A wonderful experience of Visiting Nepal with friends, a travelogue by Suvhadien Gautam

An Organised Trip to Nepal: A Travelog

It has almost been more than three weeks since I promised to write a travelogue for our first organised trip to Nepal for the people living in Switzerland. I met Ms. Keller during her first trip to Nepal. She came here with her father and during our journey, I learned many things about her and persuaded her to organize a small trip for Swiss people. Since then, we have started to make plans and work together. At last, it worked. Finally, on 21st April 2024 to 1st May 2024. Isabella arrived in Nepal with her first group of French-speaking Swiss people from her Keller Voyages and we named it Voyage au Nepal-Avril, 2024.

A team of two people, Isabelle Keller and Subhadien Gautam

Team Introduction

Now, let me introduce my beloved small sister as my companion Isabelle Keller, she has worked in a different Swiss Voyage Company for a long time and since 2023 she started her small travel platform dedicated to Handicapped people which she named Keller Voyage Handicapped. She is also a president of a nongovernment association named Une Goutte d’eau dedicated to helping children who are in need and also run small development projects in Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ivory Coast and now Nepal since last year.

I am Suvhadien Gautam. I have been a French-speaking trekking and tour guide in Nepal for the last 16 years. I started my career as a trekking porter carrying more than 40 kgs at the age of 26 (which is often quite late for Nepalese people to start this career). I worked as a trekking porter for a year and completed a trek of two weeks, the longest trek in my career, Langtang and Lake Gosaikunda for 14 days, a special memory for me. 

Despite the hardship of the porter life, I continued this career for a year and later became an assistant Guide and city guide. Because of my passion for my work as a guide, I got a lot of opportunities to meet different people from all over the world and later on I learnt the French language and mostly worked with people from French-speaking countries who came to visit Nepal. In short, I became a travelling companion for many people during their holidays in Nepal. Having a working experience 16 years with many ups and downs, I now have become a freelance guide for trekking and tours in Nepal I am still learning many things. 

A visit to Nepal in April 2024

A Nepali Dal Bhat for lunch seems Yummy

Beep-Beep Beep-Beep the alarm of my clock gave a vibration tone on the morning of April 21, 2024, to wake me up. The alarm was set for 6.30 a.m. I kept the alarm in vibration mode. My wife was already awake and drinking a cup of tea. Without making any noise, I left my be and saw the watch was already seven. It was a day when I was a bit nervous and a bit excited. Today I have waited a long time and worked hard to make this trip successful for everyone. Without drinking tea, I was ready to go to the airport, 4 km from my home. I was assured that I would reach there in time. My mobile data was on receiving a message from WhatsApp with my beloved sister Isabelle whom I told to use free wi-fi when arriving at the Kathmandu airport. 

As soon as I reached the airport gate my phone blinked with the message from Isabelle.  She messaged me that she would be outside the airport after 30  because the aeroplane landed 30 minutes earlier than normal. It was already 7.30 am. In the meantime, I was a little excited and nervous. Normally it takes a long time to come outside from the International airport searching for luggage. For them, it took an hour which provided me time to arrange a microbus for our service. Without any delay, I called the transport company and requested them to send the microbus as soon as possible and I stayed outside to wait for Isabelle and the group. Every minute I panicked at the airport waiting for the microbes.

After waiting until 8.45 am the microbus driver called me and told me that he was outside the airport and at the same time Isabelle and our respected visitors came out from the airport. What perfect timing. I felt great relief and luck. I welcomed all of our members and Isabelle and took a microbus to go to the hotel  Dom Himalaya situated at Chhatrapati near Thamel. It took us 30 minutes to arrive in there.  I was still stressed because I wanted to see everyone’s reaction regarding the choice of the Hotel and its facility. All of our guests went to the room including Isabelle their happy faces gave me relief that all of them liked the choice of the Hotel and they fell in love with the garden inside it.  

I have invited all the guests to have a Nepali Lunch set for Dal bhat on that day. Everybody seemed to be very tired of jetlag and they were hungry too. On the very first day, they ate Dal Bhat, a national food of Nepal. I was relieved to see the happy and cheerful faces of our guests after lunch. However, on that day I left them to rest peacefully in the hotel room and promised Isa to meet on the 22nd of April for our first visit around the city of Kathmandu Durbar Square and Swyambhunath Stupa.

