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A love letter to Nepal

"I'm in love" I tell my friends and family, before having to quickly follow up with "oh no no sorry, with Nepal, not a person". This is a common utterance I throw around when it comes to countries, I must admit. As someone who is a fan of long, slow travel, I have the privilege of getting to intimately know a country... meaning I kind of fall in love! But while other countries have grown on me, and perhaps some I have never completely warmed to, Nepal felt more like a 'love at first sight' kind of connection... which is a strange thing to say about a country. Let me explain.


Here are some of the reasons I loved Nepal as much as I did:


1: The locals

Nepalis are some of the nicest, kindest and hardest working people going around. While bartering for a cheaper price is still commonplace (let's call it 'backpacker inflation'), Nepalis are honestly always there to help you, and have your best interests in mind. This makes traveling through Nepal feel incredibly safe. As a tall, blonde, solo female traveller, while I still got some attention, it was never anything that made me feel unsafe or uncomfortable... the men kind of try to disguise their stares, and it was usually women who wanted a photo / selfie / tiktok with me! Ultimately, you just feel good travelling through Nepal - the happiness of the Nepalis rubs off on you.


I loved the way they laughed and danced and sung. I loved the close friendships formed between men - you see levels of intimacy, like holding hands and hugging, that is less common to see in such a platonic way in western cultures. The children were just delightful, and the women often curious and giggly. Nepalis are beautiful people to be around.


2: The other backpackers

I wrote in my journal that I felt "right in my element" backpacking in Nepal, and that was much to do with the fellow backpackers I met.


An older backpacker demographic than I have experienced before (at 22 I felt I was almost always the youngest backpacker, with most others ranging from 25-35, in my experience), backpackers in Nepal were usually there for at least one of three things:

  1. to go trekking,

  2. to do their yoga teacher training, or

  3. to participate in some kind of meditation course / retreat / were on their own kind of spiritual journey.

I really liked all three types of travellers (though most had elements of all), and categorised myself into the first group - I was there to trek!


There were also lots of return travellers. Someone told me that Nepal is the most re-visited country in the world, and while I haven't fact-checked this point, I choose to wholeheartedly believe it! I can say for certain that I will return one day - there is simply too much to see and enjoy and I feel I only made a small dent on the place after 2.5 months there.


While I have made friends from my travels around the globe to date, the depth of connections I made in Nepal is truly something else. I have some new lifelong friends from my time there, and feel absolutely blessed to have had the opportunity to meet them in such an incredible place.


3: The Himalayas

I mean... the photos speak for themselves no?


4: The food

Dal bhat power 24 hour is no joke. I could happily live off dal bhat, khana and thakali sets for the rest of my life. Nepalis love of dal bhat in particular is a funny thing to witness initially, but after a few months you will also respond with "dal bhat, what else?" when people question what you're wanting for breakfast / lunch / dinner.


5: The diversity

Though a small country, you can experience such an abundance of things depending on where you are. In the North, closer to Tibet, you have the beautiful Himalayas and Buddhist communities. In the South, closer to India, you have incredible national parks with tigers and rhinos and the influence of Hinduism is far more apparent.


Though tourism in Nepal is certainly popular, you can also easily travel to places that have rarely seen someone foreign, and experience 'true' Nepal, in a sense. Then there's activities: volunteering opportunities, more treks than you can count, jungle safaris, multi-day rafting journeys and so much more. I feel as though Nepal has something for everyone.


6: Personal reasons

Whenever I speak to people about my travels and explain how much I've done this year, or the fact that I faced my first solo journey when I was just 18, the topic of conversation often turns to my parents and what they must think about me frolicking around the world. Then, I always explain that my parents have done their own fair share of frolicking, and actually originally met as backpackers in Nepal way back when. Seeing some of the same things in Nepal as my parents saw back in 1988 was really special for me, and made me feel really connected to them, despite being so many thousand kilometres away.


When I was first heading to Nepal, my Mum sent me through some photos of when she visited. I looked at the photos and thought about how similar I am to her in both character and also appearance, and smiled thinking about how well I would've gotten along with young Mum. Though I don't consider myself a particularly spiritual person, nor do I necessarily believe in fate, the realisation that I was the exact age Mum was when she went to Nepal (5 months off turning 23), did feel kind of symbolic. It just felt like Nepal was exactly where I was supposed to be.


Here's a photo of my Mum (right) and her friend in Chitwan National Park in 1988 (taken by my Dad) and a photo of me in Chitwan National Park in 2022.


Nepal is a special one for me - I think it was definitely a love match.


Xxo,

N.

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2 Comments


Charlie Diez
Charlie Diez
Feb 19, 2023

Amen! One country that I can say I feel in love, too. Thank you so much for all your insights and information and for taking the time to share it with us fellow Nomads. I plan to do Upper Mustang, Langtang and the Annapurna circuit from Mid September and the rest of October this year (2023) and I can't wait. I have done EBC in 2012 and that's when the love developed for this amazing country. I have returned twice since EBC (white water rafting the Bhote Koshi and Kali Gandaki rivers) and passing thru to trek the North side of Everest in Tibet.

Keep up the great adventure and more power to you.

Your Mate online, Charlie

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N.Harrison
N.Harrison
Feb 20, 2023
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I appreciate the kind words Charlie! I’m honestly already preparing for my return - what a country! Will certainly note some of the experiences you’ve listed and add them to my own ‘to-do’. Thanks!

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