After being engulfed into the Thai culture with the Common Grounds family for some time, a group of 15 travelers, including myself, decided to step, once again, outside of our comfort zones and take a leap of faith into the unknown. Before that day, the only connection my brain made to Nepal was Mt. Everest and ancient Buddhist/Hindu culture. What my brain did not anticipate, or could have even fathomed at the time, was the awe-striking beauty and divine power I would experience in the Himalayas.
Flying into a foreign country for my first time always brings about a certain sense of excitement and freedom; exciting in the fact that I have no idea what I have gotten myself into, and free, because I can literally do whatever, wherever, with whomever I please. Arriving in the capital city Kathmandu, while trying to discover where your friends are and where you are going, lead to the largest dose of culture shock I have ever experienced. The level of motorbike traffic, swirling dust-clouds, whistles and horns, animals and people, colors and fabrics exceeded my brains limits for the day and all I could do was sit back in the bicycle-drawn rickshaw and watch in awe.
The next couple days went by in a daze as our group split up. We wandered aimlessly through the streets of Thamel, a neighborhood of Kathmandu known for the countless boutiques, shops, and vendors lining the narrow brick streets. Feasting on unlimited “Dal baht” and passing a mint-flavored hookah around, we regrouped to have lunch at a rooftop bar. The Nepalese people treated us like kings and queens, far exceeding my expectations in the service and accommodation industry. “Guests are gods”, a simple, yet eloquent Nepali phrase I learned later in my journey, which, characterizes their hospitality and a moral lesson we can all learn from. Treat your guests as you would if it was your god that came to stay at your house. Discussing our next moves, we decided to head for the sacred Hindu holy lands of the Lower Mustang Valley.
South of Tibet, Muktinath’s history is ancient and many of the buildings and houses used today were built before Columbus even landed in the Americas. Again to our luck, we found a group of Nepali brothers who took us in and provided shelter, food, and history lessons we would of never of known without the knowledge and experiences of a local. My brain was on overload, not only from the countless stories and facts about the Mustang Valley, Himalayas, and Nepali people, but from the sheer beauty of my surroundings. I could write a book about the encounters and sights I experienced that week, but instead, we made a video of what we did. Enjoy.
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