I freaking packed all my bags and left to travel the world. YES! Now that this is said, let’s move on to my first ever Bliss Report. Month 1 was by far the toughest – that I can tell you.
I am completely new to this whole ‘travelling perpetually’ experience and there were some hard lessons to learn along the way, but so far it has been absolutely mind-blowing! I still cannot believe that I packed my bags to travel the world.
Here comes the Bliss Report for Month 1, where I’m sharing Facts & Figures (especially useful for you lot who plan to travel the world yourselves and want to know how much one effectively ends up spending) and favourite and least favourite moments of each month.
As you can see we almost spent double more per day than we had originally envisaged for our time in Nepal.
The reason being because of two substantial factors:
1) The flights from the UK to Nepal were expensive
2) the fees for an organised group trek are high.
Apart from that, we spent relatively little on food etc. as all food and drinks for the two weeks trekking, were included in the price. I also did not add my Dr’s bills and the money spent on medication as I claimed this back from my Insurance.
In case you did not know, I fell ill with Pneumonia during the trek and at this point I would like to say: please spend the money for a good travel insurance. It is invaluable and will save you a lot of money in case something happens. I can’t recommend you an insurance as I use an insurance from Switzerland which will only cover you if you are a Swiss National. If you are interested, contact me and I’ll pass on the details.
Thank you to the guys of Never Ending Voyage for this kick-ass app!
- 2 weeks in Kathmandu
- 1 week in Pokhara
- 2 weeks trekking the Annapurna Circuit
Pushing my boundaries
I’ve never been a big hiker. Even though I grew up in Switzerland, thus being surrounded by mountains and endless amazing opportunities to be able to hike regularly, I never particularly enjoyed it. Upon researching on things to do in Nepal – our first stop on this RTW trip – I came across thousands of pages advertising trekking tours. When I clicked through the images of the amazing landscapes, I decided: Oh yes. I’m going to do this.
When I contacted Trek Nepal, they advised me to do the Annapurna Circuit due to its diversity. I trusted their opinion and booked! I can tell you: it was the toughest adventure I have ever done. It was beyond hard. But I did it! I reached the Thorong La Pass at 5416m without any trekking experience. I don’t know how I managed – but I did (pat on the shoulder moment!). I summarised each day extensively in my Annapurna Circuit series. My favourite blog post was of Day Nr. 10 – I wish I would vomit. The title is self-explanatory.
Getting into a routine for my health
I learnt that I really struggle with routine – something that I have known for a long time, but was confirmed yet again during this trip. And that it is not good for me. I learnt that in order to minimise my health issues, I will have to get into some sort of routine involving more regular sleep patterns, getting up at the same time every day and performing regular breathing exercises – and more exercise in general.
On a funny note, I noticed that not all Ayurvedic rituals are for me. Pouring warm milk with spices through my nose, is not my idea of how I will solve all my issues. (By the way: 5 months into my travels and I still suck at getting into a routine as always.)
Nepalese & Tibetan food
During the trek we had to eat a lot of foods high in carbs to keep the energy going. I wasn’t too fond of the heavy starchy potatoe and noodle dishes. Scrape that. I was SICK of it. However, what I loved, was the delicious traditional Daal Bhat. Some Nepalese eat this dish twice a day for the rest of their lives. It is nutritious, cheap and healthy and tastes fantastic.
A lady in Nepal passed this recipe on to me. It is very easy to cook. Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed. I also enjoyed Tibetan dishes, such as: Momos (Dumplings boiled, steamed or fried and filled with many a variety of veggies and sometimes meat), Thukpa and Thentuk (both noodle soups with vegetables – simple but yummy). And for breakfast, my personal favourite was a cup of steaming hot Masala Chai (also very popular in India) and Tibetan Bread.
The chilled atmosphere in Kathmandu & Pokhara
Nepal is a great first country on a RTW trip. It is an easy country to travel. People are respectful, friendly and I never felt threatened. I loved the chilled atmosphere at my favourite cafe Places – a vegetarian restaurant which served the most amazing vegan pancakes with fruit (you could not taste the difference between normal and those vegan pancakes).
