Category Archives: Nepal 2012 / 2013

Shopping from Nepal

How can I go on a holiday especially to Nepal and not have a post on shopping, so here I am writing about my experience and showing off things I got in Nepal.

Firstly, I have to say that shopping is Nepal is not at all cheap like it used to be 10 years ago. Every time I go back, the price seems to have doubled but the quality seems to have gone down at the same time.

During most of the shopping I went with someone who lived there and I am so glad I did. Otherwise I would have paid almost double for everything as I am not so good at bargaining. Here is a simple example of bargaining in Nepal.

Customer: Looking at the Rs 3000 price tag, how much can I get it for?

Shopkeeper: There is 20% discount now, so it will be Rs 2400.

Customer: Rs 2400 is too expensive for this shoe. I know it can be better. What about Rs1500.

Shopkeeper: Really sorry but Rs 1500 is too low. Since you like it so much I will give you a further discount. Ok it is Rs2200 just for you, I have never sold it in that price for anyone else. (Of course not telling the truth)

Customer: Come on I am not asking for too much discount, OK since I like it I will give you a few hundred more.

Shopkeeper: Sorry, I can’t do that price. OK my last best price is Rs 2000.

Customer: Come on dai (brother), I am sure you can do better.

Shopkeeper: The price is already cheap. Look at the quality and the stuff.

Customer: Ok, my last price Rs 1800. I don’t have more than that.

Shopkeeper: Ok only for you am I agreeing at this price. I promise you will never find this price anywhere else. Please do come again and shop here.

It was like you needed to have patience to bargain otherwise you’d end up paying higher price for everything. I am glad to say that I have learn the skill after a few shopping trips I still always questioned myself when the shopkeeper gave an item easily at the price I wanted :). I guess unless I live in Nepal for long time I will not master the skill.

Despite all this and the fact that I was so busy, I still managed to buy a few things for myself. Of course, that list included shoes. 🙂 🙂 🙂

I am addictive to shoes and to everyone who reads my blog regularly it should come as no surprise. AS has made me promise that I will throw out old pairs of shoes when I come back if I was going to buy so many pairs in Nepal and I agreed.

I think there are only a few shops in Kathmandu selling good quality shoes and I am lucky to have found some such shops this time. I was actually looking for winter shoes when I was there but as it was the end of winter there, It was hard for me to find what I was looking for. I still managed to buy some boots, not exactly what I looking for but close enough to spend my money on. I also bought a few high heels, wedges, flats and scandals.

Here is the entire collection from this trip. Now I have to make room for them in my shoe rack. I’m just waiting for an opportunity to wear them soon.

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Apart from shoes, I really didn’t buy anything else for myself. I got a few saris from my MIL and mum so I didn’t have to spend any money on them. In addition, I have so many saris here that I decided it will be wise this time to invest my money on things I need for home.

Thus we spent lots buying carpets, decorative handicrafts and a painting. I am so happy with the end result.

Like every time, AS didn’t buy much either as he prefers cloths from here. Moreover, according to him I have converted him to be like me that he has too many jackets, pants, t-shirts and shoes that he doesn’t have to worry for a few years.

Hope you liked my new shoes collection. Till next post, take care.

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

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Sambhav Nepal Project

My regular reader, Ijya Paudel, will be going to Gorkha, Nepal in order to volunteer for a program called Sambhav Nepal with a mission to provide Nepali kids with proper schooling and she likes to share her project with all of you here.

Sambhav Nepal is a registered non-profit, non-political, social organization aiming to establish and implement sustainable education, health, and community development programs in isolated areas of Nepal. Presently, the organization is working in 29 VDC’s of the Gorkha district.They are a community organization that deals with advocacy, skill building and most importantly education. When we grow up in a Western and developed society we often take things for granted.

Sambhav Nepal works with governmental schools, which are very low funded and ran inefficiently. The students in these schools are struggling with getting regular school supplies and proper education. They do not have adequate furniture, stationary, books, art supplies, sports equipment or a proper library.

Where you are born shouldn’t determine whether you get an education or not. By donating, you give these kids what they are missing the most: A CHANCE. An opportunity to show that they can be somebody.

My goal is to raise $2000 dollars by the end of November, 2013. I want to donate this sum of money so these students could get a chance at a better education. These $2000 dollars would not only buy their school supplies and furniture but, also help provide the students with proper school uniforms. These students just need a little help to reach their potential. We can do so by donating a small amount of money.

If you donate any amount starting from $5 dollars and above, your name will be entered in a raffle. At the end of this project, I will be drawing a random name and you will win an iPad.

