Paragliding off a 5,500 foot mountain, Again
Today, I took the others on a paragliding trip near Phewa Lake. I had such a great experience the first time I went, I had to do it again. This time we all booked a 30 minute ride off the tallest part of the mountain. Unfortunately, I didn't pay for the video or photos this time. I went with saving money. The ride was a cool $75 compared to $45 with video and photos the last time.
We rode up the mountain in a van with our instructors. The fog had been blocking our views of the lake the entire trip up, which made us a little uneasy. I found out that the instructors won't fly unless it's clear. So, the four of us waited an hour until the fog settled. All of us started out on a steep inclined cliff that overlooked the city. Waleed went first without any hesitation. Gabrielle went next while screaming the entire way as she disappeared into the fog a few 100 meters ahead. And then, I went next. My instructor and I started running down the cliff as we prepared for the wind to lift us into the sky. At first, we weren't going anywhere. As we finally lifted off, I noticed we barely missed the edge of the cliff... I was a bit worrisome once I noticed that.
But what an experience. The instructor flew us as high as 7,000 feet in the sky as we overlooked Phewa Lake. I did take a few photos with my camera as we floated around.
My view of Phewa Lake from 7,000 feet up
Paragliding has given me the courage to do other adventurous activities. It has even made me contemplate skydiving. That would have been unheard of from me two months ago. My family would know!
As we ended down to land, the instructor gave me instruction to hold on tight. We started free falling toward the lake at or near 60mph. I could barely keep my eyes open and my mouth shut. I was cursing the entire time. I do that when I feel uncomfortable with heights. This free fall lasted a good 20 seconds. We finally landed near the lake. I gave my instructor a high five and a tip. He deserved it. My second flight was a 1,000 times more enjoyable than the first.
We all packed our gear as we headed back to the hotel. Our next plan was to rent mopeds or scooters and ride up to the World Peace Stupa.
The bikes were delivered to our hotel around 1pm. We started off by riding to fill up our tank. Then we headed off to Devi's Falls near World Peace Stupa.
Also known as Patale Chango, this waterfall marks the point where the Pardi Khola stream vanishes underground. When the stream is at full bore after monsoon rains, the sound of the water plunging over the falls is deafening. According to one of the many local legends, the name is a corruption of David’s Falls, a reference to a Swiss visitor who tumbled into the sinkhole and drowned, taking his girlfriend with him.
We then headed to a cave that connects the waterfall to Phewa Lake. The architecture of the spiral staircase to the cave was marvelous.
The entrance to the cave was a bit spooky. There were random cow statues, temples and other religious figures inside the cave.
After the cave and waterfall, all four of us headed to the World Peace Stupa on one of the mountains in Pohkara. It took us 1.5 hours to drive up a jagged rock hill that had curvy roads and no protective barriers on the turns. It was scary to say the least. But was the view was incredible. Totally worth the crazy drive up.
The Himalayas were down right gorgeous that day. The photo above doesn't do the mountains any justice.
After peering at the mountains for a half an hour, Sherman and I headed to World Peace Stupa. The clouds had a mix of sunlight and monsoon rain, which made the Stupa look beautiful at dusk.
We all headed back to town to enjoy a nice meal near the lake.
a trip to pohkara
After Chitwan, we took a 6 hour bus ride to Pohkara. Early in my blog, I wrote a bit about Pohkara and the adventures I had. I took Waleed, Gabriella and Sherman, my three friends from Hong Kong to Pohkara for the amazing views, paragliding and food. Our first night consisted of eating and drinking all night long. We checked into a nice hotel on the lakeside of Pohkara. That way, we could walk from our hotel to the waterfront at ease.
Our plans for the three day trip consisted of paragliding, scootering up a mountain to see the World Peace Stupa and canoeing Phewa Lake.
elephant safari ride in chitwan
All four of us took a 6 hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Chitwan to see Chitwan National Park. Many species of birds, mammals and insects live in Chitwan. Over 250 different kinds of birds live in Chitwan alone. There are 350 species of birds in Nepal, which is a significant amount of birds in one area. Overall, there are 700 species of animals in the area and 43 species of mammals. There's no surprise that Chitwan is a popular tourist destination.
All four of us split two rooms at the Green Park Hotel. It was $25 for a beautiful room with a balcony, gourmet breakfast and a fantastic swimming pool. The day we went, the temperature soared up to 41 Celsius.
We booked our elephant safari ride for 6am the next morning. Supposedly, there are more rhinos and tigers in the area during the morning. Seeing a Bengal Tiger in the wild is rare. So, of course, we didn't see one. However, we did see two lazy rhinos escaping the heat in the swamp.
We rode Poonam the entire 1.5 hours. She was a great sport the entire way.
We walked right past two rhinos
Kingfisher bird perching in the trees
A beautiful peacock in Chitwan National Park
Long horned dear
seven of us stay at hotel country villa
Sujan thought it was a good idea to bring all of us up to his hotel yesterday. The entire night we drank and ate food while watching Russell Peters' stand up. He's a funny comedian. We were all hoping the sunrise was going to be clear and visible. Was it ever. I have never seen a more beautiful place.
friends come in on the 17th and 18th
I have a few friends from Hong Kong and Australia that have come to join me in Nepal the last week I'm here. The first night we stayed in Thamel, a touristy area of Kathmandu. We went out that night to check out the bar scene. It was a bit depressing. There aren't many tourists in the country at the moment.
