At TripGems, Insiders are experienced travel bloggers that can tell you a little bit more about a destination. In this Insider’s View, Paul Raftery from http://paulraftery.com/blog explores Bandipur, Nepal with you.
I wake at sunrise to the sound of two cocks crowing to each other over a background chorus of high and low pitch crickets. After flicking on the 12V light (the power is out again), I freshen up in the shower (solar hot water), and head downstairs to a breakfast of eggs and masala tea served by our friendly Nepalese host. There’s a pleasant view of the village, which is already bustling with kids walking to school and people on their way to worship Shiva or Ganesh at one of the temples in the village.
We’ve been starting our mornings like that for the last few days that we’ve been in Bandipur. It’s a little village nestled up in the hills just a few hours bus journey out of Kathmandu. We intended to stay for one night, but this has already been extended to three (so far).
The particular day that I’m writing this, we went on a day trek to (supposedly) the world’s 2nd largest cave along with an guy we’d meet the night before. David, from Kildare. No matter where you go, you’ll always find the Irish! Anyway, the cave was only discovered a little over ten years ago by a German tourist who loved to wander about in the jungle and even the locals didn’t know about it beforehand.
Two hours of pretty arduous leech-ridden hiking along a ‘path’ through the jungle against a spectacular hilly backdrop of rice paddy, and we were there. The place was deserted except for a Newari man waiting at the dark mouth of the cave. After a bit of haggling he agreed to show us around. This was handy because there turned out to be absolutely no infrastructure in the cave. No lights, no paths, no steps, and plenty of slippery surfaces overlooking cavernous drops into the gloomy depths below. The pitch blackness was barely held at bay by our little torches. The beams were continually interrupted by little bats fluttering by. Of course, none of this was a bother to our friendly and helpful guide who showed us around for a few hours, stopping every now and then to highlight interesting faces and animal shapes in the dripping limestone formations. The cave is absolutely enormous. The biggest of the caverns is 457m long and the combined light from all of our flashlights barely made a dim spot on the ceiling far above. A great experience all round
A brief break for a snack while overlooking the jungle and we started making our way down to a village at the bottom of the valley below. After a few cold drinks at a roadside shop we took the hot, crowded, and very entertaining bus back up to Bandipur. The locals here are very welcoming and always up for a chat – especially when you are all crammed in to a small tin can with even more people outside hanging off the window, door and roof of the bus!
After cleaning up back in our room, we strolled into the village and had a traditional late lunch of dhal bat. Rice, veg curry, bean and lentil soup, crispy bread and chutney. Delicious! The rest of the evening was spent relaxing at a table on the main street of the village. No cars here or anywhere else in Bandipur. At sunset the mosquitoes come out and are chased down by hundreds and hundreds of acrobatic birds living in the rafters of the surrounding buildings. You can easily while away an hour or two (or a whole evening!), drinking cups of flavoursome Nepali tea and just watching them doing stunts overhead. All the kids of the town play together on the street while the older folk sit outside their houses chatting and socialising. It gives a wonderful sense of life and community in the village.
Shortly after dark we walked back up to our room and I started writing this. The village is a place full of contrasts. No power, no cars or roads, but fast wireless Internet abounds (battery powered) and everyone has a cell phone! Even though it’s only 9pm, that’s about it for now. I’m tired after the long day and want to catch up on my reading for a bit. It’s definitely early to bed and early to rise here…
About Paul Raftery
I’m a research engineer who’s interested in tinkering with stuff, travelling, playing and listening to music, science, languages, (very) amateur photography (isn’t everyone these days?), good food and cooking, art (usually the street variety), etc.. Basically, anything that catches my attention. You could sum it up by saying: I like learning stuff. I’ve taken some time away from research at the moment to work as an independent consultant and travel the world with my wife, so most posts arerelated to our experiences while travelling for the next while.