Monday, August 26, 2013

Yoga and the Cultural Shock in Nepal

This is Day 2 of Nepal Travelogue (May 14, 2013)
Yesterday, we made it to Budhanilkantha, a hilly town around Kathmandu, where we would stay for 4/5 days.

This morning, we woke up from our first slumber in Nepal almost abruptly. It was the long resonating strains from the next-door temple which started banging right in the wee hours. Though it was our second time in a Hindu surrounding, after Bali, but listening to this distinctive and periodic thump was our first experience and kind of a cultural shock.

The cold night was also not so eventless as Misha was missing دادی, grandmother, and Urooba felt a jinn in the room in addition to sighting a lizard! On top of it, the not-helping howls from the nearby jungle were so piercing as if some of the zombies were standing right beneath the window, thankfully on the second floor!

Surprisingly, all this alien feeling would quickly vanish as the sunrays started peeking in from the curtains. And the same Cultural Shock, that ton-tonnn-tonnnnn, sneaked into our routine. Life became the interval between those two tonnnnns and we literally started waiting for the next one!

This temple bell, or ghanta, is an integral part of Nepali culture, which a devotee knocks while entering into the arena to appease Gods and to hush evil spirits away. During the early days of Islam also, it was contemplated to use bell before the prevalent prayer-call, azaan, came into practice. In India, as I heard from my grandparents, any of the two sounds could quickly become a bone of violent contention, unfortunately.

These Heavy Brass Bells Are Omnipresent around Nepal
In Budhanilkantha, the Sound Resonates Longer Due to Surrounding Hills
Budhanilkantha’s Temperature Zone: Min 15° Max 25°C
Even in summers weather was pleasant around Kathmandu and resembles to one in Pakistan's mountainous North. At both places, one could hardly find a ceiling fan. Natural air-conditioning and no hefty bills!

Tough Times: Trekking and Babysitting
The one+ hour trek to the Chandra Ban Eco Resort, where Urooba enrolled for yoga sessions, might be a walk in the park for avid trekkers but frankly speaking it was tough for our lazy Karachiite physique, especially on the first day. The steep slope and the enroute scenery were both breathtaking; one literally and the other figuratively!

Nonetheless, after climbing up, we got the right to comment sarcastically on those coming to yoga by taxi!

For the next three days, Urooba got busy learning new routines handing over the kids duo to me. I guess kids enjoyed Abbu doing babysitting mostly because they got the liberty to dirty their hands around the resort. The resort was purposefully built for nature lovers with fruit orchids around and had an appeal for long-term holidaymakers with deep pockets. 

The Italian owner was a bit rude at us initially when I rushed to the lobby due to sudden and heavy rains. But when, Valarie, the yoga organizer, and her associates offered us their self-catering apartment there for the daytime, he came to good terms and we had a couple of pleasant exchanges.  

The Yoga Trek: from Budhanilkantha We Had to Walk to the Surrounding Hills
Walking Through the Town of Budhanilkantha
Budhanilkantha's Main Bazaar
We Found this Housing Style Popular Around Kathmandu
Misha was Clueless Why Walk So Much
An Aerial View of the Chaotic Kathmandu
Finally We Reached There
Another View of Kathmandu from the Yoga Resort
The Upscale Chandra Ban Eco Resort, Budhanilkantha
Fauna in the Resort
Babysitting: It was My Turn!
Kids also Got Solace from Strict Mamma!
Yoga is a Nepalese Specialty
Coincidence: Meeting Flossie
Before the trip, I received an email from an overland traveler Flossies, who would cross Pakistan during her East-West expedition right from Hong Kong and all the way to London, by road! 

Coincidentally, we met her at the same yoga class! Recently, she crossed-over to Iran from Quetta-Tuftan border, and Flossie if you are reading this please do share your experiences of traveling through the dangerous Pakistan so that reader may benefit from your brave accounts!

Today’s Bills – in Nepali Rupees

Milk, snacks, etc
Total for May 14, 2013

Total as of Today

* Room charges and hotel's food bill will be included in Day 4 at check-out  

Traveler’s Tip # 4: Best Season to Visit Nepal
October onwards, when monsoon finishes washing the Himalayan skyline, is the best period to visit Nepal. Due to the enhanced visibility and conducive weather conditions, trekkers from all around flock to the mountains pushing the prices upwards.

Pre-monsoon, which is before May, is the second best season, which we also chose. This time of the year is great to enjoy the colorful Nepali culture without getting bankrupted; however, clouds will restrict panoramic views. If you choose this part of the year, do watch-out for festivals like Buddha Jayanti.

Traveler’s Tip # 5: Budhanilkantha’s Dairy
For dairy lovers Budhanilkantha gives a reason to visit. Although Pakistan is also rich in dairy but what we tried there was so amazingly refreshing that we could never have had enough of it. In addition to pasturized milk, the shop there was also selling fresh yogurt, homemade varieties of butter and cheese, ghee, and even barfi – the local sweet.

Traveler’s Tip # 6: Danger Dog
In Budhanilkantha, and everywhere in Nepal, we got irked by dogs, both stray and trained, and of all sizes. So beware, and confident, while strolling around and please share a tip or two on how to avoid this nuisance!
Is This Really Just a Dog?

Continue to the travelogue of Day 3  


  1. Good to read , and experiences for you. Best season for March, April, May , September, October, November. Specially for adventures for Himalaya. Katmandu city always busy and crowded ..but interesting !!

  2. nice display of travelling skills. keep us posted please

  3. Awesome!!! I've started reading it and I don't think if I'm going to stop before it all finishes. I really needed all this.

  4. I had been to Kathmandu and Pokhara in 1985. I felt so nice there. Your photographs and astonishing.

  5. sorry to say Flossies haven't replied yet.... am a facebook user so i hope you wont going to mind my taunting behavior.. :P

  6. Never mind. Here goes Flossies's account of crossing Pakistan-Iran border disguising herself in a Shia pilgrims' bus!: