My unforgettable Experience in Nepal

My day by day unforgettable travel Experience in Nepal.

October 16

How to get in Nepal without flying?

Just suppose we wouldn’t do that anymore. We’re not up to that, I realize, although it would be better. So onto Schiphol, out of your shoes, belt off, excessive maybe, but super high tech. Efficiently taken care of we’re in the space before the gates. A lot is closed. Coffee. Walking on the endless belts. Check in.

The a little awkward animations for safety in the Turkish plane. Istanbul. Gigantic airport. Endless. But then you fly. The lights of the city beneath you in the dark. Stewards with breakfast at 3 in the morning. We take wine. Sleep curled up till the first light. The first mountains. Rows of little houses on the edges. Kathmandu valley. An overtired row for the slow, slow, slow customs. you’ve got visa, tests, permits, filled in forms, still… Our guide, outside, waited for an hour and a half, before, swaying with his paper ‘Rob and Godie welcome’, he could catch us.

Shawls to bless our arrival and in a taxivan, hardly able to manage the alleys leading to our hostel. Thamel, the tourist quarter, with but a few tourists. A heap of alleys, little shops, a sort of café’s. Our hostel nice, quiet, and a little run down, as you would expect. Felice and Sanna have been here too. The contact with our guide Raby is fine. We take breakfast, drink coffee and lemonade. We look for the restaurant Felice and Sanna advised. It is quiet there, festival, no tourists. Felice was here, with here friend, during the earthquake. The panic, trying to get a flight, then.

A reminiscence that stays. Everywhere you see heaps of stone, holes on the sides of the streets. But the city is alive. At night we look for a restaurant. On the roof of a hotel. Closed because of the festival. We sit in the lobby with our telephones. Are invited to go up after all. Only Nepali on the roof, with a buffet of fried rice and potato curry. Bottle of beer. Super. Outside again the rather neurotic honking of motors and small cars. Maybe you get used to that. We see a café with Illy coffee, enjoy that, and a smoking brownie. On the way to tomorrow.

October 24

Tourists and Bhudism

“Do you feel like having a look at a Buddhist monastery?” Raby asked yesterday. Sure, and what a treat. The paintings inside, in a village like that, what a talent! They’re also building, little women with massive stones on their backs.

Back in the dining, wood, stove, a group of a little rough Lithuanians say they also want to do that, watching temple. And put their arms on the guide’s shoulders. They’re all connected to a new age festival, masters giving sermons, singing together, throwing paint. Like they do in India. Enlightened. But they eat in their room’s. No income for the hotel people. In the morning hara Krishna in the dining. In a Buddhist environment. Enlightened? We ask whether they can turn it off.

Breakfast and on our way. We see gradually more tourists, but stil few. And always the same. Top guy is a Swede, who

unwearying, with his bike, is experiencing the mountains. Broken up roads are no problem for him. Ultra relaxed. We meet him again in a lovely village. He has a great time, in his hostel they’re busy with a ceremony. In the village again a picturesque Buddhist stupa, with a view on the mountains.  Coloured little hotels, sturdy houses, but a lot are empty, crumbling. We lunch further along the trail. A new hotel, with two fabulous women, mother and daughter, busy with beans, grain, carrots, garlic, continuously. They serve a delicious soup. We descend, an endless distance through the valley. Again clouds are gathering. It’s cold, cold in the room, stove in the dining. German tourists found each other, travel talk. The guides and porters hesitatingly, timidly, join us.

October 26

Power and quiet

We walk to the end of Manang. Narrow alleys, little horses, a mother with her infant on the roof of their house, a lovely stupa, with flowers around. Raby turns the countless prayer wheels we pass.

On the trail you feel the enormous power, but also willfulness of these white summits. Snow being blown. The nullity of the people, but also their quiet air. Buddhism- meditation, looking forward the equilibrium- in the mountains, Hinduism in the city, could that be a coincidence?

Eagles high above the slopes, one flies right over us. The path goes up steep. We pass a monastery, red, with galeries. A point of quiet and rest on the slope. But closed. In the village where we stay for the night a group of Nepali tourists, and a French girl who really speaks the language. She is an anthropologist, teaches French and English, and uses Buddhism, she says, to become a better person. She tells about the Nepali language, the intense meaning of respect, with a complicated set of ways to address people. She walks on.

We sit in the courtyard in the warm sun. Godie orders tea and teaches Raby and Djonna to play rummy cup. In the small dining. The evening sets in. And the mountains are just being there.

October 28

Tik Tok

In the ice cold, large space, that also serves as a dining (and where our guide and porter are sleeping) in the evening a large group of Nepalese youngsters are sitting around the stove. They self-evidently claim the place. A collection of traditional and weird caps. And all with the same appearance: life is sometimes rather annoying, but no challenge. Raby tells us that they whip each other up by tik tok and face book. If you want to stand out in the crowd, you just have to have made your little dance and performance at the Tilicho lake (4900 meter).