Day 2: Kathmandu Durbar Square and Swyambhunath Stupa: 

A splendid view of Swyambhunath Stupa

As promised the day before with Isabelle and the group, I met them at 9 0’clock early in the morning to walk around the ancient street of Kathmandu have 64 different monuments including temples, shrines, a museum, and a royal palace established during the Malla dynasty (Newars) of Kathmandu Valley. We all were ready to move out and our first dWe started our big day. Most of my clients were excited and all of them had plenty of questions with me and Isa. As a guide, it was my duty to answer all the questions related to the first monastery and Kathe Simbu stupa which was built in the 15th century inside the ancient city of Kathmandu. On that day, I planned to visit the Royal Palace of Kathmandu and Kumari Ghar (the house of the living Royal goddess Kumari of Kathmandu) to get a first glimpse of her for our good luck, because it is believed that the happy face of the living goddess Kumari brings enormous good luck among the devotees. 

Kumari, Kumari Devi, or the Living Goddess is the tradition of worshipping a chosen virgin as a manifestation of the divine female energy or Shaktya-Power in Nepali religious traditions. It is convinced that the girl is possessed by the reincarnation of the goddess Taleju or Durga, the goddess of female power. Kumari is derived from the Sanskrit meaning princess. 

The festival is celebrated during the last week of September during the finishing time of the monsoon period when goddess Kumari comes out from her home in a chariot to give darshan (sight) to her worshippers. Passing through the ancient street of Kathmandu while visiting Yetkha bahal (ancient white Stupa) serves as a common space for a local community to mingle, host cultural events on different auspicious dates, and perform community activities together. We all finally entered the premises of the Royal Palace of Kathmandu and directly went to the house of the living goddess Kumari. I wondered if the main gate of the Kumari house was opened and if people had entered the main court. Nowadays, the main door of the home of the living goddess is always closed after midday. It was almost 11.30 a.m. Mm. Isabelle, Patricia, Esther, Veronique, Maude, Michel, Badalamenti, et le prof d’Isabelle Mme Suzanne waited for goddess Kumari for 15 minutes. 

Inside the house of living goddess, Kumari- We were waiting for her darshan.

She finally appeared between the large facade inside the Royal court on the third floor. I was overjoyed seeing her in front of the window. I remember the last time we did not enter her house because it was already locked. All of them were excited to see her. Before entering the royal palace, I had already explained the history of Kumari, how she was chosen, how long she stayed in the Kumari Ghar and how normal life was after her retirement.

There were two men in my group monsieur Michel and me, the rest of all were in the group of Shaktyas-Female power. Most of them were mesmerized to see Kumari and as soon as she left they started to ask me many questions. For us, it’s an ancient tradition, a part of our life, which we have been following for more than 350 years, and for them, it’s an amazement, a cultural shock, and curiosity.

We left Kumari Ghar and passed through the famous freak street which was a paradise street for many hippie travellers during the 60/70’s from where Nepal got its first tourists we entered the royal courtyard the palace having a ninth floor built in the 18th century by the Shah king who declared Nepal as a first kingdom of Nepal. The royal palace was converted into a museum and was used as a king’s home until the 19th century. Later on, the Shah kings moved away from that place to Narayanhiti Royal Palace 3 km northeast of the former Royal Palace.  

In between we took a short lunch break revisited the area and took a microbus to reach our second destination at the top of the hill of the ancient Kathmandu valley, Swyambhunath Stupa. Taking a short ride from the microbus, we arrived at the ancient Stupa of the Swayambhunath having the ancient Stupas, monasteries, temple, and forest around it. 

The main attraction is the family of monkeys residing here for a long time and many tourists named it a monkey temple. This stupa was believed to be built in the 6th century but many believed that the stupa was built when the first civilization of Kathmandu was started before 2100 years.  We engaged in a game of luck by throwing coins into the empty vessel. Nobody had a stroke of good luck on that day. Just after this, watching monkeys around we climbed stairs to enter the main courtyard around Swyombhunath Stupa, a white dome-shaped stupa resembling the lotus flower, decorated with attached prayer flags, where devotes recited the mantras Om mani padme hum and turning wheel prayers, where Buddhists and Hindus worship together, where everyday worshippers from different places continue their prayers according to their tradition, where the burning of butter lamps provides the yellow bright light during the night, where every devotee rang the ancient bells before leaving the temple. These words are not enough to describe the surroundings of ancient Swymbhunath Stupa. I suggest all of you visit it once when you are in Kathmandu.  

