Traveling to Nepal after the 2015 Earthquake

INTRODUCING NEPAL

 

Nepal has always been on my travel’s radar and it was for me a dream come true to travel to Nepal. Located in beautiful South Asia and sandwiched between China and India, Nepal is truly a piece of heaven on Earth, a destination gifted with natural wonders and is no doubt one of the most beautiful places in the world. Nepal is home to majestic Mt. Everest, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, holy Hindu sites, beautiful temples, stupas, and a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

I was in a state of shock myself when I saw the news about the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal’s capital Kathmandu in April 2015. Thousands of people lost their lives and thousands more were injured. Many thousands of people were also made homeless. As a traveler, you must be wondering, “Is it safe to travel to visit Nepal after the 2015 Earthquake?” The answer is a “Yes” from me, a solo woman traveler who has travel back to her home country safely from Nepal. The massive earthquake may have caused severe damage in certain regions, but the country is making great efforts in rebuilding and is open for travel.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Singapore passport holders require a valid Visa to enter Nepal. Visa can be obtained on arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. One of the most popular airline flying from Singapore to Kathmandu is SilkAir and there are 6 flights a week from Singapore Changi Airport to Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. The average flight time from Singapore to the Capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is 4 hours and 50 minutes via SilkAir’s flight.

 

 

It is a mandatory requirement for foreigners to get a valid Visa to enter Nepal and Singaporeans can obtain a visa on arrival easily at Tribhuvan International Airport. Most nationalities can get either a 15/30/90-day visa when arriving into Nepal and the cost of the visa is as follow:

 

  • 15 days – US $25.00 for 15 days single/ multiple entry
  • 30 days – US $40.00 for 30 days single/ multiple entry
  • 90 days – US $100 for 90 days single/ multiple entry

 

For my 10D9N trip to Nepal between 4th to 13th September 2016, I paid US $25.00 for the 15 days single/ multiple entry visa. Upon arrival into Tribhuvan International Airport, there will be several kiosks for visas and some are for 15 or 30 days others are for 90 days entry visa. Don’t queue at the wrong counter and there are signages above the kiosks, check first and then queue.

 

CURRENCY EXCHANGE

 

SGD 1 ≈ USD 0.738879 ≈ NPR 76.5154

(http://www.xe.com/)

 

It is not easy to find a money changer in Singapore that sells Nepali Rupees. One method is to change your Singapore Dollars to United State Dollars as United State Dollars is a global currency and is accepted around the world. Changing money at Tribhuvan International Airport can be quite a hassle as the locals will shove you out of the line and try all ways possible to cut queue. It is important to stay extra vigilant with your belongings at all times and you definitely do not want to meet with the mishap of having your valuables stolen during your vacation. That will put a damper on your holiday mood!

 

WHERE TO VISIT

There are many UNESCO World Heritage Sites worth visiting when you’re in Nepal. To get the best of your time in this country may need a few trips but you can still do it right in one visit when you have done your itinerary planning right. Here are the TOP 10 places to visit and things that I will recommend to do in Nepal.

 

Must Visit Places in Nepal are:

Kathmandu

 

Kathmandu is the capital and largest city of Nepal and this Nepalese capital has been a mecca for travelers for decades. Prepare to step into another world that you should experience at least once in your life time in this Nepalese capital.  It goes without saying that every capital city in the world is touristy and Kathmandu is always bustling with hordes of tourists all year round. The city is also an ideal destination for pilgrimage tour and it is over here where you can find the most sacred Buddhist and Hindu sites in the world.

 

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

 

Boudhanath Stupa or also known as Bodnath Stupa is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. The Boudhanath Stupa is rich in Buddhist symbolism and is located in the town of Boudha, on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. For centuries, Boudhanath Stupa has been an important place for Buddhist pilgrimage and meditation for the Tibetans and local Nepalis. It is now a popular tourist site for visitors from all around the world and the Great Stupa of Boudhanath is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

Boudhanath Stupa offers a glimpse of the country’s devotion to Buddhism and is the country’s largest and one of the holiest sites of pilgrimage in Tibetan Buddhism. It is a very engrossing and spiritual area where devotees walk more than three times a day enchanting holy mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’.

