Pabitra Samaaj Sewa Building Project Donors’ List so far:
[We are still raising fund for the completion of the project. Interested donors can contact us at email@example.com]
The Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony of Pabitra Samaaj Sewa building was held on 30 January 2018 at Budhanilkantha. The foundation stone was laid by respected Marcus Brown from Adelaide amidst the presence of Dikchhya Chapagain, President of Pabitra Samaaj Sewa and the Representatives of Explore Himalaya and Himalayan Pre-Fab. The pre-fab building will provide a permanent earthquake resistant shelter to 15-20 residents under the care of the organization.
The building project was jointly initiated by Explore Himalaya and Himalayan Pre-Fab, a subsidiary of Explore Himalaya; after the residents of Pabitra Samaaj Sewa were forcibly evacuated from their previous resident at Dhapasi. As it was not possible to complete this project without the collective efforts, Explore Himalaya and Himalaya Pre-Fab started the initiation by contributing half of the fund and appealed for the rest from the generous contributors. Mr. Brown, who honored the ceremony, was among the few to extend the hand of support by raising funds from Adelaide community. The project has given hopes and happiness to all the destitute sheltering in the organization. The building is expected to complete within 6 weeks. For the full story on the building project, please follow our earlier blog at https://www.explorehimalaya.com/2018/01/05/pabitra-samaj-sewa-charity-project/
[In addition to being a trailblazer in Himalayan adventure, Explore Himalaya is also one of the forerunners in Nepali tourism to incorporate community service in company’s regular activities.]
[Kipling India Travels (KI) is a subsidiary of Explore Himalaya (EH). KI specializes in operating unique tours with class and comfort throughout India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Some of the special tours being operated regularly by KI are culinary tours, Snow Leopard Tour, Birding Tour etc. In this series, we are writing about these tours to share the unique experiences had by KI clients to EH travelers so that our travelers will know, consider, or maybe plan for the next holiday. PHOTO CREDIT: Prakash Subba, Sr. Manager Operations and Business Development, Kipling India]
Travelling, to many, is scrambling over rocky faces, lolling in endless beaches or getting lost in the labyrinth of ancient civilizations. However, to some, it’s knowing the secret of culture by indulging in its food heritage. Kipling India with its tantalizing trip “Culinary & Cultural Tour” is catching this spirit of gastronomes for whom food is a serious business. This unique tour that combines the culinary virtuosity of Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Lucknow; embarks upon a journey of authentic Indian food culture where one can discover an energetic mélange of culture, aroma and flavors.
In October 2015, Kipling India had its “all-lady” group of six members from the US and Canada. As it was the first time ever for both Kipling India and the visitors, the excitement was at par for both. The trip was a mix of culture, history and spiritual beauty while indulging the palate with exotic food and drink where the bustling populous land and its vibrancy reveal the true essence of a culturally rich country. This unique trip began in Delhi, where the members prowled the alleys in bazaar in search of tantalizing street food, luncheoned at a traditional Haweli, and explored the old city in rickshaw before heading to the magical city of Jaipur, where the adventurous food walk was accompanied by the heritage tour of Amber Fort. After the trip, they headed to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, the wondrous architectural masterpiece and finally the whole tour culminated at Lucknow to experience the best of Awadhi cuisine before finally heading to Delhi. Since the tour is blend of cultural simplicity and culinary sophistication, no wonder, it is one of the best trips Kipling Travel has ever operated.
Day 01 : Arrive Delhi.
Day 02 : Tour of the city with cooking class.
Day 03 : Food walk of Old Delhi.
Day 04 : Drive to Jaipur (280 kms/06 hrs). Evening food walk.
Day 05 : Tour of the city with cooking class.
Day 06 : Drive to Agra (250 kms/05 hrs) via FatepurSikri.
Day 07 : Visit Taj Mahal and Fort. Evening food walk.
Day 08 : Express train to Lucknow (05 hrs). Dinner of Awadhi cuisine.
Day 09 : Tour of the city with Culinary walk in the evening.
Day 10 :Tour of the city with cooking class.
Day 11 : Fly Delhi. Evening farewell dinner.
Day 12 : Depart Delhi for home.
25 Oct: Upon their arrival in Delhi, they were greeted with warm welcome and then transferred to their hotel. At hotel the briefing session added real fuel to their excitement.
