Saturday, June 30, 2012

travel in nepal(3)

Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel and Bookpleasures is honored to have as our guest author and writer, Sally Wendkos Olds.
Sally has written about family, children, women, relationships, sexuality, psychology, health, and travel, and has authored several books.
Sally has also contributed articles to: McCall's, Ms., New York Times Magazine, Redbook, Woman's Day, and many other major publications.
In 1993 Sally and artist Margaret Roche trekked to the remote village of Badel located in the eastern hills of Nepal. They were the first western women to go there.
Sally, could you tell our readers something about yourself and why you wanted to trek to Badel? How many times have you returned since your first trip?
I had travel in Nepal twice before with my husband, Mark, who was fulfilling a boyhood dream by going there. In 1987 we went to the Annapurna region and in 1991 to the Everest area, and I fell in love with this little Himalayan kingdom.
I became entranced by the remarkable sweetness and cheerfulness of the Nepali people. In spite of their poverty and hard lives, none of the Nepalis I had met showed bitter, hostile, or even resigned faces to the world. I wanted to learn more about them - and I wanted to learn what they could teach me. I eventually did both.
Mark, whose knee gives him trouble, did not want to go back to Nepal. Through serendipitous circumstances (which I describe in the book) I met Margaret Roche, an artist who had also trekked in Nepal several times, and we decided to go together to a remote hill village and stay with local families. We went to Badel for the first time in 1993, and we returned together three more times, plus one trip each on our own. I have now been to Nepal seven times.
Where exactly is Nepal, as well as Badel? How easy or difficult is it to travel to Nepal and what can travelers expect once they are there?
Nepal is a narrow, crescent-shaped country about the size of Florida, with a population of about 27 million. It lies north of India and south of Tibet, separated from it by the Himalayas, the youngest and highest mountain range in the world. It's easy to get there if you don't mind multi hours in the air and in airports changing planes. Getting to Kathmandu, the capital, from North America involves about 20 hours of flying time. Badel, in the eastern hills due south of Mount Everest, is reached by a 35-minute flight from Kathmandu to a small airstrip in the village of Lamidanda, and then by a three-day trek, since there are no roads into the village.
Kathmandu is a lively, crowded city of half a million. It's full of the roar of motorcycles; the beeping of horns by taxi drivers swerving around sacred cows resting in the middle of busy thoroughfares; and men and boys trying to sell you carpets or hashish or the all-purpose nostrum "tiger balm," change dollars on the black market, or take you for rickety rides in bicycle rickshaws.
Much business takes place on the street - and also in the many shops and in the restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. Religion too takes place in the streets, dotted with Hindu and Buddhist shrines and temples.
I noticed you had written an article about a Himalayan Seder-Passover in Kathmandu. What was this all about?
For about the past dozen years a group of Lubavitchers from Brooklyn (New York) have held an annual Passover celebration on the grounds of the Israeli Embassy in Kathmandu, flying over some 250 frozen kosher chickens, countless jars of gefilte fish, and scores of boxes of matzo.
Israel and Nepal have cooperated with each other since 1960, and Nepal is a popular travel destination for young Israelis, especially after they complete their military service. About 1,000 Israelis come to this seder every year, and in 1993 I was lucky enough to be able to join in.
As many of our readers are interested in romantic destinations, could you describe some unique and romantic destinations in Nepal, and would you recommend Nepal as a romantic destination?
I would recommend Nepal as a romantic destination for any couple who enjoy visiting exotic cultures and getting to know each other in a totally new environment.
* Those who like hiking, camping, and the beauties of nature can experience all these in Nepal. Kathmandu, the capital, offers 5-star hotels and simple guesthouses, top-flight restaurants, gorgeous Himalayan vistas, artistic splendour, and fascinating sight-seeing and cultural opportunities.
* Pokhara, in the geographic center of the country, is known for its stunning natural beauty, with a gentle climate, tropical flowers, a sapphire lake, and magnificent mountain views.
* At Chitwan National Park in the south, you can ride on elephants, go white-water rafting, see tigers, rhinos, and some fifty other kinds of mammals, as well as 400 species of birds.
* The world-renowned Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge provides luxurious accommodations and food, and a number of more modest lodges are in and just outside the park.
* Along popular trekking routes you can either camp out in tents or stay at teahouse-lodges, some of which are high-end, while others are humble. Tour agencies can make all your arrangements for any of these destinations, or you can go independently and hire your own guides.
You are the author of a book entitled, A Balcony In Nepal: Glimpses Of A Himalayan Village. Could you tell us something about the book and what made you want to write the book?
The book is about the way of life in Badel, a remote hamlet in Nepal's eastern hills, and how Marge Roche and I were affected by our visits with the people there.
Through our guide, Buddi Rai, the first university graduate from Badel, we were able to meet and talk with the village midwife, headman, school- teachers, shamans, and other citizens. We learned about marriage, birth, death, and many other customs. Some of the people we met have been immortalized by Marge's graceful drawings and water- colors, which are in the book.