 

 

As a Buddhist myself, I am always interested and intrigued to learn more about Buddhism. Many Buddhists today will take pilgrimages to Boudhanath Stupa and throughout the day, you will see many monks and people ritually walking around the stupa.

 

 

One of the things to do at Boudhanath Stupa is to follow the monks path as you circle the stupa clockwise while spinning the prayer wheels. I join in the monk’s path with the other devotees to walk around Boudhanath Stupa while repeating ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ quietly and it is said that according to Buddhist teachings, spinning a prayer wheel has many benefits for you as well as meritorious effect.

 

Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu

 

Pashupatinath Temple is a famous, sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Pashupatinath and is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This temple is considered as one of the sacred temples of Hindu faith and is located on the banks of the Bagmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath Temple is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva.

 

 

Pashupatinath is a huge pagoda style temple that looms over the banks of the Bagmati river, which joins the holy river Ganges. As soon as you approach the Bagmati River, you can see smoke from the Hindu cremation ceremony that is taking place. The existence of Pashupatinath crematoria is a reminder that all life will eventually come to an end and in Nepal, cremation is not equal for the dead people due to the caste system.

 

 

Pashupatinath is a temple with special atmosphere of death and the open-air cremation is not for the faint hearted to observe the funeral rituals. Hinduists from every corner of Nepal and India arrive here to spend the last few weeks of their lives to meet death as it is believed that those who die in Pashupatinath Temple are reborn as human, regardless of the bad deeds they have committed. I must say it was overwhelming for me to be watching the cremation proceedings from the bank on the opposite side of the Bagmati river and I was lost for words in the emotions that I should be feeling. Life is indeed so precious and I count myself fortunate to have lived it with so many beautiful experiences.

 

My life may not be perfect, but I am blessed.

I am grateful that I have been so blessed to go to a lot of countries that I want.

 

Travelling allows you to gain deeper understanding of a very different foreign culture and it also exposes you to be adaptable to a totally different belief system from your comfort zone. On a lighter note, you will meet a number of sadhus living and meditating in the vicinity of Pashupatinath Temple. A sadhu refers to a holy person (monk) in Hinduism who has renounced the worldly life and literally means one who follows a path of spiritual discipline.

 

 

The livelihood of these holy men (sadhus) are supported by donations from the tourists who visit Pashupatinath Temple and you can pay them a small fee of money to take pictures with them.

 

Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu

 

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the three most important and beautiful durbar squares in Nepal and it is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is surrounded by the finest Newari architecture in Nepal and vividly showcases the skills of the Newari artists and craftsmen. The square is one of the most fascinating architectural showpieces in Kathmandu Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal.

 

Nyatapola Temple At Bhaktapur Durbar Square

 

That’s me and the local tour guide infront of the Nyatapola Temple, one of the major attractions within Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Personally, I do not find that there is any communication barrier during my time in Nepal as many Nepalese can speak English as a second language. It may take a little while to understand Nepali accent but overall, I believe if you try to articulate and express yourself clearly in an acceptable tone of voice which I perceive there shouldn’t be any communication issues.

 

 

Here is a typical Nepali’s lunch Daal Bhat Tarkari I had at a restaurant in Bhaktapur Durbar Square. When you’re in Nepal, it’s likely that you’ll be eating Daal Bhat Tarkari at least once or if not every day during your trip. Daal Bhat Tarkari is eaten throughout Nepal. I will always make it a point to savor the taste of authentic local cuisine when I am in the destination itself. Nepalese food is rich in its taste and rice is the main staple for many Nepalese dishes.

 

Dakshinkali Temple, Kathmandu

 

Dakshinkali Temple is one of the most famous temples in Nepal that is dedicated to goddess Kali. I didn’t want to go anywhere nearer to the blood-soaked temple with the animal sacrifices that’s going on there. The sight of blood does bother me and it makes me feel queasy.

