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Gap-Year Globe Trotters: On top of the world

The Himalayas are absolutely incredible.

I think I waxed lyrical about the Taj Mahal last time - and it will probably remain the most impressive structure I ever see. However, when comparing man's handiwork with God's creation, there is no comparison - the Taj pales into nothingness. Let me just say that the mountains are massive. There are ten mountains in the world over 8km high and Nepal has eight of them. Just to try to convey some of the emotion that I went through the first time I saw them on the bus ride: I sat staring up at these snow-capped peaks and had a stupid inane grin ear to ear (that nervous excitement of anticipation that you get when you're a kid the night before Christmas), and both Matt and I were jumping up and down in our seats pointing out the next view, much to the amusement of the locals! It was amazing.

Jeff Wannell

Pokhara. After the sensory overload of India's cities with their pollution, noise, smell, hustle and bustle, and constant need for readiness, Pokhara was like heaven. Nestled next to a smooth crystal blue lake, it was surrounded by sub-tropical forest, foothills and the grandeur of the snow-capped Annapourna mountain range. Beautifully tranquil. The tourist spot where we stayed had clean, cheap hotels and safe food, and the traffic was minimal save for bicycles. So we hired a small boat, swam in the lake, ate fresh grilled fish and felt like we were extras in 'Swallows and Amazons'.