Please consider this as a chance to help those who really need it. Giving back is a beautiful thing. I hope you consider.

You can donate at www.youcaring.com/nepal2013 If you have any further question please do not hesitate to contact me on ijyapaudel@gmail.com

Please help Ijya by donating and sharing this page. Thank you everyone.

Pashupatinath and Guheswari temple

Pashupatinath Temple is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, located on the banks of the Baghmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Every time I am in Nepal I try to go and visit the temple and last time, I went there with AS and my MIL. It was a cold winter morning and I really love that time of the year in Kathmadu.

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The temple serves as the seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath and is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

According to Nepal Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda one day Lord Shiva grew tired of his palace atop Mt. Kailash and so went in search of a place where he could escape to. He discovered Kathmandu Valley and, without telling anyone, he ran away from his palace and came to live in the Valley. He gained great fame there as Pashupati, Lord of the Animals, before the other gods discovered his hiding place and came to fetch him. He disguised himself as a majestic deer and would not help the other gods when they asked for his help. When Shiva did not yield to their pleas, they planned to use force. Vishnu grabbed him by his horns and they shattered into pieces. Vishnu established a temple and used the broken horns to form a linga on the bank of the Bagmati River.

As time went by, the temple was buried and forgotten. One day a cow was seen to secretly sprinkle her milk over a mound. Apparently, when the cow herders dug at the spot, they found the lost linga and again built a temple at the same spot in reverence of Lord Shiva.

 After we parked the car we have to walk for a while to reach the gate of the main temple. There at lots of vendors selling flowers and necessary items for puja as well as small souvenirs and idols of Hindu gods on either side of the road.

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As usual all of the vendors were eager to grab a customer and shouting at passers-by. My MIL law decided to buy a few stuffs from one vendor as we walked towards the main door. Before you reach the main door, you have to take off your shoe and socks off and wash your feet before going into the temple (imagine how cold my feet were getting in a winter morning on stone floors).

From there we approached the main door. I know that non Hindus are not permitted inside this door and you are not allowed to take leather items and camera inside.

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As it was a weekday, the temple was not too busy. But there were a large group of Indian devotees in the queue. Pashupatinath is very famous among Indian Hindu and every year busloads of them come to Kathmandu to pray and worship.

Also there were many Sadhus seen in Pasupatinath. There are holy people, who live in isolation, to achieve liberation. But behind the painted faces, one never knows how pious they are.

After we walked around the main temple of Pashupati, we were going to many Lingams of Pashupati and, I happen to look down on the Baghmati River.  There were funerals taking place on either side of the river. I was glad I didn’t see the dead body but they were loading logs of wood on the podiums for cremations and, the air was thick with the smell of smoke. In Hindu religion, when a person dies, they are cremated. First there are the rituals of washing the body (purifying it) and lighting lamps all around it to protect the body. Then the body is loaded on the logs and the eldest son of the family lights the fire on the log. If one has no sons, then it will be done by father, brother or any other male member of the family.

In olden days if a woman’s husband died, she was required/ pressurised to burn with him. The process is called Sati. The act of Sati, in which a Hindu widow immolates herself on her husband’s funeral pyre as a final and consummate act of loyalty and devotion, is patterned after the deed committed by a goddess to uphold the honour of her husband. I am just glad it is not practiced these days.

I still hate the other ritual Nepali women practice when their husband dies. Please read this post for more details.

After that we came out from the main door and went to get our shoes. There were lots of pigeon and cow just roaming around there so I decided to take a few photos with them.

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As we left the temple, we saw a whole hoard of monkeys! I find them very frightening, especially when they show their teeth and hiss but AS was happy taking their photos.

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From Pashupatinath we went to the nearby Guheswari temple.

It is one of the revered holy temples in Kathmandu, Nepal. This temple is dedicated to Adi Shakti. This refers to the popular legend where Shiva distressed was carrying the corpse of Devi Sati and Vishu annihilated it with his Sudarshan Chakra. Shiva later declared the 51 such places where Devi Sati’s body parts fell were to be worshipped as the Shakti Peethas and meditated at all these places as various forms of Bhairavas. The place where Devi Sati’s knees fell is Guheswari in Kathmandu. In Nepal the form of Shakti is Mahashira and the form of Bhairava is Kapali. King Pratap Malla built this temple in the 17th century. The temple name originates from guhya (cave) and ishwari (goddess). Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter this temple as well.

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We went inside the temple and there were not many people there. We just prayed and went around the temple and were out in a few minutes.