Ancient Swyambhunath Stupa

We came down slowly visiting the stupas, taking photos, sharing knowledge passing through 365 stairs on the east side of the stupa and finally taking the microbus that arrived at the garden of the Hotel to relax for a while. I left them in the garden and came back home. What a long and wonderful day I had.

Day 3: Patan Durbar Square and visit to Statue factory:  

On the third day, the program was scheduled to visit Patan.  Patan, Lalitpur the city of the metal, is a beautiful city developed around the 15th century, enlisted on the World Heritage sites, and is one of the most beautiful royal palaces.  Patan refers to a beautiful city. In this city, many people are both Hindu and Buddhist. Also, there are more Newari architecture and Monasteries, Bahas, and Stupa inside and outside the ancient city.

Metal arts and crafts is a major work of many artists in Lalitpur city.  Many of the biggest and smallest statues inside the Buddhist monasteries are fabricated in Patan. Metal crafts and statues are some of the items exported to different countries.  

Mme. Suzzane Taking pictures inside Sudari Chowk
Mme. Suzzanne Taking pictures inside Sundari Chowk

Our hotel was situated in front of the famous 21 Pinnacles Krishna temple. We went directly to the hotel to place our luggage inside it. Isabelle and others were spellbound by the beauty in front of the hotel. It was the most happening place in Lalitpur from early in the morning until late in the evening. I had invited all of my friends to visit my home to celebrate a momo party. It was already late when we left Patan Durbar Square and we all arrived at my place to have a lunch of Chicken Momo prepared at home.

Say Cheese, inside Mul Chowk

On that day, I invited other family members to share their ancient knowledge of momos preparation. Everyone was curious and happy and participated without knowing how to roll a momo. Momo is a popular food item in Nepal loved by everyone, there are mostly two types of momo: Vegetable momo and different meat items momo. It is a food that takes a long time to prepare but won’t take a few minutes to consume. After eating a few momos all of the guests participated to learn the techniques of momo making which was quite interesting  (I don’t know how to roll it) however we had a lot of fun and a wonderful time with the family members even though they don’t understand French.

A visit to a statue Factory in Patan

Exchanging gestures and sign language Veronique and my mother-in-law had a wonderful conversation. Mme. Veronique tried my mother-in-law to speak her name and she tried her best. During that time, her facial expression was funny but she finally pronounced her name. What a good time we had. After the momo party, we left my house and went to the statue factory to learn the statue-making process at my sister-in-law’s house. 

Shailendra, the husband of my small sister-in-law (Mandira), a master wax artist, voluntarily explained all the techniques to our beloved guest. It was worth visiting inside the hidden paradise in the small city of Patan. After that, we continued our visit inside the Patan Museum, a royal palace now changed into a beautiful museum with ancient metal, wood, stone, and photo collections beautifully presented and explained in English. We all finished our visit inside the Patan around 4.30 and had a break.  A little break allowed me to walk to my place and help family members to prepare dinner. Thanks to my mother and sister in laws it was already prepared.   

Comment fait des Momos?

A paper was placed in the main gate with beautiful handwriting stating “Welcome to the Qripa’s Gautam home”. My daughter prepared it to welcome our beloved guest which she wrote herself with colors. I was so proud of her as a father. At 6.45 we again re-entered my home and prepared the leftover momos, drank Newari alcohol (Rakshi) as an aperitif and ate dinner as a dal bhat. What a wonderful time and experience we all had shared a beautiful moment with a family. I found that there was not a single language barrier when people wanted to exchange a conversation between them. 

There is always a way, a solution using sign language. We all had an extra fun and never-ending experience with these kind-hearted people. At last, our beloved guests took a taxi and went to the hotel to spend the rest of the time peacefully.

 Day 4: Namobuddha Monastery and visit to Panauti :

I have counted each day on my finger which was passed well with my friends. I was a little bit tired from yesterday’s work but slept well. My sister Isabelle and I took a little break in Patan and had a wonderful talk. We both were excited and happy. We left the hotel at 9 a.m. from Patan to go to Namobuddha.  I have added a short hike of 5 kilometres to our itinerary. However,  before starting our hike with small bags we went to Bhaktapur to keep our luggage in the hotel. Everything went well until Bhaktapur. The distance between Namobuddha Bhanjyang and Kathmandu is around 35 Kilometers.