At first we thought this way of life would go on forever, but now I wonder whether we may have witnessed the twilight of a changing way of life. The nine-year-old insurgency in Nepal by Mao-inspired guerrillas, has affected village life and sent many villagers to new lives in the cities. Still, some aspects of life in Nepal's many regions without electricity or roads will probably endure for years. And once peace returns, the inherent sweetness and friendliness of Nepal's people will, I am sure, have survived intact. I have to add here that although the rebellion has sparked violence in many outlying areas, no tourists have been targeted, and visitors from around the world continue to come to Nepal to experience its many treasures.
As a follow up, can you explain some of your research techniques, and how you found sources for your book?
For this book, unlike the other nine I have written, most of my research involved living in the country and observing the people and events around me. I was what anthropologists call a "participant-observer."
Although I took a few lessons in the Nepali language before I left the U.S. most of my conversations with local people were translated by Buddi, our guide, who speaks excellent English. My sources were right there in the village. I did expand my knowledge of Nepal's history and culture by reading scholarly books, most of which I purchased in the excellent English-language book stores in Kathmandu. Through them I learned about the Gurkha soldiers, the many different ethnic groups in Nepal, the succession of rulers, and other aspects of the country and her people. I'm happy to say that A Balcony in Nepal has been republished in India for the Southeast Asia market and is now available in Kathmandu.
What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while traveling to Nepal? How did you overcome these challenges?
The main challenge was the physical one. Before every trek I trained for months. I hiked on hills and walked up and down flights of stairs (up to a total of 1,000 steps), so that I would be able to master the endless hills of Nepal. (You don't have to be a super-athlete, however; I was 53 years old when I first went, and 70 on my last trip.)
I also needed to be immunized against a number of diseases. And I always took with me supplies of medicines, including antibiotics against intestinal and respiratory illness, some of which I did experience. I also took out travel insurance in the remote possibility that I would need to be helicoptered out of a remote location.
Once there, as in any Third World country, I was careful about what I ate and drank, and I made sure to get enough rest after the strenuous days of trekking. For the most part, I'm happy to say that I stayed in good health and returned safe.
Since the first time you traveled to Nepal, what changes have you noticed over the years with each of your return adventures?
When I first went to Kathmandu in 1987, the streets in Thamel, the back-packer neighbourhood where I have always stayed, were dirt roads; now they are paved. Garbage pick-up was a matter of stray dogs and sacred cows eating from piles in the streets; now trucks come by every morning.
The number of gourmet restaurants, high-end shops, and 5-star hotels has mushroomed over the years. Communication with the outside world has become more widespread with the advent of email and the Internet, and the cities are full of inexpensive cyber-caf├ęs. In the villages solar power has enabled the use of house lights and television sets.
One change in Badel was brought about with Marge's and my help - we raised money to fulfill Buddi's dream to start a library in his village, and we saw it in operation. Another change I wrote about in the book was the plastic surgery that corrected cleft lips in two village children - and gave them new smiles and new lives.
When did your passion for writing begin? What kept you going?
As a child I wrote poems and stories, and in college I majored in English Literature, but my real passion for writing did not begin until after my first child was born, and I began to write articles about infant care. I went on to write about women's and children's health, and other subjects including the civil rights movement, in which I was involved.
My first book was about breastfeeding, a topic close to my heart, since I had nursed all three of my children and found it a fulfilling experience. The Complete Book of Breastfeeding was published in 1972, has gone into three revised and updated editions, sold about two million copies, become a classic in the field, and is now being read by the daughters of the women who read the first edition. Sometimes when I have a bad day at my desk I look around my office and see the covers of the ten books I have written, and I get the confidence to go on with whatever I am struggling with at the moment.
I understand you are familiar with some wedding venues in Vietnam. Perhaps, you could describe one or two and indicate why they are unique?
In February 2005 Mark and I visited the city of Dalat, the "jewel" of Vietnam's central highlands. It was a popular hill station when the French controlled Vietnam and is now a favorite honeymoon spot for Vietnamese couples.
Dalat has been called Le Petit Paris, the City of Eternal Spring, and the City of Flowers. It boasts a miniature Eiffel Tower, a beautiful lake, lush gardens, a golf club, and hotels ranging from modest to magnificent. Side trips include a tour of an emperor's summer palace; a visit to a village populated by the Lat ethnic group; the Valley of Love, with paddle boats, canoes, and motorboats for rent on the lake; and a ride on a cog-railway train to a village with an ornate pagoda.
What is next for Sally Wendkos Olds?
These days I am juggling three kinds of activities: interviewing fire-fighters for an oral history project; presenting slide talks about Nepal and China and preparing one about Vietnam; and working on the manuscript of a novel that I just resurrected from my file cabinet.
Norm; Thanks once again Sally and good luck with all of your future endeavours.
Norm Goldman is the Editor of the book reviewing site and the travel site,
Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, they meld words with art focusing on romantic and wedding destinations.

