Nepal 2024 – Afterthoughts

May 2024

What a journey! I don’t think I’ve ever had so many difficulties and struggled so often. And I don’t really understand why my enthusiasm for Nepal just won’t go away. I’ve already mentioned a few points in the trekking posts, i.e. I don’t really like this mountain tourism. The route to Everest Base Camp certainly intensifies this a lot. In the meantime, I was often quite emotional about it. I felt so out of place with the way I like things and feel so lost when it seems like everyone else around me is happy.


If I already felt like a grumpy grumbler in my summary of the Annapurna round a year ago, this is even more true this time. Nevertheless, I think it’s a great opportunity to look at all this. In other words, what’s going on in my emotional and mental world and what I think I’m observing. Unfortunately, I still find it difficult to really name and formulate it. At the very top of the surface were definitely these feelings of “I don’t want it to go in this direction” (neither here nor in the Alps). But then I also think: it has a lot to do with morals and ideas about life. And who am I to think that my point of view is “more correct” than that of others? And do I even have a solution to this? I easily got stuck with a “not like this” and can’t yet see the “what then”.


In principle, I think it’s good that people go into the mountains and experience nature there. It’s also good that there are aids and that not everyone has to walk around with their own food and tent – I couldn’t do that either and so I would be denied a lot. It’s also great when other people (who are poorer and local, for example) make an offer and you can pay them for it. Then they also benefit when you walk through the mountains. And if general amenities such as roads and bridges are built, this also benefits those who have nothing to do with tourism. But the big question (for me) is: where is the limit? At what point does something tip over? At what point does it become indecent? At what point does it cause more harm than good and for whom?


I just read a book: Sherpa by 2 Nepalese authors. For example, the Sherpas talk about the beginnings of expedition mountaineering and the fascinating opportunity to earn a little more money than from bartering with Tibet and the barren fields and livestock. And how it then somehow changed from people who saw the mountains as a tedious place to work to developing their own kind of love and ambition for mountaineering. There are some very interesting life stories in it and I’m still a long way from finishing it. In any case, a story easily came to mind. Many years ago, I was in Ladakh in a restaurant where a 10-year-old boy was working. Why wasn’t he going to school? He was Nepali and had been sent to work by his parents. I got upset: so far away! So young! How can the parents do that? My colleague Tundup simply replied “You don’t know what real poverty is”.


And that sentence hit me. I really don’t know, for me there were always too many opportunities and our social system never lets you become so poor that you have to send your children away because they get more to eat there than you can offer them yourself. And that’s what I think here too – except that I still think the government should have a greater sense of responsibility and be able to organise things differently. But do we really know exactly how everything is connected? Which levers need to be pulled and how? And how to get people to do it?


with Tenji’s sister (I don’t have a bump on my wrist, it’s deceptive)


At least for many, working in tourism seems to pay off more than other work they could do with their means – at least many are employed here like part of Tenji’s family.


And maybe I can do something with my minimal means in tourism so that it goes more in the direction I would like to go.


in Phaplu


Because I was there because I’m now starting to work at Diamir. So the whole trip was very special anyway. It was half a work trip that became more and more of a work trip towards the end. The crazy thing is: I can hardly travel without working. It’s not much fun for me. Except walking around in the mountains, that’s a lot of fun. Thinking about how something will go down with organised travellers, how to make sure they have fun (and I’d love it to be unexpected fun), how they take home a bit more than photos of sights, how it’s also suitable for the local people etc., that’s somehow inside me and one of my favourite things to do. (Apart from looking at accommodation, I don’t really like that). And I’ve now had the opportunity to do that. Not so much to discover new things, but to experience what is already on the programme. And for the first time, I wasn’t travelling just for myself, but as a new addition to an existing system (which can of course be changed).


It seemed to me that I was eyed a little suspiciously at first. We were reserved with each other. But that eventually changed. 1 week before I started work, I woke up and was totally excited and told hotel owner Pema. She laughed and said: don’t worry, you’re with us now! And she really made me feel that I was no longer alone but that I belonged to something. Even though I had only got to know the few “our people” in Nepal. I was given more and more support and my efforts to get to know a lot quickly were well received. I was quite unsure how to actually fulfil this role: working without even having been directly involved in the company for at least an hour. In any case, a lot of things ended up feeling more familiar in Nepal and the people there changed things. I knew this from other places that I wasn’t so positive about – until I got to know people directly and had more to do with them. My whole unpleasant feeling regarding my criticism of Nepal/Everest tourism and my new job didn’t completely evaporate, but it was put into perspective. I’m also looking forward to thinking and discussing more about everything with others. But first I’m going to learn.


And I’ve already learnt a lot about Nepal. Despite the fact that I still have the feeling that I’m still at the very beginning. In any case, I didn’t fly home with bad emotions but with curiosity as to what else I would find out about Nepal and possibly experience. But: I’ll never go to the Everest region or over the Hillary Bridge again! Fortunately, that’s now behind me.


Yeah! My Hotels!