Nepal

Talking about Nepal can be done in one word: extraordinary! We can also add other adjectives, such as addictive, meditative and sporting

 

My discovery of this country is special. It finds no comparison in any other journey. When I arrived in Kathmandu, wearing pretty sandals and summer dresses, I told myself that I was going to explore some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. A short walk of 4 or 5 days, to see…

नमस्कार नेपाल, मेरो नाम क्रिस्टीन हो, म फ्रेन्च हुँ, तपाईंलाई भेटेर खुसी लाग्यो! Hi Népal !

Namaskāra nēpāla, mērō nāma krisṭīna hō, ma phrēnca hum̐, tapā’īnlā’ī bhēṭēra khusī lāgyō!

Nepal is a country where you have to get lost to find yourself

If someone had said to me “come and walk 800 km between 2000 and 4500 m above sea level”, I would have refused outright. But here I am, two and a half months later, panting,, smiling, strong calves and light soul.
It is a country where, more than anywhere else, you have to get lost. You have to leave without planning, without timing, a minimum of briefing, by feeling… and a bit of forcing.
What could be more beautiful than to walk on these uneven roads where you are surprised every day, without it being possible to get used to it, these grandiose, indescribable landscapes! 

My exploration of Nepal is so full of adventures that I never know how to answer the question “What was Nepal like?

It takes me too much time to detail, to explain it. I always have to illustrate this journey with stories, with anecdotes so numerous that no one can take the time to pay attention. So I answer “great! “and I slip on to another subject.
Nepal is my treasure. When I can talk about it, the door opens and I struggle to stem the flood of words that gushes, to control my enthusiasm. The emotion is still alive after all these years.

Come and get your slap in Nepal, in the Himalayas and elsewhere!

It was in the Himalayas that I understood, at that moment in my life: I had done the hardest part of my life: raising my children, finding ways to enable them to fulfil themselves, gaining land and ground, find the mainland after the shipwrecks, accepting failures and discovering victories.
Finely, realize that my heart was free of anguish. That it was now time to do nothing but put one step ahead of the other. That every day was all about watching the show. To breathe, to let thoughts twirl like butterflies in the pure sky, to worry about nothing.
To arrive somewhere, throw the bag on the ground, take off your shoes, drink tea, draw a picture, let the night come. See the stars light up like rivers of diamonds, without fear of tomorrow.

Too old, not trained, overloaded… In Nepal they will tell you it’s difficult, but it’s not true

 
I’ve heard some not always pretty amazing things about this trip: you’ll never make it!
 

I’ve come across a lot of hikers full of energy, harnessed up like racehorses, ready to take on that damn mountain. When weird questions like “how long have you been preparing for this trek?” or “you’re used to it, it’ obvious!” I didn’t know what to answer.  How could I tell them that I had rented all the equipment in Kathmandu when I came?
Mountains, uh… I’ll have to search a bit. Mount Canigou in France with the scouts when I was 13 years old, 2785 m. Nothing to be proud of. Hiking here and there in light shoes. Walks in the Ardèche mountains, little tourist adventures. Rice fields in the Philippines, the Ecrins park in France also, the jungle of Cambodia. But nothing like that!

They turned away, hum hum, half scorned, half disgusted and maybe a little scandalized. It was sometimes like “they really let anyone venture here“.
I could see the “unconscious, stupid” neon sign light up on their foreheads. And also a “you won’t come and complain when you have to be flown back by helicopter” full of threats.
My many trekking companions were not all like that. Fortunately. Vaticinator were still the exception.

Fantastic, beautiful, extraordinary… Is this really how Nepal is?

Yes, it is.
This freedom of time! Walking and stopping whenever I want, wherever I want.
It didn’t matter if I arrived here or there.
How high are we? How many miles have we covered today? How many miles to walk tomorrow? I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t care. Not even a map in my pocket.
After just a few days, the pace slows down, the breath gets longer, the strides become smoother.
I sometimes turned around, contemplating the distance I covered, amazed at having swallowed it so quietly. To walk in Nepal, you just need good basic equipment, good shoes and time. This is the most important.

Ladies and gentlemen! Don’t let anyone dissuade you from getting lost in Nepal!