26 Oct: If you think today is the day of ruins, forts and statues, you’d be wrong! The tour started with food walk of Old Delhi, where the guests experienced heritage and bazaar walk, cycle rickshaw ride with some street food tasting followed by local home visit with traditional lunch in a Haveli (Old private mansion). Delhi is a city of fascinating contrasts where the old and new, cultural and contemporary, rural and urban, all blend harmoniously. Food walks in Old Delhi can be best enjoyed in its original setting, in noisy labyrinthine by lanes of Chawri Bazaar and Chandni Chowk. The dishes on can savor in Old Delhi are large, thick and juicy jalabis, Aloo Chaat (Crisp fried potato) dunked in a mélange of chutneys; varieties of stuffed paranthas (potato, onion, cottage cheese, cauliflower etc). For desserts one can try out the creamy, delicious phirni and Kulfi. Followed by city tour of New Delhi, the guests really enjoyed the visit to Sikh Temple (Bangla Sahab Gurudwara) to witness the Community kitchen and try their hands on making rotis (Chapatis).
27/28 Oct: After Delhi they departed to Jaipur, the Pink City and the Capital of Rajasthan, the city which has always fascinated visitors with its vibrant people, magnificent forts and food. They spent two days in this magical city to experience the magnificent Amber Fort and amazing food walk. The walk gave them a fantastic experience of street food, colorful shops and plenty of photo opportunities. Compared to Delhi, Food walk in Jaipur is different for its much organized lanes and colorful shops. They visited LMB (Laxmi Mistan Bhandar) sweet shop, one of the oldest restaurants established in 1949. It is famous for its delicious snacks like Paneer Ghewar, Doodh Feeni, Rasmalai etc to name a few.
29 Oct: Today is the day when the guests had the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal, the mausoleum that defines architectural grandeur and immortalized love. They left just before sunrise to be the first in line to visit the Taj Mahal in the cool morning and in the best light. The best part at this time in the morning is there are so few tourists you practically have the Taj to yourself- No crowds to fight through and plenty of opportunities to take photos in the most dramatic lighting. The Taj experience was an incredibly moving experience to them. In the evening they proceeded for food walk in the busy non-touristy market where they indulged in some of Agra’s best local food and sweets including Petha, Kababs and Kulfi (Indian Ice cream).
30 Oct: They boarded the Shatabdi train early in the morning for a six hour comfortable ride to Lucknow, the city of the Nawabs which is famous all over the world for its Tehzeeb, “the graceful etiquette”. It can very well termed as a city that has carved a niche by attracting gastronomes for the want of discovering and re – discovering the Awadhi Cuisine. Lucknow has a colony of chefs called “Bawarchi Tola”. In the evening guests were treated with Awadhi dinner. They had experienced the concept of food loyalty and the real taste of the original Tundey Kebabs, Raheem’s Nihari and Mobeen’s Pasanda Kebabs. Besides food tasting tours, they had an Awadhi cooking session with an expert at the place of a local host to give them a first-hand experience on the use of spices and method of making an authentic Indian Cuisine. The cooking workshop was followed by an orientation session.
31 Oct: On the last day we flew back to Delhi and in the evening we concluded our tour with an amazing farewell dinner at Indian Accent, the restaurant popular for showcasing inventive Indian cuisine by complementing the flavors and traditions of India with global ingredients and techniques. Indian Accent is the only award winning Indian restaurant to be featured in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017.
01 Nov: As it is said every good thing must come to an end, the concluding day of this eventful tour also came close. The guests bade final goodbye with lots of memories to cherish forever.
This tour made a simple traveler a sophisticated foodie who explored the culinary maze with closed eyes and let their taste buds do the rest! Kipling India’s Culinary tours stood out as it operated in small group rather than a bus full of strangers, with a local host that made them feel quite at home. The whole experience allowed them to be connected with trendy neighborhoods with smart cafés, bars, restaurants and interesting shops and boutiques. They also used the metro and auto rickshaws to zoom around these places with ease – just like a local. In the meantime, however, they didn’t miss the opportunity to focus major sites but in a whole interesting way. To sum up, the members had the experience of lifetime that feasts both their soul and palate! If you are also interested in experimenting your taste buds and being a member of the gastronome community in some of the finest cultural cities, the trip is the made for you!
