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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Mystik Mountains Adventure & Holidays: From Nepal with Love.

How should I even begin to relate the incredible human warmth of Nepal? I wonder, a smile spreading on my face. There is so much good to share about the “roof of the world“. In the face of an ever challenging political situation and against all odds of Nepal being a developing nation, the reality of what I saw, lived, felt & experienced during my ten days of travelling in the mountain kingdom of the Himalayas has been one of a most inspirational kind.

 

Leaving Kathmandu behind, Mystik Mountains Adventure & Holidays’ Rakesh Shahi takes me on a road trip of a lifetime, introducing me to people & places whose philosophy has real potential to challenge & change your way of thinking.

Dear Rakesh truly deserves being highlighted as my local hero in this “Mystik Mountains” capital of his. “Thank you for sharing your information & background story on ‘creative culture travel‘ with me”, he wrote to me as early as the beginning of last year, helping to set up this unique culture trip of Nepal of mine through his travel company Mystik Mountains Adventure & Holidays. “I now have a better understanding of the actual experiences to provide for you!” He has proven really skillful in organising a kaleidoscope of different culture experiences, from local farm stays near the capital city of Kathmandu, to such magic moments of attending a local wedding dressed in a typical Nepali Sari (!), all the way to exploring the city of Pokhara & beyond, the country’s gateway to the famous Annapurna mountain district. It is here where the magic & added mystery of the local Nepali people once more have swept me off my feet in all their generosity, heartwarming hospitality & beautiful human nature. Follow me, therefore, for some truly inspirational travel tips for Pokhara & Bandipur here in Nepal.

 

The road from Kathmandu to Pokhara is a bumpy highway affair by Western standards. Whenever you set eyes on the mighty Himalayas to the north though, the rest of the world just drowns out.

I will never forget how I first set eyes on the soaring Himalaya mountains. Turning a corner from the pass out of Kathmandu valley, their peaks rise in stark white against the undulating “middle hills” beyond and bright blue sky above, a sharp colour contrast further enhanced by the knowledge of their sheer size. I am looking at mountains more than 7.000 or 8.000 metres high !! Rakesh next to me in the car smiles, knowing the perfect roadside coffee stop to admire the views. “This mountain is called ‘Ganesh’, after the son of Shiva”, he explains. “From here, we continue driving about two and a half hours until we reach Pokhara, at the base of Mardi Himal & Annapurna South mountains.” And what a road trip it is!

Catching my first ever glimpse of the mighty Himalayas in the distance ... A stunning sight that I watch for several minutes, allowing for the magic of view to sink in.

Catching my first ever glimpse of the mighty Himalayas in the distance … A stunning sight that I watch for several minutes, allowing for the magic of the view to sink in.

 

Time for a coffee break by the road: Lucky travellers with a view of Rakesh' Jeep (much needed in later road conditions, as we would find!) and the mountains beyond.

Time for a coffee break by the road: Lucky travellers with a view of Rakesh’ Jeep (much needed in later road conditions, as we would find!) and the mountains beyond.

 

Stopping for lunch also has me try eating local food like a local - using my hands, that is !!!

Stopping for lunch also has me try eating local food like a local – using my hands, that is !!!

 

What a delight: I haven't done this since childhood !! And look, my fingers even look like they've just had a bath !!! Oh how I love exploring new tastes and rather sensual experiences, such as this one. ;)

What a delight: I haven’t done this since childhood !! And look, my fingers even look like they’ve just had a bath !!! Oh how I love exploring new tastes and rather sensual food travel experiences, such as this one. 😉

 

Driving into Pokhara, the "City of Seven Lakes" ...

Finally driving into Pokhara, the “City of Seven Lakes” at the end of the afternoon …

 

... welcomes us to bright red & pink sunset colours such as these ones ...

… welcomes us to bright red & pink sunset colours such as these ones …

 

... and Nepali "Gorkha" beer just to mark the occasion: Cheers with Rakesh and his friends by a lakeside bar in Pokhara!

… and Nepali “Gorkha” beer just to mark the occasion: Cheers with Rakesh and his friends by a lakeside bar in Pokhara!

 

The morning after, it is healthy leaf tea choices ...

The morning after, it is healthy leaf tea choices …

 

... setting out for some local flavours & images of (ever-changing) culture in the face of modernity: Monks with selfie-inclinations.

… setting out for some local flavours & images of (ever-changing) culture in the face of modernity: Traditional monks with “Selfie” pictures inclinations.

 

On our way to the city's local "Davis Falls", I find I really enjoy images of this country's religion ... It is all about happiness, smily gods & embracing life, I find. I ilke that. :D

On our way to the city’s local “Davis Falls”, I find I really enjoy images of this country’s religion … It is all about happiness, smily gods & embracing life, I find. I must say that I really like that. Let love rule 😀

 

And would you even attribute a spirit being smiling in here, as the "two faces" of the natural gorge merge ...?

