Hiking, Climbing, and Porridge
Today I woke up and headed out of the city of Kathmandu and into the central hills of Nagarkot. The panoramic view of the Himalayas took my breath away as we drove up the twisty mountain turns.
We arrived in Nagarkot and stepped out of the car eager to breathe a fresh breath of crisp mountain air. I inhaled deeply and a smile bloomed between my cheeks. I love the mountains. Our driver agreed to wait while we grabbed a quick bite to eat, so we slipped into a cafe for some grub. This low-key kitchen was called The Berg House and was run by one small family. Because there was only one cook in the kitchen, our food took a significant amount of time but the sweeping views kept us entertained. The cafe sat on top of a hill and offered patio seating that overlooked the field of green below.
We watched herds of cattle lumber up the road and horses graze in the pasture until our momos finally arrived. They were the best momos I've had the whole trip, and definitely worth the wait.
A few minutes later my veggie burger arrived, exceeding every expectation I've ever had about what a veggie burger could be.
This thing was a beast. It was huge and delicious! The Berg House scored major points with my belly and it was a great start for Nagarkot.
We walked outside and looked around for our driver. We walked up and down, panning and scanning the surrounding streets. He was missing in action. We had been abandoned. With no room for worries, we strapped on our backpacks, shrugged off our misfortune and walked up the hill. We had no hotel booked, which means we had no idea where we were going, so we just walked.
Nagarkot is a small hill community and there are quite a few hotels nested in the hillside. We strolled from one to another checking rooms and prices until we found one that was just right. Hotel Nagarkot was the most affordable and had the most incredible views!
This was by far my favorite hotel that we have stayed in (Cuzco was a close second).
Our room had huge window sprawling two of the four walls. One side looked out to a field of green, with nothing else but nature.
Another huge window sat behind the headboards and looked out over the restaurant balcony and out into the mountain peaks.
When it was clear, you could see for miles. I sat for hours watching the trees rustle and the hawks soar before the mist blew through.
The decision to move out of Kathmandu and into Nagarkot was not only for tranquility but also for fitness. Two months of eating out everyday will eventually get to you and I could feel my metabolism coming to a screeching halt. I needed more exercise. Nagarkot is known for having a wealth of mountain biking and hiking trails that come with amazing scenery and cool temperatures, just what I was looking for. We only had two days on the mountain before we had to go back to the city, so we packed them full of day hikes. We left our larger-than-life bags back in Kathmandu and decided to travel light. We brought one low-maintenance backpack each, perfect for hiking. We planned a big, all-day hike on day two that would take us the majority of the way back to Kathmandu. Today was the warm-up hike.
I put on my sneakers and decided to loosen up my neglected muscles with some yoga. I walked up to the roof and out onto a big balcony to begin my workout. I breezed through half-moon and lotus poses and fixed my gaze out onto the Himalayan forest. I was pumped and ready to roll!
Our warm up hike was a two hour trek to a view tower at the highest southern point of the ridge. We trudged up hills on nicely paved roads hedged by towering trees. The weather was cool and breezy, perfect for the steep ascent.
We finally reached the top of our climb, the viewpoint tower.
We ran up the final steps, anxious to get a look at this raved-about view. The 360degree Himalayan views were adorned with colorful prayer flags that assured me I was far from home.
The prayer flags actually originated in India, from a monk who then passed on the tradition of printing prayer on cloth to the Nepalese and Tibetans. They are less common in India but are a modern day staple of Nepalese culture. Traditionally the flags are hung around the mountainous Himalayas or in the surrounding countryside, but they are liberally strung around temples and throughout towns as well. They are hung as a blessing on the surrounding areas and different colors each represent a different elements.
Blue, white, red, green and yellow make up the 'Five Pure Lights'. Blue symbolizes sky and space. White is for air and wind. Red is fire, green represents water, and yellow symbolizes the earth. It seems as if these flags are never taken down after they are hung. Bright vibrant new flags hang next to tattered, dull cloth remnants that look like a salvation army garage sale. It reminds of that lazy neighbor we all have who never takes down their Christmas lights. Its June and they're still sporting the same big multicolored bulbs from 1989. They're mostly broken and the nails used to secure them have rust stains running down the paint, but the one week a year they're actually turned on seems to be a good enough excuse to keep the monstrosity up all year.
We climbed a metal ladder to get up to the top of the tower where we could really see for miles. I sat up there for a while just watching the clouds float over the mountains. It was a peaceful reward after a steep hike.
We walked back down past an army ranger training camp that was strategically placed high on the mountain to get a defensive view of any invaders. Along with a helipad surrounded by barbed wire fences, armed soldiers stood guard next to painted rocks with poorly written quotations.
Let's hope that their defense strategy is better than their phonetics.
As we were strolling down the placid pathways, one thing I noticed was the cleanliness of the roads. There was no trash anywhere. They obviously take pride in preserving the natural beauty of their land and they even provide mounted trash bins along the highway for convenience. India should take notes.
We got back to our hotel and had worked up an appetite. I ordered a bowl of porridge that I had been eying on the menu. When I think of porridge the first thing that comes to mind is Goldilocks. The second thing that comes to mind is a bowl of flavorless slop. For some reason, This porridge intrigued me and it turned out to be the best meal ever! A heaping bowl of sweet oats and milk with cut up bananas, walnuts and coconut dusted with cinnamon, warmed my tummy and filled me with satisfaction!
I loved it so much, I ended up ordering it four times within the two days we stayed a hotel Nagarkot. Enjoying my porridge perfection while admiring the Himalayan hillside wasn't too shabby either!
- First Side Note: Thanks to all of you who have been following my blog! It really means a lot to me! I love writing them and I love that people actually read them! I am at 8,500 view so far and my goal is 1,000! Help me reach my goal by spreading the word! THANKS!
- 2nd SIDENOTE: The show I was working on at AMS Pictures in Dallas TX, entitled "Ma's Roadhouse", premieres on September 15th at 9pm! http://www.trutv.com/shows/mas-roadhouse/index.html
From Executive Producer Andy Streitfeld and AMS Pictures, comes Ma's Roadhouse a new reality show on TrueTV!
Rick Fairless is the owner of Strokers Dallas, a Texas motorcycle shop, tattoo parlor and biker bar. His greatest asset is his 71-year-old mother, who's also his best, but most outspoken, employee. Can Rick keep his business afloat? And can Ma keep her hands off the bartender?
I wish I could be there to watch it with all the hardworking people at AMS but at least, by then, I will be back in the states and watching intently from my TV at home You guys rock!