travel in nepal(2)

Nepal is a country in Tibet, featuring mountains, valleys, clean air, crystal springs and amazing feeling of loneliness. Buddhism temples are scattered all around the country and they attract curious travelers from all around the globe.

The main attraction of the country is its nature. In travel in nepal, one will find the highest summits of the world, the famous mountains as well as thousands of picturesque places. No less popular is rafting and canoeing down the mountain rivers. The history and culture of Nepal are no less popular. Monasteries, temples, festivals and ancient religious ceremonies, the country's rich history, the unique mixture of nationalities and religions - that is another interesting image of the country.

The most popular part of Nepal is Kathmandu Valley. The main cities of the country are located here: Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Kathmandu is a big enough city and the capital of the country. Narrow streets, unusual architecture, hundreds of temples and stupas, everlasting fragrance of incense and the weird rhythm of life. There is little space in the small valley, so it is difficult to say where one city ends and another one begins. And at the same time, the surrounding hills are green with various plants, and there is the Nagarjun Reserve nearby.

There are hundreds of attractions in the city, including the wooden Kasthamandal temple, the Jagannath Temple, Maru Ganesh, and many other sights. Attention of the tourists is often attracted to the famous Swayambhunat stupa, 'The Temple of the Apes', founded more than two thousand years ago. The center of the city, Palace Square, is surrounded by 50 churches and palace Nautalle. The grand palace Singha Durbar and the residence of the King of Nepal are the object of pride of the people. The surrounding area hosts a lot of places of worship, where one can wander for hours. Tamelo tourist quarter is famous for its many shops with souvenirs and luxurious hotels. In the vicinity of the city, there is the famous Vishnu statue in the center of the pond with a cascade of fountains. The National Museum od Nepal has a good historical collection and a fine collection of weapons. The mountain resort of Nagarkot is an ideal place to stay in solitude and think about the meaning of life.

Buddhist temples and monasteries are the main landmark of the neighboring city of Lalitpur, which is often called the 'beautiful city'. Mahabihar monastery is one of the main sights here and the place where the kings of Nepal were crowned. Mahabodhi temple is a copy of the temple in India, where Buddha got enlightenment. Here one will also find the only zoo in the country, as well as numerous jewelry and art studios.

Bhaktapur is another ancient capital of Nepal, known for its architectural monuments and inhabited mostly by Hindus. In Bhaktapur, there are more than a dozen Buddhist temples, the beautiful palace of Malla dynasty, the famous Golden Gate, and many other sights.

