It is Saturday here, and I woke up late today so my running buddy just left me for a long run! But I’m glad that he’ll be joining me tomorrow for a substitute long run, which will presumably be another 20K for him! See? Running is THAT addictive! And writing isn’t too bad after all, let’s just take it as another form of exercise for the brain. And fingers. And eye balls. At least I’m moving some of my body muscles now! Ha! 😉
And.. talking about Himalaya.. Who doesn’t wanna go there? Well, maybe you for some reasons, but I mean for those who love to travel and hike mountains like I do, the Nepali Himalaya is a tempting place to conquer. I did a 12 days trekking trip to Everest Base Camp (5365m asl) and Kalaphatar (5555m asl) with my good friends and was organized by Ace The Himalaya. For those who love yoga and zen life style, Nepal may be a slightly less commercialized place than India. For those who love delicious (and cheap!) foods, Nepal will be an ultimate belly growing destination. Thanks to Daal Bhat and Mo:Mos!
Anyway, you may have read lots of amazing stories about Nepal, be it its enchanting natural charm or the genuinely beautiful people or whatever makes this place interesting. Here is my personal takes about what I’ve experienced and learned during my trip in Nepal :
Garden of Dream, an oase in the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu!
1. Life Doesn’t Always Come As We Expected. It Can Be Even Better Sometimes! Surprise.. Surprise..!! 🙂
Yo, it’s another break up story here. Bear with me, people! I promise it won’t be cheesy! Haha.. So I tried to open up for a relationship again earlier this year, after 2 years of being single by choice (aawwww!!!). We knew each other last year and after 4 months of intensive talks, we decided to give it a try. Five months, six mountain tops, several hikes to waterfalls, some hidden beaches, countless tiring 9 hours train rides, and 2 half marathons later we broke up. We thought we would have an endless adventure together, but turned out things just didn’t work well with us. I was supposed to see snow (with him!) in another part of the world this winter, but yeah, the wind blows to another direction, so I need to adjust my sail accordingly. I then decided to go to Nepal with my best friends a.k.a my partners in crime a.k.a my business partners. So there I was, trekking to Everest Base Camp with the people who love me and I love back unconditionally. I wouldn’t have known that I would see snow in a waaaayyy better place! I almost skipped Nepal for that another place, but glad that I made it back in track! I made it to 5000m+ peaks! And it surely gives me a great sense of achievement.
I eventually learned that it is ok to admit that sometimes we take wrong turns in our life, but we can always decide to stop and start all over again!
2. Once You Open Your Mind, This Life Will Open Lots Of Good Things For You
So I left that breakup behind, flew to Nepal, and did the trek with a group of amazing people that I just met in Nepal. I also met lots of people along the way, including a random conversation with a guy in front of the hotel toilet haha.. He suddenly asked me “Were you walking behind me on the way up to Kalapathar?”. And I said “Probably!”. He then said that he recognized me and bragging about how he made it to Kalapathar 15 minutes ahead of me and 3 of his friends bailed from doing Gokyo Trek. Like, since when do I care, dear stranger? But I needed to be open to any kind of personality here. I understood that he was so proud about himself because the trek wasn’t easy. It wasn’t that easy for me either. So in this case, I needed to be open for any kind of annoying or not annoying thing, to then see it in certain context and learn about something.
People were waiting to be blessed by the Lama
Among the amazing experiences, I was so lucky that I could experience the blessing ceremony in a monastery in Tengboche. Only three of us could make it to the blessing ceremony just 30 minutes before the ceremony ended. It was a nice experience to be blessed by a Buddhist Lama. I mean, if I were that radical fanatic person, I would never come to any other religion’s ceremony. But I just took it as a cultural event, that gives me another insight to what other people do in their life. That life is not all about us and our way of life. That other traditions exist and we need to respect them.
Another interesting experience that opened my mind was knowing that the toilet Nepali was more like what a group mate of mine called “fertilizer collecting station”. There was only a small hut, with a small hole in it that when you’re doing your thing, you’ll see those things right below you. It was shocking for me, but I realized that it was the way they do it. I laughed out loud and was scared to fall down to the piles of poo the first time I used this kind of “free falling” squat toilet. The Nepali were doing something better than we do anyway. They used the feces as natural fertilizer to grow crops, which was good for the earth sustainability. From this experience I learned that something that we thought wasn’t hygienic at all could be something useful not only for some people economically, but also for the mother earth.
From these experiences I learned that we need to see things not only from its content, but also its context. Like, we need to observe and figure out why things work like that, instead of just take it for granted that will lead us to see it from narrow perspective. I came into realization that opening up our mind will lead us to clearer perspectives, and will lead us to more good experiences eventually.
