Nepal 2011: A Struggle for Beauty

My first view of The Mountains (not like those hills back home) is from my plane from Bangkok to Kathmandu. The entire plane looks out the window in awe. We land with a welcome sign. The Mountains.

The visa on arrival line goes quickly, and I’m in a taxi to my hotel in no time. There are hundreds of shops. Guiding services with plenty of options, cheap outdoor equipment and small grocery stores crowd the bustling downtown. It smells fantastic, and in no time I’m eating a curry. I talk with some guides and worry about the cold. It’s

January. I’m planning on going up to over 17,800 feet with temperatures around -10 to -40 Celsius.

Nepal is developing as a country, there is no question. This causes hiccups, but the country is working through big changes with the dedication the people are known for. Great, simple food is everywhere. Hotels are matching the demands of foreign tourists. There are plenty of activities for idle hands. In 2011 Nepal has set a goal of 1,000,000 tourists. Last year, they had more than 500,000, as reported by the hotel staff.

I don’t know whether to admire the country for a lofty goal like this, especially when you look at the *very* developing infrastructure. They are aiming (and being scoffed at by their newspapers) to have the equivalent to one week’s worth of Denver International Airport’s visitors.

In the month I spent there, I met some of the quirkiest, happiest and genuine people on the planet. They seemed few and far between though, as the tourist circuit has formed a weird relationship.

The mountains are amazing. 8,000-meter peaks escort your walk up valleys with turquoise water, green firs and titanic rock walls.

I have to be honest here, I wrote the negative post first and find whatever I type here as a glossing over of how I really feel. I decided to write two posts as I walked the road to Manang. The good doesn’t deserve to be by the bad, online at least.

For all the negatives, there sure are a lot of positives in the beauty of the mountains and people.

Some pictures, perhaps, will help:

River crossing

The rivers have house-sized boulders. They’re amazing to look at. I spent hours at their banks watching them tumble down the mountain.

Annapurna Circuit

Getting to the top of a 5,000-meter peak was as close to religion that I have ever felt. I came alive, and a “Sound of Music” fit of gleeful spinning took place. (Perhaps that was the lack of oxygen.)

-40 (both c and f) at the Thorong Pass in Nepal (17769 feet). Took my hat off for the picture, went right back on, the wind was gusting.  Made it from High Camp in two hours, we had a quick group.

We were able to cross the Throng La pass, at 5,400 meters, one of the highest mountain passes in the world. It was -40 degrees at the top with the wind chill.

Mountains and script

The Buddhist reminders are everywhere. You can feel the influence from the mountains.

Waterfall

This is, in comparison to the negative one I wrote before, is the post everyone writes. I came, I experienced, it was pretty.

  • kia

    Beautiful images. It is nice to see your smiling face.

  • I’m glad the pretty revealed itself eventually. Following your earlier observations, however, I’m left shaken. You report a place I believed to be a paradise is something else. Something awful, with a view.

    I’ve traveled to the third world often enough to see what is behind the postcard scenes. But none of what I’ve experienced compares to your earlier accounts. Awkward development is one thing. It tears at my heart, however, to consider the hardening of a people’s spirit and an indifference toward their inherited splendor.

  • I enjoyed your article very much. I am interested what the 15 items are that you have down sized to. I have spent the last couple of hours obsessed on what 15 items I would choose. Thanks

  • Maybe a link in the first article to this one would be good?

  • NULL

    Good call. Thought I had one.

  • vesh

    I really would like to thank you for admiring what we have been known for rather than just focusing on the negatives. In your previous article you hammered this country in all the ways you could knowing that pollution, crowd, mismanagement, bribery is a common scenario in most of the developing countries particularly south east Asia. We admit that we are among the poorest countries in the world but we DO possess something that the rest of the world doesn’t have, and we are trying our best to help our economy gain something from our biggest strength, the Himalayas through this 2011 campaign.
    Anyways, I am glad that you have shared your positive experiences in this post and I hope people would find them positive enough than your previous post.

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