Pokhara is the second most important city of Nepal on the shores of beautiful Lake Feva-Tal. Pokhara is well prepared to welcome the tourists. Countless hotels and resorts, restaurants and shops stretch along the entire coast of the lake. There is a Hindu temple in the middle of the lake, and on the opposite bank there is a magnificent stupa and monastery. In the south of the country the town of Lumbini is situated. It is considered to be the birthplace of Buddha. Many Buddhist temples are built here in different architectural styles, representing Buddhist countries. Another interesting place is Martha, Tibetan place, famous for its orchards, apple pies and cider, as well as temples. After the annexation of Tibet by China, many refugees have settled here, bringing their traditions and customs with them.

travel in nepal

Many people enjoy travel in Nepal for many reasons, the beautiful mountains, the unique diverse cultures, the great food and the healing energy that exists throughout the country. Many travelers coming to Nepal would not immediately think about how interesting it can be to watch or sit in traffic or even to simply watch how a petrol station works.
The world seems to be having a fuel crisis and if you should travel to Nepal you will find that here it is no different, although their approach - like everything else in the country - has been temporarily resolved with thinking outside of the typical box. In most countries, those in need of some fuel can freely drive up to any gas station or petrol/diesel pump and there will not have to wait to buy what they need. If there is a delay, then it is to wait for maybe one or two cars and you can go on your way. In Nepal, you would be considered lucky if the petrol station is open and even more fortunate if it has any fuel to sell.
A line at the petrol pump, signifies that there is "actually fuel today" where in most countries the populations are complaining of increasing gas prices yet they do not even care to know how fortunate it is that they even have the opportunity to buy fuel. When traveling to Nepal you will find that to buy fuel for a vehicle, just like everywhere else, gives the purchaser the opportunity to make money. Yes it costs money (and I am not saying that the prices do not imply "highway robbery") but to get this fuel, it allows you to use it to make more money by helping you get to work via public transportation such as taxi or bus and also helps you get to and from work if you have your own vehicle. Even if you are just visiting Nepal, this fuel is an essential part of your trip. For those who travel to Nepal, they will have a need for buses, taxi's or even a private vehicle - all requiring the difficult task of attaining the fuel.
The petrol lines alone really test the need and desire of any driver to survive in this fuel-dependent world. In Nepal there are two lines at every station, one for motorcycles and one for automobiles. The lines for both are usually equally long in length sometimes with the driver in the waiting car (or not). The missing driver could be out trying to make money without the help of his car until the petrol pumps open.
Now when I say long lines, I do not simply mean around the block, I literally mean down the street around the corner up the hill and down two more streets and even then the line might go on. Anyone traveling here for the first time will find this sight unbelievable! They immediately think, 'Who would wait in that line, it is ridiculous!' The traveler soon finds although the sight seems crazy it is still interesting to see.
Unfortunately, these atrocious lines create intense and complicated traffic jams that can be - for lack of a better phrase - a pain in the ass. Local or traveler, you might have to sit in traffic just because of the location of the petrol pump - right next to tight passing lane areas that are easily and often congested with cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians all trying to pass at the same time. Sitting in your incommodious car on your bum for hours at a time, can even cause an actual pain in your ass. This may happen whether you are or are not even in line for the fuel, you could just merely be trying to pass the cramped road.
In fact, the way these inconvenient traffic jams happen is this: a car pulls into the line for the pump, maybe his vehicle sticks out into the street just a tiny bit. More cars will get into the line behind him. Eventually, there are countless cars parked in front and behind him waiting for fuel and the vehicles are so close together there will be no moving them until the station opens and each driver attempt to get their fuel. Meanwhile, the narrow road will find two cars going in opposite directions that will try to pass the obstacle at the same time but are not able to maneuver around it without damaging their property.
While you (the hopeful traveler) are watching all of this normal chaos from your taxi, the problem seems like it would be easy to fix, if one of the cars simply backed up and let the other car go by, the problem would merely disappear. But while the thought process of backing up and letting the other pass is happening, motorcycles and other cars traveling in both directions have come up behind the impassable road, causing there to be a line to get by the small gap between the two front-line cars. There is no space - maybe an inch or two between the two 'problem' cars, and now all the vehicles will need to work together to maneuver around this once small bottleneck in the road.
(For those who have never traveled to Nepal, it is important to mention that the driving laws are very limited. If a motorcycle can fit by the jam, they will drive right through the little bit of space that an automobile could use to move out of the way. Everyone just pushes their way to the front adding to the thickness of the traffic jam.)
Finally some passing pedestrian - since the police might not be conveniently around - will start to direct everyone to get the cars, motorcycles and other pedestrians all moving in a helpful manner to get everyone around this one small seemingly insignificant blemish. Petrol can take hours out of someone's day whether they need the fuel or not.
So back to the line for the fuel. When the pumps finally open, with the one line for motorcycles and one for automobiles, you might think of filling up your tank and then stocking up on fuel and saving it at your home for when another dip in availability happens. This is such a sweet and innocent thought, but in reality during these times of 'crisis' the petrol stations only allow a certain amount of fuel or a certain amount based on money per person/ per vehicle. Just when you think you have outsmarted everyone and you will not have to constantly wait in these ridiculously long lines, they tell you how it is. There is only so much fuel for the country and with such a high demand they keep it fair by only allowing each customer so much - it could be one or two liters or limited, for example, to 500 rupees per person.
Now you might be a little bitter about the fact that there is a limit on how much fuel you are allowed to buy at any one time, but at least there was some fuel for you to buy for the day (that is if you reached the front of the line before they ran out of petrol).
It is interesting how so many people in the world find the outrageous prices for fuel to be something they need to waste their energy and complaining on a daily basis.
Travel to Nepal and you will see the lack of fuel here and its high in price for the typical Nepali income is mostly seen as a light hearted joke among the locals. The quantity and availability of the necessity that is fuel, they know is out of their hands, so they just adapt to the situation and continue on with their daily lives not usually wasting time bickering about their "victimized" situation and instead they keep thinking outside of the box to make money how they can.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


