Throughout my trip, and for the subsequent years after, whenever the topic of traveling comes up, friends would inevitably ask me which country was my all-time favorite. It’s a hell of a question to answer; there are just too damn many beautiful places in this world. Most of the time, I would gleefully negotiate to expand the list to 5 or even 10. I never seemed to come up with the same list, since my mind would wander to this beach, that peak, or a tasty bowl of street noodles. But wherever my mind might drift off to that particular day, it would always float back to Nepal. It’s a place of grand peaks, pristine lakes, genuine smiles, and amazing food. And in many ways, Nepal was my first. It was the first foreign country I backpacked, the first cultural shock I experienced on the road, the first time I was aware of spirituality, the first time I embarked on a multi-day trek, and the first time I fell in love with a complete stranger. Nepal will always have a special place in my heart, and I hope someday, it will in yours too.