 

You’ll always find a way to walk. It’s not a question of age or physical condition. You’ve already put so many feet in front of each other in your lives! Be confident, go slowly, take a deep breath and follow your instincts. 

Leave well equipped, but don’t overdo it: Don’t do anything stupid!

 
When you are tired, you will stop. If the adventure seems too long, you will turn back! If you walk slowly, you will not suffer from aches and pains or altitude sickness.
 

Everything was so easy, you just had to walk, put one foot in front of the other and breathe

 
Let’s be clear, I’m no match for an Alexandra David Néel. After all, all I’ve been doing is walking in a country that is now open to loads of trekkers pouring down the steep and steep uphill paths.
There is no glory in these climbs. Loaded with a 17 kg backpack, alone in my footsteps, this hike was not difficult at all. On the contrary, 

Eight weeks of walking. Jade lakes, blinding glaciers, windy passes, forests of rhododendrons powdered with gold, stubborn yaks, brave porters… and me.
With a backpack overhanging my head, covered with its blue hood, camera slung over my shoulder.
 

Walking in Nepal is a journey, an inner experience

 

Nepal is walking, not visiting

Stop and look at the peasants, at what grows in their fields. Talk to the children, the porters, the muleteer that have walked these mountains for generations.

When you’re in Nepal, you’re nowhere else. This may seem like a blinding flash of the obvious but it’s like that. When you’re here, there’s nothing comparable. There’s something different about it. You say to yourself, “I’m here…” …in the middle of that light. Surrounded by a rare mineral majesty. If I believed in any God, I would feel blessed, consecrated to breathe this air. To hear the prayer flags flapping in the wind on the stupas, sun shining through the trees, the golden mica dust dancing in the air.

What about the Nepalese then?

The Nepalese are very religious and very attached to their traditions. It’s a fact that it’s best not to forget because they are also always ready for party!
Respect, distance and silence during temple visits and religious ceremonies. Often silent in mountainous areas, the Nepalese you meet in Kathmandu or Pokara are well versed in Western codes and know how to be prolific when it comes to selling something.
They are generally welcoming and kind, but the mass tourism to Everest or the Himalayas has somewhat changed the ancestral nature of these mountaineers.
These people often lack everything. Not that they want a television or a mobile phone above all, no. The school in some villages is nothing more than a tarpaulin stretched over the ground on which the children sit.
Education is minimalist, so is access to health care. The children work young and deform their foreheads, their legs, their feet, carrying the burdens of the trekkers so that the families can eat until spring. So it is not surprising that they prefer to receive rather than give.

They are a unique people. There is no superficiality in the relationship. If they adopt you, they will be very warm, but it may take some time. It’s understandable, they’ve been seeing hikers for so long that don’t even take the time to greet them.

Outside the mountains, what to discover in Nepal?

 

Kathmandu, an emblematic city of Nepal deserves an in-depth visit

 

A quick visit to Thamel is not enough to get to know each other. You’ll have to come  back there again and again, walking, walking in its dusty streets to tame it and discover all these details, this secret architecture, the colourful inhabitants.
Kathmandu offers a magnificent craft industry which is difficult to resist: boiled wool, embroidered tee-shirts, yak wool (which itches), singing bowls, precious jewellery…

And of course, of course, Patchupatinath, Swayambunath, Bodnat and its eyes, Durbar Square and its mysteries… But all this you can read in a tourist guide.

Kathmandu Valley: beautiful villages and gentle treks

 

Around Khathmandu are charming villages such as Panauti, Nagarkot, Shangu Naraya. The best thing to do is to go from town to town and put your bag where you feel at best. Special mention for Bhaktapur, a diamond among the pearls. This city has a rare soul. It has an unexpected sweetness of life that keeps you from leaving it cavalierly.

अलविदा धन्यवाद, तपाईंलाई भेट्ने छ Dhan’yavāda, alavidā, tapā’īnlā’ī bhētnē cha!

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Next travel? Why not India?

India is a film, a novel, a cinematographic blockbuster.
Those who have known it for a long time repeat it: you never get used to India.
It will never stop surprising the traveler!