Nepal:First Solo Trip #Lockdown

Tripoto
30th Nov 2019
Day 1


I reached Siliguri by taking a train from Bhubaneswar (where I study). I used CouchSurfing for my accommodation. It was the second time I was using CouchSurfing and I was still a bit skeptical about it. But, it was a great experience. It gave a positive start to my month long trip.

In the evening, I headed to Ganga Sagar to witness the famous Ganga aarti. It is also a good place to experience sunrise and sunset.

Day 10

About 2.5 kilometres west from Durbar Square, perched on top of a hill, is a great Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath. Also known as the 'Monkey Temple', it is flanked by a large troop of devious looking monkeys. It offers fine views of the Kathmandu Valley.

Day 11

Standing on the banks of holy Bagmati river, is Nepal's most important Hindu temple, Pahupatinath. It draws devotees and sadhus from all over India and is a popular place to be cremated.

Day 12

The next day, I went to a Casino for the first time in my life. I was with a couple of friends from my hostel. They were playing there and invited me to come along. Excited as I was, I joined them. Just a passport is needed for entry, which fortunately, I carried with me. While the others were busy spending money, I focused my attention on the unlimited buffet.

Day 14

Bhaktapur, also know as Bhadgaon, is the third largest city of Nepal. The streets are lined by cobblestones and shrines and wells can be found on the side streets. The citys' main inhabitants are people of Newar community. It is like Kathmandu, minus the traffic. Bhaktapur is the best place to have a taste of Newari cuisine. I stayed 3 night in Bhaktapur and even then it felt like I haven't see everything.

It is from Bhaktapur that I started my trek around the Kathmandu Valley. I had never done trekking before. The people in my hostel gave me some tips, which I tried to follow. Downloaded an offline map (Maps.me) because I did not know the route and I was trekking solo.

For the next few days, I trekked around Kathmandu Valleys' most beautiful locations of Dhulikhel, Changunarayan, Nagarkot, Namo Buddha, Balthali, and then finishing at Patan.

Day 25

Saved the best for the last. By the time I reached Pokhara, I did not have a lot of money left with me. As a result, I could not do some of the "pricey" stuff. I spent most of my time at the Lakeside where I made a lot of friends.

I backpacked around Nepal for a month and hands down, it was the most important and thrilling trip of my life.

Why, you ask?

Well, for starters, it was my first ever solo trip.

Secondly, it was the first time that I had a good camera (GoPro Hero 8 Black) with me to document my travel.

( A LITTLE BACKGROUND: Earlier in 2019, I decided not to go for a 9 to 5 job and travel the world instead. So, this was my first trip as an amateur travel filmmaker)

And lastly, it was an unplanned trip.

I backpacked around Nepal for a month and hands down, it was the most important and thrilling trip of my life.

Why, you ask?

Well, for starters, it was my first ever solo trip.

Secondly, it was the first time that I had a good camera (GoPro Hero 8 Black) with me to document my travel.

( A LITTLE BACKGROUND: Earlier in 2019, I decided not to go for a 9 to 5 job and travel the world instead. So, this was my first trip as an amateur travel filmmaker)

And lastly, it was an unplanned trip.

Next morning, I took a train to Panitanki (India-Nepal border). Crossed the border on foot and caught a bus for Dharan, my first stop in Nepal. I was using CouchSurfing (again!). I took me about 5 hours to reach Dharan.

From the bus stand, I walked to my hosts' shop in the market. And honestly, it was my best CouchSurfing experience till date. Not only did he get the currency exchanged, he also got me a sim card on his own identity card! As if this was enough, he told me that he had a cottage in Bhedetar (a hill station 21 kilometers from Dharan), which he was willing to allow me to stay in. He personally dropped me off at the cottage in his car. It was my first time staying in a cottage, and that too, all by myself. Couldn't be better!

Day 2

Next morning, I took a train to Panitanki (India-Nepal border). Crossed the border on foot and caught a bus for Dharan, my first stop in Nepal. I was using CouchSurfing (again!). I took me about 5 hours to reach Dharan.

From the bus stand, I walked to my hosts' shop in the market. And honestly, it was my best CouchSurfing experience till date. Not only did he get the currency exchanged, he also got me a sim card on his own identity card! As if this was enough, he told me that he had a cottage in Bhedetar (a hill station 21 kilometers from Dharan), which he was willing to allow me to stay in. He personally dropped me off at the cottage in his car. It was my first time staying in a cottage, and that too, all by myself. Couldn't be better!

