Long story short, the trip was amazing. Amy and I ended up having an awesome time. We loved the heat of the day and the cold of the water (except for when Amy got mildly hypothermic for like 30 minutes), the paddling and the swimming, the pranks and the games by candlelight and campfire, the camping and the conversation and the fantastic people we met. It was awesome.
I’ve only ever done half day white water rafting trips, where you show up, ride for a day, and head on home, and Amy had never done raftinr, so We were excited (and I was a little nervous) to see what it would be like to raft and camp for several days on end. For our last few days in Nepal, we signed up for a three day, two night rafting trip. There’d be about 3 hours of rafting the first day, 5 the second and about 3 for the final day. There were going to be 3 rafts of tourists (20 of us in all), 2 support rafts, and three safety kayakers. There were three guides (one for each boat) and the kayakers and about 2-3 additional support team members to help with cooking and other things around camp.
On tuesday, we showed up at 7am at paddle Nepal and headed out on a three hour bus ride to the rafting start. It was kinda cute on the bus ride out there, we were all pretty quiet, kinda keeping to the groups we came with, all self conscious and not sure who to hook on to yet as friends (at least that’s how I’d describe myself on the bus). By the second night, however, we were laughing hysterically with each other and playing all kinds of games.
Instead of a play by play of th days here’s some highlights of the trip:
- Quicksand and camping: it was really nice to be away from a city, camping on sand and grass, and enjoying being outside all day. The scenery was actually amazing but the highlight was definitely seeing Annapurna sticking up behind the raft on the second day when we all jumped in the water for the first time. It was just this great confluence of moments. The sand on the beaches was also amazing. It was like true quicksand–it was super hard when you first stepped on it but then it relaxed and started to swallow you whole.
- Swimming down a rapid: our guide seemed to want us out of the boat as much as possible (:)) and we were happy to oblige. We swam a lot during the day and at one point we went down a rapid (not a big one) by swimming it instead of rafting it. Minus the water in our faces, it was awesome.
- Getting air: several of us got a chance to sit at the front of the raft and hold on to a rope like we were on a bucking bull. Amy definitely got the most air on some big rapids. It was pretty awesome to see the rapids and waves come at you head on and only have one hand holding. It also meant you got a break from rowing, which was always nice
- Marcel switching rafts: a recent grad from university, and from the Netherlands, marvel had a penchant for switching rafts, swimming from one to another throughout the trip. Our favorite moment, which inspired a later prank, was when he came onboard without a paddle and started the pretend paddle when we were told to row forward. His miming was so convincing it took us way too long took figure it out. (we really cracked ourselves up on the third day when instead of paddling when our guide gave us orders, we pretended to paddle instead. It also took him a hilariously long time to figure out what we were doing.)
- Sand pictionary by candlelight: high point of the first night, which featured amazing drawings by marcel (Jurassic park), Amy (the Martian) and everyone else (jakob, an Italian going to med school in Germany with Tom, another German; Stefan–a German who works in finance; iain, a Brit and dentist turned local politician who loved to crack us up with his best impression of an American accent; josh and Annie, management consultants from. U.K. and more.)
- Beer, cards and a campfire: On the second night, several of us bought basically all the beer being sold by this local woman who’s family lived basically right next door (their cows were grazing in the field we camped in when we arrived) and who arrived with a woven basket of beer bottles right when we pulled in. we decided to make the most of it with a little kings cup. There was rhyming (which was hilarious to watch a Dutchman, Italian and Germans try to do in English), “little man” and singing rules and, of course, lots of drinking.
- games games and more games: after kings cup, we joined in by a campfire and about ten of us started playing all these games (but only after I required everyone to sing their country’s national anthem). First we played a game called psychiatrist (where everyone in the group pretends to be either another person or in another situation — like say everyone acts like they are on safari or acts like– and one person has to guess what’s going on). We also played black magic and a game kind of like taboo where you have to trade off speaking one word at a time and try to get everyone in the circle to guess the word yours trying to describe. My favorite game though was this one where two people (which ended up being marcel and I) leave the circle and those in the circle then come up with a story that we have to come back and guess. Marcel and I were only allowed to ask yes or no questions to figure out the story. And thank god for marcel because he asked such out of the box questions that turned out to be somehow spot on. He figured out we were whales, that we were famous and had our own tv show and that we’d been captured on a hook and were now being forced to be a mode of transportation, pulling people around a la horse and carriage. The best part of the game was when I told the group I thought that the story they came up with was really creative and the group looked at us and was like, yeah, there was no story. Basically everyone who answered just said yes when they liked the direction of a question and therefore marcel basically came up with the entire story himself. I laughed for probably ten minutes straight.
By and large the trip was awesome and we were so glad we did it. Making new friends is always awesome and being outdoors when you do it is basically the best way. I love the aspect of traveling in a group like that, big enough to move from group to group but small enough to bond really quickly and feel close enough to invite the people to stay at your place next time they’re in Germany or the states. Who knows whether you’ll see those people again, but I always think it’s really cool and serendipitous and random and so good to meet people from all over the world that just click and that you can talk and laugh with. It’s definitely my favorite part of traveling.
Now, we’ve been back in Kathmandu a day, sam’s arrived, we did one last trip to the monkey temple, and I sent Amy and Sam off on their great adventure to hike the Annapurna circuit.
For me, though, it’s time to head home. I’m happy with Amy and my’s trip — I feel like we did a lot, we traveled well together, laughed and smiled a ton, and could travel together again one day. But I’m also happy to be headed home. I know the travel bug will be back soon (so it’s good joe and I are off to Ireland in May) but right now, I’m really looking forward to seeing Joe and getting back to life in providence again.
Thanks for reading about Nepal everyone! I really encourage you to visit, to do some day hikes at least, to walk around Kathmandu, to visit pokhara, to raft, to meet travelers, and if it’s your thing, to do a long trek. If you’re ever interested in going Nepal, message me here and let me know and I’ll share any info I can to help you out.