Week Twenty-Five: Visitor Number Two

20/09/18-26/09/18 

Country: Nepal

Cycled: 11.2km / 7mi
Elevation: 19m / 62ft

Hiked: 29.9km / 18.6mi
Elevation: 1,972m / 6,470ft

This was very nearly our last blog post. We were so close to packing it all in and spending our life’s savings moving into Shivapuri Heights Cottage. Then we realised that our money would probably only stretch a few months…

If you read last week’s blog, you’ll remember that we arrived at our £15 per night Air BNB, thinking we’d be crashing in someone’s backroom, only to discover that we’d actually booked into a 4* hotel, which usually costs upwards of £70 per night. Yup, we’d hit the jackpot. 

Okay, so we couldn’t actually afford to eat there – or drink there really – but everything else about Shivapuri Heights Cottage was magical. It was exactly what we needed after the rough ol’ time we’ve had since Russia. We loved it so much, we ended up booking five nights. 

Since we didn’t fancy the 200m hike up and down into town every mealtime, we got resourceful. We found a great restaurant for lunch and ordered lots of extras to takeaway. We did this twice. This particular lunch and takeaway order cost us £4.55: one vegetable chowmein, two vegetable dumpling meals, twelve samosa, six potato fritters, six onion bhajis and two potato curries. Everything was boxed and bagged. What a bargain. 

We definitely made the most of being so close to Shivapuri National Park. We went on two hikes. First we did an 11km loop, which included a monastery, the park’s only village and a stupa (temple). Then we did a more challenging ascent to the highest peak in Kathmandu Valley: Shivapuri Peak, at 2,732m (5,682ft). 

 This was the restaurant that kept us fed in our luxury cottage. It’s one of our favourite’s in Nepal so far. Sadly we never got the name as it was in Nepali and no one spoke English.

This was the restaurant that kept us fed in our luxury cottage. It’s one of our favourite’s in Nepal so far. Sadly we never got the name as it was in Nepali and no one spoke English.

 You can see why we booked five nights, can’t you?

You can see why we booked five nights, can’t you?

 Hike #1: For our first hike, we entered through a smaller park gate, so were able to choose whether to have a guide or not. Ambica is the daughter of Shivapuri Heights Cottage’s driver. She’s not a trained guide, but knows the park very well. She’s actually studying her Masters in Economics. It was lovely spending the afternoon with her. She was super intelligent and friendly.

Hike #1: For our first hike, we entered through a smaller park gate, so were able to choose whether to have a guide or not. Ambica is the daughter of Shivapuri Heights Cottage’s driver. She’s not a trained guide, but knows the park very well. She’s actually studying her Masters in Economics. It was lovely spending the afternoon with her. She was super intelligent and friendly.

 Hike #1: Ambica said the park has a real problem with locals sneaking in to chop wood and forage. Someone recently snuck in a kill an animal too, although Ambica didn’t know what animals and for what reason.

Hike #1: Ambica said the park has a real problem with locals sneaking in to chop wood and forage. Someone recently snuck in a kill an animal too, although Ambica didn’t know what animals and for what reason.

 Hike #2: As we entered Shivapuri National Park through the main entrance, a registered park guide was compulsory. Sabine was part of the government initiative that trained local men and women to become park guides. He’s been a park guide for two years now. His knowledge of the park and its birds and animals was very impressive. Going up, he was a brilliant guide. Going down, he bumped into a mate and lot interest in us… I think we were a bit slow for him.

Hike #2: As we entered Shivapuri National Park through the main entrance, a registered park guide was compulsory. Sabine was part of the government initiative that trained local men and women to become park guides. He’s been a park guide for two years now. His knowledge of the park and its birds and animals was very impressive. Going up, he was a brilliant guide. Going down, he bumped into a mate and lot interest in us… I think we were a bit slow for him.

 We reckon we climbed just over 5,000 steps to reach Shivapuri Peak. Our calfs were shot to pieces the following day.

We reckon we climbed just over 5,000 steps to reach Shivapuri Peak. Our calfs were shot to pieces the following day.

 Hike #2: There’s usually a great view of the valley from Shivapuri Peak, but we were literally in the clouds at 1,732m.

Hike #2: There’s usually a great view of the valley from Shivapuri Peak, but we were literally in the clouds at 1,732m.

 At Shivapuri Peak, there’s a statue of Shivapuri Baba is a Hindu saint. Only after living on Shivapuri Peak for more than 25 years did he become known as Shivapuri Baba. During his life, he supposedly encircled the world entirely on foot. Having walked to England, he met with Queen Victoria, making him the first Indian holy man to meet the Queen. He’s also supposed to have lived until the astonishing age of 136. He died in 1963, we know that for certain, but his birth year of 1836 is unsubstantiated.

At Shivapuri Peak, there’s a statue of Shivapuri Baba is a Hindu saint. Only after living on Shivapuri Peak for more than 25 years did he become known as Shivapuri Baba. During his life, he supposedly encircled the world entirely on foot. Having walked to England, he met with Queen Victoria, making him the first Indian holy man to meet the Queen. He’s also supposed to have lived until the astonishing age of 136. He died in 1963, we know that for certain, but his birth year of 1836 is unsubstantiated.

For our last night in Shivapuri we (Dan’s parents) treated ourselves and joined the other guests for dinner. It was marvellous. Steve and his wife, Neeru, get everyone together around one table to eat. We indulged in a four course meal. We had creamed asparagus soup, fish pie or pork curry (or both), warm apple tart and ice cream, then a cheese board.  

It was during dinner we met Tashi Sherpa, the designer and creator of Metro Mask. After we told him about our cycle trip, he generously offered to give us a mask each and a handful of replacement filters. How brilliant! He had them delivered to our hotel in Kathmandu after we left Shivapuri. 

 Tashi sent one of his delivery guys with a bag of goodies for us.

Tashi sent one of his delivery guys with a bag of goodies for us.

 Tashi’s goal is to create quality protection against Nepal’s extreme air pollution, which is affordable and accessible for all Nepalis.

Tashi’s goal is to create quality protection against Nepal’s extreme air pollution, which is affordable and accessible for all Nepalis.

 If you remember, the road to Shivapuri Heights Cottage was closed due to a landslide, and we had to use a hiking trail to get there. Well, as you’d expect, going down was much easier than going up. The bikes pretty much walked themselves.

If you remember, the road to Shivapuri Heights Cottage was closed due to a landslide, and we had to use a hiking trail to get there. Well, as you’d expect, going down was much easier than going up. The bikes pretty much walked themselves.

By the end of the five nights, Steve (the owner) had to practically kick us out. Then, before we knew it, we were back in Dustmandu – I totally stole that nickname off Sabine – once again. We finally got our Indian visa sorted, had a curry at our favourite curry house (Western Tandoori), then Tom, Dan’s cousin, arrived. Let the beers commence!

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