It’s a chilly morning in Mahendranagar on February 14, 2017. The clock says it’s 5:30 and two friends are all set to start the journey of a lifetime – a journey that will see them walking across the 75 districts of Nepal with just their backpacks that have some pair of clothes and a blanket. They have no money, and no idea, how this journey will even be possible but they are brave enough to at least start it.
Abhay Pokhrel; a 21-year-old from Kakarbhitta, Jhapa; always had a thing for traveling and visiting new places. And that very enthusiasm drove him to take on a journey that even he doubted was even possible. “When I was ten, I lost my sister. And that was the moment when I realized that life is unpredictable and I need to live the most out of it before it ends”, Abhay told NeoStuffs. “And then, I started to love traveling to new places and meeting new people. I started to make the strangers my family.”
To take on the journey, he had to find a traveling partner and he found that in his childhood friend Suman Karki, who had recently returned from UAE where he worked for 2 years. 21-year-old Suman wasn’t in his best ever since he returned from abroad and was going through some hard times. He wanted to leave everything behind and go to some place new. And that’s what inspired him to join Abhay in the journey that he felt could bring some good changes in his life.
Everything was planned – well, not everything but at least the two were determined enough that they can do this. But the problem was, they knew they could not convince their families to let them start this journey because it was too risky. And that’s why, they decided not to tell them about it at all.
(Pictured Below: Suman and Abhay with Haridutta Joshi during their first night of the journey in Kanchanpur)
“WHY?” – that was our very first question to Abhay who had reached Muktinath on Saturday (August 12th) and he simply said, “Because of the love”. “Love for traveling?”, we asked again. “No, love for everything – for traveling, for people, for nation, for culture, for the wish to reach every corner of our beautiful country, for the wish to meet the people from every region, and the wish to make the entire country and fellow citizens my family — yes, because of the love.”
Like he said, it was for the love, that was the reason why he chose to start the journey on February 14th – the day to celebrate love – Valentines Day! The first destination of their journey was Dodhara Chadani in Kanchanpur. Here’s the very first picture taken during the journey – the Dodhara Chadani bridge.
On the very first day, Abhay and Suman walked 16 kilometers through Suklaphanta, old airport ground, Mahendranagar Bazar and reached a place called Daiji, 11 kilometer east of Mahendranagar. It was the generous Dhana Bahadur Bhandari who gave them their first meal of the journey – two samosas each with bowls fulls of chhole. With their satisfied tummies, they then continued the journey and moved towards Bedkot Taal, Baidanath Mandir.
In last six months; the two have walked across Kanchanpur, Dadeldhura, Baitadi, Darchula, Bajhang, Doti, Achham, Bajura, Humla, Mugu, Jumla, Kalikot, Dailekh, Jajarkot, Dolpa, Rukum, Salyan, Surkhet, Kailali, Bardiya, Banke, Dang, Rolpa, Pyuthan, Baglung, Parbat, Kaski and Myagdi; and have reached Muktinath. On the 97th day of the journey, they were joined by another friend Karan Karki – a 21 year old – who has since been traveling together.
(Pictured below: A meal they had with Oad family in Lamikadey, Dadeldhura)
According to Abhay, the people in all corners of the country have been generous enough to provide them some food and shelter. Of course the journey hasn’t been a cakewalk; and they have even been suspected to be some spies, criminals or some bad people in some places; and were even scolded at times. “This journey has been beautiful even though there have been tough times”, says Abhay. “It’s quite obvious for some people to have doubts about strangers who call themselves travelers with no money and seek food and shelter; and we totally understand that. But it’s the love of various other people — people who have trusted us, loved us and have been kind enough to treat us like family — who encourage us to continue the journey”, he adds.
(Pictured below: Abhay and Suman with new friends they made in Kalikot)
On being asked about some of the most memorable and painful moments in this journey so far, “We were in this very small village called Chaur in Dadeldhura. There were hardly a dozen of houses and we were requesting people for shelter. We were advised to ask for help in the house with a shop and we did the same. But we were asked to pay Rs. 50 for a bed. When we told the person about us and our journey, he let us sleep in the veranda. It was on the top of a hill and it was very cold that night. We hadn’t eaten anything. Roughly after forty five minutes of going to sleep, we were woken by a voice that said, “Dai, I have brought you each a chapati.” That was a very emotional moment,” Abhay remembers.
“Talking about the painful moment”, Abhay continues, “It was the ninth day of the journey and we were in Baitadi. It was a rainy day, we had got wet and were hungry but this place being a bazar, nobody were interested in helping us for free. They were expecting us to pay for the services which we couldn’t. Hence, we had to go to Ram Janaki temple and sleep under a peepal tree – all wet and hungry. That was tough.”
(Pictured below: Abhay, Karan and Suman in Muktinath)
Abhay expects the journey to be over in next six or seven months. Their families now know about their journey and are mostly worried than happy. A lot of people have been kind enough to help them financially as well, as it would be hard to be on their own without any money at some places.
This was the tale of an epic journey of young travelers who are on a mission to reach every single district of the country on foot. If you’re willing to welcome them to your house during their journey or help them in any way, you can connect with them through their Facebook page where they also constantly share about their everyday journey. You can even call them at 9863707614, 9824980444 or 9863705410.