A lot of things I have done here in Nepal in the last couple years has been a direct result of my goals and visions when I was back at Coe, thats when I realized I was missing out on a lot of things in life. One of the awesome things about being far away from home and living in a small private college is the exposure of awesome people around campus, the change they want to bring and all the positive energy. With tons of “freedom” and a lot of creative people around, the college experience has made me believe that “impossible is nothing”(borrowed this from Nike).
Being in Cedar Rapids, Iowa aka “Middle of nowhere”, I missed varying landscapes, like waking up everyday with a view of mountain ranges around Kathmandu. Moreover, during our conversations at local bars or over a round of social in our apartments with my buddies, we started pondering on life, how we spent almost a fourth of our lives studying and there was so much remaining to do. Traveling was one of the things that constantly popped up in our conversations.
Fast forward everything to 2012, and things have taken a completely different turn. Since I have been back in Nepal and joined a fantastic team of individuals at Biruwa, the traveling part of life is going at an awesome speed. One of the ways how traveling kickstarted at Biruwa was by the formation of “Biruwa Hike Club” led by our local expert guide Mr. Sanam Chitrakar. Basically, all the travel enthusiasts at Biruwa decided to go hiking on random Saturdays and we wanted something doable within a day. We agreed on covering outskirts of Kathmandu phase by phase, experiencing local culture and food and getting to know the people around Kathmandu on a totally different level.
This is how our hiking schedule has looked like:
Week 1: Pharping – Bungmati
Week 2: Bungmati – Godavari
Week 3: Godavari – Bhaktapur
Week 4: Bhaktapur – Sundarijal
Week 5: Sundarijal – Budhanilkantha
If you look at the map above, we are around half-way done going counter-clockwise.
The starting points have always been around 15 – 20 kms from Ring-road.
From eating local duck meat to barbecuing at a co-workers place, Biruwa Hike Club has been a fantastic experience. The hikes have been a total stress reliever. Moreover, as we check off each week of hiking, we get a huge sense of accomplishment and a top up on the adventure meter. As a team we have gotten to know each other more on a personal level which has helped us better understand each other. All of this has been possible majorly because of a solid and dedicated team of hikers and an awesome mentor (obviously Sonam Daju) to lead us all the way.
Now, another pretty cool thing about this is that we have started tracking all our routes through a GPS device. All of the tracks are available to download for future reference and are uploaded to openstreetmap.org for free access. Moreover, we work closely with a young team of mappers Kathmandu Living Labs, one of our clients at Biruwa Baluwatar. (They specialize in Open Street Map and are doing all sort of awesome stuff, check out their website or facebook page). So lets say in the future someone wants to travel the same route, they can simply download tracks in their smart phone or GPS device and not get lost.
Finally, all these hikes have been an experience that is not readily available everyday. As we travel through thick jungle, lush rice plantation or walk through a makeshift water canal we have had the time to reflect our lives, witness simplicity of life in the villages and appreciate the little things in life. This has undoubtedly been one of the best ways to experience outskirts of Kathmandu.
Well, that was my part of the story, if you ask the rest of the members of Biruwa Hike Club, I bet they have their own reasons and awesome experience to share.
So basically, if you are feeling low or need to get outdoors, and can make time to travel only for a day, get a bunch of friends together, get on a local bus, travel around 20 kilometers outside your locality and just start walking.
Make time to travel, anyone can make excuses, discover more about yourself and appreciate the little things in life while you travel around.
Champions Pay The Price.
Keep on keeping on.
Ankit SJB Rana