Recently I was thinking about the human heart. How big is it? How much can it take? All of us have had a first love, new love, great disappointments and breaks ups. Miraculously, we get through it somehow.
And I am no exception. But on top of all of those life events, I leave a small part of my heart in the countries I have visited. I haven’t yet been to a country that I didn’t like. I lived in Ukraine, and now live in Australia. Little shards of my heart are in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Fiji, China and New Zealand. And now I am in love with Nepal. Real bad, real deep. My heart is still there. So, how do I live without it? I am waiting to go back!
Nepal is an amazing country. I enjoyed meeting the wonderful people, eating simple food, staying in the Himalayas. Those vast spaces make me feel free like a bird (especially if I managed to reach the top somehow). The best way to explore the country is on foot.
I have one sacred wish – I want to see a wild tiger. Not in a zoo, but in the jungle. A few times in India and Sumatra I tried to do so. I spent seven days trekking in Sumatra, hoping to see one. But it never worked out for me.
Here in Nepal we found fresh tiger footprints and I was incredibly happy. It’s the closest I have been to a wild tiger.
I love the Nepalese people. They are very hardworking, friendly and cheerful.
Anywhere I turn there are beautiful hills, lakes or rivers. The natural environment is fantastic here.
Mountains and rivers. Himalayas and Trishuli.
Aren’t these strangely coloured mushrooms? If I didn’t have this photo evidence I would have suspected that they were hallucinogenic and I was seeing things.
A perfect mushroom couple: the husband on the right, wife on the left. Or the other way around.
A big stretch of our trekking was through the jungle. Some parts of the forest looked like they were from horror movies. I was worried that ghosts or zombies would start following us.
Wild orchids grow in abundance all over the trees. Up to about 1500m above sea level, the orchids are pink, long and lush. Above this altitude they become white, small and prolific. I saw a few trees literally covered in orchids from top to bottom.
This is a highly desirable plant in Australia. It can cost more than $100 depending on size.
This is another one. The flower has a very long pistil, which was about 60cm long in this case.
Beautiful bog area with wild hyacinths. On the right in the middle there is a large herd of deer.
Foggy mystic road in the jungle. Sometimes it was quite unnerving as it was just the two of us – my guide Binod and myself- in the wild.
Everything grows huge in this warm and humid climate. Just look at this vine.
However, termite mounds are not quite as big as in the Northern Territory, Australia.
Even if the main religion is Buddhism, there are lots of Indians in Nepal. This huge lock with Ganesha is a good example of the Hindu presence.
In a small family restaurant we found this bird nest right near the light. I even got up on a chair to see if there were any chicks. The owners were quite surprised as:
1) not many tourists come to this village;
2) not many tourists jump on their chairs.
I was really blessed with the guides. On my first trekking trip I got Timalsina Shankar from the Himalayan Social Journey. He supported me through thick and thin. With his encouragement I made it to the Australian Camp.
Half-alive, I arrived at the guest house. Shankar offered to commemorate this event with a photo. He actually took it as well.
At the Australian camp we found a family of cats. I missed my beautiful cat Moorusha so much, that I was ready to kiss every single kitten there.
Their mother found it very funny.
On my second leg of trekking I got Bindaas Binod as a guide from the same travel agency. He was fantastic. So calm, so supportive. On the first day of trekking we made it to Chisapani. To get there we had to climb at least a million steps.
It was a very long walk.
Simple tasty local food. Tibetan bread and porridge.
Nepalese cuisine isn’t hot or spicy. The main dish is Dalbhat: rice, pickles, few veggies and chicken. I don’t eat meat while travelling, so for me it’s always vegetarian.
At one of the villages, Shankar pointed to me two typical types of beehives. Just a hollow log and a wooden box. They are quite different to the ones I saw in Australia. I heard that mountain honey is really tasty, but I didn’t try it.
This is a large, open space, where the locals hold some of their rituals and festivals. By belief, every single flag conveys people’s wishes to the sky. It is clear that there were lots and lots of wishes.
It has been two years after the big earthquake struck Nepal, however it is not even close to full recovery. These hotels were totally destroyed and probably will never be rebuilt.
It’s not only hotels and businesses that are still in a demolished state. We saw a few villages where people live in temporary tin accommodations, which are hot in summer and cold in winter.
Chisapani looked quite depressing because of all that destruction. There were no proper hotels left for tourists.
Binod found one family, which was renting rooms out. This is what I got. I had to sleep fully dressed and put a T-shirt over the pillow, as the cleanliness and condition of the linen were horrible. But it was only once, the rest of accomodation was really good and clean.
Every day I hoped to see a beautiful sunrise or sunset. This is a photo of a typical morning.
About two hours later the sun would be high in the sky and we could admire Annapurna and other mountains. This is a view from the roof of the Australian Camp guesthouse.
And this is a panoramic shot from Sarankot.
Sometimes we could see fantastic clouds.
While trekking through a small village we met a group of school kids. They were waiting for a school bus, but we had a minute to take a photo. Shankar is a really good photographer.
In a tiny restaurant somewhere in the Himalayas I found this poster. It resonated with me at that moment. “Life is adventure – Dare it. Life is an opportunity – Take it”.
Hey, Binod! We are not done yet! Annapurna is waiting!