Tag Archives: china

2014 – The Year That Was

2014 could arguably be the best year of my life. This is the year I wrote most number of my blog posts compared to any other year. The year I travelled to various parts of Nepal, albeit didn’t manage to get to all districts as had planned but sure did spread my wings across the border to India, West Bengal and Sikkim to be specific. Come to think of it, I actually made it to China as well, at least the border town of Khasa. I still hope to travel, still want to make it to all the districts of Nepal. Continue working on 100s of other things that I have started but not yet completed.

This year-end review would be incomplete without Kathmandu. I need to be honest about the realities of living in the capital city. It is not so easy to live here, not that I imagined otherwise. Food prices are through the roof, the usual power cuts, the perpetual water crisis, what else am I missing? But I was able to live fairly comfortably in Kathmandu. However, not as comfortable as it is in the US. Internal heating system is still the first thing I miss during winter. I work from home and the constant/intermittent internet interruption, power cuts, significantly affected my work hours during an earlier part of 2014. Although looking at the brighter side, since my day one in Kathmandu – till today I only see things getting better and I am not fabricating. In the first few weeks, if the internet was out for 3 hrs every day, now it’s down to let’s say 3 hrs twice a week. Comparatively, it’s gotten much better. Since I was the one who chose to take this step, I guess I have to suffer the consequences as well. At the same time I know I am a very lucky few who can say that they were able to live comfortably in Kathmandu. For many who comes to this city in hopes of making it big, can’t imagine how they survive in this beautiful ancient place that can be cruel to them at times.  As an honest citizen of this nation, yes, I have had the lowest of lows but every day I see better things happening from the citizens’ standpoint. Government on the other hand continues to disappoint me. But that’s beside the point, we don’t stop living just cause government fails to do its job.

While traveling across few parts of the country, I did get a glimpse of politics here and there, mainly relating to the constitution writing process, printed on the walls of abandoned, dilapidated buildings, or gigantic rocks. But I don’t think general public gives a shit about constitution. They are worried about bigger problems like how to put food on the table.
I don’t believe Nepalis have faith in the government and I think they moved on long ago. Cause had they been waiting for proactive governance, they would be waiting forever. But I know how integral constitution is for a stronger foundation of this nation. But guess what, life hasn’t stopped because of incomplete constitution. Constitution, by default should be a work in progress. However, having said all that, it is not as bleak as I may have sounded. There are a few good things happening too, even if they are far and few between.

This year I met some old friends, made some new friends. We had a great conversation, out of which came great ideas. Those ideas are something I am still working on. 2014 gave me a head start, hope to give continuity to all the work that I’ve been doing in the years to come. My best days are surely ahead of me.

As Rumi once said, destroy your reputation, be notorious, I hope you’ll do your best to chase your dreams, and not be limited by class or caste or political ideologies or any other social norms, I hope you break some rules in 2015. Here’s wishing you and I an adventurous year ahead!

2014 Collage

2014 Collage

  1. 2014 kick started with attending a lot of weddings, of my own cousins. Hence, I had to post at least one of the photos of the wedding parties.
  2. As I travelled to a few parts of this country, I flew as well to certain areas. This is just one of the perks of being on board.
  3. I find Pokhara highly overrated. But when I was there this past May, this street took me back to my childhood days and I couldn’t stop myself from clicking a photo. I’ve spent significant amount of my growing up days in Pokhara, this is just one of the streets I associate my childhood days with.
  4. My upper Mustang trek was definitely a highlight of 2014. A great shot of a beautiful landscape that is upper Mustang.
  5. Illustrating my point above, political slogan relating to constitution. You’ll come across plenty of those while traveling across Nepal.
  6. Witnessing Tibetan kitchen was a cultural experience in itself.  The kitchen of those who in live in upper Mustang area is so rich and sophisticated, in fact the entire household speaks all things ancient Tibet.
  7. That’s me with my short hair. I’m just posting it here cause I wanted to make a big deal of the fact that I chopped off my long beautiful hair.
  8. The office of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC). I had the opportunity to visit the KMC office this year. It was such a beautiful ancient palace, that’s slowly turning into a ruin. This palace should be turned into a hotel or a museum. It’s too precious to be left around in the hands of people who can’t take well care of it.
  9. I thought this was the best invention of the year. For the first time in my life (in Nepal) I didn’t have to ask for an opener! Tuborg beer bottle it is!
  10. Our house is full of dogs, two more are missing in the picture. They are all stray dogs. These two have really grown up since then. You gotta love stray dogs, if you love Kathmandu, adopt a few of them.
  11. I guess, the most important part of 2014 is the fact that I set up my own company. No, it’s not an auditing company. It’s just a picture of my company’s audit report. There’s much more I want to do before I reveal it all. But yes, I did set up my own company. That feels like an accomplishment on its own.

Tatopani Trip

Some important things to keep in mind prior to traveling to Tatopani:

  • If you plan to take a public bus [Kathmandu – Tatopani]
    1. Buy the ticket in advance.
  • If you plan to visit Khasa, China
    1. Make sure you go all the way to Liping (about 5-km further away from Tatopani main bazaar. Liping is also the last stop of the public bus.
    2. You must have Nepali citizenship card to enter China.
    3. Before you enter the border, get the 1-day pass from Nepali border office. Will cost you a few bucks.
    4. Border closes at 3 p.m. NST [There is no time limitation for your return provided you get back within 24 hours.]
    5. Nepali Rupees is accepted in Khasa, China.

When my friend suggested that I should go to Tatopani which is only about 3 hours away from Kathmandu, he completely forgot to mention that he had gone on a motorcycle. Cause 3-hour seemed way too tempting to try it out on a single day. And so we went – my brother and I early in the morning straight to Puraano Bus park (Ratna Park) – just to find out that the bus that goes all the way to Tatopani was already full. Then we took the one that went up to Barhabise. From there it was supposed to be 1 and a half-hour to about 2 hours to get to Tatopani. But eventually the entire journey took almost 8 hours [Lesson learnt: buy the ticket in advance].

Kids from Barhabise, Sindhupalchok

Kids from Barhabise, Sindhupalchok

With public bus, I’m not going to sugarcoat- it is kind of a nightmare. As very few buses run to and from Tatopani; people don’t mind cramming into whatever little space they can find because that is the only choice they have. In terms of simply the bus ride, it was a great adventure. Barhabise onwards I stood all the way to our final destination cause there was no seat available. The upside however, I got to talk to the locals. Sometime traveling with locals add a whole new flavor to your travel experience that you cannot get when you are simply driving on your own on a private car.

Our mission that day was to get to Khasa, China. The bus had left from Puraano Bus park at around 7 a.m. towards Tinkune, Bhaktapur, Banepa. After crossing Dolal Ghat, Khadichaur, finally made it to Barhabise by 11 a.m. then had our lunch and the bus to Tatopani finally left at 12 noon. By the time we got to Liping the border town, it was already 2:30 p.m. Nepal – China border closes at 3 p.m. Reached the border just in time to fill up the paper and cross to the other side. You have to have Nepali citizenship card to enter the Chinese territory. Need to display the card multiple times, get your bags scanned. And don’t be surprised if Chinese officials speak to you in Nepali. To get to main Khasa bazaar- it costs us Rs 300 from the check post. On our way back to border Rs 800. [Good luck bargaining]

I really wished I knew a little bit of Mandarin or Tibetan language when I reached Khasa. Because – they don’t speak English or Nepali and I don’t speak their language. May be because we got there kind of late – Khasa looked very desolated. We were so hungry – after taking few clips we returned right away to Nepal for some food.

I have to admit, I didn’t find much to do in Khasa, whtaever fun I had was in Liping. I was so worried about not getting a seat on the bus the next day, we stayed overnight in Liping. Didn’t bother eploring the main Tatopani area as it was quite far away, additionally there was no way to easily commute and it was already too late. I wanted to make sure that I could sit for another 7-hour travel back to Kathmandu.

Kids from Liping, Sindhupalchok

My brother and kids from Liping, Sindhupalchok

I don’t know how much Liping is talked about in the landscape of Nepali tourism, I loved the place. It was probably the best border town I had ever been to. It might have to do with roaring Bhotekoshi that added to our adventure. The room we got was just by the shore. From the inside of the room it felt or sounded like torrential downpour of rain, that’s how loud Bhotekoshi was. I have never seen a river run so fast, so dangerously, in such a hypnotic manner. Weirdly enough, I found serenity in that river rush. Just that site alone made my trip worthwhile. Also, some local kids who insisted on singing and made sure that I captured them on my camera. Like any other obedient and curious traveler, I thought it would be wise to listen to the [junior] locals. Below is the result of that recording along with a few glimpses of the trip:

Nepal – China border [Liping – Khasa] from Shailiza Manandhar on Vimeo.

San Francisco (SF) Chinatown

If you’ve lived your whole life in a place like Kathmandu, you would fall in love with what they boast as the largest Chinatown outside of Asia in San Francisco. The layout is strikingly similar to Thamel including the ambiance. Except, the air may not ooze the aromatic smell of incense – which if I can remember is totally a Thamel thing. But that’s still okay, cause trust me contrary to most reviews this place does not stink! 28% of the populations living in this city are Chinese; they all came during the gold rush of the 1848 that lasted for seven years. Now giving people like me the opportunity to enjoy the Asian influence.

Talking about what you can discover in SF Chinatown, pretty much everything and anything under the sun. From dried snakes to all kinds of spices and herbs. Including big souvenir shops full of South Park action figures to squirrel underpants. Seriously, squirrel underpants! what’s that for? I don’t know, a real under-pant for squirrel I guess. I still don’t know the real purpose. But if you ever need ‘em, you know where to find ‘em.