Even in the natural gorge, “two faces” seem to be coming close for a kiss here in Pokhara.!

 

The “City of Seven Lakes”, Pokhara at the foothills of the mighty Annapurna & Mardi Himal mountain districts, is just perfect for getting a local feel of different culture & nature-based activities.

Out here on both Lake Phewa & Lake Begna, the two out of the seven lakes surrounding Pokhara we choose to explore, peace is a natural companion. Even, or especially, travelling here during wintertime: The low season means less traffic, less international crowds, few incidents of rain or thunderstorms, and a pleasant, surprisingly warm micro-climate reaching almost 20°C in a day of sunshine! Besides opting for boat trips on the lakes, consider heading to the International Mountain Museum as well as the World Peace Pagoda on top of a hill overlooking Lake Phewa, and Pokhara City beyond. If peace has not reached you from sunny mountain views or lakeside boat excursions, then an image of the mighty “Bouddha” gold statue with 360°C panorama views of the Himalayas to the north and green hills to the south may just do the job.

Heading out on Lake Phewa on the shores of the city of Pokhara, Nepal's second-largest ...

Heading out on Lake Phewa on the shores of the city of Pokhara, Nepal’s second-largest …

 

... rewards you over spectacular mountains vistas such as these.

… rewards you over spectacular mountains vistas such as these: View of the mighty Annapurna South mountain massif.

 

I equally recommend heading out to Lake Begna, even quieter than lake Phewa and just as beautiful in the afternoon stillness of that day ...

I equally recommend heading out to Lake Begna, even quieter than lake Phewa and just as beautiful in the afternoon stillness of that day …

 

Enjoy your meal: Fresh fish from the lake!

Enjoy your meal: Fresh fish from the lake with home-made farm chips & veggies.

 

The local Buddha statue of the World Peace Pagoda has a naturally tranquilizing effect upon visitors who come here to pray, meditate and reflect.

The local Buddha statue of the World Peace Pagoda has a naturally tranquilizing effect upon visitors who come here to pray, meditate and reflect.

 

And #OnlyInNepal: View of the Himalayas with a banana tree in the front and a mighty Buddha statue next to it.!

And #OnlyInNepal: View of the Himalayas with a banana tree in the front and a mighty Buddha statue beside!

 

Equally worthwhile: A visit to the International Mountain Museum of Pokhara ...

Equally worthwhile: A visit to the International Mountain Museum of Pokhara …

 

... where all facts & figures about the Himalayas mountain climate, climate change, mountain people, local culture & belief as well as a history of climbing is explained. Very interesting!

… where all facts & figures about the local mountain climate, climate change, mountain people, local culture & food as well as a history of climbing Mountain Everest and around are explained. Very interesting!

 

Going local yet again is what I owe to the perfect organizational skills, networks & contacts of Rakesh and his Mystik Mountains Adventure & Holidays team. Fresh buffalo milk? Popcorn from a farm? Juicy local flavours? Bring on the (extra)ordinary!

“What is ordinary to you, is just so special to me, and vice versa!”, I laugh with a lady drying rice on the verandah in front of Rakesh’ sister’s house here in Pokhara. Being invited to a local family home is always special, no matter where you are on this planet Earth – and all the more so where “exotic practices” such as spice cuisine, harvesting (very) fat buffalo milk or drying big sacks of rice are concerned. The lady laughs back at me – we don’t speak each other’s languages (once again, I feel tempted to do a language course on Nepali next time!) – yet still manage to understand each other perfectly. Humour is what makes the world go round, and more so respect and sharing over each others’ differences and similarities. Some things you may just find to be essentially human across all cultures. Such as the feeling of warmth, and welcome, or family love in these beautiful local places.

Family love: Rakesh' sister welcomes us into her home on the outskirts of Pokhara city, complete with insisting on cooking for us and ...

Family love: Rakesh’ sister welcomes us into her home on the outskirts of Pokhara city, complete with insisting on cooking for us and …

 

... spoiling us to the beauty of her lunch table: Enjoy your meal full of flavours and beautiful spices here in Nepal!

… spoiling us to the beauty of her lunch table: Enjoy your meal full of flavours and beautiful spices here in Nepal!

 

Apart from learning to understand the simple technique of drying rice in front of people's houses ...

Apart from learning to understand the simple technique of drying rice in front of people’s houses …

 

... I am beautifully "learning / teaching" from this local school visit here in Pokhara, too - all organised by Rakesh and his family.

… I am beautifully “learning / teaching” from this local school visit here in Pokhara, too – all organised by Rakesh and his family.

 

Thank you so much, my dear friend !!!

Thank you so much for a wonderful time together here in Nepal, my dear friend !!!

 

And cheers to that - with local, fatty, delightful fresh buffalo milk on a mountain farm !

And cheers to that – with local, fatty, delightful fresh buffalo milk on a mountain farm !

