With my planned itinerary for Nepal out the window we had decided to take a bus to Bandipur in the countryside to experience some time in a small and quiet village. We left the hotel in Kathmandu with another couple and their guide who were on their way to Pokhara to go on a hiking expedition. We walked to the bus stop only to find that the bus was elsewhere, the guide had to call the bus driver and we all had to scramble into taxis to catch up to it, it was like Shimla in India all over again! The journey was bumpy thanks to the unpaved roads but after a few hours we had made it to the busy town of Dunre where we jumped off to make our connection to Bandipur, the rest of the bus carried on to Pokhara where we would also be visiting in a few days.
We wandered around the town, withdrew some money and then found the correct bus to take us up the winding roads to Bandipur, it was boiling hot inside the bus so we couldn't wait to get on with the journey. As the bus got going up the steep road the views became more and more impressive. Finally we could see the green Nepalese countryside. The bus stopped at the entryway to the village which is closed to all vehicles, we were immediately ushered into a guesthouse when we left the bus but it was not to be. There were flies everywhere and a distinctly 'toilet' smell about the place. We walked to the hotel immediately opposite and were pleasantly surprised to see a lovely clean, modern and spacious room with amazing views, after a little bit of a haggle we got the room for a great deal too.
After settling in and evicting a spider we walked into the village to grab a bite to eat. The village was so pretty, characterful brick buildings with wooden verandas, trailing flowers and cobblestone streets void of any litter at all. It felt like we were in a wonderfully preserved village in a time before concrete. We found a cute little café to eat lunch and started to chatting to a group of three backpacker girls who approached our table. It was so nice hearing how lovely a time they'd had in Bandipur and Nepal overall, they also gave us tips on what food to try and what to steer clear of. As we ate our delicious lunch the skies opened and there was a downpour, there's something so soothing about watching the rain when you're safe and dry.
The next day after breakfast we decided to walk to the viewpoint directly behind our hotel. We found the path and worked our way up, it was a steep ascent and really strained my legs. It's amazing just how fit I felt at the start of the trip in South America compared to how I feel now, those slow days in India really have weakened my hiking stamina. Slowly but surely we made it up, the higher we climbed the better the view and I made sure to stop frequently to take photographs, nothing to do with catching my breath of course! The landscape was an ocean of green; hills and forests, lonely farmhouses in the middle of nowhere and the small village of Bandipur were all in view as well as the tiny winding road that brought us here. Once we reached the top we sat in a shelter and watched the light and shadows play in front of our eyes, there was a tiny temple with bells and a goat herder who spoiled the tranquility somewhat by hocking up phlegm every few minutes, travel moments can't always be idyllic I thought. We made our way back down and decided to treat ourselves with a refreshing beverage in the Red Rose restaurant overlooking the quaint village street.
Bandipur was turning out to be a fantastic place to get some rest and relaxation, after our walk the previous day we decided to spend the next day hanging out at our hotel, we only left to eat which was a treat in itself as the food in Bandipur was so far rather lovely. I created a mini art studio on the roof terrance looking out over the hills with the sun on my back. The young girl who takes care of things at the hotel came over to watch me draw and paint with watercolour, in that moment I felt very happy that we had made the decision to come to Nepal after all, even though we were still taking it easy we were creating these small moments which would end up being memories etched in my mind.
The following day we took a walk to another viewpoint which was a little further away on the other side of the village but wasn't as steep or strenuous a walk. The paths were muddy, we passed cows in sheds and a woman walking her goats. Once at the viewpoint we could see for miles and gained a completely different perspective of the village and surrounding area. As I sat to catch my breath a sweet little dog came over to sit with me, he ended up following us all the way back to the village. We had another dinner at Red Rose which has fast become our favourite eatery in the village thanks to the fried vegetarian momo's which are a vegetable and spice filled dumpling. The lady who makes the food is so lovely, it's almost like being in a family home, her small grandchildren would pop in from playing every so often.
The next day we took a walk around the village and I bought myself a token traveller t-shirt from a shop, mostly because there are no laundry facilities at all that we can find and our clean clothes pile is seriously diminished. Our daily treat came in the form of a hot chocolate and chocolate brownie at the bakery on the corner where we could sit and watch the world go by. The next day we packed and paid up ready to leave when we were told by locals that there were no buses running due to a nationwide strike. We had heard that this can happen in Nepal and although it was inconvenient it wasn't the end of the world, in the back of my mind I secretly rejoiced at another opportunity to have Red Rose fried momo's for dinner. We went for breakfast and got chatting to a Nepali man who has been living in New Zealand, he told us that he led the rebuilding of the village from what it was to what it is today and seemed very happy with our feedback when we told him that it was a wonderful place. When it got to dinner time we went for momo's, two ladies we'd seen a few times around the village asked when and where we were going next, when we said Pokhara tomorrow they asked if we'd like to share a taxi with them as they didn't want to travel on a bus with the young toddler they were travelling with. Although the journey was about 80 km away we decided to go for it to avoid the hassle of the bus and another possible strike.
Have you been to Bandipur? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
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