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Nepal is a sensory overload of contradictions. The ceiling of the world Sagarmatha -- Everest -- rises from the coolness of the Himalayas, high above the flapping prayer flags and singing bowls of Kathmandu's dusty valley. A riot of color meets the chaos of traffic in Durbar Square while saffron-robed monks, shopkeepers, backpackers, tourists and livestock all dance around each other in the heat.

Cows wander the broken brick sidewalks past cubby hole shops built hundreds of years ago, now turned into cyber cafes or stocked with neon Gor-tex. All this gives way to the serenity of Bodhnath, a thriving village of Tibetan refugees and one of the world's largest Buddhist stupas.

Bordered to the south by India, the lower lush elevations of Nepal offer outdoor adventures and opportunities to see unique and endangered wildlife such as the one horned rhinos and Asian tigers in the Royal Chitwan National Park. Further west is Pokhara with its stunning lakeside locale, the endpoint for the famous Annapurna Circuit treks.

From the breathtaking views of the Himalayas and iconic Mt. Machhapuchhare, or Fishtail, to the omnipresent sound of the "om mani padme hum" Buddhist chant to the dozen CD stores spewing local classic rock cover bands you will experience Nepal reaching for the future while trying to keep hold of its past.

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