Travelling can be more than just indulging and entertaining oneself. The recent “CKY School Ghorepani-Ghandruk Circuit Trek” organized by Explore Himalaya in partnership with Travel Advisor (Hong Kong) proved it right. Like any other trip in Annapurna region, this trek was also packed with exploration of incredible nature and amazing culture. However, what sets it apart is the meaning the students’ group has given to the trip by creating positive impacts on the communities they visited.
CKY School Ghorepani-Ghandruk Circuit Trek that started from 10th Dec to 14th Dec 2017, had 22 members including 18 students and 4 teachers from Hong Kong. The trek starting point was Birethati, from where it continued through Tirkhedunga, Ghorepani, Tadapani, Ghandruk; and culminated once again in Birethati making a complete loop. Their typical trek day was a bit different from the normal trekkers’. Apart from enjoying the natural wonders typical of the region, at each stopover, they intermingled with the local communities, visited schools and health posts, donated educational materials and medical supplies, shared experiences with students and developed connectivity with local guardians. And at the end of each day, they had an experience exchange session in which they shared their thoughts on the day’s activities, which helped them to reflect on their experiences and gain a new perspective on life.
Altogether they helped four schools and health posts namely Bhume Adharbhut Bidhyalaya at Hille, Ulleri Health Post at Ulleri, Ghandruk Health Post and Meshram Barahi Maa School at Ghandruk. In between the caring and sharing, however, they also didn’t miss the opportunity to relish the beauty of Annapurna region including a trip to Poonhill, a not-to-be-missed viewpoint known for magnificent sunrise view in the Himalayas. At Ghandruk, they enjoyed cultural show organized by “AamaSamuha”, literally mothers’ group, which gave them more insights on the culture of the region.
After the completion of the trek, on 15th Dec the students visited Rainbow Orphanage Home in Pokhara where they donated sports materials and clothes to the orphanage. They also drew a colorful mural on a canvas with fingerprints and beautiful message, and gifted it to them. They also played football, volleyball and rugby with the children, which added a fun element to their visit. As rugby game is new to Nepali people, the children really enjoyed the sport which was sure to take few days for them to get off the memories. The students’ visit to the orphanage ended the whole trip in a rewarding note. The trip, for sure, has helped the students to foster a better understanding of life and be an insightful person when they returned home.
The team of Explore Himalaya takes pride in being a partner of the program which has helped to redefine the meaning of travelling in the Himalayas, especially for young travelers. We want to extend our gratitude to all the supporters including the crew and local communities who made this remarkable project possible. And once again thanks to CKY School for making a difference!
Nepal never ceases to amaze people from all round the globe. And Malaysians, who are now one of the most seasoned travelers in South-East Asia, are no exception! This autumn Explore Himalaya is quite happy to welcome a group of 11 Malaysian travelers led by our old friend Mr. Song Poh. What makes the trip more special is we were not welcoming Mr Song Poh and his close friend Ms. Yogaranee Balaratnam Thambayah, aged 73, for the first time in Nepal. For Yogaranee, it was the forth time and for Song Poh it was the second time with us, and after almost 20 years!
The Malaysian group did the classic Everest Base Camp Trek from 07 November to 24 November. The group, which was a great combination of multi-age people ranging from 30 to 73, includes Song Poh (Leader), Yong Kek Loong, Yogaranee Balaratnam Thambayah, Tan Hooi Nee, Ting Choo Hew, Sitta V Kanagasabai, Ling Keoi Tai, Lim Ka Tin, Kalaiarasy Subramaniam, Tan Kim Chan and Wong Kok Seong. The group itself looked like a collective family, a close-knit travelling community – and the trek to Everest Base Camp was quite an ideal trip for them to share, care and create memories.
Song Poh and Yogaranee are frequent travelers to Nepal with Song Poh coming to Nepal for record 12 times and Yogaranee 5 times. However, to many the trip was the first one ever. So there was a lot of anticipation and excitement right after they landed in Kathmandu (1400m). The trip started with a city tour to the ancient treasures of Nepal including Bouddha, Pashupatinath, Patan Durbar Square and Swoyambhu. The trip not only gave a real insight to the history of Kathmandu Valley, but also offered a wonderful spectacle of the mesmerizing cultural fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism being practiced since time immemorial. However, the tour just served as a savory to kick start the most awaited trip to the Himalayas.