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The temple of Guheswari houses no image of any Goddess but has been regarded as a place of worship since times immemorial. Many believe this to be the temple to go to in order to pray for marital fidelity and a lot of Hindus will make the trip here to ensure that their marriage does not suffer.

For us, it was a quick stopover before we headed home to our warm cup of tea and warm jeri swari 🙂

Till next time, take care

M from nepaliaustralia

XOXO

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Recycling and reusing in Nepal

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in April 2013 issue.

recycling post blog

My recent visit to Nepal has given me inside to many things and one of them is recycling and using anything and everything possible.

Recycling is very important, but even better is reusing. I was really impressed on reusing skill on people from Nepal. From old metal cans, plastic bags, old newspapers, packing containers and old clothes, Nepali housewives especially found ways to give second life for simple items around their home by reusing them.

I really think people living in west are spoiled and they really need to learn how to reuse and recycle than buying things that are use and throw. I have to admit, even though I am conscious about recycling and reusing, I have a long way to go to be anywhere near these housewives. I am going to remember from now on that not everything is destined for the rubbish bin. I need to think before I throw.

No matter how rich or how poor people are, most Nepali people reuse lots of thing and this is what I observe.

  • Plastic grocery bags used as small trash can bags.
  • Ziplock bags washed and reused.
  • Worn out clothes used as rags to clean floors and windows.
  • Margarine and butter tubs used as takeaway containers.
  • Everyone unwrap their gifts very careful so they can reuse the wrapping paper.
  • Shoe boxes used as storage containers for small items.
  • Old toothbrush used to clean hard to reach areas like around the sink, your drains, faucets and grout.
  • Newspaper used for cleaning windows and mirrors. Also it is used to clean up after pets.
  • Old glass bottles from tomato sauce or honey used as storage container for herbs and spices in the kitchen.It can be also be used as a stationary organiser.

  • Small jars from jams used as candle holders.
  • Old saucers used as soap dishes.
  • Mugs are used as utensil holders.

  •  Leftovers are put in freeze and used in fried rice the next day.
  • Any kind of boxes used as storage containers or organisers.
  •  Plastic milk jugs, juice containers, big coke bottles used to store water.
  •  Small plastic water or soda bottles used to take water with you while out and about.

If you are interested in any of the ideas, please Google and you will find heaps of ideas on how to turn your trash into treasure and you will be surprised how good they look. Also it will help you save some money and you are doing your bit to save the environment.

Do you recycle?

Till next post, take care.

M from nepaliaustralia

XOXO

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Namo Buddha : Nepal

Namo Buddha is about 40km away from the heart of Kathmandu City. It is in Kavre District towards the southeast of the valley. Driving from Kathmandu, it took us around 2 hours to get there. We left the paved road and drove on dirt road after an hour. After about 45 minutes we caught a glimpse of the temple through the clouds.

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Namo Buddha is a beautiful place far from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, with no pollution, and the air is so fresh and cool. Situated at an elevation of 1750 m above sea level, Namo Buddha is a great tourist destination around Kathmandu valley. From the top of the hill you can see the snow-covered Himalayan ranges which look so pure and amazing.

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From the Buddhist point of view, Namo Buddha is one of the most important religious sites in Nepal. There are three major Buddhist pilgrimage sites: Boudha Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa and Namo Buddha.

I went there with my parents and an aunty.Once we parked the car, we had to go through a big gate to reach the stupa. The stupa was not as big as Boudha Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa but has high significance.

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According to history around 6000 years ago prince Great Being (Ngingdui Tshenpo Mahasatwo), found a tigress lying near a rock at the top of the hill, overlooking the jungle. Very quickly, he realized that she was going to die. Her five babies were still little and their survival depended on their mother. Ngingdui Tshenpo,  was a young man who had his own kingdom but he decide to give his life to the tigress in a bust of love and compassion. The tigress refused. When the tigress refused to eat him, he decided to cut his arm to feed his warm blood to the tigress. The taste of blood gave the tigress an appetite and finally she accepted the sacrifice from the prince. The tigress left only the bare bones of the prince which were brought back in the village and buried in a tomb which became the actual stupa of Namo Buddha. Some 3500 years later, the Gautam Buddha came to the village of Sange da Fyafulsa; he went around the Stupa three times and declared that he was the reincarnation of Prince Ngingdui Tshenpo. It was that moment that Gautam Buddha renamed this village and henceforth the name of Namo Buddha which means First Buddha.

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My mum and my aunty bought the butter lamps and offered it to the Buddha and we prayed and went around the Stupa. There were a few kids begging money. At first I didn’t wanted to give money to them and spoil their habit but later I felt sorry for them and gave them 10 rupees each.