3. The Toughest Mountain To Conquer Usually Has The Most Rewarding View
I am so grateful that I stayed healthy during the whole trek. I mean, I’m not a super amazingly fit person in general but I didn’t have any health issue during the trek. I was just fit. Funny thing was that my oxygen level in Dingboche (4400m asl) was 93% that the doctor whose research I was participating in told me “Perfect! It’s porter’s (oxygen saturation) level!”. I believed that it was only because I ate a lot during the whole trip. Yes, a lot. That my friends were surprised that I could eat that much hehe.. So this is an ultimate advice from a not so ultimate trekker : eat a lot during your trek to Everest Base Camp and you’ll thank me later. Oh, you’re welcome! haha
So during the trip, there were 2 peaks that I went only with Godwin, a group mate of mine (Note : I hope he doesn’t mind that I put his real name here hehe). Those were Nangkartshang Peak (5100m asl) and Kalapattar (5500m asl). Those two were not easy compared to what we used to do along the way. The trail was so steep and a bit hot for Nangkartshang and really cold for Kalapattar. I had to take lots of small breaks on the way up to sip some water from my bottle, and from Godwin’s Camelbak in Kalapathar’s case. I also needed to put my isotonic powder to my water bottle on the way up to Nangkartshang because I needed more ion supplies in that relatively hot day. Long story short, those peaks were not easy. But those two were the most rewarding place with the most rewarding view since I could see almost the whole Himalaya mountain range.
At the top of Kala Pathar (5555m asl)
What I wanted to say is that it’s ok to admit how weak and vulnerable we are at some point. But after we put more effort and push our limit, we will finally know how strong we are. We will never realize how important self belief is until we reach the top of the mountains. We will never know how far we can go until we reach the destination. Only efforts can transform our vulnerability to strength. At this point I came into realization that the things that don’t come easy usually are the most rewarding.
4. Discovering My New Mantra : Feel The Fear Inside You And Do It Anyway
After my EBC trek, I did bungy jump with The Last Resort in Botekoshi, the border district with Tibet. Due to security reason and presumably to prevent any human smuggling, we had to pass lots of security inspection station. Policemen everywhere. But they were nice though. It took us (me, Kikin, and Obe) 2 hours to a point, then we had to walk for like 20 minutes due to cut off road, to then continue with another bus in another side of the area for like 1 hour. It was bumpy ride but it was the thing that made us stare to each other and laugh 🙂
So we arrived at the resort, they gave us explanations about the bungy, and measured our weight. I was the lightest one so I thought I would be the first to jump. I was like “please, don’t.. it’s not me..”. Turned out I wasn’t the first to jump and it relieved me haha.. I kept telling myself to trust myself, the crews, and the equipment and I’ll be fine. It was so cold up there at that suspension bridge. I was so nervous and until my turn came, I just counted 1, 2, 3 and jumped! Turned out the jump wasn’t as scary as I thought. Haha Sometimes, in life, we are too afraid to start a thing.
Sometimes we are too afraid to fail, to get rejected, or to look dumb. Sometimes we’re too worried about the outcome. But yeah, being afraid is so human. We’re human after all. But we sometimes just need to feel the fear, embrace the pain, and just do it! Like the first time I did my trail run in Rinjani, I was so afraid and nervous. Turned out I just did it and made it under the cut off time. And I never looked back! I always finished my trail half marathons since then!
5. There Always Comes A Time When We’ll Learn About Humility The Humblest Way
Who won’t be proud of themselves after doing strenuous 12 days hike without proper shower but still managed to reach the destination? Duh! That was my thought as well. I was so proud of myself for being able of doing this trek and reach the peaks. But that’s only until I realize that I didn’t carry much stuff when I walked, that I didn’t think about organizing the trip and just enjoy the trip. Along the way to EBC, I saw lots of porters carry heavy stuffs. They had to work that hard for their family, even since early age. Yet they managed to still laugh and tried to have conversation with me, even with my limited Nepali language and their limited English. This sight made me realize that I was so grateful that I only had to do this strenuous trek for “fun”, and not for living like they had to.
In Pangboche monastery, we were lucky to see a village prayer (puja). It was a humble and authentic puja, away from touristy things. When I tied my shoe lace in front of the monastery, suddenly a lady kissed my cheek from behind. I was so surprised but it was an interesting experience. Some other ladies tried to have small conversation with us as well. This kind of genuineness really touched my heart. Seeing the simple life they live made me feel so humbled yet uplifted at the same time. I might not be enlightened yet but Nepal has taught me a lot about moving on in life, and also to open my mind… and my heart! I think I fell in love with Nepal 🙂