A great place for adventure and enjoyment of natural beauty is Nepal. Nepal Tours takes you through Himalayan highlights, where this beautifully, prominent tourist destination is located. Known as a colorful nation, the glory of Nepal lies in the adventure, nature and culture that the country offers. The landscape is dominated by mountains, valleys, mid-hills and lakes. A host of rivers flow from Nepal, all the way through Tibet, meeting the Ganges. tour in nepal is a convenient venture owing to its proximity towards India.

Cultural Expedition

A wide range of racial and ethnic groups hail from this country, such as, Brahmans, Tamangs, Gurungs. Newars etc. The diversity of its people and region give rise to different languages and dialects. Nepal Holidays reveal how, art, culture and religion are a part and parcel of Nepal's inhabitants. Unique cultural groups like Yadavs, Tharu, Ahir and others reside here.

A splendid sight of Nepal's culture is seen in its architectural structures. Nepal tours take you to the country's lively capital, Kathmandu. Here you come across Hindu temples, Buddhist sites and monasteries. Indian style temples, Kasthamandap, the monkey temple and a temple complex, located right in the middle of the city are some of the interesting things to see. The Golden Gate is one of the most richly carved gates, resembling deities and monsters. Visiting mountains and religious shrines help you understand the complexities of Nepalese culture. Nepal holidays are an adventure through Kathmandu, Pokhara and Nagarkot, each having its own beauty.

Wildlife and Trekking

One of the places worth visiting in Nepal is the Chitwan National Park. It is one of the most well-preserved areas. This huge and beautiful conservation area is home to endangered species of the one - horned Indian rhino, gharial crocodile, sloth bear, barking deer and many other animals. Elephant and jeep safaris are a regular feature in the park.

Walking safaris, canoeing trips, boat trips and jungle treks are some of the other exciting things to do. Trek lovers can discover grand wildlife, and engage in bird watching too. Trekking is a big attraction here, so tourists get on to some form of trek or the other. This part of the adventure gives a good understanding of the people and their culture. Trekking in the peak season gives the best view of mountains as the air is pristine and the skies are blue and clear.


Nepal lies in the Abode of Snow: The Himalayas. The mountain kingdom has unique history of never being ruled by a foreign ruler or imperialist power although both of its neighbors India and China have a long history of being dominated by foreign rule since the late medieval times. This factor has contributed largely to the preservation of the originality of the century old Himalayan and Tibetan tradition and culture in the country.

