Returning to Nepal

September 7, 2013

in Asia,Nepal

Namaste to Nepal

It was night when I landed in Kathmandu, in mid-May this year.

It had been a long eighteen hours from Sydney via Guangzhou with the cheap, cheerful and overheated China Southern airlines. The weeks before the flight had been even longer. I’d wanted to be somewhere far, far away, and the Himalayas fit the bill. The trip to Nepal was about as last minute as you can get, planned and booked ten days before my departure.

You miss the views, of course, during a night time descent into the Kathmandu valley. But emerging onto the tarmac, into the sticky almost-wet season heat, breathing in that heady mix of smog and spice and incense and moisture, I knew that the mountains were there.

Although it was approaching midnight and the rest of the city was closed down behind heavy roller shutters, the usual airport arrivals crush was there. Taxi touts chased me across the street. I knew this place. I’d done this before.

In the car on the way to Thamel, we dodged potholes, stray dogs and sleeping rickshaw drivers. The power was out, the room in my guesthouse lit by one lonely, weak bulb. In a few days, I’d be walking in the Annapurna region, high above sea-level, high above home, approaching the Thorung-La, which lay under deep, unseasonable snow.

I didn’t know that yet. I just knew that it had taken me too long to return to Nepal.

Trekking in the Annapurnas

 

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One of the things that people (usually Australians, and usually in an argument as to why it’s so much more interesting to travel in Europe than in their own country) often note about Australia is that it’s so new. A young country. And with only just over 200 years of inhabitation (or occupation, depending how you look at it) by Europeans, compared to say, Britain’s zillion, it’s sort of true.

What many people don’t consider is the tens of thousands of years of history not recorded in books or newspapers or in the foundations of sandstone buildings but written on the land by the continent’s Indigenous population, long before the arrival of the First Fleet. Sadly, it was considered they weren’t quite using the land ‘properly’ and that, coupled with the fact that Aboriginal history is passed down orally, means that it is often forgotten.

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