The next night, the 18th, we stayed in Thamel again while trying out a few restaurants in the area. These two days were spent letting my friends see the touristy area and trying some local Nepalese food.
my experience at kopan monastery
Sujan's family graciously drove me the 30 minutes to Kopan Monastery, which is outside Kathmandu. The roads were small and curvy. We had a difficult time finding the place due to no street signs and the lack of infrastructure in that area. Eventually we got the monastery!
I headed into the massive gate protecting the monastery from the outside world. I walked into the reception area where I booked my four night stay. The rooms were quite nice. I had originally booked a dormitory style bed, but there weren't enough visitors to make living in it worthwhile. Instead, I received a single room with an amazing view.
My first night consisted of reading a few Buddhism books and a nice view. I started reading "The Daily Wisdom: Dalai Lama", which gave me 365 daily quotes of the famous Dalai Lama and his wise wisdom. The next book I started alongside the other was "The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism." Both books gave me a better understanding of the religion.
That night at dinner, I met a few travellers that invited me to 6:30am yoga the next morning. Starting my day at 6:30am with yoga was a nice change, relaxing in fact. We then went o breakfast at 7:30am. Buddhist are vegetarians, so the meal consisted of porridge, boiled eggs and sweet bread. It was a tasty meal.
I then headed to meditation and Dharma talk at 10am with a local monk. She, the monk, was originally from Sweden and had been at Kopan for a few decades. I had no idea how to meditate, so the group started out in beginner mode. I crossed my legs on a square mat with a circular pad in the middle. I closed my eyes, put my right hand on top of my left and connected my thumbs. This posture was crucial to respect Buddha. Dhyana, also called Smadhi or Yoga Mudra, both hands are placed on the lap, right hand on left with fingers fully stretched and the palms facing upward. This is the characteristic gesture of Buddha Shakyamuni, Dhyani Buddha Amitaba and the Medicine Buddhas. We stayed in this postion for ten minutes while the monk guided us with our breaths. She gave us an exercise to try and control our thoughts. By counting to five seconds, I had to completely clear my mind from any thoughts or distractions around me. It was more difficult than it sounds. The birds were chirping, dogs barking and there were people talking around me. In the end, I could only get to two seconds.
After meditation, we talked about Buddhism and what it entails. I forgot most of what she said, so the books gave me more of understanding of the religion. Once we were done, we headed to lunch. After lunch, the day was free for me to walk around the property and read. The next 3 days consisted of this. With no internet or a way to see the outside world, I had a lot to think about.
Coming from an adrenaline rush in paragliding and zip lining to a more relaxing retreat at Kopan Monastery, the differences were completely opposite. But the two extremes were exactly what I needed on this trip. The more extremes on both ends of the spectrum, the better my entire trip will be. Both experiences were out of my comfort zone, yet, I still accomplished my goals without hesitation. That's the best part of travelling. One needs to get out of his/her comfort zone to really experience the cultures in each country. Nepal is the exact opposite of the USA. Yet, I feel right at home because of my attitude toward change.
Today, Monday the 13th, I'll be staying at the Kopan Buddhist Monastery for five days. Here I will learn to meditate, find my inner being and be one with the world. I'm not exactly sure what it all means, but I am excited to live among the monks of Kopan.
I won't post until next weekend. There won't be internet or any service up there. Photos, descriptions and more will be added later. See ya!
Sujan and I decided to keep the adrenaline pumping by zip lining 2,000 feet down a mountain at 90mph. At first I was really skeptical about it. But, I thought to myself, "I just jumped off a mountain and flew with the birds, I can do this." My fears subsided after that.
The van picked us up at the hotel. We rode up the same mountain we had paraglided off of yesterday. However, we were zip lining down the other side. If the clouds weren't out today, the group would have seen The Himalayas clear as day.
We got to the top. I looked down to this.
Six people went before me. Their screams made me a bit uneasy. Once it was my turn, I got strapped into my harness. I put my feet up on the gate as the instructor counted down from 5 seconds. And I was off.
What an adrenaline rush. My eyes were watering the whole time. I was spinning around while looking up at the mountains in front of me. Great experience!
We got back to the hotel to rest a few hours. Our next activity was to climb a shorter mountain to see World Peace Stupa, a temple that Buddha prayed at according to the Hindu religion.
What a beautiful view from the World Peace Stupa. Gorgeous.
We hiked back down to the canoe we had rented. To get to the Stupa, we had to row a canoe for a half an hour, hike an hour and then finally we were at the temple. The hike was all up hill, and I had been feeling sick the past few days from food poisoning. It wasn't the best feeling in the world. But the views made it all worth the trip.
We headed out to dinner for the last night in Pohkara. We ended up at Trisara, a popular place for tourists. The beautiful day turned to a gorgeous dusk/nightfall.
canoeing, bird watching and elephant breeding
Our second day in Chitwan consisted of bird watching, canoeing and elephant breeding. Sujan and I got up at 7am to start our day. Our bus was at 915am, so we had a tight window to see all of this.
We drifted right past this croc on the way to the elephant breeding area.
Elephant breeding area in Chitwan National Park.
Each elephant eats 100 of this pods. Each pod has sugar cane and rice in it. These men work all day to create these meals for 32 elephants. That's a lot of work. Oh and they work 7 days a week...
We took a jeep back to the hotel and caught our bus. It took us 4 hours to get to Pohkara. Chitwan was a cool experience.