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Once we were done, everyone was hungry at this point so we went to a local restaurant. Everyone had rice, dal, vegetable (meat is not available in the local restaurants as Buddhist doesn’t eat meat) but I ordered my favourite Wai Wai instant noodle soup. After lunch we all were recharged and went back in the car to go to the monastery.

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The Thrangu Tashi Yangtse monastery looked really beautiful up-close. As there was specific time for the opening of the monastery we waited for it to open.  As we waited, we saw there were more people coming to visit the place.

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The inside of the monastery was impressive but pictures are not allowed inside. There were about 10-15 painters working on hand painting the walls.  The walls and ceiling were very colourful with Buddhist paintings. The place is really silent and I could easily imagine why people came there to meditate.

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As we walk out from the monastery, there are prayer wheels all around it.  We rotated the prayer wheels and walked around the monastery. A prayer wheel is a cylindrical “wheel” on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. According to the lineage texts on prayer wheels, prayer wheels are used to accumulate wisdom and merit (good karma) and to purify negativities (bad karma).

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From the monastery, we walked to towards the top of the hill. There is a big statue of the Buddha at one place made out of brass.

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As we walked towards the top of the hill, we reached a stone sculpture that depicted Buddha himself feeding a hungry tigress and her cubs. It is believed that the place is where Buddha gave up his body.

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Following the ridge to another summit on the same hill, there is another small Stupa which is said to be the spot of the den of the tigress. There, we saw pilgrims lying down on the ground as if offering their bodies to the place. Pieces of cloth hung on the branches of the tree for protection. It was such a beautiful place to be at.

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When we reached the top of the hill, we could see the monastery and the view of the village. On one side we could even see some part of the Karve District forest. The top of the hill is surrounded by colourful prayer flags and there were a few people enjoying their picnic around the area.

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I really liked this side of Kathmandu and it will be a great place for anyone to go for a day or more to enjoy the peace you can find so close to busy Kathmandu.

Till next post, take care!

M from nepaliaustralia

XOXO

P.S.: I am going to Bryan Adams concert tonight and very excited. I will update more soon. Happy weekend everyone!!!

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Manakamana Temple: Nepal

Manakamana is the temple of Goddess Durga (Hindu Goddess), situated in Gorkha District of Nepal. Manakamana means the “Wishes from the heart”. It is believed that Goddess Manakaman fulfils the wishes of the ones who worship her with a pure heart.

The Manakamana temple lies 12 Km south of the town of Gorkha. The temple is located on a distinguished ridge 1302 meters above sea level and overlooks the river valleys of Trisuli in the south and Marsyangdi in the west. The spectacular views of the Manaslu- Himachali and Annapurna ranges can be seen to the north of the temple. The temple is approximately a 104 Km drive from Kathmandu.

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Initially we were planning to visit the temple on our way back from Pokhara so that we would get lots of time to spend there but while my FIL was reading the paper in the car, he came across a notice that the day we were planning to visit the temple, cable car to the temple would be closed for maintenance so we made the decision to visit the temple on the way to Pokhara. I hadn’t been there for over 7 years so it was nice to visit the temple. I was with AS, MIL and FIL.

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Once we parked the car, we bought the cable car ticket and joined the queue. The queue was not too long so we got our turn in a cable car quite quickly. We had the car to ourselves.

Manakamana Cable Car has 31 passenger Gondolas and 3 freight carriers. The time of travel from the station below at Kurintar to the top station situated at Manakamana is only 10 minutes. The Cable Car can hold 6 adults or 480 Kg and has doors that close and open automatically and the system is one of the most modern and is totally computerized.

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Once we got off the cable car, we have to walk for a while before we reached the temple. On the way there various vendors were trying to sell their products to us. They used the same dialogue “It is the best.” Or “It is the cheapest you can find”.  My MIL bought Puja stuffs from one of the vendors and we went to the temple.

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Manakamana is a Hindu Goddess so she is worshiped with offerings of flower, sound, scent, dress, make-ups and colours. There is a tradition of sacrificing animals at the temple. Devotees stand in line for even 5-10 hours during festivals. The line starts from the temple gate is longer than a few kilometres sometimes, especially during festivals. People can be seen standing in line with pooja samagri (worship materials) in hand and some of them carrying duck, cock or goat with them. People seem to enjoy standing in the line without food, some even with no water.

