed as their guest even as a teacher in the local school was an amazing experience.

Yes, the aforementioned challenges of “third world nature” took some toll on my body during and after my stay. Was it worth it? Absolutely, any day, always. I did not find myself missing any sort of food since their cuisine is well balanced and tasty, I had just enough technology to create comfy environment and I was waking up with a fat smile on my face every day, (even through the cold mornings).

There was no need to spend money only for everyday dirty pleasures of candy of all sorts and unlimited amounts of mountain Nepalese black gold for virtually nothing. Time and money well spent as far as travelling goes.

I was an active teaching staff member for nearly 3 months however, due to some administration issues I did not end up teaching appropriate time. The staff of teachers were a group of amazingly educated people assigned by the government to teach in these remote areas. I quickly became friends with the teachers and spent countless hours talking, half nepalese half english.

However, overcoming the small obstacles was easy when I realized that I have a 2 hour workday and the best chance to catch up on my sleep that I lacked a bit during my college years. Meditation, reading and workouts naturally got some time in my daily routine as well. I went to explore the mountains als much as I wanted and could and found a lot of hidden treasures that Nepal has to offer.

The best overall experience was working with the children. It kind of really feels rewarding when you teach a little rascal how to wash hands and the concept of putting shoes at the right feet- entertaining in the best way possible for me, educational and entertaining in the best way for them. I call that WINNING.

 

What I recommend for future volunteers

Take Nepal as an experience that will change you or your perspectives in some ways. Take it as exploration of everything different. If I took Nepal for everything it fails to be, I would not enjoy it as much as when I chose to enjoy this life for everything it is.

Prepare for a journey not a destination and you will discover amazing places of all sorts on every corner in Nepal. From remote Bathekhola lifestyle, through trekking the Annapurna Base Camp trek from beautiful Pokhara, or crowded Kathmandu which looks nothing like Doctor Strange’s version; everything in Nepal is an amazing opportunity to discover, research and open up new perspectives, whether through fellow Nepalese or fellow tourists that you meet in Nepal, or the countryside itself. Himalayas are amazing, enjoy it and learn on the way. So while in Nepal, whatever your job is, explore and never stop wondering.

 

 

Sum up the experience in one sentence

“Simple living, high thinking”- old nepalese proverb. All you need to kno