I also slurped on a Soya Masala Chai every day – sometimes I would lounge at Places for 8-9 hours to get some work done or procrastinate. The cosy pillows on the floor and the pleasant crowd, made it feel like a place I would never want to leave again. Nepal’s restaurant scene is amazing in general, to be honest. I thoroughly recommend OR2K in Kathmandu too.
The Hidden Paradise
The Hidden Paradise in Pokhara was my own little idea of Paradise. A Nepali home run by Laxman and his family, is nestled on top of a hill overlooking the bay and the lush green mountains. I made friends with little puppy Charlie who was my constant companion and laid on my lap for hours on end – in the evenings, I would tuck him in a blanket and he would snore away on my lap in contentment. I thankfully recovered from Pneumonia, after a trek that did not end well for me, by resting a lot.
I banned myself from working for the first five days. Not a good start if you just started as a travel blogger – but my health was more important. I needed to practise self-love. I went for the most incredible ayurvedic massages at the Ayurveda Health Home in Pokhara – it almost sounds too good to be true, but as a lover of massages, and having enjoyed (and not so enjoyed) so many all over the world: this full-body Ayirvedic massage was the best I ever had! I’m not exaggerating.
The lady who massaged me was beyond intuitive. It was as if she could feel where my aches and pains were. I felt the stresses of the last weeks melt away. It was divine! I would fly back to Pokhara just to experience this again. I also loved eating together with Laxman’s family and the BBQ was such a welcome change to the bland diet I had to adhere to in order to recover. Pilau rice, stir fry, grilled chicken (to perfection) and so much more – I’ll never forget this meal. Ever.
Prayer Flags everywhere
I remember one of the first things we did in our guesthouse in Kathmandu, was to head upstairs to the rooftop, lie on the loungers and look up to the sky. This is the very first photo I have taken on this RTW trip, with my Iphone. Isn’t it beautiful? Whilst I took this photo, I could hear children sing in a nearby school. There was something so magical about this moment – it will forever be stored in my memory.
Thank you Nepal for a wonderful month. You taught me a lot about myself – and for that I will eternally be grateful.
Pushing myself too hard
There is a limit to everything. I had gone far and beyond those limits. I had broken the boundaries and inflicted pain on my self by not listening to my body. I was ill already when I arrived in Kathmandu. I did not wear a mask, like advised, to protect myself from pollution and fell ill even further. And I went on to do a 14-day hike with a breeding chest infection which developed into a full-blown pneumonia.
It showed me that I’m one hell of a tough cookie but also not very kind to myself nor my body. I had gone too far. So I learnt a lesson or two in Ayurveda, some of them I liked more than others, and started to be gentler to myself. I had to find a routine. Sleep more. Exercise with limits and improve the self-talk in my head.
2015 is the year where I want to practise self-love as the only resolution I made. No exaggerated expectations which end up making me ill. No negative mind-talk. I want to learn to love and respect and love myself – slowly but surely – but every damn day.
My Yoga routine was non-existent
When I arrived in Kathmandu, I was ill. During the trek I was too exhausted and too ill to even consider rolling out my mat. After the trek I was ill. This sums up Nepal for you in a nutshell. I have a history of falling ill with pneumonia in Novembers strangely enough – which is coincidentally kind of freaky.
Clearly, my body wants to tell me something. Last time I had fallen ill with pneumonia was when my life needed a desperate change – and it did indeed precede one hell of a major change. I was hoping to catch up with my routine in India – after all, India is the mekka of Yoga. Nepal was for trekking and recovering. India will be for Yoga. At least I hope so.
Pollution in the country
Apparently Bangkok is one of the most polluted cities in the world. To be honest, I find Kathmandu way worse. I was cautious after Kathmandu and wore my mask in Bangkok on a number of occasions, when I felt it was getting too polluted. But most of the time, I did not wear my mask in Bangkok.
Whereas in Kathmandu and in Pokhara I felt I needed to, all the time. Maybe you have travelled to the country and noticed that in both cities, there is always a bit of ‘fog’ in the air? Well, ‘fog’ is what locals refer to the badly polluted air. It ain’t fog, people. It is a heavily polluted environment. I loved Nepal but the environmental impact could clearly be felt and seen, also while I was trekking! It prompted me to write a post on how to minimise environmental impact. Simple guidelines that could make one hell of a difference!