Still in Nepal

by Mike Still
Still in Nepal

Most of you already know that I left Korea in early March to embark on an epic backpacking journey through Asia.  The last 4 months have had their share of ups and downs, most recently with being offline.  The good news is I’m back online and still loving it in Nepal.

I originally came to Nepal for just one month to trek the Annapurna Circuit but somewhere in the mix of no internet, beautiful landscapes and wonderful people I’ve managed to renew my visa here twice.  After trekking through the roof of the world with white capped mountains, yaks and more I relaxed in Kathmandu for a bit.


I was planning on heading to Chitwan National Park to do some jungle trekking but when a friend at Fireflies Hostel told me “Bardia National Park is like Chitwan 20 years ago, all the jungle without the tourism” I knew I had to go.  The next day I took a 17 hour overnight bus to Bardia where I planned on staying a week.

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Jungles have always been high on my bucket list and I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few but Bardia National Park took my breath away.  A single week quickly turned into another and another.  Before I knew it I’d spent a whole month living in Thakudwara, a village on the edge of the park.

Bardia is full of wildlife and I stayed at Wild Trak Adventure most of the time there.  John Sparshatt started Wild Trak 5 years ago when he moved to Thakudwara as a zoologist with a passion for adventure.  Together we trekked with wild rhinos, tigers and elephants, stayed in remote farmhouses and made the most out of jungle life.

Backpacking Through Nepal is just like backpacking through Southeast Asia without luxuries!

Traveling long-term affords me with a lot of flexibility and the option to stay somewhere if I love it.  That’s resulted in me getting stuck in a few places but when you can walk down the street and hug a baby elephant being stuck isn’t so bad.

When John and I weren’t out in the jungle we hung out by the rice fields and rivers.  I made great friends with the 3 locals who speak English, Pramesh, Krishna and Buddhi and learned a few Nepali words.  My camera went everywhere with me with little adventures everyday on the outskirts of the national park.

We set off on a four day trek to the nearby ridge line staying in farms without power or even cell service enjoying the serenity of a simple life.  Halfway through John had the idea of taking a raft down the river instead of the local bus back to Thakudwara.  It was an easy choice to end our four day trek with a three day rafting trip down the Bheri River!

Everyday in the jungle brings something unique.  One day John got a call that a local had been bit by a snake so we jumped on his motorbike and went to make sure he was okay.   Some mornings we’d hear of an elephant that came across the river and broke into a house to eat some food or even drink the homemade rice wine!  That same river had a wonderful sunset viewpoint that could be a watering hole one day and flooded from the monsoon the next.

Bardia National Park and Wild Trak Adventure had me loving Nepal even more every day but I knew I had to leave at some point.  I’d been hearing a lot from other backpackers about the Buddhist retreats here and signed up for an 8 day retreat at Kopan Monastery back in Kathmandu.  Daily meditation and lecture on Buddhism and the dharma helped me cope with the news that had been deleted by BlueHost!

Life slowed down at Kopan and gave me a chance to really dive within my mind and thoughts.  The Buddhist teachings helped me see the world from a different perspective.  Gardens around Kopan were full of beautiful flowers and crazy insects to entertain my love of photography.  Monsoon rains paired with Buddhist chanting created a beautiful soundtrack for my time there.

At the monastery I pondered my future plans and began to develop a new vision for Live, Travel, Teach, which I am excited to release in the coming weeks.  I met tons of amazing people from all over the world and grew to love the peacefulness of the ornate meditation hall.

A few of us stuck around Kathmandu a few days and even took a 2 day motorbike trip to Nagarkot and are still figuring out how to balance what we learned at Kopan with real life.  But, now I’m back in Kathmandu and getting back into my blogging routine.

I’ll be in Nepal until August 3rd working on the website to bring you amazing photos and stories from these last few months.  Then I fly to Vietnam where Ronda will join me for my last Asian adventure; driving a motorcycle from Saigon to Hanoi!

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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Marina July 17, 2017 - 10:14 pm

Village life sounds so peaceful and relaxing, not to mention the retreat at the monastery. You’d think that downsizing from a population of 10 million to 600,000 would be enough for me, but I still want to live in a smaller city or town. We’re going camping this weekend to get away from it all, though.

I’m glad to hear that you were able to get your website back! What’s next? Are you looking for jobs in Europe?

Mike Still July 18, 2017 - 12:54 pm

Hey Marina, I hope you and Brian are well and enjoying Colorado! Village life and the monastery were two of the most peaceful things I’ve seen on my travels. After Vietnam I’m gonna stay with my brother in Alaska for a few months then maybe road trip around the lower 48 before looking for a job in Europe. I hope I can make it to you guys before moving abroad again.

Edwin Blesch July 17, 2017 - 11:20 pm

So glad to have you back Michael. Your adventures thrill those of us too old to do similar any longer . One question re the first pic of the two old men painted in saffrons and oranges and ochres. It’s really a terrific one, but what about that swastika over their right shoulders? Is this anti-Semitic grafitti or some sort of Nepalese symbol? Have a great time biking through Vietnam. Edwin

Mike Still July 18, 2017 - 12:53 pm

Thank you Edwin! The swastika was actually originally a Hindu/Buddhist peace symbol. Its all over India/Nepal and I saw it a bunch in Korea too. Can’t wait to catch up when I make it back home.

Peter J Levy July 18, 2017 - 12:05 am

All I can say is WOW!

Mike Still July 18, 2017 - 12:51 pm

Thanks Peter! I love getting WOWS from my photos 🙂


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