We’re also going for the climb, the next morning, five o’clock, clothes in layers, woolen cap, gloves, headlamp, up, up. At the break of dawn the first snow. We walk in a slow pace, pass the youngsters of yesterday, and more. A girl shares with Godie that for sure she is never going to do this again. Walking through the soft, whirling snow, up steep. The sun and the morning in a forbidding white, white fascinating world. It is heavy, little oxygen, a wind that cuts and stings.

At the lake, intens blue against the white, a few Buddhist statues with a lot of strings with prayer flags. Raby and Djonna put up a new one. And the young Nepali, that made it, do there little dances. We too. We’re there! We take warm tea out, and a snicker.

Going down a group forms naturally. Raby shows how to walk, where to place your feet in the snow, to prevent you from falling. We follow, and with us a group of Nepali.

After a short stop we continue our trek. A long stretch over the slopes, along the valleys, in a setting of white mountain tops. And at practically every corner again little Nepali groups doing their tik tok challenge.

At night, in the hotel, around the stove, there are happily just a few. Exhausted we finish at eight under our warm blankets.

October 30

A tale

We’ve got a name, but in fact that doesn’t matter. We exist, with a might and beauty, that magically is given to us. We rise between the continents. In our valleys water rustles en plants grow that feed animals and men. We exist in equilibrium. Also with the toiling people on the trails, who admire us. But then our slopes are being cut, long scars on our sides, motorcycles swarm, the city spreads as an illness, our summits are not sacred any more. We decided to shake the world, give Kathmandu a serious warning, we destroyed roads and bridges. But if it did make any difference? We don’t see it happening.

Tourists are coming back. A tiny point of light in the night. A room real cosy. Around the stove a German gentleman, son and daughter. He is here again, after 44 years. So much is changed… Four bikers, who think they can conquer us. And a couple, with a guide and porter, who the next day take the slow trail to some point between our summits. We watch, show how impressive, but also how caring in fact we are. From the camp, high on our side, they walk up a bit, through the snow. We watch.

Around the stove, we let them, little feathers in the night. And still, we know that it never will be the same again. There are scratches on the harmony of our being. And the won’t go away.

October 31

Holy land

Muktinath is a place with a bumpy dirt road, scattered ugly buildings, and umpteen little women trying to sell rugs and strings. To the pilgrims visiting the famous Hindu temple. We walk up in the morning, over the endless stairs, sadhoes on the side. Hindu? A Buddhist monastery. Behind glass three large statues. The meditating  Buddha, the Buddhist equivalent of Shiva and the founder of Kathmandu. The god who saw in the lake that occupied the valley a light, drained it, and caused on the top of the hill where it was a temple complex. Beautiful, those stories. Around the central Hindu temple it’s busy. Behind it a row of water jets that bring luck. In front two icecold bathes, you step into when you’re really tough, or very pious. An aged gentleman tries, after the row of jets. But fails. We walk away, to an immens Buddha, looking out over the valley.

Back down the stairs. A man, small, old, carries his tiny looking wife upstairs.

Coffee in town, on the shaky wooden stools of the Bob Marley café. With are stuff we leave for Kagbeni. A group of women climbs back from the next village, Jharkot. White plastered houses and a Buddhist monastery. On the roof two golden deer, peace, and a shield, symbol of sublime power. We’re allowed to go in, and up. Behind a small door eight or so richly adorned lama’s recite texts. Two beat slowly on standing drums, the singing  now and then interrupted with symbals. Once a year they focus on this, to read all the books they have. For the happiness of everybody.

The village is surrounded by trees, but then we find our way through an enormous, valley, dry to the bone. A river deep in the canyon. Kagbeni on a crossing, a small town, that brings you back ages. Till, in the alley, you have to step aside for a motorbike.

November 3


We leave Jomsom for a last trip. Again an endless, far too large, dust and bumpy road, with hardly any traffic. Why? It doesn’t seem to help the local economy. On the contrary. Tourists came for culture and the mountains. Too many now pass on. Villages in, or aside the road loose, to their surprise, their customers. But every project brings in a lot of money for certain types, so…

It’s long, dusty, the same, the summits far away. But then, we pass through an ancient gate, with prayer rolls, which Raby and Djonna strike moving, into a lovely village. Low houses, white, with artfully sculptured wooden windows and doors. We drink coffee at the German bakery. Thé spot apparently for men to discuss politics in the sun.

We climb up to the monastery, on top of the village. Children and mothers drip into the courtyard. Men are ready for the ceremony, that is expected. We are adorned with a white shawl, look on from the gallery. People poring in. Slow drums, symbals, horns get moving a slow procession. Precisely rehearsed dances, with richely adorned mythical figures. Masks of demons. A warm sea of colors. We’re surely not the onlineservice shooting films and photo’s. A Lama is busy with a professional camera.

Back in the village we succeed in finding a fine place to get some soup and drinks. We get into an exchange of thoughts with a fellow traveller, we keep on meeting with. An anthropologist, away from home for a very long time already.

On the way back we have the wing and the clouds of dirt in our backs. In Jomsom we drink coffee in the Himalayan Java Café. The place with the boy that plays keyboards, saxophone and guitar. Slow jazz. Thinking back to yesterday, when in his café we joined to make some music.


By Rob and Godie in During their travel in Nepal for Annapurna Circuit Trek 2021 October/November

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