An afternoon in Everest… At the UN Bhairab Battalion base, Haiti

 lt.col.Sanukaji Thapa, myself in the middle and  Maj.Birendra sit by a mounument of the highest peak of the world: Mount Everest
lt.col.Sanukaji Thapa, myself in the middle and Maj.Birendra sit by a monument of the highest peak of the world: Mount Everest

When I joined journalist Shanti Paudel to meet a friend for lunch, little did I know that we’d be visiting the UN Nepalese Bhairab Battalion base in Port-au-Prince… The closest I will get to Nepal until I actually step foot on its soil.

The Haitian, UN and Nepalese flag fly in unison
The Haitian, UN and Nepalese flag fly in unison

Maj.Birendra greeted us as we entered the military base. He was kind enough to give me a brief understanding of why Nepalese soldiers are revered for their qualities of courage, loyalty, self-sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness; to fight with tenacity and military strength. I was familiar with the Gurkha War (1814–1816) between the Gorkha Kingdom in Nepal and the East India Company (British). The khukuri knife (display versions available for sale at the Bhairab Battalion UN base souvenir shop) is a symbol of the strength of the Nepalese soldiers who maintained the independence of their country even when India was colonised by the British.

This unofficial visit was a cultural reflection of the Nepalese people. The hospitality we were given at the Everest Mess included sampling Nepalese cuisine with Maj.Birendra and later joining lt.col.Sanukaji Thapa for chai. Sitting amongst these prominent men, I learnt about their mission in Haiti and their community development work that is on going. I was also able to share my experience of volunteering at the Sathya Sai Baba centre, speak about my country of origin- Ghana, and learn about Nepal.

I was later presented with reminder of Nepal by lt.col.Sanukaji Thapa with a picture of ‘The Top of the World’ Mount Everest, and the city of Bhaktapur. The Commander encouraged me to visit Nepal, and I responded giving my word that I would do so one day.

Presentaion of picture of Mount Everest
Presentation from lt.col.Sanukaji Thapa of the ‘Top of the World’ Mount Everest
Bhaktapur: City of devotees
Bhaktapur: City of devotees

I left the Bhairab Battalion feeling as though I had spent an afternoon in Nepal!… The next step is to actually walk on Nepalese soil and view with my eyes some of wonders of this country. I was given a had full of brochures available in the Everest Mess. Reading them has heightened my interest in visiting the small country sandwiched between India and China. The richness of the country’s cultural diversity, multi-religious and multi-ethnicity gives this country so much texture.

“Naturally Nepal… Once isn’t enough”

-Nepal is a relatively small nation of about 25.8 million people.
-The country is home to the highest point on earth: Mount Everest (8848m)
-Nepal occupies the central part of the Himalayan arc (2,400km), the highest mountain range in the world.
-The Himalaya means ‘Abode of Snow’ in Sanskrit
101 diverse ethnic groups coincide
8 out of 14 highest mountains lie in Nepal
They are:
Mount Everest (8848m), Kanchenjunga (8586m), Lhotse (8516m), Makalu (8463m), Cho Oyu (8201m), Dhaulagiri (8167m), Manaslu (8163m) and Annapurna (8091m)

The UNESCO listed 4 World Heritage sites in Nepal:
Two of which are in the natural category; Sagarmatha and Chitwan National Parks
The two in the cultural category are; Kathmandu Valley with seven monumental zones, and Lumbini, the sacred birthplace of Lord Buddha.

Pokhara is home to Nepalese journalist Shanti Paudel. He was my first contact with Nepalese culture which I have experienced through his humble hospitality while volunteering at the Sathya Sai centre in Haiti.
Pokhara lies in the central region of Nepal, surrounded by incomparable mountain views. A range of tourism activities are available from participating in the lifestyle of the local people or mountain trekking to see the splendid views of the central Himalayas.

So whatever adventure you seek to find in Nepal; trekking, mountaineering, pilgrim tours, water-rafting, paragliding, bungy-jumping, jungle safari, bird-watching… It’s safe to say Nepal has it all! Perhaps the reason why once isn’t enough

Special thanks to Shanti Paudel, lt.col.Sanukaji Thapa, Maj.Birendra and staff at the UN Nepalese Bhairab Battalion base.

For more tourism information on Nepal visit:
Nepal Tourism Board

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