SISTEER Nepal Day 5 - Ghandruk: A Hike to Remember

It was a fair weathered day in Pokhara. Feeling energized and recharged after a good night’s rest, the team began the day by taking jeeps up to the start point of the Ghandruk trail, about 1,000 meters above sea level. The beginning of the trail was rugged and flat, consisting of calm scenery dotted with buffalo peacefully grazing amongst the cornfields.

Although many of us were certainly enchanted and awestruck by the sheer beauty of the mountains, it was imperative to stick together in our groups to ensure that none of us got lost on the way. Fatigue started kicking in towards the middle of the hike when our trail got increasingly steeper at the higher altitudes. We often had to do an internal balancing act in our minds; it was difficult to keep up with the constant pace of the hike and appreciate the surroundings at the same time.

Nearing the final stretch of the hike, evidence of the communities and people living in the area became more prominent. Silhouettes of houses could be seen in the distance, and it was now nearing 1,600 meters above sea level.  In other words, we were already high up in the clouds!

A few of us stopped to interact with the villagers and children, who warmly greeted us with smiles and a simple ‘namaste’. What struck me was how open and friendly they were to us as visitors- many of them made it a point to greet us along the way instead of avoiding eye contact. Drawing comparisons back to Singapore, it made me reflect on the stark differences in our way of life. The Nepali villagers have so little resources to work with, yet they do not forget to acknowledge the presence those around them; we as first world citizens live in so much abundance, yet often all we can ever think about is wanting more.

Taking the final steps up to the official entrance of Ghandruk, our faces were all exhausted and weary, but one thing was clear: there was an unspoken sense of satisfaction evident in our eyes. A simple hike up the mountains has taught us many things about the environment, the people, and also ourselves. Surviving the stretching zone of intensive physical activity ignited newfound confidence in many of us, whereas the serenity of the mountains provided a quiet sanctuary for others to pause and recollect their thoughts.

Written by: Seah Sze Hao