 

 

There are many various stalls selling different kind of goods along the path leading to Dakshinkali Temple and there is a stall where people buy cocks for animal sacrifices. The devotees usually sacrifice cocks and male goats to worship goddess Kali and there is a strong believe in the ability of goddess to make wishes come true. The courtyard of Dakshinkali Temple is covered by the blood of animal sacrifice and goddess Kali is bathed with the blood.

 

Kirtipur, Kathmandu

 

Kirtipur is an ancient city of Nepal and here in this sleepy town of Kirtipur, you will find the unforgettable historical values of Newari architecture. Kirtipur was hit hard during the 2015 earthquake but most of its historic treasures survived the disaster.

 

 

Kirtipur offers stunning views of the valley and grand ancient temples. It is an escape from the congested, busy traffic of central Kathmandu and to enjoy the cooler climate with good views of the mountains.

 

Nagarkot, Kathmandu


 

Nagarkot offers a laid-back charm with stunning views of the majestic Himalayas, a really peaceful escape from the bustling capital of Kathmandu with lots of beautiful nature walks. With a forested hills of pine trees, it has become a sanctuary for the birds and you can see many beautiful birds in their natural habitat at Nagarkot.

 

 

Nagarkot has a reputation as the top spot for enjoying impressive and dramatic sunset views of the Himalayan panorama. The magical moment of the sunset in Nagarkot, Kathmandu as I watch the sun gradually descends took my breath away. It is truly unforgettable for me as I spend some quiet moment to enjoy the gorgeous sunset.

 

Pokhara

Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal and is also famously known as a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular trail in the Himalayas. In Pokhara, you will find ancient lakes, waterfalls as well as the splendor views of the Himalayan Mountains. Pokhara also has one of the best paragliding venue on the globe and is a great way to view the magnificent Himalayan Mountains and the beautiful Phewa Lake.

 

Phewa Lake, Pokhara

 

Phewa Lake is the second largest lake in Nepal and is a major tourist attraction in Pokhara. Spending an afternoon strolling along Phewa Lake exemplifies serenity and relaxation with the stunning great view of Himalayan Mountains.

 

 

One of the activities that you can do at Phewa Lake is you can rent one of the brightly colorful painted boats at the lakeside.

 

Sarangkot, Pokhara

 

Sarangkot is another popular tourist destination in Pokhara and to the reach the top of Sarangkot mountain, you can do as I did and that is riding a horse up to Sarangkot. Riding a horse to the top of Sarangkot mountain will take for two to three hours from Pokhara Lakeside.

 

 

Horseback riding is a unique adventure journey to make your trip even more memorable and I enjoy all the beautiful scenery along the way. I like to take trips out of Singapore to find the world’s natural beauty spots and enjoying the natural beauty of the world is what I love to do most.

 


 

Due to the scarcity of land, there is a lack of breathtakingly natural scenery in Singapore and it is only when I am in overseas alone, I feel so much more energetic for sightseeing to admire these awe-inspiring natural wonders. After spending most of my time alone in overseas, it gives me the courage to do it more often and to venture further to exotic places that are off the beaten tracks.

 


 

Standing up at this high altitude of 1600m to marvel at the breathtaking panoramic view of Pokhara and though I was feeling a euphoric sense of freedom, I was still mindful of every single step that I take. Most of us wish that we could travel more but only a few make it happen. I will live in regrets if I do not build my courage to make this trip happen to Nepal and fear can cripple many from realizing their travel dreams. There is fun and excitement when you just throw yourself into the unknown and who knows you might like the unexpected outcome?

 

 

Look at the genuine smile on me! I travel to boost my mood and it makes me a happier person. I feel a euphoric sense of freedom when I am gaining new experiences, and challenging my own physical boundaries. Share with me in the comment section on this blog that what is your most memorable holiday destination? It might be an inspiration for me for my next holiday!

 

Don’t forget to add me on Instagram @Invinciblerene to get daily updates to my life as a globe trotter.

 


Back to Top

1 Comment

  • Özkan Gedik September 28, 2017 at 3:15 am

    Great pictures. Thanks for sharing. We’ve been there too in June 2016 with my wife. We biuld houses, water-suply and solar-panels and deliver them essential things.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: