“Shaken but still stirring: Nepal was hit hard by last year’s earthquake but remains astonishing. Make 2016 the year you explore its peaks, parks and heritage sites.”
Here’s how… Robin Boustead who had recently been to Nepal explains in WanderLust Magazine. Below are few excerpts taken from his blog on his experiences in Nepal from the original blog post up on www.wanderlust.co.uk
Reaching immigration – usually bustling with queues of people trying to sort their visas on arrival – it was almost empty. This was not the Nepal I had known for over 20 years.
This was the 2nd time to Nepal. A lot had been said about the actual scenario in Nepal. The news reports, social media images, Government Advisories and everything else that had been said was contradictory and it was hard to work out the real situation on the ground. Thus, to ensure whether Nepal is back on business or not, I came to back to Nepal.
Stepping outside the airport the usual smoggy atmosphere of Kathmandu was gone, replaced instead by crisp light and clear mountain views. A recent embargo on fuel from India means the only traffic jams are for petrol pumps and my drive to the hotel was in record-breaking time.
Moving ahead through the narrow streets of Kathmandu, I was astonished to see the major tourist areas like Durbar Marg, Lazimpath and Thamel being largely unaffected by the earthquake. It was actually hard to believe that there had been an earthquake at all.
The longing to build a better Nepal could be felt everywhere. Locals were working tirelessly to rebuild their nation. Upon chatting with small group of people sitting at the next table, I learned that they were also working on volunteering projects mostly in Sindhupalchowk as it was the worst hit district.
Volunteering has received mixed press outside of Nepal, but Wanda Vivequin, who raised her own funds to come and build schools, said that there’s a way to help responsibly. “Work with smaller grass roots organisations that specialise in a particular kind of work rather than one that is trying to do everything,” she explained. Her dining companion Seth Wolpin, who’s been working on similar projects, said that though helping with the rebuilding was a great way to help, it’s tourists that the country now needs most: “Many parts of the country were untouched by the earthquake and visiting is the perfect way to help.”
Thamel, the tourist hub of Kathmandu, was quieter than usual. I interacted with a group of people who just came back from a trip to Everest Base Camp. They were in good spirit and what they had to say about the present scenario of Nepal was really positive. “Right now, Nepal’s the best it’s ever been,” enthused one. “The trails are empty, the hospitality’s overwhelming – you get the pick of the teahouse rooms – and though meal options are limited due to fuel supply issues, each one is made with care. I’m so glad I came.”
Although trekker numbers have dropped down to 50%, the business is running better. Some resilient operators have seized the opportunity to work on their services to provide a better and new experience. “Trekker numbers are down but bikers and mountaineers appetites for risk are different, so biking trips to the Annapurna and Mustang are actually pretty good compared to previous year ,” said Mads Mathieson, a mountain biking tour operator.
For those who rely on hikers – the porters, guides and Sherpas who lead them – the lack of tourists is a mixed blessing. While some are busy rebuilding homes, for many, the travel industry is vital to the community, like those in the UNESCO-listed city of Bhaktapur.
The spirit of Nepali people was really commendable. I was quite impressed by the blend of spiritual significance, mix of techniques employed and boundless enthusiasm of the teams working on each project.
“After the earthquake we decided to rebuild our temples slightly differently, depending on the artisan’s vision. Our beliefs are fluid, able to change and adapt, just like our lives. For us, it is natural,” said my guide, Anil Chitrakar.
Despite of facing the worst nightmare, Nepalese are bouncing back and by putting Nepal back on our travel wishlist, we can contribute to help them recover. Nepalese are kind and generous people and are always looking for ways to make your travelling experience better. The hospitality is overwhelming and I believe that now it is time for us to reciprocate their unfailing generosity.
Source : Wanderlust Magazine