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 The legend of Manakamana Goddess dates back to the reign of the Gorkha king Ram Shah during the 17th century. It is said that his queen possessed divine powers, which only her devotee Lakhan Thapa knew about. One day, the king witnessed his queen in Goddess incarnation, and Lakhan Thapa in the form of a lion. Upon mentioning the revelation to his queen, a mysterious death befell the king. As per the custom of that time, the queen committed sati (ritual immolation) on her husband’s funeral pyre. Before, her sati the queen had assured Lakhan Thapa that she would reappear in the near future. Six months later, a farmer while ploughing his fields cleaved a stone. From the stone he saw a stream of blood and milk flow. When Lakhan heard an account of this event, he immediately started performing Hindu tantric rituals at the site where the stone had been discovered thus ceasing the flow of blood and milk. The site became the foundation of the present shrine. According to tradition, the priest at the temple must be a descendent of Lakhan Thapa

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The day we were there, there was not a long queue but it may still have taken us an hour to reach the front door of the temple.

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As we were on our way to Pokhara and short of time, we decided  not to stand in line and just prayed from the outside. My MIL did some puja and lit some diyo too.

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As the cable car was going to shut down for lunch we didn’t want to get stuck at the top for an hour so we decided to go back down and have our lunch in the restaurant there.

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The ride down was equally spectacular and I really enjoyed it. Down by the river, in the restaurant we had typical Nepali lunch with dal (lentil), bhat (rice), tarkari (vegies), achar (pickle) and masu (meat). It was really yummy.

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After lunch we made our way to Pokhara.

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Paragliding in Paradise

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in March 2013 issue.

Paragliding for blog

We have all heard about Paradise but we have never seen it. Today I am happy to announce that I have been there and it is called Pokhara, 200 km away from Kathmandu, capital of Nepal.

Pokhara is heaven for domestic and international tourists with its luscious green hills, snow-capped mountains and beautiful lakes. These days Pokhara is also famous for its various adventures like paragliding, gliding, ultra-light flight and zip fly.

I have been waiting to sky dive for ages so I thought paragliding would be a great step towards it. So when I went to Nepal this year, I went to Pokhara where I saw the paradise from a bird’s eye view with the magnificent mountains up close.

We booked the paragliding through the hotel. So the company picked us up at the hotel. Initially, it was only me and my husband who were planning to glide but my mother in law also joined us for the flight once we asked her. They took us to their office first where we filled out forms and signed a no liability statement. From there we were off to Sarankot, which was around 30 minutes’ drive from the office.

The drive was a bit bumpy at times but the driver was giving us lots of information about the paragliding. He told us that even an 80 year old man had done the paragliding from their company. Once the jeep stopped, we had to walk a few minutes to reach the top of the hill where I saw many gliders were already taking off from the mountain and floating away. We were each assigned a pilot and I got Vlad from Serbia. He has been flying for over 10 years all over the world and seemed well trained. He buckled me up with the gears and a few instructions on how to take off. With a little bit of fear and a whole lot of excitement, I was ready for my flight.

After checking all the equipment and wind flow we ran together to take off. I was quite surprised how easy that take off was as we glided off the cliff and I naturally fell back onto the seat and began drifting peacefully. It was great to realise that I was in the air flying. I was already high up on the sky when I saw my husband and mother in law taking off from the hill. Once in the sky, I could see lots of colourful gliders filling the blue sky on the sunny winter day. I could see eagles circling below us as well.

The pilot informed me that we were cruising above 8000 feet in the air and I could see the magnificent view of the Himalayas, hills with pockets of green forests, beautiful lakes and Pokhara city.

As we climbed higher, the view of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manasulu were so close and breathtaking. We cruised for almost 20 minutes while the pilot pointed out a few places. Also it was fun trying to find my husband and mother in law among many gliders as we could hardly recognise any face from so far away. As the flight was smooth, I asked the pilot if I can take my own camera from my pocket. He said it would be fine so I took my camera out and took a video and photos of our flight.

After a while the pilot asked if I was ok to do some acrobatics in the air. I was scared but I said yes so he let me hold his camera as he prepared for some spinning and spiralling. I put my own camera back in my pocket and we did some acrobatics over the lake swinging back and forth and dropping in the air. It was such an adrenalin rush and I would have liked him to keep going but it was almost time for us to descend and land next to Fewa Lake.

He asked me to put my foot up and not try to touch the ground when we landed so I did as I was told and I was safely on the ground. My husband and mother in law had already landed and we all were very happy with the experience.

Once they packed the equipment, we were back in the jeep on the way to their office where we waited for our photos and video. They also gave us certificates for the flight!

It was an incredible experience and is totally worth a try 🙂

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