The hiking route is also famous for the fantastic view of the Himalayas and village views and it is also a wonderful place to meet local people. Namo Buddha is an ancient pilgrimage for the Buddhist and Hindu people. The monastery of the Namobuddha named Thrangu Tashi Yangtse monastery was inaugurated in 2008 it has become a religious Buddhist school for many monks since then and also has helped a lot to increase Nepalese and foreign tourists.

After buying some oranges and bananas for the troop for our dry picnic we headed for the Namobuddha Bhanjyang some 8 kilometres away from the Dhulikhel. As soon as the hike started we climbed uphill to reach a viewpoint 15 minutes away from the main road. We are not fortunate on that day. There is not a scorching heat of the sun. The wind was blowing slowly. Taking Step by step we climbed up the stone stairs to reach the top of the viewpoint. We arrived at the viewpoint and sat under the shadow of the tree. The steps are not high but all of my friends are thirsty. Without any delay, I shared a bag of bananas and oranges that I carried for the dry picnic. Without the scenic view, there was a chitchat between female friends which was great fun. After a short break, we started to walk towards Namobuddha passing several villages and dense forest. It took us about two and a half hours to reach Nambudhha, where I had already reserved rooms inside the monastery.

Dry Picnic on the way to Namobuddha

 All of our friends had a good walk except Mme. Suzzane had a little problem because of the walk she had a little blister on her feet and it hurt when she walked. I got a chance to talk t with Monsieur Michel. He opened slowly and I found him an interesting person. I came to know more about other female friends in the group like Patricia, Maude, and Suzanne. I talked with Badalamenti. Each person in this group has an interesting character. After a short break for a while, we all went to the monastery shrine hall to visit it. It is a colourful monastery and has detailed art of different Buddhist gurus, a Kalachakra mandala, and seven giant Buddha statues sitting in different positions. 

Namobuddha Monastery 

The excursion around the monastery took almost an hour and we had a limited time to stay inside the shrine hall because it was dinner time. I booked a room with dinner inside the monastery Kitchen to eat with the monk and the other students which allowed us to know about daily life. I was also impressed with the Buddha’s teaching of treating the same when eating. Inside the hall, there were around 250 students, volunteers, teachers, and tourists. As soon as the bell rang, the students started to serve food on the bowls and others followed to help them by serving the food.  The taste of the food was extra though a bit spicy. It was a mix of pasta and vegetable soup. They served it for the second time to the people who wanted it more but inside the hall, there was written Don’t waste the food, the time when you are eating with a full stomach and many others slept with an empty stomach.  After dinner around 6.30 p.m., we went to the canteen to drink tea and coffee with a sweet cookie.

I tried to give my group a surprise meditation with a monk. It was confirmed by 7 p.m. To search for the meditation hall in the monastery I called a monastery manager and he passed me the information that the meditation had already started in Tara Hall. I entered the hall three times. Nobody opened the door.  I ran over here and their ups and downs to ask other monks about the meditation and finally, it was confirmed that the door was locked inside. Finally, we gave up the program and all the ladies went again to drink coffee and chat. I was so tired walking here and there frequently. went to bed directly. It was a long day and I was fatigued. I deserved a good night’s sleep.

Day 5: Morning prayers with monks, meditation, walk and microbus to Bhaktapur:

Now it has become my morning ritual to rise early with the first ray of the sun. Our plan for this day was to participate in a morning prayer at a Shrine room with other monks. I met all of them in front of the reception desk and went directly to the main hall where the prayers had already started. I heard the recitation of mantras in the Tibetan language and the strong vibration of drum, bell, and trumpet music mixed with a strong aura of energy which I felt inside me. I sat inside the hall for meditation with my friends, closing my eyes, folding my legs in Sukhasana and concentrating on music and mantra. From time to time, my heart and mind flew from here to there with my different thoughts, however; I tried my best to stay calm and it worked well. I felt intense vibrations inside me and I lost the time. 

Nightime click of Bhaktapur city

When the prayers were over, a monk called me to leave the hall for breakfast at 7 a.m. My sister Isabelle and friends left the place and went to eat breakfast. I wanted to quit the morning breakfast and went to the canteen to drink tea.

In my group, I found that Mme, Patricia, Esther, Maude, and Badalamenti sat for meditation while Vernon, Isabelle, and Michel observed the prayers. According to Monsieur Michele, he is an atheist but a good observer. On the other hand, Isabelle and Veronique tried to stay on meditation with their heavy thoughts and feelings.

An ancient Panauti Town

After breakfast and having a little experience of monastic life, we all left Namobuddha at 9. a.m. heading towards Panauti, an ancient medieval city. While walking down from the Namobuddha the day temperature began to rise and I found that it would not be a suitable walk for our guests. After walking for an hour, we took our regular vehicle to ancient Panauti City. 

A ghat, the place for cremation is placed in between the two holy rivers of Panauti City and the ancient city was believed to have been developed over a giant triangular-shaped rock due to this it is the city is still safe from the massive earthquake which had occurred in the Himalayan region since centuries. It is also noticeable that there was not much destruction inside the old city by the massive earthquake measuring 7.6 magnitude. It is a calm and beautiful city and the houses and temples built during the 15th century are preserved well. There is a pagoda temple in front of the Roshi River along with the statues of the sun god Narayan, Vishnu, Ganesha, the reincarnation of Shiba as an Unmat Bhairaba and a small museum with a collection of wooden craftsmanship in Panauti.

When we passed several villages of Namobuddha it became hot and due to this, my friends did not show their intention to move forward. For this reason, I called drive and he drove us to the Bhaktapur city. The medieval city of Bhaktapur is a big city where life has not changed. It is one of the well-preserved cities in the case of the world heritage site which was the biggest tax collector from the businessmen dependent on the exchange of yak wool with Tibetan salt. It was also an ancient trading route between India and Tibet. Bhaktapur is also a city of devotees and the residents of the city follow two religions, Buddhism and Hinduism. Every massive earthquake destroyed Bhaktapur city badly despite all the destruction this city has managed to overcome the natural disaster, thanks to the Newar community’s skilled wooden and pagoda artists who were strong enough to rebuild the city in the same way before the earthquake in the much solid way following anti-earthquake technologies.

The native Newar community has preserved most of its traditions, rituals, and festivals in all four cities of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Kirtipur. Upon arrival at Bhaktapur, we ate lunch in the beautiful restaurant at Dattatraya Square. Being the oldest city in Kathmandu,  Bhaktapur is famous among tourists and it would be normal to see a lot of tourists in the middle of the Royal Palace established during the 13th to 18th century by the Malla dynasty, which is regarded as the golden era of the the the the country. A long wait for lunch allowed us to refresh a bit from our conversation and exchange information. After lunch, we followed the road to Taumadhi Square which has two beautiful temples Nyatpola temple built of five roofs and the famous Bhimsen temple. From the top of the massive Nyatpola temple, the city looks much more stunning surroundings and the regular activity of the locals. 

Isabelle thinking quietly alone in Bhaktapur city

In the same way, we walked towards Pottery Square where the locals were busy manufacturing terracotta goods using ancient techniques. Nowadays,  people involved in pottery are unsatisfied because plastic products which have already replaced many terracotta items make them think seriously about it. Along with this, we passed through a temple premises where the two chariots are placed to celebrate the Nepalese New Year 2081, the festival is famous in this city and celebrates  9 nights and 8 days in Bhaktapur.  I advised my friends to return to the same place for a night walk and we went directly towards the ancient royal Palace of Bhaktapur where we visited two more courtyards and a pond of the Royal Bath. It was almost 4.30 p.m.  Meanwhile, I requested Isa and the groups to explore the city calmly and that place. I finally arrived at my home at 7 p.m. had a good moment with my family and went to bed early after a light dinner.

Day 6 Overnight in the hilly town of Bandipur: 

For every guide, it is important to take feedback from their clients. A happy client means a happy guide and a happy group. At first, I thought it would be difficult for me to understand my new friends. I was wrong. In five days, I did not understand their feelings and was surprised by their understanding level. Sometimes, I wonder how it would be for me to get in touch with a good person. It was a group of eight people, with only two males.

I have informed Isa that I would not be joining them in Bhaktapur instead, it is easy for me to join them in Lalitpur because today we are leaving Kathmandu city and our destination is Bandipur. It is a small town perched at the top of the hill. During the 19th century, it was a magar village, an ethnic group of Nepal that later developed as a hot and happening small town when the Prithivi highway was constructed. It is a quiet and peaceful town where most of the old houses are turned into a tourist lodge or hotels.  In recent days, most tourists spend one or two nights admiring the view of Manasalu, Annapurna, Ganesh Himal, Gorkha, and Lamjung Himal before or after their trek. 

It is a route which also joins Pokhara and Chitwan. We left the Kathmandu valley early in the morning around 8.30 am.

While going to Bandipur, it is necessary to take a road enlargement and construction work for a few years. It also separates the way to the east and west Nepal. I was so relieved.  we did not have to wait in traffic jams and arrived at Bandipur at 3.30 p.m. We entered the guesthouse at the centre of the town took a rest and at 4.30 p.m. We gathered together for a small hike of one hour. I had the most beautiful memories of this hike. I have requested Maude to tell me something about her life and the first influence of Kathmandu.  I asked my guests many questions because I am a good listener.

Meditation Pose of Mme. Maude (Sadhuni)

Maude replied that she felt I deserved a number that did not exist. I thought for a while and replied to Maude that I’d found the number that she told me. Instead of telling infinity, I replied that perhaps the number 9 was what she was talking about. I told her that if she looked from the other side. It will be the number 6. This reply was enough to share giggles among the ladies. They started to laugh loudly. I did not understand why they were laughing. I have no other clues. I asked Isabelle what had happened but she refused to reply Neither Maude nor Mme. Suzanne. Nobody gave me any reply but laughed all the time. I watched them like an innocent child. We reached the top of Bandipur viewpoint without the view of the Himalayas but there was a beautiful sunset on the top of the hill on the west.

On that evening, Mme. Marie Claude (Badalmeneti) surprised me with her poem. Many Nepalese told me that she looked similar to a Hollywood actress. I found her an interesting lady in all terms. Mme Veronique, a curious lady in all the subjects, and Mme Patricia- an interesting lady who liked to gossip a lot during long hour drives in the microbus.  Isabelle-Maili Bahini is a lady with a positive mindset and a source of motivation for me. Monsieur Michel, the best photographer if we had been in clear weather in the mountains most probably we would have lost him. He is passionate about his work. Suzzane and Esther, these two ladies are adorable, both have a lot of energy and Mme. Esther had already visited Nepal. 

From this viewpoint, we came down and had our dinner early which we had already ordered before leaving the guesthouse. Like every day, I said goodnight to the ladies and went to take a bath whereas the group went for the night walk. During dinner time, I ordered a bottle of Nepali wine for the whole group. There is a lot of homemade alcohol available in Nepal but we do not have a history of wine production; however, a small quantity of wine started to be produced in 2010 and now it has occupied a big market. A visit to this town satisfied me a lot after a long-distance travel. 

Day 7: Pokhara and visit around Pokhara city:  

A normal day has already begun. Isabelle requested me for the meditation. Excluding Veronique and Michel, we sat for mediation for 15 minutes and it went well. Then after, we left the beautiful Bandipur town and rode to Pokhara. The distance is around 85 kilometres only. To avoid the bad section we took another road from Dumre to reach Pokhara easily. This section of the road is narrow and has less traffic. We arrived in Pokhara around midday and went directly to eat our Dal Bhat in a Thakali restaurant. 

After lunch, there was a plan for a beautiful hike on the top of Pumdikot Hill to the Pokhara valley. We went to Pumdikot, a place with the largest statue of Lord Shiba.  I was scared and surprised to find bad weather in Pokhara. I was shocked because there was no visibility. From Pumdikot, nothing was visible neither lake nor Pokhara valley. The pollution was created due to excess forest fire which was not controlled.  After this incident, another bad news shocked me a regular cancellation of the flights from Pokhara to Kathmandu due to poor visibility. The impact of the pollution was indigestible for a few people in the group. Isabelle was silent because she knew it was a beautiful place while watching beautiful mountains and lakes. 

Every year, during the month phenomena and secondly, there are not any resources available in Nepal to control forest fires, thirdly local people and the government of Nepal never took it as a big problem. Dry season and temperature rise have become common because of climate change.  We both were sad but continued our hike to the lake walking downhill from Pumdikot. During the hike, all the ladies cheered up and had a funny conversation which relieved their stress and forget about the bad weather. While coming down from the World Peace Stupa towards the Fewa Lake, I found a few minutes with Isabelle to talk. We discussed the reasons behind the pollution Then finally, I asked about the meaning of the innocent number that I explained to Maude. She laughed when I asked her and finally, from her face, I found out the double meaning of our conversation. It was an innocent joke but funny but for them, it was an activity that a Nepali guide did without knowing. 

