Eric and I visited Nepal for a month in october/november of
2000. The rest of this page is a description of our trip,
including excerpts from my diary and photographs. For a brief
and practical description see this
page. Click on the images on the right to see the enlarged
photographs; the links within the diary excerpts all lead to
the same photographs.
Arrival in Kathmandu, October 10th and 11th 2000
Annapurna Base Camp trek: October 12th to October 28th 2000
Royal Chitwan National Park: October 29th to November 1st 2000
Rafting Bhote Kosi and culture in and around Kathmandu, November 2nd to November 7th 2000
|Thursday November 2nd, 2000
Today was spent relaxing and shopping in Thamel.
|Friday November 3rd, 2000
Just six in the morning, and we were waiting outside the office of Drift Nepal, a rafting agency. With four other tourists, we were taken to a bus which drove us to a flat spot right next to the Bhote Kosi river, to the northeast of Kathmandu. After a brief instruction on rafting and what to do in emergencies, we put on our splash jackets, life jackets, and helmets, and rode down the river in the raft for about two hours. The Bhote Kosi at this time of year is class three on the calm parts, with class four and a few class five rapids, and the class three part looked bad enough to me – I was not at all comfortable. Although I was a little scared of falling out for most of the time, I did find the ride thrilling, and I felt a little more confident about tomorrow’s ride. Dinner at our camping spot by the river was great, and it was fun talking to the other tourists, before the six of us settled down under the raft – propped up at an angle to form a “roof” – for the night.
|Saturday November 4th, 2000
Hefty rafting! “Gerbil in the Plumbing,” “Dizzy and Confused,” “Carnal Knowledge of a Deviant Nature,” were no problem for us, but “Frog in the Blender” was quite a challenge. We got stuck somewhere right in the middle of the raging rapid and stood upto our chests in the freezing water, on our sunken raft, for about twenty minutes, before we were rescued: one by one, we grasped a line and jumped into the river while someone pulled us to the shore! Quite exciting! I got over my fear of falling out after that, and actually had fun riding the rapids and getting thoroughly wet.
|Sunday November 5th, 2000
This day passed in a haze, I was very sick with diarroea and vomiting, and shivering with cold. I could barely make it from the bed to the toilet and back. Eric went into Thamel a few times but I was far too sick.
|Monday November 6th, 2000
After breakfast I decided I was well enough to go sightseeing, but didn’t feel up to a long day of public transportation, so we hired a guide – Shaligram – plus a car and driver, for a day. Shaligram is a lecturer in sociology at the university, and we learned a lot from him. We started off in a Buddhist atmosphere: the huge stupa at Bodnath (Boudhanath) is the largest in Nepal. I found the Buddhist ways of enhancing their prayers very inventive – prayers are inscribed on wheels or printed on flags, and every time the wheel turns or the flag blows in the wind, the prayer is “said.” Is this an example of primitive engineering?
Hinduism and Buddhism reside side by side in Nepal, and our next stop was at the large Hindu temple of Pashu Patinath, where we watched the cremation of a young woman. I was particularly surprised at the stoic behavior of her husband and the other men gathered round – they almost appeared uninterested. Part of this was probably just veneer, but our guide said that he expects the woman had probably married into her husband’s family recently; custom does not allow a married woman's family to attend her cremation, and her husband’s family might not have had the time to get to know her, hence the apparent lack of feelings. The lack of display of sadness made me feel pretty sad, actually, and this was augmented by the fifty-odd tourists taking photographs from the other side of the holy river.
We visited Bhaktapur and Kathmandu’s Durbar Square in the afternoon. The Kathmandu valley was a wealthy region in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the temples and palaces that remain from this period testify to this fact. Bhaktapur, in particular, is definitely worth a visit, with its beautifully restored center.
|Tuesday November 7th, 2000
Today was Eric’s turn to be sick. I visited Swayambunath by myself, and although the stupa is worth visiting I was irritated by the souvenir vendors who will simply not back off if you so much as glance at their wares.
We flew back to the Netherlands in the early evening. It was not a pleasant trip, as Eric was too sick to stand for more than a minute or so, but we made it back home.