Jayagau…how the heck do you say that?! I’ll try to phoneticize that one for ya – jai-ah-gao. Maybe that helps you out a little bit? Anywho it’s a teeny tiny village outside of Pokhara (actually only 4km walking from Nyapul – a common starting point for the Annapurna Base Camp trek or Poon Hill).
Jayagau is at the top of a small hill and only 5 houses big. Each of these houses belongs to the same family going back for several generations. Now the houses are becoming more empty than in past years because adults and children alike are moving closer to the cities like Pokhara and Kathmandu (a common struggle for all mountain villages in Nepal). However, this family is looking to convert their beautiful village into a kind of relaxation retreat!
Bishnu now lives in Pokhara with his family as does his father and mother. He opened up a hostel called Aroma (staying there is how I found out about Jayagau). His home is now completely empty and has been for several years. So Bishnu had the idea to rent his childhood home to foreigners looking to enjoy a quiet place and experience the local Nepali farming lifestyle (check it out here).
Feels Like Family
The really incredible experiences I had here came because of how wonderfully loving and inviting Bishnu’s cousin, Ganesh, and his family are. With bright big wide open arms, my very first day began. Ganesh, his father and mother, his 13-year-old son Rohit, and his wife, all live in the home next door to Bishnu’s. They still maintain the traditional Nepali farmer lifestyle. I was lucky enough to come during rice harvesting season! And the Tihar holiday celebration.
I happened to have been there at the same time as a big family holiday known as Tihar. Sisters and brothers come together in a big family celebration sharing gifts with one another and blessing each other with tika’s on their forehead and malas placed around their necks. It was such a nice and loving experience with Ganesh’s family 😀 Interestingly, the general feeling I felt all day during Tihar was so similar to that of family gatherings I have back home in the USA during things like Easter and Rosh Hashanah. That sense of everyone getting ready, preparing food and dress, decorating, family seeing each other after time apart, having some cheap talk with relatives in suspension waiting for the actual celebrations to start.
The Farmer Life
It is not expected of the guests, but if you like you can help Ganesh with some of the farming labor. I really enjoyed learning about their way of life. For only a few hours a day I really enjoyed it. If I had to do it all day every day…ehhhh…I might want to do something else ;p
In the farmer life there is never a day off…except maybe Tihar, but even then the cows, goats, and buffalo still need to be fed. Every morning Ganesh, his father, and wife go out into their rice terraces or nearby hills to cut and collect grass to be fed to the livestock. The three of them spend 2-3 hours overflowing large woven baskets.
I was putting grass into the basket saying “Ok Laxmi. It’s getting pretty full now. I think it’s full.” He looks over at the basket, then at me, shakes his head “Not full.” And then continues cutting like a madman (FYI, Ganesh’s father is 72 friggen years old and out there doing work most 20-year-olds wouldn’t be able to put in. Same is true of Ganesh’s wife! The Nepali is strong strong people). Another 15 minutes and I’m thinking “It’s…uhhhhh…looking pretty full now….hmmm…not quite sure how to fit more grass on top of this.” He sees my confusion, comes over, scoots the baskest closer to the dirt wall nearby and we start leaning the tower of grass on the wall. No problem!
By the end of the whole thing we grab two pieces of high grass, tie them to the basket, and then tie them together above the grass tower holding everything down. I offer to carry it, but he just gives a smile and a chuckle and says no. This 72-year-old proceeds to carry the entire thing with a strap on his head, back to the house. Incredible!
Rice to Meet You 😛
I also helped out with a lot of the rice cutting jobs. I’ll explain all of this in the next pictures. Getting rice is a long process:
- Preparing the ground
- Sewing the seeds
- 4 months of growing and maintaining
- Cutting and drying (scaring away the monkeys so they don’t eat your rice!)
- Beating off the grains
- Cleaning/Removing grass and already broken off rice husks
- Machine processing to remove all of the husks and get those white rice grains you buy at the store
Yoga, Meditation, and Relaxation
There are actually 2 people living in Bishnu’s home continuously. One person is Yogesh, the resident yogi who provides yoga teachings both physical and philosophical for those who pay extra for it. And there is Punachant, the chef, who makes delicious food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
In early 2019 Bishnu’s family built a meditation/yoga hall on their property. They did a nice job with it too. It’s clean, with comfortable carpet flooring, quiet, and just the right size to be cozy but fit enough people. The first time they used it, all of the people came from the local villages and Yogesh taught everyone yoga – almost everyone for the first time. I wasn’t there for this, but it sounds awesome 🙂
There ain’t much to do up here, except to enjoy the sounds and scenery of the mountains and enjoy the company of those around you (though there is decent wifi available too, but I tried not to get stuck on that!). Most of the time I enjoyed waking up early – still stuck on himalayan trekking times – meditating to the sounds of birds waking with the sunrise peaking through the valley. One day I took a small 1hr hike down to the nearest “big” village (maybe 100 homes?). A local 16-year-old befriended me and proceeded to show me around. He took me to his school, climbed an orange tree to gather a snack for us, and showed me the football pitch he was gonna play on that evening. If you really want you can spend a whole day doing a nice 8-20km walk seeing several villages in the area 😀
Such Amazing People
Not only was the family incredible! And Yogesh and Punai! But I was super lucky to have some of the most wonderful people on my Nepal travels staying at Jayagau the same time as me. Initially it was only 2 of us, then it became 6, then 9, then 5. We all connected so easily and immediately; gently sliding into the comfort felt between long time friends 🙂
I’m all about that transparency so to be clear – I was not paid or given anything for this review. I simply had a really nice time and want to share it here on my blog and I hope other people have an equally great stay 🙂 Thanks so much Bishnu and Ganesh and everyone there <3
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