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    An Occidental and the Orientals – When an Irishwoman Travels to Nepal

    Travelling has always been a passion of mine. I was born to do it. My travel journey started in my own country, Ireland. I explored every nook and corner of it, from Grafton Street in Dublin to the Ring of Kerry, I have seen it all.

    Once there was nothing left to be explored, I went on to travel to Europe. Our continent has a lot of diversity, yet similarities. The old-world charm of the United Kingdom could be found in places like Paris and Venice; these cities were similar yet different; alike but not so alike. From Norway to Turkey, you will find yourself mesmerized by places and buildings that have been standing for centuries.

     The oldest man-made structure in the world is located in Turkey. The Gobekli Tepe dates back to 8400 BC to 12000 BC. The religious structure has over 200 pillars and 20 circles.

    It is a gem of a place that will make your jaw drop with its majesty. That is the charm of Europe and that is the beauty of traveling.

    After Europe, it was time to go on a new voyage. I had to decide between the Middle East and South Asia. The glory of Himalayas had more of a pull on me, so I chose Nepal, a small nation surrounded by India and China; famous for the highest peak in the world, The Mount Everest.

    Start Of a New Chapter

    I boarded a flight from Dublin on the 21st of December, and 13 hours and 35 minutes later, I was in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Being from Ireland, I found the temperatures of the city to be cosy with 6 degrees Celsius being the lowest. There was no snow expected for the peaked ice mountains that surrounded the city.

    Kathmandu was a beautiful city, very different from what I was used to seeing on my European trips. It was a city that was demolished by a 9 magnitude earthquake a few years ago, but by observing its present state, it seems complicated to tell.

    I was glad that I had chosen this country. When I was researching about it, two things fascinated me the most;

    • Mount Everest
    • The city of Pokhara

    I was almost sure that I would not clear the medical test that is mandatory to ascertain the fitness level of the climber taking on the trek to Everest. Like I had expected, they did not give me the all-clear pass because of my minor asthma. I hadn’t used my pump for almost two months, but the medical examiner did not seem to care.

    I was not very disappointed with the outcome, because I had a backup plan. It may not be Everest, but it was a great substitute. To reach it, I had to get out of Kathmandu and go to Pokhara, which was 150 km away. On my rented bike, it took me almost 7 and a half hours with frequent breaks to be serenaded by the resplendent views.

    Pokhara – The City Of Lakes

    I reached Lakeside Pokhara on Christmas day, and the city was bustling with joy. I could tell that the number of European tourists here was higher than Kathmandu. I had booked a hotel by the Raniban Arcade; it was pretty magnificent, my room had the most awesome view of snow-capped mountains and a jacuzzi. What else do you need in life?

    The next day, I got to know that there was a festival going on in the city, wherein spontaneous dance performances and singing contests used to happen. The women were dancing with steel plates in their hands. I loved it so much.

    Pokhara is an astoundingly beautiful place, I had half a mind of staying permanently, but my father would have killed me for even thinking it. There were all kinds of shops in the city, from landscape portraits to cashmere scarfs, you could buy everything. Most of the shops, however, were selling trekking equipment, looking at which always disappointed me. But I did not allow them to bother me much, plus there was KFC, so I was sorted on the food front.

    The Sites and Adventures

    I knew Everest would not be a possibility, so I had thought of something else to cover up the hole in my heart that Everest had left.

    • Sarangkot Viewing Tower; It is a mountain peak that allows you to witness the slightest glimpse of heaven. With the city stretching over miles on one side and the sublime Annapurna Range on the other, I never wanted to leave that place. So like a true believer, I went there every day to witness the splendid sunrise. There was a tea shop that served what the Nepalese call ‘chai’. Hot milk tea on a cold morning with the sun rising against the mountains is what I call living the good life.
    • Phewa Lake; Next on my to-do list was one of the seven lakes in the city. From the lake as well, the same mountains were visible. It was like they were following me everywhere I went. The exciting thing about the lake was that they let you row the canoes yourself. I did it amazingly, the oar felt like Harry Potter’s flying broom to me. I was feeling that powerful.
    • Paragliding; I had always wanted to do it, but never got the chance. It was my substitute for being able to climb Everest. I had the operator pick me up from my hotel at 7 in the morning. We went the same way as Sarangkot, but not the entire way. My instructor picked me up with all the necessary gear and then we jumped off of the cliff. The first few seconds felt as if I would throw up my breakfast, but later my body became used to the elevation.

    When I opened my eyes, I had an out of body experience. Was that what birds experienced every day of their lives. If so, I wanted to exchange my life with one. The mountains and the river were as beautiful as can be described. The entire thing lasted for all of 1 hour, but that was the best one hour of my life.

    The Trial and Tribulation

    I am known to be careless, that is why my parents worry so much about me. After coming back from the surreal paragliding experience, I realized I had lost my wallet. It had my card and all the cash I had gotten exchanged for the Nepalese currency. I super tense, and I did not want to worry about my parents as well. I had heard about same day loans from my friend, and I thought of searching for one online. I was praying the entire time Google kept loading, and thank God I found my savior. I landed on a direct lender’s website that provided quick loans on the same day in Ireland. I applied for one in the next second, and by that evening, I had the money wired into my account. I used net banking for payments since I had to get my card blocked.

    Then I could only focus on enjoying my trip. That night I had barbequed pork, which was the yummiest piece of pig I have ever had in my life.

    The culture and people of Nepal were the polar opposites of Irishmen and Irish traditions. For one we are too tall, the Nepalese were half my size. I am only 5’9″, still I felt like a giant. Even with the differences, I enjoyed every bit of my trip. I had seen a lot of Indians there as well, can India be my next destination?

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