Well, this year trip was to Nepal and Bhutan and it was absolutely the most memorable one we have made. My brother Alex, his longtime best friend MattMarten, MattHall and I made the trek over. Al headed over 2 weeks before us, so he was a local already when we got there â€“ literally waving to all of the merchants, passing hellos to the begging women, etc. It was unreal.
Seven years ago Alex was looking for a guide on the internet to take him trekking in Nepal and he emailed about 5 companies. All responded with decent offers, but one response stood out from the rest. Having a really good feelingâ€™ about Nature Trail Trekking (NTT) and its owner, Bishnu Subedi, he went with them. When he got out there, he was treated like royalty, led on a beautiful trek and spent time with NTT and their wonderful guides in Kathmandu. Since then, Al has referred about 20 other people to NTT and all have returned with glowing reviews â€“ including MattM, who was there a few years ago with Bishnu. Not only was the trek amazing, but Al really bonded with Bishnu. Since the trip, Bishnu has turned into a true member of the Johnson family. He has been to visit the US and been to our homes twice. Alex has driven him all over the west. He was even on Alex’s couch on 9/11, pain-stricken over the anger in the world. Alas, now it was our turn to visit my Nepalese brother, Beesh, in his country. He showed us an incredible time and Kathmandu is an incredible place. The sights, sounds and smells are chaotic. But the people, the temples and the soul is inspiring.
MattM, MattH and I flew into Kathmandu (after stopping in Seattle, Tokyo and Bangkok), explored the city and caught up with Beesh. The next day, he put us on a short flight to the Kingdom of Bhutan. Its own country, bordered by China and India, it measures itself not on Gross National Product, but on Gross National Happiness. And you can really tell. They severely limit their tourism by requiring guides and charging steep daily rates just 4000 tourists went to Bhutan last year. Bishnu hooked us up with an incredible Bhutanese guide who led us around Bhutan for 5 days. Dorji was just amazing and we shared many laughs. Bhutan was one of the highlights of the trip. GO NOW, if you can. We only covered a small part of the country and we are all itching to go back and trek there. And Dorji is fast becoming a dear friend as well.
On the flight back to Kathmandu (what Alex now instinctively referred to as home), the pilot pointed out Mt. Everest which (as you’ll see from the photos) was quite a site. It was majestic, inspiring and so strange to be flying in a jet at the same height as a mountain normally you are looking down on them! The next day we flew to Pokhara in the Annapurnas, about an eight hour drive/25 minute flight northwest from Kathmandu. We set off on our trek with 2 wonderful NTT sherpas (Tenzing and Norris) to carry our stuff and a brilliant NTT guide named Nirku to lead us through the Himalayas. We trekked for 5 days, covered 75 miles and the event was beyond my wildest dreams. We stayed at glowing teahouses along the way, laughed and told stories, taught the sherpas to play cards and dice, and made some incredible memories.
Back to Pokhara and then a drive with Bishnu down to Chitwan National Park, in the south of Nepal. We went on an elephant safari, rode on an ox cart and loved spending time with Bishnu. Not exactly what we expected and anxious to get back to Kathmandu, we caught an early flight back and had three days in Kathmandu before flying home. We saw World Heritage sites, spun ancient Buddhist prayer wheels, soaked in the Hindu culture and made Kathmandu our home.
It was truly an unforgettable tripâ€¦life-changing, actually. We all plan to regroup out there again in maybe 2008 and trek to Everest Base Camp and head to Tibet. Beesh will get out to the US in the coming years and we are working to help Dorji get a Visa to come out to visit as well. Help yourself to the attached photos â€“ a blend of Al and my pics from the trip. You might want to let it load the 220+ images before you start looking. Yup, just 220+ of the 1600 we took! We have lots of wonderful video too.
If you or anyone you know are even *thinking* about going to Nepal, Bhutan or that magical corner of the world, please contact any one of us or our brother Bishnu at Nature Trail Trekking. He is the salt of the earth and cares dearly about his clients and his country.
Nature Trail Trekking: http://www.allnepal.com /. Or
Bishnu Subedi: firstname.lastname@example.org
TRIP PHOTOS: http://www.ajphotographer.com/friends/nepal_bhutan/index.htm
Hugs and hope you are all well!
Robin (Matt, Matt and Alex too!)
PO Box 5642
Dillon, CO 80435
December 02, 2006