When planning the first Nepal Impact Marathon, we were searching high and low around the Kathmandu Valley, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk – all during rainy season! This led to some crazy monsoon-based adventures but, more than that, it forced us to appreciate a Nepal that didn’t have mountains! The clouds clung to the sky each and every day rendering views of the Himalayas nothing but a distant hope each morning when we woke up. The wonderful externality is that we have been able to appreciate Nepal for so much more than it’s great attraction. Here are our favourite reasons to visit Nepal:
1. The People
It is hard to know where to start with describing the welcome and love you feel on first arriving in the Nepal. This is a proud country, one that has withstood invasion and maintained independence despite numerous attempts from the British and being landlocked between India and China. This is rightly, a source of great strength and pride for the Nepali people.
The level of welcome and love can easily surprise a traveler – the khadas (silk scarves), Malas (Flower Necklaces) and Tikas (that beautiful red dot of blessing on your forehead) is overwhelming the first time. When was the last time you had a guest and sent them away with such a heart-filled goodbye?
Particularly since 2015, the earthquake and subsequent border blockade, the country saw many tourists stay away. This gets better by the day, but the net result is that there is truly and love for all those who visit and who support Nepal.
2. The Festivals
More festivals than days of the year! It’s crazy. The amount of times we have called for a progress report to hear ‘Oh, it’s festival here, we will talk next week’ ‘Another one??”! It makes for an amazing visit as you can see and learn so much for each celebration. More than anything, it helps you to begin to appreciate all the tiny things we should appreciate. When was the last time you blessed your dog? There are few more enjoyable days than the Day of the Dog during Tihar Festival. The Festivals unite people, bring families together and inspire an attitude of ‘mindfulness’ that permeates through the culture. It’s a peace that is found in many a Nepali heart that I have rarely found in other travels.
3. The Transport
Whether you are hanging on the back of a motorbike or hitch-hiking in the back of a pickup truck. Whether you are bouncing around on a local bus or squished into a tempo – there is never a dull moment travelling in Nepal! You’ll see how many people a scooter can really carry…you’ll see what plane travel looked like before the jet engines became the norm. You won’t always feel safe, you won’t always feel in control and therein lies the freedom of letting go. To travel in Nepal is to accept the unknown and to render yourself a passenger entrusted to the safe keeping of the driver of the Gods. It’s a liberating moment to feel the fear and do it anyway.
4. The Food
One lesson you will quickly find is that you can never stand between a Nepali and their Dal Bhat! This is a wonderful dish of rice, slow-cooked lentils and vegetables in a gently hot but completely flavor-filled sauce. It is traditionally eaten with your right hand, a skill we fully recommend you try and learn…connecting you with the food you are eating in a somewhat romantic way…albeit early on you end up with burnt fingers and rice all over your lap!
So built into the culture is the ritual of ‘taking Dal Bhat’ that all else, no matter what it is, will stop immediately.
We found this out the hard way, on the first morning of “Project Pipeline’ at the 2016 race, we were all beavering away only to look up and see that our runners were all digging and laying the pipe but the Nepali villagers had all disappeared! I went off trying to find what had happened. ‘Oh Nick, at 11.30 we always take our Dal Bhat”. On the return of the villagers we were informed that the line we had been digging was totally wrong! It was a bafflingly chaotic introduction to Nepali village life for all our runners.
Registrations are now open for the 2nd Nepal Impact Marathon
Just click HERE to be on the plane to Nepal this November