Pure Nature of Nepal
Live like a local in one of thirteen Nepal villages.
It’s very true when they say that you need to visit villages in order to see the true life of locals. With this in mind and couple of recommendation by Sohan Kumar Khatri, the manager at Connecting Int'l Tours and Travels, we hit the road to find a bus to Bakhtapur, one of the best-preserved medieval towns with the tallest temple in the whole country.
Before checking out of the hostel, co-resident Japanese guy gave us the ticket to enter the city, which should have been valid for a couple of days. We were very grateful, as we could have saved $15 per person for the entrance fee.
As the city lacks with signs, with asking around we somehow managed to find the bus stop. It was already on the move, so with our huge backpacks, we literally jumped into a driving minibus.
Local public transportation here works differently. Each vehicle has a "steward", who stands at the doorway with half of his body outside of the vehicle, shouts the destinations and if someone agrees, he bangs on the car letting the driver know to slow down for the passenger to jump into a moving minibus or a bus. He also is the one you pay to, not the driver.
As we drive, the minibus gets crowded and overcrowded in 10 minutes with no air to breathe. Approximately in an hour, we arrive in Bakhtapur where the "steward" rips us off and charges us double. Additionally, he wanted us to pay for our backpacks; we agreed to pay for Mariam's as it was taking up space in the front seat, but mine was moved to the boot. It the end we paid $1.5 instead of 50 US cents.
As all the hotels and guest houses are located in the city, I hand the ticket and money for the second ticket to the ticket officer. The man tells me that the ticket was valid for only one day. I try to explain that the guide says differently but he refuses to listen or let me speak. I get furious and ask for my money back. Paying $30 for a day trip just to enter the city is a bit much when you are a budget traveler, but that's fine, I should leave something out in order to come back.
We didn't let this accident ruin our mood and decided to visit nearby village - Changu Narayan, significant by the oldest temple in the country where Lord Vishnu resided.
Located at 1,541 meters above the sea level, it is one of the seven UNESCO's World Heritage sites in Nepal. The two storied roof temple has four entrances, each guarded by pairs of animals such as lions, elephants, sharabhas (a creature of Hindu Mythology which is the half lion and half bird) and griffins while ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are curved in the struts which support the roof.
The entrance to the village costs $1 and can be entered several times with the same ticket. The village seems like an 'open museum' with really nice people, typical Nepalese houses, simple way of life and peaceful atmosphere.
While talking with one of the locals, Krishna, who owns two souvenir shops here, I learned that Nepal is not an industrial country, and those few goods manufactured here are consumed by locals. Carpet, pashmina (fine cashmere wool made from a Pashmina goat, a special breed of goat residing at high altitudes of the India, Nepal and Pakistan) and handy crafts are the only things they export mainly to China, India and USA. The whole country pretty much leaves on tourism and agriculture. This is why most youngsters flee to Australia, Japan or USA, notes Krishna.
He also told us that Nepal, same as India, has a cast system. However, the rules are not as strict as it used to. A legislation reform of 1962, made it illegal to discriminate against other castes, making education free and open to all. Thus, as the representative of a higher caste he has to obey some social rules, for instance he cant drink alcohol in public places.
Even though their culture and traditions are very similar, Nepalese does not like when we underline the fact. The locals joke that Nepal stands for 'Never Ending Peace And Love', while their neighbor India for 'I Never Do It Again'.
After spending four days here, we became "locals"; we knew that every morning our neighbor would sit on the rooftop and paint the wooden masks that would be sold in a shop on the ground floor, that each evening ladies of the village would come to spring near our guest house and collect water for their families and each time we would pass near the gate, people would ask how was our day and where we will be going next. Even the ticket officer would not check our tickets at the entrance.
We even learned some Nepalese and now can order a meal and say 'thank you, it was delicious'.
Originally written by Baia Dzagnidze via www.redfedoradiary.com