IN THE SKY

Amer­i­can writer and film­maker Michael Helf­man takes on Nepal in the free spirit of Jack Ker­ouac. Pho­tographed by Gabrielle Tan.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Escape -

run­way. Yet when you step off the plane you are step­ping into a fu­ture – of sorts – be­cause the Nepali cal­en­dar is in the year 2070. You then go to col­lect your checked-in lug­gage at a con­veyor belt like none you’ve seen be­fore, pri­mar­ily be­cause there isn’t one! No, you have to wait for the ground crew to drive over with a trailer full of bags and catch yours as it’s thrown to you. So you see, just as with the anoma­lous moun­tain in the sky, the fu­ture is ac­tu­ally the past and Nepal has a sur­prise for you at ev­ery cor­ner.

We’d hooked up with a com­pany called Hi­malayan So­cial Jour­ney to han­dle all of the lo­gis­tics and they were wait­ing for us once we re­ceived our bags with three other Amer­i­can tourists in tow – a mother with her young adult son and daugh­ter. Within sec­onds, six ran­dom di­shev­elled-look­ing men ran to­wards our group, ba­si­cally tak­ing our bags out of our hands and putting them on the roof of our wait­ing mini­van. They then re­quested USD20 for their ser­vice, which I po­litely smiled off and gave them the two dol­lars that I had pre­vi­ously sep­a­rated from the big­ger bills in my other pocket. Un­for­tu­nately, the Amer­i­can boy took out his wal­let and one of the men took GBP20 straight from it and walked away. Wel­come to the fu­ture.

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