Having always loved history, and being particularly fascinated by Asia, touring around the continent had always been on my bucket list. I was looking for an unusual, in-depth experience when I happened across Global Village Tour’s Nepal tour, taking in the Maoist strongholds of Rolpa and Rukum. It sounded perfect, so I rounded up some of my more daring friends and booked it straight away.
As soon as we landed in Kathmandu I was awestruck by Nepalese culture. Seeing the damage caused by the recent earthquake was striking, but it was amazing to see the remains of temples standing testament to old Nepal. Visiting the former home of Nepalese royal family, Narayanhity Palace, was heart-breakingly poignant. Fortunately, events took a more upbeat turn when we went for dinner and drinks in Thamel, home of Kathmandu’s best nightlife. It was great to mix with the locals in such a fun and casual setting, and to try the local food (the keema chatamari is to die for!)
The changing landscape on the journey from Kathmandu to Liwang was incredible, from the depths of the Kathmandu Valley to the heights of the Himalayas. In Thawang, the Maoist capital during the war, we truly immersed ourselves in Nepalese history, visiting destroyed police outposts and Maoist bunkers. Undoubtedly the highlight of the trip was speaking to former soldiers who had fought for the People’s Liberation Army. There is nothing comparable to hearing stories first hand. It gave us a real sense of what happened and how they truly felt; their thoughts on the war, if they achieved the change they sought, and their plans for the future; all without a media spin. It was fascinating to hear of how the social hierarches on class, sex, ethnicity and class, so entrenched in Nepalese society, seemed to disappear when they were all fighting for a cause. Their tales of the atrocities committed, the civilians caught in the crosshairs, the divisions amongst the Maoist factions, and being forced to work together with the opposing side post-war are memories that will never leave me. Their stories of still not knowing what happened to loved ones who ‘disappeared’ haunt me.
Spending time in the Rachibang Commune was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Exploring forts and bunkers was like walking through the past. Staying in Musikot, so deep in rural Nepal it didn’t even have roads, was like traveling back in time. I can’t begin to explain the beauty in the wilderness. Pokhara had the most breath-taking scenery, from Phewa Lake to the Himalayas, everywhere I looked was like a postcard. The variation from one day to the next was amazing.
From this trip, I gained a genuine understanding of the country and its people. I got to see and experience things I could never have dreamed of. I got to really know the locals, such kind, honest, and welcoming people, in all kinds of settings. The local cuisine was incredible. Raksi, the local spirit, is an acquired taste but definitely grew on me throughout the trip! By the time we were leaving, I felt like an expert on the different types of dal-bhat. Overall, it was an experience I’ll never forget, and one I can’t recommend enough.
See Nepal like nobody else does! Travel with us on our Nepal Tour to its Maoist Heartlands this February 2018. Check out the full itinerary here!