Then,  we reached the bank of the Fewa Lake and took a boat to cross it. A funny conversation between the ladies made the moment light, all of them were overjoyed. We stopped between the lake for a quick visit inside TalBarahi temple dedicated to female power and then arrived at the heart of the lake city. Our hotel was on street number 14 just near Lake City. I wanted a short break from my work on that day and requested all my friends to enjoy their dinner in the city. Isa and I went out for dinner to have a pizza to decrease our frustration and she gave me relief that all of the members were fine which was a lot of relief. It was a great restaurant Concerto near the lakeside famous for firewood pizza and wines. We had a good conversation about our future planning and reviewed our activities. It was a great time with her. We left the place and went directly to the hotel. I have requested Isa to flow the message that if the weather is not clear it would not be worth it to Sarangkot and will be cancelled. She forwarded the message and at last, I left for my room.

Day 8: Wonderful day in Pokhara and Tibetan Refugee Camp: 

On that day, our trip to Sarangkot was cancelled. I got a message from Isabelle that Veronique needed a good mask because her throat had an infection and Michel did too. I went to many pharmacies to search for a good quality mask and bought one for her. We decided to meet after 1 p.m. to visit around the city. Isabelle has requested me to go to a Tibetan refugee camp and I accepted the offer. The Tibetan refugee camp is 8 km away from the Lakeside. Since the 1980s, a large number of Tibetans have resided in Nepal inside the camp after China invaded Tibet. There was a good relationship between Tibetans and Nepalese people in the past which is continued. There is a carpet factory, a monastery, a school for children, and a small clinic. While entering the camp Tibetan ladies gathered around the group and requested us to buy their production which we could not deny. We entered the monastery where there was an afternoon prayer. The monks were chanting and praying.

Jangchub choleing Monastery at Pame inside Tibetan Refugee Camp

A monk guru watched all the participants/students to see their position and to correct their rhythms. It was a grand pleasure to observe these activities, a combination of vibrant music and mantras gave a lot of positive energy. We sat in the prayers for 40 minutes and then visited around the monastery. When we came out, all the Tibeaten ladies welcomed us in their small shops where they sold their small production as gifts for tourists. 

Most of the ladies spent time in these small shops where they bought a lot of locally produced goods. All of them enjoyed the conversation between Tibetan ladies and their gifts. Michel was busy taking photos. The activity in the monastery overjoyed us and then we went to a religious cave named Gupteshowr Cave in Pokhara. It is a large cave formed naturally by the calcification process. It was a visit for 30 minutes where we saw an underground waterfall.  After this visit, we went to Lakeside and I suggested to friends to walk around Fewa Lake. 

Bindabasini Temple “Old Pokhara City”

We chose a restaurant with a traditional dance and got a chance to watch Nepali dance. Later on, we all participate in the dance with a wonderful Nepali song. The dinner was over but our fun was not over. Maude, Esther, Patricia, and Marie Claude went to the pub and had a wonderful night. They invited us to the same pub. I felt bizarre to accept this offer. Nightlife never attracts me. I needed to have a peaceful good night’s sleep, and I am a person with a vision @Early to bed, and late to rise makes you healthy, not wealthy, but wise.

I could not deny this golden opportunity and went with them to the pub. The pub was well situated near our hotel. It was a good time for us because, on the dance floor, there was only one group. The whole dance floor and music belong to us. I was surprised to see Mme. Esther and Suzanne enjoyed the music and danced to a popular bit. Later on Michel and Veronique, a lovely couple also participated in the dance floor. We cheered them well. A popular song was played to honour Mme. Isabelle and I danced on it. After a couple of drinks and dance moves we left the pub around 11 o’clock and went to the hotel for our good night’s sleep.

Day 9: Return to Kathmandu:

 It was the day we left from Pokhara taking the same microbus. I read in the news about the cancellation of the regular from Pokhara because of bad weather. I have already informed the group about this incident and persuaded them to take a microbus instead of waiting for the afternoon flight. I do not want to take a risk furthermore. There was no further argument on this topic and we all took a microbus and the same short-cut road to avoid traffic disruptions. The condition of the road between Mugling and Pokhara is not so easy. In some sections, the road is well-paved and there are a lot of parts where construction work continues. 

