“But that’s the glory of foreign travel… Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
After twenty-four hours of sleepless travel, I hopped off the bus as they threw my backpack down on the ground.
Because of this, Far Western Nepal is left out politically and physically, a foreign land even to the Nepalese themselves.
In fact, until the mid 1990’s when the bridges were finished, this section of Nepal was completely cut off from the rest of the country for three months every year during the monsoon season.
A small, quiet highway has taken me into the terai, the flat area of Nepal where large open fields dominate the landscape.
I start walking alongside the people, cyclists, and cows who use the road more frequently than vehicles until I come to a village – just a few shops and mud huts gathered together to create a community.
I stop for a rest as a small crowd gathers around me, curious as to what a foreigner is doing in what appears to be the middle of nowhere.
An older gentlemen wearing the traditional small stripped hat of the region offers to take me fifteen kilometers up a small dirt path on his motorbike to a temple and lake.
An hour long excursion turns into an all day adventure, when, after visiting the temple, we proceed up the unpaved rough road to the top of the immense Himalayan foothills in front of us.
Looking down I discover a whole different universe. There are a few mud huts two hundred meters down, and just below me, two ladies escorting their large black water buffalo up the hill.
They are farmers, one hundred percent self-sufficient farmers who live solely off of the land. There is no water, electricity, or anything made of plastic.
Money is useless here, there is nowhere to make or spend it. Upon watching life down below I knew that I would return, not just to watch, but to live with these families who have created their lives on the hillside.
Guide books, which cover every inch of this tourist-dependent country in detail, write only a small paragraph about Far Western Nepal stating that the area lacks facilities and is virtually unexplored.
And if you turn to the Lonely Planet, it wastes no time depicting the area as dangerous, controlled by the sporadically violent Maoists, and a place that should be avoided.
The irony? This is the safest, friendliest part of the country I have visited.
In fact, it is one of the safest places I have visited in all of Asia. The lack of facilities, the sheer distance, and the warnings from guide books have created an untouched jewel in a tourist filled country, a small piece of paradise where life remains centered around nature rather than money.
This is part 1 of a 4-part series on Far Western Nepal written by contributing blogger Shirine Taylor.
For Part 2, click here.
Shirine is a 20-year old solo female traveler cycling around the world, and a regular contributor to The Happy Passport. Follow her journey at awanderingphoto.wordpress.com.
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Don't believe what Lonely Planet and other guidebooks say about Far Western Nepal. Far from dangerous, this area provided Shirine with some of her favorite memories of Nepal and an unparalleled view into an ancient way of life.
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