I know, I know. It's almost as if I was continuing to read an invisible list of countries with vast planes and huge mountain ranges. However, Nepal is not on the Wanderlust list for the same reason as New Zealand. Read ahead to see why.
Unlike Kiwiland (reasonably young country), Nepal has an immensely rich and ancient history behind it; entangled in both small and large cultures alike, spanning several millenia. Tucked away between the mammoth countries of China (North) and India (South), it might seem comparatively small, but with over 147 thousand km2 it fundamentally rejects words that we, city-dwellers, have become all too familiar with. Words like crowded, packed or cramped.
Its geography can be broken up in its simplest form to 1. mountains in the north (Himalayas) 2. hilly Midlands in the.... uh... middle 3. and flatlands in the South (Terai region).
Now, with all that textbook stuff out of the way, we can focus on more of the good stuff. Food! Due to the fertile land and the country's lack of imports and exports, Nepal thrives on locally grown produce. A variety of hearty vegetables, grains, lean meats, and spices such as cumin, coriander, chilies and mustard oil decorate most meals. And with their love for lentils (dal) and pickles (achar), Nepalese cuisine is basically Hungarian (my) cuisine's healthier cousin. While there isn't an official national dish, Dal Bhat comes pretty close, and when Into the Fort finally hits the road, our first stop in Kathmandu (capital) is to get some Momos (steamed or fried dumplings, pictured below).
Besides the obvious trekking opportunities and amazing cuisine, there's one more tantalizing aspect for this visit. The charming country's people. In my brief existence on this planet, I haven't heard any negative or offensive remarks towards Nepalese people and while I'm not naive enough to believe that they're all saints, I have had the pleasure of working with a handful of natives. To my pleasure and surprise, I've found them to be the most hard-working, honest people I've met, full of humility and character. So, in all fairness, curiosity gets the best of me again, and I wish to travel to those small villages and rural towns on the outskirts of modern civilization and learn something from the humble locals who spend their life in humility, simplicity and use the wondrous nature and wildlife around them to build their life.
In short, my wandering in Nepal will largely consist of taking on rough, questionable roads; trekking in various regions (Annapurna, Langtang); eating food how food originally was supposed to be; and enjoying life in its simplest, least distracting form. Who knows, I might even have an adventure or two...
Thanks for reading, Ben