I wasn’t planning on going to Nepal before Pakistan, since Pakistan is right beside Afghanistan, but the overroad routes between the two were unsafe and my fake husband Michael from Germany couldn’t get a visa. For whatever random reason, Icelanders don’t need a visa to Pakistan (which was a problem in itself, since every hotel and customs guy asked for my visa and I nearly couldn’t leave the country). But yeah, visa-free entry, not visa on arrival, for me and not German Michael. So, in Kabul, when it was time to leave Afghanistan, we had to go to the airport and find a way out by air.
We had preemptivley booked the cheapest flight to New Delhi but missed it after our flight from Bamyan was delayed. So we bought another, much more expensive flight at the airport, to New Delhi, and instead of stopping there went onwards to Kathmandu because… well, why not, we had both never been there (and its hard to breathe in New Delhi). The trip was last minute and very unplanned, but after more than a month in Iran and Afghanistan, it was a breath of fresh air to arrive in a country where I didn’t have to be covered, and alcohol and pork were legally sold.
Kathmandu was smaller than I expected, but not as crowded as I feared. Its squashed between China (slash Tibet) and India and the mixture of Buddhist and Hindu religions all nestled under the Himalayas, making the most beautiful backdrop for a cultural mixture of faces and features.
I felt as if I had escaped to a colourful place, full of freedom and spiritual enlightenment. In Pokhara, I took a 2 day course of yoga and meditation, and in Kathmandu, I managed to socialize in cafes and public places as a solo woman. Strangely enough both of those things were equally enlightening. I also jumped off a bridge 70m down to a woman herding her livestock home, but luckily the bungee line bounced me back up.
Nepal is a place to travel to for more than just an unplanned week. And escaping to Nepal in my tshirt and skirt after a month covered from head to toe in black clothes was a form of travel therapy. But a week in Nepal is better than no time in Nepal, and I sent Michael on his way to Germany and had to go back west to Pakistan. The road can get tiring sometimes, but the best thing about traveling is change. And Nepal was a pleasant break from the Silk Road.