The Ajnabee’s Alternative Travel Guide

I enjoyed reading Kathmandu Post’s special feature this morning ‘Time to Travel‘, about unusual getaways in Nepal. My issue with the feature is that it written in a way which seems to imply that everyone in Nepal *actually* lives in Kathmandu. For example: ‘the monsoons may be upon us but there is never a better time to get out of Kathmandu. A little bit of rain is never a dampner if you are in the mood for some adventure and this is what we are telling our readers this week: Get out of Kathmandu’.

Well hello KTM Post, some of your readers live in other places, like Nepalganj and Janakpur. Life does happen outside the valley. Anyhow, there were a couple of very decent bits of writing about some lesser-visited parts of Nepal, such as Manjushree Thapa’s description of Dharan (‘The Town the Gurkhas Built’).

Some of my best times in Nepal have been in such places and I feel that I’m in a very fortunate position that I’ve been able to get out as much as I have. Inspired by KTM Post, here are a few of my own travel recommendations for those with strong stomachs and the ability to see an adventure in the mundane.

Bhojpur

How to get there: Fly to Bhojpur from Biratnagar or Kathmandu with Nepal Airlines, or take a two-day walk from Pakribas VDC in Dhankuta to Bhojpur Bazaar. Flights are a novel experience for the traveler (of the near-death kind if you are a nervous flyer) and are frequently canceled, so make sure you leave enough time. Probably not one for quick weekend getaway.

Things to do: Visit Newar villages such as Taksar, a couple of hour’s walk from the DHQ to see beautiful houses and temples. It’s like Bandipur in some respects, but a bit rough around the edges, and with no tourists. See the remnants of Bhojpur’s twilight industry, bronze-work, in one of the remaining cottage workshops.

Enjoy local delicacies such as tungba (millet beer) and various forms of sungur (pork), cooked in the traditional Rai style with lots of spices, in Bhojpur Bazaar.

Play around on the RNA baggage trolleys on the airfield. Alternatively, run around the landing strip with your arms outstretched pretending to be a plane.

Rajbiraj

How to get there: Fly to Biratnagar and take a bus or car

Things to do: soak up the atmosphere of the town affectionately known as Nepal’s armed group capital. Grab a beer in the evening in your hotel bar/dining room, hide behind a copy of The Kathmandu Post and have a good old evesdrop.

Drink chai. As a very serious point I’d say that Saptari has the best chai in the region. Samosas are good in this part of the world too.

See a Tarai sunset. There is nothing quite like seeing a big, fat peach-coloured sun setting over the rice fields and it’s one of those things that makes me wish I was halfway decent photographer. For more thoughts and photos of mine on the plains, see ‘Reasons to Love the Tarai‘ over at Mesocosm.

This post was meant to be more detailed, but several weeks of insomnia are catching up on me and finally I think sleep is heading my way. There were also meant to be photos to accompany this piece but my internet is too slow today. Sigh.

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