The real adventure started on the third day, with a flight to Lukla (2860m), in which the members got to enjoy the scenic Himalayan vistas before the real beginning of the trek. Once in Lukla, the whole members felt the crispy chill of the mountain air, much different from the humidity of Kathmandu. Then, started the real trek that would last for next two weeks, through the meandering stony trail along Dudh Koshi river. Throughout the trek, the weather was exceptionally clear and the views were top-notch as if the Himalayas wanted to flaunt all its glory in one go.
The more the members went higher, the more they were exposed to the elements of nature. The more they were intimate to the nature, the more they experienced the grandeur of the Himalaya in its purest essence, from the first sight of Everest from Namche (3450m) to the panoramic view of Everest from Kalapathar (5545m). On reaching the Base Camp (5357m)-the ultimate point of their monumental achievement- they rejoiced, unfurled their national flag and captured all the moments in their memories. On the way back, they shared their experiences, re-captured the moments and bid the last bye to the land of Everest before flying back to Kathmandu. At the end of the trip our Malaysian friends, quite rejuvenated after the Himalayan experience, wished to come back to Nepal again and again. Explore Himalaya feels delighted to make their Everest dream possible and looks forward to travelling with them in the Himalaya in future as well. Congratulations to all the trekkers and best wishes for your next adventure!
Before flying back home, Explore Himalaya had a tete-e-tete with Mr. Song Poh, the team leader. An extract of the conversation:
EH: How was your first experience in Nepal? How is it now? Do you find any kind of difference?
Songpoh: Well, first time it was totally different because I had never done trekking in the Himalayas. But after coming here I found it such an awesome place that makes me coming back almost every alternate year.
EH: Which part of Nepal have you visited so far?
Songpoh: I think Annapurna 6/7 times, Langtang once, Khumbu-this is my second time.
EH: Which part do you think is comparatively better?
Songpoh: They are all unique, in their own way. I will say like Annapurna is beautiful, Langtang is beautiful, they are beautiful in their own way. They have their own speciality.
EH: How many members do you have in this trip?
Song Poh: In this trip, we are 11 including myself.
EH: Your group looked like a mixed age group. What is the range of the age group?
Song Poh: The average age would be above 50, some in the region of 70. The eldest member is Ranee aged 73, a close friend of mine. She has been here 6/7 times. She was here together with me twenty years ago and she keeps on coming back. The youngest member is 31.
EH: How was the trip as a whole?
Songpoh: It has been a successful trip to Everest Base Camp. Some of my friends are first time in the Himalayas. It was worth enjoying the every moment of the trip.
EH: How was the weather since it counts much when you are travelling in altitude?
Song Poh: The weather was cold and harsh. But the visibility was superb, you can never imagine such clear blue sky back in my country any more. Here in the Himalayas, everything was so clear and nice.
EH: What is the feedback of your team members?
Song Poh: Very good question! I have asked to my team members, “Do you want a refund for what you have paid for?” They say straight “No” for that adventure.
EH: So they get the value of their money?
Song Poh: Yeah, they get the value of their money. I think what they are doing is they are buying for the experience which they can never get anywhere else in the world.
EH: How is travelling in Nepal different from other parts of the world?
Song Poh: Every country is unique in its own way. I won’t say Thailand is more beautiful and Nepal is not….no, no. Nepal has got its own uniqueness and Thailand has its own in terms of its natural setting
EH: So are you planning to travel in Nepal in future as well?
Song Poh: Well that could be after the successful trip to Everest Base Camp. This is my second time to Everest. I travelled in many regions. I would like to try Manaslu next time.
EH: And what about the western parts like Rara and Dolpo, and eastern most part like Kanchanjugha?
Songpoh: Yeah, why not? If I have the opportunity and I have the means to do it, chances are yes.
EH: Is there any recommendation/suggestion for us? Have you ever felt like had these things been done, it would have been much better? Any thoughts on it?
Songpoh: From my personal accounts, logistics provided by the company are the important part. You know that you are backed up by a good company, able to get things done for you, and next thing the trekkers are mostly new to this region. We don’t know the language but we get help by helpful staffs. Our adventure is more meaningful, they are able to take care, to see our needs, Malaysians have their own unique demands. That’s the most important part. So you know, what are the demands of Malaysian trekkers, maybe you can look into that matter. Both trekkers and company should act more responsibly.