 

We have come out of Pokhara to being greeted by stunning mountain vistas such as these.

We have come out of Pokhara to being greeted by stunning mountain vistas such as these.

 

... whose beautiful views never fail to impress me - and less so if it's in the company of good friends, who by now I consider Rakesh and his team to be!

… whose beautiful views never fail to impress me – and less so if it’s in the company of good friends, who by now I consider Rakesh and his team to be!

 

Besides all the fun driving and walking out here ...

Besides all the fun driving and walking out here …

 

... we also get a feel for the hardship of living in these remote mountain areas (and those are only at the base of the might Himalayas ... there are far more remote ones still!).

… we also get a feel for the hardship of living in these remote mountain areas (and those are only at the base of the might Himalayas … there are far more remote ones still!).

 

Some things though never change: Everyone loves (mountain) popcorn ...

Some things though never change: Everyone loves (mountain) popcorn …

 

... having a good chat among family & friends ...

… having a good chat among family & friends …

 

... and spoiling visitors like myself to the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Nepali people: "Visitors are Gods", is what I find confirmed all over the country, at all times. It deeply humbles me to think that for these people, who do not have much by Western standards, are willing to share everything they have.

… and spoiling visitors like myself to the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Nepali people: “Visitors are Gods”, is what I find confirmed all over the country, at all times. It deeply humbles me to think that these people, who do not have much to own in their houses by Western standards, are willing to share everything they have, unconditionally, naturally. Many of us have yet to learn, or rediscover, this openness.

 

On a side note: Have you ever seen such large a bee, and during "winter", that is?! I haven't.

On a side note: Have you ever seen such large a bee, and during “winter”, that is?! I haven’t. Like the local farm experience!

 

At the end of a long day, the sunset colours work their magic on us ...!

At the end of a long day, the sunset colours work their magic on us …! Love, forever love, the sight of these mighty Himalayas. WOW.

 

On the way back from Pokhara to Kathmandu, make sure you stop in a little town called Bandipur, about halfway between the two cities. Coming up here is truly worthwhile – for there is more magic to be discovered still …!

“I have another sister here in Bandipur“, Rakesh tells me as we are about to leave Pokhara for going back to Kathmandu valley. “She too would like to meet you, and has invited us into her home.” I beam at him, happy for more close-up encounters of the wonderful Nepali people. This is just what I like. Bandipur furthermore happens to be in a place perched high atop a hill, whose small summit plateau allows for stunning, 360°C views of the mighty Himalayas to the north and the gently rolling middle hills / lower mountain ranges to the south. Standing here gets you a feel for the entire might of the country of Nepal, as I put together my knowledge about its natural formation & settlement history from Pokhara International Mountain Museum with what I actually see in front of me.

“This is just so beautiful”, I whisper to Rakesh as we climb the little summit above Bandipur village, just in time for another perfect Himalayan sunset to work its magic on us and other travellers who have come to enjoy it. “Just beautiful.” I smile, forever captured and overcome with emotion, for what this country, its people and all their beautiful experiences have taught me.

Nepal, I love you.

Bandipur village makes for a most pretty location in front of the Himalayas to the back ...

Bandipur village makes for a most pretty location in front of the Himalaya mountains to the back …

 

... gently bathed in the bright orange colours of yet another magnificent sunset ...

… gently bathed in the bright orange colours of yet another magnificent sunset …

 

... to which both Rakesh and I can testify of never having seen anything quite like it: We silently watch the entire disk of the sun slip down perfectly still behind those hills, standing still for many minutes more as the air temperature drops notably and a light breeze comes up to greet us from the valley floor below.

… to which both Rakesh and I can testify of never having seen anything quite like it: We silently watch the entire disk of the sun slip down perfectly still behind those hills, standing still for many minutes more as the air temperature drops notably and a light breeze comes up to greet us from the valley floor below.

 

It must be the love: Magic on the mountains conspires to greet us. Thank you, mighty Himalayas. I shall be back to see you one day.

It must be the love: Magic on the mountains conspires to greet us. Thank you, dear Himalayas. I shall be back to pay my tribute and homage to you and the wonderful people you nourish at your feet soon again.

 

Disclaimer: I have been invited by Mystik Mountains Adventures & Holidays on this culture / nature trip around Nepal. All opinions are my own.

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
Food & Faces of Nepal: Culture Travel in Kathmandu City & Sankhu Village
Going Local in Kathmandu: City Stroll & Sari Wedding Experience!

2 Comments

  1. Fabrizio Ranzolin

    Elena,
    São mágicas realmente!! Incríveis, nos fazem parar de respirar por um momento!! Eternidade….
    Abraços,

    Reply
    • Elena

      Obrigada, Fabrizio … 😀

      Tens toda a razão! Lembro-me que sim, houve um momento em que quase parámos de respirar … como para não interromper a magia diante de nós.

      Abraços !!

      Reply

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