Photo of Bhedetar, Nepal by Aman Singh
Day 3

After talking with the locals, I came to know about some places I could visit from Bhedetar. Everybody recommended one place: Namaste falls. Next what? I could be seen on a mini van on my way to the waterfall. The drive was short and scenic. It was just a hint of what lay ahead in my journey. It was a half an hour hike to the falls from where the mini van dropped me off. Although tiring, the hike was worth every calorie of energy I spent reaching there.

After a half an hour hike back and savoring a plate a chicken momo, I was on my way to a town which was famous for its tasty and gargantuan oranges, Dhankuta. Although Dhankuta has nothing "touristy" of any sort, you should definitely have a walk in the town. If you want to do shopping, this is the place to be.

Day 4

Next day, I woke up at 5 am to experience sunrise from Charles View Point, which was about one kilometre from my cottage. I was freezing outside. I wore 5 layers of clothing and probably looked like a black Santa in disguise. Reached in time to see the sunrise illuminating Mt.Kanchenjunga.

I spent the rest of the day exploring Bhedetar town itself and doing what I love the most, talking to the locals.

Day 5

Next day, I embarked on my journey to Raja Rani Lake, which was about 24 kilometers. It was the most scenic journey I had in Nepal. The lake was surrounded by Sal forest and is stream-fed. When I got there, it was less crowded and it felt like I had the lake all to myself.

I spent the rest of the day exploring Bhedetar town itself and doing what I love the most, talking to the locals.

Day 6

I left for Janakpur in the afternoon. By the time I reached Janakpur, it was already 11 pm. Went to my hotel, but they did not allow me to check-in due to "over booking". The place was outside the city center. So, there were not a lot of hotels in the vicinity. In the end, I settled for a low-key lodge, the kind that is shown in the movies where fleeing criminals reside.Anyways, I was somehow able to sleep for a couple of hours.

Next morning, I woke up around 6am. Checked out of the lodge, had an amazing cup of tea, and continued in search of a proper hotel. After roaming around in the city for a while, found one with the best location. Although a bit pricy, it was worth every rupee.

Day 7

Janaki Mandir is the biggest temple in Nepal. The main tourist attraction of Janakpur is constructed at the place where Goddess Sita was born. I was quite impressed by the architecture of the temple. Made entirely of white marble, it occupies an area of 4800 square feet.

Next, I headed for Ram Sita Vivah Mandap located near Janaki Mandir. Evident from the name itself, it is the place where Ram and Sita got married. Inside the mandap, the marriage ceremony is clearly depicted.

Photo of Janaki Mandir, Janakpur, Nepal by Aman Singh
Day 9

I was staying at a hostel (Fireflies Hostel) in Thamel, which is the main tourist region of Kathmandu. I decided to rest for the day and just take a walk around the streets. For someone who is not from India or Nepal, the sounds and smells can lead to a sensory overload. Kathmandu being the cultural and political capital of Nepal, it is a rich amalgamation of the old and the new. Walking down the streets, it feels as if the place has been untouched since the middle ages.

The stay at Fireflies Hostel was special to me. It is where I landed my first gig as a photographer (amateur). I clicked pictures of the hostel and edited them to be uploaded on various websites. What I got in return, you ask? I got free accommodation for 5 nights. Awesome, isn't it?

Janaki Mandir is the biggest temple in Nepal. The main tourist attraction of Janakpur is constructed at the place where Goddess Sita was born. I was quite impressed by the architecture of the temple. Made entirely of white marble, it occupies an area of 4800 square feet.

Next, I headed for Ram Sita Vivah Mandap located near Janaki Mandir. Evident from the name itself, it is the place where Ram and Sita got married. Inside the mandap, the marriage ceremony is clearly depicted.

After experiencing a rather peaceful sunrise at Ganga Sagar, I headed for Kathmandu. Contrary to my expectations, it turned to be an epic road journey.

My first location was obviously the Kathmandu Durbar Square, the legacy of Nepal's spectacular traditional architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was where the kings used to live and rule from. A great deal of damage was caused by the earthquake of 2015 and the site continues to undergo considerable renovations and re-construction efforts.

Day 22

After a tiring trek around the valley, I reached the city of Patan (Lalitpur). I got accommodation on CouchSurfing. But this was a bit different type than the ones I had in the past. I was staying at an orphanage home. My experiences kept getting better and better. I played PubG with the kids, had a football competition, cooked Biryani, taught them English, and did a ton of other good stuff. I stayed 3 nights in Patan and just went to the Durbar Sqaure. Rest of the time I spent with the kids.

The New Year was just two days away. I saw a lot of Indians and Indian family in Pokhara and it got me thinking about my own family.

Next what?

I was on a bus en route Lucknow to surprise my parents on the New Year's Eve.

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