Imagine how splendid it would be to see the sun rise from behind snow-capped mountains every day. And imagine what it would be like taking in a deep breath of crisp mountain air, without having to worry about fumes from cars and buses, as you slowly sip your hot morning tea. While Hong Kong can offer you the cosmopolitan, hi-tech, party-all-night kind of feeling, it definitely cannot give you any of the things described above. Snow is non-existent, and clean air is a myth. The only thing you might come close to is the tea. But what is tea while you sit in a restaurant eating dim sum compared to drinking it on the mountains? Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, to relax. I figured that was what I needed to do, so during Easter, I went on a school trip to Nepal. I got much more than I expected - spectacular scenery, unique cuisine and the experience of a lifetime with Nepal's extraordinarily diverse culture. Bordered by India and China, the country is one of the poorest in the world. It has a population of about 24.3 million and is suffering from overpopulation. Hinduism is the main religion, but Buddhism and Shamanism also exist. It was remarkable to see how the three religions, with such different beliefs, co-exist in harmony. Their influence could be seen everywhere, from the temples to the billboard advertisements, to the clothing that the Nepalese wore. Other obvious influences were from the Chinese, Tibetan and Indian cultures. These were especially apparent in the cuisine. From what started out as a leisure trip, I soon realised that apart from all the fun, I would also learn a lot during the two weeks I was there. The first few days of the trip were spent hiking in the Annapurna Ranges, which were absolutely marvellous. Every morning, there was a different, breathtaking view to wake up to because our tents were pitched at different locations each night as we slowly made our way up to our destination the Annapurna Base Camp. During these few days, I gained a tremendous respect for the Sherpas and porters who accompanied us. These men and women hiked the ranges with us through snow, rain, and even in the blazing sun, some with only slippers on. Many carried over 50 kilograms of food and camping equipment in a basket on their heads up the steep slopes, while others carried some of our heavy baggage. Camping out every night was great fun, although there was always the threat of leeches and other insects lurking outside as we slept. Nevertheless, it did not ruin our enjoyable trip. While in Nepal, we also stopped at Chitwan National Park. The park is home to many animals and insects, including termites, bears and tigers, which we tried to catch a glimpse of during our 'jungle drive'. We also had the opportunity to ride elephants through the jungle and grasslands, which was certainly an unforgettable experience. The rest of the time we spent in the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara. Pokhara was less crowded and much cleaner. Although it rained most of the time we were there, walking through muddy puddles did not seem to bother the locals or the tourists. The food was great, the lakeside view was magnificent and the people were incredibly friendly. Funnily enough, nearly every person on the street who was not a foreigner was trying to sell me something. If it was not a mini-violin, it was something else. Kathmandu, while somewhat similar to Pokhara, provided a busier and more polluted scene. The Hindu and Buddhist tem ples were amazing, while the shopping was not too bad either. Undoubtedly, however, one of the best aspects of the trip was talking to the locals and learning about their culture and way of life. All the people we met in the mountains, in the jungle, or on the city streets were friendly and quite talkative. Chatting with them gave us a better understanding of the Nepalese. We also learned some native words. I loved the trip, and if I ever have the chance to go back again, I think I will. Nepal truly is a great place to visit, even if you have to get dozens of vaccinations to ensure you will be safe. But if you like hiking and are not fussy about minor inconveniences such as eating vegetarian or the lack of flush-toilets, Nepal will prove to be a blast. Vivien is a student at Sha Tin College. She was on a two-week work placement with Young Post.