I got a chance to rest and enjoyed my trip sleeping most of the way. We had lunch on the bank of the Trisuli River and continued our journey to Kathmandu. It took us eight hours to arrive in Kathmandu without any problem. I left all the members in the same hotel and came back to my home around 5.30 p.m. I was happy and relieved a lot. During a short period, I saw a lot of ups and downs what an experience. 

 Day 10: Visit to Pashupatinath and Bouddhanath: 

On that day, our first visit was planned for Pashupatinath. Pashupatinath is just 5 km from Thamel to the international airport.  It is a Hindu temple dedicated to lord Shiva, the biggest lord of animals. A Hindu or Buddhist cremation is conducted on the bank of the river Bagmati which is worth watching. This is a big pilgrimage for Hindus and a lot of Nepalese and foreigners as a pilgrimage visit this place each year. 

We first went to the west side of the temple where the people gathered for the cremation. I have a strong bond with this place because being a true believer in Karma, I believe that living creature has a temporary stay on this planet either human or animal or plant. I sometimes find inner peace in this place and sometimes feel scared because I watched a bitter truth of life as always. This is the place where I lost many near and dear ones and this would be a place for me in the future. 

More than us, the “Dal Bhat Power 24-hour t-shirt was a hit item on that day”

I was bombarded with many questions on that day. The rituals, tradition, meaning and metaphors of Hindu rituals. It is quite a significant day to reply to them properly with my understanding. I shared my ideas with them and demanded my friend’s views on life and death. After visiting the west ghat, we went to the east side, the main gate to enter the temple where devotees gathered to enter the main temple premises. I have watched a lot of curiosity and devotion on their face. The incense is burning outside the temple and people also chanted the mantras honouring Shia @Om Nama Shivaya. The Brahmin is murmuring the holy mantra and prayers. Some Sadhus stay on the footpath and give their blessing to the devotees. Their lives continue with a small donation that each devotee provides. After all, the Sadhus are similar to a hermit with a philosophy that comes with nothing and goes with nothing and they dedicate their life to Shiva.  

Surprisingly, all of my friends bought a T-shirt representing Nepali quotes@dalbhat power 24 hours which had attracted many Nepalese youth. They took a group photo along with a colourful T-shirt. After a short visit to the east side of the Pashupatinath temple, we retook the microbus to go to Bouddhanath Stupa.

Bouddhanath Stupa is also called Khasi Chaitya and the Tibetan name is Jarung Khashor. It is one of the ancient and giant stupas of the world which was believed to have been constructed in the 7th century AD. This stupa is a spherical shape big mandala and it is also convinced that the tooth of the Buddha relics was used to build this Stupa. Around this Stupa, many Tibetan and Tamang people have resided for a long time. The Stupa is surrounded by plus 50 monasteries and was listed as a World Heritage site in 1979. 

Reaching in front of the Stupa, we first went for lunch in a restaurant whose balcony was facing the ancient Stupa. We ordered lunch, took photos, and then went to Sechen Monastery near the Bouddhanath Stupa. It was midday and the day was sunny. We had a 20-minute shopping break honoured for the ladies. They enjoyed the last-minute shopping and then after we all came back to Kathmandu to the same guest house. Altogether, we had a wonderful time visiting two places and the afternoon was free time for them to conduct other activities. Leaving the group at the hotel I finally took a deep breath and relaxed as everything went well. I have finished my 10 days of duty with them. Isabelle was happy too but our work was not completed. All of them provided positive feedback and it was a marvellous experience with all our friends. For me, my adorable sister Isabelle was precious during this trip, I could not have done it. She was the source of the positive energy and my motivation. I have learnt a lot of things with her and our respected friends. 


  Day 11: Last-minute Shopping and drop at the International Airport: 

Time to say @Goodbye”


It was the last day of the trip to Nepal for my friends except Isabelle and Ester. Mme. Esther added a few more days and went to Chitwan National Park to visit which I arranged for her. We had lunch at the Rosemarry Garden Restaurant with my wife Sangita and daughter Qripa. Except for some incident, all had a good memory of this visit and I gave them my best service from my heart and soul. Isabelle was relaxed too. After our lunch, we all including my family went to the airport to say goodbye to them. Every beginning has an ending. With sweet memories of this short trip to Nepal, they thanked me and entered the airport. Finally, Isabelle and I relaxed after finishing our duty which we had passed together. I want to thank Mme. Isabelle Keller for the opportunity she had provided me, convinced me and understood me. Our teamwork made this a memorable one. 

Leave a Reply