EH: If you are to give a message to other people who are planning to come to Nepal, what would you like to say?
Song Poh: Nepal has something what the world cannot provide, the uniqueness of its environment, the natural setting of the mountains, the friendly people and if anybody who is a keen trekker or ardent trekker, I think they shouldn’t miss the Nepali Himalayas. It is one of the most awesome trekking routes that you can ever imagine. Nepal has it all.
EH: Is there anything you want to say, something which you feel is missed to say?
Song Poh: If you want to do the ultimate trekking, I think Nepal is the place because they have the infrastructures, logistics, they have the people to do it. Personally to me, Nepal has been a fantastic place. Maybe I’m coming again, I don’t know when but definitely! So we are coming back again.
EH: Thank you for your time!
By: Subin Shrestha
Tourism in Nepal started after the first successful ascent of Mount Everest on 29th May 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary. Before 1951 Nepal was closed for foreigners because of autocratic rule of Rana regime. After democracy came in 1955, foreigners were welcomed by Nepal Government by providing them tourist visa. Before, the visas were provided from India by East India Company under the supervision of British Government.
After the successful ascent of the highest peak in the world, Nepal started to be a new destination for foreigners. In 1956, under the supervision of French George Lebrec, National Planning Council on Tourism was set up and started to promote tourism. The same year National Tourist Development Board also came into existence. In 1958 Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation, presently known as Nepal Airlines Corporation started its operation as Nepal’s first aviation service provider. In 1959, Nepal also became a member of International Union of Official Travel Organization.
In late 1960’s and 1970’s hippies started to flow in Nepal. During those days Nepal was famous for hippies as marijuana and hashish were easily available. But in 1973 government banned on the selling of marijuana and hashish. It became a turning point in Tourism history of Nepal as after that time Nepal developed as a hot spot for adventure seekers and cultural tourists. In 1998, Nepal Tourism Board https://www.welcomenepal.com/ was established in the form of partnership between the Government of Nepal and private sector to promote Nepal as an attractive tourist destination. The same year, Nepal celebrated “Visit Nepal 98” to strengthen Nepal tourism. From 1999 tourism started to decline because of a decade long Maoist insurgency due to which negative message went viral all over the world. Other incidences like hijack of Indian Airlines fleet from TIA (Tribhuvan International Airport) in 1999, Royal Massacre in 2001 and King Gyanendra taking over the power and suspending constitution, affected the Tourism industry negatively.
The historical Peace treaty agreement between Maoist and Government in 2006 was the biggest achievement as a positive message about Nepal was relayed to the international tourists. In 2011, Tourism Year was celebrated for the second time.
On 25th April 2015, the devastating earthquake with the Magnitude of 7.8 shook the nation. About 600,000 structures in Kathmandu and other nearby towns were either damaged or destroyed along with UNESO Heritage Sites. Thousands of people were homeless while the death toll reached approximately 8,000. Gorkha was the epicenter of the earthquake and it was felt throughout central and eastern part of Nepal as well as some parts in India, Bangladesh, Tibet and Bhutan.
Nepal Government immediately declared a state of emergency after the earthquake, and the entire Nepali army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police were mobilized for rescue and recovery work. Nepal also called on the international community for aid. Members of SAARC and several other countries like China, Taiwan, USA, UK etc. quickly responded by sending aid and rescue team. UN (United Nation) quickly established the “Nepal Earthquake 2015 Flash Appeal” fund, whose goal was to raise earthquake relief fund. NGO’s and INGO’s like International Red Cross Society, CARE International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Village International etc were also active for support. The toughest task was to supply relief materials due to landslides and continuous aftershocks. However, U.S Army, Nepal Army and Indian Army chopper were used for rescue operation and to supply relief materials.
Though Tourism Industry was badly affected as many historical places around the capital city were destructed and some trekking routes were closed, in mid-August new slogan “Nepal is safe” started circulating in international market for the promotion of the areas which were not affected by earthquake like Pokhara, Annapurna region, Lumbini and Chitwan. Now, Tourism has recovered from the effects of earthquake and Nepal is well on its way to better future.
FIGURE: TOURIST ARRIVAL IN NEPAL (2000-2015)