EPISODE 3: NEPAL
Another year had gone by working in London; it was a hard job and the days off were a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. I had started to synchronize more and more with the matrix and to relatively distance myself from the real world. I started noticing that and felt blessed to be able to realize it. This meant soon I could put an end to it.
Shortly before Christmas, after a long anticipated wait, I finally quit my job. No matter how many times I had done it before, every time it brought me great joy. I knew very well that a Life Travel Guide journey was awaiting me, but I still had no idea where it was going to take me. I started keeping my senses alert for signs. One evening I was watching a documentary about the hike to Everest base camp, a place where all climbers, starting a journey to the top, had to stay for a minimum of a month in order to adjust their body to the elevation and the low temperatures.
The route to it started at 1500 m above sea level, crossing steep, narrow paths with picturesque landscapes. Three weeks later one reaches the base camp which is more than 5000 m in elevation. It appeared to be a great adventure and as I was watching I started feeling that burst of energy rising in me. Two days later I ran into a blog describing these same places. The blogger spoke of the Himalayas’ beauty and its pristine nature, and only a few hours later I found myself purchasing a one-way ticket to Katmandu. That was it! I was going to Nepal. This time, though, it wasn’t going to be like the first one; this time I wasn’t going to bring heavy suitcases along with me. I wasn’t taking a laptop nor was I bringing the telescope with me. This time I wanted to take as little as possible. Everything had to fit in one backpack. My flight was at the beginning of the spring so the only thing I had left was to wait for the winter to pass. As we all have come to realize, time flies. Real fast.
I landed in Kathmandu around noon and the next two hours I spent in a line waiting for a visa. I had only two or three options for the length of stay and I chose the longest one – 3 months. I had promised to call this guy I found on Couchsurfing to eventually meet up and potentially spend a few days at his home. My next mission was to find a telephone. I headed out of the airport and by the exit I got approached by a mid-age man who offered to take me to Thamel. He explained that it was the district where all tourists stayed and also added that it was something like the Kathmandu business center. I thought this would be a good place to meet with the guy from Couchsurfing; besides I could ask the driver to use his phone to make a call since I had no phone card. I accepted the offer and jumped into his car. I stared out the window – it was a wild world out there. Countless number of motorbikes were making their way between the cars. I could hear car horns constantly; there were almost no sidewalks and the roads were overflown by many pedestrians as well as fruit and vegetable vendors, bikers, and rickshaws.
After introducing myself to Dipak, the driver, I asked him to use his phone to make a call. I dialed the number of the guy from Couchsurfing but unfortunately, no one picked up. I gave it a few more tries but to no avail, so finally Dipak offered to take me to a hostel near his office. On our drive there he admitted he wasn’t a taxi driver but instead a tourist agent and that it was a common practice for the area to “catch” tourists as they walked out of the airport. His next question was about my plans for Nepal so I answered that for now, I was only planning to take on the base camp. He explained it’s quite a difficult and challenging expedition and special equipment is required for it. One was also required to purchase and permit to climb the mountain. He suggested that it would be best to simply stop by his office, after checking in, so we can discuss the details additionally.
The hostel seemed pleasant, I paid for two nights and I went for a stroll through the neighborhood. It was hard to walk on the streets, there were crowds of people everywhere. I had to constantly watch out for the passing cars and bikes driving by me closely. The atmosphere however was wonderful and the vibes were high.
I made a stop at Dipak’s office. As we were discussing the options I could sense that he was an honest man and he could be trusted. He wanted to be sure so he asked me several times if I really wanted to go on this hike alone, without a guide or a Sherpa. He then offered to come get me and give me a ride the next day to all the institutions I had to visit in order to obtain all permits. Also, he was going to temporarily lend me a winter jacket and trekking poles which I was supposed to return in a month, in case I survived this adventure, of course. We shook hands and parted ways.
I continued on my way walking through the narrow streets of Thamel and I came to a nice food spot with a street view. I was hungry so I ordered the only thing on the menu I could pronounce with ease – Momo. They brought out a plate with ravioli in a super spicy tomato sauce. The dish was burning my mouth, I wasn’t even able to enjoy the beer I ordered. I gulped it down in seconds to help me put out the fire in my throat.
I spent the entire next day with Dipak, running in and out of different organizations in Kathmandu. Is it actually possible to get all these permits obtained without the help of a local guide? Honestly – not. After finishing, Dipak asked when I wanted to leave for the Himalayas to which I responded tomorrow. Finally, we made a stop at the bus station so I could purchase a ticket too.
We parted ways in the early afternoon, but in the evening we met one more time in his office so I could leave some of my luggage in storage in his office. After all, a hike through the mountain, and not just any mountain but the Himalayas, was a lot easier with less weight on the shoulders. I left my tent and some of my clothes which I wasn’t going to need on this journey. In the evening I managed to meet with Raj (the guy from Couchsurfing) as well. We hit it off right away, as we took a walk through town and agreed that I’d visit him when I returned from my expedition to the Himalayas. Obviously, everything was going according to plan so I had that feeling that Life was on my side, or in other words, on the side I was liking. Life is so unpredictable though… In fact, the only permanent thing in Life is its impermanence.