As visitors to a foreign land and culture, we were swept away by what Nepal had to offer: Sweeping vistas, delicious fresh food, welcoming people, fascinating traditions. But once in a while, we encountered events that compel us to examine the experience presented to us not merely as temporary tourists, but as global citizens. They allowed us the opportunity to set aside our romantic notions of travel and contemplate our personal impacts on the local land and people. These moments occasionally left us feeling conflicted, but we ultimately welcomed them, for exploring the beautiful and the terrible provided a richer and more rounded representation of our time in Nepal. Our journey reminded us about the importance of being open and appreciative towards a different way and pace of life, but it also taught us that we must also exercise critical thinking and honest self-reflection while examining these experiences.
Update: With the recent earthquake in Nepal, I’m very sad to realize many of the wonderful people and places I encountered are lost forever. In memoriam. We came across many beautiful landscapes in Nepal, some shaped by natural processes, others conceived and constructed by human minds and hands. We sought to describe their beauty and the impressions they left on us.
Despite its relatively small size and landlocked location, Nepal is a staggeringly diverse country in terms of geography, ecology, and culture. Six weeks are insufficient to experience everything the nation has to offer. Nevertheless we tried our best. We sampled daily life in modern Kathmandu, trekked through the intensely beautiful Annapurna Conservation area, become immersed in the culture of an indigenous people in the mid-west plains of the Terai, and explored a myriad of unique habitats within Royal Bardia National Park. Here is the first of our stories. The writing style is inspired by one of my favourite pieces of travel literature (and a future Ekostory), The Log From the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts. Like The Log, this upcoming series of essays represent a collaborative effort between my partner and I, borne out of the collective ideas, conversations, anecdotes and impressions that sprang forth from the trip. I hope they prove to be interesting and insightful.