Namaste from Nepal

We have been on the go so much we weren’t able to post anything while we still had Internet access. Now that we do have access, for a little while, we will try to get something written and work on a more comprehensive post later.

We left San Francisco on September 21 at 6 am and arrived in Nepal on Sunday, September 23rd in the afternoon. We have been on the go continuously since then. Our accommodation in Kathmandu, the Gokarna Forest Resort, is peaceful and beautiful. It is a former hunting lodge and now is a resort and golf course. Nepal, First Day get togetherWe had a welcome dinner, visited with and got to know our eight fellow travelers and then toddled off to bed. Still on west coast time, about twelve hours difference.

Now a note related to wine. We did have a little time before the welcome dinner to sit in the bar and share a bottle of Chablis which was very nice. Other than that wine was not served at our meals unless we requested it and then it was red or white, no choice of varietal. With our welcome dinner which was Thai food we had a Shiraz/Cabernet blend from Australia which was just ok and did not pair well.

Our first day we toured Kathmandu and the Ason market, the oldest bazaar in the city. It was a day of contrasts. Nepal Ason BazaarWe visited the bazaar, temples, had a wonderful Nepali lunch and witnessed funeral pyres along the banks of the Bagmati River in Patan.

The city is very crowded, dusty and congested. They drive on the opposite side of the road than we do and do not appear to obey most traffic rules. In fact our guide Krishna said they they do have driving laws but nobody obeys them. Autos and motorcycles squeeze through the smallest spaces. Room must also be made for cows, which are considered holy. Stray dogs are everywhere, as are monkeys. Monkeys actually roam around in packs. There are also plenty of monkeys at our hotel and you have to keep windows closed so they don’t come in your room.

We finished the day with a home hosted dinner. Our host family is a Sherpa family. The father, Babu Sherpa who was a renowned Everest climber. He climbed Mt. Everest 11 times without oxygen. He also set records for the fastest climb and the fastest two ascents in one week without oxygen. Unfortunately he died a few years ago in a climbing accident. It was really great having dinner with his daughter and her sisters. Real Nepali food and we learned a lot about Sherpa life, well worth the cultural experience.

After the dinner we went back to the resort and wanted to try a couple of wines we had purchased earlier in the day. We shared them with our friends Leslie and Kathy. Leslie is our friend from wine tasting at Fine Wines of Stockton. Nepal-WinesThe first was a inexpensive 2008 Chateau Haut-Florin Bordeaux. It was typical of a cheap Bordeaux, adequate but nothing to get excited about. The second wine was a Nepali wine which I wanted to try. It was a 2011 Hill Hut Winery dry herbal wine. It was the color of cherry juice, had good acid and no noticeable tannin. As far as the flavor it was herbal with what I call a cherry cordial flavor without being sweet along with some medicinal component. Leslie felt it tasted like orange pixie sticks without the sugar. The winery is in Pokhara where we will going to later in the trip and they describe the wine as “A friendly drink locally blended and produced out of fruits, roots, herbs and berries”. This is a wine you will have to acquire a taste for.

The next morning we were up at 4:30 to make an early morning flight to view Mt. Everest. The views were breath taking. The string of 20,000 ft. plus peaks went on to the horizon. Everest of course stood out among the giants. After the flight we returned to the Resort for breakfast, and now were on the road again to Bhaktapur, the “City of Devotees”. It was the Malla Empire’s crown jewel and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Bhaktapur had so many old temples, it was just amazing. Nepal-BhaktapurWe spent a lot of time there going through the many temples while Krishna told us their history. Bhaktapur covers four square miles so you can get a feel for how much exploring we did. Krishna taught us something about every temple we saw. We are really impressed with his knowledge. All of us also did some souvenir shopping and to a lot of photos.

Later in the evening we had dinner at the resort and we shared with Leslie a bottle of a 2007 Wingspan Pinot Noir from New Zealand. I believe this is the first New Zealand Pinot Noir any of us have had. It was a nice Pinot and went went well with dinner but we will have to try some more to learn the character of New Zealand Pinot Noir.

“On the third day” we flew to Pokhara, further west of Kathmandu to begin our trekking. This was also where we lost all Internet and cell phone access. On the flight there we enjoyed great views of the Annapurna mountains and the surrounding countryside. On our arrival we gathered our gear and took a bus to the trekking office. They introduced us to our trekking guides and gave us an orientation along with our hats, packs and trekking poles.

Back on the bus for an hour our or so and we stopped at a little snack bar along the road for a box lunch. Nepal-Women PortersAfter another half hour or so on the bus we arrived at a small town where our trailhead was. This is one of the popular trekking trails where we started. Our women porters loaded up our gear and then we hiked for about an hour and a half to get to the Sanctuary Lodge where we would be staying.

What a great place the Sanctuary Lodge is! Sitting in a valley along the Modi river with a great view of Macchapuchare or Fishtail Mountain when it is clear, which it was every morning. Fishtail is a sacred peak and has never been summited.

The staff greeted us with cold lemonade and showed us to our rooms. Nepal-Sanctuary LodgeAround 4 pm we were served tea outside our rooms and Krishna told us about the local area and what we would be doing while we were there. We also got to know our two trekking guides, Shantaman and C. B. Both were very knowledgable about Nepal and the local area as they lived within a couple of hours walk. We can’t say enough as to how valuable and fun they were. They knew all the local plants, animals and birds and Shantaman even treated a rash Pete had on his arm with a local medicinal plant. Also, when Davis (one of our group) had problems with sore knees CB who is a Shaman, treated him.

Of course one of the first things we did was check out the bar. We found our choice of wines would be a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Both would be good enough to keep us happy.

Now we had two full days of trekking seeing many sites and visiting villages along the way. The first day of trekking was on the main trekking trail so we ran into lots of other Trekkers including several Australians on a motorcycle trek. We learned a lot about the countryside and met many local people. We also visited a museum built by a Ghurka soldier that retired back to his home there.

The second day of trekking, we left the main trail and walked up the mountain side to a village not on the trekking maps. We also visited Laxmi School which is supported by Grand Circle Foundation, which is part of Overseas Adventure Travel. Nepal-Laxmi SchoolIn addition to spectacular views of the valley our visit with the school children was lots of fun. They were very interactive, happy children ranging in age from about 3 to 11. They were all darling. After visiting the school, we continued to a nearby village where we were greeted by the Mothers Group who provided us with a tasty lunch of the local fare. After lunch the sang and danced for us and then we participated in some of their dancing.

Ok, we have a short window of wi-fi here so I’ll post this now and add another post next time I find Internet access.


Links to the other Nepal articles:
Almost to Nepal
Namaste from Nepal
Nepal Wine Trekking
Seti River Rafting
Royal Chitwan National Park


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  4. I’m still working on the consideration of wine tasting like pixie sticks (which I devoured with a vengeance, by the way). Happy trekking to you guys!

  5. Sounds awesome and meeting/surpassing your expectations 🙂 Hope you are taking pictures.

  6. Sounds like a great trip. Wish I was there…

  7. Sounds like you are having a great experience. Keep the stories coming!