People often tour in Nepal to witness its lofty peeks and Snow covered mountains. But besides this unparalleled natural beauty Nepal has a lot more to offer. Nepal has a very distinct culture, which has been shaped in isolation of the outer world. The Hindu and Buddhist religion have their own set of varied beliefs and practices in Nepal as compared to India and China. Nepal tour has been popular for its natural beauty but of late Nepal Culture Tour is becoming a favorite among the tourists who never get tired of exploring newer lifestyles and culture of the people around the world.

The Nepalese history is full of fables and myths about Brave kings, magic and politics. The royal past of the country can be witnessed in the Capital of Nepal: Kathmandu. The famous Pashupatinath temple gives an insight into the religious beliefs of the people of Nepal which is an inseparable part of their culture and lifestyle.

Many people in the semi urban and rural Nepal can still be seen wearing the traditional Nepalese costumes. Folk dances, music and cuisine of the people can be best experienced in these areas and the tour packages will make sure that the visitors do miss even a bit of the Nepal.

People on Nepal holidays are often spellbound by the richness of its architecture. Bronze figures and pottery offers very rich and beautiful art of the people. In a country that it mostly over 5000m above the sea level, such architectural marvels call for praises with the consideration that Nepal was mostly isolated from the rest of the world until the modern era of history and had very backward technology as compared to the western world.

Besides the temples, monasteries and the historical monuments, tourists can also opt for the trekking tours which can lasts from a few days to about a month. These tours are the best way to explore Nepal as the tourists get a chance to stay in the villages and interact with the people patiently. They will also be able to share their lifestyles.


Nepal being the home of many lofty mountains and hill is a paradise for adventure tourists. Nepal is the homeland of great Himalaya. There are many sky touching mountain picks and ambitious hills in Nepal offering a great opportunity to the tourists. Nepal is one of the best trekking destinations. Besides trekking, tourist can enjoy sight seeing of stunning landscape, lush natural vegetation, exotic wildlife and wonderful climatic drama of clouds and snow-wind.
Nepal has a number of tourist destinations. Now let's know about important trekking destinations in Nepal.
Ghorepani Poon Hill:
Ghorepani-Poon Hill offers all the best trekking in Nepal. Enjoy the wonderful view of Dhaulagiri and the Kaligandaki gorge during the trek. You will come in contact with charming villagers, spectacular mountain ranges, dense lushly forest and exotic wildlife in course of trekking this hill. You can accommodate at the hill in a teahouse in a very homely manner. The hill offers you wonderful view of Annapurna region at high altitude.
Mount Everest:
Trekking Mt. Everest can be a lifetime wonderful experience. It is among one of the most sought trekking destinations in the world and during the tour in nepal. Trekkers can acknowledge with Buddhist monasteries and Sherpa villagers during trekking Everest. Some of the best trekking routes in these regions are Everest Base Camp trek, Lukla trek - Phakding and Kathmandu-Namche Bazaar trek. Enjoy trekking at these adventurous routes.
Annapurna region:
The sky-touching Annapurna is the best trekking region in Nepal. It is not for ordinary trekker. Only skilled trekker can enjoy best trekking here due to dangerous path. Interesting trekking route in Annapurna region are Kathmandu-Pokhara, Nayapul, Poon Hill, Base Camp, etc. During trekking you will also cross the home of Tibettan Buddhist and many Hindu pilgrimages. Muktinath is the great Hindu pilgrimage site that comes in the way. You can also see the world's deepest river gorge here. You can also enjoy panoramic view of Nilgiri Hill and Dhaulagiri Hill from the Annapurna mountain range. Trekker can visit holy Kali Gandek.
Kanchenjunga region:
Kanchenjunga is the highest peak in the Himalayan region of Nepal and Sikkim. The region is a very rich in flora and fauna and offers an ideal habitat to various exotic animal and plant kingdom. Trekking here is a nit difficult but is considered challenging among trekkers and so they try to exploit this isolated trekking part.
Langtang, the valley of glacier:
This region is both a trekking spot and natural tourist spot. The area is dominated with snow capped mountain, thick lush forest, rare species of wildlife, flowing glaciers and Buddhist monasteries. Nepal Trek can be made more enjoyable while trekking in this naturally endowed place.
Some of the other popular regions for Trekking in Nepal are Mustang, Ganesh Himal, Arun Valley, etc.