Our Nepalese adventure had began with a day in Kathmandu; a city that seems to have inspired Terry Pratchett in his depiction of the Discworld capital Ank Morpohk. Along little laneways and walkways, buildings tilt and lean in all directions with electrical wires and prayer flags intermingling overhead. The traditional three story Nepalese houses are dark and ill-lit but they are beautifully adorned by highly detailed wood carvings which attest to a culture steeped in the stories of the Hindu religion.
The centre of Kathmandu, Thamel, is a shopper’s paradise. Small stalls line the dusty roads and vendors offer a huge variety of hand made goods. Just poring over the silk rugs from Kashmir; yak and goat wool carpets woven by Tibetan refugees and locally produced hook work embroidered rugs is worth a day’s outing. Alongside the craft shops are hiking shops selling everything needed to be warm, safe and comfortable on the mountains or the hills.
Nepali salespeople will tell you, while you try on your new gear, that hiking is in the hills and trekking occurs in the mountains – thank goodness we were there in the winter and the high passes were closed.
Though we visited Nepal in the off-season, it was a considered choice as we wanted to go somewhere in January to escape the West Australian summer. Undeterred by the idea of freezing in the highest country in the world we packed lots of woolly clothes and on arrival were pleasantly surprised that winter in Nepal is not a lot different to down south in July!
Our guides confided that they didn’t understand how the winter is the “low” season, as it’s the best time to see the mountains and the scenery as the fog lifts quickly and it doesn’t rain much.
The one drawback I could find was that the famous rhododendron forests were not in flower: the potential beauty was easy to see as the deep green trees were heavy with buds. Blossoming begins in late March and in April the forests turn to pink.
Having established that a three week visit just touches the surface of this wonderful, quirky country, and that the cold is nothing that a good woolly jumper couldn’t fix, a return visit is in order – especially as it’s not difficult to get to Nepal: Perth to Bangkok and then a two hour flight to Kathmandu.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!